Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 2, 2017
Thoughts on Doctor Who’s “Thin Ice”

Overall, the episode wasn't terrible. It had some good moments between Bill and the Doctor (though I don't know how to respond to writers when they place words in the Doctor's mouth that are patently false, like "I've never had the luxury of outrage"); it had a compelling "mystery"; and its supporting cast was pretty diverse (though I do find the abundance of children in the Capaldi era to be super annoying). The episode was, to be sure, basically a rehash of previous nuWho episodes except in a different setting -- "The Beast Below" comes to mind, what with the feeding of people to a humongous creature imprisoned beneath the city for some exploitative purpose -- but that's par for the course for Doctor Who these days.

But following the handful of articles about how Doctor Who was supposed to "tackle race and whitewashing" in this episode, I did find it to be disappointing. The episode definitely did acknowledge those topics, but there's a difference between "acknowledging" a thing and "tackling" it. (This distinction, by the way, is part of the reason I declined to comment more publicly on Get Out. I thought the movie was an effective thriller, but I found its much-lauded exploration of racism to be a letdown -- especially given the well-meaning posts from some of my white friends to the tune of "all white people need to see this movie.") With respect to whitewashing, the subject is dispensed with in a 20-second exchange. Explicit racism gets a bit more emphasis, if only because the episode's villain responds to Bill with a cartoonishly racist outpouring before the Doctor socks him in the face. And while I guess that response represents progress -- the last time a character was openly racist to his companion, the Doctor proceeded to fall painfully in love with that character -- the episode's "tackling" of the topic is restricted to that one bit of dialogue. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:52 pm | Comments (0)
April 30, 2017
They’re so 144!!!
Category: Miscellany … Travels

So this weekend I got to be "that guy" (or at least one of "those guys") at the East Coast Comicon in Seacaucus, NJ -- by which I mean that guy who's interested in this super obscure thing that nobody's heard of. Since this sounded like a more comic-focused con than most of the ones I attend these days, and since I'm currently all about Madballs (I mean, I'm always all about Madballs, but right now I can actually walk into stores and buy them!) I went to ECC with a mission more specific than my neverending quest for cheap toys: to acquire Madballs comics from the 1986-1988s Star series.

Of the multiple vendors I asked, only two even seemed to remotely know what I was talking about. One didn't have the books on hand, but he did get excited and asked me if I was familiar with a particular artist (I wasn't, but I also don't know the names of the Madballs artists). This artist, he said, not only drew for the books, but was actually in attendance at that very convention and had lots of relevant art with him! I spent a good amount of time looking for that artist and was disappointed when I couldn't find him, but I did find the work of an artist (with a different name) who had done Garbage Pail Kids art. Still, it was clear that that vendor at least sort of knew what Madballs were, even though he got certain details confused. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:58 pm | Comments (0)
January 20, 2017
Re: Trump’s inaugural address
Category: Current Events … Serious

I actually thought it was okay -- certainly among the least egotistical examples of public speaking ever offered up by the Donald. I bristled a few times (referencing "all talk, no action" politicians seemed ill advised considering he just applied those words to a man who nearly died fighting for civil rights), and I laughed when he promised to "never, ever let [us] down" (dude lets me down every time he spews inanity via Twitter). But my expectations were very low and he did exceed them -- and I was able to sit through the entire speech while sober -- so I give him props for that.

-posted by Wes | 8:51 pm | Comments (0)
June 23, 2016
Friendship is Magic
Category: Miscellany … Serious

Today, as a student and I perused a list of writing prompts in search of an engaging topic, we happened upon one that tasked students with describing how to make a new friend.

"How about that one?" I said. "That looks like a fun prompt."

"I don't have much to write about that," replied the student. "My best friend -- he just came up to me and said, 'Will you be my best friend?' I said, 'Okay!' And we've been best friends for three years."

And I was fascinated by this revelation, because it just seemed so simple -- and because, I guess, that really is how friendship works for children. I think that's even how one of my most enduring childhood friendships started; we met in the 2nd grade and remained close until our sophomore year of high school, when he matter-of-factly informed me that we could no longer be friends because he needed to be with "his own kind." (He was Korean American. I am not.)

I smiled at my student and said, "Huh! Maybe I should try that."

But then it dawned on me that I *had* actually tried that -- and in the past few days, no less. When I asked if that person wanted to be friends, the answer was an unequivocal "no." (The explanation -- which I didn't ask for -- was this: "You and I are just so different.")

My student smiled back and said, "It couldn't hurt."

-posted by Wes | 1:00 am | Comments (0)
June 5, 2016
My weekend and stuff
Category: Miscellany … Serious … Travels

So I get that everyone has pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and that staying positive (at least according to general wisdom) means appreciating the good ones while mostly ignoring the bad ones... but I think it's kind of interesting that my negative experiences are frequently bizarre or memorable -- or costly -- enough that I'm inclined to comment on them to the exclusion of the more uplifting ones. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 9:19 pm | Comments (0)
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