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Vol. #22 - April 3, 2020

Another week of adapting to a new world, checking in on loved ones, living in sweatpants, and making rare but necessary and terrifying trips to the grocery store. I spent a lot of time this week making visual art (see below) and watching professional Starcraft 2 matches (also see below), but as I have been since this all started I've been engrossed in pandemic news and policy and emergent lockdown culture. Thoughts and recommendations related to that are in COVID Corner below, if you'd like to get right to your regularly scheduled WesRecs programming you can skip right past it.

Sadly we are definitively moving from the "Day 14: I made my cat fight the Roomba and organized my bean collection" phase of quarantine and into the "This morning I lost my uncle to COVID-19" phase. It is going to get much much worse. I don't know what to do to prepare ourselves for the tsunami of grief that has already begun to sweep the nation. Grief not only for the pain and suffering over the loss of our loved ones, but also grief for the fact that we can't be with with them as they pass and we can't hold funerals in order to celebrate and mourn them. Anger for how much of this could have been prevented will also have its place. But so also will love and empathy and appreciation for the things that we do have, and for the people we can hold close now and in the future. This will pass. The world will not be the same but this will pass.

I love you all.

WesRecs is the weekly newsletter where I (comedian/storyteller/TV Host) Wes Hazard recommend a bunch of cool content (recs) to YOU (the person reading this). There's no particular reason for this other than the fact that I love curating stuff and I'm always excited to share items that I personally have found worthwhile, exciting, or necessary. If you like what you see please be sure to subscribe to get each week's edition delivered straight to your inbox and if you know someone else who might be into it definitely share with them. You can check out all past issues HERE.
COVID Corner
General News/Info
How The Pandemic Will End - The Atlantic

A big picture view on what's needed to bring the immediate situation under some kind of control and what some implications are for the long terms. Too much quality stuff to exerpt a piece of it, definitely recommend.

Days After a Funeral in a Georgia Town, Coronavirus ‘Hit Like a Bomb’ - The New York Times

I've read more accounts of COVID survivors and medical professionals who have/are tending to COVID patients than I probably should have for the sake of my own mental well being. You can only hear so many stories about intubation, pink froth coming up from the lungs, people dying alone in hospital corridors, etc before you either go numb or come to regard every errant cough as a harbinger of your own death. But I'm really trying to stay fully present in intricacies of this developing tragedy (medical, political, emotional, journalistic, etc) because 1. What could possibly be more important right now? and 2. The alternative of just burying one's head in the sand and blissing out on Netflix, while somewhat understandable, holds no appeal.

So I'll continue to consume the dispatches from the front lines of nursing homes, ERs, field hospitals, and mortuaries. But among all of those this story stood out to me for its examination of the social damage wrought in the wake of COVID's decimation of a small town and one family in particular. Weeks ago in rural Albany, GA a well-loved and amiable man (one of 10 siblings) dropped dead of a presumed heart attack. The funeral home was packed beyond capacity for his services. Another packed funeral took place in the same building within the week. Soon after that waves of COVID infections popped up in the town with people soon growing suspicious of each other, afraid to open their doors, wary of the church, and unable to receive adequate medical care. Truly harrowing.
"The warnings drove a wedge between people in Albany', said the Rev. Daniel Simmons, the senior pastor of Albany’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church, who, like others interviewed, said he questioned whether the funerals were in fact the sole source of the infections.

It created fear: Who will be at the gathering that I’m going to on Sunday, that funeral, or that wedding? Do I go? Do I not go?” said Mr. Simmons, whose church was not connected to either funeral. “People began to say, were you at the funeral? That became a question.

The city’s churches, he said, began to feel unfairly singled out.

“That is the focus: the church, the church,” he said. “It has done damage because there is stigma. There is almost this wall of hostility that has been raised between certain parts of the community and the church.”

The Amazon Warehouse Worker Who Can’t Stay Home - Gen (Medium)

As difficult as the pandemic and the resultant quarantine might be, ask yourself, how lost would be without our "essential workers"? The importance of Doctors, nurses, and all of the other hospital staff from admins to custodians cannot be overstated of course. But the same goes for delivery people, grocery store staff, public transportation workers, emergency services, utility workers, and, sadly mortuary personnel.

We knew that amazon warehouse workers were underpaid and overworked before the COVID outbreak (and frankly their corporate culture seems no less punishing) but at time when they're more important in making society function than ever they are also more vulnerable than ever. Amazon's recent squashing of labor organizing at their Staten Island facility this week show's you where the company stands on this but in case you needed additional convincing here's one worker's account of the dark arithmetic that keeps them coming into work each day with their safety in jeopardy.
"Last year, I was injured on the job. On my doctor’s recommendation, I requested that I be allowed three extra seconds to move each item. Management would not accommodate me. They put me on unpaid leave for a month. I couldn’t pay my phone or credit card bill. I pushed myself and headed back before I was fully recovered. Because I was rusty, I didn’t make rate. I got two write-ups immediately. I’m still in pain from the injury, by the way. Some days are worse than others."

"The company has made some changes, I guess. Full-time employees like me usually get 48 hours of paid leave annually and no paid sick time, but now if we test positive for the coronavirus, we get two weeks paid sick time. Normally, we only get 20 hours unpaid time per year, but now we are allowed to take more time without it being counted against us. They’ve also called off team meetings to reduce contact and moved apart tables — though people still sit together in the common spaces. They cut down on the number of microwaves in the lunch area and placed the remaining ones six feet apart, but there are tons of employees, and so many people still use them. And they’re raising our pay by $2 an hour. Two dollars. What if I get exposed? What if I can’t recover? An extra two dollars an hour to risk my life? I mean, I’ll take the money, but I do feel like my life is worth more. I wouldn’t want to overdo it, but I would like $22 an hour to risk my life. Maybe $25."

Covid Comedy
  • How God Made The Year 2020 I just about dies watching this, just perfect. As one of the comments mentions make sure you note the amount allotted for "blessings".
  • The Onion: Nation’s Huggers Announce Plans For You To Get Over Here As usual with the onion the headline is 75% of the laughter but this really hits in these troubled times. After "social distancing" has been seared in our brains forever and the fear of infection at every turn is no longer limited to germaphobes it's interesting to think of how the norms of interpersonal contact will be rewritten forever. Handshaking has to be dead and hugging might be right there with it.
  • If you're not already familiar with comedian Alyssa Limperis and her ever growing list of videos parodying an exaggerated version of her mom doing everything from preparing Thanksgiving dinner to going on a beachfront vacation I am so very happy to bring you into the fold. Here her mom character tackles lockdown and it's some of her best work yet.
  • Here's some delightful chaos captured in under 30 seconds as a family, their toddler, and the dog get deep into quarantine. Especially hilarious for whitney Houston fans (which...who isn't).
Things Read
Small World - Lapham's Quarterly (exerted from Voyage Around My Room [1794])

If you're both fortunate and wise you've probably spent more time in your living quarters in the past few weeks than you're used to. How you're taking it depends a lot on your comfort, your health, your finances, and the people who are with you (if any). If you're more or less secure but find yourself feeling stir crazy I offer this wonderful account about the pleasures of being stuck in your room from a guy in the 18th century who had to serve a sentence of 42 days in house arrest for dueling. Open yourself to the wonder, make the most of it.
 I do not care much for people who so control their steps and ideas, who say, “Today I will pay three visits, write four letters, and finish the piece I have begun.” My soul is so open to every manner of idea, taste, and sentiment, it avidly takes in everything that turns up! And why should it refuse any of the delights scattered along the difficult path of life? They are so rare, so few and far between, that one would have to be mad not to stop, indeed to stray from one’s path, to gather every one that is within reach. And there is none more enticing, in my opinion, than to follow the trail of one’s ideas—as the hunter stalks his quarry—without keeping to any one course.

I've only ever been a really huge fan of 2 webcomics: Perry Bible Fellowship & Space Avalanche both of which (especially PBF) perfectly encapsulate my ideal of the funny-sad baseline essence of being a human in the world. Shoutout to xkcd tho which I've enjoyed a lot over the years as well. I've seen a lot of stuff from The Oatmeal passed around on social media through the years and I've liked what I've seen but I just never really followed it. That may change now though since I've been pointed in the direction of its creator's (Matthew Inman) fantastic and perfectly titled: Eight Marvelous and Melancholy Things I've Learned About Creativity. It's exactly what it sounds like, and hilariously illustrated. Each of the 8 parts delves into a specific thing that Inman has learned in his ten years of writing and drawing the wildly popular The Oatmeal. I would recommend it to anyone (I particularly loved part 2 titled Your Ears Are Plugged about forcing yourself to try new and challenging things creatively and accepting what may come).

Most definitely check out the 8 things it is so very much worth your time. And I would be utterly remiss if I also did not point you in the direction of the newsletter where I heard about it. I heartily encourage you to check out the amazing weekly newsletter Chris Duffy's 3 Things by comedian, TV writer, and host of You're The Expert Chris Duffy. Each week he sends out a concise blast of 3 things he thinks you should know about (something great, something funny, and something interesting) and well, I think you should know about them too. Go and subscribe, you won't regret it.

In last week's issue I excitedly reported on an armchair investigator's newfound provenance of the brand name of Triscuit crackers. While That explanation still remains thoroughly plausible and still fills me with incredible joy, another Twitter sleuth has come up with some very valid reasons to dispute that etymology (despite Nabisco's assertion of its truth). I post his objections here for the sake of thoroughness and impartiality.
Things Seen
The Greatest Starcraft 2 Comeback ever?

I would in no way describe myself as a "gamer". I haven't owned a console since Nintendo 64, and I wouldn't know where to begin if you handed me a controller for Madden, or Halo, or Call of Duty. I don't do Minecraft, or Angry Birds and I can't exactly tell you what Animal Crossing is. If you love those things, more power to you, I understand the attraction, it's just not my jam. BUT there is one single game that I play to excess, that costs me hours of productivity and sleep and social bonds and that is Starcraft II. I started playing the original Starcraft in the summer between 8th and 9th grades and was crazy into for 2 years. Then I just stopped. A few years ago I got curious and nostalgia c, and played around a bit, and it was fun and brought back great memories. Then I got into the sequel (which game out 10 years after the original) and my life has been wayward since. I mean not only do I play it, I watch other people play it. Do you know how depraved that is??? I a grown man, watch other grown men (and it is indeed mostly men) PLAY VIDEO GAMES...regularly.  Whatever, can't stop won't stop. Anyway I recently saw what might be the greatest Starcraft 2 match ever (and certainly the greatest comeback of all time). I wrote so much about here in this newsletter section that it ended up eclipsing the word count of the rest of this issue of WesRecs combined so I shunted it over to a Medium article. Here's my explanation of the video I'm linking to above: Space Rednecks Vs. Space Bugs: Maru Pulls Off One of the Greatest Comebacks In Sports History
It looks like way more work than it's worth but damn if this isn't fascinating.
Cowboy Kent Rollins' - Fried Rattlesnake

Since I don't know if I'll ever sit in a restaurant again I've been finding myself watching a lot of YouTube food videos. Two issues of WesRecs ago I talked about my fondness for MRE Steve's ration review channel. My new thing is Cowboy Kent Rollins and his outdoor chuck wagon cooking. He is folksy, amiable, loves the troops, and makes mouthwatering staples and delicacies. This video begins with him driving to his grandson's house because they've found a rattler in the yard and well, they knew he'd want to cook it. The video starts with the snake alive, and while they do not show them beheading it, they *definitely* show it being skinned and gutted (not to worry, nothing goes to waste, he saves the skin so his buddy can make a hatband) so if that's something you'd prefer not to see skip to 2:57. I am now addicted to Cowboy Kent's channel and would also highly recommend his bacon and fried chicken recipes.
Things Made
Word of the Week
Gobshite, n.
[ GAWB-shyte ]

1. Chiefly Irish English. derogatory. A foolish, incompetent, or gullible person; a person who talks nonsense or speaks incessantly; a loudmouth.
2. Worthless, empty, or absurd talk, ideas, etc.; rubbish, nonsense.

Origin: Gob - Probably < Irish gob and Scottish Gaelic gob beak, mouth (Early Irish gop muzzle, snout, beak) + Shite - Variant of shit n., probably resulting from the influence of forms of shit v. with a long vowel, although there could also have been an (unattested) inherited form in Old English with a long vowel (deriving from the e-grade of the same Germanic base); compare Middle Low German schīt, schīte faeces, filth, Middle High German schīze diarrhoea (German Scheiße faeces), Old Icelandic skítr faeces. (i.e. shit talk or a shit talker)
Somebody Said This

"You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work."
Fun Facts
  • The iconic Chinese Food Box container is designed to open up into a plate after removing the metal carrying handle.
  • A pod of whales. A pride of Lions. There is no collective noun for a group of Koalas as they are very rarely observed to move or gather in groups.
  • A “Locust” is just a regular old grasshopper that has been triggered by environmental factors to engage in gregarious swarming behavior.
  • Bats make up 20% - 25% of all mammal species.
  • There are only 2 escalators in the entire state of Wyoming.
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Copyright © 2020 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.

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