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A Short Guide to Janelle Monáe and the Metropolis Saga

The June bonus post, as voted upon by my generous Patrons

A large amount of the critical discourse surrounding Janelle Monáe has focused on the question of why she hasn’t been more successful. I mean, sure, she’s got a major label record deal, is one of only a handful of black women to run her own record label, is one of the most critically acclaimed artists working, and is making a good living while making art according to her own vision and nobody else’s, but her best-performing album only hit #5 in the charts, so obviously she’s doing something wrong. And looking at her work and her career, I think I know what her problem is: she’s never had a white male science fiction fan whose only credentials for writing about music are having co-authored a book about They Might Be Giants write a detailed guide to her work.

An appalling oversight, to be sure, but one I’m only too happy to help correct.

The bulk of Monáe’s work consists of the five (and counting) part Metropolis Saga, released over two albums and an EP, and currently projected to run for seven ...

A Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones 1.07: You Win or You Die

A Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones is brought to you by my backers at Patreon.

State of Play

The choir goes off. The board is laid out thusly:

Direwolves of King’s Landing: Eddard Stark
Stags of King’s Landing: Robert Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon
The Lion, Jaime Lannister
Lions of King’s Landing: Cersei Lannister
Dragons of Vaes Dothrak: Daenerys Targaryen
Bears of Vaes Dothrak: Jorah Mormont
Mockingbirds of King’s Landing: Petyr Baelish
Direwolves of the Wall: Jon Snow
Kraken of Winterefll: Theon Greyjoy
Dogs of King’s Landing: Sandor Clegane

The Eyrie is deserted. 

The episode is in eleven parts. The first runs five minutes; it is set at the Lannister encampment in the Riverlands. The opening shot is an establishing shot of the camp. 

The second runs eight minutes and is in sections; it is set in King’s Landing.  The first section is three minutes long; the transition is by family, from Jaime and Tywin Lannister to Cersei. The other is four minutes long; the transition is by hard cut, from Cersei leaving the godswood to a street in Flea Bottom. 

The third runs two minutes and is set in ...

A Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones 1.04: Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things


The choir goes off. The board is laid out thusly:

Direwolves of King’s Landing: Eddard Stark, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark
Stags of King’s Landing: Robert Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon
Lions of King’s Landing: Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister
The Direwolf Catelyn Stark
Dragons of Vaes Dothrak: Daenerys Targaryen, Viserys Targaryen
Bears of Vaes Dothrak: Jorah Mormont
Mockingbird’s of King’s Landing: Petyr Baelish
Direwolves of the Wall: Jon Snow
Direwolves of Winterfell: Robb Stark, Bran Stark
Kraken of Winterfell: Theon Greyjoy
Dogs of King’s Landing: Sandor Clegane
And the Lion of Winterfell, Tyrion Lannister

The episode is in twelve parts. The first runs five minutes and is set in Winterfell; the first shot is of a raven flying through the castle as Bran stands drawing a bow. 

The second runs three minutes and is set on the Wall; the transition is deceptive continuity, with a cut from Theon watching Tyrion ride away to an overhead shot of a man on horseback who turns out not to be Tyrion. 

The third runs seven minutes and is set in Vaes Dothrak ...

A Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones 1.03: Lord Snow

A Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones is generously funded by my backers at Patreon. If you enjoy it, please consider, for just $1 a week, supporting both this project and my compulsive "having a roof over my head" habit.

State of Play

The choir goes off. The board is laid out thusly:

Direwolves of King’s Landing: Eddard Stark, Catelyn Stark, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark
Stags of King’s Landing: Robert Baratheon. Joffrey Baratheon
Lions of King’s Landing: Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister
Dragons of the Dothraki Sea: Daenerys Targaryen, Viserys Targaryen
Bears of the Dothraki Sea: Jorah Mormont
Mockingbirds of King’s Landing: Peter Baelish
Direwolves of the Wall: Jon Snow
Direwolves of Winterfell: Bran Stark, Robb Stark
And the Lion of the Wall, Tyrion Lannister. 

The episode is in fourteen parts. The first runs fourteen minutes and is in three sections; it is set in King’s Landing. The first section is nine minutes long; the first shot is the Stark bannermen riding through the gates. The second is three minutes long; the transition is by hard cut, from Varys saying they serve at Lord Stark’s pleasure to Cersei treating Joffrey’s wounds. The ...

The Wasp Factory

This is a bonus post written for my backers on Patreon. If you would like to weigh in on what the next bonus post will be, please consider backing - nominations are currently open. Plus, for just $1 a week, you can keep this blog alive and kicking. 

And so, somewhat unexpectedly, my fifth ever long(ish) form blogging project starts up a week before my fourth. The fourth even has a title and everything. Whereas this one... doesn't, because I hadn't been planning on starting it until mid-April at the earliest. And perhaps more to the point, this is very much an exploratory project. To date, the Iain (M) Banks novels I've read are this, Player of Games, and Use of Weapons. So I'm still very much drawing a critical bead on him. I'm not even entirely sure I can articulate why I want to write a ten-plus post blog series on the Culture novels yet.

Nevertheless, it begins here, with Banks's first published novel, in his literary, M-free identity, The Wasp Factory. It is worth noting that Banks's early career features a mildly complicated chronology. The Wasp Factory came out ...

His Last Vow

There is, I think, a real case to be made that this is Moffat's best-ever script, although to be fair there are ways in which it's difficult to tell. Certainly this is elevated tremendously by the work of everyone else involved. It is ridiculous to pretend that this episode can be praised without acknowledging the toweringly good work turned in by Nick Hurran, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Amanda Abbington, and really, stopping there does plenty of people discredit. All the same, the script is a work of stunning genius.

It seems impossible to begin anywhere other than the ending. As I have noted before, this is a script that blatantly advocates for the extra-judicial murder of Rupert Murdoch. Sure, yes, Magnussen is only a transparent metaphor for Murdoch and not Murdoch himself, but all the same, and especially given how willing Moffat has been in interviews to double down and say that he thinks killing Magnusson was the right thing to do, it's hard to overemphasize the moment, especially given the glorious bluntness with which Mary puts it: "People like Magnussen should be killed. That’s why there are people like me."

And indeed, this quote ...

The Sign of Three

This post is one of those supported by my backers on Patreon. If you can spare a dollar a week to help keep this blog running past the end of TARDIS Eruditorum, it would be greatly appreciated. 

"These tales of ratiocination owe most of their popularity to being something in a new key. I do not mean to say that they are not ingenious — but people think them more ingenious than they are — on account of their method and air of method. In the “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, for instance, where is the ingenuity of unravelling a web which you yourself (the author) have woven for the express purpose of unravelling? The reader is made to confound the ingenuity of the supposititious Dupin with that of the writer of the story." - Edgar Allen Poe

The basic dramatic engine of Sherlock, by this point, has become the cathartic click as the puzzle box's mechanisms slide into place in a moment of triumphant Aristoteleanism. Over ninety minutes, this produces an interesting effect. Because ninety minutes is also more or less your basic length for a film, there is a tendency to describe Sherlock in those terms - as periodic triptychs ...

The Empty Hearse

This month we're filling in the gap between the last TARDIS Eruditorum post and the start of the Capaldi reviews by doing Sherlock Season Three on Tuesdays. These posts are sponsored by my backers at Patreon. If you enjoy this blog and want to continue seeing media criticism past the end of TARDIS Eruditorum, please consider backing.

"We're going to lie to you," Sherlock announced to ring in 2014, and then it went on to do just that. It had, in the tradition of fair lies, told as much well in advance. "It's a trick. Just a magic trick." And so, of course, it was. Indeed, The Empty Hearse is in effect a ninety minute exercise in arguing that the question of how Sherlock survived The Reichenbach Fall is irrelevant, or at least largely uninteresting.

To call this a bold response to one's own iconic pop culture moment seems an understatement. And the reactions at the time are worth recalling, even if it is only a year on. First and most interesting were those who felt that The Empty Hearse was mean-spirited in its treatment of fandom, a criticism that focused especially on the depiction of slash ...

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