Screenings in the Sickroom

by wjw on April 4, 2020

I’ve been sick for 10 days now, and I improve day by day.  I am only rarely doubled over with coughing.  Occasionally my eyes will uncross and I can read and even plan ten or fifteen minutes into the future.  Kathy’s illness is about three or four days behind mine, but then hers isn’t as severe, so she’s doing well too.

I don’t think we’ve got COVID, and now that I’m almost over it, I’m almost sorry it’s not.  If I were recovering from COVID, I could relax a bit right now, because my immune system would be primed and ready.  As it is, my immune system is defending me with weapons pointed all in the wrong direction.

Being both sick and in self-isolation are double the reason to watch TV, so that’s pretty well what I’ve been doing.  Here are my recommendations for wasting away in Coronaville.

MR RIGHT— It’s like a Lifetime romance with lots of guns, blood, and violence.  Anna Kendrick has just dumped her cheating boyfriend, and goes to New Orleans with a girlfriend in order to, basically, stay drunk the whole time.  There’s a meet-cute with Sam Rockwell, and a proper romance ensues until it’s revealed that Rockwell is a world-class assassin who’s decided that he really wants to kill all the people who hired him, which cheeses off former boss Tim Roth, who decides to kill him right back.  The revelation sends Kendrick into a tailspin until she’s kidnapped by a large gang of targets gangsters, after which a whole lot of vengeance happens until our lovers get their well-earned HEA.

This movie has the potential to go wrong in so many ways that it’s a major miracle that it doesn’t.  The movie can’t possibly work unless the romance works, and it can’t possibly work unless all the action works, and miraculously enough it all comes together.   Kendrick and Rockwell are so strong that they bulldoze any objections, moral or otherwise, clean out of the frame.  Call me a soppy sentimentalist if you like, but I really enjoyed this one.  (On Netflix, I think.  Or maybe Amazon.  I don’t remember, I’ve been ill.)

zerozerozero— Speaking of blood and violence, we have here an Amazon original about the effort to transport $50 million in cocaine from Mexico to southern Italy.  It consists of three stories, one about the Mexican narcos, another about the ‘Ndrangheta of Calabria, and the third about the American shipping family charged with moving the cargo.  The narco story is one we’ve seen before, and so is the Italian gangster story, but the American transporters are new, and held most of my interest.  Very well made, but you have to be willing to swim through many oceans of blood to watch it.  Why did Scorsese have to be so damned influential?

Locke and Key— a young adult series on Netflix, based on a graphic novels series by Joe Hill (not the labor martyr, but Stephen King’s son), about some siblings who have access to keys that open doors to places, memories, times, and their own brains.  Be prepared for lots of teen drama amid all the eldritch doin’s.  I’m enjoying it, but it’s not exactly brain surgery.

I particularly enjoyed the postmodern wink given to the explanation of why it’s mere children who have to solve the mystery, not the adults.  “It’s just like Narnia!  Grownups don’t remember anything!”

The Irishman— Speaking of Scorsese.  God, this thing dragged on forever, and worse, you know right from the start how it’s going to end.  De Niro mugged his way through his worst performance ever.  I gave up halfway through.

Marriage Story— gave up on this one too.  Excellent performances, but man, could I see it coming.  The worst date movie since Scenes From a Marriage.

Cadfael— I saw only a few of these back in the 90’s, and now we’re going through them one by one.  Excellent production values for the period, a great performance from Derek Jacobi, and though some stretch credulity past the breaking point, the mysteries are mostly pretty solid.

Episodes— Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan star as the writers/creators of a successful British TV series about an urbane school headmaster.  When they sell the rights to an American network, they fly off to Hollywood only to find their series wrecked on the shoals of their American star, Matt LeBlanc.  Soon the series is about a hockey coach and is renamed Pucks!  LeBlanc plays himself, sort of.  Really funny, in that painfully embarrassed British way.  On Netflix.

Time Team— on Britbox. Sir Tony Robinson, who most of us remember as Baldrick, hosts a show about archaeology, with real archaeologists digging real stuff up ranging in period from the Mesolithic to Celtic to Roman to Medieval to Victorian to World War II.  I find the sight of grown people grubbing around in the dirt for bits of broken pot very satisfying, and I completely understand why it ran for 18 seasons.

Walking Through History— Britbox again!  Tony Robinson again!  Sir Tony takes long walks and point out objects of historical interest along the way.  For those of us self-isolating, the lovely countryside is a perfect tonic.

QI– Britbox, though for some reason earlier episodes are found on Acorn.  Stephen Fry, and later Sandi Toksvig, host what is ostensibly a quiz show, but which in reality is an excuse for five really sharp comedians to be hilarious about whatever topic is on offer.  There were times when we were so helpless with laughter that we had to rewind the episode in order to find out what we were laughing about.

So, fellow isolators, what are you watching?


Kali in the Age of COVID

by wjw on April 1, 2020



[thanks to Pat Cadigan]

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Rates of Infection

by wjw on March 31, 2020

So, let’s compare infection and mortality rates in the different countries!  Here’s a useful video courtesy of the BBC.

Who wins? Who loses?



Now We Are Sick

by wjw on March 29, 2020

So.  Apparently I started the self-isolation thing a little late, because I am now unwell.

It’s a common cold, so far as I can tell, but just because everyone’s talking about one virus doesn’t mean the others go on holiday.  I started coughing on Wednesday, which raised a modest amount of concern, but I didn’t have the continuous dry cough that’s a symptom of COVID 19, nor did I have a fever, and until those things happened I was going to stay off the hot line, and let it try to help people who needed it more than I did.

At any rate, the cold took its expected track, and for the last five days I’ve been coughing, wheezing, gobbling OTC meds, trying to get my rest, and watching one fuck of a lot of TV.  The worst day was Friday (which was the only day when I couldn’t work), and I’ve been improving since.  Today I only occasionally have a uncontrollable spasm of coughing, and when I cough, my ribs hurt a lot less than they did yesterday.

Today my lungs are doing a lot of popping, creaking, hissing, and making strange whistling noises.  I hope this means the congestion is breaking up, and not that my lungs are turning into foaming scarlet goo.  Time will tell.

I’ve been trying very hard not to give the bug to Kathy, but it was probably impossible to keep her from getting exposed to it, and she’s starting to do her own share of coughing and sneezing.  Since she’s susceptible to bronchial problems, we’ll be keeping a lookout, but so far she doesn’t seem to be very sick.

And today, the local paper published an interview with me and two other New Mexico SF writers about COVID and other apocalyptic subjects.  Guess it’s just in the air.


Hang On Little Tomato

by wjw on March 23, 2020

All things being normal, I’d mosey to a cocktail bar tonight, then walk down the street to the Kimo, the world’s only art-deco pueblo revival theater, to see Pink Martini.

But things aren’t normal, I won’t be in any theater anytime soon, and if I drink any cocktails I’ll have to make them myself.

But I can still listen to Pink Martini, albeit at some remove.  So here they are with a timely message, in “Hang On Little Tomato.”

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The New Profiteers

March 22, 2020

Something I heard just today.  A couple weeks ago, before COVID really hit New Mexico, trucks from Texas appeared in nearly every community and bought up toilet paper from every outlet, including convenience stories like 7-11, then carried them back home. I kind of admire the enterprise of these guys, but I also want to […]

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Ten Days to Shake the World

March 22, 2020

You’ve got ten days left to apply for Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, this year with Nancy Kress, George RR Martin, EM Tippetts, and myself. There’s a hard deadline of April 1.  Not to be pushy or anything, but you should probably get that manuscript in the mail.

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In Place

March 21, 2020

I’m rusticating in place these days.  Not because I’m showing symptoms of COVID 19, but because our governor has closed all theaters, gyms, bars, and restaurants (other than take-out).  My karate school has closed, and so has my masseuse.  I should be in Orlando right now for the International Conference on the Fantastic in the […]

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An Evening’s Sophisticated Entertainment

March 17, 2020
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The Green and Purple

March 17, 2020

Had a very enjoyable St. Urho’s Day, topped off with a supper of Finnish pancakes.   The only thing that would have improved the day would have been Finnish gin, but I can’t get Napue in the States. I notice that St. Urho’s Wikipedia page links to a list of “fictional saints.”  And the other […]

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