With the advent of streaming services, the world has been flooded with television series—much too many for any one person to watch. These shows are mostly good but rarely great. I’ve come to realize why television tends toward mediocrity. Most people only half-watch tv in the background while doing other things like browsing social media on a second screen. They don’t have the self-discipline to not look at their phone while watching tv, so tv shows cannot be too intellectually challenging. TV shows are purposely dumbed-down so they can be half-watched while viewers are multitasking. Most people don’t have the attention span to watch artistic films—or movies that make you think. That’s why most tv shows drag on and are repetitive—so people can still understand what’s going on while scrolling Instagram. But if I’m going to watch something, I devote my full attention, which is the way cinema is meant to be seen. The other issue with television is series being canceled prematurely and never getting closure. It is for these reasons, among others, that I prefer movies to tv series. Though there were a few series worth watching this year.Continue reading
Top 10 Movies (At Least 10 Years Old) I Saw in 2022
With 2022 winding down, it’s time for my seventh annual list of the ten best films (at least ten years old) that I watched over this past year. The list is somewhat random and arbitrary, based on the movies I happen to choose to watch (or re-watch). The only theme I noticed from this year’s list is that the 1970s truly were a Golden Age of Hollywood filmmaking. Even some of the deeper cuts from that decade are great.
1. Jeremiah Johnson  – Directed by Sydney Pollack
I would say they don’t make movies like this anymore, except they did—at least once with The Revenant in 2015, which was clearly influenced by Jeremiah Johnson. This is a powerful film, so different from most of the CGI-reliant movies made today. You can tell the cast and crew were actually there on location in the remote wilderness of Utah filming this movie—and simply seeing that natural landscape on the big screen was captivating. It makes you realize just how extraordinary the pioneers who ventured out West were, considering the lengths it took to survive mother nature. The film also portrays the tragic violence that took place between humans—the pioneers and the Native Americans. Sometimes I feel the desire to become like Jeremiah Johnson and move out to the remote mountains, build my own cabin, and live a quiet life alone in nature to read and write—but only sometimes.Continue reading
Is the Lone Genius a Myth?
There is a growing consensus in the scientific community (and society at large) that the idea of a lone genius who makes great discoveries and innovations in isolation is a myth. That may be partially true—the accomplishments of famous individuals in the past were sometimes overstated while diminishing the efforts of others who helped them along the way. However, the pendulum has swung too far in this respect. The truth is that there were lone geniuses (in science and art), without whom certain discoveries and innovations would not have been made.Continue reading
Free Speech is Essential to Find Truth
There is a growing debate between free speech and censorship on the internet. Many believe certain controversial figures with large followings should be banned from their platforms. But why would a tech company ban any single user entirely from its platform, so long as they aren’t breaking the law, no matter how controversial they are deemed to be? After all, “controversial” doesn’t mean “bad” or “wrong,” it just means provoking disagreement—meaning many agree. Though some users will indeed want a controversial user banned, many others will not—and most won’t care at all. Therefore, let the choice be up to each individual user for who they do and do not want to ban. If you don’t like what someone is saying, personally block them, and you’ll never have to hear from them again—but those who do like that user will still get to hear them. This way, everyone wins.Continue reading
The Reaper’s Maze and Other Halloween Treats
On my Substack, Time Zone Weird, I released my first subscriber-exclusive story, a horror novelette titled “The Reaper’s Maze.” The story follows five troublemaking teens who go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. At one house, a neighbor dressed as the Grim Reaper invites them to traverse a cornstalk maze in his backyard. Amid the twists and turns of the haunting maze, the teens discover the neighbor is more than he appears, and his Grim Reaper costume may not be a costume at all…Continue reading
Time is Money is Bitcoin
The idea of money is warped in most people’s minds. Cash has no inherent value. Neither does gold, diamonds, or anything else used as currency. The only thing in the world of true value is time. In that respect, every human being on the planet is born of equal worth. We all have an average of 80 years, or 30,000 days, or 720,000 hours, and every second of those hours is extremely valuable.Continue reading
True Crime vs. Fictional Crime or Zodiac vs. Se7en
The genre of “true crime” is growing in popularity in the form of documentaries and podcasts that cover real crimes pulled from news headlines in detail. There are also fictionalized movies and television series about true crimes. I am not especially interested in true crime, but it is the fictionalized narratives about real crimes that interest me least. Fictional crime stories are better—or have the potential to be better—than true crime stories. The difference between them can best be seen in two of director David Fincher’s films about serial killers: Se7en (1995) and Zodiac (2007).Continue reading
How to Expand Your Attention Span
Many people today claim they don’t have the attention span, patience, or self-discipline to read dense books and long-form content. That is because they have become too accustomed to the quick short-form hyperactive content on the internet like tweets, Instagram stories, YouTube videos, memes, and TikToks. In this post, I wrote about breaking my Twitter addiction and focusing my efforts and time on reading books. I suggested Twitter and social media are like drugs in that they change your brain chemistry. That is not hyperbole. Social media changes your brain by shortening your attention span.Continue reading
Philip K. Dick’s Advice for Worldbuilding Science Fiction
The book The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings features several interviews and essays by author Philip K. Dick. In the following excerpt, PKD gives some helpful advice on worldbuilding for science fiction writers.
“This world must differ from the given in at least one way, and this one way must be sufficient to give rise to events that could not occur in our society — or in any known society present or past. There must be a coherent idea involved in this dislocation; that is, the dislocation must be a conceptual one, not merely a trivial or a bizarre one — this is the essence of science fiction, the conceptual dislocation within the society so that as a result a new society is generated in the author’s mind, transferred to paper, and from paper it occurs as a convulsive shock in the reader’s mind, the shock of dysrecognition. He knows that it is not his actual world that he is reading about.”Philip K. Dick on worldbuilding a science fiction story
From Hating Reading Books to Writing Them
When I was a child, I hated reading books. Yet today as an adult, I not only read a ton of books—I write them. How did this happen? Did my temperament change drastically? I don’t think so. I think I could have learned to love reading as a child if only I was exposed to the right books.Continue reading