Saturday, February 4, 2023

It’s Never Too Late to Restart Resolutions and Habits

Scott D. Parker

How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along?

I saw a statistic that said by today—Day 36 of 2023—a shocking 80% or more people have already given up on the resolutions they so fervently made at midnight on 1 January. Eighty percent. I think the figure is higher, to be honest. There’s even a holiday to help folks who waver on their resolutions. It’s called National Quitter’s Day and that was back on 13 January.

As I wrote back in December, I had certain personal goals—okay, let’s just call them habits, okay? That’s what they really are—that I wanted to do in January. I started re-reading the Psalms (one a day for 150 days), I re-read the Proverbs (31 chapters for 31 days in January), and have started to re-read Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic. Taking a cue from Bryon Quertermous, I bought a weekly planner and kept track of every habit I wanted to set.

So far? Success. It’s feels very nice to have reached the last day of the why-does-it-feel-so-long January and all my boxes were checked.

The other thing that also was checked? The writing habit. My writing goal for January was simple: start a new project and write on it every day. I had no word count goal but I tend to zero in on 1,000 words per session. Again, 100% success.

Now, it wasn’t perfect. There were a couple of days when I had to slog through the writing, but I sat down and did it.

By the 31st of January, I had amassed approximately 39,000 words on the new novel. That’s not quite NaNoWriMo speed (50,000 words over 30 days) but considering the dismal writing I did in 2022, I’ll take the win. You know how I knew the new habit was locked in? When on that first Saturday morning, I opted not to watch a movie before I finished my words for the day. That Saturday Habit has continued. That, my friends, is a fantastic feeling.

But what do you do if life threw you curve balls in January and you’ve had to catch them, dodge them, hit them, or let them hit you?

Start again. Seriously it’s that simple. Just start.

What’s great about February is that it has the fewest days of any month. If you’ve wanted to start a new habit and have fallen off the wagon, start again on Monday. Do the writing, do the exercise, do the reading, do the calling of your friends or family you haven’t spoken to in a long time. There are only 24 more days in February. It’s a nice, short length of time to get back to the habit you know you want to ingrain in your brain.

Start today or tomorrow and do that new habit every day for a week. Your reward? The Super Bowl. Then aim for the next week. You make it that far, you’ll only have ten more days until the end of the month.

You know you want to create that new resolution, that new habit. I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late. But you will have to do one thing:


Thursday, February 2, 2023

Happy Groundhog Slay



This week, Beau looks at this beaut of a story in MONSTERS

GROUNDHOG SLAY by Nick Kolakowski: It’s the summer of 1987. Around Lake Legionnaire, locals whisper tales of an unstoppable monster rampaging through the night, killing everyone in its way. But what if the monster’s just trying to stop something far worse—a threat that could destroy all existence? “Groundhog Slay” shows that not all heroes wear capes: sometimes they wear creepy masks, and they’re a little bit too skilled with a chainsaw…

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Guy Who Hated Columbo

That's not me, the guy who hates the series Columbo.  Far from it.  I watched the series as a kid and through the Seventies especially and enjoy turning it on now from time to time.  It's a comfort food series at this point,  But when I was younger, about 14, I had a friend, a few years older than me, who hated the show.  He's one of the few people I've ever met who disliked it so much.  I remember having a discussion with him about this, one day in warm weather at an outdoor gathering with our parents and several other people there, at a state park by a lake near where I lived, probably in the summer.  I don't recall how the subject of the show came up, but I remember expressing my affection for it, and for Peter Falk, and my friend said he didn't like it because of how right from the start of every episode, without fail, as soon as he shows up at the crime scene, Columbo recognizes who the killer is. "He's never wrong," my friend said, or something to that effect.  He understood that the show is an inverted mystery, a howcatchem, though neither he nor I would have called it that, its structure one where the viewer knows who the killer is at once and then watches Columbo solve the crime, and did not mind that aspect, but he objected to the apparent infallibility of Columbo, his ability to show up at the crime scene and sniff out the culprit, as he does, so fast. He doesn't immediately reveal his suspicions to the guest star murderer, of course, but the audience can see the wheels turning in Columbo's head as soon as or soon after he meets that person. 

This attitude struck me as odd, almost willfully resistant to what the show and its appeal are, but as the saying goes, there's no accounting for taste. In this genre anyway, my friend strongly preferred what he would have considered crime shows (or films) with more verisimilitude than what you get in Columbo, which includes, I suppose, detectives who are more fallible than Peter Falk's character, investigators who go off on wrong tangents sometimes and make their share of errors.  My arguments to make him change his mind about the show went nowhere, and I laugh about this talk now, still shaking my head. To be so adamantly opposed to a show as winning as Columbo!  But I'm thinking of this whole conversation again, wondering what my friend, a childhood friend who I've fallen out of touch with in an odd way (but that's another story), would think of the new Peacock show Poker Face. If he hated Columbo, how much would he dislike Poker Face, with its detective, Charlie Cale, who has an inborn ability to detect when another person speaking to her is lying? It's not quite a superpower, but it's something decidedly unnatural, an ability that means she will rarely, if ever, unless the show comes up with a way someone can trick her, screw up in an investigation. 

Are we in the land of fictional realism? No, again, we are not.  But that is clearly beside the point, and you're not watching Poker Face for that any more than you were when watching its main inspiration, Columbo.  Charlie Cale's ability, really, is just a literalization of the capacity Falk's Columbo has, the very thing my friend criticized. No one could lie to Columbo without him sniffing out the untruth. He'd show up on the scene and hone in on the killer fast. Charlie's similar, except that her truth detector component is now spoken of outright as a kind of condition, not a negative one, that she lives with.

I don't know whether my friend, wherever he is, has Peacock or has watched any of Poker Face.  If he does and hasn't changed in his tastes, I'm sure he'll hate it. I could see us meeting again after all these years and, if he had watched an episode or two, he and I discussing it. We'd be having the same argument we had decades ago about Columbo, him against, me in favor.  Oh well.  It's a conversation I'll have to content myself with imagining.  Meanwhile, I've watched two episodes of Poker Face so far and I'm looking forward to the rest of them.