The Proverbs of Hell 15/39: Sakizuke

SAKIZUKE: Variantly spelled “sakizuki” and “saki-zuke,” the latter on Janice Poon’s blog, where she describes it as “a sampling of small appetizers whose ingredients, garnishes, and dishware sets the tone for the season and invites the gods to partake of the meal.” Wikipedia, meanwhile, directly compares it to an amuse-bouche, I.e. the second episode of the first season.

The killer-of-the-two-weeks here is given an unusual sort of focus. On the one hand he’s the least sketched out killer the show has ever done - he’s literally only in the script as “Muralist,” and essentially everything we learn about him is projected onto him by other characters. On the other, Roland Umber’s awakening inside the mural is used as the cliffhanger, and the second episode luxuriates in this cold open, giving the sheer and visceral horror of the mural room to breathe. Fuller has said that his inspiration for this killer was equal parts Busby Berkeley and the film Jeepers Creepers, which is a pair of inspirations that boil down to “this is why you are the perfect showrunner for Hannibal.”

The wide shot of Roland, already making a probably fatal leap into the water, being dashed ...

Here's a Podcast Round-Up

"The system James and I have been using to post Pex Lives stuff to the site whereby James tells me it's up and I post about it has been falling through lately due to missed steps like James telling me or me doing anything about it." - Phil Sandifer, 27th April, 2017.

Being James Murphy is a remarkably frustrating endeavour and one I can't recommend. The only spot on the league table of frustrating tasks that beats being me is knowing me, I would guess. Yes, there's lots of upsides but there's also the beleaguered inability to ever capitalise on them. Let's say that for some reason a writer you greatly respect long ago chose to offer you an amplifier. That's great, you'll definitely do something about that, you (I) think to my(your)self. But then you don't, you useless bastard, you just get distracted and strum the same eight songs over and over on an acoustic guitar and go to work and sleep. Well, you'll never beat the world's finest procrastination artists, in their perfectly tidy houses, at their own game so you may as well make an effort ...

Wrong With Authority, Ep 5 - 'Mississippi Burning'

Wrong With Authority, the podcast where four white guys talk about movies based on real historical events, returns... and this time we're talking about Mississippi Burning (1988), a travesty of the story of three civil rights workers - Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman - who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964 by the Klan/cops/state government (all essentially the same thing at that point).

Download our episode >>HERE<<

Beware triggers.  We're talking about vicious racism, hate-motivated violence and murder.  At one point in the episode, one of us reads out part of a historical document which contains the n-word.  We believe the context justifies its inclusion, but please be aware that it's there.  Jack made the decision to not bleep it out, and takes responsibility.  Also, we mention rape a couple of times - because it was an integral part of both Jim Crow and slavery.

The film focuses not on the Civil Rights workers, or the struggle, or the African Americans oppressed by Jim Crow (American Apartheid), but rather on the subsequent FBI investigation.  It portrays the FBI as a heroic organisation bursting with concerned liberals, but also as solving the ...

Commentary: Aquarium Park, Freedom of Movement, Shinto and Superplays

At long last, after two weeks, the accompanying commentary for my Sonic Generations Aquarium Park superplay is finally up on my YouTube channel thanks to me spending the weekend in a place with a dramatically better Internet connection than where I live.

I talk about it in the video, but this was originally meant to be cut from outtakes of the recording session for the original superplay video, but in the end I recorded a whole new session just for this commentary. That wound up being good though, as I learned a few more tricks and techniques between the recording of that video and this one that I think makes the run I close out with here better than the one I uploaded before! Other topics of conversation include parkour, the discipline of training, movement and Japanese spiritual philosophy.

The video itself is kind of a hybrid experiment for me. I've been told working from more of a defined a script would do me well, so I wrote one this time. I vastly underestimated how far 3000 words would get me though, so the back 2/3 is completely off-the-cuff and extemporaneous, which should provide a nice contrast! I ...

The Proverbs of Hell 14/39: Kaiseki

KAISEKI: An umbrella term for multi-course meals in the Japanese style - roughly equivalent to what renaming “Apéritif” to “Haute Cuisine” would imply. The gesture towards the whole season makes sense for an episode that opens with a flash forward to the finale. (I should disclaim that my knowledge of Japanese cooking is wildly less than my knowledge of French cooking, and that I’m going to be much more reliant on Wikipedia for these than I was for the first 13 parts.)

The flashforward to the Jack/Hannibal fight scene from “Mizumono” is interesting. The flash forward in general was trendy in television around this time, mostly due to the influence of Breaking Bad, which used them habitually. But Breaking Bad’s default use of them was cryptic - they’d show short flashes of something that would hang over episodes or seasons as a mystery. This, on the other hand, is more of a promise at the expense of suspense. Hannibal pledges up front that Jack is going to figure out what Hannibal is up to, thus reassuring viewers before the season even starts that all of this business with Will being in prison will eventually be over. This has obvious narrative ...

Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain

Regular blog post on Tuesday again this week, due to another round of shilling for friends. In my defense, I try to only befriend cool talented people.

Anyway, you may remember David Gerard, with whom I cut the first of the podcast series promotiong Neoreaction a Basilisk. He was my beta reader on the book, and a longtime Internet friend and coconspirator. Among the many things David does is help run RationalWiki, where he righteously and snarkily skewers all sorts of bullshit artists. And one of the more interesting things I'd seen him skewer was Bitcoin. So a while back I suggested to him that he should write a short book explaining why Bitcoin was not, in fact, the money of the future. I was imagining something 30k tops that just laid out the case for why Bitcoin is bullshit. Instead he wrote a full-length book that releases today: Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain.

Instead he went off and wrote a beautifully thorough overview of Bitcoin that not only establishes the sheer number of scam artists and crooks surrounding Bitcoin and the larger notion of blockchains, but also establishes how utterly and hilariously stupid almost everything around ...

This Post Has No Title

Someone - I think it was Nick Mamatas - recently made a sarcastic Facebook or Twitter post, expressing mock-surprise that a “multi-million dollar Hollywood movie isn’t the Communist Manifesto” (or words to that effect).  The thing being mocked there is the way in which it seems that some on the Left will criticise an expensive (and, the studios hope, profitable) product of the mass-market corporate capitalist culture industries for not being something it was obviously never going to be, and never could be. 

As it turned out - for a host of complex and contingent historical reasons - cinema and television became almost-overwhelmingly comforting and placating instantiations of the spectacle.  Every now and again a big movie will come along, like Mad Max Fury Road or (I’d argue) Prometheus, which contains aspects of radical critique within its aesthetic and/or thematics.  But firstly, this happens rarely, and only when a host of other factors constellate.  Based on the cited examples, I’d be tempted to suggest that franchises and auteurs have something to do with it, which is interesting, as is the way those two things are clearly related in the mentioned cases.  In any event, both films are akin to aberrations which can ...

Permanent Saturday: Oracle Bone

“There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit-love.”
-Morihei Ueshiba
Simple pleasures for simple minds, so the saying goes. Many a joke over the years has been made at the expense of Odie's celebrated idiocy, surely to the delight of Garfield's Cat Person target demographic everywhere. And truth be known Odie is not a particularly complex being: Not so much irrational or prerational as nonrational, Odie is guided by mere existence. He doesn't stop to let his superego overanlyse his actions largely because it's not entirely clear he has a superego. Certainly Odie will never be in any danger of being paralyzed by an overactive mind. Within Garfield's Funny Animal satire of modernity, Odie offers the biggest challenge by being the biggest diegetic commentary on the strip's fundamental artifice: Odie is the one animal character who acts in accordance with stereotypical Western ideas about animal minds-Pure, unthinking, instinctual being.
 
Certain schools of Taoism and Advaita Vedanta Hinduism would probably find a lot of commonality with Odie. As the embodiment of pure “I Exist”, his character lends itself well to being read as ...

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