“More Super-Heroes Than Ever Before!”


How to lose a ridiculous amount of time in a weekend: Discover a wonderful website dedicated to the British comics of my youth which, because of the way comics fandom works, have been pretty much forgotten for the most part. These were the things I was reading when I was, what, five years old? Maybe younger? These comics, reprinting American comics from the same time for the most part, were a big part of my youth, and what turned me into the person I am. What a horrifying thought.

(This really is a great site, though.)

Things You Weren’t Supposed To See #23

It’s been a week for writing things and then starting over from scratch, for multiple reasons, and multiple projects — the sheer volume of material written that’ll never see the light of day this week is both staggering and ultimately depressing, considering the time wasted that it represents. Here’s the opening to a TIME piece that ended up being entirely re-written and re-positioned.


It’s been a very strange experience to watch the online anticipation to the final episode of Breaking Bad grow over the last few weeks as an outsider. At times, I’ve felt like a cultural anthropologist, studying fandom — and Breaking Bad has a very large, very active fandom judging by the online activity surrounding the show over the last few weeks; fandom isn’t just for nerd stuff, you know — as it’s become ever more obsessed and obsessive about each episode as we get closer to the end, and I’ve grown obsessed with the obsession being exposed.

I should rewind for a second and confess, with some small level of humiliation, that I’m not just slightly behind on Breaking Bad, I’m actually years behind — the perils of coming to the series significantly later than most, and still playing catch-up on Netflix. But that level of disconnect — not total, so I have some idea of what’s being discussed and who the main players are (for the most part), but enough that I don’t feel like I’m being told immediate spoilers for where I am in proceedings — feels strangely comfortable for the voyeuristic position that I’ve taken in regards to the mix of anticipation, fear and expectation about what the end will finally turn out to be.

A lot of what I’m seeing online is particularly familiar, as someone who was this plugged-in and excited about the finales of other recent shows on a popularity/obsessive level with Breaking Bad — I was one of those poor deluded fools who tried to convince themselves that the final episode of Battlestar Galactica was brave and meaningful, and not misguided and a narrative mess! — especially when it comes to the strongly-held belief that of course the final episode will be great and that there’s no chance whatsoever that it could disappoint longtime viewers at all.

That particular reassurance — one that seems to be as self-directed as it is outwardly directed, at times — is one that grows particularly brittle in times like this (I write this just days before Breaking Bad‘s finale); there’s an internal battle in fans’ minds between “Well, it’s been this good for so long, how could it make a misstep?” and “It’s been this good for so long, if it makes a misstep now, it’ll ruin everything retroactively” that manifests itself in this need to believe that following the show for all this time won’t end up being something that ends in disappointment.

Once There Was A Way To Get Back Homewards

I used to be particularly nostalgic; it was something that drove Kate mad when we first met, that I’d just expound on younger days when I had more hair as if they possessed some special magic that would explain everything, some weird and wonderful truth about the way the world — or, at least, I — worked. And then, somehow, I stopped. I’m not sure how or why, but it was as if I lost my affection for everything that had come before, and started living in the now, as someone somewhere would call it.

This all came back to me this weekend, when I had a dream in which I found photographs of people I’d gone to art school with, two decades ago now. My reaction in the dream is still oddly fresh in my mind — an affection, tempered with this feeling of I haven’t even thought about these people in forever. That’s not actually true, though; I think about them these days, but it’s in a contemporary, what-are-they-up-to-now way from seeing their posts on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Instead of being all swallowed up by “THOSE WERE THE DAYS” garment-wrenching, it’s a “Ah, they’re the greatest, what times we had” thing.

I don’t know; it’s tough to explain. The me I was then feels like an entirely different person, now. It’s harder to want to be them again, now that I’ve realized just how ridiculous, uncertain and annoying I was from the viewpoint I have these days, I guess.

If At First, Etc.

Some things just take longer to write than others, it seems. I’d been struggling with this week’s Time piece — I really am still filing them weekly, but they’re published whenever these days; there’re something like five just waiting to run or not, as the case may be — for a few days, unable to get it to sit right. I knew that I liked what I was saying, just not the way I was saying it.

One of the problems with juggling The Hollywood Reporter, WIRED and Time (Yes, WIRED is supposed to be all-caps, apparently) is the differing speed of publication, and therefore, writing; THR is multiple daily posts, and therefore short and fast is the order of the day, whereas Time needs to be slower, more considered (WIRED falls between the two, depending on the piece) and sometimes my brain can’t switch between the two modes easily — I spend time just hitting a wall with Time pieces and just keep trying to break through instead of walking away, and coming back later.

This week’s piece was one where I drove myself to exasperation on Monday, and to a lesser extent yesterday, trying to get the words to match what was in my head, and still coming in underneath my prescribed word count. It wasn’t working, and each time I put it aside, it was out of frustration more than anything; I felt like I’d failed, and that I was stopping not because I could, but because I had to if I wasn’t going to just delete everything and start over (I did that, too; twice).

Today, though, it all just worked. I needed to go through all the wrong versions to get to the “right” one, of course, and that makes me feel a little bit less like a fuck-up, but I’m left nonetheless with this feeling of “Oh, I should just remember that I can take control of my schedule and not have to just push through and finish everything once I’ve started it just because.” This mindset I still have is one of the many reasons why I don’t write longform work just yet. It would kill me, I suspect.

Recently Read, Prose (9/17/13)

booksseptI haven’t done one of these in the longest time — blame my increasingly busy work (over-)load — and can’t really remember what I’ve read in the recent months since I last did one. Theoretically, I could simply look up my “Recently Borrowed” list on the libary’s website and make an educated guess, but instead I’ll declare a do-over and just list the books I read this past weekend. Sorry, everything that fell into that four month limbo!

Brian Stelter’s Top of the Morning was a book that I’d been really looking forward to — I like his work on the New York Times’ media beat a lot, and find the whole weird world of American morning television politics both fascinating and funny, so this seemed like the ideal book for me. Sadly, it wasn’t, and it ultimately comes down to Stelter’s writing, which read like it needed a stronger editor — he kept going back to the same tics (especially comparing a big event to a big sporting event, without any context because obviously everyone gets boxing references, right?), and was clearly more comfortable with shorter prose than something as long as this book. It’s not a bad book, but it’s one that could’ve been a lot better with just a little more time spent on refining it.

The Aimee Bender anthology, meanwhile, is as good as you’d expect from her. It’s also… sadder, perhaps? More melancholy? It felt darker, and lonelier, than I am used to, for some reason. Or, perhaps, it could be that there wasn’t the balance of melancholy and wonder that I’ve come to expect from her. Nevertheless, that’s all on me; I loved this collection, as I’ve loved all of her work. Aimee Bender’s awesome, you guys.

That said, maybe she’s not as awesome as Questlove? Mo Meta Blues was a wonderfully fun, wonderfully readable book, a memoir about a life filled with music that is just filled with joy and wonder and makes you want to listen to all the music he mentions (It gave me a serious Prince jones, of all things). I sped through this one, starting it on Saturday evening and finishing it before lunch on Sunday; it was just that enjoyable, that un-put-down-able.

I also read Fade In, Michael Piller’s unpublished-but-available-online memoir about the creation of Star Trek: Insurrection, a movie that I’ve never even seen. It was a curious read, because it’s essentially a tell-all about the way in which a movie can start as one thing, then end up as something entirely different (and arguably not as good) written by someone entirely complicit in all the changes and who isn’t outraged by them. It’s… Sad, but telling, might be the best way to describe it. You can tell that Piller did what he thought was best given the circumstances, but you can also feel his frustration about those circumstances at the same time. Weirdly compelling, even if you’ve never seen the movie like me.

“Don’t Say That”

I once described myself as a geek to a lady I was working with.

She reached her arm across the desk, patted my hand and said “don’t say that, I think you’re a very nice person”.

From the comments section of this post.

I know, I know; don’t read the comments. But still.

“You Do It in Secret”

I look at it like this: we have access to all of information, and yet we’re still separated. I find it fascinating, that people hide behind false names – that’s the only way a lot of young people can communicate with each other. I believe it’s to do with advertising: people are presented as gods and goddesses, beautiful and perfect. We’re just not like that. So how do you communicate with others if they are expecting you to be perfect? You do it in secret.

Terry Gilliam, from an interview with the Guardian.