By Eli Ryder
There’s a shitstorm of negativity out there, folks. And we should be upset about some things. The list of things that should anger us, should stress us out, worry us and nag at our consciences is monumental. I’m not asking anyone to not be upset about these things, because that would be ridiculous. By all means, be angry and upset, so much so that you’re moved to act against those things. I’m angry and upset right alongside you.
But we also, sometimes—most times—need some balance to that. Something to bring some light, something we enjoy. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of things I’m currently enjoying that help brighten things up. Try some of this stuff out.
I’ve been thinking for a while that there isn’t enough western horror out there. I mean, wide open plains, outlaws and renegades, the mystery of uncharted territory, the blind pursuit of wealth, and the rule of law barely held together by sheriffs and marshals a black hat away from being the outlaws themselves? Ask me, that’s outstanding territory for horror. Enter Unbury Carol, Josh Malerman’s newest. I’m only about 80 pages in, but it’s exactly what I was hoping for. I love westerns, I love horror, and they’re a natural marriage.
Full disclosure, I met the creators in grad school, where they demonstrated immense wit and a knack for poking at angles no one else can see. As such, I was excited when they started their podcast, and they’ve delivered conversations exploring horror with writers, about writers, and through the genre in general with a fresh perspective. Go listen.
Pop-Tart frosting is really just a crispy layer of vaguely fruit-adjacent sugar. It tastes very little like what it’s supposed to, unless it’s just supposed to be unidentifiably sweet. And unfrosted? Pop-Tarts are pressed chalk filled with cheap jam. Nature's Path, on the other hand, has a fantastic pastry, sweet but not cloying, reminiscent of graham cracker. And the jelly? Yeah, it’s good. The only downside is they come 3 pairs in a box, which is hardly enough to get through a news day.
Thank you, Netflix, for bingeable stories hitting at a point where my schedule forces me to put them off until I’ve got a backlog of good stuff to watch. By all accounts, these second seasons eclipse the first, and in both cases, that’s a pretty impressive feat. In a few weeks here, I’ll have some time, and I intend to fill it with all this good TV. After I do my treadmill chores, that is. Maybe during. Might actually get me on a treadmill, if that’s the case.
5. Endless Possibilities
On the other side of all this madness, there’s potential. Personally, I’ve got a couple of stories under consideration and am finally back to work on my book (like every MFA grad, I’m working on a book). I like what’s happening on that front. And, after a couple of years of searching, I picked myself up a full-time teaching gig. Professor Ryder, at your service, with an office and committee responsibilities and everything. So that’s exciting. In other news, my two-year-old daughter is displaying the kind of independence and defiance she’ll need to fight through the toxicity current politics is creating. The other side of that coin is she’s displaying that defiance toward her mother and me, so our lives aren’t boring.
Between social media rants and political activism, between arguing against oppression and acting against oppressors, enjoy something. Tell people what you enjoy, and let people enjoy them with you.