On Elm Street

Let’s talk, for a brief second, about nightmares.

Up until about a month ago, I would have said that I didn’t have nightmares, or perhaps that, if I was having nightmares, at least I couldn’t remember them. It had, at that point, been years since I’d woken up with that unease or tightness around the chest and clouded confusion, and I felt reasonably grateful that, for all that my brain can be a contradictory and messy place at times, at least I wasn’t letting my sleep be ruined by it. And then, I got the new job.

It is, in retrospect, very funny to me that I had nightmares about the new position in the space between accepting the offer and actually starting. There was a four day window — time off that I’d already been scheduled for (part of it a weekend) — between the two things happening, and I was already spending it exhausted and sick, which meant that it was the perfect time for my subconscious to really take pleasure in transmitting what is, looking back, the most specific and shitty nightmares about the new job possible.

Reader, I had nightmares about not filling in spreadsheets properly. Moreover, I had those nightmares for multiple nights in a row.

There’s so much more about my new position to worry about than spreadsheets — there’s so much in life to worry about than spreadsheets — but for some reason, that was the thing that my brain kept coming back to: that I wasn’t updating editorial schedules properly, or that I was inputting the wrong information and ruining things for other people accidentally. Everything was centered around me doing spreadsheets wrong in some way, and that making life difficult for other people.

Only I would have nightmares where it’s not about me being in trouble, but me making things difficult for other people. Now we really know that my subconscious is playing dirty.

Come On Come On Come On Come On Come On

I wrote about my 2023 playlist three separate times last year, and I’m doing it again this year. (That’s no surprise; even last year was the second time I did it.) The thinking behind it is simple: it’s songs that I’ve been obsessed with that I add to the playlist in real time. (Originally, it was primarily songs I’d discovered for the first time, but that’s slipped a little this time around with old favorites I’d forgotten and rediscovered entering the mix.) As I did last year, I’m sharing the playlist as it hits multiples of 50 entries, so here’s the first lot, and if you want to listen to it for yourself (Hi, Alex), you can do so right here.

Sound Off

Every year, there comes a point at some time in the middle of Spring when I start wishing that it was a little bit warmer, just a little bit, because then it’d be time to sleep with the windows open once again. Portland Springs are mercurial, tricky things that like to pretend to be heating up only to trip into three more weeks of freezing rain, but each and every single year, there’s a time when I think, maybe we’re there, maybe I can start opening the windows now with such eagerness and anticipation that it’s almost tangible.

It’s not simply that fresh air is a wonderful thing, and something that I suspect will make me sleep better in some magical, indefinable and probably not actually true manner, although that’s certainly true. (The reality is, admittedly, that at least the first few times when I open the windows and it’s too early, I sleep worse because at some point I wake up because I’m so cold.) It’s an optimistic belief that sleeping with open windows will leave me more connected to everything happening outside the house, all the birdsong and nature and all the life in general; this sincere hippy-ish thought that has only grown in stature across the past few years.

Here’s the thing, though: I believe this every single year because I forgot how fucking noisy it actually is outside my house. This past weekend was the first few nights the windows were fully open, and it was terrible.

Part of that is because I live on the same block as no less than two bars and a handful of restaurants, which means that the weekend is the time when there’s a lot of shitty music being played very loudly right outside my window. Another part comes from the fact that neighbors, reasonably enamored of the weather, decided to invite friends over for a late-night private party, which meant even more shitty music and loud conversation essentially directly underneath where I was trying to sleep. A third element was the traffic, which included a number of people seemingly trying to recreate Fast and the Furious along the street where I live.

That first night, I was woken repeatedly by a bass drop and resultant cheer, a revving car, screams of recognition for some newcomer to the party, or the like. I’d just be slowly, slowly falling asleep, and then noise. Back awake.

I fell asleep eventually, exhausted and grumpy, only to wake up too few hours later to the sound of birdsong — the very thing I’d been looking forward to for weeks. I groggily opened my eyes and registered what I was hearing as it slowly started to sound correct in my head. “Shut the fuck up,” I whined, pointlessly.

Everything Was Still

For the first time in a long time, I found myself woken up by a nightmare the other night. I’m not going to share what the nightmare was, because (a) I don’t fully remember everything, and (b) what I do remember was less of the “oh no, a giant monster is hunting me how cartoonishly terrifying” and more of the “that emotional fault line I have in my heart because of relationship trauma is still there and the dream decided to wrench it open again a little bit, just for fun.” Which is to say: not for public consumption, sorry. The reason I mention it isn’t to be a tease for emotional sadists, but to share what it felt like after I woke up.

When I was younger, I remember waking up from nightmares and just essentially shrugging internally, turning back over and falling back to sleep. “That was annoying,” I’d more or less think, and then immediately move on. Apparently, that’s a skill I’ve lost. Instead, I lay there in existential turmoil, replaying what little bits I could remember of the dream as the memory decayed and fell apart around me. Worse yet, I had that moment of uncertainty whether or not what I’d dreamed was actually a dream or a memory in the half-awake haze, and spent an worryingly long time (it felt like) going, but that didn’t really happen, did it? It couldn’t have, but maybe it did. Did that happen? and dealing with a kind-of pre-emptive follow-through of how I’d feel if it had, in fact, been real.

During all of this, I was very aware of the stillness of everything around me — the lack of any noise or movement even outside the window, as if the entire world was lying there beside me, around me, stuck in that same uncertainty about what was real and what wasn’t, and what would happen next regardless. I was unmoving on the bed, in fear of what I’d just felt and what I’d hopefully imagined-as-opposed-to-remembered, and everything else seemed just as frozen as I was.

I thought to myself, it was really just a dream, it didn’t happen and no-one said any of that and I thought to myself, I wish I could just turn over and go back to sleep, but I’m not even feeling tired anymore, my brain won’t stop and it’s still the middle of the night. And then, I closed my eyes for a second and it was hours later, full sun outside and I’d forgotten even more details about the thing that seemed so all-encompassing what felt like just a minute before.

Mumble Gripe Moan

Secrets behind the blog: There was, originally, an entirely different post here that you’ll never see. I wrote something that was, reading it back weeks later — yes, sometimes I manage to write these weeks in advance (and sometimes I really don’t; the former is what I prefer, being the particular brand of deadline-obsessed weirdo I am) — nothing more than a rant about a work thing that, while I still entirely agree with it, is of zero interest to most people and probably pretty unprofessional to boot.

Re-reading it, I started to think about the idea of “quality control” when it comes to this place — wondering about the extent I think about other people reading what I write here, and how much (if at all) that colors what I write here. It’s a strange thing, really; I write for “an audience,” because that’s what I think I’ve always done, everywhere and everything I write, stretching all the way back decades by this point — but that audience is a different thing in my head in different places that I write. (When it comes to work, I am keenly aware of the audience and when I’m writing to them or not; it’s debilitating sometimes.)

Here, though, the “audience” I’m writing for has always been a strangely amorphous thing. I think of this place as more self-indulgent and, to an extent, “just me,” but then I get rid of a post because it feels too meaningless and too self-indulgent, so there’s some other bar(rier) at play here, although I’m not sure I could articulate that if pressed. Perhaps it’s simply my way of confessing that there are parts of my life that I think are too boring to share with the world…?

(Oh, friends, just be glad I don’t share my love of doing the dishes as self-care here. No-one wants to know about that.)

Sometimes, I think that I should give more thought to what I’m doing here. Other times, I just remember how necessary this space — and venting here, with these streams of consciousness — has been, and how it feels when I don’t give myself that opportunity. All of which is to say: if you’re reading this, thank you. I don’t understand why you’re doing it (and I’m not asking! Please don’t tell me, I’ll get in my head about it), but I appreciate that you’re here so much that I’ll delete a ramble about work to save you from my worst impulses.

The Movies of April 2024

If there’s a takeaway to be found in the weird batch of April movies, it’s that Shane Black does really good buddy comedies. (I put The Nice Guys on, on a whim, and immediately thought, “Oh, I need to rewatch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang next.” That was not the wrong idea.) Oh, and also, No Hard Feelings was far more enjoyable than I’d expected — everything from Immaculate onwards was watched during an 8-day stretch of work with no days off, and I needed things to distract me. Please note that they kind of got dumber as the time went on. (The Fern Brady stand-up special is really great, though; I’m a big fan of her’s, I admit.)

The Comics of April 2024

I cannot tell you why this happened, but it really looks like I read a bunch of comics in April. I’m not entirely sure how true that really is, because for some of the month, I was reading a lot of crossovers, instead of runs of one single title, but… well, take a look at the number for yourself, and know that I got over the 100 mark before the middle of the month arrived.

  1. Avengers, Inc. #4
  2. Marvel Super-Heroes: Secret Wars – Battleworld #2
  3. X-Force (2019) #48
  4. Immortal X-Men #18
  5. Fall of the House of X #s 1-2
  6. Timeless (2023) #1
  7. Sensational She-Hulk (2023) #3
  8. Justice League International (1989) #s 56-57
  9. Action Comics (1938) #675-676
  10. Superman: The Man of Steel (1991) #10-11
  11. Superman (1987) #66-67
  12. Adventures of Superman (1987) #489-490
  13. Justice League America (1987) #s 52-54
  14. Justice League Europe (1989) #29
  15. Justice League America (1987) #s 55-56
  16. Justice League Europe (1989) #30-32
  17. Superman ‘78 #s 1-6
  18. Superman ‘78: The Metal Curtain #s 1-6
  19. Green Arrow (2023) #11
  20. Justice League America (1987) #s 57-60
  21. Justice League Europe (1989) #33-35
  22. Justice League America Annual (1987) #9
  23. Justice League America (1987) #s 61-77
  24. Star Trek: Day of Blood #1
  25. Star Trek (2022) #s 11-12
  26. Star Trek: Defiant #s 6-7
  27. Star Trek: Shaxs’ Best Day #1
  28. Justice League America (1987) #s 78-83
  29. Guy Gardner #15
  30. Justice League America (1987) #s 84-85
  31. Justice League America Annual (1987) #7
  32. Justice League Quarterly #s 4-8
  33. Justice League International (1989) #s 58-60
  34. Justice League International (1989) #s 61-62
  35. Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Echoes #s 2-4
  36. Justice League America (1987) #s 86-88
  37. Justice League America (1987) #89
  38. Justice League Task Force #13
  39. Justice League International (1989) #s 63-65
  40. Total Justice #s 1-2
  41. Justice League America (1987) #s 90-92
  42. Justice League Task Force #14
  43. Justice League International (1989) #s 66
  44. Total Justice #3
  45. Justice League America (1987) # 93
  46. Justice League Task Force #16
  47. Justice League International (1989) #s 68
  48. Extreme Justice #s 0, 1-4
  49. Marvel Feature (1971) #s 11-12
  50. Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #1
  51. Void Rivals #8
  52. Supergirl (1996) #s 1-10
  53. 2001: A Space Odyssey #s 2-7
  54. Extreme Justice #s 5-15
  55. Transformers (2023) #7
  56. Extreme Justice #s 16-18
  57. World’s Finest Comics #s 215-216
  58. Rise of the Powers of X #s 1-2
  59. Captain America (2023) #5
  60. Fantastic Four (2022) #15
  61. Uncanny X-Men (1963) #s 1-2
  62. Justice League of America (1960) #144
  63. Justice League (2018) #1
  64. Uncanny X-Men (1963) #s 3-6
  65. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 35-36
  66. Hardware (1993) #s 17-18
  67. Superboy (1993) #s 6-7
  68. Icon (1993) #s 15-16
  69. Steel (1994) #s 6-7
  70. Blood Syndicate #s 16-17
  71. Static #14
  72. Superman: The Man of Steel #37
  73. Superman (1987) #93
  74. Action Comics (1938) #703
  75. Adventures of Superman (1987) #516
  76. Superman: The Man of Steel #0
  77. Superman (1987) #0
  78. Action Comics (1938) #0
  79. Adventures of Superman (1987) #0
  80. DC’s Spring Breakout #1
  81. Superman: The Man of Steel #38-40
  82. Superman (1987) #94-96
  83. Action Comics (1938) #704-705
  84. Adventures of Superman (1987) #517-519
  85. Superboy (1993) #s 1-5
  86. Zero Hour #s 4-3 (Series counts down)
  87. Zero Hour #s 2-0
  88. Superboy (1993) #s 0, 8-9
  89. Superman (1987) #s 41-42
  90. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 464-465
  91. Action Comics (1938) #s 651-652
  92. Superman (1987) #s 49-50
  93. Adventures of Superman (1987) #472
  94. Action Comics (1938) #659
  95. Superman: The Doomsday Wars #s 1-3
  96. Green Lantern (1990) #s 48-50
  97. Green Lantern (1990) #s 42-43
  98. Green Lantern (1990) #s 1-3
  99. Thanos (2023) #2
  100. Doctor Strange (2023) #11
  101. Guy Gardner: Warrior #s 18-21
  102. The Flash 2024 Annual #1
  103. Nightwing 2024 Annual #1
  104. Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1
  105. Harley Quinn 2024 Annual #1
  106. The Penguin #9
  107. The Flash (2023) #8
  108. Green Lantern (1990) #s 4-8
  109. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 41-44
  110. Superman (1987) #s 97-100
  111. Action Comics (1938) #s 706-709
  112. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 520-522
  113. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 523-525
  114. Action Comics (1938) #s 710-711
  115. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 45-46
  116. Superman (1987) #s 101-102
  117. Superboy (1993) #s 10-19
  118. Steel (1994) #s 1-5, 8, 0
  119. World’s Finest Comics #221
  120. Superboy (1993) #s 20-24
  121. 2000 AD Progs 2377-2379
  122. Superboy (1993) #s 25-30
  123. Aliens: Colonial Marines #s 1-2
  124. New Year’s Evil: Gog #1
  125. Superboy (1993) #s 49-56
  126. Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #s 2-3
  127. Daredevil (1964) #s 110-112
  128. Superboy (1993) #s 57-65
  129. Ultimate Spider-Man (2024) #s 1-2
  130. Wolverine (2020) #41
  131. Avengers (2023) #9
  132. Superboy (1993) #s 66-69
  133. Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #4
  134. The Power of Shazam! (1994 OGN)
  135. The Power of Shazam! (1995) #1
  136. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #1
  137. Action Comics (1938) #712
  138. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 47-49
  139. Superman (1987) #s 103-105
  140. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 526-528
  141. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #2
  142. Action Comics (1938) #s 713-715
  143. The Nice House on the Lake #s 1-12
  144. Superman: The Man of Steel #50
  145. Superman (1987) #106
  146. Adventures of Superman (1987) #529
  147. Action Comics (1938) #716
  148. Sensational She-Hulk (2023) #4
  149. Thunderbolts (2023) #2
  150. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 51-52
  151. Superman (1987) #s 106-107
  152. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 529-530
  153. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #3
  154. Action Comics (1938) #s 716
  155. Batman (2016) #147
  156. Birds of Prey (2023) #9
  157. Avengers West Coast #s 63-65
  158. Aliens: Colonial Marines #s 3-10
  159. Aliens: Salvation
  160. Avengers West Coast #s 66-69
  161. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 53-55
  162. Superman (1987) #s 108-111
  163. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 531-534
  164. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #4
  165. Action Comics (1938) #s 717-721
  166. The Spirit (1977 Kitchen Sink series) #30
  167. Superboy (1993) #s 70-74
  168. 2000 AD Prog 2380
  169. Batman and the Outsiders (1983) #s 1-4
  170. The Brave and The Bold (1955) #s 194, 200
  171. Batman Special (1984) #1
  172. Batman Family #1
  173. X-Men (2021) #30
  174. Daredevil (2023) #5
  175. Batman and the Outsiders (1983) #s 5-10
  176. Batman and the Outsiders Annual (1984) #1
  177. Superboy (1993) #s 75-79
  178. Avengers: Twilight #2
  179. The Invincible Iron Man (2022) #14
  180. Seven Soldiers: The Bulleteer #4
  181. Superboy (1993) #s 83-84
  182. Batman and Robin (2023) #9
  183. Green Lantern (2023) #11
  184. Superboy (1993) #s 85-89
  185. Absolute Power Free Comic Book Day 2024 Edition #1
  186. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 56-57
  187. Superman (1987) #s 112-113
  188. Adventures of Superman (1987) #535
  189. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #5
  190. Action Comics (1938) #722
  191. Shazam (2023) #11
  192. Suicide Squad: Dream Team #3
  193. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 536-538
  194. Action Comics (1938) #s 723-725
  195. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 58-60
  196. Superman (1987) #s 114-116
  197. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #6
  198. Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #6
  199. Duke #5
  200. Avengers West Coast #s 70-74
  201. Adventures of Superman (1987) #s 539-540
  202. Action Comics (1938) #s 726-727
  203. Superman: The Man of Steel #s 61-62
  204. Superman (1987) #s 117-118
  205. Superman: The Wedding Album #1
  206. Cobra Commander #4
  207. Dick Tracy (2024) #1
  208. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #s 25-34
  209. Adventures of Superman (1987) #541
  210. Action Comics (1938) #728
  211. Superman: The Man of Steel #63
  212. Birds of Prey (1999) #s 56-59 (First Gail Simone issues)
  213. Space Ghost (2024) #1
  214. Secret Six (2006) #1
  215. Superman (1987) #s 119-120
  216. Adventures of Superman (1987) #542-543
  217. Action Comics (1938) #730
  218. Superman: The Man of Steel #64-65
  219. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #7
  220. Excalibur (2004) #s 1-4
  221. X-Force (2019) #48
  222. Action Comics (1938) #1065
  223. Superman (2023) #14
  224. The Immortal Thor #6
  225. Resurrection of Magneto #1
  226. Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #27
  227. Titans (2023) #11
  228. Wonder Woman (2023) #9
  229. The Mirage
  230. The Maze Agency (2023) #1