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A new COVID variant on scientists' radar

 August 23, 2023 at 2:20 PM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. It looks like we're not done with Covid yet. Infections are slowly rising as a new variant emerges. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired and make you think. It's not the dominant strain yet , but it's got the attention of scientists.

S2: We're hoping it'll just fizzle out. But because it has so many new mutations , if it gets legs and then we're going to have a lot of infections and and a tough going for several weeks.

S1: Plus why it could take a year to get a passport or a global entry pass. And a book about TCM underground films and an excerpt of the Cinema Junkie podcast. That's ahead on Midday Edition. San Diego saw a slight bump in Covid cases and hospitalizations at the end of July. Shedding a little light on what's ahead for cold and flu season. A new coronavirus variant has also gotten the attention of public health officials in recent weeks , and new research is emerging on long Covid. Here to tell us what we should all know about Covid and other respiratory infections this season is Dr. Eric Topol , founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. Dr. Topol , welcome back to Midday Edition.

S2: Thanks , J. Great to be with you again.

S1: Always glad to have you. It's been quite a while since we talked about Covid , but that doesn't exactly mean it's gone away. So what can you tell us about where we stand with Covid today ? Right.

S2: Well , we kind of had a respite where the virus was circulating low levels and now it's on the uptick. And there's a few things going on at the same time. Firstly , a variant known as IGI five started to show it had a growth advantage over the prior ones , such as the one that the new updated booster , which is called XB one five , is targeted for. So that one's kind of been cooking along. And then we know that where that's headed , which is just going to add on another mutation , make it a bit more challenging. At the same time , the virus is is kind of evolving further. There's separately increases in wastewater detection of the virus and in hospitalizations actually throughout the country. Not big levels , but certainly going in the wrong direction. And then the the other big thing , of course , is that there's a new variant that is very bad looking out there that seven sequences have been detected now in five countries and that one is concerning because it's very different from any version of the virus we've seen before.


S2: And probably if you had to bet it wouldn't change the type of illness people would get. But the main thing , because it has more than 30 mutations different than the prior versions of the virus we've seen , it will be a challenge to our immune system. And so it could cause a fair number of infections if it becomes one that transmits. Well , we don't know that yet. Today we learned it showed up in South Africa and Japan. And prior to that , there was one case in Michigan , the U.K. , three cases in Denmark and one in Israel , But we haven't yet seen it take off. And if it does take off , it could be some trouble that lies ahead. That's an unknown right now. You know , of course , we were hoping it'll just fizzle out. But because it has so many new mutations , if it gets legs and then we're going to have a lot of a lot of infections and and a tough going for several weeks.

S1: And that is the Ba2 point 86 you're talking about , right ? Exactly.

S2: Yeah. So unfortunately , have all these obscure names and numbers. But yes , that's the one that is the troubling right now because the vaccine booster that's supposed to be ready mid-September isn't going to help much against that one since it's so different than , you know , the virus that we have had vaccines , boosters and infections previously. So it has a whole different look. That's a lot of new mutations. It's a lot like what we saw with Omicron initially when it had 30 new mutations. But these are 30 different mutations. And so we could if it gets transmissible , I'm hoping not. You know , that's what's going to cause the trouble , mainly because whatever defense we have is going to have some ability to let this virus get around. And it shouldn't hopefully cause worse illness. In fact , you know , it might be less. It's just that it'll spread so widely. And as you know , when the virus spreads , there's not just infections , but there's also the potential for a long Covid.

S1: And , you know , a lot has changed in how coronavirus is handled now compared to just a couple of years ago. One piece of that seems to be with testing , it seems that fewer people are testing or at least relying solely on at home test.

S2: We don't really have that handle of the. Results. How many are positive ? What percentage that is. And that's why we're basically down to wastewater as the only way to know if the virus is truly circulating at a higher level. And even hospitalizations were not that reliable. If we're looking across the country because certain states are not reporting those reliably , so we're down to wastewater as the main way to reflect what's going on , the dynamics of the virus. The other problem , of course , is testing used to be at low cost or free ever since the emergency phase was stopped in May. That's no longer the case. And so testing has gone way down and it's not a reliable metric anymore.

S1: You know , we've talked many times about long Covid and you mentioned it earlier. It's something that medical researchers have really been trying to better understand. In your latest blog , Ground Truths , you looked at two studies about the effects of long Covid. Tell us about these studies and what they found. Right.

S2: Right. Well , these were two studies within the Veterans Affairs , the largest health care system in the United States. But just to point out , these were individuals who were in their average in their 60s and almost 90% men. So they don't really represent who is the prototypical patient person with long Covid , which is more apt to be a woman and ages between 30 and 39. So even with that caveat , though , this these were two year follow up studies. And basically what we saw in these large studies with millions of controls , particularly in the in one particular of paper , the other one was just more a two year probe of of the deaths. But the main finding overall was that the symptoms and the organ multisystem involvement of Covid , the sequela , go on , you know , well into throughout the second year , more so in people who are hospitalized , but even in those who had mild or moderate Covid initially. So it's it's sobering news. And it's flanked by eight other studies from various countries which show similar things. But this was the first study to look at all the different organs like cardiovascular and neurologic and gastrointestinal and so on. So this was the most detailed assessment yet at two years.

S1: You write that there are still known unknowns that lie ahead when it comes to long Covid. Fundamentally , what do you mean there and what do we still need to learn about long Covid impacts that some people get from having Covid ? Right.

S2: Well , Jay , one of the ones I just mentioned , that is the the population on the VA is not representative. So we need to know more about the usual person who gets long Covid. It's unpredictable. We know that much. But there are other things that are really troubling. So with polio , the post-polio syndrome didn't show up till 30 years later. With the influenza 1918 pandemic , Parkinson's disease was only recognized as a major risk from that , you know , 15 or more years later. And now we see even influenza ten years later does pose an increased risk for Parkinson's. So there are potential conditions that we haven't even seen yet that could manifest much later. The other thing , of course , is that you have incomplete ascertainment. So , for example , we have a significant increase in autoimmune diseases after Covid from for very large reports , things like rheumatoid arthritis , multiple sclerosis , lupus and those types of conditions. They weren't even looked at in the VA reports. So things like that , the diabetes , the secondary effects of diabetes over many years , not just the Covid , but what seemed to trigger the Covid of diabetes. So there's so many things that are still really in this unknown category. And we're going to have to follow this , you know , for years to come to really know what the overall impact. The harm that was rendered , which of course still could be things that we haven't seen. Two years now , three and a half years at least , out from when this whole pandemic began.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition.

S2: So we're always chasing with these boosters. That's why we need a variant proof vaccine that lasts longer , less side effects and also nasal delivered vaccines and the monoclonal antibodies for the people who are immunocompromised. So today , Project Next-Gen , which is a $5 billion initiative , announced their first awarding of grants of over $1 billion towards these new things , better vaccines , nasal vaccines and the antibodies. So at least they're getting funded now because up until this point today , there wasn't any sign of of proof of life. So things are moving forward. But we're not going to probably have a nasal vaccine in this country till at best latter part of next year. And coronavirus vaccines will take even longer.

S1: You know , I mean , it seems like that would be one's first intuition is to create a pan vaccine and then even nasal vaccines. Why do you think that wasn't the first thing the medical community or pharmacists or drug companies , rather , That's that's more pointed went to.

S2: Great point , Jade , that you're getting at because what I think most people would prefer a vaccine that not just helps block severe Covid hospitalizations and deaths but really gets that blocking the infections so you feel safe wherever you are that you're not at risk. And the nasal vaccines have the best shot to do that. The historic problem is we only have one nasal vaccine out there and it's FluMist , and it's not that effective. But none of the shots for flu are all that effective either. So that has tainted the pharmaceutical companies to go after this. But there's already been some success stories. There's already a vaccine that's being used in India , a booster nasal vaccine that's got good data on the immune response already and is out there in large numbers of people. There's many more that could go forward , some from the United States. So the funding from this new project , next gen could help us finally get to a nasal vaccine. And also , we have many candidates for a pan coronavirus vaccine that would knock out all these variants in the years ahead. But that will take longer just because to nail it down that it really works against whatever you can do to mutate this virus , which we've learned a lot of different things that it has a chance to to fend off all the future strains of this coronavirus. So eventually we should get these added beneficial tools to help protect all of us against Covid in the future. But unfortunately , it's taken too long for various reasons.


S2: That one just doesn't match up well with where the virus is today. So it might give a bit more protection just because it kind of wakes up the immune system to respond. But it isn't really close to where the virus has evolved. So waiting a few weeks , particularly in people who are 65 and older or immunocompromised , they're going to benefit from getting the new booster.

S1: Now , aside from Covid flu and RSV have also been major concerns this time of year.

S2: Host to Covid. These are seasonal , as you can predict , when they're going to hit and the duration of the season. So that's good because you can tie the vaccine knowing that we have for the first time RSV vaccines approved for people who are older and for pregnant women. And also , of course , we've had flu shots , which we hope will align that , always trying to predict where the flu is going to evolve the new strain. But we have ways to protect , particularly particularly people who are at risk. And the RSV is a breakthrough just because since 1956 , when this virus was first discovered , we've never had a vaccine , and now we have an approved vaccine with one shot with high efficacy. So for people at risk and of course , for infants , this is an important advance.

S1: Are there any public health measures you'd like to see people put back in place or at least consider as we move forward to the end of the year ? Yeah.

S2: Well , I know one of the things you're thinking about is masks and you know , they are one really good way that works against all these viruses. These are all respiratory viruses. So that's one thing , particularly high quality in 95 and 95 masks. The other things , of course , are ventilation , whereby if you're in offices or places that are congregating , people that that it has really good ventilation , air filtration , that's really quite important. We don't pay enough attention to it avoiding , you know , when you can those kind of places in crowds is useful to when it's possible. So we know all the the different strategies that will help mitigate exposure to respiratory viruses. The problem is a lot of people just don't take that seriously.


S2: It's not done with us. And we have to really take this virus seriously. It will be out there as a continual threat for years to come. And if this current BA 2.86 that we're concerned about , if that doesn't turn out to be the one , we may well see the one , you know , in the next year or two that causes a major wave of infections across the globe. So people who think this thing is over , they just have it wrong. Jade It's not anywhere close to being over. The only thing we can hope is have as much quiet time as possible , which basically we were able to enjoy from March until now. The longer those periods of the virus being relatively contained , the better.

S1: Sounds like we all need to continue exercising caution here. I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. Dr. Topol , as always , thank you so much for joining us.

S3: Thank you , Jade.

S1: Do you have any questions for ? Dr. Eric Topol will share them on the show. Give us a call at (619) 452-0228. You can leave a message or you can email us at midday at Coming up , the reason behind yearlong delays to get a passport or global entry pass.

S4: After everything was kind of put on pause. It's created this real influx that's that's leading to longer wait times.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back to Midday Edition. I'm Jade Heinemann. Travel this summer came back in a big way , especially international travel , which has seen significant increases after a dormant few years during the coronavirus pandemic that really limited international travel for a lot of people. But the increased demand has led to longer than normal wait times for passports and other travel documents , causing headaches for many international travelers , particularly here in San Diego. And now government agencies and leaders are starting to respond. Here to tell us more is Axios San Diego reporter Kate Murphy. Kate , welcome to Midday Edition.

S4: Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

S1: Glad to have you here.

S4: So since March , it now takes 10 to 13 weeks for routine processing times. And then you can add expect to add up to four weeks on top of that for mailing time. And so previously , you know , before this kind of influx of of applications and requests in January , the routine was was 6 to 9 weeks. To kind of put that in perspective.

S1: That is a huge difference. So what is behind the backlog.

S4: Really , the the surging demand for international travel this year has contributed to this backlog that has led the State Department to increase those processing times. And so they've said that they're getting half a million applications a week for passports earlier this spring , which is a 30 to 40% increase from last year , which is a pretty dramatic rise. And the demand this year is expected to break last year's record as well , which was nearly 22 million passports. So it's really that , you know , people are looking to travel again. They want to go to these international destinations. And , you know , after everything was kind of put on pause , it's created this real influx that's that's leading to longer wait times. Wow.

S1: Wow. And while travelers can expedite their passport application , there are limitations to that and even added delays.

S4: It's taking 7 to 9 weeks instead of the typical 3 to 5 weeks for expedited passports and there's a $60 fee. And you can also pay more to get faster shipping and delivery , which could cut back that mailing time. But it's still it's still a long process.

S1: I mean.

S4: But there's only so much you can do when when the process is kind of out of your hands. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Wow.

S4: They can they sort of act as a liaison with the State Department. And so they can help residents who have either pending passport applications and upcoming travel to get through the process faster. They can flag a case to the State Department. They can ask for an earlier appointment date for someone and just share travel information that kind of can can speed up the process for for someone who has an upcoming trip. Definitely it's it's a you know , they're also receiving an influx of those requests more than kind of in years before. And so it is it's tougher right now for them to secure new appointments. And they're really only kind of looking at passport cases where there's urgent situations in cases of life or death emergencies or if , you know , a family member has died and there's kind of that more urgent travel versus just a vacation and certainly proper documentation is required for that. But there are definitely one outlet , a resource that we have that we can use , and there are also private like third party vendors. One is called Rush My Passport , and you can pay , you know , $600 to try to get your passport in two weeks or 800 to get it , you know , by next week. But even that is still going to have a delay. So it's kind of hard to tell even when you're , you know , paying a lot of extra money , how quickly , how much you can really. Expedite that process depending on how soon your trip is. Wow.

S1: Wow. And passports aren't the only things facing a delay. You also reported on delays with the global entry program. Can you explain what that program is and why it is so important for a lot of people here in San Diego ? Yeah.

S4: So the Global Entry program is a US Customs and Border Protection program that basically offers expedited clearance for pre-approved low risk travelers when they arrive in the United States. So it's designed to speed up re-entry after international trips and travelers use automatic kiosks instead of waiting in those long customs lines. And , you know , I think the problem with global entry here is that , you know , is really the time it takes to get an appointment or an in-person interview , which is the last step in that application process. And I mean , it seems like just part of that demand is because international travel is so accessible and prevalent here at the US-Mexico border. So , you know , whether it's people going away for weekend trips or , you know , commutes , I mean , people live and work and on both sides of the border. And so there's just at such a busy port of entry , San Diego is kind of like going to have that. It sort of makes sense that that demand would be higher here compared to other cities across the country.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. I'm speaking with Axios San Diego reporter Kate Murphy about the increased delays in passports we're seeing in San Diego and across the country. And I want to turn the conversation now to government agencies. I mean , what's being done to address the backlog of passport and global entry applications for travelers ? Kate ? Yeah.

S4: So right now , I mean , especially for for global entry here locally , it's , you know , the next available appointment isn't until June of next year. And so , you know , as we're seeing kind of the I mean , the government is well aware of these delays. They're trying to provide us with a lot of information to , I think , you know , temper our expectations. And , you know , in addition to our representatives in Congress being able to help us , you know , I can't really speak to a ton of the improved processes , but I know that the State Department has has told Axios that it's working to get back to pre-pandemic processing times by the end of the year. And they're doing that by authorizing , you know , tens of thousands of overtime hours for staffers , hiring additional staff , even bringing in volunteers to work through these applications. They've been doing that throughout the this past spring and summer. And the National Passport Information Center has also tripled its available phone help lines and now offers weekend services , which we've also seen locally in San Diego with local governments , agencies , you know , trying to keep up with that demand and sort of extend services and add more appointments to their to their calendar.


S4: You know , once they're each at different steps in the process. But I know that at least locally , our Congress members have been able to secure new appointments for people and get them their passports before their upcoming travel in hundreds of cases here locally. So we do know that it it is helping in some cases. Again , a lot of those are for more urgent and emergency situations rather than just traditional , you know , international vacations.

S1: I'm also wondering if you're seeing any silver lining here in terms of the government improving how these documents can be processed more efficiently. I mean , for example , when I renewed my passport , I was surprised when they wouldn't allow me to pay for the passport application with my debit card. And there are other forms of payment they won't accept either.

S4: Thankfully , the I mean , at least locally , the city of San Diego clerk can issue a money order for a small fee if you're using the passport services downtown. But yeah , I mean , it really is hard to it's hard to know what that silver lining might be. And and the timeline really is unclear on when this will improve other than , you know , their goal to kind of get back to to normal processing times by the end of this year. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Do you have any suggestions or tips for travelers looking to get a passport or sentry card right now ? Yeah.

S4: The number one thing I think is just plan ahead and check early and often for appointment openings. Certainly with the the global entry , people do cancel their appointments and those slots open up online. So it's a really good practice to if you're you know you know you have upcoming travel to check the website on weekday mornings , especially on Mondays for those random openings as long as you can be flexible. And San Diego's also lucky to have two two sites for global entry , one at the airport. So in some cases , travelers who are already in the system and have pending approval can complete their in-person interviews on site at the airport without having one of those pre-scheduled appointments. So if you're lucky enough to kind of have have that align , it's definitely a good option. But absolutely check other countries rolls. Make sure your passport's up to date. If you're even thinking about taking a weekend trip , you know , down to Mexico , Mexico , or flying to another international destination , do.

S1: You think that people perhaps might have better luck just showing up at the passport office rather than waiting for an appointment ? I mean , surely sometimes appointments get cancelled or missed.

S4: I think really the in-person services are going to be for urgent international travel , like within 14 days or for foreign visas. And so I think , you know , it might be worth a shot. But definitely checking online for those those cancellations that kind of pop up could be could be a better bet. It's really hard to say. Or maybe you might have a nice , nice employee who's willing to let you slip in , but it's hard to say.

S1: I've been speaking with Kate Murphy , reporter with Axios San Diego. And Kate , thank you so much for joining us.

S4: Thanks for having me.

S1: Coming up , an excerpt from the Cinema Junkie podcast about TCM underground films. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. TCM Underground was recently canceled , but for more than 15 years , it showcased films that had been ignored , underappreciated or misunderstood. Former TCM programmer Millie Derecho and Quinton Murray recently wrote a book called TCM Underground 50 Must see films from the world of Classic Cult and Late Night cinema. Kpbs Cinema junkie Beth Accomando spoke with Derecho about what films qualify as underground.

S5: So Millie , you have a new book , TCM Underground 50 Must-See Films. So first of all , let's just kind of lay the ground rules down for what kind of films actually qualify for this TCM underground label.

S6: When I was programming the franchise , I was just trying to cast a wide net of possible titles. A lot of it was kind of from that kind of standard cult canon. So , you know , directors that we all know and love , like David Lynch and Ed Wood and John Waters and , you know , Roger Corman films and whatnot. But over the years , I think I was trying to expand it a little bit and try to pull in some quirky melodramas and some offbeat comedies. So I was just trying to kind of create like a big pool to choose from. And at this point , I feel like that's kind of the the thing that really unites the titles that have aired. And there was over 400 or something by the end of it. But I feel like it's anything that's just kind of a little off offbeat and interesting and various levels of cult , obviously , but they all kind of just fit into this like , late night attitude.

S5: Well , I just love kind of the diversity of the films that are in there because , you know , you have some that are , I think , underappreciated and incredibly well-made , like honeymoon killers. But then you also have some stuff that's , you know , Hollywood produced with studios and much more mainstream. So kind of what were some of the films that you really wanted to see included in this.

S6: Between Toy and I ? I felt like , you know , we have our own sort of personal experience with films , but also , you know , we're women of color. And so we thought , okay , well , we definitely gravitate towards that. We we a lot of the films that we featured were either made by women or queer filmmaker or people of color. So it was just that kind of thing. And that wasn't really intentional necessarily , but it was like we have an opportunity to kind of go through the list and pick films and why don't we talk about something like this versus , again , something that had been talked about a lot already. And you're right. I mean , some of these movies are really obscure. Like I think the pyramid is a perfect example of that. Have you ever.

S7: Experienced your own death , any of you ? You should try it sometime.

S8: Believe there is magic. Real magic.

S6: You know , that's something that had aired on TCM Underground a long time ago , but it's hard for people to watch because it was just not really out there for people to rent or whatnot. And that one in particular , I think people have told me about as being like a pretty obscure pick. But then when we had the opportunity to write about a John Walters movie , I was like , Well , why don't we ? Why not ? You know , talk about Polyester , which is actually his most commercial film. Like at that point , like he had , you know , of course , made like Pink Flamingos. But Polyester was the first one where he actually got like a big studio budget. And because it just felt to me like , well , if everyone's going to talk about Pink Flamingos , then like , maybe we can talk about polyester , which I actually think is has a lot more transgressive moments , if you will , than lot than a lot of people would maybe think.

S9: Oh , you didn't die right. In the act of adultery. Well , I won't stand for this , Helmer. I want a divorce and a big fat settlement to go along with it.

S6: Like I said , we were trying to cover a spread , and there's definitely different , like , levels of filmmaking and levels of money , I guess , involved. So.

S5: And tell people how the book is divided up because you kind of grouped the films in categories , not exactly genres , but kind of into some subcategories. Yeah.

S6: Yeah. You know , it's funny because we went back and forth a little bit about how to arrange the book because obviously a big student of these types of books , right ? So I grew up reading like the Danny Perry cult movies , books and , you know , the psychotropic kind of film. And , you know , I was really about film reference guides because , you know , I grew up in the era before the Internet , so that's all I had. And a lot of those books were alphabetical , right ? And so when we came to this book and trying to set on how to organize it , we thought , okay , well , we could just do it alphabetically. Sure. But I think me being a programmer , it just was sort of like , well , I like arranging things by themes , really. And you're right , it's not like specifically by genre , but we went through the list and we did see some like commonalities between titles. You know , some of them are more broad than others. Like there's a big section that's just kind of like mine shelters and strange films , and that's kind of a catchall for a lot of different things. But then , you know , we do have , you know , films like a section that's specifically about crime and , you know , specifically about , I guess , like melodrama. It was just fun to do it that way. I think it makes it kind of interesting. It allows people to kind of like pop around a little bit more than I think if it was alphabetical.

S5: Well , it's also the kind of thing where. If you want to try and find something you haven't seen and you're in a certain mood , it's nice because you can go like , Oh yeah , I kind of want to see something like horror. And then you have the Fright Club section with some really nice diverse selections in there , but then you can kind of pick your , your mood to match what you might be looking for.

S6: Oh , definitely. Like , sometimes , yeah , you're definitely in the mood to be scared and you just pop over to that section or sometimes you're just like , Well , I just want to watch something weird and maybe like , I'll head to the weird section and then watch like head by , you know , the monkey's head or whatever.

S10: The monkeys. Micky. Davy. Mike. Peter in head. That's right , Head. What's it all about ? Only Victor matures. Hairdresser knows for sure.


S6: So it's kind of cool that you could do that with the book.

S5: Well , talking about one of the ones that's kind of the mind melter is weird ones that's out there. The belladonna of sadness is one that I don't think gets talked about or appreciated as much as it should.

UU: I'll cook soup for the. Hello.

S6: Yeah , I mean it's such a such a interesting animated film and we were really , really thankful to have the opportunity to play that restored version when it came out. And I just think it's such a gem. There's just so many people that have discovered it for the first time only recently , and the animation style is unreal. It's just so lyrical and beautiful and I know that the story itself is kind of hard to process sometimes , but the when you match that tone with kind of like what you're seeing , it just creates this like , you know , really interesting sort of dichotomy of , of content. But then the style. Yeah , I mean , it's just it's such a cool movie that I really , really just feel like a lot of people haven't seen it and should , you know.


S6: And , you know , I would hang out at the video stores that I would frequent and just like listen to people talk like listen to people come in the video store and talk about like their favorite movies. And it was it was just sort of like everything. I just wanted to be around it. And then I watched a lot of TV at the time , you know , there wasn't a ton of cable channels , but , you know , some of them had like late night stuff. And then HBO , of course , was a huge thing for me.

S5: So and just to reference another one of the categories , I do love the domestic disturbances because this brings together like a lot of films that maybe wouldn't always be grouped together. But I mean , these are wonderful. You've got polyester and eating Raoul and possession and remember my name and then Secret ceremony.

S7: Secret ceremony. A tense , suspenseful drama of human desire in its deepest , most sinister aspect.

S8: But then she's still a child.

S11: Can she ? A child ? Oh , that's. Disgusting.

S6: Disgusting. Yeah. This was , you know , obviously like a section that I was very involved in because I , I like melodrama and even the classic stuff , like the Douglas Sirk stuff. And , you know , I love a Joan Crawford 50s vibe. And but I felt like there were certain titles that I think were sort of generally categorized as like a horror film like Butcher Baker , Nightmare Maker.

S7: An unsuspecting boy comes home to murder. Suddenly his life becomes a nightmare. Did you kill him ? No. Was it the vicious act of a tormented stranger , or is it someone close to home caught in a web of bloody horror ? He must find the truth or be the next victim. A chilling nightmare explodes in pure terror. See Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker Rated R starts Friday at a theater near you.

S6: It was kind of like , well , this movie also kind of a melodrama , too , because it deals with like an aunt and her nephew. And there's kind of this , um , this kind of melodramatic element to it because she is like , mean , you know , it kind of delves in that sort of Grand Guignol theme , which is , you know , an older woman who's trying to trap somebody that she loves , right ? And I'm like , that is a function of melodrama as well as horror , right ? And so I felt like , okay , well , a lot of these movies are weird melodramas. And the same thing with Secret Ceremony , which I mean , I wouldn't say that Secret Ceremony is a straight up horror film , but that movie is very strange. And it it definitely deals with family.




S6: And so and the other thing about it is that these are largely stories about women , too , which melodrama I think was maligned for so long because they were women's pictures and they were about women's stories and stuff. So I kind of wanted to like reclaim a little bit of that and say , well , you know , these are actually like really interesting , compelling , deeply strange titles sometimes , even though they're sort of like pushed off into like that melodrama category and a lot.

S5: Of these films to feel like they feel like comfort food in a sort of way. They're the films that you return to because there is something and I think there's also something special about films that don't have everything at their disposal in terms of budget and studio backing that makes what they've accomplished kind of like all the more wonderful to appreciate.

S6: Yeah , I mean , you know , there's a couple of these films that I sort of watch sort of semi-regularly like I always try to watch the salad partner at Christmas just because it feels like you have to. The world of that movie is really interesting and it's kind of cozy because it takes place during Christmas time , even though there's like a huge crime going on. But but then there are stuff like like when you watch The World's Greatest Sinner , that movie is kind of inspiring because it is truly like one man. Singular vision may not be 100% watchable at every moment , but it's sort of the audacity of it , in a weird way , is it's just sort of like part of why you're there. So yeah , it's different , different tones. I mean , it's like , like , like some of these movies. Yeah , they maybe are hard to watch over and over and over again , but sometimes just like watching something a little rough around the edges or something that's just very specifically like one person's vision at all costs is fascinating.

S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with author Emily Derecho. You can hear the full interview at Kpbs. Org slash Cinema junkie. That's it for today's Midday edition. And if you ever miss a show , you can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening.

A man gets the COVID-19 vaccine at San Diego County's "Vaccination Superstation" in Chula Vista, Calif. Jan. 21, 2021.
Roland Lizarondo
A man gets the COVID-19 vaccine at San Diego County's "Vaccination Superstation" in Chula Vista, Calif. Jan. 21, 2021.

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