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The Friday High Five
Stuff I'm into, for January 27, 2023
Every Friday I share 5 things I am digging at the moment. This is that.
This week’s high five comes from the famously homoerotic volleyball scene in 1986’s Top Gun. When I was about 10, I watched our VHS copy of the movie so many times I knew all the dialogue by heart, an achievement I was quite proud of. Dad was less than pleased after he caught me telling my younger brother, “if you screw up just this much, you'll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong!”
So I know this film inside and out. Funny thing, I didn’t think the volleyball scene was anything was out of the ordinary. And now I have less questions about the glistening bodies and more about Maverick playing in jeans. What kind of psychopath does that?
In this edition:
Wednesday (the show, not the day)
An Irish Mobster Reviews Mob Films
Me Hinting and Winking About Future Projects
Bad Sisters (the best show nobody is talking about)
Things I’ve Published This Week (it’s a short list)
This gem dropped around Thanksgiving, for some reason—Halloween was right there—and I slept on it until the buzz reached a critical and unavoidable mass. I never really cared for any of the previous The Addams Family films or TV shows, so nostalgia and name brand recognition alone wasn’t going to get me in the door.
Wednesday's influences are many and varied, most notably Harry Potter, but also things like Monster Squad, Scooby Doo, the films of Tim Burton, Nancy Drew, and a memorable nod to Carrie. But rather than feel like a corpse stitched together from disparate parts, Wednesday is wholly original and breathtakingly fresh.
And I can't say enough good things about Jenna Ortega's portrayal of the titular character. You will absolutely fall in love with her. She IS Wednesday Addams.
Despite its black & white source material, Wednesday feels eminently modern, a dark yet cutely gothic feminist manifesto for 2023. HIGHLY recommended. 👍🏻👍🏻
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Former Irish Mobster Reviews Mob Movies
I wish I could tell you how I found this. As memory serves, I was on YouTube looking for something completely different and this was suggested to me. Sometimes the algorithm works!
Like it says on the tin, the video features a former Irish mobster weighing in on the legitimacy of Irish mob films. I’ve watched a few videos in a similar vein, but this one is the best I’ve ever seen. It's frankly a little disturbing just how likable this guy is.
Anyway, I filed this away as material for the crime novel I didn't realize I wanted to write until I watched this.
Secret Projects and Future Plans
I have a couple of irons burnishing nicely in the fire. I'm not quite ready to discuss them, but I'm going to hint around a bunch because they are consuming an inordinate amount of my time and attention.
Secret Project #1 launches Tuesday, January 31. It's something that writers especially will get a lot of value out of. I'll drop the full details here on the 31st!
Secret Project #2 concerns Fanfare’s future. I guess that makes it more of a Future Plan than a Secret Project. I’ve been thinking a lot about Fanfare—where it’s at, what else it could be, how this newsletter fits in. I’ll start sharing information as things take shape. This will be an evolving, ongoing project, probably for most of the year.
Future Plans: If you’ve visited this newsletter’s home page recently, you may have noticed a new tab called ‘A Month of Star Wars’. It’s exactly what it sounds like: one Star Wars story for every day of the month. You don’t have to tell me I’m a mad genius, I know. You must opt-in if you want to receive these stories in your inbox (they’re free). More information here. And here’s where you can opt-in if you just blindly trust me. 🙈
Typically I wouldn’t plug two TV series in the same High Five, but my wife and I were both sick last weekend and capable of doing little more than work the remote. I’ve found that being sick is one of the only reprieves from the relentless responsibilities of life, and therefore is always a mixed blessing. Yes, I feel like crap; however, I can lay in bed all day and watch TV and not feel guilty at all. (The upside of having teenagers that generally want nothing to do with you is they can fend for themselves if necessary.)
I mentioned in a previous High Five that I am currently delving Apple’s TV programming depths in search of rich treasure—while being mindful not to delve too greedily and too deep—before I cut the service. Which is how I found this gem.
Bad Sisters is a richly black comedy about four Irish sisters who are tired of watching their brother-in-law lessen and manipulate their sister—and aggressively undermine their own lives—and decide to do something drastic about it. The premise may seem a little far-fetched, but after you spend a couple of episodes getting to know the husband, you’ll want him dead, too. The sisters themselves are the best part of the show, though their failed attempts to resolve the situation are hilarious. Why is nobody talking about this show?
Things I’ve Written in the Past Week
Not much in this section, for several reasons—said projects and plans, busy week at the day job, was ill much of the week, working on revisions for a piece for /Film—but also I’ve felt blocked.
I am generally a happy and optimistic person. Not much gets me down. But ever since I started writing seriously—say the last 10 years or so—there are days where I just feel meh. It’s not a general malaise, but one that specifically comes about because of writing. My ill-formed hypothesis is that simply by trying to write, one opens themselves up to the negative feelings the act engenders—self-doubt, fear, perfectionism, anxiety. You can’t do this for any length of time without learning to counter these feelings, and after a while, you get pretty good at shutting them out. But sometimes doubt starts banging on the door and the only thing you can do is draw the blinds and pretend not to be home.
(In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield goes one step further, calling this negative energy ‘Resistance.’ He asserts that Resistance willfully opposes all acts of creation. The premise is a bit mumbo-jumbo, but I can’t deny that thinking in such terms does wonders for one’s ability to just get the work done.)
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying I only published one story this week. 🤓
Fanfare’s Official Stance on AI Stories (Medium) This is an administrative post about how I’m handling AI submissions—yes, that’s a thing—at the Fanfare publication I run on Medium. Only directly applicable to Fanfare writers, but might be an interesting read if you are curious about such things.
What are you into at the moment? Leave a comment and let me know!
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