ey i'm blogging here a blog by alex daily

Review: “Dogman” (2023)

Cross-posted from Letterboxd and Mastodon.

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.

Weird Soda Review: Coke Zero “3000”

An energy drink-shaped can of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Creations: 3000 Limited Edition.So I’ve had this one in the fridge since Sunday, but then on Monday I burned my tongue on hot soup, so it took me a few days of not wanting to waste it on my slightly numb mouth zone to get around to: Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Creations: 3000 Limited Edition, which claims to be a “future-inspired flavour co-created with AI.”

Now, I don’t know exactly what that means, but my guess is an ad exec somewhere got paid way too much to get a soda engineer to type some things into ChatGPT, or some other awful plagiarism generator. Whose artisanal soda recipe was this ripped off from? There may be no way to know.

Let’s get to it.


I was pretty sure I’d seen this one go around when it was on shelves in America, but Googling it as I write this, it turns out this one is totally new, so I guess my vague recollection to expect a raspberry element in there somewhere, or maybe a blue flavour, that’s off the table. Neither the ingredients list nor the first sniff give any additional information — it’s just the same hollow smell as all zero sugar cola. The colour is the same as any Coca-Cola.

Now, a second sniff after a pour makes me feel like I might be onto something about the blue and raspberry flavours. Time to sip.


I’m very used to being betrayed by awful mystery Fantas, but I was really hoping this wouldn’t immediately send me there. And yet my first sip’s impression is… cotton candy? The vibe is definitely candular. Candesque. Of the Cand. But it’s not a specific cand. It’s just sweet. A little sour? Raspberry flavour candy as a touchstone is not a million miles off, actually. But it doesn’t taste like raspberry, not really. It’s like. You know raspberry. You recognise raspberry in the movie based on raspberry. And this is the third sequel to that movie, but now it’s all original material, and it’s not really anything like you were picturing based on raspberry? It’s like that.

Yeah, no, finishing the can, I have no idea what this tastes like. No. Wait.


Vaporwave. That’s it. Fuck me, it doesn’t taste like the year 3000 or like AI but like Vaporwave. It tastes: Like Vaporwave. And much like Vaporwave, it is indeed tolerable for a few sips, but quickly becomes tiresome from being so sugary and so overly produced.

I’m gonna go drink some water.

Review: Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84” (2011)

Original Japanese cover of the first volume.I was, chronologically speaking, about to graduate. Unfortunately, the work that led to that moment meant I’d caught up on podcasts. Nothing left to listen to1This is… relative, but the practical effect is as described.. That not having happened in some time, I panicked, decided I should listen to more of the kinds of books adults listened to, read, or at least pretended to listen to or read, and put a bunch (four) of Murakami novels and short story collections on my phone. 18 May, 2022, according to Overcast’s timestamp. I liked Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, I liked, mostly, the short stories I’d managed to find. Killing Commendatore seemed too imposing, which just left 1Q84.

Unfortunately, “catching up on podcasts” doesn’t stop podcasts coming and coming, or Big Finish dropping box set after box set, and soon enough, both 1Q84 and Killing Commendatore were but ideas at the bottom of a pile. Piles upon piles upon piles. So, this summer, more than a year later, having both graduated and finished the first half of a follow-up degree, I finally put it on. A choice, curiosity finally getting the better of me, not just because I’d run out of podcasts.

So. 1Q84. Tengo is a cram school math tutor with aspirations towards published authorship who is asked to shepherd a young writer’s amateurish manuscript to winning a new writers’ prize, only to discover the magical realist work of fiction is actually a true story meant specifically to disarm the real forces behind a dangerous cult. Aomame is a personal trainer slash personal assassin whose line of work eventually puts her in the position of having to take out the leader of a dangerous cult. They had a brief interaction once, as children, and long to reunite. 1Q84 is the story, told in alternating point-of-view chapters, of how they find themselves finally drawn back together in another world entirely.

Where Murakami thrives in his portrayal of this shared journey is in his descriptions of process, ritual, work. Whether that’s Tengo’s writing or Aomame’s killing, the ritual of reading to a comatose parent or of the departure from one world to get to another, or repetitive, boring time spent in isolation, it’s his descriptions of these two people going about their well-rehearsed business where the book really comes alive. Murakami really sells Tengo’s writing as an act of magic, Aomame’s killing as a cosmic duty. The travel to another world an accident, a spell tripped into, but a ritual nonetheless.

But it feels like the book reviews itself in its reviews of Fuka-Era’s novel Air Chrysalis. The magic2The magical kind, not the process, ritual, work stuff I describe above, which, in fact, gets pretty thoroughly explained., reviewers say, is left unexplained, the ending is too ambiguous. But that Murakami himself is clearly aware of the easy criticisms you could lob at 1Q84 — and a lot of his work in general — doesn’t mean they’re not true. If you don’t want people to say your ending is too ambiguous, you write a different ending, one where all the other plot strands don’t slowly fall away until even the A-plot falls away into another world.

So, yes, the ending is ambiguous. It would almost have to be. The magic, of Little People and Air Chrysalii, is vague. Would the book be better if Murakami explained what the Little People eat for breakfast? I haven’t even mentioned the absolutely impressively miserable sex scenes, which I’m pretty sure aren’t actually meant to be gross, they’re just written from a purely Male Writer’s Perspective, there’s truly no attempt made to see it from any other angle. But does any of that matter that much when the journey is so riveting? Does any of it matter when the prose — translated by go-to Murakami translators Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel — really, genuinely manages to engross in way that makes me go, oh, yeah, the absolutely wild thing that’s happening right now makes total sense? It really doesn’t.

Of course, the quality of the audiobook specifically also goes a long way to why I feel that way — narrated by Allison Hiroto in the Aomame chapters, Marc Vietor in the Tengo chapters, and then in the third volume by Mark Boyett in the Ushikawa chapters, each character’s respective reader so fully embodies both the story and the character that when Aomame and Tengo are finally reunited in the final chapters and their readers voice their dialogue in the other’s chapters, it moved me in a way prose never could have. They’ve not just reunited, they’re talking to each other.


  • 1
    This is… relative, but the practical effect is as described.
  • 2
    The magical kind, not the process, ritual, work stuff I describe above, which, in fact, gets pretty thoroughly explained.

Analysis: “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012)

Also posted as a review on Letterboxd, derived from a thread on Mastodon.

Never got around to the sequel, thought I’d go for a refresher on this one first.

Their respective games’ fellow characters are bigoted towards Ralph and Vanellope in essentially the same ways — total social exclusion through rigid enforcement of arbitrary rules designed to exclude them — but for different reasons.

Where Ralph’s exclusion is because he’s “the bad guy” who wants to be let into “good guy” spaces, approaching almost a faux “trans predator” thing, this idea that no matter what, in the ideas of Gene and the others he’s always gonna be pretending,

Vanellope is excluded because she has a disability, her “glitch,” when confronted she calls it “pixlexia,” the other racers’ mockery resembles common mockery of physical and learning disabilities, her peers make no effort to try to understand.

Felix, in this read, is the well-meaning cis liberal, the guy who on paper is totally fine with Ralph, but can’t bring himself to prioritise Ralph’s well-being over his own status because doing so would endanger his “hero privilege,” a limitation he only overcomes by figuring out a way to make himself the lead character of part of the story.

Unfortunately in the end Ralph and Vanellope’s conflicts are overcome not because Gene and the other penthousers learn to accept and love Ralph for who he is instead of who he was written to be, but because he “earns his medal” by saving the day, literally just trans exceptionalism, and not because reasonable accommodations are made to help Vanellope thrive but because her glitch is essentially brought under control, her disability “medicated,” the thing that made her unique transformed into something nobody finds too uncomfortable.

I realise 2012 is a different country, but there is simply no goddamn way anybody like me — trans, autistic — was involved in the production of this fucking movie.

We will never be able to look to Disney and truly see ourselves, it’s just never gonna happen.

Anyway, fun video game movie. Cute aesthetic, the fictional games fit right in with the real-world ones. Kinda proves these things can work as a movie in a way nobody has quite managed to do since. I say, actively not looking at the Mario movie.

Review: “The Blue Whale” (2020)

This is a necropost. This review of 2020 Egyptian internet challenge movie The Blue Whale was originally posted on Letterboxd. You should not watch 2020’s The Blue Whale.

The first sixty of these 77 minutes are trash. At best it’s disposable, and at worst it’s openly vile and toxic about mental health issues and what might drive a person to suicide. In the middle of those two extremes it’s also just very, very dumb about the internet. And not in the fun way a dumb slasher about a cursed phone or whatever can be, it’s more like how your parents or your dumbest uncle can be dumb about the internet.

And then, in the back 17, it drops the most truly unhinged, deranged twist I’ve ever seen. It’s not even a plot twist, because it comes completely out of nowhere, is never examined, and would have no time to go anywhere if it was going to, it’s more of a costume twist —

(And I’m not putting a spoiler warning on this because if I do nobody will read it, but look away and go watch it, even though it’s bad and you shouldn’t, if you don’t want to be spoiled for what is undeniably an absolutely damaged twist — )

But here I can do a read more.

Continue reading “Review: “The Blue Whale” (2020)”

What “Rashomon” is about

Lightly edited from Letterboxd.

My understanding of 1950’s Rashomon had always been that it’s about four witnesses of the same event sharing their contradictory good-faith accounts of it to a court. “That’s not how I remember it,” as one Homer J Simpson once famously put it. A tale of how human memory is subjective, and can not be objective.

But that’s not what 1950’s Rashomon is about at all: It’s about four witnesses of the same event choosing, one way or another, to actively lie about what they saw.

Tajōmaru the bandit lies to big himself up, regardless of whether he did it or not. He wants to be Tajōmaru the bandit, who killed a samurai in honourable combat. But it’s only in his own testimony that he’s ever presented as a person who’s even remotely capable of that.

The samurai’s wife lies because the most plausible account (the woodcutter’s) is, frankly, fucking pathetic. She comes off very poorly in it, and her husband dies a pathetic, pitiful death. A samurai’s honour is a thing that matters, dangit, is the thinking here — perhaps she feels she herself is to blame for what, and this is her way of reconciling those facts. (If the woodcutter’s account isn’t true, she may still simply be finding her own way to deal with the event.)

The medium lies because she’s a medium. It’s what they do. (Alternatively, the spirit of the samurai lies to preserve his own honour and let off his wife.)

Finally, even the woodcutter employs some creative editing to not get in trouble for stealing the valuable dagger — but his account, in which the wife spurs the samurai and the bandit on to fight each other and the samurai dies a pathetic, pitiful death, is by far the most plausible, and his motive to lie is only for not testifying. He has six kids to get back to — seven, now — and in the grand picture of things, that matters more than who stole the dagger.

Though there is some overlap, the accounts contradict so significantly that they can’t be reconciled. They simply can not be good-faith flawed accounts of the same event — the priest at the end isn’t losing his faith over the events described, but because each account is designed primarily to benefit the person recounting it, because this is a movie about what could make people who should objectively know the truth choose to lie about it.

Or at least, that’s how I’ll remember it.

Terrific picture. I regret to inform you all I’m going to be correcting people about it for the rest of my life.

Review: “EXIT Macbeth,” Noord Nederlands Toneel, at the Staddschouwburg in Groningen

Had to see a stage play for my theatre class. We’d been warned ahead of time it was essentially the best option of a season of shows that weren’t quite the best thing to take a class to.

Adapted from Mastodon nine and a half months after the fact.

As the title implies, EXIT Macbeth is, ostensibly, the story of Macbeth (the play) if Macbeth (the guy) were no longer the protagonist of Macbeth (play again.) Except it’s… not, because when Macbeth (the guy) fails to show up to be in Macbeth (the play) at the start of EXIT Macbeth, we get a quick recap of Macbeth (the play) and then the whole thing just implodes up its own asshole.

If there’s any cohesion here at all, it’s somewhere in, one, the framing device presenting the play as a sort of interactive choose-your-own-story museum, almost like if Macbeth (the play) were The Stanley Parable, (the video game,) whose exhibits are mostly obvious themes yelled out loud at you, and two, the character of the Porter, who in Macbeth (the play) has one short scene somewhere in Act 2, but here becomes the narrator, presenting the play (EXIT Macbeth) as an ode to the minor character, the porters, the walking forests, the women, of these plays. Sounds great. (The Porter character here is just tremendous, by the way, a hoot every time she shows up. For everything else I might say, terrific character, great performance.)

But that’s the problem — everything it says it is sounds great, but everything it actually does is, well, not the thing it’s saying it is. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and that sheep’s name is Macbeth. (This is the play.)


The thing it actually is is more of a soundscape, a large, audio-visual nightmare presentation of sort of the… dream of Macbeth (the play) collapsing in on itself. And I’m not particularly well equipped to talk about dance, but the dance performances, the soundscape, the minimalist staging, the puppets, it’s all great, every performer is very good at their job and a blast to watch. Like, the thing it actually is, everyone both on stage and behind it really seems to believe in it and stand by it, and you can tell from every seat in the house.

But what it is isn’t what it said it was or what I wanted. In the end it’s a mess that just about manages to border on the incomprehensible because it says all its themes out loud too hard to properly land on either side. But it’s a very pretty mess.

And I haven’t even mentioned the naked witch going through Mother Nature’s dating profiles.

Trailer content warning: Flashing images, taxidermy.

Review: “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (2021)

This is a necropost. A version of this review was originally posted March 17, 2021 on my Letterboxd.

What could I possibly even say about Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a film, if that’s what you want to call it, so dominated by its auteur’s oppressive vision that everything I thought was excessive or ridiculous about Man of Steel or Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is here, and turned up to eleventy-twelve.

I joke sometimes that I committed to the bit too hard on the Snyderverse, but I loathed Man of Steel and BvS, I loathed Justice League 1.0, and knew going in that I would feel very similarly about this one, so at a certain point, it just becomes punching myself in the face for no fun and no profit. At least I know what everyone’s talking about, right? I guess? Worth it? Is it? Is it?

It’s better than 1.0 mostly by virtue of not having its strong, if unpleasant, vision interfered with by things like “executive meddling” and “good taste,” but it also doesn’t have any footage of Henry Cavill’s face conspicuously refusing to acknowledge it doesn’t have a moustache on it. Pros and cons, you know?

Truly, Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

© Alex Daily. Powered by ClassicPress. The theme is Blogging Here by me, Alex Daily. More information in the colophon.