Amazon’s Upload provides a great escape

Technology-centric dystopian futures are a dime a dozen, and who really wants more bleak sci-fi futures portrayed in media right now while we are all living through a pandemic AND murder hornets? I’m also acutely aware of how absurd it is for Amazon to be producing a show about morally dubious tech giants and a future dominated by corporate sponsorships. Let’s just carefully meander around that rabbithole as that’s a topic for another time.

“Upload” is not just another such show. Disclaimer before proceeding: I was already interested thanks to the trailer, but still apprehensive – it was a great blend of comedy, romance, and just enough dramatic tension. My fear? Trailers like this often give away all of the show or movie’s best moments and the rest falls flat. Not the case here.

Nathan Brown, played by Robbie Amell, is forced to choose between being taken to an operating room where he may end up dying or being uploaded to Lakeview, a premium digital afterlife. The caveat is that he would be uploaded to his girlfriend Ingrid Kannerman’s (played by Allegra Edwards) family account. Upon arrival, Nathan is greeted by his customer service representative, Nora Antony (played by Andy Allo) who he initially only knows as his angel. Nathan gradually realizes he can’t remember certain things from when he was alive, and it comes to light that some memories were damaged – something that wouldn’t normally happen in the uploading process.

Season one is ten episodes, with the pacing just right to establish things without dragging the story out or speeding through character development. Greg Daniels expertly plays out plot threads that separate and return to one another, culminating in one of the most frustrating season finale cliffhangers of recent memory.

Fair warning has been given and I take no responsibility for anyone snapping their phone in half over said cliffhanger. Especially those last five or so minutes.

The drama and tension built as Nora and Nathan work together to recover his memories, all while hints are dropped that something far more sinister is at play, is a huge part of why this show is so easy to get lost in. The romance and comedy don’t take a backseat to the drama – it adds and works well with it. Comedic moments break up tension nicely at times, while the romance between Nathan and Nora acts as a great foil to the mystery behind Nathan’s memory gaps. There’s no shortage of fun banter, entertaining visual gags (the Lakeview AI is often involved), and genuine moments.

“Upload” hits at its viewers hard with no shortage of emotional drama only to provide enough laughs to balance it out before another painful suckerpunch to the feels.

The plot of “Upload” season one is excellent, but it’s thanks to the cast that it really comes to life. Upload has an extraordinary, diverse cast. Each character is compelling and complex enough that they could at any point be the focus of the show.

Luke, played by Kevin Bigley, is a fun, at times immature, wingman to Nathan at Lakeview, acting both as a helping hand in adjusting to the digital afterlife while also getting Nathan into his fair share of trouble. Luke’s angel, Aleesha (played by Zainab Johnson) is wise to Luke’s constant shortcuts around the rules and she takes none of his bullshit. Chris Williams as Dave Antony, Nora’s father acts as a great countpoint to the culture of digital afterlifes as he instead wants to die so he can be reunited with his wife in Heaven.

I could go on about each actor, but the simpler way to say it is that every role in this show plays out like a main character in their own rights, and that is a credit to the phenomenal cast and the work they clearly put into making “Upload” what it is.

“Upload” is a well-paced emotional journey through drama, comedy, and romance with brilliantly realized character living out complex, yet still relatable, narratives, and to miss out on it would be to miss out on some of the best television entertainment available right now. (And, again, we need that because have you seen the murder hornets? Because they’re proper nightmare fuel.)

Rating? Five stars, easily.

2020 Goals (and so on)

Prior to turning 32, a year of no particular consequence by any means, I decided my thirty-second year of life would be one of reinvention, reinvigoration, and rebirth. In short, I would rise from the ashes of 31 and the trials it entailed.

I had a post in mind for this. I stashed it neatly in my thoughts, where it waited. And waited. And then quietly packed its things before leaving. So it goes.

Continue reading

Life, the Adventure – Self-reflection

This post is something that’s been rattling around in my head for some time, but one that obviously hasn’t gotten proper attention until this point. Suffice it to say, some of the words have likely gotten lost or replaced. So it goes.

I have, in the past year or so, come to the following conclusion:

Simply put, life is an adventure. We are all equipped to some degree or another, ready to go forth and save our proverbial kingdoms by way of conquering goals, realizing (and, at times, rescuing) dreams, and slaying our own personal dragons and demons. Looking at anyone who has succeeded thoroughly and undeniably at their life’s quest, it seems like everything should be a linear series of steps forward. It’s also the easiest way to tinge your view with envy, fill your head with frustration, and make your heart ache for a place where you may not yet be – not out of personal failures, but because you simply haven’t arrived there yet.

When I think about life as an adventure, especially with regards to my writing, I find myself oftentimes discounting the steps back. The setbacks. The unexpected mishaps and misfortunes.

Life is an adventure, but hardly a linear one. The path may be blocked or broken, with long and circuitous detours waiting just out of sight. The weather will not always be fair, and the wind will not always be at your back. Sometimes – yes, sometimes – the dragons win and the demons get their time to gloat, but still I continue.

I have been ruminating on a lot lately. Some more personal than I’m willing to share here, and some that’s simply my want to become something with my writing while not making nearly enough time to actually complete my writing.

This is my reminder that the goalposts in the distance – the castle to rescue, the dragons to slay, the victories to be achieved – are all still very much in the distance, and the only way I will ever find my way there is if I stop letting my self-doubt, anger, and frustration stand as walls in my path.

Breathe. One foot, then the other, moving inexorably forward.

I can do this. I simply have to do this, if only for me.

An Unintentional Hiatus, and Remembering to Breathe

Life happens, or so the saying goes, as does work and writing and finding time to exercise. Organizing parties. Dozing off in the middle of the day. And so on.

I’ve certainly kept busy, and sometimes I am kept busy. Sometimes I find myself time to simply be, and sometimes I am reminded to simply be (or, with a gentle nudge and much love from my wife, I am told to simply be). It’s during the downtime of being that I find myself thinking about what I should be doing and what I could be doing, and how I’ve not necessarily gotten any closer to accomplishing those things. On the plus side, I’ve gotten no farther from doing so either. Instead, I’m enjoying the adventure of being a father to two fantastic children, navigating the adventures of marriage with my entirely remarkable wife (who supports my writing far more than I do at times), and so on.

So what’s next, then? What misadventures wait ahead?

There will certainly be more Follow the Ashes sooner than later. Still plenty of distance to travel before we reach our destination with that story.

Introductions to Amira, and her Quest, are probably in order. We’ll see.

Then, of course, there’s a small matter of things to do with ducks, and if that’s confusing to read I promise it was just as perplexing to type.

Those, however, are misadventures for other days. Today, instead, I’m choosing again to simply be and remember to breathe.

Wandering thoughts

Disclaimer: this post is about to go down a few rabbit holes that involve the endless stream of nonsense I live with running through my head like the news ticker at the bottom of most cable news networks. Shit’s about to get weird. Turn back, or forever regret pressing onward.

At the age of 30, which is apparently just old enough for people slightly younger than me to now make me feel older than I should feel just yet, I have come to terms with the fact that the inside of my head is a much louder place than I am always comfortable with it being. My inner monologue is often actually a rather argumentative dialogue, and as of late it has been particularly distracting. It likes to remind me that the plausibility of becoming an accomplished, published author isn’t very high. That I am disappointing people who should, under no circumstances, be disappointed. Sometimes it likes to tell me I’m fat, but also suggest I eat an entire bag of popcorn with extra butter and then chase it with some ice cream, because reasonably I should balance hot and cold foods. Continue reading

Good news, bad news

Hey, all.

Happy nearly-Thursday (or happy Thursday, depending on where you’re reading this from). Installment 4 of Follow the Ashes (spoilers: titled “Put on a Happy Face”) is coming along slowly but surely, and will likely be on time. If it isn’t, it’ll be up by Sunday. The goal is for it to be on time, obviously.

However! I have to say that this will be the last one for a bit. The reason? There is less than a month between now and the arrival of the baby known as Butterbean. I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to focus on preparing for that, which means taking a breather from Follow the Ashes. I do have some bonus material planned for when it returns to help take the edge off.

Meanwhile, expect the next installment soon. I hope it’s proving to be an enjoyable story.