I just finished up the first draft of my second story, and did a little revising on the first one. More revising and editing is in the future, then maybe I'll let some folks read it and see if anyone has any comments. I need to start thinking up what's next, though, so I don't lose momentum.
Making pretty quick work through A Short History of Fantasy. It's a rather broad overview often too focused on high level plot synopses. That's helpful in some sense, but doesn't really give any feel for the books under discussion. I don't think the summaries of some of my favorite fantasy works would have made me interested in them or given me any real idea of how unusual and unconventional those books are in comparison with most fantasy (thinking here of Delany's Neveryon or Wolfe's Latro books). The book's authors also, for the most part, avoid being very evaluative, though in some sense the inclusion of a book in the history is already a judgment of some kind. I have taken note of a couple books to look further into, though a lot of the works are ones in subgenres that I'm not so interested in, especially children's book, fairy tales (and various plays on same), and books that are ilke "real life" but with fantasy or where the character travels from the real world to a fantasy world. Those all seem very prevalent, and just not in general to my interest.
It's three weeks since we first got a lighter form of the "stay at home" directive that now seems much more universal (at first it was just a few counties in the state). I weirdly feel like I've been more productive since then. I've written some stories, I've played a lot less video games (not any for... at least 2 weeks I think), I've played more D&D.
More people than usual out this morning. My quiet lonely walk with lots of birds is now a bit of an obstacle course as I dodge dog walkers and joggers all awkwardly trying to stay separate from each other on narrow sidewalks which means lots of invisible negotiation of who will walk into the street. At least the streets are still completely or mostly quiet around here. Maybe I need to start getting up earlier again now that sunrise seems to be catching up with daylight savings going away.
I finished the short history of fantasy book which left me with a few recommendations to look up but mostly just left me disappointed. It is very hard from the given descriptions to have any sense many of these books are ones I might find interesting.
I watched Edward Dmytryk's Warlock (1959) yesterday, which sounds like it'd be a horror or sword & sorcery movie, but it actually a really excellent western. The other day the Criterion blog linked to list at Slant of a top 100 westerns list. I went through it looking for recommendations (I'm picky about westerns but like a bunch of the classics and unusual ones, less so the violent 70s ones). I was surprised that Warlock was not on the list and decided I should rewatch it to see if it held up to a second viewing. It's free on the Roku channel (we use a Roku for our tv streaming device).
I'm happy to say it does hold up. I really enjoyed it again. Dmytryk (who I don't recall noticing in the credits last time) is a director I know from one of the best noirs Murder My Sweet. Henry Fonda is his usually self, playing a hired marshall who's getting a little tired of the gun for hire life. Richard Widmark (the real star), is great as a member of a gang of cowboy troublemakers who leaves the group and takes up residency in the town as the official deputy. Dorothy Malone, who in looking up I realized had one of her first credited roles as the sexy bookstore owner in The Big Sleep, is woman who's man was killed by Fonda's character and comes to town for revenge. Anthony Quinn is Fonda's friend and backup man who was the actual cause of the murder of Malone's man.
The plot is involved and shifting, not easily summarized, with lots of characters. It's primary focus is, like many westerns, about the conflict between law and chaos, about the organization of society, and about violence as a tool for problem solving. It also throws in a good bit of the hero/myth vs reality story, a love story (or two), and a really strong homoerotic subtext (between Quinn's and Fonda's characters). All in wide compositions and 50s color.
It's definitely worth seeking out. I've also read the novel it's based on by Oakley Hall, which I really enjoyed. New York Review of Books puts out a nice edition.
Two ducks in the creek that I walk by this morning. I never see ducks around here, but
███ had spotted some the other day. I guess these are the same ones hanging around. I don't know what they find to eat in the creek, I don't think it has any fish in it, maybe there are enough bugs.
We did a session zero of The Sprawl yesterday with Eric running. It's a "Powered by the Apocalypse" cyberpunk game. Character creation took quite a long time and has all these collective bits to it where you make up corporations and parts of the city. Eric started on the first adventure, but we didn't get far cuz I was tired of being online. I think once we hit the two hour plus mark it starts getting tiring especially if it's not really exciting the whole time which two hours of character creation is not. But I am curious to see how the adventure goes next time we play. None of us are that familiar with the rules for the style. I played Dungeon World once at a conference years ago, and I'm at least familiar with the rule style. It is a bit different than how we normally play, and in some ways it feels more abstract. The adventures seem really structured, in phases, which I think they took that from Blades in the Dark, a similar game.
Don't totally remember what else I did yesterday which is a bad sign. Some more reading some work on my website so there's finally a page up at top level domain. I converted one of my old comics that hadn't been put online on to JPEGs and posted it. It was originally in a print anthology but in black and white, so I never shared all the color versions. Turns out Gimp doesn't open CMYK color files, so I had to go into Krita to open them. Then Krita doesn't do a good job of making smaller JPEGs so I had to make tiffs and then open them in Gimp to make the JPEGs. What a mess. At least I know I can open those files since I don't have Photoshop anymore.
I also finished up rereading Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest, the final book in that series. It can be a hard read, there are lots of pastiches of things I am not all familiar with, and references to characters I don't know, and the pages in 3d are just godawful to read (and of course they have a lot of text). Like all Moore's work its very dense and formally audacious. O'Neill does a great job at all sorts of stylistic changes, though I do find the base line style for the series to be too angular and ugly. The ending feels kind of like a shrug. A lot happens and the world ends, kind of, and then for some reason two characters dance, even though one of the characters died a few books ago and is seemingly only brought back for that last scene. For a more interesting take on it (and what got me to reread it) see Brian Nicholson's essay at The Comics Journal from last July.
It's been quite the week for nature sightings. There were the ducks yesterday, and the day before there was a cute little white-throated sparrow in the yard at the bird feeder. He kind of looks like a regular house sparrow but has bright yellow above his eyes and black and white stripes going back on his head. And just as I was dictating that sentence I saw the female mallard in the street where I'm walking. No sign of the male, but I'm sure he's about somewhere. And just before that I saw three herons flying in the sky, not sure what kind probably blue as they are the most common around here. They were pretty far away but you can tell by their long legs and the way their heads and necks are when they fly.
But best of all last night at dinner time there were at least four fox kits out behind our house in the park. We couldn't see them really well so there may have been more than four, but we could see them playing back there with one of their parents. They were very cute and small almost the size of kittens and gray. They don't have the orange-red color yet. I've never seen them that young before. We had two younger ones playing in the yard in the past, but even by that point they were a little more grown up and more noticeably red and bushy.
The fox kits appeared again last night around the same time. We got out onto the porch to watch them which was slightly better though still mostly obscured view. The mother (or father) showed up and was staring at us. I think there are actually 5 of the kits, though its hard to tell exactly. Their feet are mostly very dark colored as are their tails. They were playing and jumping around with each other. Wish we could get a better view or they'd come into the yard.
Both ducks showed up on my morning walk today, sitting in two adjoining driveways. I guess they are enjoying the peace and quiet that comes with almost no cars on the road. They are very wary of me, even from across the street, the male got up and walked a few steps further up the driveway he was sitting in.
Reread Frédéric Coché's L'Homme Armée (Fremok, 2018) yesterday. It's a almost completely mysterious comic to me. Visually it is partially etchings like many of his earlier works and partially soft colorful paintings like Hic Sunt Leones. The narrative is esoteric, like it feels like there is symbolism to it, but I can't quite ascertain exactly what it is all about. There is a big purple naked monster guy (like the Hulk) who is fighting with these renaissance looking soldiers, and there's a more modern looking guy with a pistol that shoots flares or something. There's a wise man or king or wizard or something and a scientist in a observatory. The wise man goes down into a basement with all these half woman half snake demons and... there are some women singing like a choir and a large bird with an egg. It's like reading some kind of comics alchemical text.
But it's also beautifully imagined. Coché is an master etcher, they are warm and detailed and sparse at the same time. The paintings are bright and soft and colorful. The juxtaposition of the two is really effective. There's almost no text, so it's also an easy one for non-French readers to read. I don't really know anything about Coché but I always love when Fremok puts out new work by him.
Another artist published by Fremok that I adore is Dominique Goblet. Her latest (I think, it's from January 2019) is a collaboration with Dominique Théate called L'Amour Dominical. It's a really mixed book. Théate is an outsider artist from a studio the Fremok artists have collaborated with quite a bit. If I understand the text I've read correctly, the artists there are all mentally ill or developmental delayed or something. Théate's work is not really to my taste at all. The book alternates between two styles. In one there is text by Théate from a daily journal he keeps that is typeset and accompanied by (and then superceded by) lovely colored pencil (I think) drawings by Goblet of nature and roads and houses. She uses a limited color palette and the drawing often become blurry or abstractions. They are the total highlight of the book for me and just a delight to "read", though there is no text on her images. I didn't read all the accompanying text, but my impression is that the relation is extremely loose. For these sequences alone the book is worth getting. The other part of the book is this crazy story about "Hulk Hogan" (though clearly an imagined version by Théate) and his love "The Blue-Bearded Woman" and... it's all over the place, but totally not to my taste or interest. I skimmed but did not read, looking for the sections of Goblet's drawings.
Not sure what happened the past few days that I didn't write anything. In a bit of a slump I guess, though also I was working more on my fiction (though not as much as I would like). We've passed the one month mark now of staying at home.
I've seen the fox kits more which has been a highlight. The other day I saw the mother (I just assume it's the mother), pick up one of the kits in her mouth and walk off and then the rest of them followed after. I opened the back gate on our fence, hoping the kits will be curious enough to visit our yard. In previous years they've liked hanging out on the deck we have that encircled the above ground pool that used to be back there.
I rewatched Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff yesterday on the Criterion Channel. It's a slow introspective western about a few families who have travelled off the main Oregon Trail (at least that is my inference from what is said) with the promise of some kind of shortcut by guide named Meek. By the time the movie starts they seem to be lost. Throughout, the slow dwindling of their water supply provides a level of tension, as does their various reactions to the worsening situation and the interplay between the guide and the settlers. Michelle Williams plays one of the wives who starts being more vocal and authoritative as the story goes on. From the beginning we see the men gathering together to make decisions, and the women gathered together wondering what the men are talking about or sharing what their husbands have told them. But as the movie continues we see Williams' character inserting herself more into the decision making and taking action in various ways, especially when they capture a native man who they hope knows the land and can lead them to water. It has a hopeful but ambiguous ending that surprised me even on a second viewing. I mean surprising in its ambiguity and abruptness rather than in it being a shocking ending.
I finished up the fourth of the Berserk deluxe editions yesterday. (I wrote about the last volume back in December [2019-12-12], and it appears I typoed there and said I had read the fourth volume. It must have been the third.) In reading this part of the story a second time, I really noticed how this at least partially, like Vinland Saga, is offering a commentary on the "fight to the top" "follow your dreams" narrative so common in manga. I mentioned that in my previous post, but in this one it becomes more clearly a twist or even a critique. The one main character, Griffith, after suffering imprisonment and torture, is shown to be somehow fated to become some kind of demon thing (the mythology of this manga seems very ad hoc), and he is given a vision. He is trying to reach this castle up in the sky, and he realizes that the road to the castle is basically covered in corpses. He is (in the vision, literally at least) walking over the corpses, but the road doesn't reach the castle yet. To follow his dream, to fight to the top, he has to kill and sacrifice and literally do it over the death of people he knows. In this case, it becomes him sacrificing his band of mercenaries (who compromise the protagonists and most prominent secondary characters in the story). It's a creepy and powerful sequence, that turns a lot of the previous story about his dreams and ambitiions into something horrible.
My previous comments about some of the leering gaze of the manga, continues in this volume in a place or two, though also there is a really effective sex scene in this one between two of the protagonists that is a major narrative turning. It not only provides us with more information about the characters, their pasts, their feelings, but also, going forward, changes their actions and the actions of others as the story continues. Kentaro Miura, who often seems a little off with his character drawings, actually draws the female protagonist, who is one of the strongest fighters in the mercenary band, with a strongly muscled body, that is refreshingly different for fantasy/comics artwork. His style makes it a little over the top with the muscles, but that tracks with how he draws the male protagonist too.
Watched the noir Dead Reckoning the other day too. It stars Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott. I thought I had positive memories of watching it before but this time at least I was pretty bored by it.
Eric linked me to this small RPG Mausritter the other day. It's an Into the Odd variation for a Mouseguard type game. Real simple rules, with some good idea generators, and a nice inventory system that involves little cut-out cards placed on your character sheets inventory slots. I think it would be fun to play, but the cards do not lend themselves to online play (we'd each have to print out a lot of stuff), so naturally I decided I'd try to make an online version. Handling the drag and droppable items seemed like it might be a fun thing to figure out. So I was working on that yesterday, at first just adapting my 5e character sheet code for the basic character sheet. Now I'm working on figuring out how to do the inventory stuff which is a good bit trickier.
Finished up watching Chantal Akerman's Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (1978) this afternoon after starting it the other day. Another slow film with long takes, and very low key drama. It's a portrait of a woman (named Anna) who is a film director who travels a lot (I guess for screenings of her films, the actual director part is only minor background information) and seems very isolated from most people. The film follows her arriving in Germany for a screening and then her subsequent trip back home to Paris. The action such as it is, is based around a series of conversations she has with people, some strangers, some not, primarily in hotels, train stations, and on trains. Throughout she seems distant and indecisive. In a strange scene a friend meets her at a train station. Anna's train is late and she says she's hungry. The shot sequence watches them go down some stairs to a doorway into a cafe or restaurant in the station, then a show of them standing next to a table that has no people at all but a lot of food on plates, as if a number of people had a large meal and didn't eat most of it. Then Anna says she's not hungry anymore and they turn around and leave and there's another shot of them going back up the stairs. It's a bit humourous, to me at least.
Throughout we get different stories from the people she talks to, in a few cases about the war (WWII, in this case), sometimes a bit about Anna. The portrait of her is slowly built up through these interactions until at the end she gets home to her apartment which looks like no one lives there: nothing on the walls, a completely non-descript bed, a fridge that seems empty. She lays down on the bed and listens to her answering machine messages.
Rain and wind yesterday, so our power went out twice, only very briefly, but that's all it takes to disrupt my work and force me to restart my computer. Minor frustrations, but they interrupt the flow of my day and thus seem outsized.
Rewatched Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai over the past two days. It over relies on his narration, one gets the feeling Welles just really wanted to use his Irish accent more. The ending in the funhouse gets a lot of attention for its flashiness, but there is a scene at a beach party earlier in the movie that really stood out for me. The focus is on some of the main characters sitting in chairs talking and drinking, but there is a lot going on behind them, people, food, musicians, boats, an excess over what the scene really required, especially with how much it focuses on close-ups of the characters. Lots of close-ups in the movie as a whole, so you really see the actor's faces and their expressions, especially the really creepy Grisby, played wonderfully by Glenn Anders (who it turns out was a Broadway actor, not in many films), with a mix of menace, desperation, and sneering taudriness that really adds to the atmosphere of the plot.
Welles gets in a few rollicking fight scenes, where he swings large roundhouses and rolls about. I have to imagine he enjoyed those. One in a judge's office, makes sure to involve just about every piece of furniture in the room, knocked over, broken, scattered items, broken glass, it's all a big mess by the end, far exceeding any necessity for the plot or tension about the fight's outcome.
Started rereading Samuel Delany's Return to Neveryon series, a sword and sorcery series in four books (compromising a number of short stories, novels, and novellas). Finished up the first story from Tales of Neveryon, "The Tale of Gorgik" which introduces a central figure in the series. I think the series doesn't get enough attention or credit because it is a bit difficult and unusual. Delany was highly influenced by "theory" (as in (post)structuralist, etc.) in the writing of it, so it's not just action and adventure (often very little of either), but it is often more about examining the society than magic or monsters (very little of either). They are enjoyable though, if you can alter your expectations for what a sword & sorcery story should be. I expect the introductory essay, written by a fictional contemporary academic (who Delany has used in a few books), would turn off a lot of people from the start, too.
Lianne and I left the house at the same time for the first time in over a month to take a post-work walk yesterday.
I got distracted the other day and didn't finish writing about Tales of Neveryon, and now I'm already gotten through three more of the stories. I'm still really enjoying them. As I read them I'm trying to piece together memories of how the stories interrelate and how small parts of each end up relating back to the whole. I often wonder how much Delany had the large elements planned out ahead of time and how much grew with the telling. I'm not sure I've read him talking much about the series, nor much of other people talking about it. But it has been awhile since I delved into his essays and interviews, or did any searching for writing about the series (there is some). That was a lot easier when I was working at the library and had a large library of book near at hand and access to tons of journals on and off line.
One thing I love about the series is how much it is using the genre but not falling into easy clichés or unexamined tropes. The world feels grounded, it is mysterious -- especially to most of the characters who have limited exposure to it, little learning, little way to learn more -- but also it has history and a sense of society and technological change. The introduction and spread of money as a concept is a topic in two of the stories (so far), and how it changes the way the people interact with each other. One character remembers in his lifetime when certain inventions that one takes for granted even in the genre become widely used. It's a world that seems to be always changing.
The characters talk a lot in ways that don't seem at all realistic, but it also doesn't feel wrong because Delany is such a good writer. Just sentence to sentence, he is enjoyable to read.
I wish my memory were better, as I'm always getting these flashes of memories about the stories in the series, but not always with any context to help me place them in relation to what I'm currently rereading.
Watched two movies by Maurice Pialat in the past couple days, A Nos Amours (1983) and Police (1985). Both are very naturalistic in their filming, not as austere as Rohmer but never anything flashy or unexpected. With the exception of some forward jumps in narrative time between scenes, everything is very clearly and simply shown. Sandrine Bonnaire, whom I recently saw in Agnes Varda's Vagabond and it turns out is the lead in Jacques Rivette's Joan of Arc movies (which I have yet to watch, but saw there is a new restoration of (there have been a lot of restorations/rereleases of his movies lately)), is the lead in the former, and is underutilized in the latter. A Nos Amours is primarily about her character's love life and struggles with her family. Pialat plays the father in it, and there's definitely a little creepy vibe about it. Police is a really laid back crime drama that I only barely finished. Neither are worth watching again.
I don't know where the time is going. We've been mostly staying home for five and a half weeks now. It doesn't really feel that long in some ways. I try to keep my schedule and my habits.
I'm still working on a story (the third one now), though it feels like its going slower than the previous two. One thing I am balking at is dialogue. I'm not sure what tactic to take with it. How much do I want to consider the voices of characters or how much do I not care about a sense of "realism" when it comes to speech. How much can I summarize versus play out? In general the shifting of narrative duration... and I just pulled out Genette's Narrative Discourse to find his terms: pause, scene, summary, ellipsis. I think for me the scene/summary divide especially in regards to conversations is where I get unsure, which draws me to the "why I am writing this story" and "what is my goal". Two questions I haven't answered for myself other than, "it felt like something I wanted to do to occupy myself." Though I know, in part (perhaps a great part), I am interested in genre and generic conventions. Having a better sense of my goals might better allow me to decide where my attentions should lie in the style and in the choice of durations.
I've been working my way, a few chapters a night, through Delany's Neveryona the second volume in the series, which is a single novel. The protagonist is a young woman who quickly starts intersecting with the various protagonists and secondary characters from the first stories. She leaves home in the country and goes to the city, and her naivety to the setting allows for a lot of discourse by the other characters. Delany is interested in the discourse and allowing his characters to speak ideas, but does not, in my opinion, seem very concerned about the individual voices of the characters. The dialogue is not "realistic", it is often more like lecturing or storytelling. I always feel like I have to pay close attention for the subtle references to the previous stories or ongoing mysteries about the setting/story. Even just unnamed references to characters from previous stories that help weave the whole series together.
Last night we saw one of the baby foxes come into the yard and retrieve an apple core Lianne threw out there for them earlier. They've gotten much redder than before and now look a lot more like small adult foxes than when we first saw them. I'm happy to see at least that one has figured out both ways into our yard: under the fence at one point and through the gate I opened.
Then this morning, as I was making my morning walk around the block, I saw the adult fox coming out of the park (via the stairs, foxes uses stairs apparently) and cross the street. She is looking pretty healthy, not super thin and her fur isn't all matted or mangy looking.
We rewatched (for the who knows how many times) Ball of Fire (1941) on the Criterion Channel. It's a really fun Howard Hawks comedy with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper. Stanwyck plays a show girl/gangster's moll who gets involved with a bunch of old guys writing an encyclopedia, except for Cooper who is the incongruous one young man in the group. He's writing the article about slang, so there is a lot of crazy language in the movie.
Tried watching Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress at lunchtime, but gave up on it. The animation was fine, but the story just wasn't doing anything for me.
The male fox (I think it's the male, his fur is darker, mottled, and scruffier) crossed my path yesterday on my morning walk. He was headed into the park.
I just finished watching Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue (1997) which was more interesting than Millennium Actress, as I ended up watching to the end. The animation was excellent, still the handdrawn style that is so much nicer than the vast amount of digital work done now. It's not as flawless, and you can often see the shortcuts taken, but in those shortcuts is often the innovation and the experimentation. The story about a pop idol singer who decides to became an actress and the stalker(s) who don't want her to change becomes increasingly more confusing as the narrative goes on. The drama she is acting in starts blending with the drama of her real life in ways that blur the difference both for the character and the viewer. It's a really interesting narrative effect because it puts the viewer into a certain synchronicity with the protagonist.
My biggest gripe about the movie is that the two people who end up being the murderers/crazy ones are both the only ones drawn with faces where the eyes are extra far apart (making them look vaguely fishlike). And the male one has a really messed up face, like he has some kind of developmental condition, while the female one is like the only woman in the movie who isn't super skinny. It's really lazy and stupid.
One thing I wanted to do with this journal but never really did was include links to things I've read and found interesting, but then I also feel obliged to explain why I found them interesting and I didn't always know what to say. But here I am trying that anyway.
Just read "Notes on The Big Sleep, 30 years after" by James Monaco from Sight & Sound (Winter 1974) and it is an really excellent wide-ranging essay on a film I have watched many many times. Monaco covers Hawks, film noir, Chinatown, censorship, adaptations, Chandler, the roles of women in the film, and more, all while making one want to watch The Big Sleep again.
I reached that article from a related link on another old essay by Louise Brooks (yes, the actress and model for Crepax's Valentina) on Humphrey Bogart that is also worth a read. Brooks is a good and interesting writer who applies her own experiences with Hollywood and Bogart.
Spent probably too much time once again reading on the computer and cleaning up files and such. Over the week(s) bookmarked articles, pdfs, notes, etc. build up, and I'm trying to be better about going through them on the weekends so I don't end up with an overwhelming amount of stuff. Paged through an online version of a Turner sketchbook that Yale has on their site (the better pages are at the end).
I just gave my second short story another read through, fixing a few typos, but not much else. It's still hard for me to see larger problems. Are there major changes I could make? It's easy to settle on what is already done and not want to change it or delete it, but I don't want to treat any of it as too precious, as something that was so difficult and time consuming that I can't bear to see it gone. But on the other hand, maybe I don't need to change it a lot. Maybe how it came out was how it should be. It came out a lot more linearly than the third story that I am still actively drafting. For the newer one I started out writing from the beginning but then when I got stuck started just writing out different sections, filling in notes as an outling, and generally working non-linearly. That's worked pretty well for that story so far, and I think it's helping me think about where I can leave gaps and where I should fill in scenes, what can be elided.
Sitting outside on the porch a bit this afternoon. We're into week 7 of staying at home now, and at least today we have a nice day, though most days it still feels more like winter than spring. The flowers and animals disagree as they have been plentiful. For the third or fourth year in a row (actually fifth now, as I found a picture of a dove's nest from when we were first moving in) a pair of doves (could they be the same ones? I have no way to know) are nesting in the rafters of our porch. I don't think the mother, sitting on at least one egg, much likes when we come out to the porch. Doves make the worst nests. There is large pile of small twigs and brush in the corner of the porch under where the nest is, and the pile that they tried to put in the nest but which fell out is literally almost 10 times what is actually making up the nest now. Somehow they never just try again with the same materials, already all sitting there in a convenient pile. Though it also now occurs to me... if the egg fell out of the nest, that pile might act as a bit of a cushion. One year they did lose an egg because it fell out and broke on the porch.
While writing that last paragraph I looked up and saw a heron flying by with its distinctive long neck and legs. Wish I knew where I could go and see them a little closer.
I finished watching I Am Not Okay With This on Netflix this morning. I quite enjoyed it, an interesting variation on the supernatural/superhero teen drama, both darker (in mood) and more realistic than most. It's set in Pennsylvania even (in the northeastern part of the state I'm guessing) in the... 80s I guess. It actually took until a few episodes in where one of the characters is excited to hear "Jesse's Girl" at a party that I realized it was not contemporary, then on realizing that, noticed the lack of cellphones. It was unfortunately a very short season with a cliffhanger, so who knows when or if it will return. It's anchored by a narration of the protagonist's diary entries which really helps focus on her feelings, though the narrative also shows us some scenes without her.
One thing it maybe unnecessarily does, is start with a prolepsis (that it briefly returns to a few times in various episodes), of the protagonists walking, alone, covered in blood. It's surely there to add a sense of impending tension to the season, but feels mostly unneeded, because the mood of the show is enough that as soon as you realize the character has these special powers and that they seem to assert themselves when she is angry or stressed, you just know something is going to go horribly wrong.