And lo, the “It has been __ episodes since we transmitted a complete piece of shit” board in Chibnall’s office ticks upwards to 3 without unduly threatening to actually be good. Spyfall is much like “End of Days” and “Exit Wounds” in this regard—not so much competent as non-incompetent, television stitched together by someone who has seen enough of it to know where all the pieces are supposed to go, but who has at best a hazy understanding of why they go where they do or what their purpose is.
As with a lot of things that work this way—I made the same comparison last episode, but J.J. Abrams really is an obvious example—this results in a story that is mostly about whatever previous text the writer pinned up on their bulletin board as the model they’re going to emulate. Just like last week pinched set pieces from The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky and Army of Ghosts, this week we do Last of the Time Lords/The Sound of Drums and The Big Bang. Which, hey, nice to actually see Moffat get pilfered instead of undone. But on a broader scale, Chibnall’s main idea here seems to ...
It is fair to ask what, at this point, we want from Chibnall-era Doctor Who. Obviously I want $800 a week to watch it in the first place, but since you’ve all decided to give me that, I suppose here we are. (Thanks, by the way. You’re all ridiculously generous, and I’d have felt terribly sad not reviewing this.) But more seriously, we should discuss what a successful Chibnall episode would be. After all, if we draw the line at “be at least as good as Dracula” then we’re just going to be depressed for nine and a half weeks. We’re going to need some sort of notion of what a good Chibnall story might be in the same way that one needs a notion of a good Eric Saward story or a good Bob Baker and David Martin story.
Spyfall, after all, gets a lot of things not wrong. For instance, it has a coherent point and a sense of itself as being about something. There’s not a lot of follow-through on it—no real substance to its sense of “vastly powerful tech companies are dangerous and scary” or engagement with the materiality of these things—but it has ...
To round off our first year, Daniel is joined by special guest Jason Wilson to talk about the fascinating figure Representative Matt Shea. Hopefully this edition will please those listeners who've been asking for longer episodes!
Notes and links (thanks to Jason for this compilation):
Kenneth S Stern (1997) A force upon the plain : the American militia movement and the politics of hate. https://www.worldcat.org/title/force-upon-the-plain-the-american-militia-movement-and-the-politics-of-hate/oclc/1002393469&referer=brief_results
Kathleen Belew (2019) Bring the war home the white power movement and paramilitary America https://www.worldcat.org/title/bring-the-war-home-the-white-power-movement-and-paramilitary-america/oclc/1129866369&referer=brief_results (great overview and analysis of lots of things we discussed)
Linda Gordon (2018) The second coming of the KKK : the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American political tradition https://www.worldcat.org/title/second-coming-of-the-kkk-the-ku-klux-klan-of-the-1920s-and-the-american-political-tradition/oclc/1076323469&referer=brief_results (really good material on the 1920s Klan in Oregon)
Jane Kramer (2003) Lone patriot : the short career of an American militiaman. https://www.worldcat.org/title/lone-patriot-the-short-career-of-an-american-militiaman/oclc/52724431?referer=br&ht=edition
David A Neiwert (1999) In God's country : the patriot movement and the Pacific Northwest https://www.worldcat.org/title/in-gods-country-the-patriot-movement-and-the-pacific-northwest ...
There are two approaches to choosing a title track for an album. One is to pick something that seems a thesis statement for the album, capturing its major musical and lyrical themes while not risking confusion by wanting to be a single. The other is to pick something with a cool title. It is this latter approach that explains why an album dominated by fairly simply arranged piano ballads featuring confessional lyrics flecked with spots of idiosyncrasy is named after an austerely ominous song whose lyrics are basically wall to wall crypticness.
Much of Little Earthquakes feels as though it appeared sui generis from nowhere save for the interior of Tori mos’s head. There are a few exceptions—the ruins and traces of Y Kant Tori Read and of the 80s at large lurk throughout the album. But for the most part, Amos feels profoundly singular. On top of that, Amos is historically extremely reticent to talk about her musical influences—one is left to infer them from what ...
The traditional Eruditorum Press post-holiday ebook sale is running from now until January 2nd. Details are here.
In many ways the slightest song on Little Earthquakes, “Girl” is hamstrung most obviously by its positioning as the second track on the album. Coming off of “Crucify,” it is doomed to be the markedly inferior of the two post-80s empower ballads. Coming immediately before the jaw-dropping triple threat of “Silent All These Years,” “Precious Things,” and “Winter,” it is subsequently doomed to be forgotten by “that doesn’t make you Jesus” at the absolute latest. That it made the album over “Upside Down,” ”Take to the Sky,” or even “Flying Dutchman” is in hindsight one of the more baffling decisions made about Little Earthquakes.
It’s not fair to say that “Girl” is a bad song. Indeed, individual moments are as fine as anything on the album—the haunting, arrhythmic male vocal over “sit in the chair and be good now,” or the mad spaghetti of sounds that make up the bridge. Really, the overall soundscape of the ...
Another year over, which means that it's time for the annual Eruditorum Press post-holiday sale at Smashwords. But first, a practical word: I'll be putting another Boys in Their Dresses entry up tomorrow morning. I'll do one more on December 30th. I have a few more written past that, so I'll run the series on Fridays for a few weeks overlapping with Dalek Eruditorum, which will begin January 6th.
Currently Dalek Eruditorum is set to run in its 26-post version. But it's a mere $35 away on Patreon from going up to its 39-post version, and has until January 6th to get there. That would add essays on The Crusade, Evil of the Daleks, The Green Death, Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Seeds of Doom, Deadly Assassin, State of Decay, Kinda, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, the TV Movie, Planet of the Ood, Closing Time, The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, and something from Series 12.
Meanwhile, we have until January 1st to get to the $800 threshold needed for Series 12 reviews. If we don't make it, I'll do short reviews for $2+ patrons, but the full shebang Eruditorum Press reviews will only ...
Merry Christmas! This Christmas Day, Daniel and Jack chat about Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous pseudo-scientific racist hoax The Bell Curve.
Shaun, "The Bell Curve." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBc7qBS1Ujo
ForeverJameses, "Reading the Right - Volume One: The Bell Curve": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgZFGgJlAsk
The Bell Curve PDF: https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/the-bell-curve.pdf
P 37-38 "The Creation of a Cognitive Elite Within The College System."
John Ogbu p. 307
Ogbu and Simons, "Voluntary and Involuntary Minorities: A Cultural-Ecological Theory of School Performance With Some Implications for Eductation." https://faculty.washington.edu/rsoder/EDUC305/OgbuSimonsvoluntaryinvoluntary.pdf
"From his comparative research Ogbu has concluded that (1) no minority group does better in school because it is genetically superior than others; (2) no minority culture is better at educating its children; and (3) no minority language is better suited for learning in school (Simons et al. n.d.). He has argued that from a comparative perspective, one cannot attribute the differences in minority school performance to cultural, linguistic, or genetic differences. This is not to deny genetic differences or to deny that cultural and language differences may have ...
Couple of business updates for everyone.
First of all, TARDIS Eruditorum v5 is back in print just in time for the holidays. The Kindle and print editions are still stubbornly not connecting with one another, so here they are:
At this point, volumes 1-5 of TARDIS Eruditorum, Last War in Albion 1, and Neoreaction a Basilisk are all back in print. I expect I'll get v6 early next year, and v7 out in general... ooh, I had been saying January/February, but let's call it March/April just cause November was kind of a train wreck for productivity. I have like three more essays to write, but they all involve a lot of television watching that I just haven't found time for.
Speaking of Neoreaction a Basilisk, I've cut the UK Kindle price to the bare minimum for a bit in case anyone needs some cathartically funny reading about how we're all fucked.
Finally, I wanted to highlight that Dalek Eruditorum is still only at the baseline 13 post version, with the Patreon stalled at $667. So it needs $33 to get the second swath of stories, and $83 to get the ...