BLACK CYBER FRIDAY

Although it’s still September (in case anyone is still keeping track of the days and months), it’s always a good idea to look ahead. Granted, planning ahead may be of a good idea or not. Nevertheless, even through the schedule is way out of whack, time still marches on as they used to say in those newsreels from back in the day!
According to a report filed by the marketing analysis firm Emarsys, some 62% of potential shoppers state that “no amount” of safety precautions will persuade them to shop in stores this Black Friday, November 27th.

Thanks to the ever present COVIG-19 antics that’s been burned into the hearts and minds of folks around the nation for its better or for its worst, people are very leery into being in places where others are in close range to one another, no matter if these same people are donning face masks or not. And since the economy is in a topsy-turvy mode (if not having its virtual head up its virtual ass), people won’t and don’t know how they are going to spend for the holiday season, if they will be shopping at all!

For those that do plan to shop, 4% plan to shop in physical stores, while 28% stated that they will do their seasonal shopping entirely online.

14% noted that social distancing will persuade them to visit physical retail stores, and only 10% would be convinced to visit by contactless purchase. And if these shoppers could receive a premium or discount to shop in store verses online, they would visit an outlet in person, according to the 19% that replied as tallied in the Emarsys research report.

The holiday season is going to arrive no matter what may or may not happen thanks to the virus of the year (or decade?) However, as of this writing, it’s going to be a tough call now that late fall and early winter is going to keep folks clustered indoors and thus, harder to spread six feet away from one another.

Also, nobody is going to predict how the domestic economy is going to change things. When the start of the so-called “Great Recession” was taking hold in the latter months of 2009, people decided to scale back on their seasonal shopping matters. Many of them did this ploy for the longer run. That is, keeping an eye on their budget that year, and the many years that followed. Even when the economy got back to a more normal stance (as recently as one year ago this time), shoppers were still being careful on how they shopped, as well as who they were shopping for i.e. family, friends, or even for themselves.

But with economics, predictions were a bit easier to make thanks to various forms to facts and figures that tend to come of from this vogue. But if one has a virus to bring into its center stage, it’s always going to become a tough call. Various reports note that a cure to this form of organic matter may not be found until next year. Other reports note that it may be found in ’22. Maybe in ’23. Maybe by 2030(!) Again, it all depends on who one refers to!

And there is the big-deal election to take in mind! Already, there are a lot of tempers that are on high mode. And with social justice adding to the mix, it’s going to add a lot of anxiety into play. And there is the weather to keep in step. Granted, there weather related elements are limited in place into a regional area, such as hurricanes in the southwest portion of the US, and wildfires in northern California. Nevertheless, with all of these factors into play, the notion of shopping freely for the “festive” season is going to change things rather drastically. If may be for the moment, or it may be for good!

Don’t be too surprised that retailers will start off their holiday season as early as this week! With nearly everyone that has a cell phone owns one of the smart variety, there are lots of apps out their to make that shopping a whole lot easier without stepping into a retail store. Free delivery will make it happen, as well as pick up in store without actually entering the store. (i.e. Curbside!) It’s going to be an interesting holiday season this year, no matter if it’s dreaming of a white Christmas, or an online version of the same song!

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HOLIDAY ON STRINGS

Now that the Labor Day holiday has been swept out of the way for the year (or to be precise, now long forgotten), it’s time to concentrate on the holidays both real or imagined that will fall within the fourth and final quarter of the calendar year. These are the days, or period of days, that are marked to commemorate or to celebrate an event or occurrence that has been part of the domestic landscape for generations.

The holidays in question range from Columbus Day, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving (both of ‘em), and of course, the collective block of holidays that hold the generic terms known as (what else?), “The Holidays” that fall within the month of December. That collective ends with New Years Day. However, that’s for 2021. This article will place its emphasis on the 2020 calendar year. (New Year’s Eve falls on December 31st. However, that day isn’t a holiday per se, but it’s connected to January 1st. But this is all besides the point!)

Anyway, let’s give a rundown on those holidays in question, and how those days are going to play out for this year.

As you are aware, this year has been drastically changed ranging from being slightly altered to being totally f*ucked up! Whatever happened in 2019 is staying in 2019, because in 2020. It’s a whole new ballgame right now assuming that ballgames are being played, if not bring played out!

October will bring Columbus Day, falling on its traditional day of October 12th. Over the past few years, the notion of a legal holiday that commemorates Christopher Columbus has lost its luster. This is especially true for this year, where anyone, regardless of when the person lived and/or when the notion was executed, has been shunned because the person or persons placed a group of people belonging to another linage under some form of distress that for many years were never discussed in detail and/or were brought to the attention to the public at large. These historical figures range from some of the founding people behind the missions of California to those active in the states that were once part of the Confederacy.

There’s been talk (maybe some action) of the government doing something with Columbus Day, or at least changing the notion of such. This article won’t get into the backstory to these modifications since that’s more of a political issue. However, Columbus Day as a whole is one of those “forgotten” holidays. People of Italian heritage commemorate the day as it’s part of their ancestry. And there are other celebrations such as hosting parades. Outside of that, the day is mostly used for businesses wanting to throw Columbus Day sales! It’s also another day not to have mail delivery or to do business through any federal agency. It’s reduced to a ‘floating holiday” for those working in a business that uses said holidays that float. (Yours truly once worked for a community and public access TV channel set within a regional cable company, and employees voted on what holiday they can take off: Columbus Day or the day after Thanksgiving. Nobody voted for the former day, let along remembered that the second Monday in October was an actual holiday!)

In Canada, the second Monday of October is Thanksgiving Day where folks north of the border feast on traditional Thanksgiving Day goodies. (All of Canadian origin of course!) However, let’s concentrate of American holidays for now, shall we..?

Next up is Halloween, falling on October 31st–a Saturday no doubt! This day for many folks is the only holiday that really matters, with people dressing their homes into haunted houses, throwing Halloween parties, and taking advantage of celebrating a day that pays tribute to the supernatural. Of course, the kids (and many adults too) will be going from door to door in their neighborhood dressed up in various costuming yelling “trick or treat” to grab goodies that may last well into Thanksgiving! It’s the fall party that beats all fall parties.

For this year? Well, the nation, as well as the rest of the world, already received their scary times. And Halloween has been part of that scare, but not in a good way. Granted, people want to celebrate the holiday, but really don’t know how to pull it off. The retail outlet Party City recently conducted an informal poll for that day that asked mothers (or their equivalents) on how the future of Halloween during a pandemic will be played out as according to these mom types.

The results of the poll? “Moms” don’t want to disappoint their kids by not going trick or treating. There will be costumes donned and houses decorated, and much of the trick or treating will be via “drive through” rather than door-to-door. So gas up the ol’ SUV and take the kids out to grab their goodies as dispensed through an open window! It’s not the same as before, but it’s better than missing out on the fun completely.

As to actual Halloween parties? Let’s hope that Indian Summer will still be around in most of the nation since one can host an outdoor party may call for a bit of chill in the air. The more chilly the air, the more ghostly spirits will be hanging around! So that idea will still work out!

Next up–Election Day, November 3rd. This one is going to be rather interesting. The two leads of red and blue colors are competing for the role of King of the USA. Although they both come from different backdrops and stand up toward totally different issues, they are both older that all of the videotapes (audiotapes too) this writer currently owns! They are even older that the era when regular TV broadcasts started to take hold, even before Uncle Miltie became the Tuesday night sensation! Election Day is not a celebration per se, but granted, there will be a lot of whooping it up! And not necessarily done in a good way either!

Next there’s Veteran’s Day, November 9th. This day is at times confused with Memorial Day. The former commemorates those that served in the armed forces that came back. The latter are for those that also served, but didn’t live to tell their tales. Even though Veteran’s Day holds importance, it’s mostly a holiday that’s semi forgotten.

Now we are entering the “big three”, those days that fall within the last six weeks of the calendar year. Those are the days that will show the most anxiety since they are part of celebrations that involve lots of people meeting indoors! American Thanksgiving falls on November 26th. That’s the day folks meet with others that consists of family, friends, or their equivalents for the annual meal. Right now, that day is up in the air since it involves a lot of traveling. One can drive in a private vehicle from one place to another, or one can take another transit source, assuming that people are rather comfortable to taking a plane, train, or even an automobile. Then there’s the traditional parade that Macy’s hosts each year. However, the department store, somewhat struggling as it is, will be “reimagining” the parade for this year. As of press time, it’s not know what this “reimagining” is all about, but it may not involve camping out along Broadway from the upper West side to 34th Street to see the passing parade!

Next up are all of the days such as Black Friday (November 27th), Cyber Monday (November 30th), Chanukah (December 10th through the 18th) and Christmas–December 25th. As of this writing again, nobody’s gonna know what those days are going to be like! Shopping can be done online (assuming people will have funds to shop), and so will the card sending. (The USPS will be working overtime since they were handling the Electron Day balloting!) Rounding out the season is Boxing Day (December 26th) and New Year’s Eve on the 31st. And don’t bother camping out along Colorado Blvd. In Pasadena because there won’t be any Rose Parade come January 1st, real or “imagined”!

Of course, we may have skipped a few days here and there. (High Holy Days, Winter Solstice, etc.). However, this rundown give one an idea of what’s going to take place, what’s going to be changed, and what’s going to be left on the table for those to decide! It just gets as confusing at the current times will allow!

So that’s the basic lowdown for the year. Of course, everything mentioned within this article is subject to change. Yours truly isn’t going to make any solid facts here, and everything that may occur may even be here say. Only time, tide, and a cure to the virus of the decade is going to be the final choice! Ballots, protests, and thoughts and prayers may help or they may not! It’s all catch as catch can! Right now, your humble writer is working in the same place where I hang my hat hacking away on using the ol’ Mac Pro while seated in the same room where I take part in on too many Zoom meetings! It’s just another day of a life while living in a pandemic!

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

GOING TO THE “MOVIES” or MOVIES TO ITS “GOING”

Since middle March, the movie going experience has all but disappeared. Thanks to shutdowns, stay at home orders, and overall fear and anxiety, people are now somewhat cautious of heading over to their friendly neighborhood multiplex to plunk down somewhere between $8.00 and $20.00 to see a feature film for roughly an eighty minute to a two hour plus timeframe–not counting watching trailers as well as ads and “daters”–those announcements that inform you everything from the theater chain’s rewards program that you can join for free or not, to friendly reminders not to talk, text, and overall become obnoxious to those around you that paid as much as you did to experience what’s being seen on the big screen. Of course, we are not counting the cost of concessions that have as much as a 100% markup for the theater to what’s being sold at the counter. (After all, how much would six dollars worth of popcorn cost if one did pay for an unpopped version? About a three pound sack’s worth–not counting the “butter” flavoring one can goo on it–or to lubricate that sticky desk drawer–take your pick!)

Drive-in theaters have made themselves a rip-roarin’ comeback to see movies with the assumption that one can find an operating drive-in, unless one can count a “pop-up” version consisting of a hugh white sheet hastily propped up for a screen, a sound system that can generate the audio through powerful speakers that can throw the sound to the area folks are to be watching the film or through a low power FM signal that radios placed within a two hundred foot radius can pick up, as well as a shack/tent/open table where the concessions can be sold for as much as a 100% markup to the cost of goods for the drive-in management.

Drive-ins are great because not only it promotes social distancing, it holds a nostalgic flavor to it all. This works in two ways. One, nostalgia is one of the best remedies to relieve anxiety, and two, since there isn’t a whole lot of new content presently available, many drive-ins and outdoor places are offering “retro” titles into their mix, many using theme screenings from showcasing classic sci-fi, horror, comedy, and action-adventure titles where most, if not all of its special effects were created through antilog methods! Recently, a real (not “pop-up”) drive-in was placing on their bill, 1950‘s-era sci-fi features such as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The War of the Worlds with special effects by Ray Harryhausen and George Pal where you can see the strings attached to the beasts and aliens! (They could have fixed it in post, but this writer digresses!)

Then what about sit-down theaters? What will be their status? As of this writing, many of the movie theater chains from AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and the many others, will plan to stay around. They may have to limit the capacity of their seating space, as well as to re-modify their concession stands with no self serve concessions areas, but the theaters won’t take this form of lack of crowds sitting down! After all, movie theaters have been around since the 19th century, and it’s going to take a long time for what’s been known as an entertainment based lifestyle to totally go away! It’s going to change of course, but it won’t disappear!

What made movie theaters (as well as movies themselves) change was through that device called “television” that could bring video content to one’s home for no additional charge. So movie ramped up their pictures, and the movie theaters followed. Then there was “cable TV” that offered more content–for a fee! Then there was the “premium TV channels” a.k.a “pay TV” where one can pay additional for the privilege to watch recently released movies uncut and unedited. If there were nude scenes depicted in the feature as well as cussing on the soundtrack, you will see the nude scenes and hear the cussing. No “edited for television” disclaimers throughout! And of course, there was no annoying and obnoxious TV commercials to interrupted your viewing.

Then there was the rise of home video. With a handy-dandy video cassette recorder (VCR) machine, one can record programming off the air to view it later that day or that decade! And one can get prerecorded movies on videotape where one can watch a title for as many times as possible–uncut and unedited! If one didn’t want to shell as as much as $100.00 per videotape, one can rent it at a local video rental outlet where a staff of clerks can recommend what to see based upon personal tastes. A few of these tape rental stores may know more than you would want on the subject of movies, as some outlets would hire clerks on duty that are only there to remind you to return the tape on time or pay a penalty. And if you don’t rewind the tape, there’s another service fee attached! So better be kind and rewind!

Then there was the digital video disk-DVD for short. These little plastic disks around 5” in diameter offer the same content found on videotape in better quality picture and sound, and you don’t rewind ‘em! DVDs were much better than their cousins, the laser disks that offered almost the same picture quality, but were 12” in size. Although there was also no rewinding involved, sometimes one had to take the disk to flip them over to its other side to play the second half of the feature. They same way one would play a record!

Best all of, DVDs were more affordable to own. New releases on titles would cost anywhere from $30.00 and less! If one wanted to rent them from the nearby Blockbuster Video (usually staffed by those that know and love the movies) or to a Redbox vending machine where one can rent a disk for $1.00 per 48 hour period, it was just as accessible. (Movie recommendations through a vending machine were not included in its rental price!)

Now there is streaming! Depending on what source one desires to subscribe to, one can pay anywhere from $15.00 per month or less to see whatever the channel is offering! If one desires HBO-type content, one can subscribe to HBO Go/Plus/Now to see TV programs that made the former “Home Box Office” famous ranging from The Sopranos to Game of Thrones. If one is a fan of Disney, there’s Disney+ that has Star Wars, Marvel Comics super heroes, thirty years worth of The Simpsons, and of course, all of the Disney features one can stand for $7.00 per month! (Sorry folks! No Song of the South!) And there is Netflix that is a streaming island in to itself!

Since TV devices and the sound systems that go along with them are now bigger, thinner, sharper, and louder than ever before, one can actually have a home theater system that would rival a home theater setup only movie moguls could once grab. One can keep a movie theater going experience right in own’s personal dwelling, and could view almost anything one desires to watch! (You can even view porn if that was one’s personal schtick!) And you can chow down on all of the popcorn you want, guzzle all of the soda you could drink, and wolf down all of the Jujubes you can cram in your pie hole–for a fraction of the cost!

And if you want to talk through the feature, play with your phone, or even get up from your chair/sofa/bed/floor to “see a man about a dog”, nobody’s gonna call the manager to tell you to shut the phone off, be quiet, or to stop annoying those around you when you keep getting up to relieve yourself just because you drank five cups of fizzy sugar water!

And these notions fall into place where the movie theater managers would see another beginning of their end. Since content is available, the methods of content is accessible, and the cost of all of this experiencing is next to nothing (not totally “free”, but pretty close to it!), the question remains! Why does one need to go to a movie house to view visual content when one can do it at home for less money and effort? Unless one desires the emotional appeal of seeing content with a group of strangers that will laugh, cry, or gasp in horror with the action depicted on the screen and/or one needs to get out of the house for a few hours (or days?), then nothing beats going to the movies without going to the movies!

As the summer “tentpole” season featuring film releases with special effects and loud noises bleeds into the fall and winter period where movies become more realistic, softer in volume, and only exist to cop multiple awards (but are not necessarily entertaining as a whole), only time, tide, and a cure to the virus of the year will only determine if those would be willing to go back to their movie going habits as before. Granted, there’s the notion that old habits die hard, or that if one does picks up a new habit, one won’t go back to their former methods of doing things as previous. (“You can’t go home again”!) But all elements are to be taken within consideration, if not taken with a gain of (popcorn) salt. If movies are to be made and the price is right, they will come. If not, then at least one can spend their moment to binge watch The Mandalorian for the first time of for the 17th! Or as The Child would say, “Thirsty I am for more fizzy sugar water!!”
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“CALL 988! CALL 988!”

There has been a line spoken in a number of comical feature films where a character becomes involved in some form of emergency situation. This character would run around in a frantic within his surroundings (as a character of this type tends to be of the male species) saying in a semi-panic yet comical mode, “Call 911! Call 911”! For some reason, this seems to be a plot point depicted in 1990’s-era film releases, perhaps in a rom-com of some sort(?)

Well, add “988” to the phone numbers to call for emergency assistance–not for fire prevention, law enforcement, an ambulance, or any other service that’s used for emergency status. This number is for the prevention of suicide!

On July 16th, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the federal branch that regulates radio, television, and telephone systems and services, has announced that all phone services operating in the USA would allow callers for a direct link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline no later than two years of the announcement date-July 16th, 2022.

Previously, if one wanted to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, one had to call their toll-free number at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and going through a various series of prompts. But this easy to remember three-digit number would be a fastest and most direct way to call for this form of assistance.

More details on this measure can be obtained through an official press release made available through the FCC at https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-designates-988-national-suicide-prevention-lifeline.

It isn’t a real surprise that this form of emergency assistance would become easier to obtain to those that have an immediate desire to use it. Although this writer doesn’t necessarily know if this new system has been in the works for some time, it is in response to the results of the increase of levels of anxiety many have are facing for the past six months thanks to the rise, fall, and rise (so far) of the crisis with the shorthanded name of COGIV-19.

Since that time, many people has had their jobs and sources of income altered. Some are in a work-from-home phase. Many have been furloughed. Others were laid off for their places of employment with the notion that they may never return. Companies both big and small have filed for bankruptcy protection, although many are still functioning as normal due to the virus. (As of this writing, the parent company behind Lord & Taylor has been one of the more recent causalities!)

Around this time, school would be back in session from pre-kindergarden through college level. Many schools and institutions hold limited in-person classes, while others are exclusively online. The portal “Zoom” became the app of the year (perhaps of the decade?) where anyone and everyone has been meeting online for events ranging from bible studies groups to live sex shows(!!) Yours truly have been part of Zoom meetings with others for some time, sometimes as many as five meetings in a row! (No kidding!!)

Although meeting online is fine for what it is, one of the most common caveats people have been expressing from on-line meetings is the lack of opportunity to meeting others in person for real, rather that through blurry images and seeing others in unimpressive poses. (i.e. A view looking upward of their faces with a great view of their inner nostrils!)

But getting back to the anxiety for the moment. The notion of people feeling isolated and lonely has been brewing for many years before. Social media has taken the rap for the cause of this dilemma for some time. People going through their Facebook accounts would see their “friends” taking part in activities and events that the viewer were not aware of, let alone invited to, giving the phrase “fear of missing out” a.k.a FOMO into the modern American language lexicon. In the U.K., there is a Ministry of Loneliness whose assessment is to encourage others in some kind of social activity, even administrating suggestions on how one can keep in touch other others through current social distancing measures.

And speaking of sorts, social distancing should not become confused with social isolation. One can be with others in person in person and as for real. Just as long as one take simple measures, such as using the standard six feet rule and donning masks. (Awkward yet important!) One can be creative in this method. Recently, yours truly viewed at a nearby park a softball game where the players were on one team donning blue masks with the L.A. Dodgers logo, while the opposite team were with red masks with the L.A. (California) Angles logo in its center. (Crosstown rivalries at play perhaps?)

In spite of everything, it appears that those that are feeling where there is no hope for themselves will have an option at their disposal. So in the meantime, keep these options at bay as they will indeed be available to serve its purposes.
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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IT’S A ON, ON, ON, ON, ONLINE WORLD!

As COVIG-19 (one part of the many words and phrases that can describe the first year of the post-modern “roran’ 20s”) becomes increasingly connected to the domestic landscape, many more events are taking it outside, if not taking to the world of cyberspace.

While the summer season slowly yet surely become blended into the fall/autumn landscape, many events that was scheduled to take place are doing one of two options. One, they aren’t happening as a physical activity, or two, they have been moved into the next calendar year. Many conventions and events that were suppose to take place in the fourth quarter of ’20 announced that they have moved their program online. Even a few events scheduled into early 2021 are going to become an on-line happening. The CES (formally the Consumer Electronic Show), the biggest trade convention that plays in Las Vegas, will become a totally online event. This makes it rather interesting since the CES normally takes place in the first half of January, was one of the few 2020 events that had “survived” the year as that event occurred some two months before the “beginning of the end” started to make the rounds–usually marked as the second weekend of March.

As for the rest of the season, many sources has made efforts to write off the remainder of this year, pushing their events, activities, and introductions of new products into the next period if not making it exclusively online, with the assumption that things will be for the better. Then again, many folks aren’t necessarily taking any strides that the next year will be for the better. It may be just the same, or it may be for worse! Take your pick!

There’s also the standing of sports. For many, football is the be-all-to-end-all sport to watch and perhaps even to play. It could be as one of the teams grounded toward a specific academic school league. There are the Friday night lights found on the high school gridirons and the Saturday afternoon and Saturday night games played upon many a college campus. Then there are the Sunday games when the pros battle it out.

Although many would have head over to a stadium (or grandstand) to watch the game in person, many others would flock over to their friendly neighborhood sports bar to view the game(s) over a dozen of big screen TV sets, while the rest could watch on any electronic internet connected device that has a screen attached! Then again, it’s always more fun to view a game with others nearby, no matter how the teams are good (or bad) playing at their sport or otherwise!

And there are the holidays that will stand upon the calendar landscape. There’s Halloween on October 31st. This year, that day falls on a Saturday, meaning that All Hallow’s Eve falls on a “party night”, where trick-or-treating would be fully engaged, and those ever lovin’ parties would occur, rocking to the spooky beat.

Granted, trick-or-treating would be somewhat easy to do using the social disdaining methods–assuming that people even want to give goodies to those knocking on their doors. As for the party thing? Well, one can host a party online. But it’s not within the same realm as to a real live event. (Halloween party via Zoom? It can be done, but would anyone attend??)

Halloween bleeds into November. November in the USA holds upon two holidays; Veteran’s Day on November 9th that pays tribute to vets that served in the armed forces, and Thanksgiving, scheduled for November 26th. You can host a Thanksgiving Day celebration via Zoom, but it will be BYOT! (Bring You Own Turkey!) The day after was suppose to be “Black Friday”, the day where major retailers start off the Christmas shopping season offering “door busting” sales and bargains throughout their stores. Although Black Friday has been watered down over the recent years thanks to retailers offering these same deals since the Columbus Day weekend, this year is going to be rather different. Both Walmart and Target recently announced that their stores will be totally closed on Thanksgiving Day. (Normally, they would be open in the early evening a few hours before the “start” of Black Friday!) And since shopping online has been part of the so-called “new normal”, getting what one desires is a lot easier to grab since one doesn’t have to be inside of a store loaded with people that may be wearing face masks–or not!

That leads toward the season recently noted as “The Holidays”, that pays tribute to any festive event taking place in the month of December where gifts are normally exchanged. That also means Holiday parties would also take place. One can and will assume that office or company parties won’t be taking place for the reasons that parties do not encourage safe distancing, and the fact that the companies that once offered their festive events may be cutting down on their business practices, or may not even be in business any longer!

Can all of these sad yet true facts take note that 2020 is already a wash? Maybe! After all, there was the hope last spring that all of the shutdowns and lockouts would become a thing of the past once the summer season arrived. Alas, summer arrived, but the lockdowns didn’t go away. Only time and tide will foresee if anything will return to the point where it will be embraced like an old friend, or maybe hang around like an annoying pest! It’s going to be events found through circumstance or cyberspace–for the better or for the worse!
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

SCREAMING FOR STREAMING

It isn’t any surprise that steaming media is now part of the so-called “new normal” that’s been floating around over the past few weeks and months. Since the lockdowns have been coming in and going out (and coming back again), people have been more interested, if not totally desperate, to bind their time by taking advantage of obtaining media through their TV-type devices that a good part of domestic society has access to.

And what better way is through streaming media. Streaming content is very much like how one used to get a TV signal through an antenna or through a coax cable. Unlike an antenna where the signal comes from over-the-air means, and cable, where the signal comes from a…well…cable, streaming media is sent through a LAN cable connected to an electronic box known by its many brand names (Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Firestick, etc.) that’s connected to a TV monitor or through any device that connects to the ‘net that sports a video screen where one can obtain content whenever the user desire to view the media. No appointment is necessary! It’s available 24/7/365–depending on availability, of course!

And the media and its public has spoken! Recently, Hulu, one of the dozens of streaming portals that are out there, released a survey the company conducted called Unpacking the Streaming Experience, that broke down the groups that stream media (not necessarily Hulu per se, but it’s assumed that their portal was part of their research) based on age, financial status, and the reasons behind why these groups stream their content.

According to the survey that was taken in April of this year, around the time when lockdowns were at their most fierce, polling some 2500 individuals between the ages of 13 through 54 years and conducted through the association with Culture Co-op, their reports states that some 90% of those polled subscribe to at least one streaming portal and use said portal(s) for various reasons and purposes.

Broken down from the smallest collection to its majorities, the groups that the report found where people stream programming for their reasons start at “Curated Streaming”. These are folks that want to catch up with a feature and/or series title that’s current “hot” at the moment (such as Nexflix’s documentary series Tiger King) that would make ideal conversation from virtual “water cooler” places i.e. social media. People that are known as the “Gen Z”ers (from 25 years and younger), would likely fall into this tract.

Next up are the “Indulgent Streamers” (Around 21 percent) that will spend a day, week, or even the weekend burning through an entire season or collection of a series from its beginning to end. This group are also known as “binge watchers”. They tend to be somewhat older (how old…?) and tend to live alone.

Then there’s the “Classic Streamers”. (Shy of 25%) These are people that tune in at set times with family and/or friends as part of a regular routine. They don’t necessarily follow a standard fixed schedule such as Tuesday nights at 9:25 PM, but do so based on some formula time period. These folks are more likely to be involved in a domestic relationship (Married, etc) and are more well off financially.

At the 2/3rd rate comes the “lean back” viewers. They look at content to just relax or unwind, rather that viewing in full attention mode that could be seen to watching a sporting event (especially when their is a crucial point in a game or match), or when there is “breaking news” in progress.

And the leader of the pack are the “Therapeutic Streamers.” These are the TV fans who stream content as a method to decompress and possible lightly reflect, with a sense of nostalgia connected to it all. To give an example, let’s say somebody decided to watch and/or binge on the TV series Friends. Chances are that these viewers tuned in to this program when NBC ran it in the second half of the 1990’s through the middle part of the 2000s. It also caters to those that face what’s called a syndrome for nostalgia where one desires for a past they never experienced! Those currently in their 20’s (born in the 1990’s) that find Friends as one of their favorite TV series don’t necessarily recall the program when it was at its peak or popularity. They just watch the program because it features characters of their age (20’s), and the fact that these same characters are not tied down to hand held electronics, social media platforms, and other distractions of young adult modern life. (Demographically, Therapeutic Streamers are also the closest to the domestic population as a whole!)

So what does all of these facts and figures mean? Well, it means that people no longer have to rely upon the so-called legacy sources to watch media through TV sets and related devices. It also means that movie theaters, those places of business that’s been around since the turn of the 20th century, finally have met their match. Thanks to the closing of multiplexes and the fact that the movie “Summer Tentpole” season is already half over (over before it actually began), people might just want to be willing to view some kind of blockbuster hit by paying $20.00 or so for the privilege or seeing the title at home–far away from fellow obnoxious movie goers that disrupt the feature by talking and/or texting through the picture, as well as being gouged by paying $6.00 or more for a bucket of a $1.50’s worth of popcorn slopped with a greasy substance that looks and almost tastes like butter! (At least one can get unlimited refills of soda pop. But how many cups one can guzzle at a time just to get one’s money’s worth?) As to “independent” or “art house” features? They even play better as seen on a home screening device that at a traditional movie house!

So streaming, for its better or worse, is here to stay! Will streaming become the death knoll for traditional TV and/or for the movie theater industry as we know it? Maybe. Then again, these sources of communication has been placed on the chopping block before hand. When television came around in the second half of the 1940’s, it was the call to the end of movie houses. The theaters changed, but never went away. The same happened when cable TV was making the rounds in the latter part of the 1970‘s to the early 1980‘s. Did traditional over the air TV go away? It only changed when the TV signals went from analog to digital in the late 00‘s, and that had nothing to do with program content. The content itself of movies and/or TV shows may have changed, but that was only based on audience demand and personal viewing habits and tastes. These ideals just serve as another part of progress.

So as summer fades into autumn, we’ll keep notice on the programming that’s been missed. As for me, I’ll dip into my TV archive to view ABC’s coverage of the 1972 Summer Olympics from Munich. Jim McKay will serve as your host for multi-hour coverage (some live, other on tape delay) where the network would use to introduce the new 1972-73 TV season. And good news folks! The Brady Bunch will return for another season! Ditto for The Partridge Family! This is the place to be indeed!
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

ARE YOU GETTING BETTER AND/OR OLDER?

In a recent back issue, the topic of the phase of presently working or being retired was discussed, stating that if one is of a certain age and doesn’t appear to be involved in some kind of engagement that could be classified as “work”, one could–or would–assume that one is retired. This is a state of existence where one once had a source of a job for income that could also be labeled as a personal identity that’s outside of a domestic setting (family, etc.), but presently is no longer engaged in such a placement.

When we published that editorial, we received a number of letters and commentary notes that addressed that subject. Normally, we obtain a comment here and there over something that was published, sometimes weeks long after the fact. However, the comments we were receiving started to come in within the first twenty-four hours of release. (This news service normally releases each edition on Sundays usually between the hours of 9:00 PM-Midnight PST. Since the COVIG-19 epidemic began to take hold, we at times have been releasing an issue on Saturdays from 9:00 PM to as late as 3:00 AM PST the next day. Our first replies came early that Sunday morning!)

Anyway, much of what was being stated came from other readers that faced a similar aspect to our commentary. These replies we assumed were sent from those that were of a selected age–50 and over–noted that they, too, noticed that they were assumed to be within a state of retirement. Even to the effect that these people were in fact, working from home but still took the time to do other things around the household that wasn’t part of their traditional “work”. After all, one can slog through massive amounts of virtual “paperwork” all day with the need to do something else for just a moment–feed the dog, sweep the front sidewalk, or do some other things for their own peace of mind!

It’s been written in many places both in print and through online portals about the various positions of life where people living within a domestic setting have faced, especially during the phases of the COVIG-19 situation. Parents of kids under eighteen have been attempting to work from home (WFH) while their kids were out of a classroom setting due to physical schools shutting down or through so-called “extended summer vacation”. Also, people were laid off from their jobs that ranged from the younger groups (mostly working in food service) to those that were older working in such places as an office-type settings or some related aspect that wasn’t a WFH gig!

But this article isn’t so much speaking about COVIG-19. (We discussed that topic long enough!) We are speaking about the phases of feeling one’s age, especially when one knows what they are about to engage through their later journey in life.

Recently, I had the opportunity to view online (‘natch) a documentary entitled My First Last Film, made by a woman named Tracey Thomas, a retired tech executive based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to the press notes as supplied from the title’s distributor, it stated that when she turned the age of sixty in 2014, she realized that she was entering a phase of life that she wasn’t too pleased over, asking such questions as “How did I get here (turning 60) so quickly?” So she turned to her “boyfriend” (more of a man closer to her age than a “boy”) named Dennis Peters, who was involved in film making. (Actually, the process of “making a film” should be called “creating a moving image capture” since many of those who are involved in such creation don’t use “film” as their medium, unless they have a lot of money to spend for the film lab development process–but we digress!)

So with camera in hand, along with the production crew to assist her, she started this documentary with the notion in interviewing other people who were 60 and up to address and make note to this specific form of life journey.

Sadly, while in the process of creating this documentary, Dennis was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease and eventually died of this illness. She continued through the process of creating this documentary after his death to gain awareness about others going through this similar phase, as well as discovering her own notion in life, adding that “..it’s a brave new world after 60, and (she’s) ready for whatever is next”.

First of all, for a first time “filmmaker”, Tracey’s documentary is rather impressive for what it contains. The doc itself seems to be divided upon three categories, each one woven throughout the feature. One third expresses about the companionship between her and Dennis and her dismantlement of grieving over him when he became ill, and the deep loss she faced when he died. Another third shows how she put this documentary together, showing scenes of her speaking with her crew, hovering over the editor looking at her many computer monitors viewing various “takes” and “rushes” (as edited on Apple’s Final Cut Pro), as well as dealing with the music composer on getting the right music beds in check. (The film composer, Cathy Grier, appears to be working from her home, a place where such documentary pieces tends to be slapped together!)

And of course, the last third (third third?) focuses upon the subject matter–interviewing both men and women over their opinions of reaching the seventh decade of their lives. And from what was seen or at least recalled by this reviewer, these people were rather rather satisfied to be in their current stage in life for what it was all worth. Yours truly doesn’t necessarily recall what they were presently involved with at the time of their interviews, but they appeared to be on what’s been called as their “second chapter” in their lives. Their immediate families (assuming that they had one) were all grown up, some were gone physically from a place or gone permanently through death. A few were with their spouses along their side–or possibly not! One woman made reference about her grandkids–family members that were rather important to her.

To give a disclaimer here. This writer turned that magic age last spring. The only way I personally feel the age I am is when it appears to work against me. When I am looking for gainful employment, it can be rather tough, if not nearly impossible, to find a job. Or perhaps knowing that if I wanted to maintain a “family”, I have to use an “adapted” version. I have to seek those that I am not related to by blood and/or marriage and to use these folks as my close friends as “family”–assuming that they want to be part of my “family” in that stance. (On another side note: Yes, I do have others I am related to by blood, but its been years since I had last communicated with any of them while assuming that they are all still living in the first place!)

As with all other “independent” fiction or non-fiction feature releases of late, many of those in release–including this title–are available to view through streaming portals or by way of video on-demand (VOD). Visit the documentary’s official website at
http://www.MyFirstAndLastFilm.net for further details.

Again, this isn’t really about seeing a life’s journey coming toward an ending or through closure. I really think of it as binge watching a TV/Video series with a fixed collection of episodes as it progresses. One knows that it will eventually comes to its conclusion. Then again, if the series one is burning through viewing episodes becomes a hit, one will know that a sequel/spin-off/revision/knock-off will be in the works, extending the life out of the intellectual property in question for many more years to come. That is how I see my life. And if one is really aged, one will see their life as a 12 or 14 chapter serial that Republic Pictures used to churn out from the 1930’s through the 1950’s, with each installment ending with a cliff hanger telling the viewer that the next thrilling episode will show in that very same theater the next week!

As The Rolling Stones once sang, “What a drag it is getting old…!”
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

WHERE’S THE MAGIC?

It’s already August. This is the time for this writer to visit this month I’ve been awaiting for all year. This is the event of the year I’ve always knew as “Magic Time”, a period of the season where I would go on vacations (although I haven’t done so in recent years past, but always planned to go somewhere even if was only for the day), take advantage of the summer weather (sunny ‘n hot mostly), as well as recall the moments where I would spend nearly every day of the month attempting to cram episodes of adventures and thrills because the day after labor day, I would be back in school tied to a desk plopped inside of a stuffy classroom where my “sentence” would last for nine long months! As an adult, I don’t seem to have that kind of worry as I used to, but it’s always nice to know that the thought of such still remains.

For this year, it’s kinda different. Things haven’t been moving the way they should have. Events that was going to take place were either moved into the next year or outright cancelled. Getting things done were just limited to my household and personal space. In the spring season where the whole lockdown orders were in place, I had spent the time wisely getting around to doing the things I’ve been putting off for weeks, months, and years. By the Summer season, I could be outside with the notion of attending bar-b-cues with family and/or friends, going to the beach to hang out (not to swim), walking in the woods, and overall spending those lazy hazy crazy days with the shutdowns long past and semi-forgotten. And of course, that mask I had to wear (forced to wear?), would have already wound up in the trash heap!

Well, that was wishful thinking. As of this writing, the crisis that’s been the poster child for conversation, anxiety, and conspiracy plots is still here. Although pro and amateur sports is slowly getting itself together, the roar of the crowd either in the grandstands or in public places watching on many big-screen TV devices are not just the same. Some people are glad to watch the few scant games that are available, while other find them gone for now. If one was a big summer Olympic fan, one would have to wait until next year for the games in Tokyo to take heed—assuming that there isn’t another virus flare up going around!

But getting back to the magic thing. As yours truly has stated in past articles, August was the big month for me. I would look at this time knowing that summer has fully ripened. Fall was just around the corner where the seasonal notions would be experienced, from the leaves changing color, football would be in full swing, school is would be back, Halloween would haunt us again, Thanksgiving would have us deal with family and/or diets, and don’t forget the time known as “The Holidays” where shopping would become the big event!

Although I will not be forced to sit inside a classroom learning about subjects I held little to no interest in, I don’t hold much concern over schooling. I could go on a trip, but I don’t have any place to specifically go. Watching sports wasn’t really my thing, but if I was placed in a group-type setting and a sports match was blasting away on the TV set(s) nearby, that blasting would never bother me. In fact, an audible and/or visual sporting event serves as “wallpaper” to me. I would be knowing and aware that the game was being played, but I would never pay attention on who was up to bat, what team was closer to the goal post, or even who was doing the free throw.

Right now, all one can do is to look at the calendar while awaiting to hear from local officials on when elements are getting better or worse. And there is the always remembering to bring that mask with you because you never can tell when you would have to wear the thing when going to a place for your so-called everyday tasks. Instead of planning a series of events on a spontaneous moment, it’s now a long winded set of “hurry-up-and-waits”.

So for August, I’ll just try to go with the flow. Granted, maybe I’ll find just a bit of that magic somewhere. I’ll just have to pull more rabbits out of the hat to do such, or maybe deal with another deck of cards asking those to “pack a card..any card!” But what do I know? I only work here! (From home, ‘natch!!)
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

RETIRE TO WHAT?

As you readers may be aware, this humble writer has been working from home (WFH) for some time. Since in this day and age thanks to the disposal of modern technology and the current virus crisis, it’s been more practical, if not a whole lot easier, to set up shop where one lives in order to do the same method of work as one would do in an office type setting placed in a remote location. Having such an office space is ideal if one was working with others doing something that’s akin to what one normally does far away somewhere. However, since I’m the sole “employee” here and the fact that I don’t have clients trolling in and out of my work space, setting up shop in the same location to where I hang my hat makes a whole lot of sense!

And since I tend to “hang around” (so to speak) at home, a few other people I have encountered through my travels obtain the assumption that I don’t appear to hold a full-time job. And since I am of a selected age that no longer qualifies me to be a “kid”, these same folks assume that I no longer work full time, if at all! In other words, they all take the strand that I am supposedly retired.

Now when it comes to being retired, one still may sense the traditional look of being in a state of retirement. To paint the picture of this stage of life that could be found in this domestic society, one may imagine an image of a married (white) couple over the age of sixty living in a large home that once had other family members dwelling within the same household. These family members were the kids of the couple who are adults and have families of their own. In other words, a couple living in an “empty nest” setting. The husband was working with a firm or some sort for a number of years. The wife could have also been employed somewhere as well, but not in the same capacity as the husband. At a given age (62, 65, or maybe an age that’s a lot younger or older), the husband leaves his job on his own or through circumstance. The spouse may have done the same thing. They decide to live out the rest of their lives under the stage of leisure.

They decide to take on longer vacations, or perhaps getting their home in gear for themselves, assuming they decide to keep the thing! They may either downsize by getting a place much smaller to where they previously lived, or maybe to take the plunge and to live in a community that caters to those that are in the same stages of life. Their professional lives are now behind them, always emphasizing to what they did for a living, rather than what they do for regular monetary gain.

I, myself, find this form of lifestyle as a double edged sword. Granted, living the life of Riley is OK for those that want to do this, but I myself find full time leisure to be rather dull and boring. Hitting the road and visiting spots around the nation, if not outside of the USA, is OK for what it is, but one can do that for so long. Living in a region located in a place along the Sun Belt is also fine if one doesn’t mind living in an community that is far from where one planted their roots (another euphemism here) in order to live with others that are just like one other (retired) who will spend the rest of their years in such a place where full time work is now for naught and playtime takes place whenever one wants it!

However, yours truly doesn’t have the notion of retirement in this sense. Although I do have a spouse at bay, I don’t live in an empty nest environment. (No kids and thus, the nest was empty to begin with!) Although yours truly does receives details from other retirement communities mostly located in Florida (placed on a mailing list no doubt), I somehow get an idea of what it would be like to live in such a place. However, as amusing as the sale pitches that are created to convince me to head on over there to live my final days, I don’t care much for these joints. They may be idea for other folks and rightly so! But for me? I’ll tip my hat to ‘em all and wish all of them well–and that’s about it!

So if anyone out there finds me around my home base during a typical Monday through Friday schedule between the daylight hours of 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM (give or take), don’t assume that I am in any stage of retirement. I just don’t work in an traditional office space. And since it’s rather trendy to indeed work from home, I’m just part of those that are on the payroll in the same place to where I live and breath. Granted, there isn’t any office politics to deal with, let alone office gossip! There are no water cooler conversations going around, and there are no other employees that I can live with or live without! Then again, those place of settlements are fine for a plot point to use in a lame TV sitcom somewhere. But this isn’t TV. Then again, what is..?
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

MY WRITING IS BETTER THAN YOURS!

During the time when the shutdowns were more intense, I decided to take advantage of some of the things I could finally get around doing. And since much of my time is taken from churning out this here newsletter, I had to fulfill the space that would normally be allowed for film and theater reviews. And since there was no theater or movies to review, something had to be done.

And what best way to place my musings on this page was to create original content, the kind of stuff that isn’t more repeats of vital statistics of the current media. In fact, when we did a formal informal poll on what our readers (that’s you by the way), wanted to see within these here pages, that reply we obtained was for content that came from the almost personal life and times of yours truly a.k.a me!

Now granted, I was at first used to be a so-called standard journalist type. This would be a person that would create a report that gave the facts of an event of an occurrence. However, when it ever became a so-called slow period news-wise, I would create some form of musings that would deemed fit for our readership, as well as keeping within the scope to what Accessibly Live Off-Line was all about.

So I though I’d brush up my Shakespeare (so to speak) on practicing writing first person episodes of the life and times of yours truly. It wouldn’t necessarily be an autobiography of me, giving a play-by-play blow of how I started from rags to riches (or riches to rags, depending how I felt), but to extract a slice of life tale what was part of my well-being.

So I was able to find a class on creative writing offered by one of the local community colleges in the region. This class, offered through the application of the year, Zoom, would be a class that “gathered” once every week for some two hours per session. Here, the instructor would lead us in a few writing assignments that dealt in various topics based on what the group’s leader would suggest.

I will state before I continue in this tale that this class was part of a series of classes offered with the umbrella title “Encore”, geared to those that were of a certain age i.e. Seniors. Although the minimum suggested age was 50 and over, most of what was offered in the college catalog (printed on paper no doubt), appeared to favor those that were close to the traditional retirement age. This would roughly translate to those 60 and over, since those of that period in life would likely have more time on their hands to commit to a class. And for the Spring session, the classes that were formally offered in traditional classroom settings, everything was pushed (forced?) online. Many of those older are somewhat hip to high tech applications, so getting online would be rather easy(er). Then again, their adult kids and even their grandkids would lend a hand on setting up the computer device and/or smartphone in getting them stated online.

Anyway, back to my tale. This writing class featured about a dozen or so students on board. If you want to count myself, we consisted of a happy baker’s dozen. And since I guess of who was on board does fit my guess of demographic makeup, everyone appeared to be 60 and over, the eldest person was eight-two years of age! (I know this fact because the woman stated she was 82, and had the personality that backs this fact up!)

The instructor, who appeared to be in her early 70s, gave one assignment where we would write about a few topics from our no-so distant past. She suggested to take our current age and divide that age by twelve. This would mean one would write upon a selected topic that occurred at age zero through twelve. Then the next phase would be around the time the writer was twelve to twenty-four, and so on.

The topics the instructor picked was something in the nature as Where did you live? Who took care of you? Did you have any pets? What is your earliest memory? You kinda get the idea!

So we were given this assessment, and we would have to read it to the class for the next session. I myself, looked at this list and found it to be rather amusing. If appeared that when people are heading toward the final stages within their life, they left more ground behind that what they are heading towards. In other words, lots of these folks have more of a past to comment upon that a present or even a future to speak of. Yeah, I somehow get the stereotype that those of the “baby boomer” generation knew what it was like living back in the “good old days”, as well as knowing what is right, or should be right. They may think that Tic-Tok is the sound that a clock makes, but at least a telling (or retelling) of a past life has its amusing notions. After all, I somehow got caught in that web, so I should talk!

Anyway, a week went by and now it’s the second class. Yes, just about everyone present (two people were missing) had a short essay to read. Once that essay was read by the writer, we were given the chance to comment upon the writings, using points on the content of the subject, how is was composed, how detailed it was, how it was based on “the facts”, and other points. Many of those present admitted that they were far from being professional writers, but each one had their proper grammar and context to what makes an essay something worth reading. Then again, this is from a generation that were weened on writing real letters on paper, rather that knocking off tweets at forty characters or less, not counting a hashtag or three!

I personally found many of these people’s writings as rather well crafted. Many did give off enough descriptions where one can use their imagination to “see” in their minds, the people, places, and things that made up of the entries everyone churned out!

I can’t say that everyone was playing an intentional or unintentional game of “can you top this?” where everyone is making some feeble attempt to become the best writer inside of the writer’s room! After all, they were writing one of those eight million stories in the naked city that came from different places and periods of life. Some entries were funny, a few were dramatic, and even one or two teetered toward sadness. But they were there for what they were worth.

When it came to my turn to submit my part of the assignment, I somewhat cheated. Given the fact that I didn’t get around to doing my homework until the last minute, I just grabbed a back column I created previously for ALO-L, and adapted it for this class. You might say I was stealing from myself!

But that’s OK though! I wasn’t worried if my entry wasn’t too good for these folks. In fact, it appeared as the total opposite! Some of these other entries the class submitted was pretty decent for what they were. One person’s tale of living in San Francisco in the post-war years of the 1940’s could have been something out of a Sam Spade yarn, where the gumshoe saw his town located off the bay to be dingy, dirty, or overall, a gritty mess! If was far from the San Francisco of now where everything is over gentrified, if not priced out of a league of earning 200k a year that wasn’t good enough for a down payment of buying a tool shed!

Anyway, the output of the class’s writing were still decent nevertheless. Of course, I only enrolled in this class not so much for revamping my skills, but because it was there. And the price of enrollment was right. (Free, ‘natch!)

For the record, I only stayed on for one more session. I dropped out after the third! Not because I didn’t care to continue, but the fact that a trade group I belong to decided to host their sessions via Zoom on the same day at the same time! After all, business comes become pleasure, so I just took the lesser of the two evils!

I can’t say how the class did on their other lessons. But based upon the entries read on sessions two and three, I will state that each one could receive a passing grade! Then again, it was a class to give somebody something to do–if I myself only had the the same luxury! Then again, I could catch up on my TV binge watching, but that’s for another session as that stands!
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