Categories
Tech

I don’t do the doomscrolling thing so much, but this first panel still hit uncomfortably close to home

Oof.

I tend to limit the number of people I follow on social media, and have always stayed away from the algorithmic feeds, so my problem isn’t so much doomscrolling. I guess I’m kind of old school in that I’ll hit sites periodically to see if there’s anything new, and I know I do it more frequently than they have time to update. At least that means I’m dipping in and back out relatively quickly most of the time? Then there are the games. Right now that’s mostly finity. (yes, lower-case and with the period, shut up text editor I know what I’m doing) on the phone, and a mix of Zookeeper (TIL was originally a Nintendo DS game) and Slay the Spire on iPad, which sits on the dining room table and gets a lot of mealtime use.

Is this a problem? Maybe not in the grand scheme of things. As the great man said, we were put on this planet to fart around, after all. Still, I’m a firm believer in giving your mind time to go on walkabout, and screen time is definitely an inhibitor to that. I’d like to think there are more productive ways I could use my time, but honestly just making a conscious decision to step away from mindlessly killing time is a win I’ll take.

So— time to adjust my iOS screen time limits…where I was just reminded Twitter & Reddit are the two things I have limits on. And I don’t use either of those anymore. Swap those out for Mastodon, Reeder, News, and all the games…cut it down to an hour a day, and let’s see what happens.

Categories
Books

I’m calling it— Bea Wolf is my favorite book of the year (so far)

Here’s the blurb they provide about Bea Wolf:

A modern middle-grade graphic novel retelling of Beowulf, featuring a gang of troublemaking kids who must defend their tree house from a fun-hating adult who can instantly turn children into grown-ups.

If you follow the above link, you can also get to the publisher page, where you can preview the first few pages.

I don’t think I’ve ever read the original Beowolf, so couldn’t tell you how true to the original story it is, but it stands on its own as an amazing romp where kids literally rule and the worst thing that can happen is turning into an adult. Highly recommend.

Categories
Books

I swear, not every post this year will be about 1984

I finished Julia: A Retelling of George Orwell’s 1984 a couple days ago, and would highly recommend it. The world in Julia feels larger and more lived-in than in Orwell’s original book, and it gets deeper into some themes that he glosses over, especially as they relate to women. The plot also keeps moving, since Julia doesn’t stop dead in its tracks to present the reader with an extended political tract. And finally, it ends on what I’ll call a bleakly hopeful note, one that fits neatly with Orwell’s other works. So — doubleplus good.

Also, while Julia can stand on its own, I think it benefits from having a familiarity with the original 1984. I read them back-to-back, and would recommend that to others as well.

Back in the real world, this past week was the 40th anniversary of the Macintosh, so of course the famous advertisement got trotted out again. For something a little more fun, see this page showing all the different Mac models that have been released over the years, along with other advertisements and hardware.

I didn’t become a Mac user until the mid-90s, but did get a chance to play with one in…maybe 1984? I don’t remember for sure, but it was definitely an early model. My parents were visiting some friends, and brought me along. One of their kids had recently bought a Mac, and he was kind enough to let me play with it. So I spent the evening farting around with MacPaint…and somehow managed to erase a file he had of the Ghostbusters logo. Sorry, Eric. 😰

…and back in the here & now, WorldCon & the Hugos are going through another mess, this time largely thanks to it being hosted in China. For a rundown and links to more, see Charlie Stross’s post on the topic. While not directly 1984-related, what’s going on there is very much in line with the themes of that book.

Categories
Politics

Speaking of Orwell’s 1984, one dynamic that absolutely tracks in modern America is the purpose of power

This isn’t a new insight, but it bears repeating:

We now have a Republican Party where power, divorced of any cogent, animating policy aims, is king. Spectacle, muscle flexing, reflexive opposition and, most importantly, owning the libs, is the currency of the realm. That dynamic not only allows for no compromise, but makes compromise with Democrats a capital crime — even when that posture consistently leads to outcomes farther from this hard-right group’s stated goals, since they completely remove themselves from the negotiating table.

Categories
Politics

Using the New York Times to pick at a metaphorical scab

Some loosely connected bits.

I’ve been re-reading 1984 recently, in preparation to dig into Julia: A Retelling of George Orwell’s 1984. I just hit the part where (spoilers, I guess?) Winston has been imprisoned in The Ministry of Love. The full-on torture hasn’t started yet, but it’s not looking good for our hero.

Anyway, one of the things that struck me reading the book is how different the mechanisms for controlling information are from what we’re experiencing/witnessing in the US. In Oceania, the state/party controls everything, from the ubiquitous viewscreens to radios and printed materials such as newspapers and books. Further, anything written down is in a constant state of flux to ensure that the party is always right, and has always been right. You can’t find competing sources of information, because they don’t exist.

Compare that to 21st century America. Yes, we have problems with media consolidation, and not enough breadth in our most prominent voices. But they do exist. So in theory, when people come across Trump et al’s garbage claims about stolen elections and Jan 6 being no big deal, they should be counterbalanced by others pointing out that no, he lost the election fair & square, and Jan 6 was in fact a failed coup attempt FFS. However, there is a significant portion of the population that has self-isolated themselves to a point where all they get is garbage into their eyeballs/ears/brains. Conservative media thrives on stoking fear, so it’s no surprise that’s what we see coming out of Iowa.

I would also argue that this self-isolation is much more effective than anything in Orwell’s book. When a specific point of view is forced on you, especially by the government, I think it’s easier to question than when you’ve chosen it. There’s an element of preaching to the choir here, but also an investment that can be hard to shake.

Which leads me to Twitter. It is clearly in decline (if not dead), in no small part because Elon Musk has made it a much friendlier place for (let’s be blunt) Nazis and their ilk. I still have an account, but don’t use it anymore. Nobody’s ever cared about my Twitter usage (well, maybe one person, but I’ll get to that), but there’s been a stream of writers and organizations with significant follower counts who have also bailed on it. Because again, Nazis.

Let’s also note that the Venn diagram of Nazis and conservative media has a lot of overlap. There’s a reason why Trump gets an exception to Godwin’s Law. Tucker Carlson is arguably a white supremacist, etc etc.

Back to Twitter — until she locked the account down, I would periodically check to see if there was any evidence of klinnyb veering away from the worst elements of conservative media (remember that Venn diagram?) she had latched onto. There never was, but hope springs eternal. In the summer of 2020, she was following around 300 accounts. At least by my standards, that made her a pretty avid Twitter user (I topped out at 49), and a lot of the accounts she followed were terrifyingly right wing. After another “Twitter is full of Nazis now” article last spring, I was curious where she stood, so checked again…and she was at 759. As of this writing, she’s just shy of 800. Holy shit. So clearly still an active user. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that number got so high at the same time Twitter was turning into a Nazi playground. Because otherwise…nah.

Coincidentally, I haven’t been invited to Thanksgiving dinner for a while.

But you’re probably wondering what the NY Times (I know) has to do with this. Well, I’ll tell you. They had a piece recently titled “On the Ballot in Iowa: Fear. Anxiety. Hopelessness.” The lead-in to the following paragraph is pure “both sides,” which had me braced for the worst, but they followed it up with this:

Democrats worry that a second Trump administration could plunge the country into chaos, trample constitutional rights and destroy the legitimacy of elections. Mr. Trump and his supporters make false claims that the previous election was stolen, that the riot on Jan. 6 was not an insurrection and that the Biden administration has been using the legal system to prosecute its political opponents. In the years since the attack at the Capitol, Mr. Trump and both mainstream and fringe elements of the conservative media have pushed a steady drumbeat of those lies, an effort to turn upside down the narrative of Jan. 6 and undercut the legitimacy of the Biden administration.

I mean, can you read that in any way other than “Democrats fear Republicans have lost their mind. Here’s a list of reasons they are absolutely right to be concerned?” The piece goes on to describe how many Iowa Republicans are convinced we’re headed for Civil War, if not WWIII. Bonkers stuff, but that’s what they’re being fed. That’s a vision they wanted, for whatever reason. And meanwhile, their leading candidate has argued that he should be allowed to straight up murder his political rivals. So who’s trying to start a Civil War again?

sigh

Categories
Film

Guess who got on a screwball comedy kick in 2023 and still has vast swaths of Africa untouched?

AKA, the 2023 films recap. I’m not going to link to any of these (probably), because you find anything you want on my Letterboxd 2023 stats page. However, there are some details not covered by Letterboxd.

We continue to find the Criterion Channel’s collections a handy way to go down rabbit holes. This past year we hit their screwball comedy and Michelle Yeoh collections, as evidenced by the stars and directors sections.

We started to make a conscious effort to watch more international fare a couple years ago. The first year was more successful than last year, but we still were able to add 10 new countries to our map. Note here that Letterboxd uses different criteria than we do, so for example we’re counting “Timbuktu” as Mali even though they mark it France. You’ll also see that Germany is shaded, but that’s due to “Amelie” (quoi?) and “John Wick: Chapter 4.” Again, we don’t count those as German. BUT! Notice the Korean peninsula, which has both North and South Korea shaded. That part’s accurate thanks to tracking down “Comrade Kim Goes Flying.” The other film worth noting is “Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai,” an homage to “Purple Rain,” featuring Mdou Moctar.

Kind of an aside, but one of the things that keeps us from logging more international fare is that what tends to be available is inevitably Serious Drama, often dealing with Important Issues of the Day. This is fine, but often not what we’re looking for at the end of a long day.

Anyway, reviewing the list, here are a few titles worth checking out that are either older or might otherwise fly under the radar:

  • Irma Vep — the 1996 version with Maggie Cheung. We tried the miniseries on HBO but couldn’t get past the first episode. This version is much more focused. And it has Maggie Cheung.
  • Bound — I should’ve watched this a long time ago. The bit with the phone tracking the phone cord still makes me laugh.
  • We are the best! — Teenage girls who can’t play music form a punk band.
  • Catherine Called Birdy — Bella Ramsey as a spirited, uncooperative young lady.
  • The Old Man & the Gun — Robert Redford as a lifelong inveterate bank robber and prison escapee. Effortlessly cool, and that shot near the end of him watching the bank truck go by is perfect.
  • Grandma — Lily Tomlin as the titular character, trying to help her granddaughter and dealing with her past.
  • Lucky Grandma — Chinese grandma vs Chinese mob.
  • Full Time — One of John Waters’ favorites of 2023. Basically about a woman trying to get to work in the middle of a transit strike. We watch a lot of movies where the stakes are The End of the World, so it’s refreshing (and possibly more nerve-racking) to see something where the main question is whether the main character will be able to keep her job.
Categories
Books

Time for the 2023 reading recap, and yes I do know how to count, but there were extenuating circumstances, okay?

Grand totals: 32 comics (mostly TPBs, but some individual issues as well) and 31 (whoops, one book got in there twice) 30 (oh, let’s count this last one in 2023) 31 books. That’s a lighter tally than last year, probably because the comic count is lower, though I haven’t gone back to verify that. Some notes from the year, in no particular order, and leaving out a bunch of titles…

Oh, and links are to bookshop.org wherever possible. Support your local bookseller, & all that. Amazon is…a problem.

Books

Three Star Wars books in the pile, Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade, From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi, and Crimson Climb. I continue to dig the “Certain Point of View” collections, and hope they continue those with the prequel trilogy and episodes VII & VIII. There is no Episode IX. I enjoyed the other two novels, but both suffered from unnecessary, annoying epilogues. I blame the Star Wars Machine for those, not the authors.

Another set of three books, unrelated except for being explicitly written during, and possibly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020s more broadly: A Sleight of Shadows, The World We Make, and Wayward (my favorite of this set). These are also all the second (and last?) books in the series. NK Jemison in particular noted that she intended for the series to be a trilogy, but *waves hands at everything* forced her to cut it short (yes, it shows). Our loss. If it wasn’t clear, creating any kind of art in the last few years has been doing it on hard mode.

Non-fiction — two very personal stories in Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter and Mo’ Meta Blues. One addition to our “White People Are the Literal Worst” collection with Black AF History, with The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap filed nearby. One look at Russian society as of a few years ago, with Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. And finally, a pair of “we are doomed” works, though both offer some slim rays of hope: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, and Chokepoint Capitalism.

One that doesn’t really fit in the standard fiction/non-fiction binary: FATE Core System, because even though we rarely play TTRPGs, I enjoy reading the rulesets. This is where I point at myself and say, “Nerd.”

A handful of other books worth mentioning:

Comics

More than half the comics I read came from Kickstarter projects. These are a mix of single issues, TPBs, and sometimes collections of issues that could be a TPB, but for whatever reason that’s not how they came into the house. I’m torn about whether to list individual titles here, because on the one hand I believe in supporting indie creators, but on the other… (leans in to whisper) a lot of these are not actually that good. The art is nearly always well done, but the writing…meh. Impossible Jones continues to get a thumbs-up, though.

On the flip side, there are a handful of books in this year’s pile that hardly need my endorsement — Ms. Marvel, Doctor Aphra, Monstress, Saga (write/draw these faster please), G. Willow Wilson’s Poison Ivy run, etc. Just punch any of those into your friendly neighborhood search engine.

A few titles that I will highlight:

On to the new year!

Categories
Fiction

The Special

Inspired by the recent release of From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi.

Gavon found an open spot between a pair of larger troop carriers and set the shuttle down with practiced ease. He bounced out of his seat, and ducked into the passenger area. “All right, everyone! The festivities shouldn’t be far. Just head more or less northwest. I hear the locals have sticky fingers, so you can leave your helmets and gear here.” He hit the hatch release with his fist and gestured for everyone to depart. The door opened the width of a spanner turned sideways, then shuddered to a stop. The sound of gears grinding filled the cabin, drowning out a string of Nikto curses coming from the ship’s pilot.

Gavon took a step back and aimed a full-bodied kick at a boot-shaped dent in the door. It fell open another spanner length, the motors caught and it lowered the rest of the way normally. “Karking piece of junk,” he muttered, backing out of the way again for everyone to disembark.

A Twi’lek hung back. “When should we plan to rendezvous back here?”

Gavon hit the external door control with his fist and watched as it lurched back up half-way and stopped. Squatting under it, he shouldered it past the stuck point and watched in satisfaction as the hatch sealed. He slapped the hull, a gesture somewhere between affection and “showed you.”

Turning around, he jumped at the sight of the Twi’lek in front of him. “Can I help you? Lieutenant…?”

“Kiki. When should we return to the shuttle?”

Gavon shook his head. “No idea.”

Kiki leaned in, sure she had misheard. “Sorry?”

“No idea. Some time tomorrow, I imagine.”

“Oh.” Kiki looked at the forest around her, dubious. 

Gavon clapped her on the back, laughing. “I doubt there’s anything here that would find you appetizing. Do you want your blaster?” He indicated the recalcitrant door. “I should be able to wrestle us back inside.”

“I don’t have blaster.”

Gavon’s brows raised in surprise. “How do you not have a blaster?”

“I mean I don’t have it with me. I left it in my quarters.” She pointed vaguely up, indicating the fleet still orbiting Endor.

“Ah,” said Gavon, nodding without understanding. 

“There’s not much call for blasters in logistics,” she explained. “I spend all my time pushing data around, making sure shipments get where they need to be. If I’m going to wear a holster, it makes more sense to have a data pad in it, or spare power cells. So I’m not in the habit.”

“Gotcha,” replied Gavon. “Well, stick with me and you’ll be fine. Best shot in the Outer Rim.” He blasted a pair of imaginary womp rats with finger guns.

Kiki offered a weak smile. She’d met enough “best in the Outer Rim” hotshots to fill the stands at Ando Prime. “Lead on, then,” she said.

As they started towards the forest, Gavon asked, “So, what are you going to do now that it’s all over?”

Kiki stopped short. “‘Over’?”

“Yeah, did you not get the memo? The Emperor’s dead, and I hear Vader too. We won. Remember, party?” He touched her elbow, attempting to coax her back in motion.

Kiki yanked her arm away. “The Emperor may be gone, but you’re crazy if you think it’s over. An organization the size of the Empire doesn’t just dissolve overnight.” She pointed towards the darkening sky. “How many Star Destroyers up there vanished into hyperspace today? How many more are still flying around the galaxy, carrying Moffs, Grand Moffs with their legions of stormtroopers? How many systems are still utterly loyal to, or dependent on the Empire? Do you know—“

“Whoa, okay! Okay, I get it. There’s mopping up to do. Maybe it’s not over for you yet, Lieutenant Ships-a-Lot, but I’m done.” He pointed at the shuttle. “I’m going to scrap that ship we came in, and use the proceeds to set up shop, maybe a night club or cantina…” 

Kiki growled, “We’re in for more than just ‘mopping up.’ There’s—” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and resumed walking. “Let’s not do this. I get it. There are going to be a lot of people like you, who just want to get back to their normal lives. I’m afraid Home One will be a ghost ship within the week.”

The pair walked in silence for a while, following the path as the trees grew ever denser. Eventually, they hit a point where multiple paths intersected. None seemed more trafficked than the other. 

“So, Lieutenant…which way?” Gavon squinted as a beam of sunlight somehow found its way through the massive tree canopy above and poked him in the eye.

“I told you, just call me— hang on, I think I hear something.” Kiki turned her head to listen, then pointed left. “Yes, the party’s definitely that way.”

“Are you sure? I don’t hear anything.”

“Yes. There’s definitely someone puking in that direction.” Kiki took off at a brisk pace, head tails bobbing. “Puking equals party.”

“Can’t argue with that,” said Gavon as he jogged to catch up.

Sure enough, they soon came across a pair dressed in coveralls, taking turns hurling into a bush. Kiki frowned. “I recognize them. They couldn’t have left Home One more than half an hour ahead of me.”

“And…?”

“How are they already so intoxicated?”

Gavon laughed. “That’s called being goal-oriented.” He pointed ahead. “C’mon, I think I see where the food is at.”

They entered a small clearing. There was a large hut on one side with heavy fabric covering the entrance and smoke pouring out of a chimney in the back. There was an array of fires nearby, hosting a variety of simmering pots, covered and not, or spits with roasted meats on them. Gavon leaned over one of the pots and took a tentative sniff. “Smells pretty good.”

Just then, a trio of Ewoks burst out of the hut, chattering excitedly to each other, trailed by smoke billowing behind them. One ran straight at Gavon and gave him a shove, waving him away before dumping something green and leafy into the pot. The second made for a series of spits and gave each of them a turn. The last ladled something from a different pot into a bowl and presented it to Kiki. He then did the same for Gavon. The three then barreled back into the hut, never having stopped gibbering at each other.

Kiki and Gavon looked at each other, then the bowls they had been handed, and back to each other. “I guess we dig in?” asked Gavon.

“I’d kind of like to know what we’re eating first,” said Kiki.

Gavon shrugged. “You can ask. Do you speak Ewok?”

“No,” admitted Kiki. “But I can point and grunt.”

“Suit yourself,” responded Gavon as he shoveled a spoonful of stew into his mouth.

Meanwhile, Kiki lifted the fabric to the tent and poked her head inside. “Hello? Excuse me?” She dropped the fabric as the smoke hit her in the face, and she stepped back coughing. “Can’t see a thing in there.”

She stumbled backwards again when one of the Ewoks suddenly appeared in front of her brandishing a surprisingly large knife. She didn’t need to speak Ewok to grasp his intent, which was very much, I’m busy what do you want get out of my kitchen.

Kiki indicated her bowl and asked, “Can you tell me what’s in this?”

The Ewok chattered something in reply, pointing at the cooking apparatus around her.

“No, I mean what is it?” She fished out a couple different bits from her bowl and made what she hoped was universally understood body language for “I don’t understand.”

In response, the Ewok pointed at the cooking apparatus around her again, only this time more slowly and emphatically.

Between mouthfuls of stew, Gavon offered, “You better be careful, or the chef there will take it away from you.”

Ignoring him, Kiki tried again, trying to indicate that she understood where the contents of her bowl came from, just not what those contents were. Before “the chef” could respond even more slowly and emphatically, his companions emerged again with more raw ingredients.

Kiki darted to the side, intercepting them. “Wait — can I see what you have?” The Ewoks stopped in surprise, and turned to the chef, questioning. Having more important things to do, he just turned around and stormed back into the hut.

Taking advantage of the moment of confusion, Kiki knelt down and began investigating the contents of the bundle the Ewok in front of her was carrying. “Looks like a bunch of local vegetables, I assume herbs. I don’t recognize any of it, though. And some chunks of meat.”

The Ewok yanked his bundle away from her, annoyed. A few bits fell to the ground as he hustled to dump it in one of the stew pots. 

Gavon laughed. “They’re going to put your picture on the wall, and you’re never going to be allowed here again.”

“I can live with that,” Kiki retorted. Something caught her eye, and she bent down to pick it up. After a that explains it nod in the direction of the path they had taken, she approached Gavon. “Hold out your hand.” Gavon complied, and she dropped the item in his palm.

Gavon paled as he stared at the bloody chunk of flesh he was now holding. “Is that…”

“A human finger? Yup.” She rolled it over. “No callouses, the fingernail’s neatly trimmed. That finger spent most of its time in a glove. I’m pretty sure you’re looking at the finger of a stormtrooper.”

Gavon made a retching sound and hurled the digit into the woods like it was on fire. He bent over, breathing hard and struggling to keep the contents of his stomach from launching itself onto the forest floor. “I can’t believe I was eating— urgh…stormtrooper stew.” 

“It’s not too bad, though,” replied Kiki, having just taken a healthy spoonful. “Could use some seasoning.”

“You’re eating it?” cried Gavon.

“You already ate it,” Kiki shot back.

“But I didn’t know what was in it. After all that fuss you made…”

“Well yeah, because I like to know what’s going in my body.” She took another bite, chewing thoughtfully. 

“But how can you just calmly eat a sentient being?”

Kiki shook her head. “Meesnosennyen.”

“What?”

Swallowing, Kiki tried again. “It’s just meat. Meat’s not sentient. Well, most meat, anyway.”

“But that’s — wait, what you mean, ‘most meat’?”

Kiki shrugged. “It’s a big galaxy. You know how Trandoshans can grow back a limb if it gets cut off? Well, there is at least one documented case of a species where if you sever a limb, not only does the creature grow back the limb, the limb grows back a new creature. I can’t remember if they’re sentient or not, though. I’ll look it up later if you’d like.” 

“Thanks, I’m good—“ Gavon turned away in revulsion as Kiki pulled a chunk of something white out of her mouth and flicked it away. “Ugh, I can’t watch you do that.”

“Don’t worry. I think it was just a bit of plastoid.” She looked over in the direction of the hut, curious. “I wonder if they realize the armor can be taken off before they start breaking down the carcass.”

Gavon threw up his hands in resignation. “You know what, I’m done. I can’t have this conversation anymore.”

Before he could get more than two steps away, Kiki stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, no blaster, remember? I need you to stick around.”

Without a word, Gavon unclipped his blaster and offered it to her.

Kiki snorted, but didn’t accept the weapon. Instead, she put her bowl on the ground near one of the cook fires. “Tell you what, let’s go find the main group. Maybe there’s something vegetarian for you.”

Before Gavon could reply, a different trio of Ewoks exited the hut. Two were carrying a pallet with a pile of armor, half a dozen dirty, cracked stormtrooper helmets perched on top. The other held a scout trooper’s helmet under his arm, and he was slapping it like a bongo as he skipped beside them. “Yub nub,” he sang. Gavon watched them pass, stunned.

Kiki elbowed him. “Yub nub,” she said, grinning.

“Unbelievable,” muttered Gavon.

Categories
Uncategorized

If famous people in their mid-fifties could quit dying, that’d be great

I know none of us gets out of this alive, but could really do without periodic reminders that the Grim Reaper is lurking over all our shoulders, just waiting for his shot.

Categories
Uncategorized

And now, at the end of a long, exhausting week, a grab bag of random garbage that’s on my mind

This week’s meal plan didn’t even make it to hump day before things started getting replaced by “whatever we can microwave.” After scrawling arrows moving days around, Chandra just gave up this morning and declared we were doing Door Dash or McD’s tonight.

I mounted my bike to the trainer last weekend, first time in…well, let’s just say a long time. I also got a pair of Zwift Play controllers, which if nothing else will make controlling the app easier. I can’t report on how well they work yet, because 1) I just got them yesterday, and 2) I think I sprained something in my hand putting the damn things on.

Reading! I recently finished Black AF History, by Michael Harriot. It’s another in our collection of “White people are the worst” books, and entertaining, even if it did make me realize that the family racists are more the norm for America than the exception <sigh>. I’m currently reading Black River Orchard, by Chuck Wendig. It’s a chonky boi, but he does keep it moving, and the chapters are short enough it’s easy to keep reading “just one more” until you look at the time and it’s stupid late o’clock.

Those House GOP guys, what a bunch of scamps, eh?

A pair quotes from Israel/Gaza explainers that have come across my radar and stuck in my brain like that stubborn bit of chicken you can’t extract — from the Washington Post: “Even though Israel gave up control of the Gaza Strip, it has kept a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza since 2007.” I’m no expert, but that seems pretty bad. And from The Onion:

Q: How many people have died?

A: That depends on whether you count Palestinian deaths as well.

In the last bit of news commentary, from Sure, Trump is an Authoritarian Grifter, But At Least He’s Three Years Younger Than Biden: “I mean, Biden was alive when the Allies won World War II. So you can understand how that is of concern to Trump supporters. Their side lost World War II.”

And hey, “Doom Patrol” is finally back! I only barely remember what they were up against beyond the asspocalypse and am constantly distracted by the different ways they (more or less) hide April Bowlby’s pregnancy, but it’s good to have those foul-mouthed, broken misfits back on my TV again. Now where’s the danged Resident Alien season 3?

Finally, this will seem random, but I’ve been doodling a lot of Woodstock lately. Like a lot a lot. Like page after page of Woodstock, channeling whatever’s going through my mind through him. This is him 3/4 of the way through an interminable meeting, but it also does a pretty good job of capturing my late Friday afternoon mood:

Woodstock passed out on the floor