Quarantine Post 5: Seduced, but by the 80’s

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First, your musical interlude, which is Leon Redbone’s cover of Seduced:

RIP, dude.

It’s been longer than I planned since my previous QP post, mainly because I sat down for another binge watch of Stranger Things. I’d been joking about it on social media, but I find the show soothing and I have a prescription for watching endless hours of TV to ease my anxiety. No really, I have the prescription around here somewhere it was right on that table I swear.

Then I came across this Vox mini-documentary about the origins of the 80’s aesthetic that shows tries to replicate. Maybe 75% of this video looks like one of the outfits Millie Bobby Brown wore after her character visited the mall.

But the interesting thing about this is that a person (or group of people, in this case) can be so influential yet remain unrecognized. Until now, obviously.

Quarantine Post 3: Stuck Inside and Driving Each Other Over the Bend

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Sometimes, an artist steps out of their usual role to work for someone else, and their own creative impulses bounce against exterior constraints to create some of their most interesting work.

Graham Coxon, formerly of the band Blur, was tasked with creating a song for the Netflix series I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS. This is the song he wrote and recorded. Then he just kept making music, putting together a whole album for what should have been a fictional band. Check out also Vanilla Skin and Bloody Witch, and the whole rest of the album, too.

One of the problems people are having with the quarantine guidelines is that they’re going stir crazy with the people they’re quarantined with. Over at The Social Distancing Project, people vent their stories of stress, heartbreak, revived romances, and petty grievances for you to… enjoy, I guess? Some are sad. Some aggravating. Many are funny.

It’s a bit like a COVID-19 edition of reddit’s relationships group.

Being cooped up with my wife and son has added very little stress to my life, to be honest. My wife is a kind person and always has been. She’s considerate as a reflex, and is mellow when I’m upset or need space.

I make an effort to be a kind person because I fell for her, and I realized that my old habits–basically, that I wanted to make people laugh and would do anything to get that laugh, even say cruel shit–were poison to her, our relationship, and to me, too. When I realized how much she hated humor based on shock and cutting remarks, I also realized how toxic it was to me.

It’s hard to talk about how much importance I used to put on making people laugh. It felt like a connection, but one where I was both the one in power and the one who was doing a kindness. It was a sort of competition with the world to see who could get the most laughs with cruelty, but without crossing over the line where the laughs stopped coming. And the only way to continue in that wholly made up competition was to pretend I couldn’t see the way peoples’ faces looked when I hurt them. And when I couldn’t pretend anymore, those hurt feelings became part of the game.

Anyway, I’m glad I stopped doing that, even if I miss making people laugh.

Quarantine Post 2: Dreams and Star Trek

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Siri, show me a fever hallucination with a mellow beat behind it.

If you’re a casual(ish) fan of Star Trek, you might enjoy this Filmjoy dive into the history of the original series, plus a second part about the show’s revival at the movies. I’m not really a fan at all (although I’ve watched most of what falls under the ST umbrella) and I thought these were interesting and fun. This is about the same length as their three-part Harry Potter film study, and I’m sure I’ll be re-watching this, too.

Kick back and enjoy.

Part 1:

Part 2:

New Feature: Quarantine Posts. Here’s QP1

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Author Mindy Klasky has been writing Coronavirus Diversion posts, highlighting interesting stuff on the internet for people stuck at home who need a pleasant diversion. I think that’s a brilliant idea, and I recommend everyone go ahead and click that link above to check out what she’s sharing.

I don’t want to copy what she’s doing, but I thought I’d try something similar-ish. A little music. A little cooking. Comics or shows or something. Who knows? Something mellow and casual. I can’t promise to post every day, but I’ll try not to let this space go fallow.

To start, today’s song.

My Twitter timeline is full of people talking about baking, and the grocery stores are sold out of flour, so it seems like a lot of folks have stocked up for baking. If that’s you, check out this episode of What’s Eating Dan:

Having made this recipe myself, I can say the results really are amazing. They’re so fluffy and light that they almost feel like they’ve been made by a machine or something. Maybe that doesn’t sound appealing, but it really is.

And now I’m thinking you must be wondering how a tangzhong works in a pizza crust recipe. Not well, it turns out, because of course I tried it. Tangzhong makes a soft interior rather than a chewy one, and that’s okay of the bones at the edge of your pizza are very small, but feels insubstantial if they’re large. I’d only use it (again) if I was planning to make a stuffed crust pizza.

Take care. Keep washing those hands. Don’t forget to check out Mindy Klasky’s posts linked above.

Randomness for 6/10

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  1. Why Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse has the most inventive visuals you’ll see this year.
  2. Europe’s first underwater restaurant.
  3. How to actually, truly focus on what you’re doing.
  4. The Kentucky Derby as Told by the Horses.
  5. Grocer Designed Embarrassing Plastic Bags to Shame Customers into Bringing Their Own.
  6. The Queens of Sicily: 1061 to 1266. 18 biographies about 18 powerful women.
  7. Stun Gun Myths Rewatching VERONICA MARS got me wondering how likely (initial hypothesis: not very) it was that you could render someone unconscious by zapping them. Of course, my hypothesis was [spoiler]. 

“Mankind Was My Business”: The Annual Repost of the Best (Objectively) Version of A Christmas Carol

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Each year, I share this version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which is still my favorite of all the versions of that famous story.

Because of the way they portray the ghosts and the spirits. There is no spookier version, and even fifty years later, the animation is gorgeous. So great, in fact, that it won an Oscar for short animated film, and prompted the Academy to change their rules so that shows that were first broadcast on TV were no longer eligible for their reward.

It’s the Wilt Chamberlain of animation.

If the embed doesn’t work, here’s the link.

Honestly, I think these times need this story more than ever. If you haven’t seen this version, this is your chance.

The Usual Giftmas Pics

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Every year my wife and I go to the gingerbread house exhibit in downtown Seattle and every year I post some of the pics we took. Except this year was sort of disappointing. There were very few displays and they weren’t all that nice. I mean, it’s good that there’s an exhibit devoted to raising money for juvenile diabetes, but the whole thing was sort of ugly.

The theme was The Grinch, and check this out:

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I had a bit of trouble with the new camera, but the whole thing looks cramped and unpleasant, unlike previous years. It’s more of a pile of sweet edibles than a beautiful design. Speaking of designs, this is the scene where the Whos gather around the tree and sing “Yahoo Doray”. In the cartoon, it’s an ordinary Christmas tree, but here:

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Is that Chthulu’s glowing schlong up there? It’s a little blurry because it actually moves. Yeah, it’s designed to thrust up and down and let me tell you, it looks creepy as fuck.

And look at the serpentine tree with the tentacle head in the right of this picture:

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This was less “Joy of Christmas” and more “Lovecraftian Holiday Goosebumps”.

After, we went down to Safeco Field to check out the light maze and ice skating track in the Enchant exhibit, and from the entrance, it looked like this:

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It’s dark and cool with a bunch of beautiful light displays, and you can see part of the track on the lower right. When you enter the maze, you get a little card with all Santa’s reindeer on them, which you scratch off as you find each one. And it’s lovely.

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They also had a bunch of booths with local craftspeople selling their products, and my family sort of rolled their eyes when I said I wanted to check them out, but we came away with a handful of lovely little gifts.

Anyway, I’m off to do some stuff for the day. If you’re in the Seattle area (and can manage the price) Enchant is the first truly delightful Christmas event in years. Check it out.

Randomness for 10/10

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1) Honest Kathleen Turner is best Kathleen Turner.

2) A Songwriting Mystery Solved: Math Proves John Lennon Wrote ‘In My Life’. Mathematical analysis applied to musical authorship, which I find damned interesting.

3) Political Moderates Are Lying: How group social dynamics push moderate voters to extremes. (Not a perfect article, but interesting.

4) Meet the Facebook Detective, a Citizen Sleuth Who’s Helping Solve Murders With Social Media.

5) A reliable credit-card skimmer detector: a card that detects multiple read heads.

6) “The first time the bears steal human food, they are relocated 30 miles away. The second time, it’s 60 miles, and the third time it’s 100. After that, they become consumer product consultants.”

7) This obituary is wild.