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Travis Touchdown – What I’ve Been Doing 25 June 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jun 25th, 2012 by Dan

Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes

No More Heroes is good for some easy cosplay. Travis Touchdown is pretty awesome (Photo by Elliot Trinidad)

Last week felt super long! Thank god it’s all over. At least I enjoyed myself plenty. Week two of the swimming experiment continued as well, reminding me of how woefully out of shape I am. Glad to have seen Kai again too. It’s a bummer that she no longer has work/business in Baltimore.

Movies

Prometheus – I went to see this with Ian last Monday. Despite what some critics might tell you, it’s not aggressively terrible. I think that my lack of prior Alien knowledge is what allows me to enjoy the movie so much. I came in with zero preconceptions and zero expectation and I left having seen the coolest surgical procedure ever and a pretty sweet squid vs. Engineer fight. This is not an A+, high-caliber piece of cinema, but it’s a fun summer film. Oh, before I forget, Michael Fassbender as David was INCREDIBLE.

Rampart – Woody Harrelson plays a dirty cop who is all kinds of damaged. The movie kind of starts in the middle and ends in the middle, but it was interesting, if not fragmented. I think most of you guys wouldn’t really dig it.

TV

Futurama – I’ll admit that the fat robot in the Mars University episode was pretty funny. I’m enjoying pushing through this show a few episodes at a time. I hope to get some more in this week.

The Thick of It – Watched the entire first series (I mean, it’s only three episodes. British television, everybody!). The first episode wasn’t particularly funny at all. It was just a lot of meanness and snarkiness, although it’s situationally hilarious in retrospect. In fact, it’s making me smile quite broadly. This show, in case you didn’t know, was Armando Iannucci’s show about English politics that precedes Veep (although it seems that they’re making a new series for 2012). It’s biting and it’s downright mean most of the time (meaner than Veep), but it’s still quite funny, especially past the first episode.

Music

You can get “Black Sheep” by Metric off of the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, but if you want the Brie Larson version I recommend searching for it on last.fm where they have a downloadable 128 kbps one you can get. Great song.

Here’s another good Metric song:

Books

1Q84 – I’m in so hard for this book. It has gotten so good. I finally know how Tengo and Aomame relate to each other, but I’m not even 1/3 of the way done with this epic. So far the Little People are the scariest thing I’ve ever heard of. I think Aomame is gonna end up infiltrating Sakigake and maybe Tengo is gonna have to save her and Fuka-Eri. We’ll see.

Video Games

Diablo III – Inferno…yay? As you might expect I’m more interested in playing new or unfinished games so I haven’t logged into D3 in a while. I’ll get more time in this week during Marlins games (unless I end up reading between innings instead).

Civilization V – The Gods and Kings expansion pack came out and I’m really enjoying it. The new Faith system is neat and I enjoyed founding Buddhism, but I have yet to see how it will impact the whole game so far. Haven’t put too much time into it (sometimes I try and rest my arms when I get home since being on the computer all day makes my shoulders hurt), but I expect to win as the Siam empire!

No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise – There’s so much going on in this game that it’s hard to pick out just one thing. It seems that Suda51 is intentionally satirizing the video game fan and his pathetic existence in Travis. He has a lust for blood, is an otaku (he is mocked for this), and he endlessly and pathetically lusts over women. Most of the other assassins are similarly psychopaths and the game pretty heavily breaks the fourth wall. For what you’d think would be a mindless game, this has some hidden depth that I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Mad Men S5E03: “Mystery Date” [IB]
Apr 10th, 2012 by Dan

You know what’s my favorite thing about Mad Men? Even when it’s dead serious or surreal it’s not above brilliant jokes. I want to hit on the lighter moments first, because this episode was very dark and violent.

Moment numero uno has to be the scene with Peggy and Sterling. It’s just perfect to see how far Sterling has fallen that he can threaten to fire all he wants, but he can’t intimidate Peggy (or Harry, for that matter). She has his number and she gets her reward while being super cheeky and super funny. I could watch her count cash for hours.

What else? Well, Ginsberg was particularly hilarious in the post-meeting bar. I think it’s telling that I agree with him when he asserted that he wasn’t as close to being fired as Ken thinks he was. Yes, Don means what he says, but I still think Ginsberg’s confidence is well-placed.

Speaking of Ginsberg (and segueing into more serious topics), I think it’s telling that his reluctance to be a crime voyeur and his shaming of his peers was very interestingly juxtaposed with his pitch. I mean, the Speck murders were lurid, violent, sick, twisted, and meaningless, but his pitch…that was stalking and sexual violence, but presented in the sanitized way that horror movies are. I know it’s ridiculous to call a horror movie sanitized, but they are clearly about sexual violence a lot of the time. There’s that erotic tension in there that is personified by your virginal main character trope, for example, or the fact that most protagonists are female while the monsters are male. It’s what makes Alien so subversive.

While we’re on the subject of sexual violence, how about that (kind of annoying) fever dream that Don had? Look, we all knew it was a dream and that it was a little cheesy, but for it to incorporate elements of the Speck murder (women under the bed) and the almost horror-movie ability that Andrea had to appear back in Don’s bedroom…I mean it’s clearly intentional. Like I said, I knew it was a dream, but there was a part of me that was worried that Mad Men might go the way of Friday Night Lights Season 2 until it was officially confirmed a dream. While the symbolism was a little clumsy and obvious, it was an interesting moment to see Don symbolically murdering his adulterous nature. Will it stay dead? It was gone in the morning, but was it because it had survived? Whatever the case, Matt Weiner is doing a stand-up job proving to us that Don and Megan truly care for each other and that Don is at least mostly invested in the relationship. If his adultery count stays at 0 + i (as in one imaginary fling) I wouldn’t be surprised, based on the way he’s being characterized this season.

Peggy and Dawn got to interact after Peggy discovered that Dawn was stuck in the office because she’s black (subways are too dangerous, cops around everywhere, cabbies refuse to take her past 96th…). I thought it was a very telling line that what Peggy was most worried about was the “white person problem” (not really a WPP, but it was also not the racially charged problem) of the Speck murder while Dawn is clearly referencing the race riots erupting in various parts of the country. Despite how much Peggy wants to connect the dots between the feminist and race movements, she ultimately commits a faux pas with the purse gaff at the end of the night and she feels terrible for it. It was a very awkward moment that I thought was beautifully shot and captured. It’s funny how a whole night of, well, one-sided drunken sharing can be erased by a lingering glance.

Sally and Pauline’s scenes together were all captivating as well. I mean, how much sense does it make that Pauline’s father just kicked her to put the fear of him into her. That kind of random violence is precisely in line with the violence of the Speck murders and the terror that women on the whole must feel. There’s a strong undercurrent of fear that men don’t really understand. We tend to be physically larger and we are most commonly the aggressors in society so we don’t understand what it’s like to watch your back or feel threatened when alone among men, but Pauline doesn’t know which direction to take it with Sally. She repeatedly chastises her and treats her like a child while simultaneously asking why she doesn’t act more like a grown-up. Pauline wants Sally to understand what it is to be a woman and she overshares details about the murders and the psychological fear of men with her, but then she grants her the power of temporary ignorance with sleeping pills. Of all the characters on the show, Sally is the one who I fear for the most. What is her life going to be like?

Best thing about the night might have to be Joan finally acknowledging that evil that Pauline alludes to in Greg and his rape of Joan in S2. When she finally says out loud what she already knows, that Greg is a nobody who needs to assert his power to feel strong. That he is a bad man…that is the big moment we’ve all been waiting for since that ugly moment in Season 2. Joan’s scenes play out predictably and I’m glad that the show never let Greg off the hook by killing him off in Vietnam. It was a powerful scene and a powerful moment for Joan who, one would hope, will not rekindle her relationship with Roger, but move on to something healthier. I mean, who doesn’t love Joan? She’s among the most tragic of a cast of many tragic cases and we all want to see better things come to her.

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