Gabbling Into The Void 4: The Quest For Quainter Quarantimes

OH HELLO I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE. All right. Let’s light the tires, kick the fires. Is that right? Whatever. Miniature blog posts in 3, 2, 1… *flips switch*

The dogs of authors, on display. Today! Do not forget: author pet show!

Wait, it’s fucking July already?! That’s it. Time is broken. The calendar is a shuddering, sparking machine. I’m surprised my watch doesn’t just show a man on fire shrugging vigorously.

Right now, as I type this, blue jays are shit mad at something outside. I’m curiously getting pretty good at discerning what precisely it is they’re mad at — for instance, there’s a Cooper’s Hawk around, and I know their alarm cries when it comes by. This isn’t that. I’m betting crow? They get salty as fuck at crows. One thing I saw and found fascinating about blue jays: one day our yard jays were sounding the beak-bells about the Cooper’s Hawk, and other jays showed up. Like, a lot of them. They streamed in from two different directions, all joining the din. They called in the goddamn blue jay air force. It was a thing to behold, and I don’t know that I was aware that birds of that sort had any level of… allegiance to one another? Either that, or they were rubber-neckers. Just a buncha oglers like people who come out of their houses when there’s sirens or noise outside. HEY WHAT’S GOING ON. YEAH NO I’M NOT INVESTED IN THIS I JUST WANNA SEE. ARE YOUSE GONNA FIGHT OR WHAT. I’M GOIN BACK INSIDE.

But, I do like that some birds flock together. We’ve long had flocks of certain birds flock together — it’s not unusual, for instance, for certain feeder birds to hang out. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and the like. What’s been interesting this year is seeing a gaggle of chickadee fledglings and a flurry of titmice fledglings play together. Literally play. Chasing each other up and around trees, bopping about. Not for food, just zipping around this way and that. I’m perhaps anthropomorphizing this behavior, but I’m not a BIRDOLOGIST so I’m not married to scientific rigor, it just seems to me like the only explanation is some measure of play — which I’m sure has value for them as it does for humans. But it also is suggestive of a greater intelligence than you’d think for such a tiny little nitwit bird, and a greater sense of society, if it can possibly be called that.

Hey, did you know there’s still a pandemic? Turns out, yup, it’s still rockin’ and rollin’, this whole thing. But I don’t know that people believe it? Who needs facts and experts and reality, when literally anything can be politicized and turned into a both-sides argument?

I think what floors me the most is people who aren’t taking it seriously, but also, who think they’re taking it seriously. What I mean is, you hear stories of friends-of-friends who are like, “Yes, mmm, coronavirus, very bad, very bad, wear your masks everyone! Social distancing is important! Anyway, me and my family were in Myrtle Beach last night and had a great time at a bar, and we met some other friends from Florida and Texas, and then we went to three different house parties — oh man, the last one was a real rager, we all played this great new game called HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU COUGH IN EACH OTHER’S MOUTHS, and gosh, it was wild. Anyway! We’re back home now and I’m eating in restaurants for every meal and inhaling toilet plumes to get high, but don’t forget, wear your masks and social distance.”

Our numbers remain low, but in two weeks, now that we’re effectively reopened? We’ll see. They’re talking about opening schools in the fall, which to be is paradoxically both a) essential and b) impossible. I just don’t know how you do it. And a lot of schools are demanding parents make a choice of EITHER/OR — you either choose to have your kid go to school physically, or choose a totally digital path, and, uhhh. Ennh? To me, a mix feels smartest — stagger kids going, so you can limit numbers in classrooms, get them as much outdoor time as possible, and so on. But a lot of schools, even good ones, have abysmal ventilation. And they’re not gonna make kids wear masks or socially distance. They’re guaranteeing… I think three feet? Which I appreciate is hard to get kids to not be near one another, so, I grok the problem. I just don’t know the fix, and the fix seems to be, “well, fuck it.” Which is kinda the fix for everything these days, isn’t it?

There’s a passage in Wanderers that I think has become the one most quoted to me. It’s not part of the book proper — it’s an epigraph, one of the “flavor text” chapter openers. I post it here for shits and giggles, because… well, it feels dangerously appropriate.

A most troublesome thing is that people think they know this disease. And they don’t. “It’s just the flu, it’s just a respiratory disease, it won’t kill you.” We’ve a number of family friends who’ve had it, and it’s a wildly mixed bag. One is completely lost to the throes of autoimmune encephalitis, trapped in his own burning brain, staring down the barrel of a long or maybe eternal hospital or facility stay. Others report, even three months later, spikes of fatigue, or loss of smell and taste, or other strange little symptoms. Even in our area, I think the hospitals have said that “fever” isn’t even the most telling symptom anymore — so temperature checks aren’t worth a damn. We’re still a long ways out from really understanding what this thing is, and what it can do. Wear a mask. That seems to help. Socially distance, when you can. Wash your hands. JFC. And holy shit don’t go to bars or parties.

The best Mission: Impossible movie is Fallout. And that’s because of Henry Cavill locking and loading his fists in the bathroom fight scene. No, this isn’t relevant to anything, but I figured it was good to break the mood and stop talking about the pandemic, which will one day go away, but the Mission: Impossible films will remain.

What have we been watching lately? Hmmm. There’s a spate of dipshit game shows we’ve been liking. Holey Moley is like exxxtreme mini-golf, and that’s on Hulu. Floor is Lava is on Netflix, and though it gets a little repetitious, it’s still a delight watching people faceplant and then slide unceremoniously into lava. (And the show makes you think they’re being pulled under, never to return.) We watched Hercules on Disney+ because we’d never seen it and now I wish we could go back to that kinder era. (Okay it wasn’t that bad, it was fun and funny but basically a brainless Looney Tunes telling of Greek Myth.) I keep trying to watch the Birds of Prey movie, and I’m about 75% through it, and I like it a good deal, but it’s hard to watch proper R-rated movies when you’re in a house where your kid really can’t go anywhere for two hours. But we do watch Letterkenny. Twenty-minute bursts of foul-mouthed Canadian hicktown shenanigans. Think early Kevin Smith, but redneckier, and in Canada.

Speaking of madcap mini-golf… if you haven’t played What The Golf? on Nintendo Switch, fix your shit immediately. Boy that’s fun. And weird. And rarely difficult, but occasionally tricky. Brilliant game design that makes fun of itself and all of game design.

Just a reminder, I’m still off of Twitter right now. I think the account is still locked, though I’ll fix that… I dunno, eventually. But even then, I intend to trim it up and use it mostly for signal boost and book-stuff. I suspect my time there has largely sunsetted, and at this point I fear I’m giving a lot more to it than it is giving to me. (And a reminder too, the locking-of-said-account was due to the Internet Archive kerfuffle. I’d seen folks like Pablo Hidalgo go full lockdown, and honestly it seemed more peaceful, so I did that.)

Also to remind you, no I am not suing the Internet Archive. I got a handful of emails this week, some trolling, some earnest, asking me to stop my lawsuit against them, and I’d like to remind you not to believe everything that enters your eyeballs on this here internet. You can go check the suit — I am not named in it, nor are my books. I did not “lead the charge,” and in fact, outside of some dumb tweets, have absolutely nothing to do with it. I didn’t even ask them to remove my own books, much less get litigious about it. I do not want the Wayback Machine to go away, and am not responsible for anything that happens there. So, I cannot pull my lawsuit, because I have no lawsuit to pull. Go bother publishers, who are further not acting on my behalf. Cool? Cool.

I think that’s it for now. Here are some photos. Including those BABBY TITMICE.