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The odds & ends for the week of October 4, 2021

Here is some of the stuff that has kept me busy and interested this week:

  1. I discovered the band Eleventh Dream Day. They are a Midwestern rock outfit that has been around since the late 1980s, but somehow, I had never even heard of them before. I started with their 1988 album Prairie School Freakout and finished out with this year’s Since Grazed. I like them a lot; it’s great to hear a band’s sound evolve over the course of nearly 25 years and never be disappointed.
  2. I am about halfway through Karl Ove Knausgaard’s new book The Morning Star. The style is similar to that of his previous stuff, but the narrative hops around between a bunch of different characters; that’s a big change from the relentlessly person narrative of his multi-volume My Struggle. I wouldn’t say I am enjoying the book, but it is very good so far.
  3. The latest edition of Charlie Warzel’s Galaxy Brain has about the best summary I have seen of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee. I remain skeptical that the narrative has changed and that there will be any meaningful action taken to curb Facebook’s corrosion of the public discourse, but I hope to be proven wrong.
  4. I am looking forward(?) to reading Josh Kovensky’s summary and analysis at Talking Points Memo of the just-released Senate report on Trump’s frightenly-close-to-successful attempt to leverage the Justice Department to keep himself in power after losing the election.
  5. With Halloween just around the corner, I have been checking out a few horror narrative podcasts. The two that have caught my fancy are The Magnus Archives and Aaron Mahnke’s Bridgewater. The former is recordings of reports from the archives of a paranormal research organization; the early episodes are all separate stories (aside from the framing device), but I suspect they may begin to stitch together into a larger narrative over time. The latter is a serial drama about a professor of contemporary folklore who starts looking into the mysterious disappearance of his father. Both are quite well produced, and strike just the right balance of creepy and ominous.
  6. I have spent what is probably a bit too much time watching reviews of electric vehicles, as my beloved 2007 VW Rabbit is, sadly, going to need to be replaced soon. The Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 look very cool, and I also want to check out the VW ID.4. It is crazy, however, that the EV market is such that you pretty much have to order these vehicles from the factory without ever having taken one for a test drive, and then wait weeks or months for your car to arrive.
  7. With overnight temperatures here in Western Massachusetts dipping down into the low 40s, I fired up the pellet stove for the first time since early spring, only to find that it refused to light on its own. After a bunch of searching, I found the access panel for the space under the burn pot and cleaned out all the ash that had accumulated and was blocking the airflow. Hey, presto! The auto-ignition is working again. Sadly, the auger immediately started squeaking. Pellet stoves seem like a good idea, but they are pretty annoying in practice.
  8. I am on the fence as to whether this proposed reboot of Babylon 5 is a good idea. I am glad that JMS is behind it (not a bunch of soulless corporate executives), and I think it is probably good that he is planning a hard reboot rather than continuing the existing universe. That said, part of me wishes that we could just leave well enough alone with it. I loved B5 when it first aired, and have rewatched the original many times, but I think it was very much a product of its time.