When I’m not writing and rewriting, I’m planning and outlining. When I’m doing none of those things, I’m glowering at nothing, willing the words to come. They rarely obey. So, things are more or less normal.
I’ve talked about author Joseph Hirsch in this space before, with my reviews of his disturbing science fiction novel Touch No One and his crime novel My Tired Shadow. He also contributed to Adam Howe’s anthology Wrestle Maniacs with a sort-of prequel story to My Tired Shadow. He’s really quite a prolific writer, so don’t take this as an exhaustive listing, and he dabbles in everything from horror to drama to even romance. I envy his skills and output.
A more recent title of his is the sci-fi novella My Uncle’s New Eyes. It’s a taut, slow-burn thriller that keeps you seared to the page, and by the time you’ve read the last word, stick a fork in you: you’re done. A tale of lost memory, bizarre science, and shocking betrayal, it follows troubled teenager Michael when he’s sent to spend time with his uncle Jimmy “Grim Reaper” Reeves, a former boxer living in the desert with a beautiful, mysterious caretaker. Hirsch has a way of getting under your skin, making you feel everything his characters experience, and My Uncle’s New Eyes shows what a supremely skilled writer can do at the top of his game.
Season 3 of Dark, the German sci-fi show I talked a bit about here, wraps up the series in a way that’s minimally satisfying. SPOILERS FOLLOW. The Schrodinger’s Cat concept introduced in this season didn’t add anything valuable to the mythology, and the Origin Trio were too obviously shoehorned in as last-minute antagonists. Clausen’s subplot went nowhere. Eva cutting Martha’s face was silly and unnecessary. Noah, a child murderer, made a terrible hero. Where everything fell down for me was the end, which reflects the problem with most of today’s science fiction. There was nothing aspirational about it; the only way to fix things was for the characters to annihilate themselves. In a universe without God or an objective moral standard, all you have left is the amoral nihilism of pure science. Also, it was funny that they had to limit Mikkel’s appearance, due to the actor’s having grown ten inches between seasons. Kids.
One show I can wholeheartedly recommend is the Israeli series Shtisel, about a Haredi (ultra-orthodox Jewish) family in Jerusalem. It does a good job of swimming in the dramedy realm, where the laughs are balanced by touching moments. Michael Aloni as Akiva makes you completely forget about his less sympathetic role as Himmler in When Heroes Fly. If I had a complaint, it’s that the show occasionally meanders in a less focused way, but with so many characters, it can’t be helped.
I’ve also done some writing for Romans One.
In this piece, I discussed despair:
Despair is where the Adversary lives. God, who is all good all the time, has a specific plan for you, and when you embrace despair, you deny God’s presence in your life. Despair represents the loss of faith, the false notion that you’re not equal to God’s plan for you. Obviously when something truly terrible happens like the loss of a spouse, parent, or child, despair is an easy pit to fall into. In the aftermath of a horrible assault, despair can seem like the only option. Despair is soul-crushing, and when you’ve truly experienced it, you remember that feeling for the rest of your life.
I also addressed the bromide of tolerance, arguing for less of it:
Too often, though, the reality is many college kids, fattened on a diet of Captain Planet as children, Howard Zinn as a teen, and Cornel West as a legal adult, are now working on a new college degree: screaming obscenities into a black cop’s face during a race riot. They think that’ll look good on a resume, and, sadly, in some quarters it just might.
Rather than pushing back early on, parents let it go. Rather than deciding enough was enough at the very beginning, they find themselves here.
And I offered the heretical notion that politics won’t save us:
If you want to change what’s going on instead of merely watching it, you have to focus on culture: art, media, education. This means doing more work on top of your 9 to 5. If you don’t like statue toppling, church defacing, and drugstore looting, you need to run for your local school board and win. You have to become a teacher who refuses to propagandize her students. You have to make movies. You have to write books. You have to paint pictures and put on plays and make music that elevates the values you hold dear.
I won’t sign off with “Stay safe,” because safety is overrated, and nothing important or good happens without some risk. Instead, I hope that whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, you’re having a great time and are with people you love.