That said, sadly this show's tendency to cast darker men for throwaway antagonist/villain roles is still here, and I still decidedly don't appreciate it.
Thematic statement of the episode: Pree's "We'll see if [Gared] survives Basic Training" and Dutch's "Welcome to Level 5. No more pulling punches."
...though on the matter of that latter one, exactly how did Dutch miss out that Johnny's the guy who'll take a plasma torch to someone's face at point blank and send a bolt through their head from across the room? And that was S1! Level 5 just means he's cleared to take kill warrants, not that he's obligated to take them: it's a matter of skill, not constitution. Which makes me think possibly the reason she rank-blocked him was to lower the chances that he'll take off on his own, which: Dutch, seriously, come the fuck on.
Ironic statement of the episode: Turin saying "If they swore our oath, I've got their backs. Even the assholes get a fair shake; that's the way I lead." Yeah, we know how that one ends when tested.
Other moment of interest: When Kendry establishes a link with the Green, she asks "What is this?" to which Aneela replies, "The beginning." Given the open/close of s03e10... yeah. If I had more patience, I'd go and fish out the images that flash when Kendry establishes said connection; that might help with figuring out if there really is a connection, or if it's window-display only.
Oh! And this time I caught the label of Zeph's petry dish: that's Khlyen's blood, which, are we seriously to believe that Dutch had harvested his body.
...also I think D'av beat up at least half a dozen other killjoys, possibly more. Hee. He and Dutch together really are a powerhouse.
I should have started with Frances Ha. Mistress America is not a bad movie, but it’s also not a particularly successful one. It’s a character drama where the characters are a little too stylized to seem quite real, but not stylized enough for that stylization to create its own pocket reality where you just go along with it.
In short, it’s stylized enough to feel awkward. It’s too awkward even for Gerwig, who makes awkwardness into an art form in Frances Ha. At times her character Brooke, a 30-year-old aspiring New Yorker on the cusp of failure, seems almost like a parody of Frances - or at least a parody of something. “I know I'm funny. I know everything about myself. That's why I can't do therapy,” Brooke explains, encapsulating her own lack of self-awareness just a little too neatly
On the other hand, there are also times when Gerwig hits the emotional beats just right. “You can’t really know what it is to want things until you’re at least thirty,” Brooke lectures her soon-to-be stepsister Tracy, a lonely college freshman. “And then with each passing year, it gets bigger… because the want is more, and the possibility is less.”
Still relentlessly self-absorbed, but it also hits on something painful and true about Brooke’s desperation. She doesn’t so much lack self-awareness as push it away, because looking her life squarely in the face would mean admitting that she’s drowning.
Gerwig looms over the movie, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to her co-star Lola Kirke, who plays Tracy - young and vulnerable, yet also a would-be puppetmaster, sharply observant but at the same time incredibly emotionally clueless. The night after she first meets Brooke, Tracy writes a character study that is a poisonously vicious homage.
And it really is both those things at once. She admires Brooke tremendously - she’s so exuberant and outgoing and fun! Tracy’s own platonic manic pixie dream girl, plucking her out of her lonely inhibited life! - but also recognizes that Brooke’s basically a failure, not a viable model to follow. There’s an attraction and a repulsion and of course when Brooke reads it - of course she gets her hands on it; no one in movies can ever hide anything properly - all she sees is that viciousness.
There’s a good movie in here. Tracy and Brooke’s friendship is fascinating, both before and after it crashes and burns. Unfortunately it’s just a little too clever for its own good, and obscures its merits.
Second time around, I already know how this season is going to go: there's going to be more bullshit "science", and not as much good writing, good pacing and the rest of that jazz. So second time around, I get to deal with the disappointment, and it's harder to enjoy what's good because the bad pops out so much more. And yet, at about halfway through the ep, it started Working anyway. And that? Shows how good it is.
Granted, this episode has one of my favorite moments in the entire season, when D'avin and Johnny get to sit down and talk just the two of them: "This time I got to stay and be the responsible one, and I loved it." In early S1, the D’avin we meet sold himself into slavery the first time he was responsible for his own life, wouldn’t talk about the shit he was going through and over which he hated himself to a degree that could’ve killed him, and generally would’ve been screwed if Dutch hadn’t adopted him. Compare and contrast with the D'avin of this episode, who’ll call attention to his fears and insist on it if he thinks the other person doesn’t take it seriously (Johnny's "D'av the magic pony scale line). This D’avin who neither needs nor wants to run, and will openly say he loves the new state of things.
And knowing the show will keep this up, that this thread will be revisited later in the season, and that D'avin'll get something to look after big enough it actually occupies all of his caretaking drive (and given he's got plenty spare even after everything Dutch and Johnny occupy, that's a lot) - that just makes it better.
Nothing because I am still in AAAA MUST WRITE BIG BANG mode. I expect this to persist.
What I'm Reading Now
( Avengers #11, Doctor Strange #25, Generations Ms. Marvel And Ms. Marvel #1, Invincible Iron Man #11, Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #4, Spider-Men II #3, U.S.Avengers #10 )
What I'm Reading Next
Elizabeth Wein’s The Pearl Thief, which features ( exuberant spoilers )
What I’m Reading Now
At last I started The Ordinary Acrobat and I’m quite enjoying it! I had not realized that a memoir about attending a circus school was a thing that I wanted in my life, but it totally is and it’s just as fascinating as it sounds. And also it has made me want to learn how to juggle.
I found myself pining for the bucolic world of Miss Read, so I went ahead and borrowed the last two Miss Reads in my mother’s collection: Thrush Green and Winter in Thrush Green. Will I be forced to turn to the library to supplement my Miss Read needs? Perhaps! Although probably I should give James Herriot a try first - I think he’s got a similar thing going on in his tales of life as a country vet, in the quirkily amusing yet tranquil English countryside.
What I Plan to Read Next
Now that I’ve almost finished reading down my pile of books-I-own-but-haven’t-read, I’ve decided that it’s time to make some serious progress on my to-read list. Perhaps Emily Arsenault’s The Leaf Reader? I quite enjoyed her earlier novelThe Broken Teaglass, and it sent me on a fruitful search for more mystery novels about unraveling literary puzzles. Or maybe some more Jon Krakauer…
I’ve already borrowed Sara Pennypacker’s Summer of the Gypsy Moths from the library, though, so probably I will read that first.
Of the guest stars, the actresses playing Leonora and Orlando were especially good. I do notice that some of the sharpness of the novels is lost when it comes to politics. I mean, The Silkworm, the novel, has passages like this: : Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, was announcing plans to slash 350 million pounds from the legal aid budget. Strike watched through his haze of tiredness as the florid, paunchy man told Parliament that he wished to 'discourage people from restoring to lawyers whenever they face a problem, and instead encourage them to consider more suitable methods of dispute resolution.' He meant, of course, that poor people ought to relinquish the services of the law. Nothing like it on tv. But the result still doesn't feel as awfully castrated as the tv version of The Casual Vacancy, which lost all the bite and anger and ruined what might not have been a masterpiece but was a novel with genuine points to raise by turning it into inoffensive blandness, more angry reviews here, possibly because such asides aren't the main issue in the Galbraith novels.
In other news, missy_fest has been revealing one Missy story per day-ish. This was the smallest ficathon I ever participated in, but a delight to write and read, and as soon as it's de-anonymized, I'm going to link and talk about the story I wrote. Meanwhile, check out the one I received, which was The Master's Faithful Companion (Forever or Just A Day Remix), which remixed my story Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
You can find more information by googling Graham-Cassidy, but here's one link.
Apparently, Lindsey Graham - one of the bill's sponsors - got on Breitbart radio (yes, now we're integrating Breitbart into GOP mainstream, fun times ahead) to urge listeners to call in support of the new bill, so it's VERY IMPORTANT that the Senate be flooded with opposition calls.
Here is one script and information resource.
And also clothes. The costumes are gorgeous and if that is a thing you are into, it's well worth watching them for the beautiful fifties fashions alone.
Young Eilis, unable to find work in Ireland, immigrates to New York. At first she struggles to adjust, but with the help of the priest who sponsored her immigration - and a lucky meeting with an Italian-American boy, Tony - she begins to settle in. But just when she and Tony are beginning to get serious, a family tragedy drags her back to Ireland. She pauses only long enough to marry Tony in City Hall before she goes.
Well, okay, people do jump into hasty decisions in times of stress, and also Eilis wears a simply smashing orange suit for the wedding, so I suppose we can allow. But this rather drains the tension out of the latter half of the movie. Even if Eilis wants to stay in Ireland - and there are certainly many arguments in its favor! - she can't without committing bigamy, and in the end that forces her back.
And it really does force her back: someone in her hometown learns about her marriage, and attempts to blackmail Eilis, which makes Eilis leave on the next boat. There's no "it's nice to be back home in Ireland with my best friend, who has introduced me to Jim Farrel who is kind and attentive and stands to inherit a swell house, and also I've been offered a job I'd like in the field I've been studying... but I really love Tony, so I'm going home to Brooklyn." No. She leaves because she's checkmated.
And I'm not sure she really does love Tony, anyway. I think she loves the fact that she's not lonely when she's with him, that he's helped her feel at home in Brooklyn - but the first time he says "I love you," she completely freezes, and even later on she can't say it naturally, she has to work up to it through "I like you" first.
Now possibly this is just emotional repression but... eh. She falls in with Jim Farrell so quickly once she's back in Ireland. And she doesn't even read Tony's letters. He's spending so much money on airmail, Eilis! Why did you marry him if you were just going to stick his letters in a drawer?
On the other hand Tony is super in love with her and generally pretty nice, so hopefully once she's back in Brooklyn she'll settle down and they'll have a happy life together despite their rocky beginning. (And meanwhile, Jim Farrell will begin his descent toward space Nazism.)
My Patreon is trucking along, but I haven’t been good about linking to it here. So have a list of recent posts!
This week’s post (sneak preview!) will be on rites of passage, followed by a bonus post on the theory of worldbuilding, since that’s one of the funding goals we’ve reached. Remember, this is all funded by my lovely, lovely patrons — and if you join their ranks, you get weekly photos, plus (at higher levels) opportunities to request post topics or get feedback on your own worldbuilding!
One of my cats (Alex) was entirely hidden within the depths of a shoebox-size Priority Mail box. He has just now emerged, and his sister Erin has vanished inside.
No cat photos because I don't have an X-Ray camera.
I suspect it'll be Amedi on the basis of him simply having had more singles this past year, but I'm not committing to anything until the full list is out (two and a half hours in we're still in the 20s).
Also Galgalatz prepared a medley of literally all of Static & Ben-El's hits (on the basis of the kids winning Persons Of The Year two years in a row), and good fucking luck not grinning through it. I'm also pretty sure they just put it on for the second time.
And even as I type this, another Idan Amedi song is up. It's almost as if he released half his latest album as singles over the past year or something. /sarcasm Still not complaining, though.
ETA. OOF. Basically Galgalatz's site did something Weird and I missed half the 20s, and that would be how and why I heard that medley twice. And Yuval Dayan's Leilotai, not that I regret, as it's pretty, but. Shows how much brain I have today.
ETA 2. It's 17:39 and we're in the top five. I found the listing of everything released so far, and the clear leader in charted songs is, unfortunately, Eden Ben-Zaken. Omer Adam is giving her serious competition and he's significantly less annoying, so. However - actually, wait. We hit the Big 3, I need my attention.
ETA 3. Todo Bom came in only at third, and the anchorwoman sounded positively insulted and fairly pissed off. Second place was totally meh, and - Song of the Year just announced and yeah, okay, if the cute boys had to lose, it's to the written-by-Dudu-Tassa song that seriously fucks with one's expectation of whether the speaker in the song is male or female. (The singer is male, but singing in other-gender is a Thing That Happens around here.) So if the boys had to lose, okay, I'm good with this.
This is not true of the 1995 Caldecott winner, Smoky Night, which was inspired by the Los Angeles riots in 1992 (although the riot within the book has no specific location). The two year turnaround time (Caldecott winners are selected from the books published the year before the award is given) makes the riots a red hot topical reference in picture book terms.
It's, well, it's a very 90s take on race relations. If only we all get to know each other, maybe we can all get along! Well, maybe. This seems a little too pat to me - it all ties up too neatly with a bow at the end.
On the other hand, it may be asking too much to expect a picture book to explain systemic racism to five-year-olds.
The illustrations are acrylic, thick black outlines filled in with heavy dark colors, and mixed media collages for the backgrounds. It isn't a style I particularly like: there's something upsetting about the teal & purple palette David Diaz used for the faces, although I understand that he probably didn't want to commit to races for all the characters. But the collages are definitely striking (there's one with broken glass; another with crumbled dry cleaner clothes, still in the bags), and quite unlike anything I've seen in other picture books.