brendan halpin

Watched this 3-season Spanish series on Amazon Prime, and I am baffled as to why this hasn’t become a bigger deal. I suppose it’s down to the fact that it’s subtitled, but this show has it all: Atmosphere! Sex! Violence! Betrayal! More Betrayal! Catacombs! More heel turns and face turns than a season of pro wrestling! In the name of God, what do you want from television if this isn’t it?

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I’m home sick (pro tip—if anyone ever offers you norovirus, say no), and I needed something that would be easy to watch. So I put on The Greatest Night in Pop, the documentary about the making of We Are the World.

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Several years ago, my younger daughter discovered a weird radio station by chance. It was WJIB, AM 740 and FM 101.3. And when I say it was weird, what I mean is that it was, in an age of corporate hegemony and its accompanying blandness, a station that reflected one guy’s eccentricities.

His name was Bob Bittner, and he ran the radio station and was its only DJ. The music was an extremely chaotic mix of songs from the 40’s through the 70’s. There were some hits in there, sure—Bob LOVED his Carpenters and John Denver—but there were also just a bunch of really weird songs you never heard anywhere else. I don’t mean like Captain Beefheart weird, but songs that were once popular but have faded from the popular imagination and are just a little strange. (Here’s a good example.)

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I’ve been making my creative work available on Gumroad for years now. They take a flat 10% fee, don’t penalize you for making your work available elsewhere, and have never messed up an order or payment. There’s also no algorithm to game, so I’ve mostly referred people directly to my Gumroad page.

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Though I try to be green and use stuff until it completely breaks, and though I am too broke to afford a bunch of new gadgets, I still suffer from Gadget Lust. So I watched the videos for three new AI gadgets, since AI is supposed to revolutionize our lives. Or that’s been the story ever since the crypto crash, anyway.

Let’s jump into it, shall we?

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I’ve been trying to mellow out as I get older. I get into way fewer fights online than I used to. I’m WAY less of an annoying pedant than I used to be. (This one’s been a very hard habit to break). So, in general, I’m more mellow. Not mellow, mind you, but more mellow than I used to be.

But I still get incredibly annoyed when there’s information that is widely known and people just refuse to act on it because of ideology or just vibes.

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Last time I wrote about Boston’s charter schools being in trouble, I theorized that the people who had bad experiences as charter school students twenty-five years ago were probably not going to send their kids to these schools.

That’s part of the picture. But with City on a Hill now set to close at the end of the school year and the Boston Globe blaming a drop in the school-age population (which of course affects all schools equally and is therefore a nonsensical explanation for one school’s problems), I think it’s an appropriate time to bring up another problem that charter schools, and especially City on a Hill, have.

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I went to my first metal show last night! Well, I guess it was the second if you count that year that Ozzfest was free.

I grew up listening to punk, which is sort of metal-adjacent, but the mainstream conquered punk in 1991, whereas the more extreme versions of metal remain pretty stubbornly un-commercial. I mean, I assume some of these bands make a living making their art, but nobody’s getting rich making black metal.

I’m drawn to art that gathers in misfits, as punk did when I was a kid, and so I have been slowly working my way into metal. I like the theatricality and the musicianship, but I’d still consider myself an outsider to the scene. (I mean, also I’m old as fuck, so). So this is pretty much going to be an outsider’s view of a metal show. Which means I don’t know all the proper names of the sub-sub-sub genres, for one thing, so don’t yell at me about that. Okay, off we go!

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I’ve started my own reading challenge! I call it “read all the books you’ve picked up on the street or from little free libraries or from book sales or gifts before you read anything else!” Catchy, right?

First up is a book I think I got on the street when someone was moving or just cleaning out their bookshelves. It’s Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector by Mick Brown.

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Well, the last of my short stories I still had out on submission finally got rejected. (From Mystery Tribune, which is a good publication that puts out a gorgeous physical magazine, and which I recommend despite this stunning lapse in editorial judgment.)

So nothing I’ve written in the last ten years is now part of the publishing industrial complex, and I’m honestly quite relieved. I had no idea what a toll the constant cycle of submission and rejection was taking on me until I stopped.

Anyway, this is a nice little story that’s free of bloodshed and gore. It’s really about a friendship. I wrote it in part because I missed my friend Liz who died in 2009. We aren’t the characters in this story, and this friendship isn’t our friendship, so I can’t really explain how writing this helped me with missing her. But it did.

The only content warnings this time out are for addiction. Both main characters are struggling with sobriety.

Enjoy!

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