Mixed media, Saturday 31 December 2022

Two mixed media posts in one year. Gosh.

The Lazarus Project was one of my favourite shows this year

Episodic Video (“TV”)

  • Legion season 2 || Did not finish. The novelty of the first season was gone; the characters were scattered; I wasn’t invested in the grand story arc. Got bored after a couple of episodes.
  • Mr Inbetween || Did not finish. Australian low-key character-based dark comedy about a hit man and how he integrated his job with his life. I liked it, but it didn’t draw me in enough to keep coming back for the next episode.
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season 1 || Watched three episodes, but did not finish. I had hoped to enjoy this, but it felt too affected, and the plot didn’t move quickly enough. Was watching this while sick with Covid, so missing half my brain might have played a part as well. Don’t feel inclined to go back to it, though.
  • Bosch season 1 || Won’t finish. I’ve read and enjoyed several of Michael Connelly’s books about Harry Bosch, and I find Titus Welliver compelling on screen, but episode 1 of this was outright copaganda and super hard to watch.
  • The Boys season 3 || Keeps on digging deeper into how horrible these superheroes are.
  • ⭐️ She-Hulk season 1 || Fun. I like the version of Jennifer Walters Marvel has out together for the TV show. It’s bright and quirky and the season was short without feeling (too) awkward. Although it wasn’t entirely out of place, I thoroughly disliked the finale. Breaking the fourth wall, yes, super-self-referential in-jokes, maybe not.
  • ⭐️ The Old Man season 1 || Good. I enjoyed Jeff Bridges as a grizzled, long-retired spy, and John Lithgow as his handler. Great pair of actors they found for the younger selves as well. I enjoy this kind of low-key spy drama, with occasional action, to giant big-budget slug-fests. I think I would have preferred it if they’d wrapped up the story in a single mini-series with an actual ending, though.
  • ⭐️ The House of the Dragon season 1 || Yeah, good. Happy to keep watching this to see where it goes.
  • ⭐️ The Peripheral season 1 || Based on William Gibson’s book, which I loved. I enjoyed seeing some of the very vivid characters brought to life on screen. This is a great adaptation, but just like The Old Man, I wish they’d wrapped it up with an actual ending.
  • ⭐️ The Lazarus Project season 1 || Time loops + secret agents? Sign me up. I adored this. Episode 3 is thoroughly harrowing, though – content warning for all parents. Just like The Old Man and The Peripheral, I regret the choice to end the season on a cliffhanger, but this one feels more like a natural jumping-off point to a new chapter of the story, whereas those other two shows just failed to end.
  • ⭐️ The Undeclared War season 1 || Near-future thriller that isn’t so much a spy thriller as a surveillance and intelligence thriller. But that’s what makes it feel very realistic. These are the trenches of information warfare.
  • War of the Worlds season 3 || This third season criss-crosses two parallel timelines that were created by the time-travel device at the end of season 2. It’s fine, but compared to the first two seasons this felt perfunctory and tacked-on.
  • ⭐️ Dead to Me season 3 || This third season wrapped up all the threads from the first two seasons in a satisfying and gentle way, but with a sense of inevitable sadness that it could never have a truly happy ending.
  • ⭐️ Andor || Amazing. It feels grounded in a way that other Star Wars properties completely don’t. This is helped by the fact that they used very visible real-world locations with (retro-)futuristic appearances for some of their sets (e.g. the Barbican in London, the Cruachan Dam near Loch Awe in Scotland), and seamlessly enhanced them with digital effects. But the story is low-powered (no Jedi), and it skims the borderlines of grimy and shiny, rich and poor, corrupt and principled in a way that no Star Wars show or film has done before. It was a bit like Captain America: The Winter Soldier in that sense. After watching two seasons ot The Mandalorian I was bored with the setting. After one season of Andor I want more of it.
  • Archer season 11 || I keep watching this. By this point it’s neither good nor bad, it just kind of exists?
  • ⭐️ Star Trek Picard season 2 || Even though they abandoned far-off planets in favour of exploring the strange new world of present-day Los Angeles, I found this compelling. The story felt more cohesive than season 1, although building up the character of Kore only to have her whisked away in the finale felt like a bit of a cheat. Maybe this means she’ll be back in season 3?


  • ⭐️ Govert Schilling – De Olifant In Het Universum (The Elephant in the Universe) || I came across this book on Tim Bray’s blog. It’s a history of the scientists and scientific theories of dark matter. Because Govert Schilling is a Dutch science writer, I figured I might as well read the book in Dutch rather than in an English translation. However, when I actually got the book I discovered in the afterword that he’d written the book in English originally, and the Dutch version is the translation. Oh well, nice try. It’s a good book, although perhaps a little unsatisfying in the sense that we still don’t know what dark matter actually is. It’s the first whole book I’ve read in Dutch in a long time.
  • ⭐️ Richard Osman – The Bullet That Missed || Third in the Thursday Murder Club series. Lightweight and fun, intricately plotted.
  • Mick Herron – Bad Actors || Another in the Slough House series. I remember enjoying this when I read it, but looking at it now I can hardly remember anything at all about it. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad one. On the one hand, enjoyment is good, and I’m happy to encourage myself to read books that I can go through super quickly, because it reinforces the long-form reading habit, which I fear I’m in danger of losing. On the other hand, “not very memorable” isn’t exactly high praise, is it?
  • Oliver Darkshire – Once Upon A Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller || A collection of quirky little autobiographical stories about the author getting a job at Sotheran’s in London, and learning the ins and outs of the trade. Reads like a collection of blog articles, or Twitter threads. A few good laughs, but I’d hoped for a bit more depth.
  • ⭐️ Harry Connolly – The Flood Circle || This follows on immediately from The Iron Gate. With this book Harry is rolling towards the endgame for the Twenty Palaces series. I don’t think I’m giving much away if I say this book ends on a cliffhanger, which is normally a big no-no for me unless I’ve got the next one lined up. But I’m invested in the series, and I really want to see how he lands this. In The Flood Circle we learn a lot more about Ray and Annalise, and get clues about the original spellbooks: how they might not be what they seem, and how the Twenty Palaces society might not be as knowledgeable as they seem. (Tangentially, I ordered this book and its predecessor in paperback, through Amazon, where they were fulfilled as print-on-demand books. I was impressed by how quickly it was generated and arrived on my doorstep. The interior printing and binding were fine, but the card stock used for the cover is very prone to curling. After handling it for just a little while, the covers just seem to peel open like a banana.)
Harry Connolly – The Flood Circle


  • Day Shift || Forgettable vampire hunt. Only slightly enlivened by the presence of Snoop Dogg as a bad-ass cowboy vampire hunter. Pity he’s just a minor supporting character.
  • Werewolf By Night || Fun little black-and-white Halloween snack.
  • 💩💩 Moonfall || Bad. Very bad. There’s a cool idea behind the film (moon’s haunted), and I’m sure there was a shooting script, and that they took a lot of footage… but then they reassembled it in a random order? Like a lego kit dropped on the floor and then rebuilt without the original instructions. While drunk. In darkened room. Wearing gloves.
  • ⭐️ Prey || Predator movie set in 1719, on the North American plains, with native American protagonists. Simple but effective – a classic cat-and-mouse thriller, fantastically executed.
  • ⭐️ Thirteen Lives || Ron Howard’s adaptation of the story a group of boys who got trapped by flooding inside the Tham Luang cave system in Thailand in 2018. This is an incredibly tense film. It does an amazing job of portraying the scale and difficulty of the rescue effort. Filming this must have been an enormous technical challenge, but the film never tries to be a show-off. Howard keeps the focus on the individuals, the danger they’re in, and the risks they were taking. (Similar to Apollo 13, in that sense.)
  • Margin Call || I hadn’t seen this before, but in the wake of the crypto collapse and the spectacular demise of FTX, it felt appropriate to track it down. Just like The Big Short, Margin Call is set in the heart of the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008. The Big Short tries to tell a bigger story, and explores just how big a hole the crisis created, while Margin Call focuses on just a handful of people in a single firm, watching disaster strike them personally in the course of a single day. It carefully selects which characters are worthy of a small amount of empathy, and which ones get painted as ruthlessly detached monsters. It feels very real, but also horribly dispassionate and bloodless, and free of the cosequences we know played out in the real world.
  • 💩Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special || Take human trafficking and make it fun. Take Mantis and Drax and make them even more cringe. Not the worst addition to the MCU, but … actually it might be.
  • ⭐️ Glass Onion || Rian Johnson takes aim squarely at Elon Musk in this follow-up to Knives Out, and given that this film was in the making long before Musk’s catastrophic 2022, this looks wonderfully insightful and prescient. (The new insights into Benoit Blanc’s character are wonderful, and I can’t wait to see more of him. My main issue with the film is that every piece of it goes on for too long. It takes too long to get to the island, it takes too long for the murder to happen, the flashback sequence is more of a film-within-a-film than a peek behind the scenes while the detective does the big reveal, the comeuppance sequence takes forever and ultimately feels like a soft landing for the villain, although that’s perhaps part of the overall critique of the ultra-rich. I eagerly await more Benoit Blanc, but I hope future iterations will be a little more tightly constructed (like the original Knives Out).
  • Wakanda Forever || Still digesting this. Just like Glass Onion, I thought it was slow, and went on for too long. I’m ambivalent about setting the kingdoms of Wakanda and Talokan at each others’ throats. Given that we see UN members being willing to violate Wakanda’s generosity and attempting to steal vibranium, and that there seems to be a developing narrative setting up Director de Fontaine as a new subversive Hydra-like authoritarian force, it feels our heroes are being fooled into losing sight of who the real enemy is. Maybe that’s the point? But I found the big battle between Wakanda and Talokan to be more distressing that thrilling. Beautiful production design, though.


  • ⭐️ Horizon Forbidden West || I re-played Horizon Zero Dawn before tackling the new game, and I didn’t play it as soon as it was released (18 February) because I didn’t want it to get in the way of my last exam. But once everything was wrapped up, I played the heck out of this. I didn’t quite 100% it. After getting Covid in July, followed by going away on holiday in August, I hadn’t played for about a month, and found it a bit hard to go back to. But according to the PlayStation clock I had logged 103h and 15m by the time I finished it. Good game, good value. I’m looking forward to the DLC next year, but I don’t think I’ll play through the whole game again in the run-up to its launch. (I’m curious to see where the DLC will be positioned in the game’s timeline as well – I hope it comes after the endgame.)
  • ⭐️ Stray || Cat game! Short (about 5-6 hours) exploration and puzzle-solving game in a post-apocalyptic world filled with robots with video screens for faces.
  • ⭐️ Hades || Haven’t finished this yet, but I’m still enjoying it. I find it holds my attention for a run or two, and then I’ve had enough for the day. But the structure of the game means that I still make a little bit of progress each time, and then come back the next day. Lovely graphics.

Mixed media, Sunday 9 October 2022

Yeah, it’s been a while. My notes document where I track all of this first got big, then got oppressive. You know when you leave a chore for so long that you dread tackling it? And you have to figure out what feels worse, the guilt of ignoring it for so long, or the work involved in getting down to it. It’s not like I’m contractually obliged to keep track of my media consumption; I do this to myself. This is why I’m often wary of “traditions”. You do something fun or nice once, and it feels good. You do it a second time to recapture the vibe. Do it a third time, and it becomes an expectation.

(Whose expectation? My own? That of other people? Of the unrealistic perception I have of other people?)


  • ⭐️ Becky Chambers – A Psalm for the Wild-Built || A gift from former colleague and ongoing buddy Drew. I’d enjoyed her Wayfarers series. This is different, not quite my usual fare, but pleasant and calming.
  • Michael E. Mann – The New Climate War || Good, but should have been shorter.
  • ⭐️ Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine – Last Chance to See || This is thirty years old now, but still very relevant. I used to be a big Douglas Adams fan. I listened to the radio plays of the Hitchhiker’s Guide on BFBS when I was very young; I bought Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency in hardback as soon as it came out. I’d known about Last Chance To See for a long time, but just never got round to it. Around this time last year I was contemplating buying a new camera, and I found myself watching a lot of videos about bird and wildlife photography on YouTube. This included Mark Carwardine’s BBC Wildlife Photography Masterclass series. After watching the series (and rekindling a life-long ambition to go to Antarctica, possibly as part of a photography workshop) I finally bought and read this book. Douglas Adams’ writing is irreverent in a way that I now sometimes find slightly annoying, but it’s still a very good read. Environmentalism has come a long way since 1990, but the pace of global ecological destruction is still accelerating. As Michael Mann points out in his book, it’s easy to fall into despair because there seems to be so little we can do as individuals. That kind of false consciousness and learned helplessness suits the established interests of the fossil fuel industry. We can rage against the machine. I have hope.
  • ⭐️ Naomi Kritzer – Catfishing on Catnet || YA near-future adventure about a girl who discovers that the internet forum she’s part of is actually moderated by a sentient AI.
  • ⭐️ Jamie Mason – Three Graves Full || We’ve had this book on our shelves for a decade, and I only just got round to reading it. Sharply written mystery romp about a man who finds that the body he buried in his back garden isn’t the only one there.
  • ⭐️ Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club || Cozy murder mystery set in a retirement community, with a group of retirees playing detective and trying to hide their own secrets from each other at the same time. Perhaps not great literature, but definitely great fun.
  • ⭐️ Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice || More of the same. Keep it coming.
  • ⭐️ Herminia Ibarra – Working Identity || Ibarra’s work on provisional selves posits that we don’t so much plan our careers and working lives so much as we try things out and see what works. We don’t really know what we want until we experience it. We’re constantly working to evaluate our working identity in the light of role models, our own experiments, and feedback from others. This book is a set of case studies, primarily among white-collar, affluent Western professionals, which Ibarra herself acknowledges as a limitation. Given that’s a class to which I belong, it has relevance for me. I read this during covid isolation, at a time when I was going through a lot of soul-searching about my own career.
  • Yevgeniy Brikman – Terraform Up and Running || Work stuff. Has a good opening chapter covering the importance of infrastructure-as-code.
  • ⭐️ Christopher Fowler – London Bridge is Falling Down || Bryant and May mystery, brilliant as always. Unfortunately this one ends the series.
  • Alastair Reynolds – Inhibitor Phase || Fine, but not super-memorable.
  • Denzil Meyrick – The Last Witness || I wanted to start this series on the first book (Whisky from Small Glasses), but I couldn’t find it in any of the bookshops I hit during our holiday in Scotland in the summer. This is the second book, and still early enough that I feel like I hadn’t missed too much. Good rural Scottish police thriller. Very Scottish. Would happily read more of this.
  • ⭐️ Harry Connolly – The Iron Gate || A new book in the Twenty Palaces series! Kick-started and self-published. Ray Lilly finds himself ensnared inside an artificial world, robbed of his memory, and bound by magic to act out scenarios of someone else’s making. Can he break free and save the other people caught up in this nightmare? Hard-boiled urban fantasy. The Twenty Palaces series hits just the right notes for me, and I loved this new one.
  • ⭐️ Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan – Saga vol 10 || Back after a long hiatus. Still amazing. I’ve been following Saga for a long time. Definitely since 2014, but I don’t remember when I picked up the first volumes. I think it was at a comics shop in Brighton when I was there for a dConstruct conference. (This could make it Dave’s Comics.) I blogged about going to dConstruct in September 2012, which is also when I started my hobby of marathon-length urban walks. Or was it 2013? According to my records of that year I bought a ticket, but unlike 2012 I don’t have any strong memories of being there. The conference was on Friday 6 September 2013. I have three photos from Jules & Becca’s house dated 7th September, so that’s consistent with me being in Brighton then. But while I remember Becca’s courgettes, I don’t remember the conference. I do remember giving Jeremy Keith a copy of Bob Shaw’s Other Days, Other Eyes, because of an earlier conversation, but was that 2012 or 2013? Ugh. The book I’m currently reading, Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert talks about how our memories are more like a reweaving of experiences rather than a retrieving of them (p79), and how what we think we remember is often very different from what actually happened. I’ve started using LogSeq at work, and been thinking a lot about memory recently. Hmm. Anyway – me buying the first collected edition(s) of Saga in September 2013 is more consistent with their publishing history. So let’s go with 2013.
Harry Connolly – The Iron Gate


  • ⭐️ Army of Thieves || Fun heist romp. Prequel to Army of the Dead, focusing on just one character from that film, safecracker Sebastian/Ludwig. I’m always up for a heist flick.
  • ⭐️ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings || Fun Marvel superhero romp. Good review of the San Francisco bus fight scene from an actual San Francisco bus driver.
  • ⭐️ The Suicide Squad || Much better than the first one.
  • ⭐️ No Time To Die || As Bond films go, this one is totally out of left field. Nasty villain, check; big globe-trotting set-pieces, check; hard-boiled Bond quips and fight scenes, check. But way more angst, emotional expression, and character growth? I digged it.
  • The Matrix Resurrections || Good, but uneven. Shines a light on the characters and especially the themes of the original, but leaves a lot hanging.
  • ⭐️ Don’t Look Up || Satire so sharp it’s hard to watch.
  • The Tomorrow War || Time travel invasion kill bugs protect humanity. It passes the time.
  • Encanto || The first five songs are burned into my skull from driving Fiona back and forth to AICS and appointments, and listening to the start of the soundtrack over and over again. This isn’t a bad thing. The film is fine.
  • The Kingsman || Meh.
  • ⭐️ Kimi || Tight, claustrophobic Soderbergh thriller that properly acknowledges the pandemic.
  • 💩 Red Notice || I said I’m always up for a heist flick, didn’t I? I’m generally always up for Ryan Reynolds, too. This was just disappointing all round.
  • ⭐️ The Adam Project || Ryan Reynolds. Time travel. Okay, this one works for me. Walker Scobell playing young Adam is fantastic.
  • ⭐️ The Protégé || Heist/assassin mentor/mentee revenge thriller thing. Pretty good.
  • ⭐️ Spider-Man: No Way Home || Multiple Spider-Men. Multiverse. Marvel. They’re good at this.
  • 💩 The Bubble || Awful. The opposite of funny.
  • Kong: Skull Island || Big monsters. Fine.
  • Godzilla vs Kong || More big monsters. Also fine.
  • The Batman || Small monsters, the human kind. Fine.
  • 💩 The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard || Awful. Just awful. Yeah, I know I said I’m always up for Ryan Reynolds.
  • ⭐️ Ford vs Ferrari || Gorgeous, intense film about the passion of racing and rivalries.
  • ⭐️ The Wall: Climb For Gold || Documentary following climbers on their way to the Tokyo Olympics, where climbing debuts on the programme. Remember that the Tokyo Olympics were postponed by a year because of the pandemic? That plays havoc with training and performance schedules. Nail-biting, emotional.
  • 💩 Venom: Let There Be Carnage || Dumb.
  • ⭐️ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes || Good.
  • ⭐️ War for the Planet of the Apes || Also good.
  • 💩 All The Old Knives || I do like a low-key espionage thriller that focuses on the people rather than on the action, but this was dull. So dull.
  • Cash Truck || Grim. Kept hoping it would become less grim. It didn’t.
  • ⭐️ Last Night In Soho || I hadn’t seen a trailer and didn’t know what to expect of this. Charming and exciting, cleverly filmed, with a bunch of unexpected twists. Very good!
  • ⭐️ Hustlers || Engaging story about a group of exotic dancers who find ways to exploit back.
  • ⭐️ Murder on the Orient Express (2017) || Sumptuous, gorgeously filmed, meticulously performed. Branagh as Poirot brings a completely different energy to the character.
  • ⭐️ Death on the Nile (2022) || See above. Also very good.
  • ⭐️ Everything Everywhere All At Once || Weird and amazing.
  • The Princess || Tough-as-nails princess fights her way out of the tower and saves the kingdom. Good fight choreography, but otherwise forgettable.
  • Ghostbusters Afterlife || I don’t think this is a particularly good film, and it tries too hard to echo the elements of the original without literally repeating them. Buuuuut… I found it kinda charming nonetheless.
  • The Gray Man || Big, epic, JasonBourne-ish, CaptainAmericaWinterSoldier-ish. Lots of action, and some fantastic set pieces, but I felt that it lacked heart.
  • Thor: Love and Thunder || First film I saw in the cinema since the start of the Pandemic. Fiona and I watched it in the Spey Valley Cinema in Aviemore when we were in the Highlands in the summer. It’s good, but I felt that it often leaned too heavily on jokes and character beats already established in previous films.
  • Joker || Well-made, but grim. It doesn’t make Joker a sympathetic character. Rather, it shows more clearly where he might be coming from. “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Watched this with Mum & Dad while I was staying with them last month. Not exactly a family movie, but hey.
  • DC League of Superpets || Just because Fiona lives in Perth now doesn’t mean we can’t go out to the cinema together every now and then and watch silly kids’ movies. Ach, it’s fine. Would have been better if I’d remembered to pay for my parking before leaving the car park, though. £60 ticket. (Reduced to £30 for paying within 14 days.)
  • Samaritan || Fairly straightforward ageing superhero in retirement (hidden) story. Not bad.

Episodic Video (“TV”)

  • ⭐️ Ted Lasso season 2 || Proves that the excellent first season wasn’t a fluke. I got a bit confused by the timing of the Christmas episode, though.
  • ⭐️ Hawkeye season 1 || I enjoy the Hawkeye character. I love the Matt Fraction/David Aja incarnation, and this show picks up many elements from that run, including the tracksuit mafia.
  • Star Trek Discovery season 4 || Uneven, but still good.
  • ⭐️ The Witcher season 2 || Excellent.
  • La Casa de Papel season 5 (“Money Heist”) || Not as compelling as earlier seasons, but rounds off the story well enough.
  • Reacher season 1 || Hmm. This incarnation of the character is closer to the books than the Tom Cruise version, and the story is fine…but I just didn’t care for the characters all that much.
  • ⭐️ The Expanse seasons 5 and 6 || Excellent.
  • ⭐️ Severance season 1 || Amazing. I wrote a whole separate post about it.
  • ⭐️ Moon Knight season 1 || Uneven, but good and interesting. Oscar Isaac’s performance is excellent; made me think of Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black.
  • ⭐️ Slow Horses season 1 || I love Mick Herron’s Slough House books, and I was excited about them being turned into a show. I was initially unconvinced by Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb, because he didn’t match the picture I had in my head. But he grew on me. Looking forward to more seasons of this.
  • ⭐️ Beforeigners season 1 || Out of nowhere, people from different eras of the past (1800s, viking times, prehistoric times) start showing up in the present. The story follows one Viking woman, Alfhildr on her first case as a police detective, matched up with another cop who has become addicted to a drug used to treat temporal displacement issues. They fight crime! I heard about this on the Imaginary Worlds podcast. Although I enjoyed season 1, I couldn’t find my way into season 2. In season 1, the characters from the past felt larger than life, but grounded. In season 2 they just felt a bit over the top?
  • ⭐️ Better Call Saul season 6 || Excellent.
  • ⭐️ Love, Death, & Robots season 3 || Excellent, snackable, SF short stories for the small screen.
  • ⭐️ Locke & Key seasons 2 and 3 || Excellent. After season 1 I’d been afraid they would get cancelled and leave things hanging, but they round out the whole story to a satisfying conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed the comics, and the TV show does them justice.
  • ⭐️ Stranger Things season 4 || I still enjoy this, but it’s definitely dragging things out.
  • ⭐️ Russian Doll season 2 || I wasn’t sure where they could take this after the original season, but instead of a time loop, they do an interesting time bridge thing instead. It’s still very funny, but it also turns its gaze on more serious themes.
  • ⭐️ The Flight Attendant seasons 1 and 2 || Like Russian Doll, this is a great blend of funny and serious. Digging into relationships and alcoholism and despair while keeping things light with a humorous murder and espionage story is a fine line, but it works.
  • ⭐️ Only Murders In The Building seasons 1 and 2 || Genius. I’d seen big billboards advertising it as we drove through London on our way to and from Jules & Becca’s wedding in early July. Abi & I watched season 1 while we were in Covid isolation afterwards.
  • ⭐️ Our Flag Means Death season 1 || Excellent. More Covid isolation viewing.
  • ⭐️ Sandman season 1 || A bit slow-moving in parts. Updates the characters to be more diverse, while remaining faithful to the original comics.
  • ⭐️ Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 6, 7, and 8 || I stopped watching this in mid-2020, after the George Floyd murder, when the term “copaganda” entered my vocabulary, and many of the show’s japes suddenly seemed a lot less funny. The showrunners did a lot of soul-searching as well. Season 8 is shorter than previous seasons, and it performs an interesting feat of critically examining what has come before, and reflecting on their portrayal of police behaviour. And it does this while staying funny.
  • ⭐️ Peacemaker season 1 || I’d heard good things about this. Wasn’t sure if I would like it, because the Peacemaker as shown in The Suicide Squad is not a likeable character, and not someone I really wanted to watch joking around. But the show acknowledges this, and takes the time to steer him round. The supporting cast is good. And the opening title sequence? I normally skip opening sequences, but I found myself mesmerized by this one every single time.

Okay, backlog cleared. That wasn’t so bad. But still don’t want to let it get so long again. Promises, promises…

Mixed media, Sunday 9 August 2020

My last Mixed Media post was about five months ago; my last post at all here was on 28th March. I wrote the latter while procrastinating in the middle of the “48-hour online timed assessment” (don’t call it an “exam”) at the end of the Learning & Development module for the Org Psych course I’m following.

The course is a big time commitment. The university suggests that we should expect to spend around 15 hours per week on it during term time. This comes in the form of a weekly lecture, readings, and writing assignments for the online forums. My intention is always to spend use “evenings and weekends” for this, but reality is that I’m often too tired at the end of a full work day to hit the books after dinner. I find myself doing most of the work in the weekends, submitting my forum posts long after everyone else has chewed over the subject of the week, trying hard to contribute something new or useful. In terms 2 and 3 I experienced a pattern of feeling like I was constantly falling behind, and a huge amount of stress and anxiety before the assessment.

Is this fun? I’m not taking this course because I have to. I’m doing it because I’m interested in the subject, because I thought a deeper understanding of organizational psychology would help me be a better manager, and because it seemed like a bit of a challenge. There are many other things I could be doing with my time, such as, oh, not putting myself under that kind of pressure 30 weeks out of the year. I’m learning a lot, and I’m gaining a sense of achievement from doing this, but is it worth the cost?

The exam online timed assessment (there’s a rant in there, but I’ll save it for another time) for term 3 was about a month ago, so I’m in the middle of the summer break now until the start of October. It’s very relaxing! I can wake up at the weekend and spend a day doing absolutely nothing without a feeling of guilt that I should be reading and studying. (I still spend time doing nothing, or at least nothing “productive” during term time; it just leads to me feeling bad.) I tried to go easy on bingeing TV shows during term, and I deliberately held back on buying The Last of Us Part II until the assessment was over. If I wasn’t spending time studying, is that all I would do, though, read books, watch TV, play video games? (I could say that I’d spend the time getting back to practicing the bass, but let’s keep it real.) Would simply enjoying myself be a bad thing? Don’t answer that, I already know.

So I’m spending some time thinking about whether to continue the course after the summer. I don’t have to decide straight away, and because I’ve got 5 years in total to complete it, perhaps I just space out the modules a bit more, and do 2 per academic year instead of 3. Maybe future modules will be different?

Last term was a bit of a pressure cooker: the Selection & Assessment module covers subjects of fairness and biases in hiring practices, the role of “intelligence” (aka “general mental ability”), and the differences in average test scores between racial groups. In the light of the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and elsewhere, I found myself getting genuinely angry at some of the research literature I encountered that didn’t address scientific racism, but instead took a hands-off “we’re just reporting the numbers, what you do with them is up to you” attitude. Many researchers do try hard to come up with methodological explanations for the means differences: the apparent numbers just can’t be right, so what’s causing them? But the journals of I/O psychology are not exactly a hotbed of social justice activism. This is frustrating because outside the field, there’s a much simpler answer: the prolonged effects of structural racism!

Also COVID-19 and lockdowns. That’s not making me feel happy and comfortable, either.

Hmm, I started this blog post with the intention of writing about media.


Euskal kultura - News
  • 💩 Need for Speed: Too much nonsensical plot, not enough racing. Fast & furious, this isn’t. I watched it because I was looking for something mindless, and that’s what I got.
  • ⭐️ El Hoyo: Tight and tense sci-fi thriller about a prison? Rehab centre? Social experiment gone wrong?
  • Bloodshot: I’d been looking forward to seeing this in the cinema, but then lockdown hit. Fortunately, the studio released the film for download. It’s daft, but neat. Interesting for a film to offer a twist beginning rather than a twist ending. Don’t see it spawning a major franchise.
  • Rampage: Daft, but entertaining.
  • ⭐️ Booksmart: Yes, it’s good, with good gags, strong characters, and a nice pay-off; but I’d hoped for it to be a little less cringe-y.
  • ⭐️ Onward: Good Pixar, not great Pixar.
  • Code 8: I remember seeing the short film a few years ago; this is the full-length thing, a low-budget, low-key crime thriller in a world where some people have powers, but society has grown to shun and marginalize them. Engaging.
  • ⭐️ Jumanji – The Next Level: More fun than it has any right to be. It’s simple and silly, but the cast sell it really well.
  • 💩 Central Intelligence: I’d been going to say something about how I enjoy pretty much anything with Dwayne Johnson in it, but I’m putting that thought back on ice.
  • ⭐️ Colossal: The premise is weird, and for a while it looks like the characters will follow a certain kind of redemption arc, but it goes somewhere darker instead.
  • The Lovebirds: Throwaway romantic comedy. There are worse ways to spend 90 minutes.
  • Brightburn: What if Superman origin story, but he turns out as a brutal psychopath instead? Jump scares and some slasher-ish horror, but it’s not much deeper than that.
  • Mute: Very pretty Blade Runner vibe to the production design, with a very earnest tragic romance driving the plot, but lacking in focus. I didn’t need to see so much of both sides of the curtain.
  • 💩 Bad Boys For Life: I got about five minutes into this and couldn’t watch any more. After the Black Lives Matter protests and the heightened awareness of police brutality in the US, the opening scenes felt laid bare as a classic building block of pro-police propaganda that I hadn’t critically examined before. See also Jordan Calhoun’s article “Saying Goodbye to Law & Order” in the Atlantic.
  • ⭐️ The Old Guard: Satisfying action thriller with a bunch of immortals trying to come to terms with who they’re fighting for, and why.


  • ⭐️ Mick Herron – Joe Country:I’m still enjoying these Slough House spy stories.
  • ⭐️ Curtis C Chen – Kangaroo Too: Sequel to Waypoint Kangaroo. I don’t think he has written any more in the series, which is a terrible shame because I love the wise-cracking space opera spy with superpowers vibe here.
  • ⭐️ William Gibson – The Peripheral: I got a few chapters into this a couple of years ago and gave up because I couldn’t get a handle on it. This is a very dense book. The writing style is sparse, and there’s no surplus exposition. You have to build your picture of the world from the inside out. At times it feels like Gibson started with a 1200-page draft and then deleted every other word to bring it down to size. But I found it enormously rewarding once I got properly stuck into it, especially because the current pandemic makes it feel like we’re living out part of the Jackpot, a decades-long slow-motion global catastrophe.
  • ⭐️ William Gibson – Agency: I felt an ache when Gibson described the circumstances in the present-day “stub” world, where most of the action in Agency takes place: Trump didn’t win, and no Brexit. The world is in peril for different reasons, though, so still no party. The writing feels lighter and faster-paced, but maybe that’s because I’d already bootstrapped my understanding of the world from The Peripheral. The ending also felt a little too tidy and hopeful. You’d think I’d enjoy a bit of hopefulness? Given the backdrop of the Jackpot in the book, and the current situation of our world, it rang a bit hollow.
  • Warren Ellis & Jason Howard – Trees vol 3: So there’s the Warren Ellis thing. This struck me because it came hot on the heels of the allegations and accusations around Max Temkin. I had enjoyed the weekly podcast Do By Friday with Temkin, Merlin Mann, and Alex Cox for a couple of years, and had just recently backed his Magic Puzzles kickstarter. Picking up the first two volumes of Transmetropolitan, along with Matt Fraction, David Aja, & Javier Pulido’s Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon at Dr. Comics & Mr Games in Oakland in the summer of 2013 feels like the start of my ongoing love of modern comics. I had consistently sought out Ellis’s other comics. I subscribed to his newsletter, and through it learned about many other artists and people of interest. I’m fully aware that any fondness I had for Ellis and Temkin was parasocial. But the fondness was there, and when it gets betrayed there are feelings. June 2020 was a pretty fucking intense month for feelings. Anyway – ignoring the author, Trees vol 3 is a minor addition to that canon: a claustrophobic murder mystery/ghost story that doesn’t contribute to the global events the first volumes showed. I’d be surprised if we ever see any more.
  • 💩 Stuart MacBride – All That’s Dead: Filler material in the Logan McRae series. Gratuitously gruesome. No character evolution. Skip it.
  • Max Brooks – Devolution: Remote Washington residential community for clueless rich people gets attacked by Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) when Mt Rainier erupts and cuts them off from the rest of the world. Much more easily filmable than World War Z, but much less interesting as a result.

Episodic Video (“TV”)

  • ⭐️ The Witcher season 1: Highly entertaining fantasy. Neither Tolkienesque nor GoT-ish grimdark. Looking forward to more of this.
  • ⭐️ Tiger King: So much has been written about this already. It’s compelling viewing, each episode filled with more WTF than the next. One of the wildest things was how the film-makers got footage of the whole story as events unfolded over several years. The result is far more reality show than an investigative documentary.
  • ⭐️ Better Call Saul season 5: Beautiful, meticulously constructed, and continues to generate empathy for characters, good and bad, whose destiny is already written. Except for Kim: she’s never mentioned at all in Breaking Bad, yet she’s grown to be one of the biggest elements of the show, and is thus the biggest mystery. I’m looking forward to and dreading the final season.
  • ⭐️ Agents of SHIELD season 6: Took a very different direction than the out-in-space season 5. Still great. Annoying that season 7 isn’t up on Disney+.
  • Halt and Catch Fire season 1: It’s a wonderful production, full of intricate historical verisimilitude. You can watch it as a computer expert and not strain your eyes from rolling them. At the same time, the characters are horrible people, I don’t like them, and if I keep watching the following seasons sooner or later one of them is going to kill someone, possibly accidentally, but definitely with a lot of secrecy, guilt and remorse, and I’ll like them even less. I don’t think I’m up for that.
  • Community seasons 3, 4, 5: Funny, yes, but there’s a certain cruelty that always seems very close to the surface, and shows its face often enough for it to make me uncomfortable.
  • Runaways season 2: Entertaining enough. Annoying that season 3 isn’t up on Disney+.
  • ⭐️ Dead to Me seasons 1 & 2: Brilliant dark comedy drama.
  • ⭐️ ⭐️ Chernobyl: ? Utterly astonishing. As a teen in the Netherlands at the time of the events of 1986, I remember only the general shape of news events, and a heightened sense of alarm about radiation. In the years since, the disaster has been sanded down by history, and rendered abstract by factual articles and encyclopedia entries. This 5-episode mini-series brings out the full horror or the catastrophe, and shows how close we came to it being unimaginably worse. The image of a shaft of blue light, caused by Cherenkov radiation, spearing up up into the sky from the exposed core is something that will stay with me.
  • 💩 Space Force season 1: I couldn’t watch more than the first two episodes. First of all it’s just not very funny. Secondly, I have no appetite for gentle satire of government and administrative incompetence when genuine malfeasance is rampant and needs to be attacked, not made light of.
  • ⭐️ Dark seasons 2 & 3: I appreciate a show that actually brings things to an end. And for a show all about free will versus determinism, and the ambiguity of “good” and “bad” within the context of a time loop (the characters spend much of their time apologizing to younger versions of themselves or their family members about horrible things that are about to happen, or staring at things in regret), the ending was surprisingly tidy. It made me wonder a lot about how the writers had planned from the start, and how much they tweaked on the fly between seasons. Dark is a deliberately slow burn, but even at that careful pace, it’s one of the densest, twistiest time travel stories I’ve ever seen.


I finished Desert Golfing. I’d seen a video of someone finishing the game at around 24,000 holes, but that was from some time ago. Originally the game was “unending”, but had some impossible holes in it. In an update a couple of years ago the creator put a 10,000 limit in place for new games, or 10,000 more than wherever you were at the time of the update – hence why some people have so many holes.

I’ve picked up Golf on Mars, the follow-up, but the physics are a bit different, and hard to get used to after so much of the original. It also has 25,770,000,000 holes, which is effectively infinite. This somehow makes it feel less challenging and more pointless? Not that there was much point in finishing Desert Golfing, but it always felt like there was an end I was striving for – some kind of achievement. Without such a goal, and no high-score to beat, I’ve quickly lost interest.

Post Mortem Review - The Last of Us Part II - Modern Gamer

I’ve also finished The Last of Us Part II. Fiona and I played it together: me on the controls, and Fiona providing snark about how bad I am at killing zombles. After the end credits rolled, the game presented a screen asking us if we wanted to start a New Game + session to level up the characters even further and pick up all the collectibles we’d missed. We were both very much NOPE NOT GOING BACK THERE THANK YOU.

It’s an amazing game in many ways: the graphics, environment, and art are stunning; the post-apocalyptic world is richly portrayed; the character models are shockingly emotive; the voice acting is unparalleled; the gameplay is fluid, with well-balanced difficulty that can nonetheless be adjusted on-the-fly so that you don’t get stuck and get bored.

But it’s also continuously, intimately violent far beyond my comfort level. The absence of choice in all of the actually meaningful encounters makes a mockery of your ability to sneak past enemies instead of shooting or stabbing them along the way. This is very much not an open-world game, or a role-playing game where you can steer your character’s personality. It forces you to become attached to a sympathetic character, and then forces you to watch her (to be her) as she then consistently makes the worst possible choices. It’s maddening, bordering on sickening. Maddy Myers describes it very well in her review at Polygon. Art doesn’t have a responsibility to make us feel happy or comfortable. I’m glad that I’m done with the game; I’m not sure if I’m glad I played it.

Mixed media, Saturday 1 February 2020

Fuck Brexit!

The words Europe and Scotland linked by a heart, projected onto the side of the European Commission HQ
Europe ❤️ Scotland

Town in Netherlands replaces Union Jack with Saltire in EU flag line-up

I haven’t quite figured out how to make a European Flag tattoo design that works for me yet.

Fuck Brexit!

Knives Out movie poster


  • El Camino (Breaking Bad movie) A good chaser after having finished watching all of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
  • ⭐️ Knives Out I’m a fan of Rian Johnson’s, and I’d been looking forward to this for ages. Watched it at the cinema with Abi and Fiona on my birthday, after rushing down a pineapple and jalopeño pizza (yes) at the Domino’s around the corner to catch the movie start time. Excellent film, absolutely loved it.
  • The Irishman Boring. The facial digital de-aging was good, possibly the best we’ve seen to date, but they forgot to de-age the actors’ gaits. In scenes where he’s supposed to be playing a man in his 40s, De Niro still walks and moves like a man in his 70s. Also, did I mention the film’s boring? Because it’s boring.
  • Rise of Skywalker Yes, it’s stupid and full of plot holes, but I liked it. Kinda glad that the cycle is done now, though.
  • ⭐️ Warcraft You know what? Not at all bad. It’s not Moon or Source Code, but it’s not a turkey. It’s not subtle, it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s sincere in putting on an entertaining and exciting big-budget fantasy spectacle that isn’t set in Middle Earth. I enjoyed it.
  • Roman J Israel Esq Knowing nothing about this film other than having watched the trailer clip showing a single scene of dialogue between Denzel Washington and Colin Farrell, this went in a completely different direction than I’d expected. Thoughtful, uncomfortable, pretty good.
  • 💩💩 6 Underground I tried watching this, but I couldn’t. A billionaire faking his own death so he can mete out vigilante justice with no regard for collateral damage is…troublesome at best, the I found the opening car chase scene so abhorrent that I deleted the download from my phone so that I wouldn’t be tempted to try returning to it. (Yes, Bruce Wayne/Batman, yes, Tony Stark/Iron Man. I know.)
  • ⭐️ Frozen 2 Good. Kristoff’s “Lost in the woods” eighties music video parody is hilarious.
  • ⭐️ My name is Dolemite Excellent. Funny and moving story of a comedian trying to make it big, and do it his way.
  • ⭐️ Song of the Sea Beautiful film, gorgeous animation.
  • ⭐️ Jojo Rabbit Brilliant. I found the start uncomfortable, with how much it leaned in to painting the nazis in a normal and humorous light, but it turned into something altogether sharper, more subtle, and more emotional.


  • ⭐️ Rick and Morty season 4 (or at least the first half of it) – still funny.
  • ⭐️ Watchmen Excellent, intense, twisty & turny, although the use of kinetic weapons in the final episode felt inconsistent in its execution.
  • ⭐️ The Good Place season 4 Wow. Hard to keep up the level of comedy and still bring that to a satisfying ending, but they really did it.
  • ⭐️ October Faction season 1 I won’t be surprised if Netflix doesn’t renew this for a second season, and I won’t be super disappointed, either, because they brought this first story arc to a pretty solid conclusion. It’s relatively low budget, relatively low key and downbeat, definitely not the flashiest or best piece of TV out there. But what can I say? I enjoyed the family story, and felt a strong connection with the two parents, struggling to deal with two teens who themselves are trying to figure out their own identity in a new and difficult situation.
Slow Horses by Mick Herron book cover


  • ⭐️ The first 5 books of the Jackson Lamb series by Mick Herron: Slow Horses, Dead Lions, Real Tigers, Spook Street, and London Rules. Loved these. I came across them via Warren Ellis. Serious spy stories, with elements of Archer-like inappropriate humour that creep in around the edges. Looking forward to the next one.
  • 🤔 Measure What Matters by John Doerr. He never comes out and explicitly says there is a causal link between the use of OKRs and corporate success (maybe his editor balked), but he sure as heck implies it at every opportunity. Now, I like OKRs, but I also like supporting evidence. This book is a selection of the most successful case studies from his personal acquaintance. Pretty! But completely lacking in balance, or in guidance for anything but the happiest of paths.


  • Manic by Halsey is amazing. Varied and richly textured. And I can actuall play the bass part for “Finally // beautiful stranger” because it’s super easy (E-D-C-A) and at a tempo I can still handle. ❤️
  • The track “Alanis’ Interlude” on Manic features…Alanis Morissette, who I haven’t listened to for ages. As in, I hadn’t heard Flavors of Entanglement from 2008 or havoc and bright lights from 2012 at all. But now I have! I prefer the latter.

Update: I’d forgotten that in the time period for this mixed mediastravaganza I also had a subscription to Amazon Prime. This was accidental. I generally avoid Amazon (I disapprove strongly of their labour practices), but when I do use them, I always avoid signing up for their offers of Amazon Prime. But this time they caught me with one of their dark patterns. Something like a “no, I don’t want to not take advantage of opting out of this free offer” checkbox that I misinterpreted.

Anyway, so there I was with an Amazon Prime subscription, and Season 4 of ⭐ The Expanse just having been released as an Amazon exclusive, so I stuck around for that. And season 1 of ⭐ Fleabag. But not season 2, because despite season 2 being “Available on Amazon Prime Video” this apparently doesn’t mean it’s, you know, available on Amazon Prime Video in the way media are available on other video subscription services. Of course not, what was I thinking.

So anyway, that subscription is gone now.

And then there’s Disney+, on which we’ve watched season 1 of The Mandalorian. Mixed opinion. On the one hand Baby Yoda, on the other hand droid slavery and mass murder. So.

And as I was looking back over this media collection, I thought it was looking a bit light for a three month gap since the previous one…and then I remembered that ⭐ Spider-Man on PS4 kinda took over my life for while there. Time well spent.

Mixed Media, Wednesday 9 October 2019

I’ve been sick with my old nemesis, bronchitis, for the last week or so. I went to the doctor the other day to get a salbutamol inhaler, which is helping, but recovery is slow. Feeling my age. Being 32 sucks.

It it looks like I’ve spent a lot of time watching TV and films between now and the last Mixed Media post, chalk it up to a lot of travel time in September (New York, London, Edinburgh), and most of October so far lying in bed with barely enough breath to flick through Netflix for anything better.


  • Black Mass Dull film about horrible people doing horrible crimes
  • ⭐️ The Panama Papers Fascinating documentary directed by Alex Winters (yes, he of Bill & Ted fame)
  • Hellboy (2019) Entirely forgettable
  • ⭐️ Crazy Rich Asians Fun romantic comedy!
  • ⭐️ The Informant! Quirky true-story comedy drama about deception heaped upon incompetence.
  • 💩 The Hummingbird Project Seeing the trailer, I’d thought this was going to be quirky like The Informant!, but based on the world of high-frequency trading infrastructure Michael Lewis described in Flash Boys. It could have been, if they’d remembered to shoot the third act. Instead, the film just cuts off mid-way through some pointless scene in a barn. And the only really sequence of real wit is the one where Anton Zaleski (Alexander Skarsgård) dances down a hotel hallway to the Beastie Boys’ Do It in his dressing gown. Other than that: great cast, wasted.
  • Bad Times At The El Royale Style over substance, with a weird religious redemption message at the end
  • ⭐️ Dora The Explorer Surprisingly good! Okay, it’s not going to win any Oscars, but it was good clean fun, with a lot of knowing winks to the parents and older kids in the audience.
  • ⭐️ Brawl In Cell Block 99 I didn’t buy Vince Vaughn as a mobster in season 2 of True Detective, but he shines here as a weary but hard-as-nails force of nature. The violence in this film is viscerally brutal, and not for the faint-hearted.
  • ⭐️ Dragged Across Concrete Similar in tone to Brawl, S. Craig Zahler seems to have a very distinct feel for his films. Very deliberate. He likes to take his time with each scene, and lets you soak in the inevitability of the horrible situations into which he puts his characters. Gripping, but fatalistic.
  • ⭐️ The Equalizer I remember watching the Equalizer TV show when I was younger. I thought I remembered that the Robert McCall character (then played by Edward Woodward) had a gimmick that he didn’t like to use guns, and so relied on his wits and other weapons. Doing some cursory internet “reasearch” shows that not to be the case, so, eh. In any case, the new Robert McCall played by Denzel Washington doesn’t use guns (in this first film), unless you count nail guns. It’s a solid reluctant hero action thriller.
  • In The Shadow Of The Moon I went into this looking for a serial killer crime thriller, but turns out to be a time travel serial killer crime thriller. I’ll allow it.
  • The Equalizer 2 Not as good as the first. Shouldn’t have killed Melissa Leo’s “control” character!
  • K-12 Long music video promo thing (“emotion picture“?) Good music & choreography, terrible connecting storyline, dialogue, and acting.
  • ⭐️ The Great Wall Also surprisingly good! Amazing visuals and action sequences. The dialogue and themes (collectivism) feels like they came from a different (Chinese) film-making tradition, but I’m down with that.
  • The Losers Have I seen this film before? I’m sure I’ve seen this film before. I didn’t have a sense of full-blown déja vu throughout it, just an overwhelming sense of familiarity. Chris Evans (after Fantastic Four and the underrated Push, but before Captain America) in his pink T-shirt, playing both with and against his tough hero type. Zoe Saldana playing the Zoe Saldana character. The comic book graphics of the title and credit sequences… I’m sure I’ve seen this before. Maybe I’ll see it again in another 10 years and ask myself the same question.
  • Escape plan 2 Sure
  • Escape plan 3 Okay
  • 💩 The Other Guys There’s actually a good comedy in here, but it’s obliterated by the weight of misogynistic and homophobic jokes. Has not aged well since 2010.
  • 💩 Law Abiding Citizen Violent sociopath goes on a killing spree to avenge the death of his family.
  • 💩 Taken 2 Violent sociopath goes on a killing spree to avenge the death of his family.
  • 💩 Taken 3 Violent sociopath goes on a killing spree to avenge the death of his family. Don’t judge me, I was sick.
  • Bastille Day Idris Elba
  • Close Bodyguard thriller with all-female leads. Felt cheap, somehow. Might have just been the acting.
  • Triple Frontier Modern parable about the evil of greed and the dangers of sunk-cost reasoning.

Overall Pedro Pascal Moustache rating: 2 out of 3. (The Great Wall and Triple Frontier, but not The Equalizer 2)

Pedro Pascal and his Moustache


  • Dark season 1: German mystery series, involving serial killer(s), broken families, and time travel. With some teen characters. Felt a little Stranger-Things-ish at the beginning, but takes its sense of dread in a whole different direction. A bit slow and heavy-handed, and too many characters to keep track of in the various timelines. But good! Do not watch the dubbed version. Use subtitles like a normal human being.
  • ⭐️ True Detective season 3: And boom, it’s back. Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff have a great dynamic together. The pattern of following the same characters through the ages probably doesn’t need a third outing, though. Just imagine season 2 doesn’t exist, and everything’s fine.
  • ⭐️ Mindhunter season 2: Where Season 1 belonged to Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), the emotional centre of season 2 is Bill Tench (Holt McCallany). It’s very good, but some of the plot threads felt out of balance. Wendy Carr’s storyline peters out part-way through the season, and doesn’t feature in the last episodes at all. As does whatsisname Gregg who stays back at the basement. I suppose they wanted to stick close to the real-life events of the Atlanta child murders maybe?
  • Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D season 5: Not their best season, but I liked it just fine.
  • ⭐️ Criminal: United Kingdom: A tight little police procedural drama – the gimmick being that the whole thing is set in a single location: an interrogation in a police station “somewhere”, the observation room next door, and the hallway outside them. Three short stand-alone episodes, each covering a different crime, linked by some lightweight drama between the police characters. A nice set-up, good for quick snacking. They re-used the same set for a Spanish, German, and French version as well – I’ll be watching them soon.


  • Principles of Applied Research Methods – Jackson, McDowall, Mackenzie-Davey, Whiting (eds). Now I know what “epistemology” means.

Mixed media, 11 August 2019


  • ⭐️⭐️ Bron | Broen (The Bridge): One of the best detective thrillers I’ve seen. The plotting is exquisite: over the course of each season the show follows a ton of characters that don’t seem significant at first, but are later revealed to be part of the puzzle, like keys for a sequence of interconnected locks. The crimes and the perpetrators are extreme and byzantine, but the police investigating them are grounded and vulnerable a way that British and American TV police often aren’t. (They’re also not buff and beautiful. They feel like real humans.) Sofia Helin is brilliant as protagonist Saga Norén. There’s a scene early in season 4 where she’s shown getting dressed in her iconic leather trousers, zip-up sweater and overcoat, and driving off in her classic Porsche 911. It was like watching a superhero do their first “suit up” scene in a Marvel movie. It also made me want to watch more European detective shows.
  • ⭐️ Jessica Jones season 3: Good. Sad we won’t be seeing more.
  • Stranger Things season 3: Hmm. In the episode “Bouncing Back From Rejection” of his WorkLife podcast, Adam Grant interviews M. Night Shyamalan about his successes and failures. Shyamalan talks about how he likes shifting genres during a film, and how he has learned that it’s better to shift from a genre of lower emotional intensity to one of higher intensity. (Like going from a family drama to a supernatural horror in The 6th Sense.) You have to raise the stakes. This season of Stranger Things didn’t do that. We’ve got supernatural comedy/horror all the way through, but it went from dread in the first four episodes to caper in the final four. My expectations weren’t fulfilled.
  • ⭐️ 💩True Detective seasons 1 and 2: Season 1: brilliant. Season 2: exactly as bad as season 1 was good. Like Star Wars prequels vs. original trilogy bad. Could the characters be any more stereotyped? Could their dialogue have been any more awkward and implausible? Was George Lucas called in as a script doctor? So much mis-casting, so much faux noir.
  • 💩💩 Another Life season 1: Cool-looking trailer, but the first episode is utter garbage. Hot, sweaty garbage. Angry “give me that hour of my life back, you bastards” garbage. Offspring of Interstellar and Arrival, stabbed in the back, and corpse left in a Dumpster to rot for three weeks in the middle of a post-apocalyptic heatwave garbage.


  • ⭐️ The Mighty Thor vol 1: Thunder In Her Veins, by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, et al.: Excellent
  • ⭐️ The Mighty Thor vol 2: Lords of Midgard, by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, et al.: Also excellent


  • MIB International: It’s fine. Not great, but not as bad as some critics made out.
  • Rim of the World: War of The Worlds meets summer camp.
  • ⭐️ See You Yesterday: Starts as a lightweight kids-do-time-travel-for-science-fair, but takes a tragic and impactful turn to explore the impact of gun violence and biased policing.
  • ⭐️ Lego Movie 2: Fun
  • Glass: Brilliant first two acts, but stalls for the climax. Tries to open up an expanded universe; fails.
  • ⭐️ Prospect: Low budget science fiction drama about a girl and her prospector father looking for the one dig that will allow them to pay off their debts. It all goes wrong, and she has to team up with one of the bandits who ambushes them to fight for survival. Terrific script, fantastic drama.
  • ⭐️ Spider-Man Far From Home: Very cool, very fun.
  • ⭐️ Happy Death Day 2 U: Fun sequel! Heavier on the zany, lighter on the slasher thriller tension, and with some surprisingly deft emotional touches sprinkled throughout.
  • ⭐️ Fast and Furious presents: Hobbs and Shaw: Can you make a good blockbuster action movie based just on the ridiculous charisma of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, and the (played for laughs) over-the-top hyper-masculine chemistry between them? Yes. Yes, you can.


  • ⭐️⭐️ Against the Rules by Michael Lewis: Michael Lewis is my favourite author of non-fiction. This podcast, about “the decline of the human referee in American life and what that’s doing to our idea of fairness” is just as entertaining and insightful as his books. He’s talking not just about sports referees, but “referees” in every sense of the word: regulators, judges, arbitrators – supposedly neutral parties of every kind. It’s a fascinating blend of psychology, politics, and justice both legal and social. Highly recommended.