Another week, another Monday, another Sunday.
Two recent teaching realisations: I off-handedly said to a classmate my usual line about how the world isn’t any different for me knowing about an earthquake on the other side of the planet. But she helpfully pointed out quite sternly that it might matter quite a lot when I have students who might be from or have family all over the world.
The other one is I tend to exaggerate a little for comedic effect when telling stories, but I absolutely can not and must not do that when I’m teaching art history that real, actual kids will have tests and exams on later. Pressure!
I’ll get there.
Below the fold: Bits from Letterboxd. Some TV, some Doctor Who, a book.
In the ongoing evaluation my relationship with social media, today1Well, Wednesday the 27th, I guess. Dinosaur Comics’ T-Rex weighs in with a persuasive argument.
I often say I don’t believe in coming out, because I don’t relate to the premise, to the narrative. I’m queer, it’s not a secret, I’m not hiding anything, just because you don’t know doesn’t mean I’m putting myself or parts of myself in a box — and when I do tell you, I’m almost always just correcting an inaccurate assumption. “I’m non-binary,” no different than “oh, I’m Frisian,” or “I don’t have a drivers’ license.”2“When did you first realise you were a different kind of vehicle user than your culture assigned you at birth?” “When I nearly drove into a ditch one fucking minute into my first ever driving lesson.” It’s just a little correction.
When we talk about the large algorithmic generative models people call “artificial intelligence,” so much of the language is people-language. We “ask” these models things, we have “conversations” with these algorithms, when the words these things generate are not reflective of accurate information we accuse the models of “hallucinating.” All of these are real things people do, and not actually what these things do. I don’t want to diminish the sincere connections some people feel they’re making with these machines, but all that’s happening is the software knows how to put words in an order that seems plausible, based on your prompt.3Tip: Try prompting ChatGPT to tell you how many times the letter “N” occurs in the word “reconnaissance.” It’s just been well-tuned to follow your lead. We have to talk about these things the way they actually are.4I’m not innocent here, either — the Enemy has put the people-language so in my head that this was not easy to write.
Social media is no different. Framing is everything.
Twitter is just some web forum. You sign up, and then you can post, and see what other people are posting on the web forum. Truly, how is that different than the rickety phpBB forum you used to hang out on in 2006? What actually is meant to make it a really important forum? This or that number of posts per second? The famous people on it? The politicians? Frankly, I’ve never been entirely clear what these people are even doing on some web forum. Shouldn’t they be minding their business, shouldn’t they be sending memos to each other? Remember when the forum got real mad about some guy who was a little weird to his kid about beans? Just forum drama. It’s not the end of the world. Why would it be? Why would it be?
At my own little personal Mastodon instance, there’s no politicians, no huge number of posts per second. Nobody ever gets mad about the beans guy. It is actually just like the rickety old phpBB forum I used to hang out on in 2006. It’s not important at all. We don’t pretend it is.
It’s just some web forum.
- 1Well, Wednesday the 27th, I guess.
- 2“When did you first realise you were a different kind of vehicle user than your culture assigned you at birth?” “When I nearly drove into a ditch one fucking minute into my first ever driving lesson.”
- 3Tip: Try prompting ChatGPT to tell you how many times the letter “N” occurs in the word “reconnaissance.”
- 4I’m not innocent here, either — the Enemy has put the people-language so in my head that this was not easy to write.
Thirty seconds after the age of magic came to an abrupt end, the City of the Golden King hit the ground. No, that was inaccurate. What it hit was the New Bureau of Access, the tiny little office that operated the flying chair used to send people up to the City of the Golden King one at a time.
The thing about this mode of entry into the City of the Golden King was, it made it pretty hard to invade it from the ground. The other thing was, it made it pretty hard to leave. Which meant that, for the most part, people increasingly didn’t. A visiting family member here, a member of law enforcement there. Ten people made a busy week. And so, the job of Director of the New Bureau of Access had, over time, become pretty lonely. So when Fred Patricide, on the occasion of her fifteenth anniversary on the job, took her first ever off-site break, she felt pretty much just… fine about it. There were no flights scheduled until well into the afternoon, the office could do without her for 45 minutes.
And so it did, for every single one of those minutes until the 41st, at which point the glass bottom of the City of the Golden King tore through every single plank, every single little window, every single shred, of the New Bureau of Access. And when the glass bottom was done, the brick foundation came in to smash what was left to a pulp that the… smears would never even reach.
People would go on to call Fred, inaccurately, the “sole survivor.”
I watch a lot of movies. On average, about 400 a year. That makes it very easy to just say, okay, I’ll watch all 20 movies in this franchise. I am, of course, aware of two things. One, most people are simply not like this. And two, I have a tactical advantage over those people which they can benefit from.
Whether you go in chronological or release order — maybe you do Machete Order, you do you — everyone knows about the various ways in which to watch Star Wars. We all understand that if you really wanna keep up with the MCU you should probably just watch it all, but if you just wanna watch what you need for the next movie, you’re probably good with three movies and three Disney+ shows, all of which have their own prerequisites and– Okay, yeah, cripes, that’s a mess. But most movie franchises are not that complicated.
Which brings me to the Ring movies. At 26 movies — including Ju-On, which I don’t even get into here yet, and the various international versions, but not even counting the short films or the weird Chinese crossovers, unofficial sequels, Bunshinsaba… — I can imagine “most people” who might want to watch these will want to know what chaff to cut.
This is part one, covering the six Ring films released in the 1995-2000 period. Ju-On also starts in 2000, but I think this is a clean enough block to write up on its own. Part two, when I get there.
Here are the six films I’ll be covering below the fold:
- The 1995 Ring TV movie, also known by its home video title Ring: Kanzenban (or, Ring: The Complete Edition.)
- The 1998 Ring film, its original sequel Spiral (or, Rasen,) its replacement sequel Ring 2, and the prequel film Ring 0: Birthday.
- The 1999 South Korean film The Ring Virus.
Another destructively long Monday. I can’t keep Sundaying about how long my Mondays are, yeesh.
Still kinda stressing about having to actually teach an art history class, but I think– no, I know that’s just New Situation Stress, not I Can’t Do This Stress. My Tuesdays have expanded, too — lots of cycling all over town. Good for my thigh muscles, but my knees are protesting. Really running into my own limits at Music class.
I’ve generally turned my disdain of kids around pretty well, I think kids are funny, I can work with kids just fine. But you hate to see a kid hold up a picture of a normatively attractive lady on their phone and ask another kid “smash or pass.” That’s truly just– That’s no good, y’all.
Broke my blogging streak this week, because school, but also because the writing I did do isn’t finished yet or requires additional research — I feel like I rushed the Rogers: The Musical piece, and, look, streaks, yes, but quality over quantity, more yes.
I’ve called this one “Stress Edition” in the hopes that next week won’t be “Stress Edition.”
Below the fold: Small website notes, some media bits and bobs.
I thought maybe I’d write something about the new Doctor Who trailer, but it appears I am as of yet still not capable of Being Normal about Doctor Who Being Good again,1Christ, it better be. so I’ll just leave it at the following sincerely held belief I didn’t know I felt this strongly about four hours ago:
They should let Donna drop an F-bomb.
EDIT: Okay, this is low effort microblogging even by my standards. Here’s some thoughts.
- The line about kicking its ass really is the bit that just made me cry, but in that specific way the Matrix Resurrections trailer scored with White Rabbit made me cry? It just activated me, like the part of me that’s incapable of Being Normal about Doctor Who was somewhere inside as a sleeper agent, waiting for Donna to go kick an ass.
- So does Kate just get things picked up by chopper all the time, or is that a service she reserves just for Dr Who.
- In an era where the show very frequently gets ahead of leaks by just dropping a press release, it took them so long to confirm who Neil Patrick Harris is playing that I’d assumed it wasn’t the obvious character, but okay, there we go.
- And part of why I’d assumed he was playing somebody else is that RTD has occasionally mentioned wanting the BBC to show relevant stories from ’69-’89 when they, say, bring old characters back, and this is the one story that somebody says the N-word in, so, you know, I’d assumed it wasn’t high on the list. (And also it’s mostly missing.)
- All of this really feels like the 2008 series, Part Deux, and I continue to hope that’s the stunt to draw us all back in and not how the next full series feels.
- I remember when UNIT’s HQs were secret offices instead of Avengers Tower.
- Lotta people clamouring for an airdate — we never know this until about two weeks ahead of time.
- 1Christ, it better be.
Johnny Nightmailman3You know, of the Upper Noxalia Nightmailmans. is not Mondo Goodbody in many of the ways a person could not be Mondo Goodbody. Johnny Nightmailman4The Nightmailman family is both widely known and well respected, though Johnny, as far as he knows, is the only member of his family to live in the City of the Golden King since his aunt, Rowena Nightmailwoman moved away to take care of her own auncle, Patr Nightmaildeliveryemployee. is not a carpenter. Johnny Nightmailman5Johnny Nightmailman’s father, John Nightmailman, once called it the City of the Golden King the Flying King’s Folly. After today, he will never call it anything else. does not carve wooden ducks, or even know about birds, really.6Fuck, do you know how hard it is not to know about birds when you live in a flying city? Johnny Nightmailman7The Nightmailman family made its significant fortune several hundred years ago when its then-patriarch, Ronny Daymailman, decided on a whim to lie about why he’d overslept. wasn’t even awake8He was the opposite: Asleep. when the City of the Golden King fell. This was the case because Johnny Nightmailman9You know, Johnny Nightmailman. was a man of the night. And not for the reasons his family name might suggest.10A member of the Nightmailman family was no longer expected to work as a nightmailman, and Johnny Nightmailman was ill-suited to the executive offices.
Because Johnny Nightmailman11Who was very happily employed by a legal firm as an interpreter of several lesser-known languages and dialects, including Second English, Mmm, Endee, Dendagon Coverup, and and whatever the hell it is they speak over on Snork. liked to walk. Hundreds of years of nightly mail delivery, and then another hundred of executive walk-and-talks, Johnny Nightmailman12Whose great-great-great grandfather once walked for six months to deliver a package to a man who died two months after he left. liked to joke, did that to your genetics. He couldn’t help himself. At least once a day, Johnny Nightmailman13An only child if ever there was one. walked the total circumference of the City of the Golden King. Now, the City of the Golden King was not that big. It was no Old Needle,14Old Needle used to be called just The Needle, and was called that for having been built in the long, long stretch of liveable land between an active volcano and the Ice Flats of Bun. But with the volcano extinguished and the Ice Flats shaved too thin, The Needle got the chance to expand into something nobody reasonable still wanted to call The Needle. But what else to call it? You know how it goes. it was no Chiro,15Nobody remembered why it was called that. no City in the Flaw,16Everyone knew exactly why it was called that. no Apotheosity.17Apotheocity? But a city was a city, and Johnny Nightmailman had seen every floating cobblestone of this one. Johnny Nightmailman’s friends sometimes joked that if he could fly, he’d use that ability to see some of the cobblestones he’d missed and then go back to walking. That he wouldn’t know what the point was, what to do with it. Straight back to the ground. But a self-imposed mandatory daily two-hour walk did things to your schedule, to your rhythm, so the walking shifted to the night, and so Johnny Nightmailman, interpreter, nightly mail delivery heir, and walker was asleep when the City of the Golden King fell.
Twenty seconds after the birds noticed, Johnny Nightmailman18Whose family would, they would come to realise, not particularly miss him. was awake as quickly as he’d ever been. And in the one way in which Johnny Nightmailman was like Mondo Goodbody, he did think he was flying. And so all he could think when he realised he wasn’t was, “Well, that makes sense.”
- 2Oh, me.
- 3You know, of the Upper Noxalia Nightmailmans.
- 4The Nightmailman family is both widely known and well respected, though Johnny, as far as he knows, is the only member of his family to live in the City of the Golden King since his aunt, Rowena Nightmailwoman moved away to take care of her own auncle, Patr Nightmaildeliveryemployee.
- 5Johnny Nightmailman’s father, John Nightmailman, once called it the City of the Golden King the Flying King’s Folly. After today, he will never call it anything else.
- 6Fuck, do you know how hard it is not to know about birds when you live in a flying city?
- 7The Nightmailman family made its significant fortune several hundred years ago when its then-patriarch, Ronny Daymailman, decided on a whim to lie about why he’d overslept.
- 8He was the opposite: Asleep.
- 9You know, Johnny Nightmailman.
- 10A member of the Nightmailman family was no longer expected to work as a nightmailman, and Johnny Nightmailman was ill-suited to the executive offices.
- 11Who was very happily employed by a legal firm as an interpreter of several lesser-known languages and dialects, including Second English, Mmm, Endee, Dendagon Coverup, and and whatever the hell it is they speak over on Snork.
- 12Whose great-great-great grandfather once walked for six months to deliver a package to a man who died two months after he left.
- 13An only child if ever there was one.
- 14Old Needle used to be called just The Needle, and was called that for having been built in the long, long stretch of liveable land between an active volcano and the Ice Flats of Bun. But with the volcano extinguished and the Ice Flats shaved too thin, The Needle got the chance to expand into something nobody reasonable still wanted to call The Needle. But what else to call it? You know how it goes.
- 15Nobody remembered why it was called that.
- 16Everyone knew exactly why it was called that.
- 18Whose family would, they would come to realise, not particularly miss him.
I was recently reminded that the Disney park in California actually put on a 45-minute version of the Rogers: The Musical scenes from Hawkeye, so I watched first the first performance, and then the last performance of it. Turns out that if it happens in a Disney park you can probably find a high-quality recording of it on YouTube.
I like Rogers: The Musical as the goofy thing it is, which is a supposedly in-universe Hamilton-ising of Steve Rogers’ story. It starts off fairly faithful to the movies, and then as it goes on gets, as seen in Hawkeye, increasingly inaccurately silly. (It’s pretty clear the whole thing is engineered around the song we saw in Hawkeye.) And then it starts raising questions it doesn’t have answers to. Because where Alexander Hamilton is long dead, just another dead guy in history, Steve Rogers and his coworkers are… not.
A short note on chronology
Both versions I’ve watched present what you’re about to see, in the grand tradition of place-based theme park chronology, as the world premiere of Rogers: The Musical, which means, in theory, you’re watching the exact 19 December 2024 premiere performance Clint attends in Hawkeye.1Hawkeye 1×01: “Never Meet Your Heroes” (2021)
Let’s just get into it: What exactly is this based on?
Steven Grant Rogers was enough of a public figure and then, with the SSR, surrounded by enough historically notable people, that the WW2 section of the story is easy enough to source from what we can easily imagine are several history books and biographies that broadly speaking agree with each other. This is what he was like as a youth, how he came to join Abraham Erskine’s Project Rebirth, how he saved the Howling Commandoes. Rogers was a living legend before he went into the ice, and it’s easy to imagine something akin to the Chernow Hamilton coming out between 2011, when Fury pulls him back out,2Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and 2016, when Rogers, together with his co-conspirators Wanda Maximoff, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson go into hiding after falling out of favour with the United States government.3Captain America: Civil War (2016)
It’s the rest of the story that’s harder to justify a source for. Sure, the SHIELD leak and its presumably extremely public dissemination through journalism and government hearings4Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) covers the Battle of New York,5The Avengers (2012) and a lot of other stuff that’s skipped over in the Save the City montage, which is presumably how the musical knows about Steve’s list, though I think that’s weirdly personally specific, and about Fury being there when he woke up. Fury is a known figure in the world by 2024, but his notorious shadowyness will be why they don’t have much to work with for his actual personality and go for “sassy” instead. There’s probably another book out there in the world that you can get this from.
But then it gets really messy. Obviously Ant-Man was not at the Battle of New York. But Fury also rambles off, in 2011, years before most of these people join or even get their powers, but okay, whatever, a whole Avengers roster. Let’s go through them one by one.
- “A Panther in Wakanda.” Sure, T’Challa’s association with the Avengers is presumably just a known fact.
- “A Sokovian named Wanda.” As far as the public is concerned, the way she dealt with Crossbones’ attack in Lagos is the reason for the Sokovia Accords6Captain America: Civil War (2016) and after that she breaks out of the Raft and becomes an international fugitive. Footage probably exists of her fighting alongside the Avengers at Novi Grad and at the Battle of Earth. I’ll accept it, but it’s a little weird.
- “A Star who is a planet’s son.” There’s genuinely no way Peter Quill is a known entity on Earth or that anyone knows he’s Ego’s son. The same is true for the rest of the Guardians — at most I’m willing to accept people know about “the tree and the raccoon who were there at the Battle of Earth.”
- I can’t quite make out the line, “An AI who ran his own” something, but Vision. About as believable as Wanda, sure.
- Spider-Man. Sure, the world’s knowledge of Peter Parker was erased ~10 days before this,7Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) but we know about Spider-Man.
- “A lawyer who can’t really see.” Matt’s identity is not public knowledge as far as I know.
- “A raccoon and a talking tree.” Like I said.
- War Machine. Doctor Strange. Sure, these are probably public enough figures.
This all works just fine in our universe, but not really in theirs. To the Alex Daily of Earth-199999, these would be ridiculous allegations or revelations. People who know Matt make jokes, right, but there’s not that many blind lawyers associated with the Avengers8Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and people make jokes about Matt, sure, but we just don’t know some of this stuff. I can’t possibly justify a source for biographical details about Star-Lord.
The Save the City montage then rambles through a bunch of the big fights. These are all public knowledge. But is Steve’s use of the Time Stone to go back first to Peggy and then to make sure he does that a thing the public knows about? Nobody’s even really there to witness this conversation. Jim Barnes and Sam Wilson are aware of the broad facts of it, but why would they ever go on the record about this anywhere? As far as the Alex Daily of Earth-199999 would be concerned, Captain America simply hasn’t been seen since shortly after the Battle of Earth. Not that weird, he’s still legally an international fugitive.
Some of these details are on the level of, everyone involved must’ve been keeping detailed journals, but when would those even have been released? It’s December of 2024, it hasn’t even been that long since the Battle of Earth.
The idea of a Hamilton-analogous Rogers: The Musical is fun. These are public figures in this fictional world, they’d have certain cultural positions. But Steve Rogers was an international fugitive like ten months before this moment. If that position has changed, we don’t know about it. It’s weird to make a pretty hagiographic musical about this dude at this moment in time, right? It’s weird.
So here’s the only reasonable conclusion I can come to. From statues of mass murderer Confederates to a recent President currently out on bail, America has always had an element of, let’s call it, a willingness or even a desire to admire or worship the worst of itself. On Earth-19999, in December of 2024, based on Rogers: The Musical‘s relationship to the reality of Earth-199999, I posit to you that Steve Rogers might be who that admiration is currently predominantly aimed at. There might be Rogers Republicans, a CapAnon movement. HYDRA-emblazoned “SHIELD Lives Matter” stickers on pick-up trucks.
Which means the reason Clint is the only Avenger attending opening night is he’s the Republican Avenger. Oof, yikes. Couldn’t be me, Clint. Fix your heart, man.
- 1Hawkeye 1×01: “Never Meet Your Heroes” (2021)
- 2Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- 3Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- 4Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- 5The Avengers (2012)
- 6Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- 7Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
- 8Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
See, this is why you go to Sneak Preview. Most of the time it’s Bank of Dave or The Courier, but then every now and then it’s something you didn’t know existed and that hits you just right.
Sneak Preview was 2023’s Dogman.
After a brief worry that the picture would be Super Transphobic — you never know with these things, you gotta be careful — it instead turns into a glorious portrait of a beautiful, complex character, the titular Dogman, played by Caleb Landry Jones.
He’s called that, you see, because he has A Lot Of Dogs. And over those dogs he has an amount of easy control that borders on a psychic power. And that gets… a little silly sometimes? But even at its silliest — his beautiful drag performances are just voiced by real tape of the singers he’s dressed at — it manages to land as something very sincere, very beautiful.
If I have any issues with this one, it’s, well, the character uses a wheelchair, and Hollywood is often a little weird about how it depicts that. It might be a little weird here, depending on where your sensibilities lie in that regard.
The same is true for the ways in which this is queer — it might just land differently on you than it did on me, and that’s fine.
It’s also, in the end, unfortunately, forced to conform to the shape of a modern crime film — and as much as I think the climactic Dark “Home Alone”-esque violence is a hoot of a sequence, I think something lower scale might have suited the rest of the film better.
I think when this actually comes out you’re gonna see a VERY wide range of opinions. A lot of them are gonna be bad opinions. Mine might be one of those!
But by Dog, I thought that was terrific. Beautiful. Gorgeous. A masterpiece I’ll think about for a long time.
Dogman did nothing wrong. Long live Dogman. Dogman — forever.