Quarantine Watch: Merlin

I need to think of a new title. Quarantine doesn’t seem accurate. Isolation, perhaps?

I’ll try to keep this one short. It is very early in the morning. I can’t sleep. I think something in the Test Kitchen decided to remind me that I’m an amateur. Maybe it was the grocery store sushi. I try to avoid letting rules govern my behavior, a general lack of discipline disguised by free spirit self-deception. I wouldn’t call avoid sushi on shelves a hard and fast rule, but I’d call it sound judgment. But in the past couple of weeks I found myself missing having a seat at the sushi bar, watching the chefs ply their art while I down miso soup and glance at the book I’ve brought but won’t read.

I doubt it was the sushi. Wasabi, ginger, fresh fish, and a little soy sauce. What a combination.

The other day, I did an awkward segue in an audio piece by abruptly switching gears to talk about the BBC’s Merlin. I was pretty harsh. Too harsh.

Note: I fell asleep about 5 minutes after writing that last sentence. So, close your eyes and say “Be Excellent to Each Other”…you’ve now time warped to the next day. Take a moment to gather your bearings.

Merlin. I’ll come back to that. New day, new chronology. Happy to report that yesterday’s Gastrointestinal Warfare artillery barrages have quieted. I hope it doesn’t become a counterinsurgency. We all know those never end. But it’d make for easy blog posts – “Progress is being made.” Democrats can fall all over themselves cheering on Liz Cheney for reaching across the aisle to work with Dems taking a stand against Trump’s moves to withdraw from Afghanistan. America can’t get people to wear a goddam mask, and we think it’ll just be a few more…just a little while longer until we crack the code in a country that 80% of Americans wouldn’t be able to locate on a map. Hint, it’s close to Iran, which is east of Iceland.

I’m not in a great mood. I was in an awesome mood earlier. I was walking around, and it wasn’t summer hot. Cafe Argento was open and Faysel was working. I haven’t been there since early March. I love that place. The people, the coffee, and the egg sandwiches. They are worlds apart from B Side’s breakfast sandwiches and coffee – both places are fantastic.

Faysel asked if I’d seen Hugh. I had. Very briefly at Corvus when I was getting takeout. Hugh is the mayor of Capitol Hill.

Another time warp. This is a post over several days. Deal with it. Right now I am livid, very upset with myself. I am thinking of the scene in Gladiator where the emperor says, this vexes me, can’t you see I am terribly vexed. I am most certainly vexed.

Happier thoughts. Back to Hugh. He was the second male nurse ever in the state of Washington. He went to Vietnam. He is the mayor of Capitol Hill (yes, I know I have said that already, but I am vexed.) There he was in Corvus, enjoying a drink with people he cares about, fearless. Hugh knows how to choose his moments.

Cafe Argento. I walked home, stopping to take photos with my Pentax K1000. A camera I bought after one of the coolest people on the planet told me about their experience with it and showed me some photos.

Home. I tucked into that breakfast sandwich as if it was the second one I’d ever had. Obviously, the first would have been a mystery.

I ate it while I listened to my favorite Podcast – For What It’s Worth.

My day was going well. And then it turned sour. I checked Instagram. My IG stories were replete with people getting cancelled. I hate that term, cancelled. I’ve discounted it, and when Trump, Matt Taibbi, and Glenn Greenwald have been railing against it, my first instinct was to write it off. I hasten to add that I do not view Trump, Taibbi, and Greenwald as peas in a pod. Trump is a catastrophe, Taibbi and Greenwald are challenging journalists I disagree with frequently while appreciating their work.

I won’t get into details, but two Capitol Hill business owners were getting the cancel treatment. I don’t know them, and I don’t obsess over their businesses. But I’ve been going to one of those businesses for 4 years. I’ve gotten to know the people who work there, I’ve seen amazing DJs, and I’ve seen the kitchen change hands a couple of times. I’ve drank beers there with people who are now posting about the establishment’s evils. I don’t know the owner, maybe they’re not all that great to work for. I don’t know. But we’ve shifted from adult conversation and choices about business models and leadership styles to Instagram stories judging wokeness.

I nuked my Instagram accounts. I am now free of the Facebook Imperium. Well, I suspect they’re still lingering on my phone somewhere. But I’ve taken the main steps to nuking them. I will miss a ton of aspects about IG, but the negatives outweigh the positives.

Why am I livid? In the last month, I am 2/5 on home developing. In baseball I’d be bound for the hall of fame. In film developing, the fish that got away was a 500 pound catfish that would have guaranteed me riches and some nasty fish and chips. I don’t think I’d want to eat a wildly successful catfish. I’d be looking for the vegan aquatic yoga catfish whose worst vice was a puff on a cigar trying to impress a mermaid before spitting it out. (The cigar, not the mermaid.)

Tonight I cemented the 3/5 fails with home developing. Fan of Star Wars? One of my favorite lines is (paraphrased) “Nice shot, kid. Don’t get cocky.”

I gathered the tank, the scissors, and the bottle opener. All the lights were off. I meditated. (For the newer readers, that’s a lie.) I sat on the floor of my bathroom. I popped the lid, and I knew something was wrong. The film felt different. That might not actually be an indicator of catastrophe, but that’s what my mind was saying. Which is just slightly different from what it’s always saying.

Loaded the reel. Doom, doom awaits.

Ran it through the Cinestill monobath. Pulled it out of the tank. Brown. Hung it to dry. Brown.

Something was wrong. Shit. Please tell me this was the Ilford black and white.

You guessed it. Spoiler alert. It wasn’t. Fuji Superia Color.

Know what happens when you run color through a black and white monobath? Almost fucking nothing.

36 images. I’m sure that images 13-18 would have secured my fame and fortune. You’ll just have to trust me.

Can’t you see I am vexed? As far as avoidable errors go, this ranks right at the top. Not far behind never getting involved in a land war in Asia.

Merlin. I’ve buried the lede. I watched the entire series, and I enjoyed it, despite tons of complaints. I will very briefly touch on those complaints. Will try to avoid spoilers, but part of this is on you. It is based on one of the most famous stories in the European/American canon.

The show consistently cheapens the value of regular people. Servants are treated horribly. Characters rarely take on lessons ostensibly learned. There is an obsession with prophecy. Almost every episode sees someone sneaking into a room, frequently when the occupant is sleeping. The sleeping person always stirs. Maybe this was a gag that the writers found funny. It’s a gag this viewer found annoying.

And yet I watched the entire series and had a good amount of fun. The actors earned their pay, and I think they had fun doing it.

Finally dawned on me that Colin Morgan plays a detective in a crime show set in Northern Ireland.

I was going to include some photos, but I’ve rambled on long enough. I am tired and still so terribly vexed.