All is Known, It’s Everywhere, It’s Everywhere

Perhaps it’s because I returned to reading Rian Hughes’ The XX over the weekend, with all its ponderings about the nature of ideas and how infectious information can be — and what it’s actually capable of doing to us, as a result — but I found myself thinking about Teletext for the first time in quite some time recently.

Most people, I’m sure, won’t remember Teletext at all; it’s this strange oddity that will die off when a certain generation does, I suspect, and something that only really is remembered in the same way that certain bands, television commercials, and brands of snack food are, with the nostalgic devotion of the niche fan. (So, of course it’s something that I remember fondly; that description fits me so well, it’s as if it’s a glove I made for myself.)

Teletext was fueled by the same technology that made closed captioned subtitles possible, but instead of simply sending a line or two of dialogue to your television at any one time, it sent entire screens of information, with multiple pages available through keying in specific three-digit numbers and waiting for the correct information to cycle through. Positioned as a transmitted magazine, it was a pre-internet internet, complete with 8-bit graphics and a flavor of snark in its tone that would come to dominate online writing for a decade or more.

There were three “channels” of Teletext in the UK when I was a teenager; the BBC’s was called Ceefax, and I sadly can’t remember what either ITV or Channel 4’s was called; each broadcast network was responsible for its own Teletext content, and each network has its own tone and attitude towards the format.

I was, of course, a fan. I loved that the information was constantly updated and available — it was like a newspaper, but always up to date and always there! — and I loved that it felt infinite, with pages available for seemingly all interests and tastes. Channel 4’s music coverage, in particular, I remember being an essential stepping stone between Smash Hits and Popbitch, two references that likely mean nothing to most and everything to those that recognize them.

Teletext feels like a missing piece of information history today, oddly, and an essential piece of my mental DNA. Who might I have been if I hadn’t been exposed to that? What career might I have discovered without it?

Caught In The Vortex

Just one week’s graphics from the THR newsletter this time around, because we ended up skipping the Friday after Election Day, because… well, it was the Friday after Election Day and we all had better things to do with our time. Thankfully, there were so many graphics we’d worked up the week before, you’ll barely notice a lack…

I Will Follow

I have, in my old age, become particularly susceptible to media.

This was something I remember all-too-clearly being warned about in high school, when we had an entire class called “Media Studies” that didn’t actually understand how media worked; there was an exercise early in the class where everyone had to record how much media they were exposed to, and my estimate was embarrassingly higher than everyone else’s, until I pointed out that things like “listening to the radio” and “watching television” actually counted even if you “weren’t paying attention” or “had it on in the background while doing something else.”

Nonetheless, a running theme of that somewhat ill-considered class was that All Media Is Bad And Untrustworthy Unless It’s School Books or Shakespeare, with a subtheme being that media was inherently intending to brainwash us all into mindless consumers who had no independent thoughts for themselves. Even at the time, it felt like paranoid overkill, but thinking about things now, perhaps I was too cynical for my own good…

I should explain, perhaps. In recent weeks, we’ve been binging Gilmore Girls on Netflix, because it’s a wonderful show, sure, but it’s also a particularly gentle show, high on the fast-paced dialogue, comedy and satisfying soap operatics, but hardly anything likely to actually upset in any real way. It’s comfort food, basically, and very satisfying in that respect.

To describe our viewing habits as “binging” the show is, maybe, understatement; in the space of just over a couple of weeks, we’re into the seventh and final season, with each season lasting 22 episodes roughly 45 minutes long. We have, in other words, been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls. And it’s having an unexpected effect on me.

For at least two nights in the last week, I’ve been dreaming Gilmore Girls dreams. Not dreams in which I’m a character in the show, per se, but ones in which I’m interacting with the characters, or in the show’s fictional setting of Stars Hollow.

They’re not bad dreams; they’re very mediocre and meaningless, really. In each case, though, there’s a point midway through the dream where I realize I’m dreaming about a television show and get very worried about that. It’s not a lucid dream moment, as such, just a recognition that maybe I’m watching the show too much if this is happening.

Maybe I’m overthinking things. After all, there’s less than a season left, and then it’ll be time for the holiday movies that’ll dominate December. But still…!

Choose Your Weapon

In recent weeks, I’ve become quietly convinced that someone is trying to spam me by signing me up for mailing lists; I’ve had three or four different waves of spam mails just pile up in my inbox, on a quasi-regular basis — always during the recording of the Wait, What? podcast, curiously enough — and I’ve started to get just that little tiny bit paranoid about it.

It could be nothing, of course; it might just be a very strange couple of coincidence and nothing more. But the more I wonder about it, the more I find myself thinking just how wonderfully devious it would be, to do such a thing; how good an untraceable prank, or sneaky a trick, it would be to just sign people up to multiple spam lists and knowing that their inbox would soon be filled with everything from multiple messages from Entertainment Weekly and associated publications — there are so, so many, dear reader — to any number of people offering to take care of legal problems that I most assuredly don’t have. (Also, offering these services to someone whose name isn’t mine, but that’s perhaps beside the point.)

It’s very possible that I’m getting all this spam because my email address has traveled through PR companies or comic book conventions to some mailing list or another, and then been sold onto a third party vendor and beyond; I know that’s happened to other people, and I’ve been around enough to surely be on far too many lists of journalist emails by this point not to get caught up in some kind of a net. There really might be a perfectly innocent — or, at least, not malicious — explanation for the waves of spam messages I’ve gone through.

If there is, though, I’d almost be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong; I hate dealing with the sudden influx of spam and wouldn’t be disappointed if I never had to do that ever again. But, in an entirely perverse way, I like the idea that someone, somewhere, decided that this was the way they wanted to fuck with me, knowing just how low-level frustrating it would turn out to be.

All I Ever See Is Them And

When I got rid of the old phone after mumbles quietly seven years or so, one of the last things I did before I erased it was save the few photos I’d taken on there. They weren’t, by any stretch of the imagination, anything special in terms of photographic beauty or the like, but the few — literally, just three — that weren’t of Gus and Ernie are all particular moments that I wanted to record for no particular reason.

This was taken shortly after moving to Portland, if I’m remembering correctly. It was a cold winter night, and I was struck by the way the light outside the local Fred Meyer looked; it felt so different from San Francisco, where I’d spent the last few years, and looked so different from what had been my everyday that I wanted to keep it.

I’m not sure why I love this as much as I do; I think it’s the weird pixelation effect as much as the sunset. It wasn’t a particularly good day when I took this, but I loved how orange the world turned, and the fuzziness of the final image feels particularly appropriate.

There’s a corner in the neighborhood which always has weird, enjoyable, graffiti; I saw this one day and it felt particularly appropriate for the time, and this was… 2018, maybe? Long before the hellscape that we’re currently living in.


Frank was the first of Chloe’s cats to really take to me, and the feeling was mutual. He was the cat that she warned me about, although that’s far too harsh a way of putting it; it was less a warning, per se, and more of a, he’s a grumpy old cat that doesn’t really like people, so beware. He liked me, and I took that as a compliment, if not a badge of honor.

He looked like an archetypal cat, when I first met him; if someone asked you to imagine a ginger cat, he would be exactly what you’d picture. That didn’t last long. Within weeks of our meeting, one of his ears ballooned up in size and then collapsed into a wrinkled, folded mess; the other would follow suit within a year. He could still hear fine, but his bold, iconic cat look was gone; now he looked more like what I imagined Peter Falk would look like, had he been transformed into a ginger cat.

Nonetheless, Frank was happy. Well, as happy as a curmudgeonly cat that desperately didn’t want to be an inside cat could be — you couldn’t leave the door to outside open for too long or he’d run outside, and he was one of the fastest cats you could imagine, when he wanted to be; if it wasn’t for the fact that he also didn’t want to run too far outside, he would have vanished more than once.

He and I bonded; the joke was that he was “my cat,” because he’d chosen me. I was, am, more than fine with that. I loved when he’d climb on top of me and sit on my chest, purring. I’d love to rub his chin, stroke his fur while he made rrrrrrrrr noises, gently and insistently.

We noticed something was wrong with him a little more than a month ago, and it was quickly diagnosed as a tumor in his mouth that was too big, growing too fast, to do anything about. We were warned he’d likely have only a few weeks left before his quality of life would be impacted, and that we should make plans.

Today, more or less around the time this publishes, there’s an appointment to put Frank to sleep. The only thing I can really say is that I’m heartbroken, and that I’m going to miss my little friend.