Category: Media

I’m a media studies graduate and with that comes a raftload of tools that I’m repeatedly told aren’t actually useful for anything, to which I counter that I like using them and enjoy the experience of applying those tools to all the media around me I partake in and therefore my life is enriched and overflowing with wonderful experiences of interconnectivity. By this point the other person has usually wandered off. Anyway, this is the category for anything that I think of as being connected to ‘media’, whether it’s a type (like TV, music, movies or so on), a brand (like Disney! Hi Disney!). This category also covers my weekly critical engagement column-type-thing currently called Story Pile.

T-Shirt: Team Vaccine

As of when I write this, I am unvaccinated. Here in Australia, vaccination has happened on a schedule that we might conservatively call ‘a bit of a mess.’ Since February I’ve been aggressively checking the schedule to determine when I can get vaccinated, with an eye to being as soon as possible.

The category I belong to, according to our current government schedule, is ‘Balance Of Remainder,’ which is to say ‘everyone who isn’t old or a conservative politician.’ And so… time to cheer for the team.

Here’s the design, on a shirt:

You can get it on Redbubble.

BuJo Tricks: Closing It

A little bit recently – as when I wrote this, which is months ago now – there was a conversation I had with a friend about why I use a material journal and take notes there, rather than recording audio and using digital tools for transcribing those notes and highlighting what’s important.

I’ve remarked how 2020 was the year I fell out of Bullet Journalling, which, I mean, we all fell out of things, but I fell out in January, months before the lockdown and heightened precautions. Last year, I did a lot of things without my bullet journal as a personal ritual, as a thing that broke up long sessions of computer usage. I gave up on notepaper and creative tracking, which had, I think, a negative effect on me, especially a lot of long term projects. It made me appreciate things my bullet journal is good for.

Particularly, right now, my Bullet Journal is in a different room.

It’s closed.

My journal is great for helping to  order a disordered mind; I flip it open and check it out when I have free time, and look at the important things I need to do. If I’m feeling it, I can tackle one of them, or progress it, or I can stop and not. But crucially, my bullet journal being a thing I can put down and close means that there are times I can easily commit to not worrying about it.

I can say, with this phrase, that I have done enough for today, and go address that in the journal in the morning.

Now, what is fun, is that friend? They went on try out physical media, and commented how restful it was. So that’s nice to know I’m not just fooling myself. I could be fooling two people.

Talen Talks Netflix Marvel

There, are at this point, six major Marvel Netflix TV series, and I have watched all but one of them. Starting in 2015, the Marvel Netflix experiment was seen, for a time, as a reason to get Netflix, and gave us a sequence of shows that were, in their own ways, pretty impressive. If you were a critic who wasn’t me, you’d talk about how they elevated a different kind of superhero, how they showed a different dimension of superheroics and were a step apart from the brightly coloured optimism and simplicity of the movies.

I don’t tend to agree with other critics, I find.

Anyway, I did watch exactly the right amount of all of these series and wrote about them, but found to my amazement going back, that if you want to look at those articles there’s really no single source. I watched them in orders close to release order, all higgledy-piggledy. Heck, my articles about it predate the Story Pile terminology I use on this blog to sort that kind of article.

With that in mind, what I’ve done here is a masterpost, bringing these six series together, so you can read them all conveniently.

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Story Pile: The Mitchells vs. the Machines

There are two parts to this article.

The first part, the easy part, the nice part, is going to come before the fold. No spoilers, just a little summary of this fun little movie that I had a good time with, because it’s a fun movie.

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines is a 2021 animated movie about a family road trip. It was going to come out in theatres, but 2020 kept happening, so instead it came to Netflix, where you can watch it right now, if you want. It’s about a teenage girl about to leave her home for college to study animation, and the ensuing feelings of family distance that come with it. It’s about one last road trip to bond together, to build memories before the onset of college life.

And then the machine apocalypse hits.

Look, you know the kind of colour-by-numbers kids’ movie we’re dealing with here. A family against the world, in their so-called car, coming up with schemes and chicanery to try and survive, then save the world. The main characters are a kind of likable, the jokes are very funny, and the sense of humour relies on actually knowing a few things about the kind of things they’re teasing.

It’s one of your heartwarming everything-works-out-okay kind of movie, with some fun unexpected laughs, a great sense of timing, and an interesting instagram-filter-and-stickers kind of aesthetic to express its character.

Solid movie. I liked watching it with my friend. It was a good time.


We’re done, right?

I’m smiling!

And the rest is below the fold.

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Story Pile: Sk8 The Infinity

Why now? Because it’s not Pride Month material, but it’s really close.

Sk8 The Infinity, stylised as SK∞ THE INFINITY, is a high water mark in the long-established genre of The Not Gays. Incarnated in this case as a classic ‘sports’ anime of ‘two hot boys and their mutual special interest,’ a genre deftly feigned by this year’s Misplaced Smooch Month Anime Haikyuu!!, Sk8 The Infinity is a Studio BONES production, with the talent of Hiroko Utsumi, formerly of the other most recent triumphant entry in the Not Gays genre, Free! which was about a heroic group of anime swimboys banding together to fund an animation studio, and also the anime adaptation of Banana Fish, an anime in the comparatively small Actually Gays genre.

And Sk8 The Infinity is, as much as this genre goes, real good.

Look, ‘good’ is a weightless word, all it tells you is I liked it, and I liked this. I liked this anime a lot and I think the story as much as it can signals that a bunch of these hot boys are kissing and it’s cool and the music is great and the sense of kinetic motion is excellent and the villain is ridiculous and the cultural insights are perfect and the boys are really hot and it’s great. I enjoyed it a lot.  If you’re just looking for some extremely lightweight, predictable anime about hot boys who probably kiss, then you should check out Sk8 and then get an AO3 account for what I am sure must be an absolute torrent of fanfiction.

For those who want more, gunna give you a plot rundown and some light spoilers after the fold.

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The Connection of Haruhi Suzumiya

Anime is an art movement that has encapsulated thousands of different competing threads and there’s no true centralising canon because it’s fragmented across all sorts of cultural anchor points. Australians of my age that are into anime so often got started because Aggro’s Cartoon Connection screened Sailor Moon, the ABC screened Astro Boy, Cheez TV screened Teknoman and SBS, in the late 90s, screened Neon Genesis Evangelion, meaning that those four anime are sometimes seen as ‘common ground’ topics. Common ground for one age bracket in one country, and even then, only sometimes.

There are some events that can be looked upon, in the english-speaking anime fandom, though, in terms of their impact on shared cultural spaces, typically conventions, but also just, anime releases that somehow managed to be widespread enough at the right time that they became foundation to the conversation. The big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Evangelion movies. Fullmetal Alchemist, then Fullmetal Alchemist again. A collection of trans girls and boys and nonbinary people that can trace a lineage from Ranma 1/2 through to Kampfer and Haku and Soul Eater and maybe a few tracing lines to Vandread.

There is a category of people I can annoy enormously by responding to a Touhou picture with which anime is this from?

There’s only so much room for any given series to suck up a lot of the oxygen in the fandom space. You can’t typically have five or six ‘big name’ anime that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on. One of those ‘event’ Anime, that rose, became incredibly prominent, and then deformed the culture at large, becoming one of the rings in the tree trunk that is this strange cultural enclaves, was the enormous franchise known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

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Story Pile: Zombieland Saga

Something had to be this month’s anime (so as to just not overload the Story Pile with being about anime this year), so your choice was deniably gay boys or definitely trans girls, so spin the wheel and here we are.


This is an article about Zombieland Saga, an idol anime. To get into it we’re going to talk about some spoilers, we’re going to talk about the genre, and we’re going to talk about genders, but to get there, we’re going to have to talk about dead girls. Like, actually, literally, really dead girls. They died, and the series makes comedy out of it but undeniably, this is a series about a bunch of teenaged girls who died. If you’re not here for an anime which literally hits a child with a car in the opening minutes, as in ‘pair of minutes’ – then you can totally afford to skip this anime. Okay?

Content Warning: Child Death, abusive business practices, and some body horror! For comedy!

I’m also going to talk about this series without any concern for spoilers. If you just want the general ‘hey, Talen, do you think I’d like Zombieland Saga?’ the response is ‘I mean kinda?’ It’s about as good as it looks. It’s completely unremarkable as an idol show, from what I can tell, the songs peak at ‘eh’ and there’s pretty much no compelling reason to watch it except as it relates to the inclusion of some fun Pride-related stuff. It’s available for free to watch on Crunchyroll.

I can’t just say ‘watch one episode and ditch on it’ because the cast largely doesn’t show up until episode three, and that’s when you’ll know if you care about the characters at all.

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This month, I wanted to do some pride themed shirts like last year, a shirt a week, but I just didn’t have a lot of inspiration for them, and, uh…


One of the things I like the most about pride is flags, because I am a huge dork. I don’t go to parades, and I’m a bi dude so Pride is also this common space where I get to watch myself get erased and forgotten and – like, lots of stuff in that space that kinda sucks. But flags, flags are cool!

I also liked my candy hearts design from earlier in the year, and I like the way they’re these like, badly printed, nearly-good representations of the things they’re representing. I like that a lot, and so I made this design that used my candy heart design and some flags I like.


Here’s the design, on a shirt:


You can get it on Redbubble.


In the Groundbreaking Award Winning Traumatising War Anime That Somehow Only Ever Got Produced As A Series Of Scholastic Young Adult Fiction Science Fantasy Novels, Animorphs, there’s this character, and his name is Ax. Well, his name is Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill, which you may recognise in the middle as ‘what you get when you slap your hand on a keyboard and then try to make it look like you actually a word,’ but he’s called Ax, by his friends and cohort of fellow pro-human terrorists freedom fighters, and he’s from the other evil empire of the Andalites, a force in contest with the series’ longstanding villains, the brain-puppeteering Yeerks.

Because everything in this setting is meant to give a teenager some form of prolonged anxiety, rather than being a small slug that crawls in your ear, and flattens across your brain and takes over your body so perfectly nobody will ever realise it’s happened to you, the Andalites are instead, a race of purple centaurs with scorpion tails, the ability to read minds, and developed technology that lets them shapeshift into literally any living creature around you, including dangerous ones and unnoticeable ones, and you just have to deal with that.

Man, Animorphs was a trip.

When Ax joined the group, being a big ole centaur with a scorpion tail and no torso, read the description the cover art is a lie, there were some things he couldn’t readily do, like socialise and visit the mall and wear overalls and scrunchies (as were the style at the time), because his body as structured didn’t have it. In order to partake in Human Society and its Important Social Bonding times, Ax used the Andalite shapeshifting technology to take DNA samples from all the other Animorphs, and merge them together to make himself a new identity that mixed together the phenotypes of all four available humans. The result was someone the story described as –

And I am talking about a teenaged character here, and whose memories and relationships and feelings I have from when I read it, as also a teenager so don’t go getting weird on me here –

in essence, he’s described as hot, but kinda unsettling.

Ax takes on a masculine gender, despite being composed of two human boys and two human girls, and, because I can’t check the books right now one must assume zero hawks. And this is one of those things back in the 1990s that makes no sense in hindsight, because in the 1990s media was doing its damnedest to pretend that queerness existed in exactly one of two ways: A single gay man you could keep at arm’s length but deem yourself enlightened for tolerating, or someone who crossdressed and didn’t get run out of town for it. I’d love to say ‘it was a different time,’ but no, it was that time, and it sucks.

See, okay, it’s one thing to point out that if you were an alien making a human identity out of mashing up four chunks of human DNA, on the spot, by shapeshifting magic nonsense science, the idea that you’d get a strict, simple binary identity is weird. These days it’d be a perfect opportunity to have Ax have a nonbinary gender, especially since so much of gender is social.

But also, and this is now like, a secondary to pride thing about Wasted Opportunity To Express Nonbinary Icon Ax, Ax does a lot of things that uh, kinda just read as autistic? Not to us – not to the readers necessarily – but to other people, he does things like get obssessed with reiterating and replaying words, stimming with the way different words work, or being overwhelmed with eating things – and like, the same specific thing. Ax eats something and then he eats it again and then he eats it again, because he really, really wants to experience that over and over again.

Now part of this is just the nature of a written book. When you read a character’s inner dialogue, one of the side effects is that a character is always describing their thinking as if they are describing their thinking. It’s not visual, it’s typically detail oriented, and it often involves a character working out an explanation for how characters are behaving. Bonus, in Ax’s case, he routinely misunderstands the focus of a question, and needs someone to clarify what they are focusing on.

There’s a lot of complicated questions about what ‘male’ in one culture means vs ‘male’ in another culture, so it by definition is pretty challenging to say that, in our society, what Ax is what we would assign male at birth or assign female at birth, because Ax was Andalite Centaur At Birth (ACAB).

There’s a question about what kind of hormonal or environmental changes that are allowed to happen to the body that morphing can inherit, too? Like despite the fact these kids are shifting back and forth out of human bodies all the time, there’s no notable difference in how they age, which suggests that these bodies are maintaining some sense of what’s happened to them, their overall age and the like. But also we know that shapeshifting lets you regrow lost limbs (because this is a series that gets metal as hell), which also implies that the bodies are able to differentiate between some changes like injuries versus epigenetic changes like the byproduct of quantities of hormones distributed across the body. We also know that allergies can get involved, so systems on the layer above DNA are doing stuff. And we also know the people that mix up the soup that makes Ax includes a black girl and a biracial Hispanic kid.

Anyway, point is that Ax has every room to be a nonbinary trans autistic culture mix alien icon and we missed it because the culture was wasting its time with ‘a gay teenager? What would that even be like?’

Queerer City

You know that game I talk about, from time to time, that game I play, that game, you know that game, that lets you play a character that you create, made through an immersive character customisation system, then you get to choose how they look, get to pick their graphical representation, get to choose maybe how they relate to the world, some beloved contacts and friends and factions that mean a lot to them, and how there’s a lot of fanart of characters made in that game and how they’re all about getting to express and explore this element of a wonderful world with this really exuberant kind of approach to expressing yourself? That game? You know? Final Fantasy XIV?

I kid, I kid. Final Fantasy XIV is a fascinating game full of interesting stuff, I’m told, and it’s fun, I’m told, and I should give it a shot, I’m told. It’s definitely got all the makings necessary for this particular phenomenon – though I don’t imagine it will cross the final threshold necessary any time soon.

See, what I want to talk about here is how a game dies, and what rises out of it.

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Story Pile: The Old Guard

A long time ago, and by that I mean ‘before 2020’ I spoke to a friend about the Rangers from Babylon 5, where I described the telescoping bo staff for use in combat in space ships where people had space lasers and psychic powers as being both extremely sick and extremely dumb. They then thoughtfully considered that the specific intersection of those two ideas was in fact, the entirety of their jam and I kind of agree with them.

I also have spoken about how ‘queer media’ is in some cases kind of isolated to these spaces where it invokes specific varieties of heavily introspective and personal narratives. It’s your artsy queer films or single moments expanded out into whole narratives, like a repeated argument over a dinner table, that kind of thing. These narratives are not in any way bad, but I don’t like talking much about them. Partly because they are just generally not resonant with me, and partly because they aren’t fun.

I like talking about fun media.

I like talking about the media we engage with because we enjoy it. I like talking about things that excite and inspire, because I don’t think those are separate things. The idea that ‘good’ movies and ‘popular movies’ are opposite elements frustrates me, as a devotee of the subconscious matter of pulp media.

And also, like, good fun media is really hard to make? It’s treated as if it’s a lesser form because big, expensive movies do it and do it a lot, but as with TISM’s expression: pop songs aren’t just more fun, but the constraints of popular media create tension that you can’t necessarily replicate with media that explicitly resists that form.

Anyway, The Old Guard.

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Jolene is a 1973 country song by Dolly Parton. Without being overblown about it, Jolene is one of those songs that has its own wikipedia page. In a Rolling Stone list of the top 500 songs of all time, it sits in the top half, at 217, and while that entire idea of a list is silly, it shouldn’t escape notice that at least one person with a lot of free time was able to remember it when they tried to compile a list of 500 anythings. That’s too many things.

This song is one of those rare classic soncs that I actually like, but it isn’t exactly one I sing along to or even listen to very often. It’s very mournful and soulful and, as performed originally, it’s a song that’s as much about how much e m o t i o n you can club your audience with. It’s great.

A few years ago, a version of it ‘went viral’ inasmuch as they can, where someone took the original record and played it on a record player at 33 rpm – basically, slowing the whole track down.

This changes the way it sounds, of course. It stays soulful and sad, but now there’s an additional dimension to it. And this did create the feeling of a totally different person with a different sound of voice looking at the song. Sometimes it’s seen as sounding creepy and sometimes it’s seen as scary and sometimes it’s seen as haunting.

And that was a pretty cool find and resulted in a sort of resurgence of the song in my space around me. Suddenly, a bunch of people who weren’t born in the first half of the last century were pointing out that hey, Jolene rules.

And then…

Look it’s not a long reach to listen to Jolene and notice that the protagonist seems to be very impressed with how pretty Jolene is. We have no idea about the dude. Apparently, he’s worth fighting Jolene for, but… we don’t know what he’s like.

But we know Jolene is pretty.

Anyway, so that’s neat!

Thing is, there’s also this other take on Jolene that was first brought to my attention by Andi McClure of Mermaid Heavy Industries. She pointed out that there was a reading of the text where ‘Jolene’ was the man in question; that is, that Jolene is the feminine identity of the ‘man’ the singer perceives as ‘hers.’ Watching her partner struggle with her identity, she sees it as someone ‘taking’ him away from her.

Anyway, it’s wild because despite the fact this song doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, thanks to years of reiteration and attention, and being recontextualised through modern lenses, it’s kinda neat how the song’s become… pretty queer.

Welcome to ERFs

Have you enconutered the term ‘TERF’ and left wondering: Wait, what’s that?

There are some people, TERFs mostly, who think that TERF is a slur. It’s not; slurs are terms used to direct social power against a marginalised group. If you shout TERF at someone on the street, they’re not going to assume someone else is going to attack them because of being so painted. If they are, they’re incredibly paranoid, because TERFs are typically very privileged people who are afraid of being criticised by trans people.

It may sound like I am overdoing it, but I really am not. The typical TERF discourse is an attempt to weaponise outrage at the idea of women facing disagreement from, pretty consistently, other women. But what is a TERF? And what about those other -ERF terms I’ve heard?

So, content warning: TERF stuff! And SWERF stuff! And BLERF stuff! What’s a BLERF? Well, after the fold.

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The Johnlock Conspiracy Conspiracy

First of all this is going to be building off a point first cast into relief for me by Sarah Z’s video on The Johnlock Conspiracy. She is both directly connected with the experience of this space and did the research into the actual history of the people involved, a sort of on-the-spot observer recounting her experiences ethnographically. If you want a longer form deep dive on what The Johnlock Conspiracy is, check out that video. I will be providing a quick summary.

I’m also going to talk about fanagement, which I wrote about last year, which is about the way that fan engagement was seen as being a thing that corporate entities could deliberately engage for commercial ends. Fanagement isn’t necessarily an inherently evil or corrupting thing, but it’s something to know about as something that exists, and knowing it exists can colour your relationship to the media created in response to fanagement.

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Story Pile: The Detectorists

This is one of those British series that I think people like saying they like more than they like.

The Detectorists is a 2014 British sitcom, one of your six-episodes-a-season shows made by Mackenzie Crook, who you’ll recognise as The Office Dullard from the British The Office Series that existed, remember? Anyway, The Detectorists is a well-researched sitcom based in some part of the lovely English countryside with twinkly folk music background following a pair of what you can only call nerds whose hobby is going out into the fields and parks of their area to look for interesting stuff you can find with a metal detector.

Discovered, it seems reasonably recently thanks to the attention of, I dunno, Netflix or the Internet or The Algorithm or Lockdown or something, people talked about it, said it was better than the Office, and Netflix recommended it. With that in mind, I watched it, and, like,

Yeah I guess it’s better than the Office.

That doesn’t make it good though.

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T-Shirt: Nondescript Flying Scorpion Creature

Who are my shirts for?

Like, that’s the question you ask with anything you make, if you think about it, enough. Who would want this, and being able to conceptualise your audience is a skill that I try and impart on my students. Who then, are these designs for?

On one level, what I’m doing is graphic design for sometimes as few as one or two people that might enjoy the joke. Sometimes I’m making shirts that I want to wear to class. Sometimes, I’m making shirts for people who aren’t me. For example, I don’t need a they/them pronoun shirt.

This shirt is a shirt that’s very much for me.

You’ve maybe seen this kind of shirt before. Normally, this design is focused on starter Pokemon – three form pokemon that get soooo much attention and merch.

And here’s a shirt of a Pokemon I’m very fond of – Gligar, and the silhouette of the Gliscor it one day will become and terrorise metagames that are afraid of a beastly physical wall.

Here’s the design, on a shirt:

You can get it on Redbubble.

Story Pile: Toy Story

Toy Story is a 1995 animated feature film by Pixar Studios, distributed by Disney, that serves as one of those iconic examples of early 3d Animation that ‘holds up’ over time by people who haven’t gone back and looked at any of the humans in it. With the voice talents of Tom Hanks and Tim Toolman, it follows the narrative of a pull-string cowboy doll competing with a kung-fu action grip spaceman toy for the attention of their gigantically towering owner, whom they must never allow to know that they live, breath, and know his name.

For kids!

Look, classic yada yada, groundbreaking yada yada, wholesome yada yada. I actually got to see this one while inside a controlled christian media bubble, and if tomorrow I found out all copies of it had been deleted I would react like that ‘oh no, anyway,’ meme. It is not a movie for which I have an enormous amount of affection. I don’t want to talk to you about the narrative, though, not of Wilson’s Best Friend negotiating with the Last Man Standing about which of them will be more validated by an actual literal child and the ontological questions of why aren’t the parts of Mr Potato Head independently alive?

I want to talk to you about the humans of Toy Story. Specifically, about Andy, and Sid, and the weird world they live in, and the weird world they’ve created.

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Story Pile: BNA

BNA or BNA: Brand New Animal or Oh No I Guess I’m Hot For A Tanuki Girl Now Does This Make Me a Furry is a 2020 anime from Studio Trigger, the people you recognise the second you see their animation work, formerly of Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academia, DARLING in the FRANXX, SSSS.GRIDMAN, Promare, and a ton of other work including Indivisible, Flip Flappers, KILLER SHERLOCK, Akame ga Kill!, Steven Universe, Sword Art Online, and Space Dandy, and only one of them I made up.

BNA starts out with a tanuki girl crossing the boundary from conventional society to make her way to Anima City, the one city on earth, we’re informed, where human-animal hybrid shapeshifters can live, outside of the oppression of people who don’t transform, and therefore, view those who do with a sort of fundamental dehumanising horror. It’s, you know, furry racism, except handled a little bit less embarrassingly than normal.

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Should Megatron Even Be A Gun?

The classic villain of the Transformers canon is the generically named villain Megatron. In almost forty years of reimagining and endless marketing, we have seen Megatron in a lot of different ways. He’s been an unassailable, all-powerful figure at the top of a hierarchy, a strongman ruler who can oversee an army, a gatekeeper of power, a rebel leader attacking an empire, a damaged soldier, a gladiator and an avatar of oblivion. Across the major histories of Transformers, Megatron’s image of himself has varied, from series to series, writer to writer (and in particular projects, episode to episode), but it is reassuring to see how consistently this character is recognisably himself.

Of course, to know that, you’d have to watch a lot of transformers media, and that’s not how lots of people partake of them. Most people, at least, most of the people who don’t watch the Bay movies and think ‘oh yeah that’s about right,’ bring the same thing to mind when they talk about Megatron.

They think about a gun.

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Story Pile: Moneyball

Lots of movies are about games. Most of them are kind of bad – sports movies famously depicting weird strategies or rules loopholes or just bad versions of how their games are played to create the most dramatic moments. And if your sport is one of the heavily merchandised sports in the United States, your sport has absolutely got a set of movies, filling the niches of What If Sports, What If Sports But Girl, What If Sports But Animal, and eventually, What If Sports But Your Dad Cries. Moneyball is firmly in that last category, a rhapsodic story about how important a game Baseball is to culture, which is why it’s mostly only played by three countries, and I know someone’s coming along to go hey, you forgot Poland and I do not care.

Ostensibly, Moneyball, a 2010 film about a 2002 season of ‘Baseball,’ the 1845 game, follows Billy Beane, a lone, hard man, a bitter and tormented man, a baseball man, where he took the conventional wisdom to the table, rejected the model of running a baseball team and defeated the system with facts, and logic, showing that once and for all, baseball doesn’t care about your feelings.

I promise, promise, promise, this tone is necessary.

Because Moneyball as a movie owns bones.

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O Whacking Day

I am not actively a big fan of the Simpsons. I mean, they’re part of my sense of humour, I know a lot of the memes, I get a bunch of references but that’s because The Simpsons is a kind of cultural background radiation. It’s not something I’ve actively watched on TV at any point in the past twenty-five years, which is kind of amazing to consider. Like, I haven’t watched an episode of the Simpsons since I was back in the cult, it was that long ago, and yet I’m reasonably conversant on the whole subject.

It doesn’t matter, though because apparently, the majority of the stuff The Simpsons fans reference all came about in that five year window, and I’m sure that there’s no other influence on this like the age of my friends. Based entirely on this I will simply assert that this is when The Simpsons stopped being good, and never bother thinking about anything after that point.

One episode in this ‘classic’ period, and the one which asks us to celebrate it tomorrow – I tell you early so you can get organised – on May the tenth, is the twentieth episode of the fourth season episode (blaze it), Whacking Day.

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Harmonising the Jedi

There’s this idea in religious studies, but usually something you only examine as a member of that religion, where you try to take conflicting or seemingly conflicting incidents in different texts and try to construct an explanation for how those things work together. This idea, of trying to bring these works together, is known as harmonisation. It’s a way that multiple conflicting canons – in the religious sense – can be ‘explained’ into one another. It also, when you understand it as a practice, makes a lot of changed texts make sense.

Like Star Wars movies.

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Story Pile: Tenchi Muyo (Kinda)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, or one like it.

The story starts in a remote, boring little bucolic space where nothing is happening but there’s talk about an old mystery that connects to a family line. Our hero, Tenchi Masaki, wants to go explore the interesting thing, but his grandfather tells him he has to do his chores, instead. When he slips from his grandfather’s attention, he winds up exploring an old cave he’s been told not to, whereupon he gets a sweet laser sword that’s a relic from a more civilised age, and also wakes up an ancient demon, which kicks off a series of events resulting in his whole house being teleported next to the same bucolic shrine, meaning it’s easy to hide spaceships coming and going, and you don’t have to draw as many backgrounds in a city or non-major characters.

Along the way, he discovers the demon is actually a cool space pirate who wants to jump him, she’s being hunted by a haughty princess, who wants to jump him, and then a steadily coagulating core of Other Girls arrive to join in the queue of Wants To Jump Him.

It’s not a hentai.

There’s space-faring adventurers, battles with spacefaring criminal types, a vast empire, and deep powerful forces that well up from inside Tenchi (who is secretly a prince).

Now I may have described The Most Generic Anime Plot ever, but the good news is that’s because I also described The Most Generic Anime ever, an anime that has been part of the background of anime for a while now.

Content Warning: Mentions of incest.

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