Coping in Self-Quarantine: 13 Things To Do While Hunkering Down

Walt Jaschek says, “This Essential and Showcase comic book collection won’t read itself.”

Home, sweet home. It’s that sweet (and smart) spot many of us find ourselves lately, either because we’re now working remotely; because we always worked at home (like me, a freelancer;) because we’re blissfully retired, like Randy; and/or because we’re, well, quarantined. Staying occupied is quandary for some, I’m hearing, including sports fans who no longer have games to watch. To those seeking suggestions, here are 13 Things To Do When Hunkered Down.

1. Walk!

Let’s take this situation one step at a time. And six feet apart. My wife and I trek a couple of miles through suburbia every day; only recently have we seen other humans (keeping a nice social distance.) Not a walker? Don’t know where to go? Put on good shoes. Walk in one direction for 10 minutes. Stop. Walk back home. Congrats, you walked for 20! Allergic to the outdoors? Walk the steps to the basement and back. Hey! Carry some laundry with you!

2. Assemble a household emergency kit.

Not trying to be alarmist; quite the opposite. Last week I calmly assembled items for a household emergency kit, as outlined by DHS on this page: https://www.ready.gov/kit . This task is not necessarily virus-related, but it helped me to direct energy and find self-comfort. Plus, it’s crazy we didn’t have this stuff before. How did I get by without a hand-cranked weather-radio/phone-charger? I luuuuuuurve it.

3. Read those books.

Those histories / biographies / how to’s / YAs / mysteries / bodice-rippers won’t read themselves. You know how we normally say, “Oh, books, I would read you, but I have someplace to be.” Now we don’t. Me? I’ll be sticking with the classics, as pictured above.

4. Write those books.

More generally: create. Make art. Share stories. Hit the loom. Record that song. Blog about beer. There’s a creative tribe in my life whose engines churn when they can stay in place and make. I can’t wait to see the stuff they’ll have to show for it.

5. Journal.

I read advice on Twitter from a historian to start journaling, if you aren’t already. Write down what’s happening. It will be of interest to future generations (the historian said,) and it’ll crystalize your thoughts and make you feel better (I say.)

6. Create a group text.

Open up those pipes of communication with the ones you love. Keep the conversation flowing. Share good information. Make jokes. Private group-texts spur more engagement, in my experience; not everyone is on the same social platforms. Also, it’s interesting to see what family members are drinking.

7. Clean up your contact lists.

Had to do this to create those group texts. I’d clean up my contacts further if I had another 8,000 hours.

8. Garden.

If you already garden, let this early Spring urge you on. Prep those beds. Plant those bulbs. Throw wildflower seeds to the wind. If you’ve THOUGHT about gardening, but doubt you can do it, start. If I can, you can. All you need is sunlight, good drainage and water. Why buy basil, spinach and cilantro when you can get ‘em from your yard? (Or patio.) And really, what illustrates “hope” better than a sprout magically emerging from a seed?

9. Send a letter.

My Dad’s senior living center is on lockdown, which is smart, and he is in good spirits. In a recent a brief phone call, he reminded me, “The mail still works.” True! So I dashed off a page of news and updates, dropped into the mail. I wonder, will recent events bring back letter-writing?  And the post office? And Elvis stamps?

10. Organize that sock drawer.

Or garage. Or medicine cabinet. Is putting energy into organizing something a way to distract yourself from worries? Yes, but it works, and when you’re done: organized sock drawer! Last week I did some strategic purging in our basement storage room, and now this room says to me, “possibilities.” Or maybe, “Peleton.”

11. Scrabble.

An eight-letter word for “fun.” The Amazon exclusive edition SPINS and has grooves to hold tiles. Check current price on Amazon.. I get 4% if you buy one at this link:  Or you could just go get yours off the shelf.

12. Do your taxes.

I’ll admit, “do your taxes” is more a note to myself.

13. Make a list.

Okay, now we’re getting meta.

That’s my 13 Things to Do Hunkered Down. More to add? Leave a comment! Thanks,

Walt

Walt Writing and Pacing in His Home Office: A Typical Day Compressed Into 43 Seconds.

Yes, I pace and write, simultaneously, all day long. I move from MacBook to sketchbook to iPad to popcorn. Especially to popcorn. These 43 seconds demonstrate one thing: a writer’s life makes for kind of a boring video. Oh, well, at least you can see our living room!

Walt Jaschek home

“Basement Humor” Profiled in STL Business Journal Article

In this article by Patricia Miller reprinted from The St. Louis Business Journal, Jan. 28. 1991, Walt Jaschek reveals the source of his “basement humor:” his below-ground home office.

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Walt Jaschek and his basement humor

by Patricia Miller

What strikes Walt Jaschek as funny in his southside basement often ends up on national radio.

Jaschek, 35, writer radio advertising, including national radio campaigns promoting CBS Television Network and Warner Brothers programs. His firm, Walt Now, is based in the basement of his home on Columbia Avenue.

“I figure that if it makes me laugh here in the basement, it probably works,” Jaschek said.

No only does it work, but it has also earned the St. Louis native local, regional and national attention and an number of Clio and Addy advertising awards, which line the steps of the walls leading to his basement.

“We create mind movies,” Jaschek said. “With radio, the audience is already there — you just supply the visuals.”

Larry and LaVerne, the couple addicted to the Jeopardy game show, are Jaschek’s creation. Jaschek developed the characters as pat of a story lien to promote the CBS game show for radio. (A third character, “Trebecka,” is in the making, Jaschek hinted.)

In another radio spot for the game show, Jaschek describes how “darn hard” it is to win at Jeopardy. 

“I mean these categories! ‘Civil War Snack Foods!’ Famous Gynecologists! Medieval Flossing Techniques!’…”

Jaschek’s link to “Hollywood” is his college buddy, Paul Fey, a St. Louis native who at one time worked for KMOX-TV and is a producer in Los Angeles. They have collaborated on advertising projects since Jaschek “took the plunge off the 38th floor” of Southwestern Bell Corp. (where he was advertising manager) into freelancing in 1988.

The two University of Missouri-St. Luis grads are formalizing their informal business relationship this month under the name of Paul & Walt Worldwide, according to Jaschek, who said they work well together  since they share “an inclination toward audio humor.”

“We brainstorm together,” Fey said. “But the way it has evolved, Walt does the lion’s share of the writing and while his is writing I’m producing the last spot he wrote.”

The two partners have completed hundreds or radio spots over the past two years, by way of phone, fax and modem, according to Fey. He declined to disclose the their revenues, but said a typical CBS Network radio spots runs about $9000 to $10,000 from concept to completion.

In some of those spots, Jaschek wrote scripts for the TV actors to promote their own programs, which has inspired him to do do bigger projects.

“Since I’ve done a one-minute script for the Golden Girls, I believe I can multiply that by 22 minutes,” he said. “I’d like to transition from promoting the project to doing own product, namely a TV sitcom.”

Jaschek’s resumes includes public service announcements for the American Optometric Association and the city of St. Lous Operation Brightside, as well as comic strips for Marvel Comics and his own original comic strip, Dang Gnats!

His resume also includes a theme song for the state of Missouri which he developed for Kenrick Advertising. Jaschek set the song to a country and western theme calling on tourists to “relax and refresh” in Missouri enabling him to let loose the frustrated country western songwriter in himself, he said.

The theme song and other single market humor are often much more difficult than writing national humor, according to Jaschek, who counts as his early models Monty Python, the early Second City / Saturday Night Live crew, Warner Brothers cartoons and the early Mad magazine.

“It’s a challenge to write something that is funny in Seattle, Miami, New York and Los Angeles, but single market humor is harder — you really have to know the market.

Jaschek descends into his office at about 8:30 every morning Monday through Friday. Mornings are typically spent on logistics, and always include at least one phone call to Fey in Los Angeles.

The answering machine is turned on in the afternoon during which time Jaschek “hibernates” while he goes on an “intense writing blitz to meet the daily 5 p.m. script deadlines. He then picks the pace back up again from 9 p.m. to midnight, working on the next day’s assignment or other freelance.

— End Story, January 28, 1991

Walt Jaschek wishes social media had been around when he was interesting

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