Permanent Saturday: What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass

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.

When we think of Garfield, we think of the mundane everyday. And when we think of the mundane everyday, we think of banal modern life. Indeed, this blog project's forebear made a regular point of reading the strip as a brilliantly subversive example of effectively marketing ennui and despair: A savvy salesman hocking commiseration at the hopelessness of day-to-day punchclock life in late-stage capitalism with no visible way out. Nihilism sold with a smile. That and a buck-fifty will get you a cup of coffee.

There is probably some truth in that. Garfield is, as we have established, a strip about boredom and banality, and it likely would not be the marketing juggernaut it is (or perhaps was? While still obviously a beloved and ubiquitous franchise, it does not to me seem that it's quite in the forefront to the degree it's been at times in the past. Not, of course, that past, present and future distinctions mean all that much to us in our world here) if people didn't ...

Build High for Happiness 3: Paradise Towers (1987)

outrage at the fact that anyone’s life can be so pathetically limited

Going into directing High-Rise, which would see him working with the highest budget of his career, Ben Wheatley directed a pair of episodes of Doctor Who on the logic that working fast and on the tight budget of television would be, as he put it, “like a boot camp” that would leave him “fighting fit to go into High-Rise.” But the choice of Doctor Who was fitting in another regard, in that one of the closest existing things to an adaptation of High-Rise prior to the Wheatley-Jump film was the 1987 Doctor Who serial Paradise Towers.

Like Wheatley’s two episodes, which served as the first two stories for Peter Capaldi’s incarnation of Doctor Who and as the first two stories for newly installed executive producer Brian Minchin, Paradise Towers was one of the opening stories for both Sylvester McCoy’s iteration of the character and script editor (at the time essentially one of two people filling the role now filled by the executive producers) Andrew Cartmel. And indeed, Wheatley watched Paradise Towers in preparation for High-Rise, although his conclusion was that it “more like an amalgam of A ...

The Lost

There’s something grimly and hilariously inevitable about Class ending with the Weeping Angels. I mean, it’s not as though “The Weeping Angels try to invade Earth” is a particularly gripping premise in and of itself, but after a fourth episode of the Shadow Kin it’s more than slightly galling to see the show offer such a straightforwardly superior alternative, as though it wants to remind us one more time on the way out that this could have been a much more interesting show than it was.

Instead we get yet another case of the show being pretty good with a clear attitude of “will this do?” to it. The big bad returns. There are some carefully selected secondary character deaths - enough to flag “it’s the season finale and things are serious,” not enough to actually require that we grapple with it on a level other than having Ram or Tanya shout “my dad”/”my mom” in suitably distraught tones a few times. The trigger on the MacGuffin gets pulled, revelations are made about next season, and we end with a cliffhanger instead of a narrative resolution.

It’s not that there aren’t good bits. On the whole I quite ...

Build High for Happiness 2: High Rise (1975)

ecological analysis of the absolute or relative character of fissures

As the precise center of the hypercube, Ballard’s novel is even more tightly bound into 1975 than the Wheatley-Jump film. Lacking the externalizing vantage point of futurity, Ballard cannot look at what the brutalist tower blocks became, and is forced instead to extrapolate out from what they are. Which is, of course, Ballard’s basic job description. He’s a science fiction writer by trade. His first four novels imagined apocalyptic scenarios, starting with The Wind From Nowhere, in which the world is destroyed by constant hurricane-force winds, and subsequently The Drowned World, The Burning World, and The Crystal World, which feature flood, drought, and weird crystalline growths appearing on everything. But starting with his alarmingly experimental 1970 novel The Atrocity Exhibition, a series of reveries in which human bodies, mediated culture, and material carnage of the 1960s blend together into one of the most unsettling psychic landscapes of the 1970s (no mean feat given the decade), his career took a different track.

This resulted in a series of three books of which High-Rise was the culmination. These novels were still science fiction, but of an unusual sort in which there are ...

Close but no Cigar

“And that’s what he’s been like for forty-five years.  Fantastic!  Speeches that go on for four, five, six, seven hours...  I wonder if when he gets to 90 he’ll stop and say ‘But that’s enough about me… let’s talk about you’.” - Mark Steel, 2001

 

So, as you might have heard, Fidel Castro died.  Aged 90.  Ruler of Cuba since the revolution of 1959, which he led, and which unseated Batista.  Something something survived x many US Presidents something something Che Guevara something something Bay of Pigs something something...

...aaaaaand at this point we would normally go into a recitation of certain obvious points.  Different points depending on the political orientation of the writer, his publication, etc.

For the Right, we would recapitulate that Castro was a dictator, that there is little democracy in Cuba, that it’s a one-party system, that post-revolution Cuba has a dismal human rights record, that dissidents are persecuted, that political prisoners are often ill-treated, that the regime cruelly persecuted LGBT people, etc.

Unusually for the Right, this is all true. They generally don’t have to lie about Cuba.  They would if they had to, but they generally don’t need to.  Not about the basics ...

Myriad Universes: Hearts and Minds Part 3: Into The Abyss

Rom finds an obviously distressed Quark in his quarters, who inquires if his brother has consulted Odo. Though he doesn't understand what's going on, Rom answers in the affirmative, and that Odo told him to have Quark meet him at Docking Pylon C. As Quark leaves, he tells Rom to tell anyone who asks about him that he's “gone on vacation”. At the aforementioned rendezvous point, Quark fills Odo in on the situation involving Maura, namely how she threatened to kill him if he didn't sell her the bar. Odo agrees to check it out, but advises the Ferengi to do something he didn't entirely want: Sell Maura Quark's Bar.

In the Siskos' quarters, Jake arises early and tells his father he's worried because everyone around him is convinced the Klingons and the Cardassians will go to war. Ben says “When people believe that strongly in a thing, it makes it that much more likely it will happen” and Jake agrees, saying that's what he's told all his friends. But apparently, they're not listening. Jake hastens to add that he knows his dad is doing everything he can, but Ben ...

Eruditorum Press Books Make Great Christmas Presents

It's not still Black Friday or Cyber Monday or any shit like that, right? OK, good.

So, first of all, thanks everyone for funding us through eight Class reviews on Patreon. They've been fun, they've been infuriating, it's always nice to write adjacent to Doctor Who againI'll keep the $300 threshold for a Return of Doctor Mysterio review, and expect S10 to be in the same general range, maybe a little higher because I can probably get away with it. Still cheaper than making me go episode by episode through the Chibnall era might end up being.

Second of all, I did want to politely direct your attention to a few things that might be of interest during the holiday shopping season. Supporting independent leftist media is a revolutionary act, donchaknow. First of all there's Josh Marsfelder's Vaka Rangi, A briliant critical history of Star Trek that anyone who enjoyed TARDIS Eruditorum will get a kick out of. For the smart Star Trek fan in your life. Or because you want him to be in a good mood when I try to get him to podcast about Star Trek: Discovery next ...

Pex Lives 37: The Mind Robber

We're pleased to announce a new episode of Pex Lives - one that's actually about Doctor Who at that. (You remember Doctor Who, right? It's that show about hope that doesn't air in years like 2016.) Specifically, it's about The Mind Robber, i.e. the twelfth greatest Doctor Who story ever. There's also discussion about Fidel Castro, America's inexorable slide into a dystopian hellscape, and childhood mindscapes.

You can listen to that here.

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