Permanent Saturday: Really big at the box office

With deepest apologies to Chris Stangl, Permanent Saturday is a semiregular critical exploration of Jim Davis' comic strips Garfield and U.S. Acres/Orson's Farm.

Garfield and Friends was well known for its referential and self-aware style of comedy. Much of the humour from the second season onward was gleaned from poking fun at both pop culture and the capitalist industry that creates it thanks to its head writer Mark Evanier. Evanier is a veteran Hollywood jobbing scribe who was born, raised and still lives in Los Angeles, so he brings a very unique perspective to Garfield. For Evanier, celebrities and entertainers were his neighbours and fellow community members, and the business of making movies was the local industry. So when Garfield and Friends makes a joke about Hollywood agents or breaks the fourth wall and treats the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show as just another piece of primetime network television, this is not the series being especially perceptive and postmodern as much as it is Mark Evanier looking for inspiration in the people and things around him, and writing what he knows.

(Indeed, Mark Evanier's secondary role as voice director is responsible for another thing Garfield and Friends ...

Build High for Happiness 8: Jerusalem (2016)

such rich centers of possibilities and meanings

There is of course no other way this could end, which is fitting given that one of the (many) things Jerusalem is about is predestination. Moore’s vision of the world is closely related to the one we’ve been exhaustively exploring throughout this series. He does not actually use the word hypercube (and indeed envisions the structure in even higher dimensions), but it’s nevertheless clearly what’s going on. And though it would be wrong to describe it as a prison (he’s ultimately too optimistic for that), the multidimensional superstructure in which he places us is nevertheless utterly inescapable. As Moore imagines it, reality is a fixed solid existing in at least four dimensions, in which all events are fixed, and human consciousnesses simply experience their lives on endless repeat, passing through their allotted portion of the structure over and over again, experiencing the same unchanging lives each time.

This poses several problems, of which the loss of free will is only one, and a fairly minor one at that. Some are acknowledged by Moore, either within Jerusalem itself or in interviews, most notably the apparent loss of any moral perspective. Moore, being a monstrously ...

Saturday Waffling (January 21st, 2017)

Two quick orders of business.

1) As part of the release of Articles of Secession (which, if you missed that yesterday, do check out), we made a 50-copy print run of the zine with the extended text of the piece. Forty-nine of these were distributed around Ithaca. The fiftieth is now on eBay, with proceeds going to charity. For the purposes of people who aren't in Ithaca, this is basically a print edition of one, so go get yourself some bragging rights and some disenfranchised Ithacans some groceries.

2) Jack has opened a Patreon of his own. If you like Jack's work here, and of course you do because Jack is fucking awesome, you should go support it. 

How's everyone holding up?

Articles of Secession

A spoken word piece by the Seeming, Meredith Collins, and myself, and the inaugural release of the Ithaca Psychogeographic Liberation Front.

Download the song along with a PDF zine containing an extended version of the text here. It's name your own price, and all proceeds will go to locally based charities dedicated to safety and opportunity for disenfranchised people. 

The Comprehensive History of Injustice

A guest post by Seth Aaron Hershman.

...the entire world might be poisoned. This, however, seemed unlikely, as the world, no matter how monstrously it may be threatened, has never been known to succumb entirely.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a book series, and currently a Netflix show, about three orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are chased from place to place by a man named Count Olaf who manipulates (and if necessary knocks off) anyone who might try to take them in so that he can have them--and their inheritance/trust fund--for himself.

Count Olaf is a rich man looking to get richer, who relies on transparent lies and cheap theatrics to get his way, casually uses and discards people, has a roughly third-grade literacy and vocabulary level, and works in entertainment.

It’d be easy to go that route, wouldn’t it?

The issue of timeliness is a difficult one for A Series of Unfortunate Events, a franchise which actively avoids setting itself in a specific era in a way that should be familiar to fans of, say, Archer or Batman: The Animated Series. Because the series goes out of its way not to take place in any ...

The Nintendo Switch Presentation: The Beginning and the End

Here's the thing about cycles. The wheel turns, but that does not imply that history will repeat wholecloth. Time, of course, does not exist. History doubly so: History is a patriarchal fiction. There are endings and new beginnings as the seasons change. Recognisable archetypes reiterate and reincarnate, but each spin of the wheel is an event of its own. Impermanence is all part of the cycle.
 
We in video game journalism appropriate some of this truth when we use terms like “hardware cycles” to describe the passing of the console generational torch (“generation” and “torch”, of course, both being metaphors taken from patriarchal master narratives). Video game consoles do not so much go out of date as they get supplanted. A history of invasions and conquests, or a season for everything?
 
Were I to do this normally, I would go through my notes and recap the Nintendo Switch Reveal Event Presentation beat-for-beat. But on this occasion, normality doesn't seem appropriate. Nintendo did indeed flip a Switch with this event, but I doubt highly it's the Switch they wanted to flip. Over the course of about an hour, my entire world was turned on its head ...

Build High for Happiness 7: The Witch (2015)

wandering in subterranean catacombs forbidden to the public

Many roads lead here, but we are unmistakably off the map. Like High-Rise, Robert Eggers’s film is firmly rooted in both place and location: the edge of a New England forest during the Puritan era. This in turn situates it a mere step away from A Field in England. Other distant reflections will flicker through the trees as we progress. Make no mistake, however, Whatever this belongs to, it is not our comfortable hypercube, with its cool brutality. This is somewhere else. Somewhere the land is cursed. Where the crops wither, the hunts fail, and the beasts turn against their masters. Where the sky is as stark as the muddy, useless soil. And that’s outside of the forest. Within its canopies there are even more horrors to be had.

At the heart of this malaise is the eponymous witch, a fact that led to an easily dismissed but frustratingly widespread reading of the film as somehow concerned with validating Puritan anxieties. It is tempting to dismiss this by asking whether this logic applies to all horror movies, or to point out that for all the film commits completely to the presence of ...

The Final Problem Review

I know, I said this wouldn’t be up for Monday. But then my weekend plans got spoiled by a stomach bug and I ended up home and watching Sherlock anyway. So it’s entirely possible that I’ve got a sour mood to match my stomach. Nevertheless, what a complete and utter disappointment this season of Sherlock has been.

The crux of the problem is one that plenty of franchises have fallen afoul of, which is thinking that you can introduce a character like Eurus and have her matter to the audience purely on the mythic weight of who she is instead of having to develop her. But it doesn’t work. She’s a distressingly one-note character whose characterization consists entirely of Mycroft asserting things about her. More to the point, her supposed powers are all bizarrely undersold: we’re told that she can effectively enslave someone by talking to them, but nothing about her comes off as particularly persuasive or charismatic. Mostly she sits around talking like a Markov bot fed on mediocre nihilist philosophy. And this is a real problem - the episode depends on her being the unholy fusion of Sherlock and Hannibal, but instead she’s just a generic megalomaniac. Which makes ...

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