Category Archives: 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.

The Man From Taured

Have you heard this story?

If you have, chances are you’ve heard about it from a channel that does spooky real stories or wants to talk about the things the man doesn’t want you to know about or there are bugs in my teeth no not microphones, actual little bugs with so many wiggly legs. It’s one of a small corpus of ‘true scary stories’ that get covered in the venn diagram of ‘creepy things that exist’ like La Isla de las Muñecas, or the Winchester house, or ‘interesting crime with an open ended question’ like the hijacking by DB Cooper and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

If you haven’t –

Well, wait, let me set the tone properly. Turn off the lights and put on some spooky music from the Kevin Macleod archives.

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Story Pile: Psych

I almost did this as a Sherlock Holmes thing earlier in the year.

Psych is a TV series that is still? Kind of? Technically? Ongoing? It started in 2006, and in the first episode, Shawn is excited to maybe get his hand on some free CD Wallets, while in the most recent 2021 movie (This Is Gus), they suggest someone change her name from ‘Karen,’ because of the meme. It follows Shawn, a modern day Sherlock Holmes who has tuned the ‘easily bored smug dickhead’ dials all the way up, and sets him and his best friend Gus, a longsuffering niche pharmaceutical sales representative and probably iconic blerd?, in a new shared task of running a detective agency, which solves…? Crimes?

Oh and the gimmick is they pretend Shawn is a psychic.

Because that gives them a legitimacy that they don’t have by default.

You know, like real psychics.

Low key, this is the thing that I found the most interesting about the pitch of this series; it’s about how cops are so bad at being cops that they will turn to outside sources to help them solve things, and those things are nonsense. And the nature of power, and the way power is concentrated in our society, is such that The Police, a serious institution with the Serious Job of Seriously Engaging with Serious Crimes, have means to accept the help of psychics before they have means to accept the input of ordinary people who are just good at the things police think they shouldn’t be good at.

The whole series starts with that premise: Police are bad at their job, and when they encounter someone good at their job, they assume that must be for illegitimate reasons.

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Mask: Rayearth Masks!

It’s another set of masks, which were originally made just as a test of the question ‘can I make these elements line up?’ This time I’m aiming at trying to evoke the lovely armour designs from classic 90s magical girl isekai anime, Magic Knights Rayearth, with designs in red,

Blue, and

green. I promise you this is meant to be green.

You can get these designs (red, blue, green) over on Redbubble.

Announcing: The Disney Animated Canonball, Season Six!

Oh thank god it’s over it’s over I have now watched all the Disney Animated Canon movies and I can have an opinion on them. We’re done! We watched them all! I edited them all! I scheduled them all!

And if the rss feed doesn’t properly catch them all and I have to reset the entire podcast I may yell at people.

You can get the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and any other good podcasting service that’s checking the standard RSS feeds? And failing that, you can head to the website.

Dragons Got Hands

Hey, answer in your own heart, but: Can dragons shapeshift?

Odds are good you break down into three basic categories of answer:

  • Yes, of course
  • No, why does anyone think that?
  • No, they shouldn’t, and I’m mad at how many people think they do

And I guess, the fourth category

  • Why do adults have firm opinions on this?

If you remember my concept I proposed a few years ago, that in the context of a fantasy universe, a dragon is a government, incarnated as an individual entity. They control large areas, people are under their purview, their presence can replace the danger of other kinds of lawlessness, and they are typically only toppled by things the dominant paradigm see as legitimate extensions of state power. You don’t see dragons being toppled by peasant uprisings, but you do see them being slain by individual knights.

What you also see, commonly enough, in the space that delves further into Dragons as agents in the world, is that dragons commonly take the forms of humans.

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Story Pile: Reaper Man

Man.

The Discworld is incredible.

There are 41 Discworld novels, and with one exception, each novel is a standalone piece that requires no background reading in any other novel to work as itself; some concepts may be explained more thoroughly when they’re more focal, but if a story is about or includes stuff like L-Space or the Auditors or the strange mythology of the Nac Mac Feegles, the story that includes them will include an explanation of what they are and why you should care about them. Once you understand that concept, or recognise that character, though, you can see them show up in other people’s stories, and their presence connects the books one to another. There’s a web throughout the story where some characters are fleshed out through cameo appearances in other stories. It’s one of the masteries of the writing; that many of these characters have such whole identities that when you see Fred Colon for a quick joke in a novel where he’s not advancing the plot, he’s still believably Fred Colon and all these characters are whole people with realised inner lives.

The character who shows up in almost every Discworld novel with only two exceptions I’m aware of, is Discworld’s version of Death. There are five ‘Death’ novels, where they focus on the specific character and characters in his orbit, counting in order Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather and finally Thief of Time. These books can be read in sequence to read the development of the character, his relationships, and his life – such as it is.

Reaper Man tells the story of when Death became a person for a while. A person who could live, a person who could die, and what it meant for Death to confront Death.

Spoilers below the fold. Also I guess content warning, because this is a book about Death.

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Shirt: Friend Of Blåhaj

Hey, it’s Pride month, and so I needed to make sure I really made some fun queer-friendly design, right?

Well:

I made a cute design of a shark with a banner on it!

There’s a collection of them – with different banners and backgrounds – but I’m trying to not overload myself with dozens of designs for every possible flag or application. It’s available as a sticker, badge, mask and cap design if you don’t want to spend T-Shirt money (or if t-shirts are weird and expensive for you, or just generally not set up well for your body).

If you want this design with another banner like ace or agender or something please let me know so I can set that up but I am defaulting to just these two because they’re the most convenient for me to make and setting up two versions of every possible flag represents a huge time offering.

Story Pile: Revolutionary Girl Utena

When I hear people talk about ’90s anime’ it seems to be used to refer to the early 90s, with long-running, heavily episodic series that often didn’t have satisfying endings, but that was okay because you were always there for the ride. Stuff like Ranma 1/2 (take a drink), Yu Yu Hakusho, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball. Thing is, while that stuff has lasted (and is great and fine), that is the early 90s. Seemingly split in half, it’s the late 90s where the anime making a splash in English language areas took a sharp turn; you got Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain and Trigun, all anime I remember watching at the time. I don’t know if I saw the change at the time, but I do now in hindsight.

Revolutionary GIrl Utena was one of the Very Noticeable anime of the late 1990s; from that period when suddenly the anime you were getting were a bit less ‘whacky hammerspace’ and a bit more ‘you need to watch every episode and also here the villain fist-fights a rogue kangaroo.’

Revolutionary Girl Utena is visually splendid, has lovely music, is steeped knee-deep in metaphorical symbolism, and queer in the way that its faintest fig leaf stands between it and the audience. It’s a fairy tale but one where the fairies are like, the horrifying kind. Revolutionary Girl Utena was my, and many other anime fans’ introduction to an anime that resisted easy answers.

Anyway, there are some sort-of-spoilers after the fold, if you really care about spoilers for a 25 year old anime you weren’t going to watch don’t lie to me.

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David And Jonathon Were Gay Right

Content Warning: I’m going to talk about a Biblical figure who I think is probably a historical figure, but whose story was probably nothing at all like what we’re presented with, and also, is possibly very important to fundamentalist and orthodox visions of that Biblical history.

I’m going to talk about a Biblical character and there are people who find that personally offensive. If you think ‘I’m going to get mad about what he says about King David’ then you read it anyway, then uh yes, you have fallen for my elaborate trap where I told you not to read it.

POINT IS I’m gunna bully a dead king and you can’t stop me.

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Story Pile: The Wire

There are certain shows and films that I am cautious about being too overly enthusiastic about recommending. Breaking Bad, in which a mediocre white teacher snaps and becomes the most dangerous man in the world for about twenty people, is a show that I figure I’m probably going to always want to like cautiously. The Raid, a movie that millenial white guy film buffs tout like it’s their Asian friend that justifies Asian Cinema, that’s one too. And I’m dreadfully worried about what it might communicate if I pontificate overmuch about The Wire.

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The Endless Love Of An 80s Trans Elephant

About two years ago I made the joke that Lotsa Heart Elephant said Trans Rights.

It’s not a smart or deep joke. See this here is Lotsa Heart Elephant. They’re a pink elephant with a love heart decal, from the 1980s American Greetings Card owned and produced TV series The Care Bears. Now you might notice, Lotsa Heart isn’t a bear! That’s because in expanding the line of merchandisable properties, American Greetings introduced the Care Bear Cousins, who were the same basic thing, but different types of animal.

I feel like explaining the Care Bears lore, which I would normally do at this point, would be a little bit of a waste of your time and mine because while it is bonkers in only the special way that extremely incompetent multimedia empires of the 1980s could be. Like, at one point it veers into harmonising the Care Bears with actual literal Protestant Christianity.

But Lotsa Heart is a character who, amongst these greeting-card level characters, has tried on the genders.

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Nurse Chapel Is Bi Now?

I have no idea who this character is but I asked a friend who likes Star Trek a lot, and when they were done talking the sun had come up, so, I figured I’d go check that out and see what was what. And oh boy, howdy, did I learn a lot.

Particularly, I learned that there’s basically nothing about Star Trek that hasn’t been written down.

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Transformers: Acid Storm

It’s weird that the Transformers series are het, right?

It’s not weird, when you look at it from the outside, that it’s primarily an advertising vehicle made to sell toys to a particular market, which has been isolated to the cooties-averse category of young boys aged seven to eleven, as set out in around the 1980s, and every change to the franchise since then has been a matter of a modest step away from that same base narrative. In the original G1 continuity, there are around 400 characters, and of them, there were three women, but there were a few dozen stories about robots getting crushes on human women, or vice versa. The default was heterosexuality, which, y’know, that’s what heterosexuality wants.

But the robots are robots and they have an enormous amount of control over their identity and expression. Like, there’s no Robo Boobies to signal femininity, unless you actively choose to have them. When you view these creatures as people of a culture, then it kind of stands to reason there’d be robots that chose a different gender. Heck, they’re called trans formers, why would they have a specific gender as a constant?

Anyway, hey, let’s talk about Acid Storm!

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The Unbeard

A beard is a slang term describing a person who — knowingly or unknowingly — is recruited as a companion to someone in order to hide, well, usually, to hide that they’re gay. That’s uh, that’s the point, a Beard is someone you go on dates with or even marry, so that you can convince the people around you observing your life that you’re straight. Oh, you can make the case that if you tell your wife you’re going to Vegas to hang out with Tony Baloney for a minigolf tournament, and the inherent Dudes Rockness of that covers for the fact that you are, in fact, going to Vegas for some entirely heterosexual infidelity, and that makes Mr Baloney your beard, but let’s not kid ourselves, when people talk about ‘someone’s beard’ they mean the gay thing.

Beards are a longstanding tradition in media, and you can view them in terms of the real world people doing real things, or you can consider them as a media trope. In sitcoms, it was not uncommon for a Love Interest to get dropped in to a media vehicle for a bunch of male comedians just to make sure that this show full of dudes who hung out with dudes and did all their emotional engagement with dudes didn’t look, ah, gay?

What I want to present to you now is the Unbeard: A heterosexual love interest who is so unconvincing and undeveloped that it makes the character interested in them seem gay.

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Story Pile: Speed Racer

In 1999, The Matrix came out. Then I blinked, and it was 2008, and Speed Racer came out. And I, despite being a grown adult, looked at these two works, as advertised, and asked myself: How the fuck did these things come from the same people?

Turns out that that’s an incredibly stupid question.

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Don’t Buy (Corporate) Pride Shit

This month you’re going to see a lot of companies putting rainbows on their products. A bunch of what they do is going to look very cool, even whipping some degree or measure of ass. Consider these rad shirt designs from Wizards of the Coast, which if you like their iconography for their games, integrates really good design aesthetics with the brand.

Don’t buy them.

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Story Pile: Moriarty The Patriot

Understand that literally anything that gets compared to Death Note has an uphill battle with me. Fortunately, Moriarty The Patriot isn’t like Death Note, in that it’s a fun anime about an interesting character. It doesn’t rely on a lengthy sequence of connected cat-and-mouse ploys to hook you in or arbitary ambiguated rules that make for world-affecting crime wizards in a society that cares an inexplicable amount about their impact. On the other hand it’s good that it doesn’t have to compare to Death Note because the alternative is comparing it to Sherlock Holmes and the character there of Professor James Moriarty, with whom this anime has nothing in common.

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Story Pile: Elementary

Oh hey, this happened didn’t it? There was a whole Sherlock Holmes TV series a few years ago that lasted for seven years and went out with pretty good ratings and earned a bunch of praise before it became a footnote in the fanagement story of how fans of another Sherlock Holmes story decided to be proactively racist to Lucy Liu of all people?

Hey, why don’t I check that out? Adrienne says it’s good and she’s neat so let’s check it out.

Oh hey, that was pretty cool!

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Story Pile: Orson & Olivia

A recent conversation on twitter kicked around with the question of ‘hey, do you remember a television program that it seems nobody else remembers?’ and that led to a lot of people sharing the ways that television, for all that it’s this heavily documented and mass produced resource that feels infinitely replicated in our streaming now, is still a massive sprawling media space of things that didn’t necessarily stick to the culture at large. Of course, there are always some people who remember everything. The people who made works are often the people who will always stand by and recognise the part they had in the place of things.

For example, Orson and Olivia is remembered, at the least, because of the voice actors.

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Shirt: The Idyllshire Copycoeurl

You know now I’m open about playing Final Fantasy XIV there’s a whole bunch of specific niche jokes I can make that don’t make me feel like I’m divulging the location of a covert operative.

These two designs, the Profile and Bell designs, are available on Redbubble. I recommend a baseball 3/4 style, for that proper ‘sports teams supports’ design.

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