Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
January 24, 2020
The Master Dynamic

So I'd meant to go on an extended rant about the 2-part Doctor Who season opener, but then things got super terrible and I hadn't much felt like writing much about anything, let alone something as ultimately trivial as a television show. I still don't know that I'm entirely up for this, but somehow it feels like a thing I should get out of the way? Despite the triviality. So here goes:

Spoiler: the Master is back, and... kind of terrible, and not in the way that a good villain should be. The Master, admittedly, is one of my favorite villains from any property -- not because he (or, quite recently, she) is necessarily a compelling character (the "evil" version of the hero trope is, well, a trope), but because he and the Doctor frequently interact so amicably. While the two characters are often in opposition, there's genuine respect and fondness between the two, and on more than one occasion the Master has worked with the Doctor to further a mutual goal (usually survival) and has even moved to save the Doctor when there seemed to be no immediate benefit to doing so. Granted, the Master has often sought to *turn* those latter situations to his benefit, but there still seems to be a certain sincerity to his initial motivations. As the Master said on one occasion when the Time Lords enlisted his aid in an attempt to preserve the Doctor's life, "A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about." (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:46 pm | Comments (0)
December 28, 2019
Expectation and Hope
Category: Serious

Since last night, I've been pondering the relationship between expectation and hope -- specifically, the (limited, but perhaps not insignificant) extent to which hope implies expectation. Usually, when "philosophical" thoughts along these lines pop into my head, I'm able to throw Google some search terms and find several academic articles or essays that more or less explore what I'm thinking in the direction I'm contemplating. Often there will be a specific name for that philosophical problem; occasionally it's even one with which I was once familiar but have forgotten in the years since my study.

Not so with expectation vs hope. There are, to be sure, a number of pieces in which the two concepts are examined and contrasted, but I'm not seeing any (yet) that seem at all in accord with my thoughts on the subject. Many of these articles seem to be evaluating the concepts in a career/commercial context; the ones that seem more aligned with my thoughts in terms of context (those with a medical/psychological perspective) still, perhaps understandably, aren't approaching the subjects in the manner of my thoughts. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 2:33 am | Comments (0)
October 25, 2019
Papa Ray Loves Black Meat
Category: Serious … Travels

So I visited Field of Screams in Lancaster County, PA, last night. As haunts go, it was comparable to other attractions incorporating multiple attractions in terms of quality, though it had a few standout areas -- I particularly enjoyed the multi-floor setup of the Den of Darkness (one ground-level area resembled a frontier saloon/brothel; toward the end there was attic area populated with all manner of creepy dolls), and the layout of the Nocturnal Wasteland was impressive though the theme was kinda weak. (The green light/fog combination they employed to give the visual impression of wading through a toxic swamp was brilliant, though.)

And there was one part that left me especially cold, though that's less the fault of the haunt itself than the actor. And it's not an uncommon thing. (I mean, I wouldn't be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time it happened -- I haven't been to a million haunts, and not every haunt affords the opportunity for it -- but I could certainly buy a current Marvel Legends figure at a local comic shop markup.) Nearly every time I pass through a redneck cannibal area and the actors can interact with patrons, an actor singles me out to make a crack about "dark meat" or some other reference to the color of my skin. Last night the area was loud and the guy had wrapped his arms entirely around my head, so his speech was muffled, but I think he said, "Papa Ray looooves black meat." Ha ha ha. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:40 pm | Comments (0)
September 16, 2019
Brief comments on Dark Phoenix

So I watched Dark Phoenix, and... yeah, it's bad. But the thing that gets me: it's bad in the way that pretty much all the X-Men live-action movies (save First Class) have been bad, only the direction (and the dialogue, and the music?) is marginally less competent -- which means the movie was less capable of manipulating audiences into gushing over it despite the lackluster content. I feel like the main problem with the X-Men movies is that they forget that, generally speaking, the most compelling part of any superhero story is the "hero" part, and in most of the X-films the mutants are more interested in protecting themselves -- and fighting each other in big noisy CGI set pieces -- than they are about protecting the public or standing up for nobler ideals. Here (again) the heroes were all flawed in decidedly non-heroic ways: two of the major players, driven by a decidedly ignoble desire for revenge, outright wanted to murder someone they once cared for deeply. Even in the "uplifting" final bit where Jean finally consciously decides to use the Phoenix force for "good," she walks around disintegrating her foes (and, sure, they were evil aliens), and I couldn't help thinking that a being that powerful should subdue enemies without blasting them to atoms. But superhero movies across the board aren't particularly sympathetic to the Supervillain Lives Matter movement.

-posted by Wes | 6:39 am | Comments (0)
September 2, 2019
Wade in the water, children
Category: Travels

For the first time in... a very long time, today I went to the local swimming pool! Every year I tell myself I'm going to make it to the pool, and every year Labor Day comes and goes without my having gone swimming all summer. I was determined not to let that happen this year, and so -- after planning to leave around noon and not actually making it out the door until shortly after 4pm -- I finally made good on that promise to myself.

And it was great! I dunked myself a bunch of times, "swam" (ie maneuvered for some distance without my feet touching the floor) several "laps" (it was crowded enough that I couldn't swim across the pool lengthwise without running into folks, so I swam the width instead), and stood around moving my arms and legs until I got tired of being in the water and decided to call it a day. I was back home by 5pm. 😛 Still, I'm glad I went.

Now to see if I can make it to the beach while the weather's still nice!

-posted by Wes | 6:09 pm | Comments (0)
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