Musings in the Dark: 2021


We're Evolving!!!

Hey Dilettantes!!  Sorry I've been on radio silence, but it's that time of year.  I'll be getting back to my regular posting schedule in a week or so, but I wanted to share some exciting MCP news!  Alliyah and I are evolving as content creators and publishers, and we've found a new venue to share our work with our fans.  Check us out on Ko-Fi.  We've found a way to return to our blogging roots while producing quality content for our subscribers.  

The benefits of using Ko-Fi as our publishing platform are two-fold: it allows us to circumvent the tedious (and expensive) requirements for producing e-books, and it reduces the amount of time it takes for us to get our work out to our fans and subscribers.  Alliyah's excellent poetry collection Violet Dusk has already been published on Ko-Fi, and she is currently in the process of producing her Selo & Inya series.  

I have uploaded the first two parts of Nightingales: CRASH!!! and plan to publish part three sometime next week. Knowing that there is a new publishing platform available motivates me to start work on the third episode of Nightingales.

Alliyah and I are very excited about this new venture and we hope that you guys will continue to support us.  Come on over to Ko-Fi and check us out!


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S5E30

"Stopover in a Quiet Town"

Bob and Millie Frazier wake up in an unfamiliar bed.  Millie recalls that Bob drank too much the previous evening, but could not remember anything that happened after that.  They wake up, still dressed in their evening wear and begin to search the house.  To their surprise, the house is filled with nothing but props.  The food in the fridge is fake, the telephone isn’t connected to anything, and the cabinets don’t open.  Every now and then, they hear the laughter of a child.


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S4E16

 "On Thursday We Leave For Home"

William Benteen is the head of a settlement on the remote planet V9-Gamma.  The settlement was set up in 1991, but after 30 long, hard years under a double sun system, the members of the settlement are ready to go back to Earth.  Benteen, who is referred to as Captain Benteen, has kept the settlement together through sheer will and faith, and he rules with an iron fist in a velvet glove.  Benteen, who was 15 when the settlement was established, is often asked to tell stories about the Earth as he remembered it.  His stories are idyllic and paint Earth as perfect.


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S4E14

 "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville"

William Feathersmith is the 75-year old head of a powerful conglomerate.  One evening, he is sitting in his office when Mr. Hecate, the janitor, comes in to clean his office.  Feathersmith laments that he has achieved the pinnacle of success and now has nothing else to conquer or prove.  He wants to go back to his hometown of Cliffordville and start over.  Mr. Hecate informs Feathersmith that he is also from Cliffordville.  Feathersmith insults Mr. Hecate for achieving nothing more than being a janitor for 40+ years.


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S4E13

 "The New Exhibit"

Martin Lombard Senescu is the loving curator of Murder’s Row at a wax museum.  He has spent the bulk of his working life caring for five serial killers: Jack the Ripper, Henri Landru, William Burke and William Hare, and Albert Hicks.  Martin’s (I’m not calling him Senescu; I just can’t) boss, Mr. Ferguson, tells him that he’s selling the museum so he can retire.  Martin can’t handle the loss of Murderer’s Row and offers to keep the figures in his basement until someone can purchase them.

Martin’s wife Emma is stressed at having five enormous wax figures filling up her basement and keeping her from being able to do laundry.  She’s even more pressed to learn that Martin has purchased an air conditioning unit for the window to keep the figures from melting.  She’s even even more pressed that there’s no money coming in and Martin, despite his claims to the contrary, isn’t in a hurry to get rid of the figures.  He spends every waking hour in the basement, maintaining the figures and talking to them.  She goes to get money from her brother Dave, who suggests that she sabotage the air conditioner.  Emma sneaks down to the basement to do just that and is attacked by Jack the Ripper.  


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S4E9

 "Printer’s Devil"

This season of Twilight Zone (the “The” was dropped) featured hour-long episodes because it was a mid-season replacement for a show that replaced it.  Rod Serling wasn’t happy with this change because it meant padding the runtime of a show he thought was the perfect length at 30 minutes.

Honestly, I thought that some of the hour-long episodes were the best of the entire show.  Yeah, there may have been some padding, but overall I enjoyed them.  So let’s get to it with “Printer’s Devil.”


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S3E17

 "One More Pallbearer"

Paul Radin, a millionaire, has just put the finishing touches on his luxurious bomb shelter.  He has invited three people from his past: a teacher, a pastor, and a military officer to visit him in his bomb shelter.  Radin has beef with each one of his visitors.  The teacher, Ms. Langsford, caught him cheating and failed him.  The pastor, Rev. Hughes, made it known that a woman killed herself over something Radin did to her, and the military commander, Colonel Hawthorne, had him court-martialed for failing to follow instructions.   


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S3E9

"Deaths-Head Revisited"

The episode opens with Gunther Lutze checking into a hotel in Bavaria.  Lutze is a former SS captain.  The receptionist thinks she recognizes him but he deflects her inquiry by saying he served on the Eastern front and makes her tell him why the Nazis were in Dachau.  After checking in, he goes to the Dachau concentration camp to relive his days when he commanded the camp and tortured the inmates.  


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S3E5

 "A Game of Pool"

Jesse Cardiff is a hard-core pool player who spends every waking moment bettering his game.  Alone at a pool hall one evening, he laments that he can’t ever truly be known as the best pool player of all time because of the legendary Fats Brown.  Jesse wishes aloud that he would give anything to play Fats one time.  Fats Brown materializes in the pool hall.  He has returned from the afterlife to grant Jesse his wish.  Fats says that if Jesse wins, he will be known as the greatest pool player ever, but if he loses, he loses his life.  Jesse accepts the wager.


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S2E29

"The Obsolete Man"

Romney Wordsworth is a Christian librarian in a totalitarian state that has decreed books and God as obsolete.  This, of course, makes Wordsworth obsolete as well.  He is brought before the Chancellor where, after a feisty exchange, he is sentenced to death.  Wordsworth accepts his fate and is allowed to select the manner in which he will die.   Wordsworth chooses to have a bomb planted in his room, but no one--not even the Chancellor--knows about it.  The execution will be televised, as all executions are in the State.  


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S2E25

"The Silence"

Colonel Archie Taylor is an asshole with a gentleman’s club membership who is irritated by the ongoing chatter of another member, Jamie Tennyson.  Colonel Taylor is so frustrated by Tennyson’s constant jabbering that he proposes a wager.  If Tennyson can go one year without talking, the Colonel will give him $500,000 (which is $4,374,280.94 in 2021 money).  If Tennyson accepts the wager, he has to move into a small, glass-walled apartment replete with speakers so that he can be monitored by the members of the club.  His only means of communication would be note-writing.

Tennyson, a would-be hustler who was trying to hit up club members to invest in one of his crackpot ideas, is a man with a wife who loves nice things.  While he is offended at the Colonel’s wager, the reality is that his wife is a spendthrift and he needs the money to pay off her debts.  So Tennyson tells the Colonel that he will do it if the Colonel deposits a check in a bank in his name.  The Colonel is offended by this because he has an honorable reputation and excellent credit.  Tennyson says, “My courage against your credit,” and accepts the wager.


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S1E28

 “A Nice Place to Visit” 

Henry “Rocky” Valentine is a two-bit criminal who is shot by police after robbing a pawn shop.  When he wakes up, he is greeted by Pip, an older man dressed in white.  Pip tells Rocky that he is there to grant all of his wishes and desires.  Rocky doesn’t believe Pip and demands some cash up front, which Pip produces immediately.  Then Pip leads Rocky to a lavish apartment filled with all of the things Rocky likes.  


TV and Me: The Twilight Zone

A couple of years ago, I began celebrating the month of October--my favorite month--with a tribute to all things horror.  After last year’s tribute to horror movies, I started thinking about other genres that I could celebrate here in the Dark. I gave it a lot of thought, and I am a science fiction fan, so the first thing that popped into my head was Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.  I’ve been a fan of this show since I was a kid.  Discussed the idea with Noob because she’s also a huge fan of the show, and I wanted to hear her thoughts about the episodes.

Just to be clear, we are talking about the original TTZ, which aired from 1959-1964.  I’ve never been able to watch the entirety of the 80s reboot and I’m on the fence about Jordan Peele’s reimagining of the series.  When I hear the words “The Twilight Zone,” my mind instantly goes to the original.  And so, the month of March will be dedicated to Rod Serling’s brilliant series.

Every July and New Years Eve, the SyFy network used to do a 48-hour TZ marathon, which I never missed until I moved abroad.  Fortunately, the show is available for viewing on Netflix and every few months or so, I go back and watch it.  The show has some extremely popular standout episodes such as (but not limited to): “Time Enough At Last,” “The Invaders,” “Living Doll,” “To Serve Man,” “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” “The After Hours,” “Eye of the Beholder,” “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” and “The Masks.”  And while these episodes are enjoyable, I thought it would be a good idea to show some love to the episodes that I really like that don’t get as much play.  I collaborated with Noob and together we agreed on twelve episodes that I’m going to feature for the month of March.

Care to join me, fellow Zoners? And FYI...spoiler warning.


Hip-Hop History

One day, a few months ago, I was scrolling my FB feed and one of my friends dropped this on my timeline.

Man, I watched this video a good nine or ten times.  It slaps so damn hard.  The musical selections are awesome and the arrangement and transitions are all the way on point.  I think my favorite part of the sequence is the intro to Kanye West's "Flashing Lights," and I nearly died with joy when Sisqo's "Thong Song" made its way into the mix.  Never ever expected to hear that in an orchestra.  Regardless, the whole encore is straight fire.


TV & Me: The Mandalorian

Again, my girl Noob (who is obviously a TV head), put me on to this.  When Disney announced that they were making a show about a Mandalorian, I did not give even a slice of a damn.  The main reason was because I thought it was going to be about Boba Fett.  I never understood why he was so popular amongst Star Wars fans because he had limited screen time and went out like a straight up bitch.  So I didn’t bother with The Mandalorian.  

One day, Noob and I were chatting and she asked me if I was watching The Mandalorian and I said no and explained why.  She said, “No, it’s not like that at all...check it out.  You’ll like it.”  And since Noob’s never steered me wrong, I found it online and gave it a chance.  And obviously, I liked it.  It’s a simple show about a soldier having adventures across the galaxy and all of the beings he encounters therewith.  What I really like is that it’s a half-hour show, which is long enough considering.  I think Pedro Pascal is doing a good job as the Mandalorian, and I am curious to see what Season 3 will bring us, especially after Season 2’s finale.

It’s not a bad show.  If you like simple stories with simple plots, try out The Mandalorian.


TV and Me: Ultimate Beastmaster

Last summer, I stumbled upon this show when I was watching Netflix with my niece.  I’m a fan of obstacle courses and I love a good obstacle course show.  Back in the day, I was a diehard stan of American Gladiators.  This show ups the ante by including athletes from other countries.  The obstacle course is called The Beast and that thing is bananas!  It has four increasingly harder levels and you have to be an elite athlete to finish it. 

Typically, climbers with strong upper body strength and low body mass do well.  Women do not.  Rarely does a woman make it to the second round, much less the third.  Part of me wonders if they’ll end up splitting the contestants by gender next season just so that there can be a female victor and part of me doesn’t want that.  But I would love to see a woman win for once.

Anyway, I really like Ultimate Beastmaster.  I like that it is inclusive of athletes from other countries: Spain, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, China, Brazil, India, Japan, Great Britain and Australia.  The show also includes commentators from each country and watching them all react and interact with one another is hilarious.  Ultimate Beastmaster is a really fun show and definitely check it out if you’re looking for some time to kill.  Currently, the show has three seasons on Netflix.

**At the time of this writing, Ultimate Beastmaster has been canceled, so my wish of seeing a woman win won't come true.


TV & Me: The Boys

This show is fucking bananas!  Again, Noob put me on a couple of years back.  I’m fascinated by the concept and the execution is on point.  I love the idea of corporate-controlled superheroes and how their images are maintained by the corporation.  I like that there are a group of vigilantes whose sole purpose is to take down the corporation and the supes because they have been wronged one way or another. 

This show is crazy as hell, but it’s also very entertaining.  Cast members include my mans Giancarlo Esposito (who has been killing it lately), Karl Urban, Laz Alonso, and Antony Starr.  I don’t want to say any that you check it out for yourself.  You can find The Boys on Amazon Prime. 


TV & Me: Fargo

Noob put me on to Fargo some years back.  We’re anthology lovers, and she knew I’d like it.  Fargo, created by Noah Hawley, is inspired by the movie of the same name, and the Coen Brothers are executive producers.  Currently there are four seasons available, and I’m waiting for Season 4 to finish before I binge watch it. 

Each season tells a different story during a particular time period, in and around Minnesota, and there is a brand new cast each season.  There are some acting heavyweights lending their talents to the stories, such as Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

What I really like about the show is how things go from zero to 100 in as few episodes as possible, and once you pass that point, you’re addicted.  Or at least I was.  I await S4 with glee.

As always, I don’t want to say anymore.  It’s best that you check it out for yourself.  You can find Fargo on FX, but I’ve also seen it on Netflix and Amazon Prime.


TV and Me: P Valley

"Down in the valley where the girls get naked..." --Jucee Froot

P Valley (Pussy Valley), created by Katori Hall and airing on Starz, centers on the lives of the people who work at The Pynk, a strip club located on the Mississippi Delta.  The show stars Brandee Evans as Mercedes, the baddest dancer (with retirement plans) at The Pynk, Nicco Annan as Uncle Clifford, the ostentatious non-binary owner of The Pynk, and Elarica Johnson as Autumn Night, a woman with secrets who gets a job dancing at The Pynk.  

I love strippers and strip clubs, so when my bestie recommended this last summer, I was game.  I was all in halfway through episode one.  Nicco Annan’s Uncle Clifford is, as far as I’m concerned, the best character on the show.  They are honest, hilarious, vulnerable, and caring.  Uncle Clifford will do anything it takes to keep The Pynk functioning and they take care of their dancers.  Brandee Evans’ Mercedes is an absolute pole-dancing badass with mommy issues.  Personally, I find Autumn the least interesting character, but she is the audience’s entry into this world.

I don’t want to say any more, because P Valley is best when you go into it not knowing anything.  But definitely check it out.


TV and Me: Lovecraft Country

Maaan, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve done a TV post.  I’ve watched a lot of TV this past year because of Covid and want to share some of my favorite programs with you.  Feel free to share your faves in the comments section.

Last summer, my dear friend Noob put me on to the book Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.  She convinced me to give Audible a try (and I am still trying to train my brain to be receptive to audiobooks).  I got Lovecraft Country and used the length of time my trip took from the US to Dakar to listen to it.  It’s a good read.  

Last fall, HBO turned the book into a 10-episode TV show.  Misha Green is the executive producer and I feel that she did a wonderful job adapting Matt Ruff’s novel.  It was enjoyable to see a show with a mostly all-Black cast helmed by a sistah.  The show stars Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Letitia Lewis, the awesome Courtney B. Vance (in a short role) as George Freeman, Aunjanue Ellis as Hippolyta Freeman, Michael K. Williams as Montrose Freeman, Abbey Lee as Christina Braithwhite, and Wunmi Mosaku as Ruby Baptiste.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so this will be brief: The show ties aspects of H.P. Lovecraft’s (a virulent racist) Cthulhu Mythos with racism in the US during the 1950s.  Atticus (called “Tic”) has returned home from Korea to go look for his missing father and gets pulled into a dark web of horror and magic and monsters instead.  Definitely worth a watch if you’re a horror aficionado like me and love seeing unambiguously Black actors on the small screen.  Also, Jonathan Majors is fine as wine and we get to see him shirtless quite a bit! (I see you, Misha!)


The Expat Diaries; Volume IV: Dakar, Senegal

In October of 2019, I accepted a job in Senegal.  I was not planning on moving to Africa, as I wanted to stay in Asia for a few more years.  I had my heart set on getting a job in Hong Kong, but I would have settled for Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or Bangkok.  


Year End Wrap-Up

Well, what can I say?  2020 is definitely a year for the books.  Who knew that we’d end the year in the middle of a pandemic?  This year was crazy!

But, relatively speaking, was it a good year for me?  Yes. I’m alive and in good health and I’m now living and working in West Africa (I will talk more about this in another post).  My family and friends are all doing very well and I have not lost anyone to Covid.  I do know people who contracted it and people who have lost loved ones, and they confirm that it ain’t nothin’ to play with.  So I am truly, truly grateful that I am in good health, in spite of all the traveling I had to do last summer.