Rocky Horror’s Richard O’Brien:  ‘I should be dead. I’ve had an excessive lifestyle’

by Ryan Gillbey,, November 5, 2020

Does he think Rocky Horror contributed to the discussion of gender and sexuality? “Most definitely so. That wasn’t intended but I’m grateful it’s helped other people feel less isolated or lonely.” It helped him, too. “Being transgender is a nightmare for many people. I’m very lucky that I’m in showbiz where I can be this eccentric person and therefore it’s allowed. If I were a primary school teacher maybe that wouldn’t be the case.”

Lessons from a Pandemic Halloween a Century Ago

by Tara Law, Time: The Coronovirus Brief, October 29, 2020

Looking back to Halloween during the 1918 flu pandemic, it’s clear that people have always been split between two drives during disease outbreaks: to allow themselves to go wild, and to hunker down and protect themselves and their communities. As my colleague Olivia B. Waxman writes, in 1918, some U.S. communities urged residents to skip parties and “jollifications”; elsewhere, people carried on as usual. In Indianapolis, a health official even lifted a ban on public gatherings for the holiday, allowing people to “go ahead and have all the Halloween parties they wanted to,” as the Indianapolis Star wrote at the time. In some places, Halloween 1918 may have even been wilder than usual. In Birmingham, Alabama, for instance, the Birmingham News reported that the community seemed to “[crack] under the strain” of staying at home, with some people even tipping over cars and uprooting gates.

Don DeLillo: ‘I wondered what would happen if power failed everywhere’

by Rachel Cooke, The Guardian, October 18, 2020

I use an old secondhand Olympia, which I bought in 1975. What I enjoy about it is that it has large type, and this allows me to look clearly at the words on the page, and so to find a visual connection between letters in the word, and words in the sentence – something that has always been important to me, and which became more important when I was working on The Names [a novel from 1982, set in Greece and the Middle East, that is ostensibly about flashy business types in perpetual motion, but is really concerned with both the vagueness and specificity of language]. I decided then: just one paragraph on a page so that the eyes can fully engage. Don DeLillo

The Uses of Literature

by Italo Calvino, Harvest Books, 1987

Having grown up in times of dictatorship, and being overtaken by total war when of military age, I still have the notion that to live in peace and freedom is a frail kind of good fortune that might be taken from me in an instant.

Women in Solitary

by Shanthini Naidoo. Tafelberg, 2020

As the five Special Branch officers, at gun point, whisked me away at dawn from my mother’s house to the solitary cell via the death row cell in Pretoria Central, I was convinced that I would die in their hands leaving my three-year-old, Nkosinathi, an orphan. – Joyce Sikhakhane-Rankin, 1969

Slavoj Zizek’s ‘Brutal, Dark’ Formula for Saving the World

We are more and more disoriented. There is a little good news, but at the same time there are new dimensions to the virus, and new variations that might turn out to be more dangerous. We now have this fake return to normal. The really frustrating thing is this lack of basic orientation. It’s the absence of what [the philosopher and literary critic] Fredric Jameson calls ‘cognitive mapping’ – having a general idea of the situation, where it is moving and so on. Our desire to function requires some kind of clear coordinates, but we simply, to a large extent, don’t know where we are.

We Need to Take Care of the Growing Number of Long-Term COVID-19 Patients

Time – The Coronavirus Brief, August 12, 2020

We are also only starting to get a picture of the hidden toll of long COVID. The most common symptoms are tiredness, shortness of breath, chest tightness and pain, headaches, muscle pain, and heart palpitations. We know from research that this virus is not just a “respiratory virus.” Evidence suggests that it affects the brain, heart, pancreas, skin, thyroid, gut, kidneys and musculoskeletal system. For some people, the symptoms repeatedly come and go. Many people, including physicians with long COVID have been unable to return to work, care for their kids, or even do light exercise. Some patients with long COVID have fallen through the cracks of the medical system, which has generally been slow to acknowledge their suffering, provide support, or even recognize the illness. Stories from online support groups suggest that while some doctors have been empathic, others have been dismissive of patients who still have symptoms many weeks after their positive coronavirus test, labeling them as anxious and not taking their concerns seriously. Such dismissive attitudes might be because health professionals themselves are facing burnout from huge workloads during the pandemic. They may also feel ill equipped to deal with this new chronic illness, since there has been so little published guidance on how it should be treated.

UK: New slogan

Time: The Coronavirus Brief, September 8, 2020

The United Kingdom has an informal new slogan meant to keep people mindful of social distancing and mask wearing: “Don’t kill your gran”. The quote in full came from Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who said on a BBC radio show aimed at young audiences yesterday, “Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on.” Hancock—and the nation’s grans—have reason for worry. Three thousand cases were reported on Sept. 6 and again on Sept. 7, a tripling of the 1,000-per-day caseload that held throughout August, and the highest figures since May.

Depression Is Skyrocketing During the Pandemic

Time: The Coronavirus Brief, September 4, 2020

Logically, people were more likely to suffer symptoms of depression during the pandemic if they experienced “COVID-19 stressors,” including losing a job, the death of a loved one or financial distress. People who said they had less than $5,000 in savings were also about 50% more likely to suffer from depression than wealthier people, the researchers found. In keeping with usual demographic trends, women were more likely to experience depression than men, and single people were more likely to experience depression than married couples.