Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

plotless brain dump

I never update this thing, because I don’t know what I should be writing anymore, and I don’t have the energy to write any “bloggy” sort of articles, like a listicle of top ten weird google earth photos and a deep-dive on why Indiana built nuclear missile silos in the fifties. (They did, BTW.) I also think that Pierre Moran Mall article burned me out. So did writing a book almost nobody read last year. Anyway, time for a plotless brain dump.

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Had another death in the family recently, an aunt. I’m hesitant to write any details about it, because I don’t want this entry to be the first result when someone googles her name, and I don’t want any family members to take any eulogy out of context, which will inevitably happen. I’ve had two aunts die since the start of COVID (but neither one from COVID) and the whole ritual now puts the zap on me because I couldn’t travel for either of them, and the only family reunions we have now are funerals. Also, now that I’m in my second half-century, I’m starting to see more people die. I mean, I lost my last grandparent twenty-five years ago, but the aunts and uncles are all in their seventies and eighties so, yeah. I can’t really unpack this, especially in public, but it’s something hanging in low orbit, and sending cards and flowers and looking at a Zoom doesn’t really solve things.

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There is a actually a documentary I found the other night that’s (indirectly) about my grandfather’s death. He’s not in the documentary — I mean, I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m assuming he wasn’t. He died during that massive Chicago heatwave of 1995. He was 84 and had leukemia and looked like death when I saw him the last time a few months before that, so it wasn’t like he died directly from the heatwave. But he died because he was an 84-year-old with leukemia who lived in a brownstone with no air conditioning and refused to leave the house because he was afraid of being robbed. Anyway.

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(This was the same grandfather who was in a Steven Seagal movie, BTW.)

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Still struggling to find things to do that don’t involve writing, malls, or doom-scrolling through politics garbage. I spent some gift cards on Amazon to buy some flash photography stuff, like a good knockoff speedlite and some remote triggers. I spent like a week playing with macro photography, because most of my photography has been travel stuff, and we can’t travel, so I thought it would be good to get all of the gear to sit around the house and take close-up pictures of objects or bugs or something. Then I remembered I do not have the patience for stuff like that, spending an hour setting up a tripod and focus-stacking a million exposures and finding out they were lit wrong and starting over. Also, everything in my house is covered in microscopic super-fine cat hair, and I spent more time dusting than photographing.

I also had this wise idea to get another synthesizer and start making weird music or something, and spent way too much on a Teenage Engineering OP-1, and I’ve done very little with it. I actually have a better Arturia controller and would rather use Logic Pro and 19 different plug-ins to make Chihei Hatakeyama ripoff ambient stuff, but I’m too lazy. I have like 13 minutes of an album or EP or whatever done, but I don’t know that it’s ready for public consumption or anything. (Actually one of the songs is already in the wild, as a soundtrack for a dumb short movie I made.)

I think I’ve only taken the drone out twice this year. It was too cold, and now it’s too rainy. At least the grass will be somewhat green when I get back out in a few weeks.

I took a break from writing after the last book, which is completely unnatural for me and has been leading to more panic and dread, so I’m back to it, but not sure what’s going on. I’d like to figure that out, but I’d like to figure a lot of things out.

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Just read Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. I’m sort of meh about Dazed, because i have little nostalgia for 1976 culture. The stuff about the creation of the movie is great though. Also, I do have a memory (which I might be confusing with another time) about watching it in one of my last nights in Bloomington in 1995, and it having some reverberation with my leaving town forever.

The part of this book I enjoyed most was the discussion about Slacker and Linklater’s early attempts at film. It’s amazing how he worked on an oil rig for a few years, saved all of his cash, and then went to Austin and shared a house with a bunch of people and did nothing but watch movies and write and hang out with punks and slackers for most of a decade. That reminds me of Bloomington in the late 80s/early 90s, or the Bloomington I wish I knew, had I not spent all my time going into debt and flunking out of school. I didn’t really start writing until most of my friends had already graduated and left, and I didn’t have a community anymore, other than work buddies.

Slacker captured this, but the real fun one to check out is his movie right before this, It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books. I’ve written about this before (here and here) but the movie is worth watching, if you can deal with a plotless movie with minimal dialogue. (It’s on youtube here, or with commentary here.) It’s such an excellent plotless burn, grainy Super-8 footage of traveling around the country in 1988.

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I have the day off today, but have nothing planned except going to the doctor to get my feet scanned and probably ending up at a mall. At least it’s not work.


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