By Zachary Klein

Last week I began thinking about today’s column and knew I didn’t want to spew another tirade about the state of the country, world, or my own politics. Not that there wasn’t plenty to rage about given the past few weeks, but hell, it’s the holiday season and I didn’t want to play Grinch.

It’s that strange time of year where the holidays have put an end to the normal part of 2014 and the new year has yet to begin. So here are flashes of the flotsam and jetsam that are floating through my head.

Sony and The Interview. After all the stories and interviews with Sony executives, I began to wonder whether they hacked themselves. No way would they ever get the audience and ticket sales for that crappy movie had they gone the traditional route. Now? A lotta people are going to make a fortune. If I were North Korea and gonna hack, I would have gone after their financial passwords and bank accounts. You know they need the money.

Level playing field. If, after all the newspaper articles, television talking heads, incarceration statistics, grand juries, and the number of gunned down Black men and boys, I hear the term LPF again, I really might choke myself. Or, at the least, smash my head against a wall. There’s only so much bullshit I can tolerate and that one is used up.

Tim Burton. How can a guy who is as talented and creative as Burton turn out a snoozer like Big Eyes? Let’s hope he learns from this loser. Mr. Burton should stick to weird and crazy which he does very, very, well and stay the hell away from straight.

And speaking of movies:

Foxcatcher. I knew Steve Carell was in it before I went and, while I’ve seen The Office countless times, I didn’t recognize him playing John du Pont until a quarter of the way through. Either Carell was absolutely terrific or I’m starting to lose it. I’m going with the former—a way to feel good about both of us.

The Hobbit. How the hell many of them are there?

Tavis Smiley and David Ritz. Not a film but finished their book, Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year and, while learning a large amount of information I hadn’t known, the most important “take away” was the regeneration of my belief and commitment to non-violence as the only meaningful agent of change. I won’t publicly “marry” non-violence in front of a congregation the way King actually did (“I take thee…”), but I’m not about to change my mind. Begin with blood, end with blood.

Holiday habits. For the first time in at least thirty years the tradition of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with the usual assortment of suspects went south for a variety of good reasons. And will probably never be the way it was. (Yeah, I hear Streisand in my head, too). As completely legitimate as it is, and while we were a significant part of its demise because of new family constellations, I still hate it. Call me a stick in the mud.

Binge TV. If you know me you know I love television. It’s kept me company virtually my entire life. To survive my addiction, I don’t hold its programming near to the standards I do with other art forms. But now there’s a new twist thanks to “on demand” cable and Netflix. It’s possible to watch an entire series one after another until its conclusion. Or, in the case of this past week’s Marco Polo (Netflix) until the season’s end. The show? A poor man’s Rome which wasn’t at all rich. So what? I can’t fuck like a bunny anymore and I’m too fat to binge eat, drink, or smoke. So, unless we’re going out, I’m a telly camper.

Facebook. Yep. There’s an enormous amount of criticism, most incredibly well deserved. Nonetheless, I’ve met people who I honestly consider good friends through this medium and am grateful. Believe me, if I had the opportunity, I’d go drinking with all. I love the idea of “one world” and while we’re light years away from even visualizing that, FB is a small step. How else could I have connected with people from different cities, countries and race who I’ll never meet but care for any way. Yeah, it’s a strange new reality and I don’t have a clue whether it’s a good strange, but it makes me happy.

So speaking of happiness:

Matt Jacob reboot. Matt’s move to Polis Books has publically begun. Polis is reissuing the first three books of my Matt Jacob novels individually and in a set during February and publishing the new book of the series in March. Made for a hectic week of working with BoismierJohnDesign (the great people who created and maintain my website) swapping out the old covers for new and placing the first chapter of Ties That Blind on its own page. Got it done and felt pretty damn good working with both companies.

Family. Two new granddaughters at the same time! Two new additions to those I already adore and love. I plan to enjoy every moment of their lives as long as I’m around. And frankly, I’m hoping for at least twenty.

So there it is, folks. A small piece of my head and without a rant. (Well, maybe there was a mini one tucked in there.)

Happy New Year and may it bring peace to all.

“The difference between what we do, and what we are capable of doing, would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi

12 thoughts on “RECENT MUSINGS

  1. That’s quite the jigsaw puzzle you’ve dumped on the games table. Stray strands, frayed edges and all!

    I half-passed on much of the Sony drama, but agree that more people will see The Interview now, than would have otherwise. As you know, I don’t do movies at
    theaters. Very rarely am I tempted by big screen epic-ness. The advent of 50″ HDTV, home availability and surround sound make viewing possible.

    I haven’t read the Smiley-Ritz account and I don’t feel less informed of the history as it played out. From my front-row seat in Chicago I would testify that MLK’s non-violence should not be conveniently separated from the anger and upheaval that took to the streets, before, during and after his visits. They are inseparable then and remain so today. The dream lives, but so do the frustrations of a largely unaltered reality. Then, as now, the cause is moving, glacially, toward a better tomorrow, but then, as now, the chasms remain.

    Holiday traditions likewise shift glacially, but sometimes alter abruptly. We adapt.
    Thus new habits and traditions are born.

    Binge TV should be reserved for programming with enough depth, connective tissue and quality writing to move the body of work. Sadly, this can eliminate some very good short-shelf-life efforts that rely on “ripped from the headlines” story lines. It also exposes the aforementioned chasms. My last sentiment regarding the practice is that it consumes irreplaceable time that can damage one’s circadian rhythm.

    I hope the Polis Books are wildly successful. Matt, to me, is timeless and his message is still timely. New readers, new fans and a clamor for more Matt would be very nice indeed.

    Grandbabies! Drink deeply. Marvel at the continuum…

    • BB–You made too many points for me to answer each one. But yes, the chasm remains, the anger remains, the inequality remains. But will stick to my belief that which is born from violence remains violent. And the older I get, the more I hate it.

      Oh–I like my circadian rhythm. And thanks for your kind words about the Matt Jacob series. I hope they sell too.

  2. Saw Big Eyes. Loved her, hated him. But those pictures! Why! Dear lord in heaven, why?

    Semibinge watching TV. Saw a bunch of The Wire. Just as good the second time. found a Swedish (Norwegian?) version of the Kurt Wallander mysteries that’s even better than the Branagh/BBC version. Trying to keep my brain and eyes averted as loved ones binge on Sex in the City etc.

    And my bliss…planted in the easy chair in front of the fire reading Hemingway short stories and puffing on a cigar, with the classical music station on the TV in the background.

    Headed out now on my walk, 1.5 miles to the coffee shop, my sweetie meets me there and we’ll play scrabble (I lose with grace) and meet friends, then walk back. Then dinner!

    Peace and power to you, brother!

    • TD–Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, The Wire’s first couple and last couple of seasons still hold up. The middle sags. Say hello to your sweetie, enjot the cigar, and happy new year.

  3. What a fun assortment of musings! As for binge TV watching, I love that Netflix now makes that possible. I never would have discovered so many good shows: The Bridge, The Killing, House of Cards, The Blacklist, The L Word, and now, Brothers & Sisters. Some of it feels like soap opera territory, but I don’t care.

    I also appreciate your comments about holiday traditions and not liking when they change. Life is filled with so many changes, and it’s comforting when some things–like how and with whom we celebrate the holidays–stay the same. Doesn’t make you a “stick in the mud.”

    May the coming year but a good one for you!

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