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🙏🏻 The Friday High Five
They Took the Sky From Us But We Keep Flying Anyway
Every Friday I share 5 things that brought me joy this week. Also, high fives are inherently cool, and I think we can all agree Friday is the bestest day. Hence the Friday High Five. 🙏🏻
Take my love, take my land,
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don't care, I'm still free,
You can't take the sky from me.
I’ve always hated Firefly’s theme, a bluesy country-western song. Firefly is quick-witted and often crass. The song is slow and sappy.
Thematically though, it’s pretty great. Especially the line, “You can’t take the sky from me.” The song repeats the line no less than 8 times. The sentiment is also woven into the fabric of the show itself. Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) has one goal: Keep flying. It’s everything worth saying.
It’s ironic then that in the end, Fox took the sky from us.
Firefly premiered in September 2002. It was a disaster from the start. Fox fumbled the marketing, aired the episodes out of order, and sometimes bumped it for sports. By December, the show was canceled after only 11 episodes. The show never had a chance.
In a just society, the responsible executives would be forced to clean toilets at Taco Bell.
Despite Fox’s complete ineptitude, the show developed a following, one that has only grown in the years since. The DVD release in 2003 placed the episodes in the intended order and included 3 filmed but previously unreleased episodes. The theatrical film Serenity (2005) resolved storylines left dangling from the cancelation. It was better than nothing, but the conclusion was too abrupt. Firefly lives on today in a line of graphic novels and books, most of which are not very good, sadly. (Let me know if you’re curious, I can point you to the good stuff.)
Firefly is basically my Mecca, to which I return regularly to refresh and renew myself.
We rewatched the first episode this week. I threw it on one night when I was tired and my wife was doing something on her iPad. Not 10 minutes in, the iPad was forgotten. And she’s seen this show nearly as many times as I have.
What remains surprising is just how funny and fresh Firefly remains even after 20+ years and numerous rewatches. I laughed out loud at several points, often at stuff I’d somehow not noticed before or forgotten.
I once ranked the main characters, which felt like being forced to pick your favorite child. I tend to prefer Mal, Kaylee, or Zoe, but everyone has their moments.
Here’s how much I love this show: I wrote three Firefly articles for /Film. I didn’t even publish that many Star Wars stories there. Here’s the other two:
I also wrote a steampunk fantasy series heavily influenced by Firefly. Like, the main character is named Mel (as in Melanie).
For a long time, fans held out hope for a Firefly revival. The cast was game, and creator Joss Whedon seemed interested. But all that talked only served to get a bunch of nerds hot under the collar. At this point, it’s pretty clear the ship has sailed. If we get any new Firefly, it would have to be with an entirely new cast—which hurts my heart—or as an animated series—which wouldn’t be the same.
They took the sky from us, but Firefly lives on. Like Mal, I refuse to do anything but keep flying.
Read to the bottom for this week’s poll! It’s shiny.
After the smell of freshly baked bread and the magic of GIFs, the public library is the greatest contribution to humanity. A place with thousands and thousands of books just waiting for someone to take them home—for free. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet without the guilt or loose stools.
My library strategy is that I don’t have one. I walk in with no clear idea of what I want to check-out, and wander aimlessly until something looks interesting. And I repeat until I have 3-7 books.
Here’s what spoke to me this time.
From top to bottom:
Aside from having a killer title, Luke Skywalker Can’t Read is totally in my wheelhouse. Star Wars, yes, but it’s also the sort of writing I do.
I’ve been on a Klosterman kick (more on him in a second). The library supposedly had two Klosterman books in stock but the online catalog lies.
The bottom four have to do with work-life balance, something I’ve really struggled with the last few of weeks; it’s been more work-work imbalance. Between the day job, responsibilities at home, writing, running my fledging media empire, and general machinations for world dominance, it’s all been a bit much. So I clearly felt the need to commune with some experts.
I tried to find a novel but nothing spoke to me. So it goes.
It’s a sad fact that most adults in the US don’t read at all. I get so much joy just being around books, to say nothing of actually reading them, that I couldn’t imagine going without. I don’t know what’s worse—thinking you have nothing left to learn, or leaving no room in your life to read.
Chuck Klosterman Interview
I’ve been a big Chuck Klosterman fan for a long time. He’s written at many of my favorite outlets, including Grantland (RIP). I recently finished his book The Nineties—really great read, highly recommend for a shot of thoughtful nostalgia—and in that way that sometimes confirms Big Brother really is watching, YouTube subsequently suggested a Klosterman interview.
The wide-ranging discussion is fascinating (Ryan Holliday, the interviewer, is another writer and big thinker). But my favorite thing is that I’ve never heard Klosterman talk before. He sounds like—and I mean this will all the respect I can muster—Fozzie the Bear meets Quentin Tarantino. As in: passionate, intelligent, thoughtful, exuberant, maybe 10% crazy, but also just so warm and friendly.
I’m now going to find more Klosterman interviews.
I started working from home in 2019, prior to COVID. Which is to say, before it was fashionable. One of the first things I bought was a nice sit-stand desk so I would not be sitting on my butt all day.
Here’s the deal with sit-stand desks: They don’t move into the upright position unless you tell them to. Their whole “table and Transformer” mash-up is cool and all, but you have to provide all of the motivation. I feel like it should come with a consumer warning.
Standing up shouldn’t be a big deal, but sometimes it is.
In order to further goad myself into giving my butt a break, I purchased a walking pad to use at my desk. I love it. Quiet, compact, and it makes standing up feel worthwhile.
If you’re curious, it’s this model.
Star Wars Trilogy Novelization
I’ve been a Star Wars fan my whole life, but I’ve never read the novelizations before. What was the point? I knew the story inside and out. The books would just be longer versions without John Williams’ amazing soundtrack. Plus, you know, novelizations typically aren’t the best writing the genre can produce.
But an eBook compendium of the original trilogy was recently on sale (for only $2!), and I am helpless against a good eBook sale.
The funny thing is, I’m actually enjoying the book. It feels familiar and yet alien. I nodded when Aunt Beru asked Luke to remind Uncle Owen they needed a droid that could speak Bocce—now that I’ve been married 20 years, no scene has ever felt more true to life, including using the kid as an intermediary—and I laughed when Luke nearly ran over an old woman with his landspeeder. The old lady literally shook her fist at him and grumbled about young people driving too fast.
Oh, and C-3PO claims he has a middle name and it is Versatility. #notmythreepio
This week’s poll
Drop a comment to support your choice. Apologies to fans of Book, River, Simon, and Inara. Substack only allows 5 options.