TV shows should have episodes

I know the way we watch TV has changed a lot since Netflix and other streaming platforms started releasing their own shows. And honestly I love it. I’ll binge a Netflix original in full and sit down weekly for an HBO prestige drama.

But a trend I’ve noticed lately is how a lot of reviews from friends are like:

“It’s slow and boring at first, but picks up around episode 4.”
“I was ready to give up on it halfway through but someone told me to stick with it and it does get good.”
“It takes forever for the story to get going.”

I think this is a symptom of some TV shows fighting against their medium. The episodes are providing natural breaks for the viewer, but aren’t affecting how the story is being told.

A lot of recent shows are actually 10-hour 3-act movies.

This causes the feeling that nothing really happened or changed from the beginning to the end of an entire episode. It takes several episodes to see the story emerging and no single episode has an identity. The good stuff finally starts happening in act 2 or episodes 4/5/6. And when you get to act 3, the payoff does feel worth it. Unless of course there is no natural end to the season either and the show is actually a 20-hour 3-act movie. Hope it doesn’t get canceled before season 2!

I love a several-hours-long watch session, but I really love TV shows that use the medium well. Episodic storytelling is an interesting constraint that brings a lot of creativity. Some shows have single episodes that stick with you forever: that episode where you know the title, can recount the story it told, and love how it fits perfectly into the greater narrative.

Long live episodes.


I saw a petition going around asking Netflix to finally make season 3 of Mindhunter. I doubt that will happen considering how costly that show was to produce, but I would love to see it.

It did jog my memory that I had started and never shipped a little project I intended to call “Brandhunter.” Like other Netflix shows, Mindhunter had some pretty intense product placement. Much more fun to spot in this show though, with really detailed 1970s and ’80s era design and packaging.

I ended up tracking all the brands that pop up—from many defunct companies and plenty of still thriving ones. I appreciated the more subtle world building some brands provided, but I especially loved the record scratch, take-you-out-of-the-scene product placement.

Maybe if they make a season 3, I’ll end up shipping this project for real, but in the meantime here are a few of my faves:

a group of guys at a gym, a vintage metal Igloo coolor off to the side Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford sitting in a dark room, his face illuminated by a giant Pepsi logo on a vending machine behind him Holden sits at a kitchen table next to a box of Cheerios Holt McCallany as Bill Tench lights a cigarette outside while holding a yellow vintage Coleman cooler Tench walks through the airport and passes a Coca-Cola advertisement that says “Have a COke and a smile” Anna Torv as Wendy Carr in a dark bar with a neon Miller High Life sign behind her, the sign is more centered in the shot than she is Holden interviews an inmate and can of Coke sits on the table Joe Tuttle as Gregg Smith doing paperwork and a green can of Sprite sits on the table Stacey Roca as Nancy Tench grabs a brown paper JC Penney bag a hand irons a shirt in the dark and a nearby lamp illuminates a can of boiled peanuts and two Pringles containers a man is making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Skippy and Wonder Bread a technician sits in a surveillance van next to a weirdly placed box of Bugles

An urn for Helo

Before our dog Helo passed away earlier this year, Clay and I had decided that, whenever the time came, we would cremate our dogs but opt not to receive their ashes. We discussed it and felt good about our decision. And when Helo died, we stuck to the plan.

But god dammit it hurt. A couple days later we both looked at each other and knew we’d changed our minds. Luckily it was a one phone call fix and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

Grief just isn’t rational at all. Maybe years from now we’ll scatter his ashes somewhere, but for now, it feels right having them with us.

So then I went down a rabbit hole looking for unique urns and I found Barruntando Ceramics on Etsy, a Spanish ceramics shop that creates painterly, custom urns from photos of your pet. Truly adorable.

Ours finally arrived yesterday and it’s wonderful.

a ceramic cylindrical urn with a rounded top that looks like a little brown and black dog

the urn on a shelf

We love having this to look at and to remember our sweet Helo pup. 💚

Finding a casual bike helmet for my small, flat head

I’ve been having trouble finding a bicycle helmet that fits well. I’ve got a pretty small head, the circumference measurement just barely making it into the Adult Small sizes for some brands and Kids sizes for others. It’s also quite flat in the back (hats and headbands never quite stay put either).

I tried a few brands that didn’t quite work. Some customer service folks and my neighborhood bike shop suggested DIY padding options. I posed the question on Mastodon and Gabrielle Wee suggested I search for Asian-fit helmets.

Interesting! That turned up a bunch of info and turns out, it’s not just a me problem. Here’s a diagram from Karmore Sports:

diagram showing East Asian heads being wider/rounder than European heads which are more oblong

I did some searching but ran into a few obstacles:

  • Stores in my area don’t carry them.
  • A lot of online retailers only carried medium to large sizes.
  • There were a lot of snowboard helmet options but not bicycle.
  • The bicycle ones were for serious cyclists (definitely not me, I have a one-speed beach cruiser).

A bit of a bummer, but I was able to try some helmets on in person and turns out the ones with the little dial fitter in the back were a great alternative. I tried Smith brand ones and those were comfy, but I ended up with this one from Thousand because I liked the price and the look:

vintage style white bicycle helmet plastic dial on the back of the helmet

See the dial?

Maybe this dial thing is old news, but I’m new to bike helmets and none of the bike stores I talked to recommended it! It made the helmet really snug and it wouldn’t budge. I hope I don’t ever have to test it, but it feels great and I’ve been comfortably riding the last couple days.

So for my fellow flat-headed people, maybe try a helmet with the little dial in the back. 🚲

Make The Most Of It

On Thursday Clay and I attended our first concert in over three years.

New Found Glory just released a new acoustic album. It’s a really great, emotional album written and recorded after Chad almost died and was diagnosed with Pheochromocytoma, a rare cancer that often goes misdiagnosed. Their accompanying tour is raising awareness and funds for the Pheo Para Alliance. I knew we had to be there.

They played Celebrity Theatre, an intimate venue known for its revolving stage (stationary for this show, though). It was incredible. A real gift of a show for longtime fans. I only teared up twice: once during Dressed to Kill and once during Kiss the Floor (my fave song from the new album).

Grateful to experience this show and for this music I’ve loved for so much of my life. Hopeful for Chad’s health and for more NFG in the future.

I grabbed some photos from their Instagram to remember the night. Shots by Ana Massard.

New Found Glory performing NFG on stage Jordan singing Chad playing guitar the stage and crowd at Celebrity Theatre NFG on stage

They played a lot of songs they don’t often play live, so I made a Spotify playlist of their set. Missing from the playlist is I’ll Be (Edwin McCain) which to my knowledge they never recorded.

Here’s to us fools that have no meaning
I tip my glass to you
Let’s toast the night away to friends
And forget about tomorrow