Category Archives: Pop Culture

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Measles, Trump, Warren, & Batman

Happy Friday, y’all.

🩺 Vox: A new study on measles reveals a scary side effect: “immune-system amnesia” – New studies show that measles wipes out your immune system’s memory, meaning that if you get the measles, one of the effects is that your immune system will forget how to fight off other diseases you’ve already recovered from, like colds, flus, other things you’ve been vaccinated against, even things like skin infections. Get your vaccinations, and maybe ask your doctor to do a titer count and check if you’re immune to the measles. It’s bad, folks.

💵 NPR: READ: Elizabeth Warren’s Plan To Pay For ‘Medicare For All’ – Elizabeth Warren put out a plan to pay for Medicare for All without raising taxes on the middle class. Her plan raises money by taxing the extremely rich and higher taxes for employers. Folks also won’t be paying premiums or co-payments under Warren’s plan, but they will be paying taxes on “whatever extra take-home pay they would receive in this new system.” Whatever that means.

💰 Politico: Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash – Trump is using his fundraising power to keep GOP senators on his side, which is basically bribery, but apparently not in the legal sense. So, there’s that.

🏴‍☠️ GQ: How Trump Corrupted the American Presidency in Every Imaginable Way – We’ll be cleaning up the mess this president made for a decade. It’ll take us generations to correct the clusterfuck Trump just caused with the Kurds in Syria, if that’s even possible to correct.

🦇 ComicBook.com: Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles Reveals Impressive Batman CostumeSupernatural‘s coming to an end, and the CW has Batwoman, as well as a new Superman show in development, for which they may need Batman appearances. Not to mention that since they got a Superman show, they may have a better than average chance of getting a Batman show off the ground. I suspect somebody’s campaigning for a new job.

5 Things To Read Today

Friday Round-Up: Trump, Ukraine, Astronauts, & More

It’s been a long week, you guys, and I’m betting next week will be longer.

Current Events

The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, will appear before the House for their impeachment inquiry on Oct. 17, but he won’t provide documents because he says he’s not legally allowed; the State Dept. will have to release the documents. You know Sondland’s name because he’s tied up in this Ukraine mess. Specifically, he had a lot to say in the damning text messages that the House released this week.

Meanwhile, more whistleblowers are crawling out of the woodwork, which is to be expected.

Also, Marie Yovanovitch, the US’ ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted by the Trump administration because she wouldn’t play ball in their attempt to pressure Ukraine into helping smear Joe Biden, testified to the House today. It was closed testimony, so we may or may not get details anytime soon, but her opening statement is public and gives us a place to start, anyway.

Don’t forget – the Senate Select Committee released their report on the Russian disinformation campaign in the 2016 elections. The disinfo campaign was complex, began before the 2016 elections, and continues today. Also good to know: the disinfo campaign propagates mainly on social media, and social media platforms haven’t done much of anything to curb it.

One last thing: Trump lost his appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which means that the House is allowed to subpoena his tax records from his accountant, Mazars USA.

Good News

Four young kids in in Roseville, California heard a report that a 97-year-old lady with dementia was missing, so they jumped on their bikes and scoured the neighborhood until they found her.

Researchers used an AI language program to discover that not only do bats talk to each other, like, individually, but that mostly they bitch at each other. Which is both hilarious and kind of adorable.

The first all-woman space walk is scheduled for Oct. 21. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will do a walk outside the International Space Station.

Stuff I Wrote

Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

BBC America’s ‘The Watch’

I am extremely concerned about BBC America’s The Watch.

👉 ‘The Watch’: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Richard Dormer To Lead BBC America’s Terry Pratchett Adaptation.

Eaton-Kent plays Constable Cheery, the ingenious non-binary forensics expert, ostracized by their kin and finding a new home and identity. Hugill plays Constable Carrot, the idealistic new recruit, raised by dwarfs, but really a human abandoned at birth. Corlette is the mysterious Corporal Angua who is tasked with Carrot’s training and keeping the rookie alive. Rossi plays Lady Sybil Ramkin, last scion of Ankh-Morpork’s nobility, who’s trying to fix the city’s wrongs with her chaotic vigilantism. Adewunmi is the wounded and wronged Carcer Dun, out to hijack destiny itself, take control of the city and exact a terrible revenge on an unjust reality.

Um. That’s. A lot.

I’m concerned with Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin. Rossi is young and thin, and Sybil is a big, solid older lady. She’s like, mid to upper forties, minimum, and she’s a big woman, tall as well as and heavy. I always pictured her as well bigger than Vimes. Nothing against the actress in particular, she’s a good actress. Just… she’s kinda little.

Also “chaotic vigilantism”? From… Sybil? Huh. Sybil was pretty progressive for nobility, but she was still a noble and it showed. She did activism, sure, but her activism was, like, drawing on her vast network of lady friends to quietly arrange social change via concerts. Nothing against that, it was effective. But it wasn’t exactly what I’d call “chaotic vigilantism.”

(And, because I’m sure there are fake nerd boys out there bitching about it, she’s black and that’s fine. There’s no reason Sybil can’t be a black woman. Don’t come at me with any of that bullshit.)

I’m concerned, too, with the inclusion of Carcer Dun. Is this show meant to be an adaptation of Night Watch? That’s the book Carcer Dun was in. It’s one of my favorite Pratchett books. It has a lot to say about a lot of things, and I’d love to see a proper adaptation of it. But… the way the rest of the quoted paragraph is written makes it sound like we’re more at the beginning of the Watch’s appearances, where Carrot was brand new and Angua had just joined and Vimes was still a stumbling drunk, and Carcer doesn’t turn up until very nearly the end of the Watch stories. The Watch came a long way before Carcer turned up, and that’s important in making him a proper villain. Vimes had put a lot of work in and had a lot to lose by the time he was dealing with Carcer Dun. That’s part of what made Carcer such a threat.

I am interested in how Cheery as a non-binary person changes things, though. Pratchett’s dwarfs all present as male – literally, you can’t tell the difference between male and female dwarfs. Dwarfs can’t tell the difference between male and female dwarfs. Many jokes are made over the course of the books about how part of dwarf courtship involves carefully and politely trying to figure out what sex the dwarf you’re courting actually is. Culturally, sex doesn’t matter to dwarfs – they all use male pronouns, and they all have equal rights.

The deal with Cheery is that she initially presents as a male dwarf and over the course of her first book it’s gradually revealed she’s female, and that she’d like to be seen and treated as female. There’s some interesting stuff in the book about how everyone, including other dwarfs, navigates that.

It would be pretty easy to shift that to a non-binary dynamic, though, and I’ll be interested to see how the series handles the whole thing. Cheery’s first appearance wasn’t dedicated to navigating dwarf gender roles, but there was a lot in there about it. I hope the show isn’t just like “hey, they’re non-binary now, moving on.” I want to see how that affects things, like in the book.

But overall, I dunno. The article says, “Set in the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork, where crime has been legalized, The Watch is a ‘punk rock’ drama.” And like… man. That’s not exactly how I’d describe Terry Pratchett’s work or his Watch stories. I’m worried this is going to turn out like that Americanized Doctor Who movie they did back in the day with the 8th Doctor. Like… they kind of got it, but it was also terrible, and I really, really don’t want to see that happen to Terry Pratchett’s books.

Crisis On Infinite Earths

A few TV & movie things to look forward to.

It’s almost October, which means it’s almost time for all my favorite TV shows to come back. There’s a few good movies coming out, too.

Television

Movies

Agents of SHIELD

Agents of SHIELD, Season 6

We finally caught the Agents of SHIELD finale last night.

A few quick notes on Agents of SHIELD S6:

  • Wasn’t super in love with the Sarge/Izel storyline. I thought Clark Gregg did an amazing job playing Sarge, but, let’s face it, it’s just not the same without Phil Coulson. And Izel just wasn’t that intimidating of a villain. I’m kind of going to miss the rest of Sarge’s crew, though. I liked Jaco and Snowflake.
  • I did enjoy the “side quests” with the Chronicoms and FitzSimmons. I’m looking forward to season 7 and seeing how all that plays out.
  • I wish they’d found something more interesting to do with Deke. I like the actor, and I get what they’re aiming for with the character, I just feel like they spent too much time making fun of him and not enough time building up the conflicts and issues his character was dealing with.

A few quick notes on the S6 finale of Agents of SHIELD:

  • Good: Shout outs to Ghostrider!
  • Re: Deke: I liked that he came up with a solve for Izel’s body-hopping, but that led directly into the discovery that Deke had his “company” in an empty room in the Lighthouse and… shouldn’t SHIELD have noticed that? I feel like they should have. Also, Fitz crapped on Deke stealing tech for his company and I liked what all that led to in terms of character dev and whatnot, but Deke still came up with the solve for Izel’s body-hopping, and he still had the mini-jump drive prototype to get to the temple with the tech? Like, okay, points off for swiping the tech in the first place, but he was still the dude who helped get it miniaturized and came up with protection against Izel and had all that manufactured and ready to go on time.
  • Also: Um… what happened to Deke? Like, last we saw him he was holding off Shrike zombies in the temple and then the temple got blown up. Did Deke get out? I don’t remember seeing him escape the temple. Did Deke die and nobody gave a shit? That seems rude.
  • Nothing Good Ever Comes Out of an Alien Portal: Even if you’re the aliens. They pitched May through an alien portal with a Shrike-killing sword and somehow thought they were still going to succeed in their evil plan. These villains were too dumb to be scared of.
  • Excellent: LMD Coulson! This should be fun.
  • This finale seemed, overall, kind of shaky. There was a lot of tedious sitting around in the temple listening to Izel sing and waiting for May to finish kicking everyone’s ass. A lot of the plot points seemed random and arbitrary. Like, getting Flint back. Or the Shrike zombies. I mean, cool and all, but it kind of seemed like they pulled some of these plot points right out of hat. Also, wasn’t in love with the way everyone died and then… they didn’t. May’s dead – nah, we’ll fix her. Coulson’s dead – wait, LMD. Yo-yo’s dead – nope, it’s fine, the Shrikebird melted. Awesome, I like all those characters and wanted to keep them, it just kind of seemed like there were no consequences for all that drama.

Over all S6 was fun, but not as well plotted as other seasons. I suspect that’s because the writers went into it thinking S6 was their final season, and then they got a 7th season and had to scramble to rework some stuff.

I’m looking forward to S7 because I want to see how all this Chronicom stuff and LMD-Coulson works out, but considering all the continuity problems Agents of SHIELD is facing and how the stakes have risen exponentially every season and yet SHIELD still seems to be a barely-funded organization staffed by like ten people plus the main cast and similar issues, I’m glad S7 will be the final season. It was fun while it lasted, but I think the show’s about run its course.

🏆 Line of the Night Award
Deke: “I survived an apocalyptic hellscape, so what do I have to do to get a little respect around here?!”

Shazam

We finally saw ‘Shazam!’ last night & it was pretty good.

DC’s superhero movies have been mostly disappointing, so I finally swore off seeing them in the theater until they prove they can make one worth paying the $30+ for theater tickets. We haven’t been to the theater for a DC movie since Wonder Woman.

We got around to seeing the Justice League movie, whatever that was called, several months back, and that was… well, it was arguably a movie. We saw Aquaman a couple months ago and it was pretty, and funny in a few places, but overall it was, y’know, meh. I’m glad I didn’t pay theater prices to see it.

Shazam!, though. Shazam! was actually decent.

Shazam! seems to be aimed at the tween/young teen crowd. It has a coherent, meaningful plot (some of the emotional beats don’t completely land, but it mostly works). The actors were clearly having a great time. It’s funny (there were a couple of places that were laugh-out-loud funny), hopeful, and heartening. I’d give the movie a solid B+.

The first half of the movie is structured a bit weird and spends a lot of time with the villain, which on one hand is great because it makes the villain an actual character with motivations that resonate, but on the other hand I think it sucked some time out of Billy Batson’s story which is why some of the emotional beats for his character don’t exactly land as hard as they could. Sort of made it feel like the movie was spending a bit too much time being goofy and funny, and not enough time being heartfelt.

Overall though, fun movie. I loved the ending. The climactic twist got spoiled for me (Thanks, Tumblr, you asshole, you couldn’t have waited three more days to start posting Shazam! gifs, could you) and I was pretty annoyed about that because it would have been awesome to see that with no warning, but that wasn’t Shazam!‘s fault and besides that it was a hoot.

I do have one quick thing I want to point out that definitely needs a spoiler warning, though, so SPOILER WARNING. The next section has a SPOILER. Continue reading

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

I’m back from a nice, long vacation where I spent almost no time reading the news, checking social media, or fretting about, y’know… *waves vaguely at all this*

I spent most of my time watching Veronica Mars and Queer Eye (new seasons of both coming out next month!), playing Minecraft and Zoo Tycoon, and, at the end of the week, wandering all over town playing the new Harry Potter: Wizards Unite phone AR game. I also hung some new curtains in our apartment. I got about halfway through that project when it occurred to me that in order to hang the new curtains, I’d had to remove the old sliding curtains installed by building management, and then I wondered if I should have asked the managers first, but by then it was far too late. So hopefully that goes unnoticed. Oops.

So, a few things I noticed while on vacation…

1. Our new next door neighbors love to grill, and the smoke – and smell – from their grill carries directly into our apartment. I’d just like to say that if they’re going to be over there grilling all summer and sending delicious smells into our apartment, they ought to be required by law to share with us.

2. On a similar note, this morning when I went to take our dog outside, one of the neighbors was cooking bacon for breakfast. I know this because the entire parking lot smelled pungently of bacon. If folks are going to be filling the whole area up with the smell of bacon at 7am, then they should have to share with me and the dog when we walk by. It’s only polite.

3. Sunday we were out and about playing Wizards Unite, and we’d stopped on a quiet sidewalk to fight a few things in the game. My BF was off the sidewalk, and I was nearly off the sidewalk, and while we were playing, a couple of dried-up old farts out for a Sunday afternoon walk approached us. As soon as I spotted them from the corner of my eye I jumped off the sidewalk so they could pass, saying, “Oh, sorry,” and the old bag in the couple said, quite snidely, “They’re just standing there staring at their phones,” all sanctimonious and whatnot. Fuck us for being outside on a nice day doing something fun, I guess. 🙄

Speaking of stuff I missed while on vacation…

1. E. Jean Carroll, noted advice columnist and TV show host among other things, accused Donald Trump of raping her 23 years ago. The media mostly ignored this because I guess we’re just used to the idea of a rapist president now and it doesn’t get them any advertising clicks anymore.

2. Iran shot down one of our drones, claiming it was in their airspace. We claim it was in international airspace. Trump almost started a war with Iran over it but backed down at the last second.

3. Hey, remember how we were super pissed about the kids on the border being taken away from their families and everyone was basically being detained in dog kennels so we raised a bunch of hell? Guess what? It’s all still happening, only ten times worse than before. Reminder: Most of these migrants came here legally to seek asylum. Still super pissed about that? Call your electeds and donate to RAICES.