Sites for Sore Eyes

Once upon a time, I built websites.

I loved doing it, in fact. I’ve been building websites since the end of the last millennium. My first two sites were built while I was in high school. The first was Elephantitic Monkey, followed by Stranded on the Edge of Infinity. Both served the same purposes:

  1. I wanted a forum for inflicting my ranting, bad opinions upon the world. Let’s just say that an insecure 17 or 18-year-old who smugly believes they are smarter than everyone else in the room, and who thinks they have a gift for being edgy-funny, should probably not have a bully pulpit. If teenage me had possessed a smartphone and a 5G connection, I would have been an absolute menace.
  2. They were places where I could hang out with my friends, both offline and online. We had writers, artists, monthly columnists, and a message board. The weird little communities that sprung up were my favorite thing about sites.

Elephantitic Monkey was an obnoxiously colorful little site. Its logo was an MS Paint image of a monkey carting around its cartoonishly large testicles in a wheelbarrow. It was wonderful and still fills me with delight. I searched through my 25 years of archives and was actually able to find it. I may be a digital hoarder, but I am at least an organized one.

Great, now this post is NSFW.

Stranded on the Edge of Infinity was a much more emo-looking site. I designed its logo myself with some image editing software that I probably acquired through extralegal means. Of the two sites, Stranded is the less interesting to me. I’m pretty sure at the time I wasn’t very happy and was also going through a self-serious phase, none of which ages well.

Both sites were created using the late, lamented Yahoo Geocities PageBuilder. It was a great tool for a teenage novice looking to infect the internet in 1999. It was also an absolute bastard to update a lot of pages at one time. So, these sites were eventually retired, and I moved onto a parallel pursuit, one whose sobriquet had been coined but was not yet in wide use.

I’m talking about blogging.

I built the first iteration of JOSH BALES dot NET back in 2001. I bought the joshbales.net domain for 15 bucks, found a cheap web host, and I was ready to go.

I taught myself HTML, CSS, and a little PHP by studying the underlying code of blogs I liked and reverse-engineering them. I got pretty good at doing a full visual refresh about once a year. I could spend hours staring at HTML code, playing with CSS, making them do what I wanted, and barely notice the passing of time. It was so much fun, and so rewarding to see the finished product. I did 11 or 12 redesigns before doing so became, first, time prohibitive — I was working full time and also had a life! — and second, became ridiculously hard to do from a technical perspective. Blogging software like WordPress, which this site uses, has evolved over the years and has some cool functionality, but it’s conversely made it harder for an amateur like me to keep up. Now I use premade themes with minimal customizability. It’s a little less fun, but it’s much easier and allows me to use my limited free time for other pursuits, like lecturing myself about how I really should be writing.

Have I been blogging for over 20 years? Yes. Do I still have those archives? I do. Will I ever add them to the current archives, which only go back to 2015? Absolutely not. The thought of anyone today reading what Younger Josh wrote is almost enough to give me the cold sweats. They’re not as bad as the stuff that was on Elephantic Monkey or Stranded, but they’re still, at best, very cringe.

Anyhow, thanks for reading my meandering TED Talk.

What initially sparked this crawl down memory lane is that I was thinking it’s been a minute since this site has had a visual refresh. Black/white/gray as a color scheme is still very much me, and it never really falls out of style, but I’m tired of it. It could be the February-in-Ohio blues talking, but I want to inject a little more color, a little more warmth into the design. That’s right — it’s makeover time.

If anyone reading this designs WordPress themes and is interested in doing a custom job, shoot me an email or DM me on social with your rates and some work you’ve done.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

Reading:

I’ve been watching more movies and writing the last couple of weeks, so my reading has slowed down a bit. Currently in the middle of THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. What I love about Moreno-Garcia’s books is that she is constantly switching genres. MOREAU is a historical sci-fi. The book before this one — the excellent VELVET WAS THE NIGHT — is a 1970s-set Mexican noir. My favorite of her books — THE GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW — is a sort of fairy tale set in the Jazz Age and follows a young woman and a Mayan god of death having an adventure across Mexico.

Watching:

Jess and I are working our way through POKER FACE on Peacock. We’re a few episodes in, and it is quite good. Each episode is its own separate case-of-the-week, so you don’t necessarily need to watch them in order. There is an overall connecting story always in the background — and occasionally the foreground — so it might be more enjoyable to watch it from the beginning. From Rian Johnson, who can do no wrong when it comes to murder-mysteries, and starring Natasha Lyonne as Charlie, who is essentially a human lie detector. I have read that the format of this show is modeled after COLUMBO, wherein we see the murder take place at the beginning of the episode, thus letting the viewer already know the identity of the malefactor, and then watch Charlie figure it out. Lyonne is so much fun to watch as Charlie. I hope we will be able to spend many more seasons with her.

For the last few years, a comrade and I have been working our way through the FAST & FURIOUS series. This is my second time watching most of them, his first. Last weekend we watched FAST FIVE, which is probably the best entry in this dumb, ridiculously over-the-top, fun franchise. TOKYO DRIFT still has my heart, though.

GENTLEMEN BRONCOS, from the filmmakers who brought us NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. A kid attends a fantasy writer’s camp where he learns his novel idea has been stolen by a published but struggling author. That’s the general plot, but it doesn’t do the film justice. I saw this when it came out 15 years ago and loved it. Hadn’t seen it since, though I’ve been talking about rewatching it for years. It was as delightful as I remembered, and my comrade and I were laughing very loudly throughout most of the movie. Then a really weird thing happened near the end: the main character casually drops a transphobic slur. Bear in mind, the film’s tone and sense of humor up to this point have been gentle and goofy — then out of nowhere comes a wholly unnecessary slur. Ripped me completely out of the movie. I know cultural landscapes change and some will argue that you shouldn’t judge a piece of past art by today’s moral standards, but a) this movie came out in 2009, which wasn’t that long ago, and b) the rights of trans people everywhere right now are under extreme attack from all sides, so no. It wasn’t acceptable then, and it isn’t acceptable now. Incredibly disappointing for an otherwise brilliant movie.

Wanting:

This USCSS Nostromo hat — which I already bought in the days since I started writing this post. I’m going to San Diego at the end of the month, and this will be my travel hat.

Advising:

Here’s a tip on how to prepare for your annual performance review.

Listening:

GENTLEMEN BRONCOS did have a fantastic soundtrack, including some songs by 1990’s New Age artist Ray Lynch, which really fit the weird story-in-the-movie parts quite perfectly. Lynch’s album DEEP BREAKFAST also makes for excellent background music while writing. Here’s “The Oh of Pleasure”:

And Kirby:

Two full body shakes in the morning and this guy is ready to tackle the world (breakfast).

Take My Hand as the Sun Descends

The other day, I ran downstairs in between meetings to reheat a cup of coffee, for probably the fifth time. I was staring at the microwave, watching the timer count down from 2 minutes 30 seconds (our microwave is very tired, and things take longer), absently humming a song from A GOOFY MOVIE, and I came to a strange realization.

I was happy.

Not like, insanely happy, but more the content variety. Things were good, and I felt like I could breathe, and I was looking forward to a few things. Then the microwave dinged, I went back to work, and didn’t think much about it the rest of the day.

I’ve been ruminating on that feeling of happiness that stood out to me like a flame in a cave, plus a few other similar but different moments that have happened recently, and I realized it all ties into a larger theme I’ve noticed. 2023 feels different than the last several years.

And like the fine folks at Arby’s once noted — different is good.

I sat down and tried to articulate why exactly this year feels different than the years that preceded it. Could it be that I am no longer:

  • Having to deal with the day-to-day reality of watching an idiot, sociopathic traitor try to Make Fascism Work Again, and failing only because he and his merry band of losers were just so goddamn inept
  • Watching a global pandemic kills millions, and gives 10-30% of those who survive long-lasting health problems that may also kill them
  • Wondering if said pandemic is going to kill the people in my life that I love
  • Just kidding, those last two are still active events; I’ve just done the best that I can to protect myself and take precautions where I can, and am otherwise letting go of the worries
  • Jealously watching millions just go about their lives like we aren’t in a pandemic while I go full recluse to do my part to end the pandemic and protect my loved ones
  • Exhausted every moment of every day
  • Actively worrying about a very sick or dying dog, and the associated caregiving and vet bills that resemble a mortgage on a nice house
  • Not knowing the city that I will be living in in six months
  • Wondering when the vault wherein I’ve been bottling up my feelings my entire adult life is going to become so densely packed that it just collapses into a black hole

Some of these things aren’t suddenly new and magically different this year. Despite his best efforts, the traitor Donald Trump has been out of office for two years now. But it feels like he’s exerting less influence on the Republican Party than he once did. So that’s allowed some relief to gradually leach into my soul. Regarding the pandemic: like I noted above, it’s still happening, still flourishing. But aside from still doing what I can to do my part, I am mentally moving on. Not saying that is the right or smart thing to do, but it’s happening.

Those things aside, the biggest reason that 2023 feels different to me — is, well, me. As our lord and savior Taylor Swift might put it:

Like I said in my ADHD post, I feel more like me than I have in a long time. I credit therapy and putting in the work to get my shit sorted, plus drugs (the good kind) for a lot of it. These things have better enabled me to make a concerted effort to get out of the house and do the things I want to do and see people I want to see. And just as importantly, if not more so — to say “no” to things I don’t want to do and not feel guilty about it. It’s all given me space to flip my own personal reset switch; to think about who I want to be and work to get there.

If you’re rolling your eyes right now, or thinking “oh god Josh has gone woo-woo-y, is he going to find Jesus next” — I get it. Doesn’t change anything for me, but I get it. I am comfortable with sounding a little woo-y. And no, Jesus seems like a cool dude, but I am not going to start subscribing to his newsletter any time soon.

So: I have no doubt that 2023 will have its troubles, because that’s life, and also because we’re all so #blessed to be “living in interesting times.” But I have a confidence now — one I’m not sure I’ve ever really possessed — that I will get through them, and things will be fine.

Last week I shared a pretty personal look into my experience with ADHD. I received a surprising amount of feedback, all of it nice, so thanks to those who reached out and said something. If this blog feels more personal now than it used to, that’s because it is, and it’s been an active choice. My hope is that talking about some of the things I’ve been going through might help others. And if not, hopefully some of it will make you smile, perhaps even chortle. I’m not expecting guffaws, though. I’m not that kind of funny.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

Reading:

It took me a solid fifty pages to get into THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS, but I’m glad I picked it up again. The majority of Stephen Graham Jones’s novel is set on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and the main protagonists are members of the Blackfeet tribe who were friends who Made A Big Oops as kids, and are being hunted down later in life by the vengeful spirit of an Elk. I don’t read a lot of horror fiction, and I rarely read anything so firmly rooted in indigenous American culture in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative (that’s a critique on me). THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is a wonderful example of both.

Brainiac on life after Tim Taylor: ‘He used to walk offstage with bruises in the shape of his effects pedals’: a fun if bittersweet interview with the surviving members of Brainiac about Tim Taylor, the band’s breakup after his tragic death in 1997, and their recent reunion.

Watching:

DEEP WATER. On paper, this film had all the ingredients for being right up my alley: an erotic thriller starring Ana de Armas (loved her in KNIVES OUT) and Ben Affleck (he was the bomb in PHANTOMS, yo) and, and based on a Patricia Highsmith novel (who also wrote CAROL/THE PRICE OF SALT, a novel I recently raved about) — but the way the ingredients came together, the recipe if you will, was not great, and produced a meal that was lacking in flavor. (Alright, I’m done with the awkward cooking metaphor.) This is a movie that wants you to think the main characters are clever, but they all make idiotic decisions that a person who is not a character in a movie would never make. Every movie has some of that, sure, but poor writing will derail a thriller or mystery so fast. Don’t get me wrong, DEEP WATER is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, but a modern classic this ain’t. Mostly, it made me want to go watch another Ben Affleck erotic thriller: GONE GIRL. It’s a much, much better film and would make an excellent palate cleanser (sorry).

Wanting:

This Rymek Classic Mechanical Keyboard. Do I need it? Absolutely not. I have a great Bluetooth keyboard that let’s me easily switch between multiple computers. Am I going to lust after it anyways? 100%, yes.

Advising:

Over on Twitter, I occasionally share helpful career advice.

Listening:

It’s interesting to me to discover where one has cultural gaps in music pop culture. Things, for various reasons, we just… missed. One cultural gap I have, when it comes to music, is that I am not terribly familiar with the works of Patti Smith. This is something I’ve been enjoying remedying of late. Like this live version of “Because the Night,” which I very much dig.

And Kirby:

Featuring his dump truck derriere.

On Inattention and Teleportation

This past week I marked 30 days of being on Adderall. I had my one-month check-in with my doctor, and we determined that we’re going to keep me on it.

But Josh, you say. Adderall is for people with ADHD. You don’t have ADHD — do you?

I do, gentle reader. A doctor on the internet told me so.

I’ve always associated ADHD with hyperactivity; you know, the stereotype of the kid who can’t sit still, is impulsive, gets easily distracted. It wasn’t until talking with my therapist and sharing with him some of the things I struggle with now, and have always struggled with, that I learned there is a form of ADHD where hyperactivity doesn’t present — the inattentive type. He encouraged me to get tested. When I got home, I did some reading on the subject, and well… let’s just say I felt seen.

The nine symptoms of the inattentive type of ADHD, according to the Cleveland Clinic, are:

  1. Often has trouble staying focused on tasks at work, home or play.
  2. Frequently does not pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes at work or while doing other tasks.
  3. Often has trouble organizing tasks or activities (misses deadlines, disorganized work).
  4. Is easily distracted.
  5. Frequently does not follow through on instructions or fails to complete work assignments, chores or other activities.
  6. Often forgets doing routine chores (like paying bills, returning phone calls, keeping appointments).
  7. Avoids tasks that require long periods of mental focus (preparing reports, filling out forms).
  8. Often loses items needed to complete tasks or activities.
  9. Does not appear to be listening even when spoken to directly.

2, 3, 6, and 8 haven’t presented much of a problem in my adult life (at least the last decade or so). I am good at my job, and it would be hard to be good at my job if I consistently struggled with these things. The other five, though? Oh yeah.

Apparently, people who discover as an adult that they have the inattentive type of ADHD, probably also had it when they were younger; however, because the hyperactivity element wasn’t present, it went undiagnosed. This tracks for me personally because when I was a kid, I struggled mightily in school with paying attention, completing assignments, forgetting things, losing things, etc. In fact, it’s a piece of family lore that one of my elementary school teachers once told my parents that I reminded her of “a little absentminded professor.”

Artist’s rendering of the writer as a child.

My therapist suggested an online ADHD treatment provider, which sounded like a gray market solution to me. Was this going to be the amphetamine equivalent of pill mill, passing out pills to anyone who’s ever been too lazy to do a chore? I wasn’t opposed to such a thing, but I really wasn’t on getting scammed. Then my primary care doctor said he’d heard of the provider and felt it was reputable enough, so it seemed worth a roll of the dice. I signed up, took a looong ADHD assessment, and a week later had a telehealth visit with a clinician. She was lovely and diagnosed me with… ADHD, inattentive type in adults. To help manage things, I was prescribed a relatively low dose of Adderall.

I won’t lie: it was a relief to have my concerns validated my a medical professional, even if she is from the internet.

Nothing about the experience felt shady, which, if I’m being honest, was a little disappointing. I can appreciate and will occasionally even welcome an element of shadiness and disreputability in an experience — but from a health and well-being perspective, above-board and respectable are probably good things.

So how am I feeling after 30 days of amphetamines? Pretty fucking great, actually. I won’t pretend it’s been as lifechanging as when I started taking medication to help manage my ulcerative colitis several years ago, but I’ve noticed a lot of improvements. I feel sharper. My memory is better. I am able to pay closer attention to someone when they’re talking to me. My ability to focus is better, which as a writer has been immensely beneficial. The biggest change I’ve noticed is also one I wasn’t expecting: my fatigue has finally — finally — subsided. I can at last get through a workday without having to take a nap during lunch and after work, something I’ve been doing consistently for the last year. Even with those naps, I would still feel exhausted all the time. The whole thing was impacting my ability to do my job well, or at least that’s how it felt to me.

In general, I am just feeling more like… me than I have in a long time.

Here’s what I’ve been up to the past week. Spoiler alert: it’s mostly involved books.

Reading:

I have continued on the JUMPER train and read the next three books in the series, REFLEX, IMPULSE, and EXO.

I haven’t read REFLEX since it first came out nearly twenty years ago. It was good, but I’m reminded why I haven’t ever reread it, especially since I love the other books in the series so much (and author Steven Gould’s books in general). One of the two main plot threads involves Davy, the protagonist from JUMPER, being imprisoned for pretty much the entire book. It’s interesting, sure, and Gould does a wonderful job at thinking through all the ways one might imprison a teleporter. But being stuck with Davy while he is methodically tortured and subjugated for half a book gets a little bleak, and eventually becomes tedious. The other main plot thread involves Millie, Davy’s wife, tracking him down while avoiding the bad guys, and eventually pulling off a rescue. Millie is just as engaging a protagonist as Davy, if not moreso, and it is ultimately her narrative that got me through the book.

IMPULSE is set 15 years or so after REFLEX, and focuses on Millie and Davy’s teenage daughter, Cent. This one is just as good as JUMPER, and Gould begins to do interesting things with the concept of teleportation and extrapolating what else one might be able to do with the ability. EXO, book four, takes the extrapolation even further and is basically JUMPER… IN SPAAAAACE.

I love this series so much.

Wanting:

The Folio Society editions of JURASSIC PARK and THE LOST WORLD. [Insert drooling emoji]

Watching:

Since I’ve spent most of my free time this week reading, I have watched zero tv. Didn’t even turn it on, in fact. It’s been nice.

Listening

The new Miley Cyrus song is a mellow bop, and I am here for it.

And Kirby:

This is one of my favorite photos of Kirby. This little dude totally doesn’t have FOMO.

[Deckard voice] ENHANCE

Gonna Drive My Car into the Sea

Ours is still a sickly household, so we haven’t done much this week, except watch more tv than usual in the evenings. Jess is… maybe? …starting to feel better. And the foul crap that had been spewing forth from my nose went from yellow to clear, to nonexistent this week, so I think I am back to 100%. Maybe 95%. It’s also a long weekend for me, so things are looking up.

My dayjob has been a little tumultuous the last couple weeks. One of my favorite comrades, a man whom I deeply respect and who has become a good friend — and who, amazingly, has a filthier mouth than me — has moved on to a new adventure. I also have a new boss, and it feels like some of my safety net has been removed, which while a little unsettling, is also kind of exciting.

None of this has been unexpected, but it all came together very fast and a little chaotically. I remember when I was younger in my career at the dayjob. I thought senior leadership operated like the gods on Mount Olympus, all wise, all confidently knowing exactly what they’re doing. Then, time passes, you start rising the ranks, you start seeing how the sausage is made, and you realize everyone, regardless of where they sit at on the org chart, is, at best, making it up as they go, or, more likely, they’re just fighting for their life every day.

All that said, I feel good about things. I’ve felt no anxiety or real stress with all the change, and to be honest, find myself more energized than anything. I’m gonna stay connected with my friend, my new boss seems like a good cat, and I continue to work with a fantastic group of people. Even so, change is bittersweet, and I’m trying to honor those feelings.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

Watching:

WEDNESDAY. Darkly funny with the appropriate level of camp, as one would expect and hope for from an Addams Family show, but what really made this show work for me is that, at its little black heart, WEDNESDAY is a murder-mystery. Jenna Ortega’s voiceover narration gives off serious VERONICA MARS vibes, and now I want to rewatch that show.

GINNY & GEORGIA, season 2. The best way to describe this show is that it’s like GILMORE GIRLS on cocaine. Like if Lorelai was a psychopath with zero impulse control; if Stars Hollow had more (or any) diversity; if everyone was hornier. Does make me wonder, though: would Lorelai kill for Rory? I think so, but she would really struggle with having done the deed afterwards (also making her different than Georgia).

Listening:

“Too Late Now,” by Wet Leg. 

Writing:

I’m wrapping up a short story, a crime/scifi thing, and started working on a longer personal essay for this site. More on both later, once they’re finished.

Reading:

I started reading THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS, got about thirty pages in, and then stopped reading. I think it’s a good book that I am not in the right frame of mind to read at the moment. So I set it aside and instead read JUMPER, by Steven Gould, for probably the fifteenth time. Might just read the whole JUMPER series, actually. Here’s hoping Gould is able to publish the fifth book soon.

Wanting:

This “Perverted Book Club Member” t-shirt from Dream Baby Press.

And Kirby:

Let’s do a Throwback Thursday, or whatever you call the Sunday equivalent, of a baby Jess and a very smol Kirby, back when he was actually chestnut, and not the white/tan little man he is today.

The Times Are Changing But He Just Forgets

Last Saturday I went to my first NYE party since the Before Times, and rang in the new year surrounded by some of my favorite people, magnificently drunk.  It was rowdy and it was perfect.

The next morning, I didn’t even feel hungover.  That was probably due to my body having vigorously expelled, multiple times, all the alcohol I’d consumed sometime after the ball dropped at midnight.  So I awoke a tad dehydrated, but that was the worst of it.  We went to a New Year’s lunch with my folks, then headed back to Columbus in the mid-afternoon.  I was so pleased with myself for having survived NYE no worse for wear.

Oh, such hubris.

That evening, I began experiencing some greater-than-usual congestion in my sinuses and felt very, very tired.  By the next morning I was in the throes of what was to become a full-fledged ear and sinus infection, as a doctor would inform me a few days later.

I’m feeling much better now, thanks to a robust regime of medicines and one powerful antibiotic.  Of course, now Jess is sick…

So: that’s how I’ve spent my first week of 2023.  Honestly, I’ve had worse. Let’s see what week two brings.

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Watching:

When you’re sick, what better way is there to relax and rest than to binge a bleak, tense British crime drama like THE FALL?  Well, there are probably other, better ways, but this one at least made my time on the couch pass quickly.  The first two seasons of THE FALL were excellent… like holy shit good.  The third, not as much, but was still really good.  I would love to see a series, done ORPHAN BLACK-style, where Gillian Anderson’s cool, chic Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson teams up with FBI Agent Dana Scully to solve some creepy-ass murders in, I dunno, the Scottish Highlands or somewhere.

If, like me, you have a more than passing interest in filmmaking, this video examining Steven Spielberg’s use of long, continuous shots is a fun watch.

My personal favorite Spielberg oner – which looks like it should be pronounced “oh-ner,” and not “one-er” – is the ferry scene from JAWS.  It’s so subtle that you barely notice it’s happening, and it keeps the scene moving beautifully.

Reading:

Finished my first book of 2023: THE PRICE OF SALT, or CAROL, by Patricia Highsmith.  Read this on recommendation from my dear comrade Kat, and consumed it in two days.  A novel of a romance between two women in the 1950’s United States, an era that was, uh, not exactly known for being progressive about such relationships.  It was adapted into a film in 2015 as CAROL, with Cate Blanchett starring in the title role.  I’ve yet to see the film, but Blanchett seems so perfectly cast as Carol that, as I was reading the book, it felt as though Highsmith had somehow had Blanchett in mind during the writing process, even though it was sixty-five years earlier.  I definitely need to track down a copy of the film.

Listening:

Back on my Chumbawamba bullshit, this time listening to ANARCHY.  The lyrics to “Give The Anarchist A Cigarette,” in particular, possess the kind of energy I’d like to carry with me into 2023:

Nothing ever burns down by itself, every fire needs a little bit of help

And Kirby:

Such a goof.

Drifting Through December

The temperature is currently -2°F outside.  This is an improvement from this morning, when it was -6°F.  Tomorrow promises to be in the above-zero double digits.  Oo-de-lally.

Windchill is at -27°F, which I definitely felt earlier, when I hurriedly shoveled the walkway and sidewalk and cleared out a spot on the grass for Kirby, so his genitals wouldn’t have to touch the snow when he goes to pee.

Whenever I take Kirby outside today it goes like this: he, wearing his adorable hoodie jacket, and standing in snow up to his chest, looks up at me solemnly (which is impressive, seeing as he has no eyes), as though to ask, “Dude.  What the fuck?”

I know, man.  I get it. What the fuck, indeed.

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to lately.

Watching:

It’s late December, which means a new season of EMILY IN PARIS has dropped.  I wouldn’t say that I hate-watch this show, because who has time for that.  But I do derive a grim pleasure during the five hours it takes to watch a season.  We watched it over two nights, because while the show is not good, it sucks you in.  Despite the extremely stupid and self-inflicted circumstances Emily finds herself in at work in the couple of episodes, on a whole Emily is less infuriating this season.  Progress, baby.

Watching the new season also reminded me of the “Emily in Berlin” meme from last year.

Reading:

About 50 pages into Cormac McCarthy’s ALL THE PRETTY HORSES.  It’s really good thus far.  This will be the third McCarthy book I’ve read this year.  I read NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN some years back and liked it okay, but wasn’t compelled to read anything else by the author.  Then earlier this year I read BLOOD MERIDIAN on recommendation by my comrade Stephen, and holy hell was that a bastard of a book.  Just an electrifying read.  After that, I read THE ROAD, which was also quite good (if a bit repetitive at times).  ALL THE PRETTY HORSES will probably be the last book I read this year.

Listening:

I finished the last episode of Hardcore History’s BLUEPRINT FOR ARMAGEDDON, their ~23-hour chronicle of World War I.  This is my third time listening to this particular HH series.  WWI is one of my favorite historical subjects.  It doesn’t really get as much cultural focus as WWII does, and I understand why.  But the collision of Old World western Europe with modern technological warfare makes for such a rich, fascinating subject, and Dan Carlin and the HH team do an amazing job at telling the overall Big Picture story while all the time pulling in a ton of first person accounts of the soldiers who actually fought and lived.  I actually bought the episodes this time since I know I’ll listen to this series again in another year or two.

And Kirby:

Working hard to keep cozy under three blankets.