Mixed media, Saturday 23 June 2018

I re-read Film Crit Hulk’s essay “THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAMATIZING CHARACTER” a couple of weeks ago. The ALL CAPS conceit (which he has since dropped) is distracting, but it gets to the heart of why so many blockbuster movies lack heart, and what they can do about it.


Ingrid Goes West movie poster

  • 🤔 Ingrid Goes West: The humour is not cringe-worthy (mostly), but it is often deliberately awkward as the film follows the attempts of the psychologically disturbed Ingrid to be liked by a popular influencer she idolizes. It leads to an inevitable descent into some pretty dark territory, and I didn’t see the ending coming. I watched this with Fiona, and we both went “Ehhhhhh…that sends a really bad message.” But in retrospect: does it, though? Should we take the ending on face value, or are the filmmakers delivering another critique of our society’s messed-up attitudes towards mental health and social media?
  • The Guards Themselves I applaud low-budget indie amateur filmmaking. It’s rough and inconsistent, but they look like they had fun, and I’m sure it was a great learning experience. I wish I had the time and energy to do something like this.
  • ⭐️ The Post: Anything Watergate-ish is going to resonate right now. I also find it a fun exercise to watch an apparently down-to-earth drama and guess how much CGI goes into scenes depicting everyday life just a few decades in the past.
  • ⭐️ Deadpool 2: Enjoyed it a lot.
  • 💩 Molly’s Game: I have mixed feelings about Aaron Sorkin. On the one hand, he writes some amazing snappy dialogue. On the other hand, that same dialogue can be glib and patronizing, and I dislike his glorification of a certain kind of manipulative smartness. In this film, I was totally captivated by Jessica Chastain’s performance as Molly Bloom. Molly is a smart underdog who builds up a poker business with nothing but her own ingenuity and persistence. But when she falls afoul of both organized crime and the law, she faces an upward struggle to prove her integrity and reclaim her freedom. (Idris Elba has a good turn as her lawyer.) But Molly’s story is completely undermined in the last ten minutes by Sorkin giving her father (who is aggressively absent for most of the film) a completely unearned character redemption where get gets to play the wise old man who knows her so much better than she knows herself, and tries to make her understand his shitty treatment of her since she was five. It is some epic patriarchal bullshit.
  • Unlocked is a spy action thriller I must have watched because it’s here in my notes.
  • Solo: Fun heist movie, if you don’t think too hard about the plot holes! (Like: why did they have to blow the bridge? Decoupling the cargo carriage would have allowed them to lift it away with less risk of blowing up an entire mountain. Unless…the whole point was to blow up the mountain in a spectacular escape sequence!) Also if you don’t think too hard about slavery and droid rights, and the horrific fate of L3-37. (Star Wars has always had a race problem.) Also if you are willing to overlook the weird non-sequitur appearance of Darth Maul to gloss over the cracks in Qi’ra’s motivation. But still: fun!


Poster for Crazyhead TV show

  • ⭐️ Crazyhead Weird, irreverent, violent, and occasionally shocking supernatural comedy horror drama? Hard to describe. A bit like a more grown-up Buffy but with more swearing and consequences. Also very funny.
  • 💩 Arrow Season 6: I’m done with this show. The “heroes” are sociopaths with delusions of grandeur, and on their personal journeys they destroy everything and corrupt everyone they come in contact with. And then try to justify their actions, and lie about how it will never happen again. This is a dark, dark show with a black hole for a heart.
  • ⭐️ Collateral Intense police drama, dealing with the hot current topics of immigration and terrorism. Comes down firmly on the side of humans.

Games: The only new thing I have played recently is Pocket Run Pool by Zach Gage. It has short simple games, perfect for filling a few minutes here and there.


Book cover of the Wild Storm volume 2

  • ⭐️ Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley: I really his first book, The Rook, and this is an excellent follow-up. Stiletto takes place in the same world, just shortly after the events of the first book, but with a very different set of characters and a totally new perspective on the war between the Checquy and the Grafters.
  • A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride: I found this hard to get into, because I find the fictional Scottish city of Oldcastle such an unnecessary contrivance. Also, MacBride has habit of writing very abrasive characters, and the opening chapters of this book are a relentless cascade of people being horrible to each other and shouting a lot. That said, they did grow on me. As he gradually peels back their layers, they turn into distinct and rounded personalities. The gruesome plot is as full of tricks and misdirection as a close-up magician’s card act.
  • ⭐️ The Wild Storm vol 2 by Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt continues in magnificent fashion. World-spanning plots treated in a subdued and serious manner with an ever-growing roster of weird and flawed characters.
  • The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch from 1999-2000 is the book that the new Wild Storm is based on. The new Wild Storm takes classic characters (Jenny Sparks, Engineer, etc) and spins them in a modern, mature way. Reading these books back-to-back shows me just how enormous a leap mainstream superhero comics have taken in the last twenty years. I’m thinking of books like Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on Hawkeye, Chelsea Cain’s Mockingbird, Tom King’s Vision and many others. There is so much room within mainstream titles these days for subtlety and rich thematic explorations. By contrast, The Authority is all about escalating conflicts, ever-larger scenes of global destruction, and punching more and bigger baddies. Although the artwork is gorgeously crisp, dynamic, full of detail and exquisitely coloured, the character Engineer (Angela Spica) is drawn in a hyper-sexualized manner, and is basically perpetually naked apart from a skin-tight layer of mirrored metallic armour. I probably would have appreciated it at the time, but in 2018 it feels juvenile and embarrassing. I don’t mind sex in my comics (see: Sex Criminals, Saga, et al.) But like it when my superheroes wear clothes, not capes, and when they are more likely to explore their relationships with words than their fists.Contrasting images of the Engineer character from 1999 and the same character from 2018
  • The Corporation Wars: Insurgence by Ken MacLeod. I was on the fence about the first book, but the second one in this series left me cold. The characters all blurred together, and I felt insufficiently brain-powered to understand the distinctions in their ideologies. It lacked conflict I cared about.
  • The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. Fun popular science history, concentrating on the people who discovered the elements of the periodic table, and how they put them to use.
  • 🤔 The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu). This book had multiple science fictional layers for me: one of them obviously being the sf story that the author was trying to tell, while the other came from the glimpse I got into Chinese culture from the way the book was written, and its present-day and historical settings in China. It relies on a lot of tropes and archetypes from (modern) Chinese history that will be as familiar to Chinese readers as the D-Day landings or a Victorian country house setting are to a western audience. But they’re new and unfamiliar to me. Also, one of the main characters (Wang) has a wife and a son that he interacts with in one tense chapter, and then forgets about completely for the rest of the book. Even when he is trying to save the world, they literally never even cross his thoughts. Is that normal behaviour for a character in Chinese literature, or is it just as baffling to readers in Beijing as it is to me? I don’t know. The story, despite mixing in modern physics and a healthy dose of virtual reality, feels like a throwback to classic western science fiction of the 50s and 60s. (Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity springs to mind.) That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed it a lot, and I’m planning to read at least the next one in the trilogy. But I didn’t find this first volume as ground-breaking and Hugo-worthy as many of its fans.

Music: I’ve been stuck on Kimbra’s Primal Heart for most of the last month, with occasional forays into Rival Consoles and 65daysofstatic. I’ve been trying to get into Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, but it just isn’t clicking, and what I really want to do is put on The Electric Lady or The Archandroid instead. I’m sure I’ll crack it sooner or later.

Podcasts/audio: Mythos was a neat three-part BBC supernatural investigation radio drama, but it’s not available online anymore. Yay BBC! I’m also starting to spread my net for more podcasts to make sure I don’t run out of listening material on my long walks. Two new discoveries for me are Matt Haughey’s Hobby Horse (interviews) and the Undiscovered Podcast (science) by Elah Feder and Annie Minoff. New Radiotopia show ZigZag (tech/business) by Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant has got off to a good start as well, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of it.

Cover image for the ZigZag podcast

Mixed media, Sunday 6 May 2018


⭐️Travelers I love a good time travel story. Like in 12 Monkeys and Continuum, we have heroes who travel back to our current time to prevent a disaster in the future. The gimmick of Travelers is that the future can send back human consciousnesses to overwrite people in the past. For ethical reasons, they only overwrite hosts in the moments before the historical record shows they died anyway. Thus, a lot of the show is about these people from the future picking up the lives of the people they replaced. And likewise, their friends and lovers dealing with abrupt personality changes in the people they care for. For a sci-fi TV show, the special effects are almost non-existent. Shots where travelers arrive in a new host are acted rather than digitally added. And it doesn’t just go for prevent-the-event-of-the-week episodic storytelling, either. The first season had a couple of large arcs, but it felt like the writers were still finding their feet with the characters, and how the actors inhabited them. In the second season the team and their entourage evolve significantly, with some mighty gut punches along the way. Netflix has renewed the show for a third season, and I’m eager to see what comes next.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 4 continues to be fun.


  • ⭐️ A Quiet Place I don’t think I’ve ever been in a cinema so full where everyone was so quiet. The film may have some gaping plot holes, but I was so wrapped up in the hushed tension of the film that they didn’t bother me. The way it deploys different types of silence is simply amazing.
  • Annihilation is a deeply weird and disturbing film. Kind of a cross between The Thing and 2001. It’s very good, but I don’t think I’m in a hurry to watch it again.
  • Red Eye: short, simple, and effective thriller.
  • Ready Player One: Hmm. I really enjoyed the book when I read it in 2012. To a person of a certain generation, with a certain background in videogames and other cultural markers, it hits all the buttons. And until the film appeared I hadn’t gone back to examine that aspect: that by speaking strongly to one group, it is tone-deaf, exclusionary, and deeply troublesome to people without the right background. Read Laura Hudson’s article “If you want to know how we ended up in a cyber dystopia, read Ready Player One to see what I mean. As for the film, I just found it bland and joyless. And no Rush songs at all? C’mon.
  • Tower Heist: Moderately entertaining heist caper. Funny moments, but not the kind of splashy comedy you might expect.
  • ⭐️ Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos clearly hasn’t internalized the concept of exponential growth yet, because getting rid of 50% of a population isn’t going to be as effective as he thinks it will be. Oh well. But other than that: whoo.
  • 💩 Anon: Dull. Duuuuulll. The production team has clearly thought about how the “Mind’s Eye” technology would affect the world. It shows in things like how office workers sit around at desks apparently staring into space rather than doing “work” as we understand it now. Streets and corridors seem empty, because ubiquitous AR/VR must have reduced the need for people to leave their apartments. The clinically black and white AR overlays and brutalist set design reinforce the barren sterility of this new world, and the camera work and editing leave the characters isolated in their own shots even when they’re surrounded by other people. And the actors were obviously directed to dial down their emotions to match, even when they’re in the middle several completely gratuitous sex scenes. The outcome is a film that is wholly intentionally, unapologetically dull. At that, it was a huge success.

Games: I finished ⭐️ Alto’s Adventure and ⭐️ Alto’s Odyssey! As in, unlocked all characters, and completed all goals and achievements. I think I preferred the simplicity of Adventure.


  • ⭐️ Bryant and May: The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler is another satisfying entry in the series.
  • ⭐️ The Wild Storm by Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt. I have not read any of the original Wild Storm stories, so this is all new to me. Loved it.
  • New Avengers vol 1: Everything Dies by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting: left me entirely cold.
  • ⭐️ Squirrel Girl vol 7: I’ve been waiting for a squirrel like you by Erica Henderson, Ryan North, and Rico Renzi. Sad that Erica Handerson will be leaving the book, but I’m enjoying the heck out of this while it runs.
  • Ms Marvel vol 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson, Marco Failla, Diego Olortegui, et al.: good. Great Lockjaw moment.


⭐️Errthang by Al Letson and Willie Evans Jr. is the latest show to be featured on Radiotopia’s Showcase, and I’m enjoying it a lot. Emotionally open and vulnerable stories about race, parenthood, masculinity, and everything else Al wants to talk about.

⭐️ = would gladly re-watch/read/listen
🤔 = there’s something interesting there, but I have mixed feelings about it

Mixed Media, Sunday 4 June 2017


  • Horizon: Zero Dawn: Amazing — one of my favourite games of recent years. It took over my whole life for about two months. Loved the action, loved the story.


  • 12 Monkeys season 1: Entertaining enough that I’ve continued with season 2.
  • Westworld season 1: Very good! Just as Jonathan Nolan’s show Person of Interest looked at the intersection of surveillance and AI, and tried to figure out what the endgame was, with Westworld he looks at video games and AI and speculates about where that could go. It made me think a lot about the kind of games I enjoy playing, and the paths I like taking through them.
  • Iron Fist season 1: Bad, for all the reasons you’ve probably already heard about.



Mixed Media, Sunday 12 March 2017

Musically, I’ve been mostly obsessed with Thundercat’s new album Drunk. It’s full of short, punchy, strange tracks. One of which features Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, and is probably the smoothest thing you’ll hear all year.

Dutch Uncles have a new album out, Big Balloon. Listening to it now.


  • Luther season 4: I find it a bit rich to call a two episode special a season, but at least they were good episodes.
  • Marcella season 1: intense police detective drama. Perpetuates the stereotype that most police detectives are deeply fucked up.
  • Hip-Hop Evolution: great netflix documentary about the history of hip-hop from the seventies to the early nineties. This view of the roots of hip-hop makes me understand lot more about why hip-hop concerts are the way they are. I think I’m making my peace with that. Although I love listening to Mos Def’s recordings, I chose not to get a ticket to see him on his farewell tour.
  • Sneakerheads: entertaining documentary about sneaker collectors and sneaker culture.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 3: still enjoying this show a lot, but it has lost a bit of its sharpness and speed as it has got more polished. (I like Andy Samberg, but he’s not everyone’s cup of tea.)
  • Chef’s Table season 3: the show looks at some very different types of chef this season. Jeong Kwan and Ivan Orkin are not trying to break into the list of the world’s top 50 restaurants, but they do have fascinating stories to tell about their lives and their craft.


  • The Mechanic: I wanted a Jason Statham action movie, and I got a Jason Statham action movie.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie: Good. I thought they tried to cram too much into it. I found some scenes (especially at the beginning) hard to follow because there were too many moving parts, and it was hard to know what to pay attention to.
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping As I mentioned, I like Andy Samberg, and I liked this film. Some of the songs, which are obviously meant to be terrible, but terrible in a particular way, missed their mark. The final number with Michael Bolton deserved to be better and more memorable.
  • Logan: Wow. Intense. Left the audience kinda stunned and silent when the credits rolled.

Books & comics:

  • Ms Marvel vol6: Civil War II: Marvel’s massive crossover events leave me a bit cold, but Kamala’s story here was relatively self-contained, and focused very much on her personal story rather than the bigger picture.
  • Karnak: The Flaw In All Things: Warren Ellis needs a hug.
  • The Sheriff of Babylon vol2: Pow Pow Pow concludes the story, but don’t expect a happy ending. Harrowing and gripping.
  • The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod. I made a strategic mistake here, because I thought that the third volume in the trilogy was out sooner than it actually is. (It hits the streets in September.) It’s good. Around a distant star, a bunch of exploratory robots accidentally become self-aware, and re-invent warfare from first principles. It’s a fine blend of the themes of clashing economic systems and nature of consciousness that MacLeod deals with so well. However, once I started picturing the small frames that the human fighters inhabit as Sackboys from LittleBigPlanet (with big silly grins on their faces and a lolloping gait), I couldn’t take them quite so seriously any more.

Update 13 March: I completely forgot about Destiny. I picked it up in February (with all the current expansions), loved it, and played it a ton during the school break. But then I hit level 40, and stopped kinda dead. Even without a social group to play with, the single-player experience up to level 40 is fantastic, and I have regrets about the time I did put into it. Great environments, and a fluid first-person combat experience. However, although there are still missions left for me to play, progress from this point onwards feels hollow: what am I doing it for? I enjoy the story missions, I like playing PvE, and I like playing co-op, but I don’t feel like putting in dozens of hours to get good enough not to be an embarrassment to a group of strangers on a raid. If I had a group of friends that also played, it would be a different matter.

Mixed media, Saturday 28 January 2017

What can we do?

The Planetary Omnibus edition is a huge book – it literally weighs 2.5kg, and is hard to read in bed. You need to be sitting down at a table to let the pages sprad open comfortably. But it’s really good. I read my first Warren Ellis book — volume 1 of Transmetropolitan — a few years ago, and I’ve slowly been catching up on his work. His recent series Trees and Injection are firm favourites, and now I’m digging back into older stuff. (I still need to finish the whole Transmetropolitan run.)

The Planetary Omnibus contains the whole 27-issue run of the series, and three one-shot specials at the end. The story follows Elijah Snow as he gets drafted into “Planetary,” a global organization dedicated to uncovering the secret history of the 20th century. That secret history contains monsters, superheroes, and fictional characters, all warped beyond the point of familiarity, but not quite beyond the point of recognition. As I read through the book’s hundreds of pages, I found myself constantly having flashes of insight, flipping back to earlier chapters, and going “Ohhhhh!” as I saw that the hooks had been planted right from the beginning. It’s an amazingly rich and dense work, with artwork from John Cassaday that matches the story and characters beautifully. The series was published intermittently from 1998 to 2009, and keeping a story like that together over such a long timespan is a terrific feat.

Also read:

  • Vision vol 2: Little Better Than A Beast concludes Tom King’s run on Vision. He ends it in just as dark and disturbing a way as it started. Volume 2 doesn’t feel quite as strong, though. It’s pretty hard to top the emotional gut-punches he delivered in Volume 1. Highly recommended overall, though.
  • Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat! vol 2: Don’t Stop Me-Ow has one Civil War II issue with some far-ranging consequences for the story (Patsy’s best friend She-Hulk has been in a huge fight that put her in a coma), but for the most part stays lightweight and fun while it deals with smaller-scale personal issues of friendship and relationships.
  • I wanted to read The Immortal Iron Fist (The Complete Collection, volume 1) because it’s Matt Fraction, but at the same time I was apprehensive, because of the troubling race issues around the character of Danny Rand: a white American guy as the hero and saviour of an ancient mystical oriental heritage. It avoids the matter of race for the most part. When unavoidable, it focuses on Danny as just an outsider, and chooses to bury most of the hard questions with his predecessor Orson Randall. I still enjoyed it. The story twists and turns and takes some stops in the history of the Iron Fist along the way. David Aja’s art is also a pleasure.


  • The Grand Budapest Hotel: I had avoided this for a while because I thought it would be quite artificial and mannered. It is, up to a point, but the film pricks its own balloon so often that it’s obvious the artifice is a vehicle for perfectly executed comedy. Ralph Fiennes is amazing, and the whole thing is just magical.
  • The Legend of Barney Thomson is the opposite. The story takes place in present-day Glasgow, but the characters live in an highly mannered, out-of-time bubble. The dark humour never really struck home, which made the artifice just seem misjudged.
  • Crimson Peak was okay. As the lead character Edith Cushing explains, it’s not really a ghost story. It just has ghosts in it. The ghosts are a metaphor for the past.
  • Now You See Me 2 has one amazing scene (with the four horsemen passing a playing card between themselves to smuggle a microchip out of a highly secured room), and a lot of filler.
  • Sing reveals a lot of its funniest moments in the trailer. The film itself is populated by stereotypes, and I found it very hard to warm to the irresponsible Koala. It’s simple and sweet, though, and everyone gets a chance to overcome their troubles and get their time in the spotlight.
  • Arq is a tense little time travel thriller. It’s shot in a single location, with a tiny cast. The characters play out the same couple of hours again and again, each time with more of them being aware that they’re inside a time loop, and revealing different aspects of the conspiracy they’re embedded in. I liked it.

At Dave’s suggestion, I bought Doom (2016) for the PS4 over the Christmas holiday, and finished it last week. I don’t tend to play many first-person shooters, but I loved it. The action is fast and unsubtle, favouring running around and spraying demons with as much firepower as you can, rather than on carefully hoarding resources. It’s pure videogame fun. I was also impressed by how well it played on the PS4 with a console controller instead of a keyboard and mouse. I don’t think I’ll be trying my hand at the online multiplayer, though. Judging by how quickly Alex was able to zip through Rune Challenges that took me dozens of run-throughs to succeed at, I’d get slaughtered. Repeatedly.

I’ve been listening to as much of English electro-pop band Dive In as I can find on Spotify. It isn’t much, but what there is is excellent. They remind me of the Studio Killers, with a twist of The Naked and Famous. I had come across their song “Let Go” way back in 2013 already, around the time I discovered the Studio Killers as well. The new version of the song on Spotify is mostly the same, but with a few extra guitar licks in the middle. I still love it. Terribly weak music video, though. (Sorry chaps.)

Mixed media, Thursday 5 January 2017

At the start of this Christmas & New Year break, I had good intentions to get out of the house and take a walk every day. My work patterns have been making me feel increasingly shut in and locked behind my computer, and I wanted to take the time to start bedding in a new habit. It didn’t quite work out. Last Friday I got out of bed with a ferocious stabbing pain in my lower back, and I’ve been in constant pain since then. The thud-thud vibration of walking hurts. Standing still aches. Sitting down hurts. Standing up after having sat for a while hurts even more. (I’ve been to the doctor now. I have :emoji heart with manga eyes: painkillers.)

Swimming feels good. On Saturday (Hogmanay) morning, our central heating and hot water boiler died. We have a call-out contract with a repair and maintenance company. They came out on Saturday afternoon to say, “yup, it’s dead,” but they couldn’t do anything about it until Monday at the earliest. Not really what we needed at New Year, when I wanted to be spending a lot of time soaking in a hot bath or shower, but there’s never a good time for the hot water to do away. Hence the swimming. We finally got the boiler replaced yesterday. Fortunately, this winter hasn’t been really cold yet, and we have a wood-burning stove downstairs that puts out a lot of heat. Also, the teenagers rarely take showers even at the best of times.

In a way, though, this back pain has been a good thing. I have spent a lot less time behind my computer than I probably would have otherwise this holiday. Sitting at my desk is a pattern, a habit that finds a way to feed itself. Whether it’s cranking out a stack of posts on this blog, scanning old documents, or reorganizing my digital photos archives, recently I have always found something to obsess about in my breaks.

What these activities have in common is that they appear productive, but are not necessary. During the normal working week, my evenings and weekends feel so squeezed that the only time I have to tackle time-consuming projects that require continuous stretches of attention is during my part-time leave. This is a problem, because I impose time pressure on myself, and don’t take the time to relax. When I go back to work, I don’t feel rested, and I’m unsatisfied by the time off. It’s not a good pattern.

So finding myself physically unable to sit up straight for any length of time has led to me spending more time lying around (lying on my left side is pain-free for my lower back, but it is starting to give me neck pain instead), reading, continuing to re-watch Fringe, and playing more console games again. As always when I rediscover the joy of gaming, I realize that I should do more of it.

Carl Richards in the New York Times suggests that 2017 should be the “Year of Working Hard and Resting Hard”:

We can add “exhausted” to words like “cynical” and “busy” that we wear as badges of honor. As crazy as it all sounds, I have to admit to having believed it. A part of me in some dark corner of my mind whispers: “This is all true, Carl. If you don’t keep hustling, you’ll end up falling behind, and no one will listen to you. Ever. Again. Then, you’ll just be another failure, left to crawl under a rock, cold and alone to die!”

But since I’ve appointed myself King of Permission Granting, I hereby grant everyone the permission to declare the #CrushIt decade finished. January 2017 will be the official start of the “Work Hard, Rest Hard” decade. We are going to hustle, sure. But we’re also going to rest. In fact, we’re going to be as good at resting as we are at crushing things.

What I don’t want to do is go off and relentlessly pursue relaxation by taking up a new hobby, or resolving to go to the gym three times a week now that I have crossed the 80kg bridge heading in the wrong direction. I’m not going to seek out every concert that sounds interesting, just because it’s nearby. Picking up a game controller regularly is enough, precisely because there is no purpose to it other than that it’s a moment of fun, just for me.

In his annual “State of the World” address, this year Bruce Sterling writes, “I would start by strongly urging you prize your existence in 2017. Life is precious and shouid be valued, for it’s easy not to have it.”

This echoes the emotions I felt after watching Arrival, and it ties in with all of the above. (I have to find better ways of disconnecting from work outside of office hours.) Arrival is wonderful.

I saw Arrival on my own in the morning, and then later in the day all four of us went out to see Rogue One. It was okay, but I didn’t find any of the character arcs convincing. It was odd seeing Forest Whitaker in two so very different roles on the same day. CGI Peter Cushing looked like a very well-rendered videogame character, but out of place nonetheless.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them was fine, so long as you ignore the fact that Newt Scamander is the world’s worst wizard. Moana is called Vaiana here, for reasons. I thought it was fine; Fiona loved it and thinks it’s her favourite Disney movie now. Star Trek: Beyond was fine, but forgettable. It would be nice if they could find a plot that doesn’t involve a bad guy bent on destroying the Federation some day.

Comics: I’m in the middle of a bunch of them, but the ones I’ve finished most recently are Squirrel Girl vol 4: I Kissed A Squirrel And I Liked It, and Howard The Duck vol 2: Good Night And Good Duck. Squirrel Girl continues to be great. Good Night And Good Duck ends Chip Zdarsky’s and Joe Quinones’s run on Howard the Duck, and it is awful. I don’t say that lightly. Earlier this year, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky injected themselves into Sex Criminals issue 14 as an interlude. Here, Chip Zdarsky spends two whole issues on a bullshit storyline involving a couple of purple entities (“Chipp” and “Jho”) from the planet Sparkitron, who have been writing scripts for the Howard The Duck reality TV show to make it more interesting for viewers of the Mojoverse network. Turns out everything that has been happening to Howard over the last 11 issues has been their doing! It’s juvenile, unfunny, and a colossally disappointing end to what started off as a smart and innovative run.

Circling back around to the playing of video games, I finished Uncharted 4 last week, and I loved it. (So did Film Crit Hulk.) The mix of story, exploration, on-rails sections, and gunplay was just perfect for me. And although the climbing sections were obviously unrealistic, they had just the right thrilling feel for a climbing simulation. Which is not something I can say for The Last Guardian. I haven’t got very far into it, but coming straight from Uncharted 4, the climbing is much less intuitive and fluid. (The “X” button means “jump up” in Uncharted, but “drop” in The Last Guardian. This takes some getting used to.)

Also playing: Amplitude and Doom. Both of them are easy to pick up and play quicky. I’m sure they would reward long stretches of continuous attention, but they don’t demand it. That’s nice. I need more of that. Moments of fun, just for me.