Friday, October 28, 2016

Apropos of my recent "Vengeance on Varos" post ...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

"[No] legislature ... has ever done so much, so fast, to restrict access to the franchise."

North Carolina Reckons With its Jim Crow Past - The Atlantic

In North Carolina, spending on state races increased by 20 percent from 2008 to 2010, an investment poured mostly into Republican campaigns. Almost all of the independent money spent on state races in 2010 came from conservative millionaire mega-donor Art Pope, his family, and allied groups, who spread over $2 million across 22 races. Of those 22, Republicans won 18, creating GOP majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction. Only this time, Republicans were focused on restricting the electorate rather than expanding it.

My Ballot Has Been Cast

First day of early voting here in Fuquay and there were a ton of us out to vote at the first opportunity. I arrived before the polls opened and waited for an hour more once they did. The line had doubled in length by the time I left. You can see a portion of it behind me.

No angry mob of Trump supporters, no signs of impending violence. No reason not to vote. You might want to bring a thermos of coffee if you're out early. (For some reason, Dunkin' Donuts doesn't have a presence in the parking lot and this mystifies me.)

Regarding media hand-wringing over the prospect of violence, I suspect Tom may be on to something here:

In case you're curious, I did write in Jill Stein on my ballot. My sense is HRC will carry NC, perhaps handily. Even if I were inclined to take a "strategic" anti-Trump approach, I would have been comfortable not voting for HRC expecting it not be particularly close. Even if the polls suggested Trump had a narrow lead, I would have voted my conscience though. Stein is, simply put, the candidate who best represents me. Her positions are, largely, my positions. She best represents my priorities and values. I know she is not going to win. But, I think progressives need to make themselves count. I guarantee Jill Stein would be the first choice of more than the 4% or so of voters who answer polls if we didn't didn't self-regulate in line with how corporate interests want us to vote. Until we all vote our consciences, we are choosing to be under-represented. That should stop. That's why I voted the way I did.

The Jujutsuffragettes

The Suffragettes Who Learned Martial Arts to Fight for Votes | Atlas Obscura
And that’s where the Bodyguard stepped in—in between their sisters-in-arms and members of law enforcement, their mission to keep these prison breaks as long as possible. The women of the Bodyguard were extremely fit, willing to risk their health, safety and freedom, and almost always single, since it was considered unfair for mothers to be thrown in jail. They came from the ranks of the most radical suffragettes and studied jujutsu in a network of secret locations, using codenames and whatever subterfuge necessary to keep their activity private from prying eyes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bigots: "How dare they call us 'deplorable'?!"

Image via IndyWeek
I’m standing outside the state Capitol, attempting to ascertain what’s on the minds of Franklin Graham’s disciples as we approach Election Day, when an old man wearing a cowboy hat lets me know who’s in charge.
He calls me a “fucking sodomite” and tells me he hopes I “burn in the fires of hell.”
But wait. I’m married, I tell him. To a woman. I have kids.
“Well, then, you’re a sodomite lover,” he snarls.

Vengeance on Varos - "I think he needs more than water, Peri. Eh?"

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Vengeance on Varos - Details

Season 22, Story 02 (Overall Series Story #139) | Previous - Next | Index

Peri, we feel the same way about Season 22.
"Fifteen Million Merits," the second episode of Black Mirror is ostensibly (per wikipedia) a "satire on entertainment shows and our insatiable thirst for distraction," an assessment I don't agree with, but I was struck by how much its world-building proceeds from "Vengeance on Varos." I don't mean to say anyone involved in Black Mirror cares, or even knows, about Doctor Who's lamentable 22nd season, only that it's a straight line from Arak's and Etta's living room in 1985's dystopian future to Abi's and Bing's lives in 2011's dystopian future. Saward & company hadn't lived through the turn of the millennium and the ascent of reality TV yet, but they were onto something.

The Black Mirror episode tacks, I think, towards blaming the politics of mass distraction on the distracted. It's better television than what DW was managing, but DW has the virtue, in this case, of being more radical. It ends with a question, and what could be read as a dawning realization ... where Black Mirror feels far more cynical. Now, that's a real surprise, as mid-80s Doctor Who, until its demise, felt like little more than an exercise in cynical brand exploitation with a side of all-but-incoherent philosophizing.

As a youngster I loathed "Vengeance." The flaws I remember all too well are still evident, but I'm more inclined to excuse its terrible acting, unsubtle writing, and even its didactic tendencies, because it at least is willing to wear its anger on its sleeve. Even if it's pretty much incoherent on the subject. BM, on the other hand, deployed its superior acting and writing in the service of satire that fails give a baddie as blameworthy as Sil.

I disagree with the consensus on this one: it's not better than "Attack of the Cybermen." It is merely the second-best story of Season 22. Or, put another way, the second prettiest turd in the sewer.


  • On what level, if any, does the infamous "Forgive me if I don't join you" line work? Is it a critique of Bond and Schwarzenegger? Is it mere apeing?  How is that a Doctor line?  It can't be, can it? Could it have worked if delivered sadly? Delivered smugly, it's one of the most un-Doctorly lines in all the series. That later incarnations of the Doctor disavow the War Doctor, but not this one, doesn't jibe.
  • Jason Connery, Sean's son, later plays Robin Hood in what I remember being as dreary a take on the legend as ever was made. His acting must have improved though. It being notably dreadful isn't one of the first things to come to mind about it, at least.
  • The opening scene, Jondar (Connery) being tortured on TV, doesn't only present violence as entertainment as a moral failing, the voting aspect makes it a political commentary as well. 
  • "That is what our secret payments to you are for." Clumsy Expository Writing 101
  • The set up isn't half-bad. A one-resource world, at the mercy of capitalist exploitation, where the militarized government doesn't serve its citizenry (militarized as it is primarily against its own people), but members of it have to stand for sham elections -- this remains relevant.  
  • The Doctor materializes into a liminal space in the sick society ... a starting point from which he is able to turn the weapon on the security force. By the end of the first episode though, he is subjected to a series of psychological attacks while being broadcasted as entertainment to the Varosians.  The Doctor's dramatic cliffhanger "death" is given in-episode direction by the Governor, who decides when to cut the coverage so episode 1 puts us in the viewers' seat. OK, I admit, it's somewhat well conceived. Our experience mirroring the viewers' can't help but force us to identify with them. 
  • The diapered cannibals are ... lamentable.

Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia Entry
Wikipedia entry transcript
Eruditorum Press's Commentary podcast
Wife in Space post
Me: Do you think the programme is having its cake and eating it by criticising violence and showing so much violence at the same time?
Sue: That’s a bit deep, isn’t it? You’re not writing one of your essays now, you know. I don’t mind it personally, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for younger children.
AV Club review
It’s really no wonder, looking at season 22 with 2012’s hindsight, that this was all a terrible idea that would wind up nearly destroying the series. “Varos” gives us a Doctor who is a foolish, abrasive clown, and almost totally lacking in the charm and larger-than-life qualities that made his earlier incarnations tick. Indeed, those very qualities are savagely parodied by every aspect of his character from the bipolar yaws between arrogance and pathetic whining to the fact that his candy-colored costume only makes sense as a caustic satire on the Doctor’s own eccentricity. And that’s not automatically a bad way to go—a bumbling Doctor could be comedy gold if written the right way. I’m just not sure what producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward thought they were getting out of destroying their own show by making its central character such an unpleasant person to be around, or by making the show as a whole so grim, bleak, and ugly. 
TV Tropes page

Coming soon to a theater near me ...

Why The Power of the Daleks is the holy grail of lost Doctor Who episodes

Image via the Telegraph / BBC

... the story is talked about with hushed reverence by fans today
[not to mention critical analysts like Dr. Sandifer, whose take on the story sparked my intrigue -- cm] with a particular frisson emerging from the fact that the Daleks are pretending to be meek servants in a human colony on the Planet Vulcan. Their creepy chant of “I am your servant” is one of the great coups de theatre from the early days.
The "I am your servant" line is featured in a weaker installment of the new series, am genuinely eager to see the story that inspired it.

NCGOP Doubling Down on Racist Vote Suppression Tactics

Old times there are not forgotten | Hullabaloo
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit may have overturned North Carolina's 2013 omnibus voter suppression law. Judges may have ordered officials to reinstate a week of early voting which the court determined had been cut specifically to hamper voting by black voters. The court’s intent may have been to return to the status quo pre-VIVA. But that doesn't mean Republicans in charge of the state's 100 county boards of elections will take that lying down.
Early voting is shortened this year in my town but I'll be out dark and early tomorrow morning to queue up to be among the first to vote.

It Don't Mean a Thing

Hell Is Hot: How Squirrel Nut Zippers Accidentally Sold a Million Records | Music Feature | Indy Week
Twenty years later, the swing music revival of the late nineties remains a perplexing hallmark of the decade. For a few years, bands that swung made a forceful showing on mainstream radio. Leading the pack was Carrboro's Squirrel Nut Zippers, who cloaked raucous rock in fast-and-loose hot jazz arrangements. Its ebullient songs were as inspired by the Pixies as they were by Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong.
~Remembering when Swingers felt so profoundly relevant, cool, and deep. So ... money.~

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