I Just Can't Help Podcastin'

You find me, EP readers, in the midst of my annual Elvis Kick, the time of the year where, werewolf like, the Presley geek within rises and takes the wheel for about six months. Hence the title of this post, a kinda play on Jumpsuit Elvis' I Just Can't Help Believin', the BJ Thomas cover I'm playing and replaying at an aggressively antisocial volume.

("We all immediately understood that, James! Don't talk down to us, the audience! And don't anticipate our reaction within the body of the text, who do you think you are? Jim Gaffigan?")

Alright, the business of the day. Lots of fun and unusual bullets in my arsenal this time out.

Kevin and I haven't yet had the chance to reconvene in my podcast marriage, Pex Lives, after how we spent our summer vacation, but, barring a terrible catastrophe, we're all go for Sunday, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for that one. We pride ourselves on being scheduling geniuses and have, let me be clear, never made any ridiculous mistakes around a) the clocks changing, or whether GMT is all year round, b) which weekend "Next weekend ...

Book Launch: The Next Generation

In honour of Star Trek: The Next Generation's 30th Anniversary today, Vaka Rangi Volume 2: Star Trek Phase II, Original Film Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 1) is now available for order from certain online retailers.

This volume covers the years 1977-1988 and aims to tell the story of Star Trek: The Next Generation's conception and birth over the course of that decade, starting from the fandom's staunch resistance to letting Star Trek go in the late 70s leading to the abortive Star Trek Phase II project, which eventually morphed into the Star Trek film series. Every pitched Star Trek Phase II script is examined in detail, with particular emphasis on the ones that were eventually adapted into television episodes and movies: “In Thy Image” (Star Trek: The Motion Picture), “The Child”, “Devil's Due” and “Kitumba”. Also covered during this section is the fanmade Star Trek Phase II web series and the famous and illustrious “Star Trek Trilogy”-Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Moving beyond fandom history, the book explores the other, less-frequently acknowledged pop culture influences ...

Bloodmoon Episode 3: BloodRayne Part 3

Edited text from the video description:

Bloodmoon is a series that looks at the evolution and apotheosis of specific themes and archetypes throughout various video games via the medium of full playthroughs with open discussion prompts.

Questions and observations:

Thunder and lightning is obviously an old horror trope. In the context of mythology and religion, however, they are sometimes seen as awe-inspiring signs of a divine presence. In the Yoruba religion, from which some of Voodoo is derived, Shango (also called Jakuta) is an Orisha, or divine spirit. A deified ancestor known for being a tyrannical ruler in life, his mortal reign ended when has palace was destroyed by lightning during a thunderstorm and has been associated with the natural forces of storms as an Orisha. He is also associated with the colour red, and was venerated highly in the African-American diaspora, whose ancestors valued him as a symbol of resilience and resistance during the time of slavery.

In spite of various controversies surrounding character design in video games, there is a certain multifacted way we, as players, can relate to avatars like Rayne. How, if at all, does this change when that level of agency is removed and the ...

The Proverbs of Hell 22/39: Shiizakana

SHIIZAKANA: A hot pot dish, meat-based and the nominal main course. I’m going to go ahead and just call it “no relation” to the contents of the episode, because reading this as somehow forming a culminating centerpiece of the season is just too ridiculous.

HANNIBAL: Why not appeal to my better nature?

WILL GRAHAM: I wasn't aware you had one.

HANNIBAL: No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them. By that love we see potential in our beloved. Through that love we allow our beloved to see their potential. Expressing that love, our beloved's potential comes true. I love you, Will.

Given that it also includes Will slowly crushing Hannibal via elaborate rope bondage and the black stag, this dream sequence is firmly the slashiest scene in Hannibal.

HANNIBAL: Memory gives moments immortality. But forgetfulness promotes a healthy mind. It’s good to forget. What are you trying to forget?

JACK CRAWFORD: Doubt. I let doubt in.

For those inclined towards the “Steven Moffat was significantly influenced by Hannibal” school of thought, the similarities between this and “forgetting is the human superpower” is significant. Of course, that was Frank Cottrell Boyce, so the ...

Bloodmoon Episode 2: BloodRayne Part 2

We're back to the cursed Louisiana Bayou over at my YouTube channel as the Bloodmoon series continues its look at BloodRayne's opening world. Check out Episode 1 if you missed it. If you're only familiar with the Uwe Boll movies, get a look at where Rayne got her start and see her in a whole new light!

Editied text from the video description:

Bloodmoon is a series that looks at the evolution and apotheosis of specific themes and archetypes throughout various video games via the medium of full playthroughs with open discussion prompts.

Questions and observations:

“City of the Dead” is a nickname given to New Orleans St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest cemetery in the city. Though spanning just one square block, thousands of people are buried here, hence its name. Notice how the “City of the Dead” in BloodRayne is flooded.

The Yonic imagery in the Maraisreq nest is obvious. Swamp monsters have been part of bayou folklore for generations, but seem to be a Western myth instead of a Native one (though there is a Swamp Woman figure roughly similar to the Irish banshee in Wabanaki folklore of the Northeast Atlantic coast). A ...

The Proverbs of Hell 21/39: Su-Zukana

SU-ZUKANA: A palate cleanser, typically involving vinegar. A better title for last week, I suspect, but still fitting for this, which essentially starts off with all new concerns.

JACK CRAWFORD: How do you catch a fish who isn't hungry?

WILL GRAHAM: You have to change tactics. Use live bait that moves and excites them to action. Gotta make him bite even though he's not hungry.

JACK CRAWFORD: Make him act on instinct. He's always a predator.

WILL GRAHAM: You have to create a reality where only you and the fish exist, where your lure becomes what he wants most, despite everything he knows.

JACK CRAWFORD: Wrong move and he swims away.

WILL GRAHAM: I’m a good fisherman, Jack.

Will’s framework of fishing and hunting has had time to evolve in his solitude, so that fishing takes on aesthetic qualities. Of particular interest is the creation of realities, an explicitly narrativizing approach that reframes fishing as an act of artistic creation. Already the reality he needs is coming into being.

HANNIBAL: Truite saumonée au bleau with vegetables and broth, served with hollandaise sauce on the side. Beautiful fish, Will.

WILL GRAHAM: It was my turn to provide the ...

Signal Boost: Preserving Classic Video Games with RetroRGB


Have you ever thought about how we experience media?
A book is a book is a book, surely. Reading is reading, no matter what device or medium you do it on. And yet, you'll still hear people say the experience of reading on a computer, phone or e-reader isn't the same as holding a physical book forged from dead tress in their hands. Many people still prefer the sound of vinyl records to digital music. Watching a play live is a manifestly different experience than watching a recording of the performance or reading a script (just ask Jack about Shakespeare sometime). And once you move into more thoroughly modern forms of creative expression, movies, television and video games, medium becomes even more important to consider.
Ever since the dawn of television, movie studios have played with unconventional and experimental aspect rations (or 3D film) to provide an experience than can only be had in theatres. For one TV example that should be familiar to many of you, I have previously, somewhat infamously, raised cane about what I consider the “proper” way to experience and judge Star Trek: The Next Generation. To briefly summarise that ...


Let’s give the Proverbs a week off and talk about Secret Empire. For those who haven’t followed, this was Marvel’s annual shitty summer crossover, this time with the premise that history has been rewritten to make Captain America a Hydra sleeper agent who has now taken over the US. So basically, “what if Captain America were secretly a Nazi?” This has been widely panned, even moreso than Marvel’s summer crossovers usually are. On the one hand, this is entirely appropriate, as Secret Empire is not only one of the worst-written crossovers in superhero history but also one of the most flatly evil. On the other, relatively few people have actually articulated this, with an alarming number of critiques of the comic instead being exercises in point-missing far almost as epic than the crossover itself.

Perhaps the most spectacularly off-base thing to be frequently said about the comic is that its premise is an insult to the legacy of Captain America co-creator and avowed Nazi-puncher Jack Kirby. It is difficult to entirely grasp the value system under which making a fictional character he drew forty-three issues of into a fascist is an insult to his legacy but the basic existence ...

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