Laura Palmer and the end of the world: news of note from me

Laura Palmer and the end of the world: news of note from me

It’s Independence Day, and I am sad to be so far away from home. Instead of whining about it, though, I’d like to present you with a round-up of the interesting things I’ve done lately and which you might have missed (especially if you don’t follow my Twitter):

For example, I recently looked at the legacy of Twin Peaks in the post-Soviet world (did you know? The original show had a cult following there in the 1990s) and discussed it with Marco Werman on PRI’s The World.

I have to add that I feel like we’re really lucky that David Lynch was not interested in pandering to nostalgia when he set out to make Twin Peaks: The Return. Will hopefully be able to devote more writing to that this summer – particularly since for years I’ve been able to observe how turning nostalgia into yet another natural resource has made much of mainstream Russian culture into something sadly provincial.

Speaking of non-provincial Russian culture, however, I have also written about Andrei Zvyagintsev’s new film, Loveless, which recently premiered in Cannes. Loveless is fantastic and, I think, ultimately a much angrier movie than Zvyagintsev’s Oscar-nominated Leviathan. It’s the anger that appeals to me greatly.

Of course, my REAL big news is that The Fox Head Barks Facing Seaward, my newest short story, was published in Strange Horizons last month. I’ve had a love affair with Strange Horizons since college, and I’m really glad that it was this story in particular that has found a home there. Fox Head works as a kind of protracted echo of this earlier story, but it’s also its own thing.

Over at the Anti-Nihilist Institute, I’ve had some strong words for fake Russia experts. And the Woke Vets series has continued, with me interviewing Tim Hardin, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan (where he served as a USASOC soldier), on everything from civilian casualties to the importance of free public education.

In Politico, I discussed the recent French election in light of Russian meddling (would not have personally gone with that headline either, but I guess winning is in the eye of the beholder). I think this piece of mine on BNE actually nicely balances out the Politico one – by pointing out that Putin is not some superhuman Bond villain (though he’d like you to believe that).

Finally, I was recently on the Power Vertical with Brian Whitmore and Mark Galeotti. We started out discussing the dueling messages of the Kremlin and the Russian opposition, and wound up discussing Pornhub and the importance of political sex appeal, which is what happens when you have me on your podcast.

Zombie Survivor: A rant on The Walking Dead’s terrible season 6 finale

Zombie Survivor: A rant on The Walking Dead’s terrible season 6 finale

SPOILERS through season 6 of The Walking Dead. 

The purpose of this blog is not to shout in exasperation when a television show goes thoroughly off the rails, but I’m so frustrated with “The Walking Dead” right now that it’s either this, or beat a motherfucker with another motherfucker.

As I’ve said before, the show owes its enduring appeal in part to the fact that people love to complain about it. When it comes to horror that aims for mass appeal, you need to be able to distance yourself from it. There are exceptions, but a long-running television series based on a long-running comic book series would be exhausting if it weren’t occasionally also just annoying.

Still, there is, “Haha, let’s make a meme out of this dumb exchange between two characters,” and then there is, “This show is reaching greatness – and them abruptly plunging into absurdity.”

I already wrote down some thoughts on how the show’s sixth season rose to new heights before devolving into ridiculousness after the 15th episode aired. That episode was a neat summation of most bad things about TWD: dialogue that acts as filler, characters going batshit insane for the sake of advancing the plot, “emotional” moments that seem like cringe-worthy tryouts for “My So-Called Life,” etc.

I wasn’t ready to freak out until the season six finale aired. And then it aired.  Continue reading “Zombie Survivor: A rant on The Walking Dead’s terrible season 6 finale”

A Norwegian TV show does “Let It Be.” Succeeds.

When you first watch this, you’re not quite sure what it is you’re seeing – but you know it’s freaking awesome. I mean, Sheryl Lee shows up. And Leslie Nielsen (RIP). AND STEVE GUTTENBERG!!!!!!!!!!!! And they’re all digitally superimposed onto a beach, singing one of the best songs of all time.

The TV show, apparently, has a retro theme and is dedicated to profiling people who were pretty famous back in the day, but are mostly straight up chilling out of the public eye nowadays. Or, you know, straight up chilling to the extent that such a thing is possible (in the case of Pam Anderson, Mickey Rourke, etc.).

I don’t know whose idea it was to bring “Let It Be” into all of this, but that person deserves a Nobel Prize in a category they need to make up exclusively for such attacks of random genius. I mean, this video made me smile when Tonya Harding appeared. The people who made it knew what they were doing. Ave.

LOST: “Jears. Jears on the side of my face.”

I want to say that I haven’t been writing about “Lost” because I haven’t had the time, but if I’m honest with myself and with you, I’ll have to say that I haven’t been writing about “Lost” because it’s like a love affair coming to an end, like something out of Graham Greene, the sort of relationship people overhear about in restaurants and pause with their food halfway to their mouths and stare, and, well…

I’ve never felt the “OMG a show I love is coming to an end” thing with such epic force before. “Six Feet Under” was monumental, but life forced me to wander away from it, and I only ended up catching up when I was already living in Dubai. “Inspector Morse” & “Star Trek: TNG” were introduced into my life sporadically. I’ll never forget the night we all watched the end of “Sex & the City” in Anna & Mary’s dorm room, but I wasn’t nearly as sentimental toward that show. I didn’t get it when an entire country freaked about “Seinfeld.” And as for “The X-Files,” if I get started on how that show wound up, I just might end up on the other side of town, possibly in Khimki, sobbing outside a beer kiosk with some contract roofers at 4 a.m. The phrase “mercy killing” even rings hollow at this point.

So this? This is pretty much new to me. My soul feels like its been clubbed in the knee-caps.