Garfield is made great by the thin line it walks between comfort and banality. The strip is defined in equal parts by both concepts, and it's impossible to have one without the other. Indeed, when it is one, it is so precisely because it is also the other at the same time. Like everything about Garfield, its running gags play into this: We expect to see them and thus enjoy the thrill of recognition when we do. And while the strip can dispense a seemingly endless series of variations on the same handful of setups, the structure itself must always remain fundamentally comforting, familiar, recognisable and, necessarily, banal.
Like the Wise Man of the Mountain we looked at last time, Garfield's Echo Point is a running gag whose setup is based around one of our characters (usually the cat in question) interacting with an unseen aspect of Nature outside of the panel. And this time, it's a comedic double-act built out of a literal call-and-response. Garfield reads the sign, understands that this is a place where echoes can be heard and meows into the canyon awaiting some kind of answer. Usually he gets one. In these strips ...
ANTIPASTO: And so we move to Italian cuisine for seven episodes. Antipasto is the starter course, distinct from the amuse bouche or sakizuki in that it is a heavier dish, often with cold meats, as befits this unusually dense premiere.
BEDELIA DU MAURIER: You no longer have ethical concerns, Hannibal. You have aesthetical ones.
HANNIBAL: Ethics become aesthetics.
I have suggested in the past that my interest in Hannibal is that Hannibal presents a vision of the perfected man. This exchange is central to that contention. I had made an assertion along the same lines as Bedelia’s assessment many times prior to “Antipasto” airing (although its relevance was improved in shooting, where the line changed from “ethical problems”), routinely making the claim that I had abandoned ethics in favor of aesthetics. That said, Hannibal’s retort here is, to my mind, flatly incorrect, suggesting that aesthetics are a degraded (or ascended) version of ethics.
My contention, on the other hand, is that aesthetics are in fact the base form of philosophy from which all other forms follow. Our sense of aesthetic pleasure is fundamental knowledge from which our wider understanding of the world is structured. Even epistemology extends from aesthetics - what ...
The early Austrian School was actually subject to a split. It stemmed from the first wave of the followers of its founder Carl Menger. Mengerians Friedrich von Wieser and Eugen von Philippovich were both a bit like Fabian socialists in their outlooks. Wieser, for instance, seems to have believed that marginal utility (the radically subjective basis of modern mainstream economics) provided a theoretical foundation for progressive taxation. But Wieser’s brother-in-law and fellow teacher, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, was of the classical liberal tradition. Böhm-Bawerk was a strident anti-Marxist who developed many of his own theories - which became foundational to the subsequent Austrian School - in the course of his criticisms of Marx. Böhm-Bawerk is still routinely credited by some with having demolished Marx… which he accomplished by systematically misreading, misunderstanding, and misrepresenting him.
The split was transmitted. Böhm-Bawerk was Mises’ teacher, and Mises became fanatical in his rejection of state intervention (except when he wasn’t… it’s complicated). Wieser was Hayek’s teacher, and Hayek is still thought by some hardliners to have been almost a socialist owing to his ability to countenance some welfare measures. Hayek also believed a state was necessary… which makes him a cuck by anarcho-capitalist standards. In Ancaptopia, law ...
I hope you're not all sick of BloodRayne yet.
There's a new video on my YouTube channel. It's a rambling, half-lucid live replay of the first few stages of BloodRayne. Yes, the ones I already showed off.
There is a reason for this, as I explain in the video. Since I lost all my progress from the original filming of the first block of Bloodmoon episodes, I needed to go back and replay the opening hour to get a point to continue from, and I used the opportunity as an excuse to talk about the conceptual origins of the Bloodmoon series, why on Earth I chose to spotlight BloodRayne so heavily and my ever-deepening fodness for and connection to this silly, silly game.
If you like delerious, circuitous ramblings as points, arguments and conclusions slowly come into and out of focus, this video is for you. If nothing else, it's a decent snapshot of how my mind works.
I do have to apologise though for the video cutting out briefly during the cutscenes. BloodRayne plays cutscenes in a different window than the gameplay, and OBS doesn't like that.
You know the drill:
The Dark Knight Rises offers something with no counterpart in Nolan’s career: it’s a hot mess. That is not to say it’s a bad film, and certainly not to say it’s the worst of Nolan’s career (that’s clearly Interstellar). But there is a mad unruliness to it that is utterly uncharacteristic of Nolan’s work. Nolan is, as I’ve said before, an enormously fussy director. His work thrives on constantly trumpeting his presence as an auteur, inviting the audience to feel smart for keeping up with him. This is not inherently a bad thing - it’s nothing that isn’t true of Steven Moffat, for instance. It’s just how Nolan rolls. When it works, as with The Prestige, the result is a gripping puzzle box. When it doesn’t, as with Inception or Interstellar, you get something more akin to a stupid person’s idea of what a smart movie is like. But The Dark Knight Rises is neither of these things. Instead it’s a film Nolan simply loses control of - that becomes a sprawling tangle of competing ambitions that doesn’t know what it wants to do even as, at any given moment, it’s doing it with characteristic hyper-focus.
To some extent this is visible ...
As some of you will be aware, especially those of you who’ve been following my whining about it on Twitter, I’ve recently been finishing up something I’ve been writing about the Austrian School of economics (y’know, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, right-libertarianism, etc). It’s my side of a collaboration with Phil for his next book. It’s taken a long time (my fault) but I just finished. One of the reasons it took so long was because I kept falling down rabbit holes, so to speak. The good thing about that is that it has left me with excess material I can write up. And here’s the first bit.
By the way, people who give me as little as $1 per month on Patreon saw this days ago.
The Koch Brothers. Billionaire reactionaries whose dad co-founded the John Birch Society, and who now act as money-pits and eminences grise for huge sectors of the US Right. Greasers of the wheels of the Tea Party. Suffice to say, they – along with others of their kind including the DeVos family – have also funded organisations like CPAC, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute (co-founded by Murray Rothbard, by ...
Come join me on a night in as I play a few rounds of Unreal Tournament 2004 and talk mostly about the Metroid series. Because that's just how I do things.
Topics discussed (or really, rambled back and forth on) included arena shooters, my history with the genre and why I like them, the differences between Unreal Tournament and Quake, the things the genre needs to do to come back, and of course, the Metroid series. Particularly Metroid Prime Hunters, which is an unjustly overlooked Metroid-themed arena shooter for the Nintendo DS. This is probably as close as I can get to doing a real Metroid project right now, so I hope I was able to answer at least some of the questions you might have had about how I feel about Nintendo's most fraught video game franchise.
Because I mentioned him, here are some links to the good work video game historian Liam Robertson has done on the Metroid series:
It seems silly to start anywhere besides the Joker. We’ll set aside the cynical but not entirely unfounded question of whether the performance would be as celebrated as it is were it not for Heath Ledger’s untimely death and the ghoulish speculation (since refuted) that the psychological intensity of the role was a cause. Sure, it’s tough to imagine a Batman film winning an acting Oscar under less tragic circumstances, but that’s in no way what’s interesting here. What’s interesting is that Ledger and Nolan took the most oversignified character in Batman mythos (and yes, of course I’m including the big rodent himself) and offered a game-changing take on him. The hunched, disheveled figure with a Glasgow smile is a new angle, skewing the Joker towards a materialism that is generally precisely what’s discarded in other efforts to make him more grandiosely crazy. Ledger and Nolan offered a new way for the Joker to be.
By some margin the least interesting parts of this are the most often remarked upon. Yes, Ledger’s schlubby maniac was an easier fit for a certain strain of geek masculinity than the more overtly queer portrayals that came before him. But frankly, anybody who needed ...