I’m 56 today

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James William Loewen (1942-2021)

Professor James W. Loewen, the author of Sundown Towns, has died at the age of 79.

I was introduced to Loewen’s work through his 1995 bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. But it was Sundown Towns, Loewen’s history of whites-only communities in America, that had the biggest personal impact on me, serving as both an inspiration and an important research source for Lovecraft Country. A new edition of Sundown Towns was released in 2018, and if you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend checking it out.

You can read more about Professor Loewen’s life and work in his New York Times obituary.

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Fear of God podcast, featuring Killer Klowns from Outer Space

This week I return to the Fear of God podcast, where Nathan Rouse and Reed Lackey have been hosting a month-long ’80s party. Join Nate, Reed, me, and fellow guests Blake Collier and Steve Beckley as we talk about the Chiodo brothers’ 1988 classic Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the latest season of Netflix’s ’80s nostalgia-fest Stranger Things.

You can listen to the podcast episode here. If you want more 1980s goodness, you can check out Reed and Nathan’s discussion of Lost Boys here, and their take on Hellraiser here. And they’ll be wrapping up the ’80s fest next week with a more in-depth look at season 3 of Stranger Things.

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I’m not sure how I got invited to this party


To celebrate Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s 100th birthday, Roddenberry Entertainment invited a hundred former and current cast members, other celebrities, and “notable fans” to record themselves quoting Gene Roddenberry. While I definitely qualify as a fan, I would not have thought of myself as “notable”—but there I am, somehow, in the same lineup as Gloria Gaynor, Tim Russ, Whoopi freaking Goldberg, Julie Benz, Ronny Cox, and Paul Sorvino.

The full gallery of party guests is here. You can watch me recite my quote here. (The quote was chosen for me by Roddenberry’s people, but assuming Lovecraft Country is the reason I ended up on the guest list, I can see why they picked it.)

Happy Birthday, Gene!

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Lovecraft Country earns 18 Emmy nominations

Per the official Emmys website (complete nominations list):

Outstanding Drama Series — Lovecraft Country

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series — Misha Green for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series — Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series — Jurnee Smollett as Letitia “Leti” Lewis

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series — Michael K. Williams as Montrose Freeman

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — Aunjanue Ellis as Hippolyta Freeman

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series — Courtney B. Vance as George Freeman for episode 2, “Whitey’s on the Moon”

Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series — Kim Taylor Coleman & Meagan Lewis

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) — Tat Radcliffe for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes — Dayna Pink, Zachary Sheets & Terry Anderson for episode 7, “I Am.”

Outstanding Main Title Design — Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks & Ken Taylor

Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup — J. Anthony Kosar & Anna Cali for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) — Laura Karpman & Raphael Saadiq for episode 9, “Rewind 1921”

Outstanding Music Supervision — Liza Richardson for episode 5, “Strange Case”

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) — Tim Kimmel, John Matter, Paula Fairfield, Bradley Katona, Brett Voss, Jeff Lingle, Jason Lingle, Jeffrey Wilhoit & Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) — Marc Fishman, Mathew Waters & Amanda Beggs for episode 1, “Sundown”

Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Season or a Movie — Kevin Blank, Robin Griffin, François Dumoulin, Pietro Ponti, Grant Walker, J.D. Schwalm, Robert C. Rhodes, Kevin McAllister & Paige Prokop

Outstanding Stunt Performance — Janeshia Adams-Ginyard for episode 7, “I Am.”

* * *

Congratulations all around, and best of luck on awards night!

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One hundred years ago today

Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the invasion and burning of the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma by an army of white citizens who had been frustrated in their attempt to lynch a black man the night before. By the time state troops arrived to quell the violence, hundreds of people were dead or wounded, and 35 square blocks of the formerly prosperous black neighborhood had been destroyed by arson.

I have a more detailed description of what is now known as the Tulsa Massacre in my Lovecraft Country readers’ guide. The “for further reading” section of the guide lists additional sources of information about the massacre, including this official 2001 report commissioned by the Oklahoma state legislature.

I also want to recommend, yet again, James W. Loewen’s book Sundown Towns, which makes the important point that the Tulsa Massacre was just one incident among many:

In town after town in the United States, especially between 1890 and the 1930s, whites forced out their African American neighbors violently, as they had the Chinese in the West. Decatur, in northeastern Indiana, went sundown in 1902… Adams County, of which Decatur is the county seat, wound up without a single black household; a century later, it still had only five. Decatur exemplifies a widespread phenomenon: little riots, most of which have never been written about, even by local historians… Towns with successful riots wound up all-white, of course, or almost so, and therefore had an ideological interest in suppressing any memory of a black population in the first place, let alone of an unseemly riot that drove them out.

Whites also tried to “cleanse” at least fifteen larger cities of their more substantial nonwhite populations: Denver (of Chinese) in 1880; Seattle (of Chinese) in 1886; Akron in 1900; Evansville, Indiana, and Joplin, Missouri, in 1903; Springfield, Ohio, in 1904, 1906, and again in 1908; Springfield, Missouri, in 1906; Springfield, Illinois, in 1908; Youngstown, Ohio, and East St. Louis, Illinois, in 1917; Omaha and Knoxville in 1919; Tulsa in 1921; Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1923; and Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1929… Some of these larger riots have received some attention, including books and historical markers. Since they were unsuccessful—in that they failed to drive out all African Americans—they have left fuller records of the process… But most of the little riots have gone entirely overlooked, and as a result, the pattern of widespread “ethnic cleansings,” of which these failed larger attempts represent the tip of the iceberg, is not generally understood.

Collectively, these incidents of violence helped shape America’s demographic landscape, where even today, there are large portions of the country where you don’t expect to see anyone who isn’t white. If you grew up not knowing the history, this can seem totally natural. But it isn’t.

Viola Ford Fletcher, 107, the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Massacre

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A visit to No Proscenium

No Proscenium founder Noah Nelson, who was our guest on episode 7 of the 88 Names podcast, invited me and my co-host Blake Collier to come hang out on his podcast last week. You can listen to the conversation here.

If you haven’t already, I’d also highly recommend checking out the rest of the No Pro website. It’s an incredibly useful resource for learning about immersive technology and art, and now that the pandemic lockdown is almost over (fingers crossed), I look forward to experiencing a lot more in-person immersive entertainment.

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The Fear of God podcast: Session 9

Last week I made a return visit to the Fear of God podcast to talk about one of my favorite horror movies, Session 9. We also chatted a bit about the Lovecraft Country TV series.

You can listen to the interview here. I also have a follow-up blog post where I delve into some of Session 9 director Brad Anderson’s other films.

And if you missed my first Fear of God appearance last June, when we talked about the Lovecraft Country novel, you can find that here.

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88 Names podcast: season 2 wrap-up

On this week’s special finale episode, Blake Collier and I close out the 88 Names podcast with a freewheeling conversation about virtual reality, what we learned from our guests on the ‘cast, and the very strange pandemic year we’ve all just lived through. Although this is the end of the road for this particular project, Blake and I will be teaming up again in a couple of weeks for an appearance on the No Proscenium podcast, hosted by Noah Nelson.

Big thanks once again to Blake, to our producer Darryl A. Armstrong of the Threaded Zebra Agency, to our host site, Rise Up Daily, to our sponsors, and to the many smart and creative people who agreed to talk to us. Take care, everybody!

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88 Names podcast bonus interview: Johanna Pirker

Today on the 88 Names podcast site, we have a written interview with Johanna Pirker, a professor and researcher for games and VR experiences at the Graz University of Technology in Austria. Johanna is also the director of the Game Lab Graz. In 2018, she was selected by Forbes for their 30 Under 30 list in Science. You can read the interview here.

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