Mad Men Again – S01E01, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”

June 14, 2017 § Leave a comment

Half a year ago, I floated the idea of rewatching Mad Men, one of my favorite shows of all time, and writing capsule reviews for each episode with a couple of friends. It never happened, but a review of the series premiere that I wrote as a proof of concept has been sitting in the queue ever since. I figure, why not publish it? I miss you all and I’ll get this blog up and running again someday, just not today. Enjoy!

AMC’s prestige drama Mad Men, created by Matthew Weiner

Why do people want what they want? What makes those wants into needs? Is it love, whether love of a person or love of an object, or is “love” just something that’s been made up to make us think that we need the things we want? This string of questions runs through all ninety-two episodes of the hit TV series Mad Men, which ran from 2007 to 2015 on AMC, but the pilot episode draws them into the spotlight like nothing else.

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A Hundred Thousand Reasons Why

January 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

Graduate school has given me new lenses through which to enjoy the media that I consume. I know, better than ever, how to read books for pleasure and how to gauge their effect on my own patterns of writing and speech. A good diet of fiction and nonfiction, in several different genres and mediums, has made me a more thoughtful and articulate person, there’s no denying that

It has also ruined more than a few aspects of the media that I consume. I’m going to write about the negative rather than the positive here, because it’s more fun.

The book in question, right here

The book in question, right here

As of the composition of this blog post, I have read five pages of N.K. Jemisin’s 2010 debut novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  As of yet, I have no idea if it’s a good novel or not: it was nominated for a Nebula and a Hugo but lost both to Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear. It’s certainly well-written, with a lucid style that is still dense without coming off as self-involved. It also reminds me that my dissertation work, which primarily focuses on familial networks of power among the rural elites of twelfth- and thirteenth-century Italy, has totally destroyed my ability to appreciate fantasy novels, particularly when they hinge upon political maneuverings between aristocrats of a royal or consular court in neo-medieval style.

Even the best authors make assumptions. Writing a book on anything, let alone the actions of multiple persons in a world invented from whole cloth, takes an immense amount of effort and it’s not only preferable but necessary that shortcuts are taken where they present themselves. Jemisin has committed no great sin by partaking in the blend of tenth-century Byzantium, the fifteenth-century War of the Roses, sixteenth-century Machiavelli, the eighteenth-century court at Versailles, and the glamour of prewar Monaco in the twentieth century from which have been drawn the popular understanding of nobility in the English-speaking world from Sleeping Beauty to Game of Thrones, especially if she uses it at the basis for an interesting and compassionate narrative.

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Have Your Christmas Cake and Eat It, Too!

December 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

No posts for the next couple of weeks, since I’m home for the holidays and away from the computer. In the meantime, why not contemplate the most seasonal of anime tropes, the Christmas cake — not the baked dessert, but the unmarried woman over the age of twenty-five?

Kuroi Nanako contemplates her fate as a Christmas cake in Lucky Star

Kuroi Nanako contemplates a Christmas cake in Lucky Star

Yeah, I know it’s impossibly sexist in concept, but I’ve also found that some of the most sympathetic and complex portrayals of female characters in the medium come out of its use. All the anxieties of adulthood — growing impostor syndrome, narrowing social circles, and recurring romantic failure — are contained in the paternalistic disapproval of any given women experiencing loneliness in her late twenties. Really, in some recent shows, like My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, the writing itself is sympathetic to characters like Hiratsuka Shizuka, depicted as unfairly short-changed by a society that doesn’t properly value strength, intelligence, and ambition in women.

In the meantime, contemplate the best execution of the trope, courtesy of KyoAni’s 2007 anime Lucky Star and the online video service DailyMotion! Start around 16:34.

Wednesdays Watching Anime – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

December 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our OP for this week is “Sparkling Daydream” by ZAQ, from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!.

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Key Frames, Episode 06: Only Six Episodes

December 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

No Wednesdays Watching Anime this week. Instead, we have Key Frames’ seventh episode, all about perennial favorite from GAINAX in 2000, FLCL!

Another episode of Key Frames: A Podcast About Anime

Another episode of Key Frames: A Podcast About Anime

Honestly, I have to crow a little bit about how good the discussion on this episode is. Maybe it’s just that we’re talking about a well-recognized classic, with the full knowledge that “classic” has an ever-changing and often-declining value in the discourse, but I think we all say some things that are worth listening here.

Subscribe to our RSS feed, too, at http://www.keyframespodcast.com!

Hair Product or Video Game Quiz

December 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hello and welcome back for another round of “Hair Product or Video Game!”

Final Fantasy Hair

You know the rules: I give you a list of 50 items and you tell me which are hair products and which video games.

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A Handy Motif in Neon Genesis Evangelion

December 3, 2015 § 1 Comment

Hey, just a thought… We all know about the visual match between Rei’s blood on Shinji’s hand in the first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the embryonic Adam in Gendo’s hand in the director’s cut of episode twenty-four, and the semen on Shinji’s hand in an early scene from End of Evangelion, right? I mean, if you don’t, the image is out there and it’s fairly interesting, although the apparent consensus is that it’s merely an aesthetic choice with no thematic meaning attached to it.

Anyway, while rewatching parts of End of Evangelion, like one does, I noticed another visual match that also has to do with hands. First, there is the iconic shot from the OP of Neon Genesis Evangelion, where the bloodied hand of EVA 01 dangles by its side, presumably following the berserk rage for which that unit becomes known during the series.

The bloody hand of EVA 01 from the OP of Neon Genesis Evangelion

The bloody hand of EVA 01 from the OP of Neon Genesis Evangelion

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