Notes from the Kraken: June 26th 2016

In All, Notes by Kyu

Welcome again to We Have Always Lived in the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this week’s posting schedule, but first, a little Seafood for Thought.

Last Thursday, 17,410,742 residents of the United Kingdom decided to vote for Trump–a phrase which here means that they voted for lies and against truth; for individualism and against cooperation; for xenophobia and against free movement of peoples; for fear and against the courage to adapt to a swiftly changing world. Achieving a majority of less than 2% on the question of whether Britain should leave the European Union, they chose democratically and with great zeal to cut off their nose to spite their face. The result was a market shock, political instability within their borders, the potential to break up the United Kingdom, and a whopping dose of global uncertainty. More than anything else, “Brexit” is the loudest and most troubling sign of the tenor of the hour. Right wing lunacy is on the rise around the world; fascism threatens to rear its head again, a visage that alarmingly few remember well enough to fear. Anti-intellectualism, anti-establishmentism, social conservatism and disastrously foolish economic policy is making headway, spurred on by recession, immigration, and systemic issues that, yes, are in dire need of reform–but not the sort of reform they’ll get if this dread tide reaches the shore. We live in dark times.

This is just a blog. We talk about movies and TV and anime. We make fun of comics. We play board games and discuss them with great intensity. We don’t have answers to the titanic problems that the UK and other countries seem intent on causing for themselves. But from my own little insignificant perspective, I can maybe offer a tiny ray of a hope, a little silver lining, and that’s that human beings have always responded to adversity and oppression with art. Arguably better art than otherwise. Because art thrives on passion, and terrible things evoke passionate responses. I don’t want to take this quite so far as Orson Welles’ character in The Third Man, who mused:

But the last time Great Britain went through something like this, with Thatcher in the 1980s, the result was a beautiful flowering of British comics aimed at adults, comics that were smart and angry and brutal and sad, from the searing social satire of Hellblazer to the grimly dystopian Judge Dredd series and, of course, Alan Moore’s barely disguised polemic against tyranny, V for Vendetta. That last one is telling, because the visual and narrative language through which Moore mocked Britain’s political swing toward authoritarianism became so iconic that it now helps to express opposition to the resurgence of those ideas:

Ultimately I believe the truth of one great work of fiction will change more hearts than a thousand dishonest advertisements. I believe that as the fallout from this vote continues to radiate from the English islands, it will carry with it the seeds of artistic dissent. I believe that the works that result might influence this current problem but will certainly come to define the next great conflict, in a way that will keep pushing our civilization to a place of tolerance and freedom. And I believe that one way or another, England–the right England, the best of it, the 48%–will prevail.

England prevails.

Josh Kyu Saiewitz

From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this week.

Monday: Today’s edition of the Life in the Kraken Podcast is brought to you by the letters T and V, as David and Kyu discuss AMC’s new show Preacher, Kyu nominates FX’s Louie for the greatest show currently on television, and the guys discuss the current state of HBO. Plus, a quick Lightning Round.

Tuesday: Nothing new today, but have you tried our archives lately? We have over 32 flavors of sweet, sweet articles. OVER THIRTY-TWOOOOOOOO!!!!

Wednesday: To be empty is to be one with the universe. To be Wednesday is to be one with our archives.

Thursday: Game of Thrones Season 6 is over, and with it, the Life in the Kraken Podcast: Westeros Edition is nearing its end. Join David, Kyu, Sam, and special guest Matt Morris as they discuss Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 10, “The Winds of Winter.” Stay tuned next week for our final episode of this Season 6 series, where we’ll post-mortem the season as a whole and look forward to next year’s stories.

Friday: You may have had your heart set on new content today, but we suppose you’ll just have to learn to live with disappointment.

Saturday: Baturdays is on break after completing 1940, which makes this an excellent time to catch up on Kyu’s absurd project to read and review every Batman comic ever. Check out the full archive of 1939 and 1940 Batman in all its old-timey comics glory.

Catch of the Week:

Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.

Keskel: This week I recommend the When They Cry anime shows (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei.) They are great jumping off points from the world of anime to the world of visual novels, as the story adapts multiple “routes” in order to tell not just variations on one story or character but a multi-linear overarching narrative. The first 13 episodes contain some of the most shocking and unnerving horror I have experienced in any medium, let alone anime, and for that reason alone the visual novels are worth checking out. They’re coming soon to Steam in English, but be warned, the art is pretty dated.

Kyu: Today’s recommendation is Ed Wood, one of Tim Burton’s best films and also one of the best movies about the way art, even cataclysmically bad art, can bring people together. The performances are phenomenal, even in the small roles, but especially Johnny Depp’s layered portrayal of the infamous movie director, whose boundless optimism and joy for moviemaking is tempered by self-awareness of the way he’s perceived by the rest of society, and Martin Landau, whose turn as the aging Bela Lugosi, crippled by addiction, insecure, bitter, but still a star, earned him an Academy Award. Less a biopic than the story of the friendship of these two men, Ed Wood draws nuanced parallels between star and director, one young, one old, one hopeful, one cynical, but both struggling to work, both addicted in their own way to cinema. Scene after scene is iconic and indelible (and all in gorgeous black and white)–the crew of Plan 9 From Outer Space all getting baptized to raise money for the production, Ed helping Bela up from his hospital bed the way Dracula would rise from his coffin, the way Bela tears into the dramatic speech or wrestles gamely with a giant fake octopus–and of course the ending, where Burton gives Wood the ovation he never got in life, and then sends him off into the rain, which Ed says (with all his sweetly deranged optimism) will probably stop as soon as they get around the corner, anyway. That one always gets me.

David: Kirby is back in the recently released Kirby: Planet Robobot. It’s all the great parts of a Kirby game plus robots with powers? What more do you want?

That’s it for this week. The Kraken urges all visitors to be kind to one another, and reminds you that violations of this edict will be met with severe and unrelenting punishment.