Warm Nights, Chill Vibes

Programming note: after this week’s edition, josh bales [dot] net will be out of office for the remainder of April, returning on May 7. My aim is to be off-screen as much as possible during our retreat to the Florida panhandle, but there will no doubt be some posting on Instagram. So if you want to see pictures of my dog and the ocean, feel to follow along there.


In Dayton this weekend to see comrades both old and new.

The new comrade – like two-weeks-old new – I was honored to hold for several hours yesterday, something less awkward for me now than it would have been a few years ago, before I became accustomed to holding a geriatric dachshund in the same manner. Then dinner at Salar last night, several perfect hours spent on their back patio, the air warm but the vibe chill, with many drinks and foods consumed.

Today we see a few more people, including attending a birthday fête for Sarah.

I have adjusted to being a Columboner for the most part and generally enjoy it, though it’s always wonderful coming back home to Dayton, a city I love and where (most of) my people are.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

Reading:

I don’t often give up on books, but I am with THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS. As much as I liked LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, its sequel is just not working for me. Once upon a time, I would have felt guilty about setting a book aside. Now, though, my philosophy is that life is too short to power through something I am not enjoying.

…I feel like this should apply to more than just books.

Watching:

Uh, nothing this week. I’m not even sure I turned the TV on. Oh, wait! I watched DREDD the other night. I wanted something short and delightfully violent, and DREDD was streaming. It’s a terse, fun film. I’m bummed they never got to make more of these.

Wanting:

To bleach my hair platinum blonde. Something like this. I’ve been wanting to properly do it for years, ever since I sort of did it fifteen years ago and it turned out mostly orange. My grandma had dark hair, and when it began to gray, she went blonde. So, to my haters, I say: if it was good enough for Grandma Millie, it’s good enough for me.

Listening:

The sun has been out in full force and the weather warm, which for some reason correlates to wanting to listen to punk records. One such record I’ve replayed several times this week is Screeching Weasel’s EMO. I know this is not every Weasel fan’s favorite record, but it’s one of mine. It’s earnest in a way that feels authentic, while also being hella catchy. This one doesn’t have a bad song, but “Passion” and “Last Night” are two of my favorite tracks.

Their cover of the Cranberries’ “Linger” is also fantastic, but, alas, it’s not on Bandcamp.

And Kirby:

Enjoying that wagon life.

Plus a bonus! Molly:

This picture of Molly came up in one of Jess’s memory things, and I had to share it. She could somehow make even the bitchiest of resting bitch faces look sweet. I miss her.

Time Traveling with a Wright Bro

A few years back, Jess sent me an announcement from the Wright Memorial Library in Dayton. The library was putting together an “art and literary zine” to commemorate their 80th anniversary, and they were seeking contributors. They wanted pieces that focused on place (libraries, Dayton, etc.) or the passage of time, either looking backward or forward. The zine was going to be titled GLIDE.

It was a fun concept, and I hadn’t written anything of substance in a while, so I figured why not throw my hat into the proverbial ring? There was just the not insignificant question of: what did I want to write about?

There used to be a life-size sculpture of the Wright Brothers’ Flyer in downtown Dayton that I would walk by every day on my way to and from work. Wilbur is piloting the Flyer, while Orville runs along beneath it. I wondered how the brothers would feel if they could get a glimpse of such a monument to their success. Especially if it came in a dark moment where they wondered if they should give up?

And so it was settled. I would write a time travel story about Orville and Wilbur Wright.

“A Brief Detour” is a gentler story than the sort I typically write. No violence is done to anyone (bicycles notwithstanding), what few cusses there are are mild, and the tone is lighter. And it was exactly the story I needed to tell, then, to drag myself out of the rut I had been in, writing-wise. Writing it was… I won’t say effortless, because it wasn’t — but it came easily. Then working with the folks at the library to edit and refine it into the best version of itself was a pleasure. (One day I’ll write a whole thing about how much I genuinely enjoy the editing process.) Seeing “A Brief Detour” in print, holding GLIDE in my hands, gave me the confidence to tackle “In the Land of Broken Things” later that year.

I’m not sure how many copies of GLIDE were printed. Enough for all the contributors and some extras for the public. If I’m ever fortunate enough to publish a novel, that future book will sit next to my copy of GLIDE on my bookcase’s ego shelf.

A PDF version of the zine is still up on the library’s website, but it’s a bit clunky to read. So I’ve decided to give “A Brief Detour” a second home, here on josh bales [dot] net. You can read it here. There’s also a link on the Writing page.

Hope you enjoy it.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

Reading:

Working my way through THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS.

Interesting thoughts from Warren Ellis on How To Build A Blog Without Social Media. josh bales [dot] net syndicates to various social media platforms, but my SM audience is relatively small. Perhaps 300 people see what I write. But I blog because I enjoy doing it, not because I expect a ton of people will read what I write. Blogging in the era of social media is certainly a labor of love, emphasis on the love.

Watching:

I really enjoy the works of John le Carré, but I love the adaptations of his books even more. This past week we watched the limited series of THE NIGHT MANAGER, which is right up there with the 2011 TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY for me in terms of “fuck this is good.” Tom Hiddleston always makes for a somewhat bland leading man — looking at you specifically, KONG: SKULL ISLAND — but he does a solid job here. Hugh Laurie, though, is magnificent as a cold-blooded but charming international arms dealer. The joy of the show is watching Hiddleston’s protagonist insinuating himself into Laurie’s character’s work fambly, all of whom are interesting and multi-faceted, and manipulating them into tearing their fambly apart. The show aired in 2016 but I learned a second season is now in the offing.

The new INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY trailer dropped yesterday at Celebration, and it made me so happy.

Wanting:

A vacation. Which, thank the sorcerer, I will be embarking on in a few weeks.

Listening:

I have been knee-deep in spreadsheet hell this week — Ex-hell, if you will — so I’ve been listening to a lot of moody ambient music. Dark ambient, metropolis and Cthulhu is one of my favorites.

And Kirby:

He’s got no eyes, but you can still somehow feel the judgement radiating from him because Jess wasn’t sharing her cereal milk.

Haiku and China Buffets

Let’s mix things up a bit this week, and allow me to demonstrate my magnificent versatility as a writer. Here is a haiku. One inspired by true events.

leave the cabaret
happy drunks ambling, seeking
the China Buffet

Yes, I know haiku aren’t supposed to rhyme. No, I don’t care. When we know the rules, we are allowed to break them.

(I don’t actually know the rules, but I also dgaf.)

The China Buffet in question.

I’m feeling a sense of déjà vu writing this (again) this week, buuut: we are finally getting over our Covid (again) up in here. (Yeah, I ended up developing the rebound bullshit, too.) Our rona woes have become trop chiant to write about, thought, so let’s move on.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

Reading:

This week, I started THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS, by Matt Ruff. It’s the follow-up to the excellent LOVECRAFT COUNTRY.

“The Revolution Against Shady Landlords Has Begun”:  Molly Crabapple’s new cover story for THE NATION details the fight against shady landlords being waged by New York tenants and housing advocates. (You can use 12ft Ladder to bypass the paywall.)

Watching:

OUTER BANKS, season 3:  I don’t quite hate-watch this show like I do Emily in Paris, but the teenage characters make all kinds of idiotic decisions and are constantly shouting at each other, which I find stressful. There’s also a new adult protagonist whom I loathed, and every episode I kept thinking, “Maybe this will be the episode he dies.” That said, this was still the best season of OUTER BANKS yet, and the treasure hunting storyline that had been building for three seasons concluded in a truly satisfying manner.

EUPHORIA:  Jesus Christ, this show is intense. It reminds me exactly of my high school days, except with more drugs, sex, and violence. I dug the first season a lot, but wasn’t quite ready to jump into the second season. I need a little break from teen angst.

Wanting:

I want this Casio G-SHOCK Men’s A1000 Watch Pink Rainbow Vintage so, so badly.

Listening:

Jenny Lewis announced this week that her fifth solo album, JOY’ALL, comes out in June. She also dropped a new single from it: “Psychos.”

We are seeing Ms. Lewis perform this summer at the House of Blues in Cleveland, and I couldn’t be more stoked.

And Kirby:

Enjoying the sun on his face.