Things are tough right now – I don’t have the time or energy for deep creativity. I thought that I’d communicate one thing I have learned over the last couple decades – Everything is contained in Seinfeld. There is wisdom if you look.
“Welcome to Hell. Here’s your accordion.” ― Gary Larson, The Complete Far Side, 1980–1994
One of the odd, but very clear, memories of my early childhood was seeing a short documentary on television (black and white, of course) about the spaghetti harvest. I remember seeing the European women gathering the strands and stacking them in baskets for packaging and shipment.
Today I came across it again online. It was produced in Great Britain in 1957, the year I was born – so obviously I saw a re-run. There were some other satires… (I seem to remember a family at a beach consisting of large rocks – they were uncomfortable trying to sit on them, though the narrator waxed poetic about the beauty and comfort of the beach) but who knows why I saw it.
At any rate, enough horror in the real world, so enjoy the bucolic splendor of the Spaghetti Harvest, and thank God those Spaghetti Weevils are under control.
“The ultimate concept car will move so fast, even at rest, as to be invisible.” ― J.G. Ballard
I’m sure you’ve seen the Christmas Chevrolet commercial, probably seen it many times.
But you need to watch the entire four minute version for the full effect.
I’m so amazed that a car company has come out with such a wonderful, heart-rending, unwoke piece of work – it’s exactly what we needed. It’s even a reminder of how wonderful cars used to be and what they used to mean to people.
For people of my age, one of the hallmarks of youth was picking your favorite Monkee. Most people chose Micky Dolenz, a log of girls chose Davy Jones and I had one friend that was very proud of his iconoclastic nature and he chose Peter Tork. I favorited Mike Nesmith – we shared a first name (I was “Mike” at the time, most of the time, switching to “William” then “Bill” at a greater age) plus I liked his dry humor.
And then I moved to Dallas (and the suburb Mesquite) where Nesmith grew up. His mother invented Liquid Paper, by the way, and is a legend in these here parts.
But, over a decade later, I discovered Nesmith’s pioneering television show,Elephant Parts. My friends and I were huge fans and obtained VHS tapes of the thing. So when I think of Michael Nesmith I don’t think of the Monkees, I think of Elephant Parts.
My VHS tapes are long gone, and I looked around to see if it was streaming anywhere – it isn’t.
“To live meaningful lives we must die, and not return. The one human flaw that you spend your lifetimes distressing over mortality, it’s the one thing that makes you whole.” —- Number Six, Battlestar Galactica
I’ve been looking for things to watch on my television that I can put on while I ride my spin bike. Something loud and entertaining, something with some quality but not too much, something to make the time go by. I think I’ll re-watch Battlestar Galactica – the 2004 series. It’s streaming on TUBI – for free, with commercials.
I’ve seen it before. A couple of years after it came out, I binge watched it on NETFLIX.
This was when NETFLIX was cool – when they would send you disks in the mail. Your membership would get you three disks and I would order the next three episodes. There was a thrill when those red envelopes appeared in the mailbox and a sense of closure when you sealed them and sent them back.
It was a great way to binge-watch a series. There was a rhythm… three episodes a week or so. It kept you from staying up all night streaming show after show – yet you didn’t have to wait very long either. It was the best.
Now, I watched the original, hokey TV show too. It had its own rhythm – one episode every Sunday night. 1978 – the year I was out of college. I was working in a small city in central Kansas and didn’t really know anybody. I rented the top floor of an old house.
It had been used as a rooming house over the years and my apartment had two bathrooms. One small one had a stand-up shower, which I used every morning. But the other bathroom had a huge, cast-iron, claw-footed bathtub. I used it like an early hot tub.
I had a small black and white television. I’d prop it on the toilet tank, cook a frozen pizza, and fill the tub with hot water. I’d watch Battlestar Galactica from the tub and eat pizza, manipulating the tiny taps with my toes to keep the water hot.
I know it’s hard to believe, but there was a lot of hype about that show. It was only a couple years after Star Wars and space opera special effects were all the rage – even on a tiny black and white portable tube set. It didn’t take long for the gloss to wear off, especially once it became obvious that they were re-using all the special effects shots over and over.
Still, it was a ritual. I’m not sure how many weeks I kept my bath-pizza-television habit going, but it was not the worst time.
Last night I woke up at three in the morning – not sure why. But stretched out there in the Dark, I realized that it was early Saturday, June 27, 2020… the day the world ended.
The Date of the Dark Apocalypse
A few days earlier I had wondered how Netflix dropped their series and had done a web search and discovered that they usually go live at midnight eastern… which was one AM here. That meant….
So I stumbled out into the living room and fired up the big TV and, sure enough, there it was… the whole eight episode third and final season. I dialed up episode one of the new shows.
There are folks sleeping at that hour, but luckily with Dark and its German dialog and English subtitles I didn’t have to turn the sound up very much. The on-screen descriptions of the soundtrack were handy, but distracting (“Ominous Music” “Two Metallic Clicks” “Heavy Breathing” “Slurred Female Voice) – have to see if I can turn those off.
No spoilers here… there is an alternate universe (you already know that) and more crazy time travel (and you already know that) – so more places, more times, and some new, mysterious characters – and that’s all I’ll say. There are plenty of recaps and reviews and speculation and such out there – that isn’t my thing (either to read or to write).
So, I’m not as big of a series addict… and don’t know what to do. What’s the best way to watch these things? I talked to some people and they are all about binging – watching the whole thing as quickly as possible. One big advantage of that with Dark is that it is so complex it would be good to minimize the time to forget between episodes.
But I also want to stretch it out some. I really enjoy this thing – I’d like to get at least a few days of mysterious glee out of it. I watched one episode, went back to bed, and have watched another today. That will probably be what I’ll do – one episode a day for eight days.
Is that cool? How do y’all watch these series? Binged or spread out?
“The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”
― Albert Einstein
It was almost a year ago when I became seriously ill during a writing event in New Orleans (this year’s event has been cancelled – not sure if I would have gone – will try to go next year). The blog entry is here: Back From the Shadows Again.
So I spent a couple days in intensive care and a few more in the Tulane Medical center. When I was released I was very weak and spent a week at my son’s apartment on Poydras until I felt strong enough to make it back to Dallas.
I spent most of my time there sleeping or struggling with reality. My son Lee has a studio apartment with a massive HD television that dominates the longest wall. While I was fading in and out of this world, he was binge watching some incredibly strange German-language television show. He apologized for ignoring me and watching for hours on end – but I needed to be left alone so I could rest and it was fine. I was not completely conscious and looking at the television from an angle – I was not sure exactly what I was seeing (and could not read the subtitles). What I thought I saw was extremely odd and sort of disturbing and haunted my illness-enhanced dreams.
The view from my son Lee’s apartment – New Orleans, Louisiana
“Lee, what the hell are you watching?” I asked.
“Dark.” Was his reply.
When I made it back to Dallas I had to see what it was that Lee had binged and I had sort-of been subjected to.
Sure enough, it was Dark – the first Netflix original German Language series. There had been two seasons so far, with a third (and final) one scheduled for the future. Eventually, as my life returned to normal, I watched the thing – eagerly expecting something odd and original.
It certainly was that and more. True to its title, it is dark. It is a strange, incredibly complex tale of time travel and evil that makes Stranger Things (which it is sometimes mistakenly compared to) look like Fuller House. The fact that it is in German makes it even more exotic (dubbing is available but not recommended). I really enjoyed it – even though I had to take extensive notes and do online research after each episode to try and keep up with the convoluted and confusing tangle of characters (most appear at different times and different ages – everyone is related to everyone else in unexpected ways).
Certain scenes had been burned into my mind from that New Orleans sick bed – it was fun to see them reappear in context. The discovery of the “God Particle” in the future (and in the past) was one.
The God Particle
And now the third (and final) season is about to drop (June 27, 2020 – the day of the Dark apocalypse). So I’m re-binging the original (a couple episodes a day as I ride my spin bike) and refreshing my notes.
The Date of the Dark Apocalypse
You only have a few days left – be there or be square.