I write things and am nominally in charge here. Below are my most recent posts.
The bulk of my work is in a style I have, in an act of mild narcissism, named psychochronography. Psychochronography, an offshoot of the artistic concept of psychogeography. Psychogeography is a practice originally developed by the Situationist International as part of their efforts to forcibly dismantle the established social order. Psychogeography is the study of how physical spaces impact social, cultural, and personal lives. Its central technique is what is called the derivé, or drift, in which one wanders through an urban area according to some idiosyncratic logic that causes one to cut against the usual lines and paths traced.
Psychochronography applies this notion to our internal landscape. Taking seriously Alan Moore's notion of ideaspace, psychochronography suggests that we can wander through history and ideas just as easily as we can physical spaces, and that by observing the course of such a conceptual exploration we can discover new things about our world. Topics I've applied this approach to include Doctor Who, British comic books, and Super Nintendo games.
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 ...
Looper is a flawed film in ways that neither Brick nor The Brothers Bloom were. This is not to say that it’s a bad film; it’s not at all. But after two films that were notable in part for their impressively taut discipline the fundamental sloppiness of Looper stands out. There’s not a lot that follows from this - everybody who’s made more than one film has a worst film, after all, and most directors have one that’s far worse than this. There’s still a number of things it does well, and well in ways that confirm where Johnson’s talents lie. There’s just also whacking big problems, most of which have a reasonably obvious source.
The biggest and most fundamental problem is that the join between two halves of a script completed at very different times. The first hour - basically everything up through the diner scene - was written in 2008 during the shooting of The Brothers Bloom. The second half, starting with Sara’s introduction, came in 2009. And it shows. The first half is a well constructed film about a man in gripping contact with his older self. The second half, on the other hand, is a well constructed film about ...
Those who listened to our Doctor Who podcast series will have noticed that I had new theme music this year. Some also noticed that I never actually said what it was. My stock answer was that it was a secret transmission from the future.
The future is here.
Seeming's new album, Sol, is out on August 4th. You can pre-order it here. It's absolutely incredible, and like nothing else you've ever heard. I'll be talking more about it and how it's the secret soundtrack to Neoreaction a Basilisk closer to when it's out, but for now let's all just enthusiastically watch that video again and again.
(Oh, and if you don't know Sammus, the guest vocalist on "Stranger," she's absolutely phenomenal as well and you should check her music out. Her new one, Pieces in Space, is brilliant, but her older more nerdcore stuff is solid as well.)
OK. First off, announcements. The Patreon very did not hit $320, so no Game of Thrones reviews. It's currently at $295; if it gets back to $300, I'll do a season wrap-up post. You can contribute here.
This week's post will be on Tuesday, as there's a small but very fun thing to announce tomorrow. I'm going with the teaser "the future arrives" for that one.
Which brings us to the news of the day, which is that Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor and the Chibnall era might be worth getting excited for after all. Discuss amongst yourselves in comments. I'll be moderating the fuck out of sexist trolls, including deleting all replies to them. So go ahead and enjoy a comment section free of that shit.
At first glance, there are relatively few similarities between Brick and The Brothers Bloom. Brick is a self-consciously dour noir film about ruined masculinity. The Brothers Bloom is an ostentatiously colorful heist film about the power of stories. There seems very little that one can conclude about things like Rian Johnson’s style based on them. This is, of course, pretty much all a director can hope for after their second film. Make two similar films or, worse, more or less the same film twice and you’re pigeonholed. Make a surprisingly dark high school noir and then turn around and make a quasi-Wes Anderson heist film, on the other hand, and you’re well on your way towards seriousness.
Brick was a good film. The Brothers Bloom, on the other hand, is a great one - one I instantly fell in love with when it finally came through Gainesville on its meandering limited release tour. Looking back at it, I realize it must have been a small and quiet influence on TARDIS Eruditorum, with “there’s no such thing as an unwritten life, only a badly written one” getting to the point a solid year before “we’re all stories in the end; just make ...
It's the sort of week where the Waffling's a day late, basically. The extra work of Doctor Who S10 has me typically behind on everything, and I'm scrambling to get back going on things. (I'm working on long-term fixes for my workload, but they're necessarily long term.) Anyway, in light of the fact that I'm awful and behind on everything I can't really complain too loudly that we're $17 a week shy of me doing Game of Thrones reviews, but I figure I should be clear that those look like they're not happening and like I'll get to actually watch the show with Jill consistently.
But I did want to mention some other Patreons. For instance, Sam Keeper's Patreon, from which you can get her fabulous new book on Star Wars. Or Jack Graham's, which is $14 away from dragging him kicking and screaming back to watching Doctor Who. If you don't decide to throw money at the likely doomed Game of Thrones goal, well, those are great places to throw it instead. (Of course, you could also just fund all of us. But I know ...
I sit down with one of my favorite nonfiction writers, John Higgs, to talk about The Doctor Falls. Then, after a brief secret message from the future, I interview him about his new book Watling Street: Travels Through Britain and its Ever-Present Past, a psychogeographic tour of the oldest road in Britain. One that, notably, runs up Shooter's Hill and through Northampton. You can download that here, and you can buy Watling Street on Amazon here. It's not got a US publisher, so if you're US based you'll have to import it. It's worth it.
I first encountered the work of Rian Johnson while reading about Terry Gilliam’s My Neighbor Totoro remake Tideland on Wikipedia, where I stumbled across the factoid that Johnson had declared it and Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain to be the two best films of 2006. This claim was notable for being A) self-evidently correct and B) a completely insane statement that nobody but me would actually make. And so I was immediately fascinated by this previously unheard of filmmaker and decided that, on the basis of his taste alone, I’d check out his existent film, a high school noir called Brick. (Also, it was only like $5 on Amazon.) Since then I’ve followed his career on the general logic that he was going to get really big some day. Which, sure enough, he did, so let’s put that knowledge to populist use. (And I’ll just spoil it up front, my favorite Johnson film is The Brothers Bloom, my least favorite is Looper.)
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Brick is that it isn’t funny. Sure, there are moments that are humorous - the recurring urgent discussions about who people eat lunch with, for instance, or any scene whatsoever with the Pin’s mother ...