Keep Yourself Warm – A Placeholder

Dear friends and family, Romans and countrymen, treasured occasional readers of DAE:

Greetings from an unfortified bunker on the north side of Columbus, Ohio – where, in terms of the varied entertainment options it seems I’ve been long curating in unconscious, grimly ironic preparation for this exact moment, hey, it’s 1984 every day (or 1994, or 2004)…though time has largely lost all meaning otherwise. An introvert who apparently gets what he didn’t realize he was asking for and then some, I now spend 98.9% of my time alone and indoors, and haven’t had an in-person conversation longer than the two or three words I say to the masked lady at the Burger King drive-thru in months. After three days of contentious protests downtown, there is currently a citywide curfew in place for Columbus from 10pm to 6am. I hope this dispatch finds you well.

I had the coincidental prescience to finish writing and posting a piece putting to bed my thoughts on 2019 just before 2020 struck in earnest…and we all see how that’s been working out. It’s been radio silence from both this site and its author ever since – usually if not always by choice – but I’m glad that I never quite got around to finishing and (ye gods) posting any of the miscellaneous trifles I’ve started then inevitably abandoned work on over the course of these past three+ months in quarantine. Some of those articles may yet be revisited and even eventually see the light of day – I doubt you’d be surprised at all to see how few of the many, many, MANY things I write are filed away as truly unusable – but it won’t be this day.

The “new normal” we’re all experiencing has been documented to a degree that, at once, pushes the limits of absentee voyeurism, exhausts the limits of journalism, and skirts self-parody, and although the internet mandates that absolutely everyone has a voice now, and a platform, and a theoretical audience in perpetual hushed and fevered anticipation of their next missive, at the moment I simply have nothing to add to the conversation, which is really just several million individual concurrent monologues/public soliloquies greeted by a collective shrug, or sigh, or nod of the head and obligatory “like”. Those last two are all I seem to have the energy (and confidence) for at the moment, and, for that, I suppose…I apologize? Dunno.

The last 96 hours, in which the country has begun erupting in sustained frustration and disbelief in the aftermath of the terrifying, infuriating negligent homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis, has driven that point home to me with sobering clarity. With the possible exception of Stephen King, this is a backdrop we never envisioned, against which this seemingly eternal drama plays out its latest iteration. Words don’t solve anything, and they’ve long since lost whatever power they might’ve once had to soothe. I don’t know what to do with what I think, and so it becomes resentment. Not aimless, not directionless, but still, essentially, powerless. Is it any wonder riots are forming in the streets? We’ve seen this movie so many times before. I hope so much that everyone on each side of the line stays safe and civil and is cognizant of their neighbors, but I hate that my hopes aren’t especially high. Despair permeates the air we breathe. 

In these times, in this context, forgive me, but there are simply so many more important things going on than rhapsodic, long-form reporting on yet another rose-tinted re-re-reviewing of The West Wing season one (the amazing writing and acting still shine, but now more than ever it is possessed of a nagging, disconcerting “time capsule” quality), a surely much-needed critical reappraisal of Community season four (yes, it still pretty much sucks without Harmon at the helm, but at least I can see now how extra-hard it tried not to), singing the much-deserved praises of my go-to quarantine TV marathon companion Bar Rescue – who honestly wouldn’t thrill at seeing John Taffer unleash his patented “scream at a complacent/incompetent/all-around shitty business owner until you’ve successfully humiliated them into making positive change” intervention strategy on the geniuses in Washington? – or some random review of one of the cavalcade of movies – The Cabin in the Woods, Bridesmaids, The Shining, American Graffiti, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (yes, I intend to eventually rewatch the whole series), Land of the Dead, The Beastmaster, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, Best in Show (R.I.P. Fred Willard!), Fright Night, Satanic Panic, Pretty Woman, Austin Powers 1, Double Indemnity, Airplane!, All of Me, War Games, The Best of Times, Little Shop of Horrors (must say that apocalyptic Director’s Cut ending hits a little close to home during a pandemic), and even Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace* I’ve watched during my own less than voluntary lockdown. I shouldn’t, and don’t, have to tell you that, though I guess that in my limited capacity as a content producer I had to get the memo too.

*Also, I’m more convinced than ever that the Star Wars prequels didn’t fail due to a lack of imagination but, rather, a lack of execution. I might even be cajoled, if perhaps not persuasively, into arguing they didn’t fail at all. Either way, that’s a story for another day.

One day, I’ll feel like writing again – as well as, I hope, feeling the justification to – and such negligible nuggets will no doubt giddily anticipate their own chance to bathe in my patented rhetorical blend of budget car polish and hot air. It’s not a significant problem at all. The internet insists that because we have an implied platform, all our middling problems must have somewhat equivalent weight. I’m not convinced at all, and I doubt you are, though as a writer – even in a post such as this – it can feel very much like I’m part of the problem. As always, I thank you for reading this far. *smile*

What I’m really doing here is installing an official placeholder, saying, in essence, that this website, the point of which has always been to celebrate all the cool options available to nerds in the modern day, has not quite reached the end of its road but is slogging through an unfortunate, extended detour. That, and to say hi, since I guess it has been a good little while. I should have done so last month, of course, or the month before, when those thoughts first occurred to me, but Coronavirus lockdown has not only short-circuited so many of the activities that have traditionally brought me joy – live concerts, movies in the theater, happy hour with friends, spontaneous travel – but also robbed me of a lot of what little ambition I once had, and with none of the fun baseline effects as compensation that (I’m to understand) you get with, say, marijuana. All the while acknowledging the acute pain this pandemic has caused, contributed to, or otherwise thrown into uncomfortably sharp relief. I know full well how fortunate I am to have a steady job right now, my family and friends in relative health, however far-flung, not to mention a measure of personal security during times of such upheaval and uncertainty. I don’t want to ever take these things for granted, because, in part, I know I can’t. The alternative, currently being lived by so many, feels like too much to contemplate. So we compensate with whatever escape is available to us. That’s what I do anyway. Nothing wrong with that at all. Hopefully it’s not a destructive one. Mine is the same I’ve relied on since childhood. But you still don’t necessarily need to hear specifics right now.

(checks phone) The curfew lifted forty minutes ago, so it’s long past time to steer these ramblings into port. 6:40am and bed is calling. In closing, please do take care out there. Keep yourself warm. Distance can always be navigated. A little more won’t hurt. You cannot be replaced. I missed you indeed, dear intangible reader, though I know you’re needed elsewhere. Please hug the folks you safely can and call the ones you can’t. Be kind above all. 

I look forward to catching you on the rebound.

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