Jimmy Song’s Bitcoin faith, ‘Russian Doll’ and other recent writing from a time vortex

11 Feb

Jimmy Song photo

Photo by me, for Breaker Magazine


I was warned, repeatedly, that freelance life was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, particularly in regards to working with editors and with getting paid.

Five months into my post-job life, I am finding that’s not only true, it’s fuckahellatrue, like so true it makes all other reality a fiction. You know that movie The Truth About Cats and Dogs? This freelance stuff is more true than even that film, my apologies to Janeane Garofalo, just speaking my truth.

The rhythm is what has been throwing me off, the sense that deadlines are much more fluid, that the time between the time I turn something in and the time that it’s published can stretch and stretch (to months, even), that I can get paid for something I wrote within two or three days, or two or three months.

These are not novel concerns, these aren’t new issues, every freelancer I know is a choir in no need of preaching to on this. But for me, someone who spent 21 years adhering to schedules and budgets and deadlines and calendars, it has sent me into an existential time dread.  Someone who cares about me deeply recently pointed out that I seem to have lost all sense of time, and that’s not inaccurate. Sometimes the weekdays just fly by because I have no deadline to wake up early, no deadline to get assignments done and plenty of “Overwatch” and “Apex Legends” to play.

Not that I’m wasting my days doing nothing (my Netflix viewing is up like 80 percent, though, make of that what you will), but I’m working in shorter bursts, not sitting at my desk soaked in the monitor glow all day.  I don’t keep up with Twitter as much as when it was in my face for 8-10 hours a day. I answer emails on the go, sometimes I’m not even at home or in Texas when I do.

I had a week recently where it felt like nobody was responding to emails I’d sent and pitches I’d made, where I didn’t have any urgent writing pending apart from some long-term deadlines I’m in the middle of, and I didn’t even have any thoughts worth Tweeting.  There began to be a sense that I was disappearing, that I was losing the thread of myself and what I was supposed to be doing outside the normal family/house/pet obligations. It was a weird displaced feeling, but not completely unwelcome. At the height of my time at the Statesman, when I was putting out stories and podcasts on top of all the freelance stuff I was doing, I sometimes got tired of hearing my own voice, got tired of being the carnival barker peddling my own warez all the time.  I wanted quiet, I wanted to stop talking, I wanted to retreat into myself for a little while and be still.

And now I’m getting some doses of that and… it’s an adjustment. Be careful what you wish for, right?

But then that quiet is broken up by responses and publishing and money in the mail, and suddenly I’m back into it.  It was just temporary.  And now I’m talking again.



I woke up this morning determined to get going early, to make this week count. And to my surprise, I saw that a story I’ve been working on since last year was suddenly published.

Breaker Magazine is a New York online publication that pushed out lots of news and culture stories about the blockchain and Bitcoin scenes.  I got hooked up with them last summer by a mutual friend and in the fall, I started working on a profile of Jimmy Song, an Austinite who was making waves in that world with some very strong (and often brutal) opinions.  I met up with him and found him to be super nice and easy to chat with, a contrast to his sometimes spiky online hot takes, and a fascinating subject.

The story went through some significant edits and a major rewrite, resulting in more rounds of interviewing.  I’m so pleased with the result; it’s been a long time since I went through a process like that, the kind of edit where you begin to question your own self-worth as a writer, but I was so lucky to have editors who could see the finish line and what the story could be.

I think Jimmy is something more people in Austin’s tech scene should know about.

Elsewhere in the Omar-verse, I’ve been keeping busy writing culture reviews for Book + Film Globe and additional stories for the Statesman.

The great Natasha Lyonne. Credit: Netflix, yo


I did a review of the excellent Netflix series “Russian Doll.”  Honestly, I could have written another 5,000 words about the nuances and greatness of this show, but it was written the weekend the series debuted and I was trying really trying hard to keep any spoilers out of it because it really is something best viewed fresh. The review seems to have resonated with people who were unsure about investing time in the show. A Facebook friend wrote, ” I literally went from zero to 100% in terms of interest in this series,” so that was nice to hear.

In other Netflix-related writing, I reviewed the last bunch of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” episodes for Book + Film Globe.  I had given up on the show early in Season Three, but decided to catch up over the holidays and I’m glad I did. Despite some of its faults (and I get why people started to turn away from the series), I think it ended well and that the stuff it was good at (dense joke writing, absurdist characters) vastly outweighed the problematic. If you fell off, too, I really think it’s worth finishing.

For Austin360, I followed up my Paul McCartney concert column with something a little bit less emotional, a story about how bad I am at organizing all my digital photos and videos. Here’s a little clip from that video I describe in the story:


I also wrote a more newsy daily story for the business section about Retro Studios taking over development of Nintendo’s “Metroid Prime 4.” A big deal for gamers!

On the “Texas Standard” radio show, we’ve done segments about smart watches and health, about why Instagram is doing so well (plus viral egg photos), Apple’s recent security/privacy woes, and a follow up on that Austin360 photo organizing piece.



Things are pretty good! It looks like I’ll be covering South by Southwest again for the Statesman next month and I have some other projects and pitches in the pipeline.  Thanks to everybody who’s been supportive.

If you’ve made it this far, all three of you, I want to ask — would you be interested in an email newsletter of stuff like this and some additional writing/recommendations/multimedia?

I’ve been mulling doing that (and maybe cross posting it here).  I definitely wouldn’t charge for it, at least not until I felt it was something worth paying for, and maybe even then I’d just do it as as additional content.

Some of my favorite online writers have been doing really interesting stuff with their email newsletters and I wonder if that would give me incentive to update more often.

Anyhoo, if you have thoughts, let me know!

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