The Best Albums of March 2016

1. The Body – No One Deserves Happiness (Back at the end of last year, The Body promised they were going to make “the grossest pop album of all time”. They, instead, made a record that proved that The Body could take basically anything and run it through their grinder and come out with something effective. The pop touches exist, in a very The Body context, and are audible, but contribute to, rather than distract from, the fact that this is one of their most scouring records. Subsuming “pop” music in the same way that I Shall Die Here subsumed “drone” music, The Body keeps adding influences to its attack, and still winds up making singularly-focused records that sound only like The Body.)

2. Anna Meredith – Varmints (Goofy, loud, and extremely likable, Varmints is another record that isn’t really like anything else. It’s genuinely smile-inducing, and a lot of fun, while also being thoughtful and sonically interesting.)

3. Nadja – Sv (Nadja records can go in a bunch of different directions. This one is a decidedly huge, multilayered, heavy piece that feels like its very own sort of post-apocalyptic landscape)

4. Open Mike Eagle & Paul White – Hella Personal Film Festival (There still hasn’t been a bad Open Mike Eagle record. This might actually be the best one yet.)

5. The Thermals – We Disappear/Bob Mould – Patch the Sky. (Ok, so I’m technically cheating here by including a sixth record – and there’s a seventh down below – but I have basically the same thing to say about both of these records: they’re great. They’re great in ways that are familiar. In the case of the Thermals record it’s a course-correction from Desperate Ground, which seemed a little wobbly. In the case of Bob Mould, it’s the third record in a row in a very similar vein. What this ends up meaning is that both acts are in a comfortable space where their output seems to be matching their ambition for it, and that both records are full of killer songs that make you want to jump around a bunch)

SPECIAL CASE: Boris & Merzbow – Gensho (Actually two records designed to be played at the same time, it consists of a bunch of songs Boris re-recorded for the project without drums – a sort of Boris’ greatest hits, although, again, without drums, which is kind of weird to hear, as the drums are such an important part of Boris records – in place of which appear Merzbow’s trademark Merzbowing, which I believe is a set of new compositions. It’s highly percussive, and generally successful, although a lot of what makes the set interesting is hearing Merzbow weave in and out of these very familiar Boris songs. If the Boris songs aren’t songs you already know, it’d probably be somewhat less interesting, though, and that’s what keeps it off the list proper.


Reasons to Look Forward, Spring of 2016

It’s spring again! So you know what that means: it’s time to end the relentless, unyielding pessimism that governs winter days, look at the sun, enjoy the infusion of life-granting Vitamin D, and look forward to some records! What follows are a handful of things that are probably going to be pretty cool! I’ve done this in the past, and have about a 50% success record for being excited about a record that’s actually good, so I’m comfortable saying that half of these are all right, or that all of these are half right. Also, weirdly, there aren’t many hip-hop albums on the horizon with hard release dates that I’m specifically excited for. I’m sure there will be some good ones anyway, just seems weird that I don’t know what they’re going to be1. Anyway, without further ado, here are the records that are probably going to be making us all happy in the months to come.

1 although, in the interest of full disclosure, this publishes on the day that Slime Season 3 drops, and that would be on this list if it came out any later. Also Open Mike Eagle’s Hella Personal Film Festival, Zelooperz’s*Bothic, and Flatbush ZOMBIES Glorious Thugs all just came out.
* HOW ABOUT THAT POSSESSIVE THERE.

Nissenenmondai – #n/a
The best Japanese noise-dance trio in my awareness are always worth looking forward to. This is the follow up to N, which was a record I ended up spending a lot of time with well after it came out, so I’m looking forward to not sleeping so hard on this one. Also #n/a is the title, not a thing that is not the title.
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because you clearly don’t dance enough, and that’s probably because you’re tired of all the dance music that you already listen to. Obviously.

Death Grips – Bottomless Pit
There’s never been a reason not to look forward to a Death Grips record, and I’m not about to start now. Their first record conceived and executed entirely after they “broke up”2, Bottomless Pit also doesn’t have a firm release date yet, so we could be looking forward to it for a long time. They did, however, announce with a video featuring the late Karen Black. Of all people. For whatever reason3
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Death Grips, despite their utter unpredictability in literally every other facet of their career, are a rock-solid, hyper-consistent act that has yet to make a clunker, and this is probably not going to the one to let anybody down. And you really don’t get yelled at enough, right? So MC Ride is here to help.

2 There are people making better music, but there is almost no one out there who is consistently as entertaining to follow as Death Grips, for reasons like this one: they broke up, put out a record that everyone was looking forward to, and that was actually the second half of a record they’d released earlier, but also there was a record of instrumentals in between, and….really, it’s just amazing.
3 See what I mean though? Who else would do that?

Tim Hecker – Love Streams
Tim Hecker is in the very top tier of artists whose records I look forward to, and pore over, and get obsessed with, and spend a great deal of my time on. If he isn’t actively my favorite dude making records right now, he definitely not only makes the short list, but survives a few rounds of cuts. The lead single “Castrati Stack” is phenomenal. This record is going to be very, very good. As is basically every other Tim Hecker record.
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because you, like all of us, don’t want to choose between music that’s intellectually stimulating and exciting, or music that’s crushingly loud, but also that’s incredibly beautiful. In that regard, Mr. Hecker has you covered.

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Alright, so, I didn’t exactly love Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, but I loved the idea, and a big chunk of it grew on me. So I’m not looking forward to A Sailor’s Guide to Earth in the same way that I’m looking forward to Bottomless Pit or Love Streams, but more in the sense that I think it’s probably going to have some cool ideas on it, and probably some good tunes, and Simpson could very well have an actual wall-to-wall great record in him (he’s certainly got the raw materials for one, at least), and this could be it.
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, given my constituency, most of you think of country music as being something rather staid and unchanging, and could probably use a shot of something a little more interesting that isn’t secretly a bar rock band that wears hats (which is a lot of what passes for interesting country among a certain set of people).

Brian Eno – The Ship
A concept album about the Titanic! With a Velvet Underground cover! And Peter Serafinowicz reading a poem! I mean, a new Brian Eno album is always at least something to regard with curiosity, but I think this one sounds fucking bananas. I mean, insofar as anything that’s likely to be quiet, subtle ambient music can be fucking bananas.
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it will, at the very least, provide most of an hour’s worth of useful chill-out material, good for reading or whatever. Or just staring off into the middle distance. While Peter Serafinowicz reads a poem.

Nothing – Vertigo Flowers
I refuse to stop being really into shoegaze revival bands. Nothing is probably the best of those currently operating, and so a follow up to their walloping Guilty of Everything can only be cause for the best kind of anticipation. Plus the lead single and title track is also a monster. This one’s going to be pretty good.
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because with the exception of REM (see below), Nothing is the most easy-to-listen-to band on this list, and you probably don’t want to work for everything

Sumac – What One Becomes
I mean, if we’re not going to get another Old Man Gloom record, I’ll at least be happy that Aaron Turner is out there with somebody, and  Sumac is probably my second-favorite of his currently-operating projects4. And it’s not like Russian Circles are doing anything else.
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because after listening to the rest of the records on this list, you still somehow have some hearing left, and would like to take care of that pesky problem forever.

4 Mamiffer, House of Low Culture, whatever other of his six thousand other band still qualify as “existing” at any given point

REM – Out of Time Reissue
It’s the 25th anniversary of Out of Time and, as they’ve done with every other record so far, REM is going to reissue it, presumably with all the B-Sides and a live show (which has been the case for each of these reissues so far). Out of Time has their best radio hit (“Losing My Religion”), their worst radio hit (“Shiny Happy People”), and my favorite of their major-label songs (“Country Feedback”). Anyway, these are always worth looking forward to.
WHY YOU, THE READER, SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because you already love this record, and you haven’t listened to it in too long a time.

And there you have it! That’s not counting the innumerable surprise releases (the day before this piece went up, hip-hop weirdo-genius Oddissee dropped a record unannounced), and seeing if Kanye lives up to his threat to release three more records this year. Plus Frank Ocean might have a record somewhere someday!


Fuller House, against all logic, is a thing that exists. And, y’know, some digging around shows that there is also no shortage of reviews of the gaping horror that it, apparently, represents. And hey! it’s probably pretty terrible! But why believe what those people have to say, when I could be experiencing it for myself. How on Earth can we be expected to take reviewers’ opinions seriously if we don’t occasionally calibrate their opinions against our own experiences?

Full House had less of what I would call a “fan base” and more of what I would call a “bunch of people that remember it”, which makes it an odd candidate for a revival, at least in Netflix terms1. Arrested Development was a beloved sitcom cut down in its prime. Gilmore Girls (whose revival is forthcoming) was a cultishly-adored television show with nothing plot-related keeping it from coming back. Full House existed for a long time, played itself out creatively and now…exists again2. And now, without any clamor, it exists again, because it was easy enough to nostalgia-market into existence. But maybe that frees it from the shackles of TGIF tradition! Maybe it could be funny with time to stretch out and not have commercials! Maybe I somehow won’t find a show with half a dozen child actors to be completely insufferable! Probably none of this is true!

1 although, really, it’s not so different from the Degrassi reunion, although Degrassi – which I also don’t like – is at least possessed of a surreal daffiness that’s lacking from Full House.
2 it is, in this sense, probably most like Girl Meets World, which I’ve watched a total of two episodes of, and had basically the exact same relationship with its parent show that I have with Full House, but that isn’t available to binge-blog, so I’m afraid my opinion of that will have to be summed up merely by me saying in this footnote: it sucks. Or sucked. Or whatever.

To start from a place of biographical truth: I certainly watched Full House, in that it was on in the house in which I was a child, and I remember bits and flashes, and exactly one whole scene: Dave Coulier buys a new fancy car, notices a nick in the paint, and leaves to go buy some touch-up paint. Through some contrivance, someone (Stephanie, I think?) drives it through the wall of a garage (or possibly the house?), and Dave Coulier returns. The driver of the car says “didn’t you realize this had happened?” and Dave Coulier says “if I had known I would have bought a bigger can of touch-up paint”. That plus various and assorted catchphrases. Anyway, with minimal memories that aren’t basically buried, I endeavor to dive into the new season (or, well, “new” “season”) with fresh eyes and a generous heart.

Episode 1
It opens on the old theme song, certainly. This is a strong move.

1:30 John Stamos just shoved a baby foot into Dave Coulier’s balls. So it begins.

2:00 I feel like there’s a bunch of in-jokes here, and I don’t remember them, but they are certainly making the studio audience whoop.

4:00 the line “[Michelle] sends her love but is busy in New York with her fashion empire” is delivered as a joke, and then literally everyone on screen turns and looks at the audience for a really, very long time, but this is not a joke. Perhaps this is some sort of weird cultish ritual? The audience went bugnuts crazy for it, certainly.

5:30 I feel I should say that I have experienced the first legitimately funny joke in the series, in which it is revealed that Stephanie’s DJ name is DJ Tanner, which is a source of annoyance to DJ, whose name was, the last time we saw her, DJ Tanner, although it’s changed since to that of her erstwhile husband, which can’t sit well with Candace Cameron Bure’s real husband, who is Jesus.

8:00 OK, Carly Rae Jepsen is like six thousand times better at this than whoever did the first one.

11:30 Why has anyone ever hired Dave Coulier to do anything, ever? OH GOD WHY DOES HE HAVE THAT PUPPET WHO LET HIM KEEP THAT PUPPET OH GOD.

12:30 at least this child’s reaction to the puppet is precisely correct.

19:30 I realize that in this episode it is necessary to bring back every “thing,” but “Forever” never should’ve been allowed to be a “thing” in the first place, so I feel like this should have been stopped.

24:00 THERE IS FULL-ON A JOKE ABOUT HOW NO ONE BUT KIMMY GIBBLER WOULD WANT TO GO TO CLEVELAND. I WILL FIGHT YOU, WRITING STAFF OF FULLER HOUSE. I WILL FIGHT YOU.

26:00 So DJ is a veterinarian, but the way I’m finding this out is “she starts doing medical stuff to this pregnant dog,” which just looked like a colossally bad idea, rather than an act of professional skill. I guess when you have to squeeze a hundred different catchphrases into the first 26 minutes of your show, it’s hard to remember to drop necessary expository information in there as well.

28:30 So Dave Coulier just did the “Cut it Out” thing, and it made me think that I should be making a list of all the stuff that happens in this show that’s literally nothing more than references. And then I realized that that is the sort of thing that drives a man to madness. The crowd totally cheered because a character said “otter pop” several minutes ago. I suspect that there is something afoot here. And that something is madness.

Episode 2
1:30 the first laugh line is “She used duck eggs for more nutrition and a deeper flavor profile” which, 1) isn’t a thing you would do and 2) also isn’t a think you would say, even if you, as the following line avows, “like [your] cooking shows”. The audience, predictably, went apeshit for it.

2:00 the kid suspects something is up because DJ offers him a breakfast milkshake and also hot fudge on his pancakes. The show has officially made a major break with reality, and gone headfirst into Sitcom Logic.

3:00 A mere minute after the “cooking show” joke they have a Good Eats-style “through the fridge” shot. And also they then use the exact same joke structure (with slightly different words) twice (breaking the rule of three).

4:00 A series of jokes about how the Tanners are “the whitest family in America,” which, y’know, that’s great and all, but it’s not like they did a whole lot about it. I guess Kimmy has a latino ex-husband and half-latino daughter. There’s an asian girl in it later also. Soooooo.

5:30 So…the kids loathe Kimmy as much as everyone else. This is because it is Kimmy’s role, not her punishment. She is a hate-flush, designed to gather and create catharsis for the disgust of the people around her at all times. I am beginning to see the shape of what’s going on here.

8:00 No really, even her own daughter openly loathess her.

10:00 Fuller House must be somehow running on loathing, given the Loathing Generator that’s openly courting the audience’s derision in the form of the youngest kid.

12:30 Today in comedy horizons: baby poop smells bad.

13:30 Oh thank god John Stamos is back. Unfortunately, he’s back just to make more references to the original run of Full House, while also laying out that Fuller House has basically the exact same setup, right down to the widowing and the number of children. That’s because this is not a sitcom. This is about the stable time loop these people exist in.

16:00 This diaper changing is, I’ve decided, the show in microcosm. The mass of the world’s ejecta is being replaced by Stephanie, subjecting herself to further humliation, with the help of Kimmy, who of course is always there to take care of the metaphorical (and, apparently, literal) shit. Also Stephanie is literally talking on a cell phone embedded in a baby’s diaper.

18:00 Can you actually make a phone call while you’re playing music at the same time on an iPhone? Like, iPhones are a thing that people have. This should be pretty easy stuff to figure out.

19:30 Confronted with the nightmare of a continued existence in close proximity to such constructs, the oldest son learns that there is no such thing as escape, and return is inevitable. He also learns that it is his job to always be the one who is at risk, and always the one who is punished. He represents chance in the face of The Sameness.

22:00 Also the last time a “my wife can’t cook” joke was funny was 1970. Also they’re still talking about the places where the plot mirrors that of the original. This is not only about the futility of escape, but the inevitability of repetition.

Episode 3
1:00 is there anything more soul-destroyingly depressing than a crowd full of people going “WOOOOO” in response to a woman in a semi-revealing dress? I mean, there are, but it is horrifying every time it happens. I wonder if this audience had to be coached to do that? OR if they’re already inducted into whatever supernatural horror this is playing out, and WOOOOO is how they chant.

1:30 Oh, wait, this “on fleek” joke is more soul-destroyingly depressing. I found something.

2:00 I mean, it’s “on fleek,” not just “fleek”. It’s…you can’t just….AAAAARGH. YOU CAN’T JUST MAKE A JOKE ABOUT HOW SLANG EXISTS AND YOUR CHARACTERS DON’T SPEAK IT THAT’S NOT A JOKE THAT’S AN INSULT.

3:00 I swear to crisp, if ever anyone surprises me with Dave Coulier and expects me to consent to having him care for any child, anywhere, I will murder that person. If he’s carrying that puppet I will enter it into evidence as defense of my crime. Seriously.

3:30 When DJ says (and I’m paraphrasing here to avoid repeating a terrible joke) that she is not entirely happy with the suggestion that a strange Uber driver should be exposed to her breasts, Dave Coulier suggests that this is a desirable outcome. He is playing this woman’s uncle.

5:00 More WOOs.

6:30 There are two characters who appear to be twins. They are swarthy and accented, and their appearance caused more WOOs than DJ in her dress. This is, I presume, because they are in some way associated with Dancing With the Stars. They instantly and irreversibly hate Kimmy Gibler upon meeting her.

9:00 “Holy Chalupas” is clearly an invocation, perfectly designed to up the ire of anyone that hears it so they can dump it out on Kimmy Gibbler. It’s a cleverly efficient system.

10:30 Kimmy is aware of the stable time loop that The Sameness keeps them in. Her curse is not only to be loathed, but to be the only one that knows anything is even happening. She is able to correctly recognize that their actions are predictable. The question now is: is this a part of her punishment, or the reason for it in the first place?

16:00 As the general Enabler and Catalyst, DJ (The Manipulator) must show sympathy for her misfortunes, lest the whole family have to do without her. Stephanie (The Unrepentant Self-Centered One), of course, is uninterested in anything that is not wholly related to herself, so is going through the motions of sisterly solidarity for her own eventual benefit.

18:30 DJ remembers the dance routine from their fourth grade talent show because she is the anchor holding them in the stable time loop. She remembers everything.

20:00 The suggestion that fourth-graders were doing this cheescakiey Sapphic Jiggledance is something of a disturbing proposition.

24:00 For one brief moment, it is possible to see our three putative protagonists doused in milk (or whatever? I mean, I think it’s milk?)  and imagine a world in which this show has a Carrie-style ending where Stephanie uses her telekinetic powers to murder every other person in the family. The remaining episodes would simply be a series of stills of the aftermath of her righteous fury.

Episode 4
1:00 Stephanie, as the show’s avatar of ego-satisfaction, is insistent upon ascribing malicious intentionality to an infant. In this world, however, it could just be that the child’s role in the cosmogony is still in flux, and he could be an instrument whereby Stephanie’s commitment to her ego is tested.

8:30 Dogs are trying to devour Max, the Loathing Generator (for the audience). Dogs are, truly, the would-be heroes of this show.

10:00 Stephanie, rendered unable to provide herself with the food that would comfort her, finds vindication in the fact that someone else believes in the intentional manipulations of this baby.

10:30 I’m sad that Stephen Tobolowsky is here to teach science and not continue his study to get to the bottom of just who, in fact, was the boss.

12:00 Once an episode so far someone has tried to escape from something. Once an episode so far this has failed. The message is clear.

14:00 DJ becomes the third character to credit the baby with being able to intentionally manipulate Stephanie.

16:30 If Stephanie didn’t have the money to buy a bearclaw, a muffin and a latte, where did she come up with the scratch to buy what appears to be a few dozen gallons of tomato juice? The answer, of course, is that the economy of the Fuller House world operates in accordance to the characters’ pre-ordained roles in the cosmogony. That is to say: it is more humiliating for Stephanie to be unable to purchase the coffee, but also more humiliating for her to be successfully able to sit in a barrel full of tomato juice.

20:00 Rules are the Most Important Thing. Without Rules, the World cannot function. We must obey The Rules at all times. That’s why Kimmy must make even her own daughter loathe her. All beings’ hate must be focused upon her. The loathing cannot be truly released until it is all aimed at Kimmy.

Episode 5
0:30 There is no Earthly reason for this kid to have a fucking trombone. It is, however, the catalyst for this child to admit that his emotional state does not match his exterior behavior, giving us a glimpse at the crawling horror underneath the performative exterior of The Sameness.

2:30 A scarf, clearly a fetish (a totem of old magic, not a boner-creator), representative of a portion of Stephanie’s powers of self-centeredness, is passed along to the Loathing Generator. Is this a tithe, or a way of strengthening the horrifying child’s powers? Is it given freely, or impelled by an IRresistible Force?

3:30 The sentence “if I’m not ready to date my first love, how would I be ready to date a stranger?” Is indicative of, if nothing else, DJ’s role as the weight that keeps them held down in this river of sameness. Of course anything from the past is much better than anything from the future. That’s literally who DJ is.

8:00 Kimmy alone embraces technology fully, probably because everyone hates it.

13:00 The audience agrees that the idea of DJ wanting to fuck anything is simply hilarious.

14:00 in the interest of full disclosure, the plumber sequence here actually made me laugh, insofar as I snorted lightly at one of the jokes. That makes twice that’s happened.

16:00 to be clear, it isn’t Stephanie’s fault that her role is to be the Unrepentant Self-Absorbed One – the world is such that a dj at Coachella breaks his arm and they find Stephanie, heretofore just a ticket holder (albeit a ticket holder that was also a famous dj in the world of the show), to fill in. She, like all of them, is pushed into her role by the very world itself.

19:00 When Max makes horrible trombone noises for the Coachella crowd, they love him. This shows that the audience itself has a role here – the people in the world don’t loathe Max, the audience must do so. The audience must participate in the loathing-cycle that the whole cast is designed to perpetuate.

23:30 Stephanie has revealed that she is, for a reason never disclosed, unable to have children. This is, presumably, because it would grant her a human reason to think of someone other than herself, and that would be against The Rules.

25:30 Wait, if the plumber said “houseboat,” (because he lives on a houseboat) did Kimmy start clucking like a chicken? If so, how did he get her to stop? Or is this just common knowledge?

Episode 6
4:00 Kimmy can earn contempt by providing children cookies.

6:00 DJ is called out for stalking her kid by someone who does not understand that DJ is supposed to see all. The Rules supercede whatever passes for “rules” on lawless Earth.

7:00 Any question of how this stalking app works is actually only answerable by it being supernatural: There is no way of which I’m aware to remotely take location data from someone else’s cell phone without that phone being provided in the first place. This is some sort of perverted god-like magic that enables her to, from her technology (which is good) take control of his technology (which, as we established previously, is bad and needs to be replaced with Dave Coulier’s prop comedy). DJ is meant to see all. She must regulate. She must catalyze.

7:30 Furthermore, Max is unharmable, as without him the anger energy that powers this world cannot be generated, thus there is no reason to worry about him.

10:00 Stephanie just accused Kimmy of being “stuck in the nineties”. This suggests (paired with Kimmy’s bout of similar situational awareness earlier in the season) that at least two of them are capable of knowing about the stability of their loop, and their own unchangingness. Presumably Stephanie, who represents pure self, is occasionally aware of herself as it is, to better be able to loathe Kimmy (the manifestation of pure catharsis, the character toward whom all negativity is drawn).

11:00 Kimmy Gibbler is teaching ostensibly “sexy” dance moves to an infant. Yep.

11:30 Jackson has the same food-based approach to bribery as his mother.

12:30 Max is currently holding a plastic  bone on which is Stephanie’s real, actual blood. This represents the second time Stephanie has been responsible for a potentially magical totem on behalf of Max. Is she giving this freely, or is he somehow taking? I believe the latter.

13:30 That is, no joke, a seriously cute dog.

14:30 The diktat is that everyone do something nice every twenty-five televised minutes, but that no one learn from their behavior. Obviously this affects Stephanie (who learns to be less selfish once every couple of episodes, but never permanently) less than it does Kimmy (for whom, every time, affection is granted only to be forcibly taken away).

16:30 Andrea Barber is objectively a bad dancer.

20:00 At first, the reliance on the kind of hoary old sitcom trope that was played out when Full House did it in the first place seems lazy, but it’s actually just a result of the stable time loop: they’re unable to make any events but these happen to them. Their inevitability is part of the time loop.

23:00 Sinisterly, it becomes apparent that the boys’ father had to die to set this plot in motion. DJ had found happiness in a marriage, and must lose that happiness to move into The House with her Siblings (real and spiritual). Thus is the cycle perpetuated.

Episode 7
3:30 DJ’s childhood First Love makes his first overtures by pointing out that his bed is empty. That’s a bold move and also this is the most sex-obsessed show I’ve watched in a very long time.

6:30 Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, here mentioned once again, are just as much a part of this: Michelle’s role is to be the only one that escaped, to tantalize the others that it has been done, and could theoretically be possible. It is not possible for them, however, only for Michelle.

7:00 Jackson tries to change his appearance, not knowing the futility of such, when the avatar of The Self (The Unrepentant Self-Centered One) visits him, explaining that his own image is paramount, and should never, ever change.

9:00 There are also a damn sight more poop jokes than I’m entirely comfortable with.

10:00 Once an episode – at least – there is a joke about how much things cost. What the actual fuck.

12:30 Stephanie answers a cellular phone and says she’s not happy with her long-distance service. Even leaving aside that there may be a landline in the house, and that there’s some possibility that it might even be in her name, it’s still a terrible, hackneyed joke. But it’s evidence that even technology is no might for The Sameness.

13:00 I mean, in any real sense, DJ is absolutely a zombie. This is the only thing Max has ever said that I agree with.

14:00 Stephanie encourages children to explore each other sexually because it’s what she would’ve done. It’s a fantastic combination of an exertion of the time loop and Stephanie being horrible.

20:00 “We’re here for you, not here for the party” is not something a kid would say unless they were being magically compelled by forces outside of their understanding to desire the company of an Avatar of the Opinions of Others. In this regard, Ramona is the perfect opposite of Stephanie, representationally, and thus precisely correct for a direct-line descendent of Kimmy Gibler.

21:30 Although, really, obviously Lovecraftian cosmogony aside, this show invariably presents technology as ridiculous and in no way preferable to the world of The Past, but only when it’s wielded by children.

23:00 Kimmy does not know why she kissed Fernando, and expresses doubt that it was something she did of her own volition. She was allowed another glimpse of herself and The Truth.

Episode 8
2:00 I feel genuine pangs of sympathy for Jodie Sweetin that this is her lot in life, and I occasionally feel like John Stamos is doing this as some sort of charity. I can even feel a little weird about Lori Loughlin’s involvement. But nobody in this cast makes me feel as much like their life should have turned out differently than that adorable-ass dog.

5:30 OK, here’s a real observation that has nothing to do with the horror story that this sitcom veneer is hiding: why is Fernando a gay stereotype? He’s clearly into Kimmy, I get that, he’s not a gay character, but why is he a gay stereotype anyway?

6:30 Bob Saget is back. Even when he’s not here regularly, he must reassert his place as Head of the Family, even if it is now a hollow, figurehead position.

7:00 Also, for the love of all things Bob, please stop making “meta” “jokes”.

7:30 Danny Tanner’s subjects demand their payment for performing their roles. This being an economically-focused hellscape, this payment comes in the form of actual cash.

9:00 “Why can’t you girls be more like Kimmy Gibbler?” – selfless flushers, gathering and releasing contempt and loathing. They can’t because the complex ecosystem that runs on the coincidence and happenstance of this sitcom world requires that there be only one Kimmy Gibbler, but also a DJ and a Stephanie and all of their subavatars.

10:00 Max had the temerity to lie to DJ, so now he is unable to stop himself from lying to his friends about his dead dad. This is what happens when you are a Loathing Generator.

12:30 Danny Tanner is officially here to have his influence (in the form of his favorite couch) stripped away from him. DJ is in charge now. Danny no longer matters.

22:00 All things are second, in this episode, to the loss of Danny’s divine power. Since it wouldn’t be an episode of Fuller House without a scene devoted to the economic implications of their reality, this is the scene where Max earns some anger and Jackson puts himself in harm’s way by taking money (the unusual focus of this season) from Danny.

22:30 “At least,” Danny thinks as they play poker, I have a hand that’s literally named after my show, and I can remind them that even though my time is passing, I am still worthy of being a figure of respect.” “Full House,” he says. Jackson, knowing that it’s his job to place himself in front of the potentially-harmful wrath of a Danny Tanner scorned, as it is always and ever his job to place himself in harm’s way, points out that that is not the name of the show, and that the show is the name of his daughter now, and that it is the comparative form, making it greater. “Fuller house,” he says, playing his preordained role and finishing the job of depleting the remaining power of Danny Tanner. Thus, eight episodes in, is the transition complete.

24:00 After the humiliation, Danny is shown the token of his couch being restored. He has no power, but he still has a place: as a powerless figurehead in a jacket made from a couch. He is then allowed to interfere with probability to arrange the successful completion of a sitcom plot, as he should be.

Episode 9
5:00 I mean, I suppose Becky demanding to be included on the sitcom antics of the Fuller House Time Loop is a bit like people who immediately commit crimes to get thrown back into prison after getting out – life is too hard to adjust to, and the thing that was horrifying and punitive becomes comfortable.

6:00 Oh good. Fuller House is making Friendzone jokes. Fantastic. This is what the world needed.

12:00 Jackson prepares to risk himself emotionally (on account of the aforementioned friendzone jokes), and Max causes him harm. So things aren’t entirely topsy-turvy, even with Becky around to be super weird.

14:00 I feel like Becky is here to give us an interlude, to make us feel sympathy for a person that isn’t caught up in the divine cycle of Loathing and Purging. It’s certainly working. Dear lord is it working.

16:30 Ramona is not visited by the economic gifts that the elder Avatars are, and so must attempt to conventionally take advantage of her financial situation by stealing ice cream and facials with her friend Lola.

18:30 There is no shame in liking One Direction, Ramona. No shame at all.

20:00 The rose-related dramatis personae all arrive within seconds of each other.

20:30 OK no really, a character just said “you look like a million bucks, and in today’s uncertain financial times, that’s saying a lot.” This show is about the economic realities of the world in which they live. It’s an entirely new take on the Lovecraftian horror story.

23:30 Stephanie is once again denied romantic fulfillment. This time by the dog. The one actor I like is interfering with the happiness of the other actor I like.

24:30 the flowers were from John Stamos, guys.

25:00 The Loathing Sponge, the Unrepentant Self-Centered One, and The Manipulator sit last-supper-style at a table (no one is on the other side. This cannot be an accident) and summarize their failures and/or worries as romantic participants.

Episode 10
2:00 Well, Hunter Pence has now topped Macy Gray as the least-likely cameo on this shitshow.

3:30 A part of Stephanie’s lot in this simulacrum of life is to constantly perform in public on short notice.

6:30 Despite the fact that they spent uncounted years not speaking, only recently reconnected, and haven’t dated in multiple decades, the world is still telling DJ that she owes First Love something in order to keep dating Handsome Doctor.

13:30 There’s a very efficient way to complete the cycle by having Max make someone loathe him, and then have them immediately flush it out through Kimmy. In this scene, for example, Max is directly antagonizing Stephanie, who has only recently dumped some loathing on Kimmy.

18:00 Kimmy Gibbler chants and dances as a way to antagonize the crowd. Between this and all the fetishism earlier, this show is really connected with some very traditional forms of magic focusing. Clearly, the message that the old ways are best is true even for the magic of the talisman, the magic of the blood, the magic of the dance.

19:30 Stephanie literally cuts off her own romantic happiness to make a crowd of anonymous strangers happy. She is permitted to be selfless if it does enough damage to her.

20:30 DJ must create dramatic tension with this kiss cam, so it returns to her again and again.

22:30 Hunter Pence just hit a home run directly to Max, despite many characters telling him the odds against it. I know it seems like I’m reading too much into this, but honestly, these people are the center of this world, and this world is terrible.

24:00 Once again all the plot relevant people ring the doorbell within seconds of each other.

26:30 So, this show, for its own reasons, has to flash back to the first kiss of both suitors, which means that the first flashback is of footage from two episodes ago. And then they appear therein and comment about it. Then they do the same for footage from twenty years ago. They appear, as themselves, today, superimposed above the footage, which must, in the world, be some sort of mass hallucination of past events.

28:00 I suppose if nothing else that was a full on dude-on-dude kiss. So there’s that.

Episode 11
1:30 Hey a poop joke! How novel! And this one goes on for some time! And now Max is going to wipe his butt with a baby!

3:00 Actually, here in the back half of the sitcom, with the characters (The Loathing Sponge, The Unrepentant Self-Obsessed One, The Manipulator, The One Who Lives for Others, The One Who is Always at Risk, The Loathing Generator, The Baby and The Really Cute Dog) established, the situations are increasingly heightened, and there’s less to say about them consistently. Having illustrated what The Sameness is, less effort must go into maintaining it.

8:00 Also, it’s been my policy to think that the role of technology (as wielded by the kids) was just tone-deaf and “it’s always wrong,” but it really does appear that in this world technology is malicious, and does not behave like anything we have on Earth, as evidenced by this uh….password bypassing thing? That just borked a computer? So they could watch R-Rated movies? I guess? And calling it a computer virus? It mostly serves so that Max can be loathesome, which makes me think it’s all part of The Plan.

10:00 “It’s all meant to be! The Universe is saying ‘yes’!” Says the doctor, thrilled to be allowed to leave and live a normal life. “The Universe could be wrong,” says The Manipulator, knowing that Handsome Doctor is a part of this now, and he cannot be allowed to leave.

12:30 Max jumps into wishing fountains and pulls out usable paper money. This is part of the economic reality of the show, certainly, but it’s also testament to the ability of Max’s powers of loathesomeness to manifest themselves physically.

14:00 Indian-themed party = cow. Fuck you, writers of Fuller House.

15:00 Kimmy is rightfully horrified at the idea, but is powerless to stop it as everyone reacts as though it was a good idea.

15:30 Their cow pun game is strong, though.

18:00 The Loathing Sponge is blamed for the cow, officially, and comes to see it as her own fault. Another cycle is completed.

20:00 Kimmy just made a cow poop joke.

21:00 I mean, if a certain amount of spontaneously-erupting fully-choreographed dance numbers doesn’t let you know that you’re a pawn in a cosmic game, then what on Earth would? These people dance so often – in a coordinated fashion – that I can only assume they’re being actively possessed.

24:00 Handsome Doctor brings everything back to something like equilibrium

Episode 12
1:00 My third tiny laugh came when Stephanie said to the baby “I’m trying out my new song on the youth demographic, and you’re about as youth as they get.” This is, to be fair, three more times than I thought I’d laugh.

2:30 Handsome Doctor got an episode devoted to him, now First Love gets an episode devoted to him. This is how parity is arranged in The Sameness.

3:00 this one game of Twister haunts Stephanie, and represents a point of pride for DJ, after decades. The past always reasserts itself.

4:00 The Loathing Sponge and the Unrepentant Self-Centered One are back at odds with each other. No lesson can be learned permanently. Also, Stephanie just said “Matt is the future and Steve is the past,” which is literally what I said earlier. That makes me feel like I am also a part of the experience. That observing The Sameness brings you into The Sameness. I am now a part of this, I guess.

5:30 The audience just cheered for someone saying “slap bracelet”.

6:00 Stephanie successfully counted down Steve’s return to the room. She is probably also aware of me, right now, writing this. There is no escape from this world.

9:00 Max must be permitted to win things because Max must be permitted to win things. Jackson must intentionally lose things because Jackson must lose things. This is the way of the world.

12:00 A character named “Magic Fingers Boris” was revealed to be in a closet after Kimmy put on the “sexy” dress and I have to tell you, I feel like this is happening so that people will write that sentence, which brings me right back to being inside The Sameness. .

17:00 This episode is also a study in how much I hate Max. It’s a lot. Spoiler alert: I hate Max so much.

18:00 Obviously, having admitted my own place in this puzzle, I can’t help but notice that nothing is really happening in this episode, to the point where we are now watching two grown women play Twister. One of them ripped their pants. This is television. This is the world.

20:30 The Unrepentant Self-Centered One must sing a love song to the Loathing Sponge because Fernando is unable to do so.

21:30 Also there’s a whole lot of weird lesbianism between Stephanie and Kimmy (this is the second major occurrence, with minor flare-ups throughout), which I guess is meant to be prurient? I don’t know. I’m too close to it. I can no longer consider this. My wings are melting due to my proximity to the sun. I have looked upon the Stephanie/Kimmy kiss, and I can only hope to be an object lesson.

23:30 And there is also a falcon. Would it make sense for there not to be a falcon? I do not know.

Episode 13
4:00 Even a wedding is not safe from Kimmy’s powers of gathering loathing. The real purpose of episode 12 falls into place: to use Max to get everyone angry and generate the rage energy necessary to be released by Kimmy literally stealing a wedding.

6:30 Jessie and Becky exist to show that long-term relationships can exist without one partner dying tragically before their children are grown. This is a tantalizing hope, of course, but is up to the powers that be, not to any of the people onscreen.

9:00 Becky is a part of this to retain her youth, as part of some Faustian deal. As she continues to not age, she loses her moorings in reality. It happens to all of us when we spend enough time in this world. We think of these behaviors as normal. We think of the changes as inevitability, even though the time loop must be stable and those changes must be erased.

10:00 They just shouted a bunch of Michelle’s catch phrases into a phone, because this is what must happen. They are together, their powers united, and catch phrases are their totems. As the finale steams to a close, it becomes more important to summon their powers for the home stretch. The Sameness must be appeased.

12:00 It is nice, having accepted my place in the world, to be allowed to see the machinations. The Loathing Sponge invited First Love and The Unrepentant Self-Centered One invited Handsome Doctor. The final burst of acceleration is in place.

13:30 Max must be reassured. All things must be served. There is a time for every purpose unto heaven.

14:30 For the last time, both of DJ’s suitors arrive within seconds of each other. They are Shakespearean in their unity of appearance.

16:00 Even Handsome Doctor acknowledges the power of the First Love, which is something that would not make sense in another world. But here, in this world, it is the only thing that would make sense.

16:30 Uncle Joey must appear, because all things must come together. Where before this would have caused wailing and gnashing of teeth, now it is merely accepted as necessary. All things must serve The Sameness.

18:00 No but seriously – Lori Loughlin did something to stop the aging process completely, right? Jesus.

19:00 OK, it would justify the existence of that puppet if, as implied by the montage, the dog gets to fuck the puppet

21:00 The Loathing Sponge is again denied happiness by being unable to go through with a wedding that she was railroaded into and that has already failed once. Then she ate cake, having been allowed the comfort of food. “Cake makes me happy,” she says, putting aside her reservations about continuing her terrible relationship. Cake makes us all happy.

23:30 “This happens at all our weddings,” Fernando says. He knows. He knows it’s not just the first or the second, but that for as long as this cycle continues, he will be left at the altar again and again by his indecisive Loathing Sponge bride. It is ever thus.

24:00 “What really matters is that the three of us are never going to feel lonely or unloved, because we’ve got each other.” Even as the Unrepentant Self-Centered One says this, thinking back on the time she has just spent feeling lonely and unloved, breaking up with a man in front of several thousand of that man’s fans, coming clean about her barren womb, she knows that it is a lie, and what she is really telling the others in the triumvirate is that there’s nothing they can do. They’re always going to be together. Always. There is no exit. Hell isn’t merely other people for them, it’s these specific other people.

25:00 Kimmy tries to run and is forcibly blocked by the crowd. She must do what she must do. There is no escape. Escape does not serve The Sameness. Ramona is happy. Kimmy is happy in the house, insofar as Kimmy is allowed to be happy. The compromise is not to make a decision. She is to be passive, as am I, as are we all, as The Sameness continues to happen around us all.

28:00 This episode is going to end like an episode of The Bachelorette (and make no mistake, that’s exactly what’s happening, meta-reference language and all – it may be the legitimately funniest scene in the show), which is only heightening what is true for DJ: that her life is so far beyond her control, and in service to such a higher power that it won’t really be her decision at all. She is as passive as Kimmy, as me, as you. She is powerless, even though she is the one with the power. There is no wrong decision, because there is no decision. There must, after all, be season 2. Season 2 must have drama, must have twists, must have turns. All things must serve The Sameness. DJ chooses herself. DJ chooses her role. DJ chooses the only thing DJ could ever have chosen in the first place.

If you want to imagine the future, imagine a multicolored-legginged foot in a vintage tennis shoe kicking open the door of a Painted Lady, forever.

Whatever happened to predictability?

It’s Everywhere you look.

Everywhere. You. Look.

A Moment of Guarded Optimism

So, a few weeks ago an R-Rated superhero movie came out, and, to hear it told, did something heretofore unimaginable by 1) existing, 2) being a self-aware mostly-comedy, and 3) becoming hugely successful. Leaving aside that it’s not actually the first of these things1, the fan response has centered around a sort of “woe-is-us” response, which at first seems completely reasonable, but might actually not be such call for alarm as initially feared.

1 Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service were both R-Rated and quite funny, even leaving aside Timur Bekmenbentov’s adaptation of Wanted or James Gunn’s wholly-original Super, and not even addressing the self-awareness aspect, which is shot through the Disney-owned MCU to such an extent that it’s probably easier to mention the movies that aren’t particularly self-aware*, not to mention all the stuff in the first X-Men movie, which both comes from the same studio and, technically, shares a film universe with Deadpool, although the time-travelling, continuity-rewriting Days of Future Past muddied that latter technicality somewhat.
* Mainly the Thor movies, the movies starring The Incredible Hulk, and maybe they joyless Iron Man 3.

Leading the public Cassandra’s is James Gunn’s Facebook post, in which he points out the quickness with which studios jumped onto the more superficial aspects of the success of his own Guardians of the Galaxy, and warns studios not to jump straight to cover everything in irreverent hyperviolence. But it’s not hard to find other pieces discussing the inevitability (that one’s actuallya  podcast, for those of you who are audio-averse – also those are the two, along with Gunn’s, most representative pieces, but google can point you to a whole entire bunch more) of studios making a ton of money upping the blood content of their films in response.

This doesn’t come from nowhere. After all, it’s the way Hollywood operates. A thing gets big, and then everything else takes off from it: we’re just coming out of the glut of adaptations of YA books whose last installments were split into two parts, for example. They were probably preceded by trailers that used the BWAAAAAAA noise from the Inception trailer, as well. They were advertised in part with posters that, if you’re looking at them from far away, are functionally identical. Hell, James Gunn even points out that after Guardians of the Galaxy, you saw a lot of action comedies specifically abetted by old pop songs in the trailers, and he’s not wrong2. And, to be completely fair at this point in the article: I am not a great prognosticator! So it could be the case that that is precisely what will happen. There’s already been an R-Rated version of Batman v. Superman, about which more later.

2 Deadpool took a good long time to get made, and is definitely the fruit of a very long campaign on the part of Ryan Reynolds specifically, and the movie’s creative team. It is, however, difficult here in 2016 to imagine that Guardians didn’t have something to do with it finally existing – a niche character** being adapted and largely left alone for a release period that was less than entirely-crucial (late summer for Guardians – the same place they ended up trying out the tonally-similar Ant Man, the February graveyard for Deadpool). And on and on. There’s even an incongruous popular song in the first scene of the movie, a movie which was hardly invented by Guardians, but which exists consistently with it.
** Deadpool is, to be fair, a great deal more popular than any incarnation of Guardians of the Galaxy were as a book.

There is also, I suspect, a sort of innate fear of Deadpool’s success for the comic book fan that is now an adult enjoying the movie (I’m one of those – I loved Deadpool the film, a fact that may not come across terribly well in this piece). You see, Deadpool was a highly visible and largely emblematic result of The Nineties Problem. Some of you who read this aren’t old comic-book folk, but if you are, you’re aware of The Nineties Problem, and can probably skip ahead to the next paragraph. If you aren’t, here goes: starting in the late eighties (after Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen, mostly3) the major publishers started chasing the more “mature” comic book market that had recently sprung forth. Some of this worked, but one of the places where it very much did not was the lasting effects on mainstream-style superhero comics. Lots of comics suffered, but the ones that suffered the most visibly were the X-books (the books about mutants and whatnot. In film terms, the stuff owned by Fox). A bunch of completely, unbelievably dumb shit happened to make those books, which were already built on themes of angst and otherness, and made things happier by obeying, predominantly, the Rule of Cool. One of those things were that they became increasingly violent, eventually leading down a path where mutants without offensive powers (i.e. that didn’t shoot lasers out of their eyes or that weren’t functionally a water elemental or didn’t control the goddamned weather) were full-on just shooting things with guns. This is the where a handful of dudes who worked for Marvel at the time came in, most specifically the writer Fabian Nicieza4 and The Apotheosis of All That Was Dumb in Nineties Comics, Rob Liefield5, who created, among other constantly-grimacing grimdark icons, Deadpool. He was violent, had mysterious origins, fought with conventional weapons (lots of them, in fact), and had a name that, while retconned into sensibility (separately in both the comic and the movie), was clearly chosen for its Sweet-Ass Violent Implications6.

3 in the interest of expediency, I am condensing this history considerably. If you are one of the aforementioned old comic-book types and are still reading this, yes, I know I’m simplifying it, but really, I have more to do with my day than write the entire thing out.
4 who, whatever else, created both the single-greatest X-Men story of the nineties, Age of Apocalypse (which is, despite being actually, legitimately great, also a walking tour of all of the dumb crap people were cramming into comic books in the nineties), and the overstuffed, super-terrible worst (X-Cutioner’s Song, a crossover event so awful that Marvel has a hard time acknowledging that it happened, and saved from being the actual worst storyline of the nineties by the fact that a few years later there were a bunch of clones in Spider-Man, about which the less said the better). I’m saying that as dumb as a bunch of this shit was, when it worked the dumb shit was window dressing, and some good things did actually happen.
5 whose crimes against comics are myriad and well-documented, so I’ll just link this piece of all-time-great internet comedy and move along.
6 and who was almost completely ripped off from the DC character Deathstroke, who is probably going to be played by Scott Eastwood in the Suicide Squad movie. Probably. It’s also worth pointing out, as an object lesson, that Deathstroke is a completely different character from Deadshot, the character that Will Smith is playing, if only so you see as many of these nineties dork age names all in the same place.

So Deadpool the character has already signified the point of no return for goofy grimdark nonsense once in his development, and that makes it pretty easy to see that he could be heralding the same here. It’s coupled, at least for now, with the forthcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is clearly the point at which the DC cinematic universe doubles down on the grim and gritty direction Zack Snyder inexplicably7 took with Man of Steel (and they’ve quadrupled down recently by greenlighting him to be in charge of the next one, also), and which looks, for all the world, like someone let a music video director stuff as much of the grimdark nineties as he could into a movie that really was not asking for it8. It also comes several months before Fox’s next X-film, X-Men: Apocalypse, whose villain (the titular Apocalypse) is a mid-eighties forerunner to the more “serious” turn, and a somewhat-worrying presencde in the long run, given the inconsistency of his application and story-presence within the world of X-Media already9.

7 I mean, he made a Zack Snyder movie, which is what he does, but it was a pretty goddamned weird direction for a Superman movie, and also it was real, real dumb.
8 this is literally what happened
9 he was the overvillain to a season of the nineties X-Men cartoon, which was a huge point of origin for a bunch of X-fans, but he’s varied in his comic appearances from being terrifyingly effective to, basically, a giant empty suit that has to go to sleep for several decades every time he warms up soup.

I think some of these things are valid concerns (I, for one, will be disappointed if Bryan Singer’s heretofore excellent X-Men movies move in toward Deadpool’s “mature” direction), but I also think there’s a couple of other factors at play in this particular game of follow-the-leader. One of the particular innovations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the ability to have the constituent movies be of markedly different tone, and even genre, from each other, even with a series (think the difference between Captain America: The First Avenger, which is an adventure story that takes place during a war, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is a political paranoia thriller only with much more punching). It isn’t hard to believe that this is the marketing strategy that would be even easier to adopt for a studio: it creates less work for the creatives in the structure (they don’t have to cleave quite so rigorously to that specific kind of consistency), and it also allows for a great fluidity film-to-film (if a given genre aspect doesn’t work for one film, they aren’t married to the same sort of approach for the next one). Contrast to the prediction of the doomsayers, which creates an environment that is not only more difficult to manage practically (Deadpool is a hard R, but also has the advantage of being a comedy, imagine the difficulties you could get into if you tried to make an R-Rated, say, Suicide Squad movie), but also conceptually (the studios associated with comic book properties have a hard enough time with creative guidelines regarding the properties, adding more restrictions would just add more bureaucracy). See, while it is true that movie studios are looking to minimize risk (and therefore maximize profit), they’re not actually looking to maximize the difficulty with getting things done on time and under budget (reshoots cut into both, as do resubmissions to the MPAA, as do poor responses to test audiences, which, of course, then lead to the aforementioned reshoots).

I also think that, Hollywood-wide10, we’re seeing the new form of the reliance on adapted properites: to keep them focused on getting the right reaction out of the pre-existing fanbase. The Martian, Room and Mad Max: Fury Road were all conjured into existence in a way that pleased the fans of the source material, and they wound up nominated for Academy Awards11. The Fault in Our Stars, Gone Girl, and probably a half dozen or so others became successful at least in part for their willingness to include the elements and angles that made the original fanbase follow them in the first part12. So what if Deadpool is, instead of being an experimental test bubble toward making things grimdarkier, instead the natural (and predictable) reactionary approach that led them to include the things people demanded out of it, instead of shoehorning a “new” take on a character that was pretty solidly clamored for under the “old” take.

10 I think it’s appropriate to also say that while people – and I am sometimes one of them – think of the super-hero-film-creation part of Hollywood as being a separate entity from the industry that’s also bringing you, say, The Revenant, but they’re absolutely the same people all the time, it’s just that the marketing mechanisms are so very different from each other at this point that it’s hard to keep straight what you’re looking at.
11 real quick update: the Academy Awards are still bullshit and are, if it was possible, even harder to take seriously after this last clusterfuck, but their mention in this case is as a sign that the industry is happy with the direction of general trends, even if they don’t end up fully cosigning them.
12 this is far from the totality, however: Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie was truly hideous, and departed so far from the source material that it made the Tim Story movies look good by comparison

Basically, I’m arguing that there’s a world in which Deadpool ushers in not a new age of hyperviolent, extra-swear-y superhero movies full of gratuitous nudity and quips, but rather a world in which some of those happen (and some of those will be awful, because some superhero movies are pretty awful), but also in which the studios continue to try to make hay while the superheroic sun is shining, and have a bunch of approaches ready to go. Yes, it does mean, that there’s going to be a director’s cut of Batman v Superman that’s going to be R-rated13, and it does mean that there’s going to be some colossal missteps, but it also seems pretty unlikely that Thor is suddenly going to turn into a hard-swearing, woman-ravishing uh…well, accurate version of his mythological self….anytime soon. At least not in superhero movies.

13 actually, there’s always been an R-rated version of Zack Snyder movies on the home video release, even when the movie itself hasn’t been, but don’t tell the alarmists that.


The Best Albums of February 2016

1. Still in a Dream: The Story of Shoegaze (A giant, gallumphing box set of archival material, covering basically the history of shoegaze, and some of its pre-limnation acts, it’s probably not necessarily essential, but it sure is a great way to spend an afternoon)
2. Sarah Neufeld – The Ridge (another great, inventive set of violin pieces from a remarkably consistent instrumentalist)
3. Quelle Chris – Lullabies for the Broken Brain (a much-welcomed album of Quelle Chris’s excellent production work, which I had previously been sleeping on)
4. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo (there’s a lot to say about TLOP, and its status not only as a new Kanye “album,” but also about the questions it raises regarding what an album even is in the first place – it’s a Tidal exclusive, its tracklist, title and execution changing right up until the last second, and was accompanied by a still-ongoing meltdown that shot well past “Kanye being Kanye” about three dozen manic, under-considered tweets ago. It’s still pretty good for all that.)
5. Glenn Kotche & So Percussion – Drumkit Quartet (Glenn Kotche continues to bring magic to his all-percussion records, making surprisingly accessible music out of nonstandard instrumentation)