Bucket of Eels: Macrognathus siamensis

Hi. It's Rose. You signed up for this newsletter, I promise.

Welcome to today’s bucket of eels. I’m Rose. Let’s pull out some eels, shall we?

Apologies to the ~30 of you who might be seeing this twice. I messed up how it went out, and had to delete and redo! Lots of things happening today! Ahhhh!

Today’s eel: every edition of this newsletter is named after an eel. Today’s is the pelican eel, also known as the peacock eel (Macrognathus siamensis). I picked this eel for today’s newsletter because like a peacock, I am here to show you some of my new shiny feathers. I have a new podcast! It’s called Advice For And From The Future and it’s an advice show, for and from the future (I’m sure the name did not give that away at all). Should I follow my boyfriend to Mars? Should I let my boss put a chip in my hand? Should I have kids? Every episode will tackle one big question about, for and sometimes from the future. You can subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts!

Okay, back to eels. The peacock eel, if I am being fully honest with you dear reader, does not actually look very much like a peacock. It’s mostly brown with a thin, pale yellow strip running from its head to its tail. The eel was given an avian namesake thanks to the big eye spots that generally dot its body but I confess I am unconvinced. But no matter, the peacock eel doesn’t really care. In fact, many of the aquarium blogs I read said that these little slimers are super chill and easy going, and get along great with other fish and even other eels.

Technically, the peacock eel (which also goes by the name of Spot-Finned Spiny Eel, Peacock Spiny Eel, Striped Peacock Eel, and Siamese Spiny Eel) is not a true eel. Long time readers of this newsletter may have been tipped off by the Latin name: Macrognathus siamensis. But we welcome all eel like creatures, and tend to focus on common names here, so let’s let it slide okay? Be like the peacock eel and chill. Another way we should all be more like the peacock eel: stop caring so much about sexual difference. According to one aquarium guide I read: “Sexual differences are unknown and it is almost impossible to identify the sexes, though a mature female may be more full bodied.” Happy pride month!

Current Status: Did I mention I have a new show? Well, I do! You can, again, subscribe to it on any podcasting app you like. If you would do that, it would make me very happy. Today’s episode, the first one ever, is about whether you should follow your partner to Mars. It features an interview with the lovely Andrea Silenzi, of Why Oh Why, an original song, and a rumination on “the call of the void.” I hope you like it!

Along with launching this new show, I’m also launching an umbrella home for all the future facing projects I’m working on. It’s called Flash Forward Presents and you can kind of think of it like the Flash Forward Extended Cinematic Universe. Obviously Flash Forward and this new show will live there, but so will all kinds of other projects and experiments. If you want to get a really deep, inside look at everything I’m working on (and help these projects come to life), you can do that by becoming a member of the Time Traveler club. If you’re interested in getting a bit more behind the scenes thinking on why I’m launching the network and the membership program, check out this video. It gets a bit in the weeds, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m cognizant that I’m launching all of this in the midst of a huge and really, really important movement that’s pushing back on centuries of brutality against at Black people in the United States. I believe that visioning the future is a key piece of getting us to better tomorrows (on Flash Forward, we covered the end of prisons in 2015, a world without police in 2017, and the possibilities of restorative justice last year). Last week, during the #ShutDownSTEM action, I developed a plan and set of actionable goals for myself both personally and professionally, with Flash Forward Presents, continue fighting against white supremacy (Time Travelers will hear all about that plan in detail). And ultimately I hope that this work is not seen as a distraction, but as a toolkit for building better tomorrows. I hope that you all are staying engaged and involved in the current movement however you can. If you still need help getting started, here’s a list of resources. If you’re not sure how future thinking connects to this movement, I absolutely recommend this recent session led by Walidah Imarisha on Better Futures: Visioning In A Time Of Crisis.

Things I’m working on under the Flash Forward Presents umbrella:

  • Flash Forward, the podcast

  • Flash Forward, the book, coming soon! 

  • Advice for and from the Future, a new podcast about how we can live better today and tomorrow.

  • Hey, Lola? A three-part audio drama about surveillance, love, and fear.

  • Timelines, an experiment in audio fiction storytelling.

  • A six part series about the history of the future (it will make sense when you hear it, I promise).

  • A graphic novel

  • A young adult novel

  • A screenplay

  • Short stories

  • And more!

Okay that’s all for this pretty short newsletter. But hopefully you don’t think I’m slacking! Thank you all for opening this email among all the other emails in your inbox right now.

Bucket of Eels: Heteroconger hassi

Hi. It's Rose. You signed up for this newsletter, I promise.

Welcome to today’s bucket of eels. I’m Rose. Let’s pull out some eels, shall we?

Today’s eel: every edition of this newsletter is named after an eel. Today’s is the spotted garden eel (Heteroconger hassi). To pick today’s eel after searching google for “cowardly eel” since the essay down below is about me, being a coward. The first thing that comes up is something called “Instant Eels” from an episode of cartoon Courage the Cowardly dog called “The Magic Tree of Nowhere.” There is a Fandom for Courage the Cowardly dog, and I would just like to quote from this fandom because it features some Old Man and the Sea level writing. Here is how they describe the eels in question:

They are giant eels with a really long body, which is covered by dark green scales. They have also big jaws with sharp teeth, and barbs under the mouth. On the spine, they have the typical dorsal fin of eels which runs the entire upper part of the body from the neck to the tail. Being serpentine-like, they have no hind legs but only two thin arms near the head. Their eyes are mighty and menacing. 

Instant Eels — which get their name, apparently, beacuse they come out of a bag labeled “Instant Eel” which Courage (the show’s titular dog) pours into a moat he has dug to protect the Magic Tree Of Nowhere from his owner, Eustace — and not real. So in the spirit of finding a true eel for this newsletter, I clicked in the second result, which is the Marine Depot blog, and includes this line about garden eels: “They are cowardly creatures that retract into their burrow when anything comes too close.” Excellent.

The spotted garden eel is relatively small, spotted, and cowardly. They are nice in aquaria, but they do like to live in groups so you should get more than one. I’ve seen another species of garden eels in person, actually, off the coast of Bonaire. They’re adorable (and always look grumpy), and they do indeed retreat into their little holes as you approach, but if you float for a while above their little area, they’ll poke their heads out again. Unlike the Instant Eel, they do not sing. At least not in a range we can hear. 

Also, apparently you can catch a spotted garden eel in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which I do not have but now want.

Current status

Last year I was talking to a person who has made a name for himself creating distinctly dystopian future worlds. “How are you feeling?” I asked. “Is anything making you hopeful these days?” He laughed, and confessed that in fact, he was feeling downright chipper. Years ago, when he started, very few people were talking about the things he found most distressing: privacy violations, rampant harassment, soul crushing economic structures, climate change. But now, everybody was talking about these things over dinner, at parties, and online. He admitted it was a bit perverse, but he had turned the corner. While the rest of the world wallowed in despair, he felt hope, because of that wallowing.

I relate to this perhaps more than I’d like to. Two years ago, I did an episode of my future-facing podcast about pandemics. I’ve done episodes about the potential rise of masks as a new fashion item and about futures in which it might be literally unsafe to travel to certain states or regions, because the people there have embraced misinformation and eschewed science. And now here we are. It’s not that I feel vindicated or pleased that this is the future we’ve stumbled into. But rather, I’m unsure what I should be doing now. My job is to try and help people prepare for the future. What do I do when that future arrives? What value do I add here, as a futurologist of sorts, when it’s nearly impossible to think beyond the next few days or even hours. I admit that I don’t know.

Try to imagine, for a moment, how demoralizing it is as a writer to be unable to come up with topics for a column whose theme is simply “ideas.” It’s not that I don’t have any — I have a whole list of things I’d like to write about. But none of them seem important right now. None of them really matter. None of you would read them if I published them, and I couldn’t blame you. People say they want distractions from the crushing wave of covid content, and I think that they do in the same way that I would like to learn Japanese or do a handstand or dance on roller skates. In practice, well, when was the last time you had the attention span to read a long piece about something else?

Science journalists spend most of our lives shouting at people that they should pay attention to science. And now, here we are. The dominant story is a science one. Finally, the whole world wants to read science content, albeit on one very specific topic. And I can’t bring myself to create any.

Instead of putting on my big girl reporter pants and trying to find coronavirus stories for you, I have made a long list of excuses instead. Allow me to lay them out for you.

1. I genuinely believe that there is too much coronavirus content out there already. Over two months ago now, I saw an editor brag that they had already published 2800 pieces of covid-19 related content. I am a reporter but I am also a totally freaked out news consuming human just like you. I too am playing the game “panic attack or coronavirus” and googling things like “coronavirus survive on flowers?” And when I have that hat on, I’m not sure I need more takes, or frankly irresponsible coverage of preprints, or wild guesses by sleep deprived doctors, or dangerous future precautions (please stop talking about immunity passports), or essays about what a video game set on an island full of animals says about our “current situation.”

Sure, I could add to the pile of testimonials about how life has changed in this industry or that. I could talk to my tattoo artist, about how this might impact such an intimate art form that inherently involves close contact and bodily fluids. I could write about my pottery studio, and the ways they’re trying to figure out how to keep their largely at-risk members safe (6 feet between all the wheels? reservations to use the studio to keep the numbers down?). But whose lives haven’t changed? What industry hasn’t been effected? Is mapping the contours of each change worth doing right now?

2. The experts who are in fact qualified to speak on this pandemic are, in fact, relatively limited and quite busy at the moment dealing with an outbreak that stands to kill millions of people. On top of that, they’re drowning in calls from reporters they already know and trust. Doctors and front line workers are trying to save lives and when they’re not shouldn’t they sleep rather than answer my questions that don’t matter nearly as much as their mental health?

3. Freelance budgets have been slashed across the board, so even if I did manage to find a unique angle and a kind and generous source, the chances that I could sell the piece are far lower than they would be otherwise.

4. The ideas I do have that are related to the pandemic have been covered well already anyway. Charlie Warzel at the NYT articulated the feelings of limbo I’m in. Kendra Pierre-Louis is covering how coronavirus might impact future climate change fueled disasters like fires in California. Brian Merchant is, as always, keeping and eye on Amazon. Maggie Koerth has written about why modeling is so alluring and also problematic and Ed Yong has expertly laid out how we got here and what happens next.

5. Doing something just because you feel like you should do something doesn’t lead to good work.

But really, if I’m fully honest, I just have no desire to report on covid-19 at all. I know this is embarrassing and wrong. On a recent Longform interview, Ed Yong (who came out of book leave to cover the pandemic!) spoke of a sense of duty to the profession and the public. “I have a job that is very relevant and feels very important right now. So like my duty in the middle of all this feels incredibly clear,” he said. Later in the interview he adds: “This is what I think journalists are trained for. If not this, then what?”

Ed is not trying to scold me (or anybody else). He’s talking about himself, a person who has covered this beat deeply in the past, who has trusted sources and unique insights here. But it’s also hard not to feel, as a fellow science journalist, that I should also take up that duty somehow. And yet, here I am, instead of chasing leads and calling up sources and trying to wiggle my way into some unoccupied sliver of space on this story, I’m writing a longwinded newsletter trying to justify why I should do anything else.

Maybe in a few months I’ll finally work up the courage and drive to work on covid stories. Maybe not. For now, I think there are stories I can cover that we shouldn’t lose sight of amidst this panic. There are other futures, non-coronavirus futures we should still be thinking about. Coronavirus is, as several scientists have put it, just the briefest of tastes of what climate change can do to humanity. The inequality that has made coronavirus so deadly to black and brown communities will persist when the virus is gone. The surveillance we’re no longer stumbling into, but instead running at headlong to try and quell our fears will stick around and have huge impacts. The policy changes that come out of this will reshape the world, and it’s not too soon to start talking about them.

I make a podcast about the future. I still believe, even now, when the present feels so incredibly dire, that looking out into tomorrow is really important. That equipping people with the tools to imagine and push for futures they want to see matters. That if more people had just a little more foresight, we might not be in quite as bad a place right now. Training people to flex their imagination muscles can feel trivial at any time, but especially now. But I think it matters. And I’m going to keep doing that.

Recent Work

That’s all. Thanks for reading. Happy eel wrangling.

(Top image via zsispeo / Flickr.)

Bucket of Eels: Nemichthys scolopaceus

Hi. It's Rose. You signed up for this newsletter, I promise.

Welcome to today’s bucket of eels. I’m Rose. Let’s pull out some eels, shall we?

Today’s eel: every edition of this newsletter is named after an eel. Today’s is the Slender Snipe Eel (Nemichthys scolopaceus). The slender snipe eel can grow to be five feet long, while still only weighing a few ounces (because it’s… slender… get it?). According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, “Snipe eels have birdlike beaks with curving tips. Their beaks are covered with tiny, hooked teeth—the eels sweep their beaks through the water to entangle the antennae of tasty shrimp.” They live in the deep ocean, between 2,000 and 3,000 feet down, and are one of several species of snipe eels who all get their name from the bird who shares a long, skinny beak, the snipe.

Listen, I’m not going to lie to you, I picked this eel because I think it looks hilarious. In every image of it, the eel looks like it just told a really good dad joke. I mean come on:

We all need something funny today, don’t we?

Current status: I’m neck deep in working on the Flash Forward book and it’s both very exciting and COMPLETELY TERRIFYING. Working with Matt Lubchansky and Sophie Goldstein (geniuses, each of them) on this has been incredible, as has seeing the other ten artists in action. I’ve already learned so much about how comics are made. I’m also deep in the writing now, and it’s honestly the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Later on in this newsletter I’m going to talk about ghost-posts from my past, and one thing that doing this book has me thinking about is just how permanent books are. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Obviously I want to get everything right when I write/make anything, but with a book, if you get something wrong you can’t really fix it. And the stakes just feel so much higher. Which means that for each fact and anecdote I’ve been trying to find primary sources, to make sure I’m 100% on point for everything. That process has been… maddening? You wouldn’t believe the number of anecdotes that are tossed around (even in academic journals!) with little to no sourcing. Or if they do cite a source, that source usually cites another and another and another until you’re looking at a whole year’s worth of fishing magazines on eBay because that seems to be the only way to find the original source for the story. (Yes, I bought the fishing magazines.) Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to these days. It’s a bit like this over here at the moment:

Ghost Posts: From 2012 to 2014 I wrote for Smithsonian Magazine’s “Smart News” blog. It was one of my first jobs out of graduate school, and it wasn’t particularly glamorous. Every week I had to research and file 12 posts, most of them under 800 words. This was the era of aggregation blogs — sites that existed to suck up interesting content from other places on the web, add a bit of extra something to them, and push them out. It was often a raw numbers game — the more content you created, the more likely you were to have something take off.

These kinds of posts are not necessarily bad. The best ones synthesize disparate pieces of news and information bubbling up around the world and reveal some strand of connectivity between seemingly disparate ideas. I wrote a few of those. I also wrote plenty of them that were simply re-upping someone else’s original reporting and essentially going: “huh, isn’t this neat?”

I’m not ashamed of my work for Smart News but I am haunted by it.

Nothing I published was wrong, or misleading. None of the posts themselves are embarrassing. But they have taken on a life of their own.

When I was writing for Smart News, aggregation blogs like it were common. Lots of places were playing the same game. Readers understood, I thought, what they were getting when they clicked. If they wanted more, they could go to the original stories which were always linked to and quoted from excessively. When I was writing for Smart News, I almost never heard from readers.

Now, I hear from them all the time. Today, whoever runs the Smart News ship is doing an amazing job at keeping those stories alive. I still see pieces I wrote eight years ago pop up on Facebook, shared by friends or in groups. I’m credited for them in viral Tweets. And more than ever I’m getting emails and DM’s about them from people who think these posts are equivalent to a well-reported story. I’ve been asked for help with paternity cases and help training dogs and help tracking down historical documents. I’m asked for more details about posts I honestly don’t even remember writing, ones that were more quotations from elsewhere than my own words. I even get requests from news outlets, radio shows, podcasts, to come on their program and talk about the story. Each time I point them to the original reporter (again, linked and quoted extensively in the post) who actually wrote the story in question.

I’m not sure why this is, exactly. Have we all forgotten about aggregation, the specific visual markers of these kinds of posts? Today, the block-quote heavy style we used is rarely sighted online. Or were readers actually never that clear on what these posts were, they were just less inclined to reach out and ask questions? Perhaps the uptick in messages has less to do with the public’s media literacy, and more to do with the idea that getting in touch with journalists is a totally normal thing to do. I’m not sure.

I say that I’m haunted by these posts, but I don’t mean it in a bad way necessarily. More in a literal way. I’m followed by their ghosts, constantly reminded that they exist and that people still read them, and will continue to read them, and ask me about them.

A journalist’s job should never be taken lightly, but it can be hard to internalize the stakes of a 300 word post that is mostly quotes from other places. Especially when you’re writing 12 a week. These ghosts remind me that everything I put out there matters. Every person who reads my work, no matter how long after I create it, is doing so because they’re trying to find something out about the world. And I have a responsibility to them.

Right now my ghosts are friendly. But if I fuck something up, they might really turn into ghouls.

What I’ve written/done recently:

Bucket of Eels: Anguilla dieffenbachii

Hi. It's Rose. You signed up for this newsletter, I promise.

Welcome to today’s bucket of eels. I’m Rose. Let’s pull out some eels, shall we?

Today’s eel: every edition of this newsletter is named after an eel. Today’s is the large Longfinned eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii).

I came across a fact about this eel when reading this story, about an eel named Åle that supposedly lived for 155 years in a backyard well in Sweden. Turns out, it’s unlikely that Åle (a European eel, Anguilla anguilla) was quite that old, but eels can live quite a long time. Apparently there was once an eel named Pute who lived in a Swedish aquarium for 85 years. I could find no record of Pute, so perhaps the following is also untrue, but then another expert in the story said that "in another eel species, the large long-fin eel in New Zealand, there are individuals more than 100 years in age in natural waters.” One hundred years! 

The average life expectancy of a human in the United States (78.69 years) is less than Pute, and certainly less than these New Zealand eels. So of course I wanted to know more about these octogenarian New Zealand slimeybois. 

The New Zealand longfin eel does indeed have a long fin — according to guidebooks the easiest way to identify this eels is to look for its lengthy dorsal fin that runs about two thirds of the way down its body. These eels live the majority of their lives in freshwater, and only head out to see to mate and then die. They’re hefty eels, too, weighing about thirty pounds as adults. Oh and they can climb things. Apparently, in their quest for the sea, they often wind up trapped in hydropower dams. But unlike fish, who just kind of die there, these eels can leave the water and climb up and down small ladders to get through the obstacle

The Māori of course have a long relationship with this eel. They call the Anguilla dieffenbachii “tuna” and the eel is both an important food source as well as a whole bunch of mythology around the creatures. Because these eels get so big, and live so long, they can really feel like river monsters (also known as taniwha to the Māori). If you respect your local taniwha, you will be safe and protected. But if you do not, watch out. 

I picked a super long lived eel for this newsletter because I’m thinking about the last ten years, and the next ten. Total, that’s 12% of Åle’s life, but it’s probably 23% of mine. What I’m saying is that I’m running out of time to find a river to haunt, so please excuse me, I have some real estate prospecting to do. 

🌕🌖🌗🌘🌑🌒🌓🌔🌕 2019 🌕🌖🌗🌘🌑🌒🌓🌔🌕

As if ends of years weren’t existentially exhausting enough, we’re now also now enduring the end of a decade. Every year around this time, people reflect back, and then reflect on the reflecting back, and now we’re all doing that but upped an order of magnitude. We were so naive in 2010, weren’t we? Or maybe we weren’t. I don’t know. 

I’m not going to try and recap the decade, or predict the next one. But I do like to take time at the end of every December to combat my feelings of inadequacy by recapping what I actually did do each year. I’m a list maker. I’m the kind of list maker who adds things to the list that have already been done, so I can check them off and feel satisfied. This is that list, but for the whole year. 

🔮 I made 20 episodes of Flash Forward, and beyond making 20 episodes I made a season of the show that took some big risks. You can read about how that went here. 

📖 I sold a Flash Forward book! 

🌶️ I reported an episode of 99 Percent Invisible.

📚 I helped make an episode of The Allusionist.

🎙️ I guest hosted Call Your Girlfriend.

🎧 I started a goofy newsletter about bad podcast ideas.

🖊️ I wrote some stuff. 

🏺 I got a hobby! I now make weird ceramics. You can see them mostly on Instagram. I’ve actively resisted turning this hobby into a side hustle this year. I refuse to make a separate Instagram account, or sell these things, or even take commissions from friends generally because the whole point of this is that it truly doesn’t matter if I’m good or if any of the stuff I try works. And it’s been SO good for my mental health. Bonus: when you’re working with clay your hands are dirty, so you can’t really touch your phone. 

💉 I got zero new tattoos this year, but I will remedy that next year. On the list include a sketch I drew of the noodlebeasts I’ve been making in clay, and Leibniz’s unicorn. Possibly also David Bowie.

🐉 For next year, I’m working on some really exciting projects. I’m not sure how many of them will actually happen (I’m in the process of finding funding for all of them) but even if half of them pan out I’ll be busy and happy next year.

I hope you all have a tremendous rest of 2019, and enter the decade in whatever style you choose. Decades are arbitrary constructs if you want them to be. See you on the other side.

Bucket of Eels: Electrophorus electricus part II

Hi. It's Rose. You signed up for this newsletter, I promise.

Welcome to today’s bucket of eels. I’m Rose. Let’s pull out some eels, shall we?

TODAY’S EEL: every edition of this newsletter is named after an eel. Today’s is the Electrophorus electricus or the Electric eel. But wait, you might be thinking, didn’t we do this one already? We did! But guess what, there’s news about this eel that is both very interesting and thematically relevant to this newsletter so we’re doing it again. 

I first told you about the electric eel back in May, and in that newsletter I talked about the ways in which scientists have tried to measure just how electric an electric eel really is. But since that newsletter, new research was published that strongly suggests that there may in fact be more than one electric eel species out there. A Brazilian researcher named Carlos David de Santana believes that there are actually three different species of electric eel. He came to this conclusion by looking not just at DNA, but also at the environments that these eels live in and their behavior. Here is the always excellent Ed Yong at The Atlantic, writing about the differences:

One of the trio retains the original name Electrophorus electricus, and de Santana now calls it Linnaeus’s electric eel, after the legendary Swedish taxonomist who classified it. The two others are now Volta’s electric eel (Electrophorus voltai), after the Italian physicist who built a battery based on the animal, and Vari’s electric eel (Electrophorus varii), after Richard Peter Vari, a famous ichthyologist who was part of de Santana’s team until his death in 2016. (Most of the eels used in previous research are likely to be Vari’s eels, since they’re the only species from Peru, the only country from which these animals can be legally exported.)

This kind of oversight — thinking that something is one thing when in fact there is nuance between them — isn’t uncommon in biology. And it’s especially common when the animal is unusual and poorly studied. As Yong notes, “there are likely four distinct species of giraffe, three species of mola mola, and two species of African elephants.” 

I also want to quote from another section in this Atlantic piece, because it’s wild.

Collecting these animals from the wild, as de Santana did, is not easy. “I do it by myself, or with the help of really experienced fishermen,” he says. “I don’t allow students to do it. It’s never safe.” Even if he wears rubber gloves, the sweat that builds up inside them eventually links up with the water outside them, creating a continuous conductive layer. Bottom line: You can’t collect electric eels without suffering shocks, which de Santana compares to getting hit with a Taser. It’s even worse in the dry season, when more than 10 individuals can occupy a single stream. “When one starts to discharge, the others do too,” says de Santana. “You just get used to it. You do what you have to do.”

You do what you have to do! Sometimes that means getting shocked by strange fish in the name of knowledge! 

So now you know, and the next time someone brings up electric eels you can be that guy at the party and say “well, actually, there are three different species of electric eels so you’ll need to be more specific.” 

STATUS: Waiting, waiting, waiting. I’ve pitched what feels like a billion projects, and I’m waiting to find out which ones (if any) are going to happen. I hate waiting. 

STATUS II: The last time we talked about Electrophorus electricus I wrote an essay about work taxonomies. It’s an odd cosmic coincidence that in that essay I talked about my various work “buckets” and there were three of them (just like there are in fact three species of Electrophorus electricus). 

In that essay, I mentioned launching a secret Patreon, for all the things that fall into a bucket that I’m excited about, but that doesn’t really pay. In the essay I called it “FICTION” but it encompasses more than that. It’s mostly fiction, but it really holds all the things that I can’t put on Flash Forward, or sell to publications. That essay went out to you lovely subscribers in May. And the Patreon remained secret, totally unlaunched, for months. 

Then, just a few weeks ago, on an episode of the Flash Forward BONUS PODCAST, I mentioned it. I talked about the same things I mentioned in the essay here — my fear that nobody will donate, my worry that Flash Forward listeners will feel like they shouldn’t have to give twice, my anxiety that peers will see another Patreon as desperate and sad. 

I had assumed that I’d put out that Bonus Podcast and then carry on sitting on the secret Patreon for some undetermined amount of time, possibly forever. But what actually happened, was that a handful of Flash Forward listeners put on their detective caps and found the Patreon page and donated to it! Which was so, so lovely. And also a tiny bit terrifying. But mostly lovely! 

I still haven’t shared a link to the Patreon page on my most public social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) but now that the eel is out of the bucket, so to speak, I’ll share the link here with you in case you want to support my weird projects that way.

So here it is, the secret Patreon.

What does this mean for this newsletter, you may wonder? Great question.

  • If you’re a paying subscriber to this newsletter, you’ll get the weekly blog posts that go out to the Patrons, so no need to shift over if you don’t want to. I’m sending out a blog post to Patrons at the end of this week.

  • If you’re a non-paying subscriber you’ll continue to get these extremely irregular newsletters as if nothing has changed.

Doesn’t this eel illustration look like an eel and an otter had an illegitimate lovechild? Just me? Okay… moving on.

FICTION: Till Death Do Us Part

Hello Mr. Jackson, welcome. I have good news. This is heaven. You’re allowed to celebrate a little sure, take your time.

Before I bring you in I have a few questions for you. Heaven is probably not going to be what you expected, and I want to be sure I understand how to best get you situated.

How old are you?

Don’t I know? Yes, of course I know, the question is meant to test you not me.

And where were you born?

I’m not going to take notes by the way, don’t be alarmed, I remember everything.

What was your favorite food?

What was your favorite television show?

Did you watch any reality television Mr. Jackson?

Yes, American idol counts.

Okay, what about reality dating shows...

Really any of them. A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila, I Love New York, Love Island, I’m feeling generous so I’d even count The Real World. No? Not even The Bachelor? Hm. Okay.

Why do I ask? Right, it’s a common question. We find that people who watch those shows fare far better here.

Sinful? No. I don’t know why you all think that. It’s actually great preparation for heaven.

Yes, I was about to explain why if you would stop interrupting.

Your first wife Mira is here, which is good news. I’d imagine you’re quite keen on seeing her again, yes? Right, I would expect so. The wrinkle is that her first husband is also here. They have been living in heavenly bliss for ten Earth years now. And here you come along. Do you see where I am going here? Things can sometimes get a bit, tricky. Heaven is not unlike the show Ex on a Beach. Are you familiar with it? Too bad, it is a wonderful program. And would make you far more prepared for this whole ordeal.

But never fear, we have unlimited time to catch you up. Come with me, there’s a viewing room over here. Where shall we begin? I’m partial to Are You The One season eight.

Yes, I’m quite serious. It’s your choice Mr. Jackson, but I must insist you watch until I feel you are ready.

That’s all for this newsletter! Thanks for reading!

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