Remember in 2010, when bloggers saw this photo and thought wow that dude looks so modern there is no way he’s from the past. He must be a time traveler. That’s a 2010 dude look. But now, a decade has passed and can we agree the dude has always looked 1941? He looks like an old guy from an old guy time.
I’ve been a little hesitant to send newsletters out this winter. Part of this is because of some less than generous reading of newsletters in what bloggers used to call the “MSM.” Also, because of less than ideal community practices by Substack. And then also, that it’s hard to keep writing freely on what I have long joked about as my secret newsletter—and acting as though this were the case—when everyone in my life, and a lot of people who aren’t, know that this newsletter exists.
I also haven’t been feeling so great. I’ve been dizzy and tired since Thanksgiving, but especially the past month. I’ve had problems with anemia in the past, and figured that’s what it was again, even though I take supplements and eat weird food all the time like pumpkin seeds and smoked mussels. If you handed me a smoothie made from oysters, a roll of pennies, spinach, and the gun that shot Lincoln; I would have taken it, no questions asked. Instead it turns out I'm severely vitamin d deficient. Which means other kinds of weird food and more supplements.
I watched Bacurau, which was interesting. I also watched lots of television. Probably more this year than I had in all previous years in my life combined. (I didn’t own a tv for most of my adult life). Here’s what I’ve enjoyed:
Lodge 49: Watching this now. Equal parts gentle and weird. I like to think it’s beaming California vitamin D through the screen. I almost put off watching it because the Pynchon reference seemed too much, but every character could be a dude that once crashed on Philip K Dick’s couch.
X Files: Somehow I never really watched this when I was younger, but it's nice to catch up now—especially now that the technology and technology habits like entering the email password “TRUSTNO1” are charmingly retro.
The Queen’s Gambit: Obviously I love watching awkward girls win. And I love a grim outlook on social mobility matched with beautiful production design. Interesting to see how they keep the tension alive when when there's little doubt the lead character will win. Somehow Walter Tevis wasn’t on my radar before, despite my affection for that era of high concept, speculative, snappy dialogue Ira Levin-style. I had an Alibris order placed about two episodes in and never have a breezed through a novel so fast.
Party Down: It’s a laid back show that was the perfect energy level for me when I had no energy. But oof, even a comedy like this has some insensitive bits that do not hold up at all.
The Plot Against America: It was a wild card choice on Sonia Saraiya’s best of the year list so I went with it. I watched it over the holiday, after the election had been safely decided. I think it might have been too much otherwise. I haven’t read the book, but the grain of detail and range of developed characters were impressive
The Purge TV series: Look, my brain has barely functioned for two months. I can only really handle horror when I’m depressed and that was the holidays for me at the end of last year for sure. The worldbuilding is better than any near future show I’ve seen. It is what Black Mirror tries to be, and it has a much less ambivalent politics: the targets of its satire are always the rich and/or the incels/right-wing extremists.
The Walking Dead: For a while I was too embarrassed to tell people I was watching The Walking Dead. I just said I’m watching Dumb Show. Because it is: Such. A. Dumb. Show. But it’s smart about being dumb. The timing is always perfect. When there’s a shoot-em-up action sequence it always happens at just the perfect time for that. I finished full seasons in a day. And there are loads of episodes so it never felt like I was making any progress. I also started calling it Dumb Show because it had to be making me dumber. I'd think to myself, whenever an episode would end —Joanne, you have to make a choice: either watch another episode or hold on to your brain. And always I'd choose the next episode! Until I got to the episode with the fake death of Glenn and realized I just didn’t care where else it would go. Oh, I did skip ahead to see a few episodes with Samantha Morton.
Stella, this lovely little dog, passed away. She was just a few weeks shy of fifteen and had a good life. It happened earlier this month, but until the other day, I could still see her little paw prints out in the snow. I had a dream that I'd lost her in a park and someone brought me the wrong dog. I knew it wasn't her because she was dark blue not light blue (in reality, she was a golden lab). As I slept, my brain scrambled her coat with the color of the shutters on the house where I grew up. All these things are so important to me and only me and I'm just one person in eight billion here on earth. One of the sad things about losing a pet, is pets are usually who you turn to when things are sad. Strangest sense of absence: when I’m working out to Yoga with Adriene and realize the pup isn’t in my way, trying to somersault into me while I’m in a downward dog.
What has this year been like? It has felt like the last hour of a grueling long flight stretched out to an entire year. I’m cranky. i don’t know what time it is (either where I departed or where I’m arriving). I’m not sure if i'm starving or if i never want to eat again in my life. I’m wearing what I think are my "nice sweatpants" but actually I look like a slob.
But it’s not all that bad. Soon the days will be longer and I can spend more time outside. A few friends and I noted that last night was the first Friday night that really felt like a Friday night in a long while. I wished I could watch a movie at Coolidge Corner and live my life as it was before and will be again, I hope soon enough. Maybe the success of last Wednesday and this slow but happening (thank god) roll out of vaccines will give us all a stronger sense of a time progressing.
Someday 2010 will sound basically like 1941. (Terrifying—sorry.)
Thanks for reading.