Commentary: Aquarium Park, Freedom of Movement, Shinto and Superplays

At long last, after two weeks, the accompanying commentary for my Sonic Generations Aquarium Park superplay is finally up on my YouTube channel thanks to me spending the weekend in a place with a dramatically better Internet connection than where I live.

I talk about it in the video, but this was originally meant to be cut from outtakes of the recording session for the original superplay video, but in the end I recorded a whole new session just for this commentary. That wound up being good though, as I learned a few more tricks and techniques between the recording of that video and this one that I think makes the run I close out with here better than the one I uploaded before! Other topics of conversation include parkour, the discipline of training, movement and Japanese spiritual philosophy.

The video itself is kind of a hybrid experiment for me. I've been told working from more of a defined a script would do me well, so I wrote one this time. I vastly underestimated how far 3000 words would get me though, so the back 2/3 is completely off-the-cuff and extemporaneous, which should provide a nice contrast! I ...

The Proverbs of Hell 14/39: Kaiseki

KAISEKI: An umbrella term for multi-course meals in the Japanese style - roughly equivalent to what renaming “Apéritif” to “Haute Cuisine” would imply. The gesture towards the whole season makes sense for an episode that opens with a flash forward to the finale. (I should disclaim that my knowledge of Japanese cooking is wildly less than my knowledge of French cooking, and that I’m going to be much more reliant on Wikipedia for these than I was for the first 13 parts.)

The flashforward to the Jack/Hannibal fight scene from “Mizumono” is interesting. The flash forward in general was trendy in television around this time, mostly due to the influence of Breaking Bad, which used them habitually. But Breaking Bad’s default use of them was cryptic - they’d show short flashes of something that would hang over episodes or seasons as a mystery. This, on the other hand, is more of a promise at the expense of suspense. Hannibal pledges up front that Jack is going to figure out what Hannibal is up to, thus reassuring viewers before the season even starts that all of this business with Will being in prison will eventually be over. This has obvious narrative ...

Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain

Regular blog post on Tuesday again this week, due to another round of shilling for friends. In my defense, I try to only befriend cool talented people.

Anyway, you may remember David Gerard, with whom I cut the first of the podcast series promotiong Neoreaction a Basilisk. He was my beta reader on the book, and a longtime Internet friend and coconspirator. Among the many things David does is help run RationalWiki, where he righteously and snarkily skewers all sorts of bullshit artists. And one of the more interesting things I'd seen him skewer was Bitcoin. So a while back I suggested to him that he should write a short book explaining why Bitcoin was not, in fact, the money of the future. I was imagining something 30k tops that just laid out the case for why Bitcoin is bullshit. Instead he wrote a full-length book that releases today: Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain.

Instead he went off and wrote a beautifully thorough overview of Bitcoin that not only establishes the sheer number of scam artists and crooks surrounding Bitcoin and the larger notion of blockchains, but also establishes how utterly and hilariously stupid almost everything around ...

This Post Has No Title

Someone - I think it was Nick Mamatas - recently made a sarcastic Facebook or Twitter post, expressing mock-surprise that a “multi-million dollar Hollywood movie isn’t the Communist Manifesto” (or words to that effect).  The thing being mocked there is the way in which it seems that some on the Left will criticise an expensive (and, the studios hope, profitable) product of the mass-market corporate capitalist culture industries for not being something it was obviously never going to be, and never could be. 

As it turned out - for a host of complex and contingent historical reasons - cinema and television became almost-overwhelmingly comforting and placating instantiations of the spectacle.  Every now and again a big movie will come along, like Mad Max Fury Road or (I’d argue) Prometheus, which contains aspects of radical critique within its aesthetic and/or thematics.  But firstly, this happens rarely, and only when a host of other factors constellate.  Based on the cited examples, I’d be tempted to suggest that franchises and auteurs have something to do with it, which is interesting, as is the way those two things are clearly related in the mentioned cases.  In any event, both films are akin to aberrations which can ...

Permanent Saturday: Oracle Bone

“There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit-love.”
-Morihei Ueshiba
Simple pleasures for simple minds, so the saying goes. Many a joke over the years has been made at the expense of Odie's celebrated idiocy, surely to the delight of Garfield's Cat Person target demographic everywhere. And truth be known Odie is not a particularly complex being: Not so much irrational or prerational as nonrational, Odie is guided by mere existence. He doesn't stop to let his superego overanlyse his actions largely because it's not entirely clear he has a superego. Certainly Odie will never be in any danger of being paralyzed by an overactive mind. Within Garfield's Funny Animal satire of modernity, Odie offers the biggest challenge by being the biggest diegetic commentary on the strip's fundamental artifice: Odie is the one animal character who acts in accordance with stereotypical Western ideas about animal minds-Pure, unthinking, instinctual being.
Certain schools of Taoism and Advaita Vedanta Hinduism would probably find a lot of commonality with Odie. As the embodiment of pure “I Exist”, his character lends itself well to being read as ...

A Consistently Inaccurately Named Trilogy Part III: Looper

Looper is a flawed film in ways that neither Brick nor The Brothers Bloom were. This is not to say that it’s a bad film; it’s not at all. But after two films that were notable in part for their impressively taut discipline the fundamental sloppiness of Looper stands out. There’s not a lot that follows from this - everybody who’s made more than one film has a worst film, after all, and most directors have one that’s far worse than this. There’s still a number of things it does well, and well in ways that confirm where Johnson’s talents lie. There’s just also whacking big problems, most of which have a reasonably obvious source.

The biggest and most fundamental problem is that the join between two halves of a script completed at very different times. The first hour - basically everything up through the diner scene - was written in 2008 during the shooting of The Brothers Bloom. The second half, starting with Sara’s introduction, came in 2009. And it shows. The first half is a well constructed film about a man in gripping contact with his older self. The second half, on the other hand, is a well constructed film about ...

New Podcast Theme Song: Stranger

Those who listened to our Doctor Who podcast series will have noticed that I had new theme music this year. Some also noticed that I never actually said what it was. My stock answer was that it was a secret transmission from the future.

The future is here. 

Seeming's new album, Sol, is out on August 4th. You can pre-order it here. It's absolutely incredible, and like nothing else you've ever heard. I'll be talking more about it and how it's the secret soundtrack to Neoreaction a Basilisk closer to when it's out, but for now let's all just enthusiastically watch that video again and again.

(Oh, and if you don't know Sammus, the guest vocalist on "Stranger," she's absolutely phenomenal as well and you should check her music out. Her new one, Pieces in Space, is brilliant, but her older more nerdcore stuff is solid as well.)

Sunday Pancaking (July 16th, 2017)

OK. First off, announcements. The Patreon very did not hit $320, so no Game of Thrones reviews. It's currently at $295; if it gets back to $300, I'll do a season wrap-up post. You can contribute here.

This week's post will be on Tuesday, as there's a small but very fun thing to announce tomorrow. I'm going with the teaser "the future arrives" for that one.

Which brings us to the news of the day, which is that Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor and the Chibnall era might be worth getting excited for after all. Discuss amongst yourselves in comments. I'll be moderating the fuck out of sexist trolls, including deleting all replies to them. So go ahead and enjoy a comment section free of that shit. 

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