The World That's Coming

And Then It’s Over

I think, judging by the last few days, that we’re officially out of the part of fall here in Portland where it’s lovely weather: cold, and crisp, and gloriously sunny for the entire day. Oh, we’ve still got parts of that, sure — it was sunny earlier today for awhile, and the cold thing is certainly going on; it was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning — but the combination has slipped away and we’re headed into the slide towards winter, when everything’s darker and more wet, and it somehow feels more difficult to want to go outside for any reason, especially in the evening. It’ll be cold out there! And probably raining!

I feel like I’m noticing the weather more, this year; I felt like that was true during the summer, and it’s true now. There were moments in the summer when I’d just stop and look up in the air and the sky would be entirely empty and blue all around me, and everything felt so still. It would feel magical, in some way, that stillness and peace and the feeling of being so entirely in one moment out of nowhere. Right now, it’s a different feeling; something less still, but no less peaceful. I can’t describe it, not really. A sense of feeling particularly present, for want of a better way of putting it. I blame it on getting older, although “blame” isn’t the right way of putting it.


I read The Guardian‘s Best Albums of 2015 So Far list with a lot of interest this morning, in large part because I hadn’t heard of the majority of things on it. I’m a living cliche, I thought to myself; I’m one of those people who lost touch with music as I got older. I’ve been thinking a lot about music over the last few days, particularly the music of my youth — the Britpop era, or really, the Britpop ends era, 1995 through 1997 or 1998 — thanks to conversations I’ve been having on social media. Music was very much part of my life then; specific memories have soundtracks with such clarity that just isn’t the case anymore.

Part of that is that I was running with a very music-focused crowd, and it was the mid-90s with Britpop making all of us far more interested in music than we would’ve been even a few years earlier. Blur and Oasis releasing singles on the same day was a news event, somehow, which seems absolutely insane in retrospect. I defined myself through music — these are the bands I like, these are the sounds I listen to; this is the fashion I aspire to, as delivered by the bands, and so on.

What’s so interesting for me looking back is what happened as that broke down and fell apart. When Blur made Blur and Supergrass’s In It For The Money was, let’s be honest, a disappointment with the exception of three or four tracks. The feeling of needing to move on, and what I ended up moving on into. Somehow, I found bands that purposefully pushed elsewhere with their influences, and more importantly, pushed their fans towardthose influences, so I could go from rifling through the 1960s British Invasion of the Small Faces and the Zombies to Sun-Ra and Steely Dan and the more out-there sounds peddled by Super Furry Animals and Primal Scream, or Googie Rene Combo, sampled and stolen for David Holmes’ “My Mate Paul.”

Those later bands weren’t the kinds that demanded the tribal devotion of an Oasis or a Blur, but they were more important to me, in the end.


Current reading: Kim Zetter’s Countdown to Day Zero, which is about the origins of the Stuxnet virus and the discovery of those origins by a bunch of anti-virus analysts who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. It’s a very enjoyable book, and was in my head when I saw the trailer for Spotlight, the new dramatization of the Boston Globe’s investigation into catholic sex abuse scandal back in 2003; in both cases, it’s people just doing their everyday jobs who end up in the middle of these amazingly dramatic, important world-changing events. It’s the origin story of our times, now — something that’s kind of interesting to me, because it speaks at once to a democratization of these kinds of narratives (No longer are you destined for greatness! You’re just working for the weekend!) and a weird pandering towards the audience (Hey, this could be you).

Hrm. Rambling.


Also been catching up with Doctor Who, which I’ve fallen entirely out of synch with. I’m in two minds about where the show’s at right now; on the one hand, it’s in this weirdly dark place that’s at odds with its stated “This is a kids’ show” purpose, but on the other, when semi-binged (I’m watching each two-parter as one continuous movie, albeit over a fragmented, extended period because I can’t carve out enough time to do otherwise), I’m really really digging the “Doctor has clearly seen Clara die and is trying to deal with his grief by running throughout time to have more adventures with her before she died” theme to the season, and Capaldi’s really working for me as the Doctor right now. So… mark me down as selfishly into it, but saddened that I’m probably contributing to the show’s decline, somehow.


I haven’t really written about Secret Convergence on Infinite Podcasts, which I really should have by now — it’s a podcast crossover featuring episodes of a bunch of favorite shows, and by now two of my three episodes have been released: the opening FanBros episode, and the super-fun Less Than Live with Kate or Die episode. Weirdly, the whole thing got written up in The Guardian the other day, which is… surreal? And wonderful? But mostly surreal? Comics podcasting will never be the same, apparently. Perhaps this will end up being the greatest legacy that I leave to the Internet, which I would actually be entirely okay with. I mean, before this, my legacy was pretty much being the source for a number of Wikipedia articles…

November 9, 2015 Uncategorized Newsletter That Isn't A Newsletter

Over The Garden Wall

So let’s try this again, shall we?

I didn’t actually take last week off from writing this non-newsletter, despite what it looked like to outside eyes; instead, I wrote it as usual, and just as I was about to post it, everything disappeared. I’m not entirely sure what happened — all of a sudden, I had to log in again out of nowhere, and then when I did, everything was gone. This being the one place where I don’t write outside of the WYSIWYG window (even now!), that meant I had the option of saying fuck it and moving on, or starting over. I think I made the right choice. Anyway, what you missed was lots of pondering about social media in general and Twitter in specific, brought on by thoughts of what constitutes a “safe space” on the Internet these days. I didn’t come to any conclusions, so we’re probably better off all ’round that that didn’t come to anything.


This was in last week’s edition of Warren Ellis’ Orbital Operations newsletter, which also tied in with where my head was at, at the time:

[I]n a more fractionated and less operable digital-social world, maybe newslettering is the fallback into a functional tribal living. People used to complain about “walled garden” technologies that weren’t on the open web, but, ultimately, people like walled gardens. Choosing to tend a small communal garden is preferable to being pissed on for daring to walk outside, or letting just anybody in and dealing with them pouring flat lager on your bushes and shitting in the cabbages.


In the aftermath of all this, Bleeding Cool ran an exchange from a private email group for the purposes of… actually, I’m not entirely sure. Proving that there’s a smear campaign against the site, perhaps? But, of course, the exchange doesn’t prove any such thing, instead demonstrating that some people are concerned about the same thing and talking about it. Which… happens all the time, on a number of different topics.

The takeaway from the piece wasn’t the uncovering of a conspiracy, but that secret email spaces weren’t secret, if someone wanted to take that away from you. Which, I guess, we all knew already, because — and now I’m also thinking about the reported doxxing of Ku Klux Klan members’ personal information today, which turned out to be false info — there’s no such thing as a safe space online. And yet… and yet…

(The other takeaway from the Bleeding Cool story is that Bleeding Cool is petty and egotistical; the headline for the piece was even “Leaked, A Private Correspondence About Bleeding Cool,” underscoring the self-obsession of the whole thing. It’s not a good look for the site, especially as the subject that was being discussed was one of genuine concern — whether or not the former editor-in-chief of the site, who has now gone on to work as an editor at Dark Horse Comics, abused her position to downplay negative stories about Dark Horse in the waning days of her tenure. The combination of blanket dismissal and cries of paranoia really isn’t a good look for the site.)


On an entirely different note: there’s going to be a new Star Trek TV show, it was announced today — although “TV” is one of these terms that’s increasingly inaccurate: it’s a show that’ll premiere its pilot on television, then switch to web for the rest of the series. It’s news that’s at once a no-brainer (It’s Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary next year, after all; leverage that brand!) and surprising, mostly because it seemed like it would never happen, with the franchise having moved almost exclusively to the big screen. The response has been amusing, because I’ve seen countless people offer up suggestions on what happened after Star Trek: Voyager, the latest television series in terms of chronology from the mythology, and I’ve just been thinking oh my God, people, there are entire novel series that go beyond that, we’re past the Typhon Pact already. I am a nerd.

And yet, I love the Star Trek novels. Part of it is nostalgia — I read them as a teenager, before picking them up again relatively recently, thanks to the library — and part of it is simply that I love the expanded universe of it, the political nature of the books as they go on, watching the writers spin out entire franchises based on throwaway lines or unexplained plots, knowing they can get away with it because no-one but the hardcore fans are really paying attention.

Along those lines, I can share something that amused me greatly about Star Trek fandom and licensed tie-ins recently; I was reading  The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, because I am a nerd, and it’s exactly what it says on the tin: a re-telling of Trek mythology from the point of view of the fictional Captain of the equally fictional U.S.S. Enterprise. The best part of the whole book, which is pretty lackluster overall, is the decision on behalf of someone in the production chain to declare that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier an apocryphal tale.

Actually, that’s not true; what’s great is the way in which the book spends a lot of time and energy not only telling you that Star Trek V didn’t “happen,” but also making fun of the movie. The conceit is that Star Trek V was a movie created within the fictional Star Trek universe, and as such is filled with inaccuracies and outright dumb moments that our real heroes would never have suffered through. It’s such a very strange, very fannish impulse that it was far funnier than it had any right to be, and for very different reasons than what was likely intended.

Thinking about it again, it’s petty and unnecessary in a similar way to the Bleeding Cool thing: an exertion of so much effort than saying “Oh, I’m not bothered at all” and playing it cool comes off as unconvincing and forced. Perhaps this isn’t just about the Internet and social media, email groups and whatever else we get from technology. Perhaps we’ve never really had the safe spaces I imagine.

November 2, 2015 Uncategorized Newsletter That Isn't A Newsletter

I’ve Been Trying Hard Against Unbelievable Odds

I’m writing this while waiting for the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to drop, because that’s just how I roll. Well, that and writing things like “that’s just how I roll” while cringing inside, thinking no, I’m too old and too white and too non-bro to even say that as some kind of arch-joke, what have I become to myself. Suffice to say, my attention may be wandering at times during this one.

(I’m waiting for it for work-related reasons, I should add; otherwise, I’d go off and have a life and watch it later.)


As if my complaints last week that I was getting old wasn’t a sign that I’m getting old, the fact that I woke up on Wednesday morning having somehow pulled a muscle in my foot while asleep, making walking particularly painful and difficult definitely rammed that message home. To this day, I have no idea what actually happened to my foot. Tuesday, it was fine, Wednesday, putting my weight on it was as if someone was trying to crush it under a particularly heavy rock.

The strangest part of the whole experience, though, came on Saturday. By that point, the pain had essentially faded to “occasional twinge when you least expect it, but it’s more or less okay really” status, but I couldn’t stop limping as if it was as painful as ever. It was muscle memory, I guess, but the strangest example of it I’ve ever experienced — in the space of just three days, my right leg had apparently forgotten how to walk normally, and was instead doing this pre-emptively protective thing so that I wouldn’t put my entire weight on my heel entirely unconsciously. I spent the next day or so purposefully thinking and this is how we walk, step, step, step, step every time I had to go somewhere. Chalk this up to the ever-shrinking attention span of today’s generation, etc. etc.


Except, of course, I’m not “today’s generation”; I spent a bunch of time last week thinking about the whole Millennial thing, prompted by writing about the whole millennial pledge kerfuffle for Wired, and ended up in some kind of strange mindset thinking about how generations actually work, anyway. I was surprised to see so many millennials blame boomers for the state of the world on social media, and completely ignore “Generation X,” who — according to the Internet, at least — were born in the mid-60s through the late-80s. Aren’t they (we) the ones who’ve messed things up for the millennials most recently? Shouldn’t we be bearing the brunt of the anger and cynicism and suspicion and all the other bad things from today’s kids? I mean, it’s Generation X that’s in charge now, surely (Maybe Boomers are still owning a bunch of shit and all, but isn’t it more likely to be the 40-and 50-year-olds who’re actually making the bad decisions on a practical level, instead of the 60- and 70-year-olds? Or is the idea that things were already so screwed by the boomers that by the time the Gen X’ers got their hands on stuff, it was already ruined?

I could be wrong, and I’m sure that many would be happy to tell me why I am, given the chance —  I love seeing on Twitter when people tell me that I’m stupid and wrong and how could I think that because they’ve thoughtfully tagged me with their disdain, he lied — but I feel like Generation X has (ironically, considering the self-obsession it displayed back in the day) become this oddly forgotten generation that’s being forgiven for all kinds of shit purely because people are too eager to blame even-older folks. Yay…?


Still no Star Wars trailer, for those keeping track at home. (I mean, by the time you’ll read this, you’ll have watched it seven times and gotten all the nostalgia out of your system. Or, considering how masterfully the teasers to date have traded entirely on the “It’s just like it was when you were a kid, honest” appeal, perhaps that should be getting nostalgia into your system. But still.)


Talking of Twitter, as I just was, I have that open right now to give me a head’s up on when the trailer is out, and it’s fascinating to watch the Canadian election results come in with landslide results like this. I’m reminded of the Scottish election results earlier this year when the SNP just decimated their opponents, winning all but three seats in the races they were running in, but without my inherent distrust of the SNP.

(Why do I have such a distrust of the SNP? I can’t really explain it, beyond believing that the line between “patriotism” and “xenophobia” is almost impossibly fine and being really freaked out by the zealotry with which SNP supporters talk about the party. I’m almost jealous of those who do believe in the cause that much, to be honest; I wish I had that much faith in any political party, but I don’t.)

This does feel like a year of “shock” election results, though; the Canadian results, the Scottish results, even Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide win as the leader of the UK Labour party. There’s something in the air, even if I’m not necessarily sure if it’s the kind of leftwing swing that’ll cross over elsewhere — mind you, Bernie Sanders is a lot more popular than anyone expected, so maybe so. It does make me wonder what next year’s US elections are going to be like, though. I expect emotional carnage, if nothing else.


Recent reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Recent listening: Moondog’s 1969 album Moondog, which remains really amazing. It makes me realize I need to find some more wonderful classical and jazz to listen to when I’m in the mood.

I mean, seriously, you guys.


Still no Star Wars — I honestly believed it was dropping at 5:30, but it’s now almost an hour later and no sign — but I’m going to wrap this up and post it, because I’m approaching 1,000 words and that’s more than enough of me going on, even with some Moondog to keep it light. If anyone is reading this, I hope you’re doing well, and if you’re not, then at least the end of the bad times are in sight.

October 19, 2015 Uncategorized Newsletter That Isn't A Newsletter

And There’s A Million Things I Haven’t Done, But Just You Wait, Just You Wait

I’m old.

This isn’t something that happened overnight, of course; it’s not like you wake up in the morning and bang, you’re suddenly old and you have no idea how it happened — unless you’re a character in a high concept comedy from the 1980s, but how often is that the case? — but that’s what it felt like, somehow. It was my birthday last week, my 41st, and there was something about that number that stuck in my head for days before and after the day itself: 41. That felt old, somehow, even older than 40 (well, obviously, although what I mean is “more than just a year older” — substantially older in some existential way I can’t explain). I was 41! It was, some very vocal part of my subconsciousness has decided, all downhill from here.

With my mortality buzzing in the back of my head all week (“I’m making a meatloaf for dinner. That seems like an age appropriate thing to do, right?”), this passage from current reading The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman struck me:

I don’t know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of thing so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of tres and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?

As you can see, I like light, frothy reading. (In my defense, I’m juggling this book with Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl and Diane Ackerman’s The Human Age, which feels like it falls somewhere between the two.) But instead of finding the above depressing or more proof that we are all trending towards a sad, tragic end and ultimate meaninglessness, I found myself taking some solace in the passage. It’s an odd thing, but I find it comforting to remind myself how small I am in the grand scheme of things.

If nothing else, 41 is nothing when you start thinking about time on a cosmic scale.


Yes, I’m back writing here. I don’t know if this is a thing or just a one-off. I found myself reading Warren Ellis’ Orbital Operations letter last night and thought, “I’d like to do that kind of personal, meandering writing again,” and suddenly remembered, oh, right; I have a website for that very purpose that I’ve not posted on for months. Things got in the way, as things generally do — personal and professional, such as me writing almost 8,000 words on Friday, which is a lot, but also not unheard of these days, for reasons that perplex me — but I should really try to do more with this site again, somehow. What form that’ll take, I’m unsure, because every time I think I’ve come up with a format, I burn out after awhile and then am left thinking “oh, what now.” So, instead, I’ll leave it up to seeing how I feel for awhile.


Scenes from Portland skies last night.

I like October.


I wasn’t at New York Comic Con this weekend, to the surprise of a great deal of publishers and PR folk, judging by my emails. (I don’t know why; I’ve never actually managed to do that show to date.) At first, I was upset about that — I had hoped to go this year, at one point, and had made quasi plans in my mind that then met realities like “paying for the travel and the accommodation and and and,” with a bunch of things knocking it totally out of consideration about a month or so back. As the tweets and the social medias started buzzing about the show, I had this feeling of jealousy and missing out that lasted exactly as long as it took for the first “There Are Too Many People Here” comments to emerge, and the stories like this one, before I remembered that I hate crowds.

The lack of big news stories to come out of the show made me feel better about not being there, as well; if I’d gone on someone else’s dime — which is pretty much the only way I’ll go to a show like this these days, although I’m thinking that Emerald City Comic Con might be something I’ll do properly next year just for me — I would have wanted to get, if not a scoop, then at least some stories. But NYCC this year, there weren’t really any stories, and that void made me feel oddly relieved that I hadn’t asked someone else to pay for me to get there, if that makes sense.

I would suggest that the show was a dud for the combination of “too busy” and “no big news,” but I’ve seen enough comments from those who attended who really loved their experience to know that that’s not the case — instead, I think it’s one of those things where, literally, you had to be there for it to have any appeal. I’m in two minds about that, because part of me thinks “So, it’s Emperor’s New Clothes conventioneering, then?” while also wondering, isn’t that the best kind of convention, where those who make the effort/pay the money to make it get the best experience from the whole thing?

One of these days, someone is going to work out how to do a virtual comic convention properly, and then it’ll all change again.


For the last week, this has been on constant repeat in my head. No matter what I do, I cannot get it out of there. In case you’re not in the same boat, well, now you can be.

(It’s specifically the Broadway cast version that’s in my head, which I couldn’t find on YouTube, but it’s also had me thinking about musicals and musical arrangements and dynamics and things that make no sense in words, but go along in the weird visual synesthesia of my brain and music.)


Apparently, I should do brain dumps more often. I’m over 1,000 words already? Holy crap. I haven’t even written about my new favorite podcast Pod for America yet, or my thoughts on the new Doctor Who season or being part of Secret Convergence on Infinite Podcasts or anything like that. Well, maybe if I do another one of these sometime. For now, it’s almost 6pm and I’ve been at the computer for far too many hours and there’s dinner to make. Time to shut up and post.

October 12, 2015 Uncategorized Newsletter That Isn't A Newsletter

June 1

I’m reading a book right now called Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time, by Brigid Schulte; I picked it up as an impulse on Saturday, recovering from a Friday that entirely got away from me and left me feeling just like the title. The week had utterly gotten away from me, I’d been thinking that morning, throwing self-recriminations at myself; the month had completely gotten away from me. My concentration was feeling lost, and I was feeling overworked and exhausted. Something has to change was in my head, and so the discovery of this book seemed — if not a godsend, then at least a happy coincidence.

It’s a fascinating book, filled with pieces of information at once pertinent to my day-to-day existence and also horrifying (If you take a 30 second break from what you’re doing to answer an email, it takes five minutes to return to the state of concentration you were in before, for example — the number of times I do that each day explains why my concentration has been feeling so scattered lately) and something that makes me both concerned for the state of the world — everyone is overwhelmed! — and a little less like I’m fucking up personally, if that makes sense.

That said, I’m not at the point where the book suggests how to make things less stressful and manage my time better, merely the point where I keep being told how important leisure is (I knew that). I can’t wait to get further and learn what to do instead of my current predicament, but ironically, I don’t have enough time to do so just yet.

June 1, 2015 Uncategorized

May 13

And then I got sick.

I’m actually a very good sick person — no matter how lousy I feel, I tend to hold it together pretty well, but this time around, that was pretty hard to do even before I went to the doctor: I was dozing off unintentionally, feverish enough that I could hear myself talking to myself and being pretty much unable to stop it, and had apparently taken up vomiting as a favored new pastime. But then I went to the doctor, and he said “I think you should actually go to the emergency room, they can run tests in a far quicker way than we can here, and if it’s what I think it could be, it’s important that we find out as soon as possible.” Which is, to be fair, pretty much the least exciting thing you want to hear a doctor say to you.

Spoilers: it wasn’t the bad thing. Instead, I’ve got enteritis, which is an infection. A horrible infection, sure, but at least infections can clear up and aren’t going to require surgery or months/years of treatment (Other options brought up included my colon failing and/or kidney stones). The past few days have been the opposite of fun, but they have made me have an all-new affection for the small things: Being able to go to the toilet, for example. Or eating.

May 13, 2015 Uncategorized

April 29

“A week or so,” I said I’d return in; that turned out to be optimistic at best, if not downright foolhardy. April proved to be an overwhelmingly busy month for a number of reasons (and is continuing to be, right up until its final day), and even on days when I had time to write here, I’m not sure I would have written more than simply “I’m so tired, I’m so, so tired” over and over again.

When I started writing here daily, I had visions of doing so every day for a year, some kind of grand plan that would also let me write for myself again, even if it were simply pointless meanderings of little worth. I started 2015 feeling as if I was risking becoming an automaton in terms of output; that the pressures of work meant that I had nothing left to give in terms of brainspace for anything else, and I needed something that was my own. (Wait What? is that to some degree, and I love it very much for that as well as for the chance to talk to Jeff on an almost weekly basis.) Hence, writing here.

And yet, the first three months kind of proved to me that I did have little left to give in terms of brainspace, for the most part; I was writing the random, stream-of-consciousness material that I’d hoped for, but it was emptier than I would have liked, and I think the hope that I’d… I don’t know, sharpen mental muscles as I went along or something, didn’t happen. When I was done, I was done; it was clear to see.

None of this should be construed as real complaints, as much as disappointment in myself and the result of a slow realization that I need to recognize my limits better (and, maybe, factor in some more downtime for myself. We’ll see if that latter one happens anytime soon, though). Will I be doing daily posts here again…? I’m unsure, to be honest; I’ll try to do them when I feel like I can do them, and they feel like something I have time and brainspace for, instead of a promise I made to myself than I have a responsibility to fulfill, if that makes sense. So, if anyone’s reading, hello again.

April 29, 2015 Uncategorized, Writingthoughts

April 6-

I should’ve run this yesterday, but — well, things were busy. The daily, I’ll write something every morning, thing is on hiatus for awhile due to family business. Nothing bad, but just distracting when juggled with deadlines and other things. Normal service should be resumed in a week or so.

(I write that as if I have an audience; I really don’t think I do, for these, but I write nonetheless, imagining that one day I’ll be my own audience at least.)

April 7, 2015 Uncategorized

April 5

In the end, this weekend was successfully stressful and relaxing at the same time. My family arrives tomorrow, so I’m taking the chance to take things as easy as possible, which this weekend turns out to be “not very relaxing at all, because things need to be done.” On the plus side, I got a lot done that will hopefully mean my week won’t be too crazy, but these things never go to plan.

April 5, 2015 Uncategorized

April 3

Skidding into the weekend, but I’d be lying if I said I sensed any hope for a slow down — my family arrives in days, and I’m in the there’s still so much to do mindstate: work that I’ll have to fit in around everything else next week, cleaning house, haircuts, plus various social engagements and other events. (It’s Easter, apparently, but who knew? It genuinely wasn’t on my radar anymore.) I’m sure that when it’s all happening, I’ll be able to feel relaxed and sensible, but right now, I feel the way I do before a vacation, when you’re driving yourself insane to get everything done on time, but on this occasion, there’s no break in store for me, just a different type and schedule of obligations. Happy Good Friday, all.  Go eat an egg or something.

April 3, 2015 Uncategorized