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Surviving World War C:
Music to Span the Social Distance

March 24th, 2020

Last week’s post offered a list of “Podcasts for Shut-Ins,” which included what was then an unreleased installment of Inside The Hive. Although I had expected that podcast to feature an interview with screenwriter Scott Burns (Contagion), it instead offered a conversation with radio host Kai Ryssdal (Marketplace). Titled “Coronovirus against the World,” the interview concluded with Ryssdal giving some sage advice: “You got to know what the news is, but you don’t have to know what it is all the time. Just check in once or twice a day and then take care of yourself.”

So let’s assume that you have addressed the latter. You are stocked up, settled in, and asymptomatic. Situation stable. Now what?

This time, I’d like to offer some music recommendations. And, in keeping with this blog’s consideration of the writing life, we’ll focus on the work of contemporary writers who are also musicians.

[Read and hear more at The 21st Century Scop.]

Podcasts for Shut-Ins:
Tune In, Hunker Down

March 19th, 2020

I’ve been trying to track down a piece that I heard on NPR following the 9-11 attacks. I can’t remember who delivered it, but the voice in my memory sounds like Scott Simon. It was a reflective piece about the uncertainty felt in the aftermath of the attacks, a time when the country was bracing for an uncertain future.

As I recall, the commentator contrasted the moment with bombings in Europe during WWII, when people would hunker down and await the all-clear. The piece ended with the question: Will there ever be an all-clear this time?

[Read more at The 21st-Century Scop.]

Best Horror Movies 2019

January 6th, 2020

First of all, you’ve got to love a list that features an above-the-headline image of the Mashit demon from Nightmare Cinema. But beyond that (and the fact that NC comes in ranked among the top 20), the year’s-best-horror list at Rotten Tomatoes confirms that 2019 was a banner year for the genre. [Read more at The 21st-Century Scop.]

Writer at Work:
Santas, Wizards, & Life behind the Curtain

December 26th, 2019

jl-santaMerry Christmas!

I’m always impressed by writers who despite busy schedules manage to produce timely blogs and podcasts. I try. But when other work piles up, I tend to vanquish into the world of deadlines. 

This month has brought some exciting projects and opportunities that I hope to share in the weeks ahead, but right now it’s all about staying behind the curtain and getting it done. In the meantime, here’s a vintage post from a few Decembers ago that seems relevant in a number of ways. 

Warm holiday wishes to all … and scop on! 

So it’s December 1997. I’m driving north out of Oakland, toward Bigelow Boulevard and downtown Pittsburgh. It’s a gray day, light snow falling. Colored lights trim some of the buildings along North Craig Street, but it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

Then I see him.

I clear the rise toward Bigelow Boulevard, and there he is—fourteen-feet high and smiling down from a roadside billboard atop the snowy hillside. Red suit, white beard. It’s Santa. Or is it? I do a double-take. This guy’s wearing rollerblades, sporting a Mohawk haircut, and throwing a peace sign. I slow down. Look again. That’s not Santa. That’s  … [read more at 21st Century Scop]