Brave-Ish Heart

Still not a spectacular insta-classic, but at least it’s an episode that stays away from most of the obvious things it could be as well. The double-threat structure means that there’s building momentum at all moments of the plot, which is good. Less good is the no-doubt budget-required decision to have two of the three plot strands consist of people standing in a room urgently discussing the plot. The biggest problem here is probably the strand consisting of Tanya and her parents, which ends up being in the kind of awkwardly stupid position of ineffectually relaying information between the two actual plots. But none of the plots are particularly high on urgency - it’s a significant problem that the flowers plot requires Dorothea to simply declare that they’re running out of time in order to garner momentum, and a pretty big one that Ram and April are essentially left with nothing to do but walk around for most of the episode.

So that’s what keeps it just shy of genius. On the other hand, however, there’s what the show always has, which is a dogged determination to be interesting. For instance, Ram and April’s relationship continues to be pitched well. It’s ...

Discussing Trumpism

I'm sorry I haven't been producing more content lately, either in written or podcast form. I've got a new Consider the Ray Gun about 95% done, discussing Dune with James Murphy, and the next Searching For Fuchal has been recorded, although I haven't even begun to edit yet. I've also got an upcoming Oi! Spaceman on The Space Museum, and it looks like 2017 is going to be the year I take a systematic look at Quentin Tarantino and other 90s-vintage indie filmmakers. 

Jack, Kit, and I had been planning to do a US election podcast for the last couple of weeks, and suffice it to say this is not the episode I was hoping to produce. This was recorded late Friday night, and I think all three of us consider this to be a bit of a rough conversation about the issues discussed here, rather than a nuanced and final opinion on them. We chat about whether Trump's presidency will be truly fascist (probably not), how opinion polling failed, the meaning of the safety pin, systemic issues with late-stage capitalism, and my experiences in dipping into the Fash the Nation podcast. It ...

Faeces on Trump 1

My response to the victory of blithering pea-brained plutocrat Donald J. Trump in the recent US Presidential election just kept getting longer and longer.  So I’ll have to split it up into sections and post them separately.  Here’s the first bit:

 

There was, of course, the initial opening flurry of Oh Shits and What the Fucks and You’ve Got To Be Fucking Kiddings.  And quite right too.  (Though Michael Moore predicted Trump’s victory, even if his analysis is deeply flawed.) 

Then there were other equally predictable things.  The orgy of masochistic doom-and-gloomery, for instance.  (Again, not unjustified.  It’s gonna be an awful 8 years, amongst other things.)  We can forgive most of the hyperbolic and rhetorical That’s It, I’m Moving To Canadas, precisely because they were hyperbolic and rhetorical.  The sentiment may, at bottom, be selfish and short-sighted, but it’s no more so than a cry of “If my parents find out about this I’m dead!” from a kid who’s been caught smoking weed by a teacher.  (Conversely, the odious Katie Hopkins says she’ll now move to America… which puts me in a horrible dilemma.) 

We also had the spectacle of some people ...

Site Editorial 11/10/16

The Tower, at its most optimistic (which is not very) offers the destruction of illusions. I don’t know about you, but I feel like burning some shit down.

First, then: nobody is to blame for Trump’s election save for the people who voted for him. A failed resistance is not at fault for the actions it tried to prevent. Everyone in the circular firing squad is in the end wrong. The awful truth is that there is nothing you could have done to stop him. Let’s start, then, by jettisoning the illusion that said otherwise. The arc of the moral universe does not bend towards justice. The moral universe has no arc. The moral universe does not even exist. History is a butcher without face or agency - a thing that simply happens to people. There is no individual level response to it. Your relationship to history is not one of subject to narrative, but of meat to predator.

Accordingly, there is no refuge to be found in any of the liberal platitudes offered as possible modes of resistance. There is no benefit to be found in giving him an open mind. There is no point in appealing to the checks ...

The Flowers in the Dustbin (Super Mario 64)

No comics reviews this week. I just can't. We'll see about next week when we get there, but I was thinking of winding down the feature anyway, so peg your expectations accordingly. Instead, here's this week's Super Nintendo Project.

The future arrived in late September 1996, untethered to any major gift-giving occasion. My assumption in hindsight is that my mother, giddily triumphant after scoring one on the sly and apparently correct logic that Toy Works was still a place that would get a shipment but was not a place where they’d sell out in thirty seconds, couldn’t resist giving it to me immediately. It seems as though I must have known the Nintendo 64 was coming, just because it’s hard to imagine myself as a person who didn’t know things like that a new Nintendo console was coming out, but I honestly can’t even remember a trace of anticipation for the future. Perhaps that’s just where I was in late 1996. Certainly it was something of a low point for me, as adolescent depression’s teeth sunk in deepest and my academic performance began to degrade in the face of a simple and blunt inability to drag ...

Hyrule Haeresis 4

Blasphemy, they would have said.

The story of handhelds is the secret story of the video game industry. Always overlooked in conversations about “bit eras” and “hardware cycles” and “console generations”, the handheld side of the medium has from the start been relegated to the kiddie table of the master narrative of history. This is in spite, or perhaps because, of the fact that until quite recently handhelds were the best selling consoles on the market, and even today the “casual gamer” epithet is applied almost exclusively to those who are in possession of smartphones and tablets (that is, roughly 100% of the populace).

It is perhaps not altogether difficult to see why: Accessibility was always going to be a sticking point for a culture fundamentally built around the exclusivity of privilege necessary to have the latest up-to-date technology at any given time, and handhelds are built to be accessible, using older, established kit in inventive new form factors to keep costs down and ergonomics up. And there's nothing gamers fear and despise more than low cost and ergonomic, for to them such things comprise the mark of the weak-willed and the infidel. So shunned was the Game Boy ...

Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart

Judging the first part of a two-parter is always a pain in the neck. (Remember when I thought Under the Lake had promise?) And there are other factors complicating this, like the nagging worry that Class isn’t ever going to transcend the fact that you can snarkily describe it as “The Sarah Jane Adventures with fucking.” Certainly we’re in familiar territory here, both in general and for Class, which is to say that we’re running through a fairly standard set of genre paces with a couple of unique spins. In this case, the basic mode is the mid-season finale, with the most obvious model being the “Surprise/Innocence” two-parter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Class is at least consistently good at throwing itself into whatever it’s doing with zeal, and so four episodes in its reliance on old standards has consistently been outshone by the flare with which they’re being done. All the same, my fondest and most adamant hope for the second part of this, or at least for something in the back half of the season, is that we get an episode that’s actually doing something new instead of adding a bit of spice to a ...

Shabcast 27 - 2016 US Presidential Election Special

Sorry about missing Thursday, but here it is (better late than never).

This time, I'm joined by Kit Power to chat about two Stephen King novels, The Dead Zone and The Running Man, and their respective film adaptations. 

Kit and I think these stories have some application to issues of the day.  See what you think.

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