September 8, 2022
A Sad Break-up
Good by, HBO.
We’ve been together a long time, through good, bad, and mediocrity. Highs, lows, and periods of “meh”.
Remember when we met in the early days of my Cable TV consumption? Oh, the halcyon days of HBO and TCM! Bill Maher before he became a curmudgeon. First Season of the Sopranos. Then, when I quit cable TV cold turkey-like, (a permanent severance from Turner Classic Movies from which I have never recovered), you came to my rescue with HBO Go. A first, an innovation that others scrambled to follow. I could watch my favorite shows and movies anywhere, any time. It was perhaps then that I really fell in love with you.
The romance continued for years, remember? HBO Go became HBO Now, and I was freed from Cable at last. Clean and sober for twenty years. “The Sopranos”, “Deadwood”, “Rome”, “Six Feet Under”.
We reached our pinnacle of high times, anticipation and yes, lust when you reinvented yourself into HBO Max. “Boardwalk Empire”, “Game of Thrones” “Big Little Lies”, “Lovecraft County”, “Watchmen”. I gloried, reveled, consumed. Paid the money every month knowing I would have, at my remote fingertips, a feast of programming to choose from, rich, flavorful, mouthwatering.
The cracks first appeared in the last few months this summer. In searching for previous episodes of “Snowpiercer” a TNT original aired by HBO after market, I couldn’t find them. (A sequella of streaming addiction is SLR—series location recall. I don’t always remember which streaming service airs a show I like.)
The pandemic hit series production hard. Upcoming seasons were delayed for more than a year as people hunkered down in Zoom caves. Feeding my new anxiety about our relationship, HBO, is whether if I will ever see Season Three of “The Golden Compass” or Season Two of “The Gilded Age”. This is not even to mention the threat of entertainment providers’ wholesale shift away from programming generally enjoyed by Boomers (goddess, I hate that word but what is a better one? Anybody?) like me who prefer costume dramas, upscale mysteries with British accents, fantasy and science fiction. What about Part Two of “Dune”?
The problem is, my dear HBO, is that while I struck my chains to Cable long ago, you have fallen prey to the suffocating dark cloud of greed.
There is a lurking threat, a bleak relentless scouring of innovative program. This creepy, slimy soulless murk is known and Discovery/Warner. It grabbed you, my love, once a towering leader in Emmy-winning shows. it got you in its strangle hold. Besides the gutting of CNN—which exploded thirty years ago as the first Cable news broadcaster long before Fox News was a Murdock sneeze, Discovery/Warner has turned the screws on you. “Sesame Street” was the first to fall away, cut off without mercy. “Snowpiercer and others followed, chopped off, kicked over the edge. In media, seemingly, as our backs were turned complaining about gas pricing, monopoly law had no punch.
Remember when Discovery Channel was really about science? Yeah, who remembers. You weren’t even born yet.
As a side note on this streaming scam, I recently signed up for Hulu to binge series that interested me: “Only Murder in the Building” and “Reservation Dogs” among others. Not “A Handmaid’s Tale”. No. Not going there, even though, and probably because, I read and loved the book decades ago. Looking for a film I wanted to see, I found it, clicked on viewing options and discovered that in order to view it, I would have to sign up for a polyglot of programming—Cable mini—of three services, costing me over fifty dollars a month. Nope.
So, sadly, looking over my list of streaming options, comparing your cost, HBO to that of Netflix, I am saying goodby. At least with the lesser of evils, Amazon Prime, I can, with patience, see original programming matching your previous perfection. Netflix still, I say with trepidation, airs international programming. (Hanna, etc). Britbox supplies my costume drama addition. Apple TV gave me “For All Mankind”. HBO, what do you have left to give me.
It was great while it lasted, but the glamor has died.
New look for the Book View Cafe website and release of my new Historical Novel, The Last Dog in England:
Available here as ebook now and soon to be on other outlets.
February 11, 2022. Another new movie review. And a cat photo.
December 27, 2021. A new movie review, and snow
Look at my new Movie Reviews page as I join the likes of Anthony Lane and Richard Brody in offering my opinions.
September 22, 2021. Today in Yachats, Oregon
August, 2021: The garden: just before Heat Wave Part 2
May, 2021: Oregon Wild Horse Corral, Hines, Oregon
High Desert Entertainment, Burns, Oregon
Two redtails and one raven quarrel over a dead gopher.
The Garden this week, May, 2021
Short stories, some reprints, some brand new. Just out October 20, 2020 from Book View Cafe.
A new character in The Memory Book
I found her at Deposit Photos–downloaded the license, so no copying! Anyway, this is Beatrix’s winged mare. I don’t have a name for her yet.
And for added delight, I uploaded this cel replication. Love this sequence of Fantasia!
The promised garden photos
Forms of address
As I work on The Memory Book and since I am dealing with the bureaucracy of angel hierarchy, I’ve had to research forms of address. Mainly I’m drawn to the arcane forms used for clergy. Angels are of a religious class after all.
I’ve wavered with the titles for my choir characters; Beatrix, part seraphim, part cherubim, is on a level with the Patriarchs. But their form of address is His Beatitude So-and so. Too weird to write or read Her Beatitude Beatrix. So I dropped a little lower in the echelon and started using Her Excellency. I also really like Her Eminence, and I may, in editing, change to that form of address.
More on this later. The clock says I must get ready for an appointment.
Life in quarantine
I misspelled “quarantine” when I first wrote it down in my Book View Cafe blog. It was not a word I used much in my writing. In health care, the word was “isolation”. “Quarantine” was reserved for plagues such as small pox and typhoid. I imagine now that there is a newer term for isolating patients for the two major reasons of either protecting them from others, or protecting others from them.
So I write in quarantine, but I have always done so; writing is a solo experience. Even when in workshop mode one does one’s homework alone, isolated except for music or an old black and white movie.
However I am not technically alone. Three living beings of the five I share this house with are here now, and generally they are peaceful and leave me alone, except for the predictable cat on a keyboard, or a mastiff barking in my ear at the garbage truck outside.
So, here they are, in all their meditative, sleeping splendor, while I write alone.
The Memory Book updates
As I am writing my “into the dark” novella, or whatever it is, now and then I think I should comment about choices. Scene 1 is written in first person. Then I read through the first 3 scenes, and realized that this book needs to be in close 3rd person, so that I can get into the heads of key characters. Augustus and Beatrix, being primary characters will probably earn the majority of the narrative, but as characters walk in, such as Rosemary and Pretty Thing walk onto the stage, I like to inhabit them. Their perspective gives the reader a broader glimpse into the world I am building. And a broader glimpse for the writer–me–into the world and the conflict and how selfish motives will drive the narrative.
As the story develops, changes will and must be made along the way, including going back to either tweak or severely edit. “Writing into the dark”, however, necessitates leaving those adjustments and surgeries to the last, when the work is complete. Each post may contain conflicts in the writing, much less for the characters.
And, in case you are now thinking that is the reason I delete each prior scene from the website, my rationale is quite other.
1.) I want you to visit my website every Monday and leave a brief comment; a boo or a brava! will suffice. In this way I might even get a newsletter subscription going for my five fans, and give away a free short story now and then.
2.) Deleting each scene each week, leaving the scene available for only 7 days, may discourage piracy. One may hope.
Some very-much needed, and very-well written, political fantasy (by myself, of course, and others):
New flash fiction out on Daily Science Fiction!
“All’s Quiet in the Robot Barn” is now available. Also find my flash piece “Variety” there. I hope you enjoy these little nibbles of science fiction and millennial wishful-thinking on the dark side.
Find more of my flash here: Flash Fiction Online.
The bio stuff
What do you want to know about me? I won’t tell you my age, but I will tell you about the books. Historical fiction is my current love, but for years I have written fantasy and science fiction short stories. Those stories that have become novels, and that I like to sell, are available at the links provided here.
Enjoy, read, explore.
Here is a photo of our two English mastiffs, just to give you a glimpse of me.