Notes from the Kraken: February

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Welcome again to We Have Always Live 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 month’s posting schedule, but first here are some thoughts.

Let’s all watch North Korea try and pretend everything is fine with South Korea for two weeks.

This February brings a lot of new events to us that like to see an intersection between the pop culture and sports world, as not only does it bring us the Super Bowl, but also the Winter Olympics. The Olympics in general is always a very enduring event, because it gives us an excuse to live in a world where countries can compete in peaceful and entertaining ways while the whole world is watching. It is a time for unity (even if that unity is, let’s just say, a tiny bit disingenuous), and solidarity (also a bit disingenuous). That is why every two years the world comes together to watch either the Summer or Winter Olympic, even if for most people time zones make watching things live difficult, if not impossible. Social media proved to be a viable substitute for this in the 2016 Summer Olympics, and it will be fascinating to see how that manifests once again with this year’s Olympics. Especially because the Winter Olympics offers events that are so much less mainstream than the summer ones. Sure, there is figure skating and hockey (which is going to be a massive bummer this year because the NHL refused to let its players play in these Olympics), but that is really it. Instead we get more random but generally fascinating events, like curling. This makes the Winter Olympics special because you find yourself really watching things you never would expect, and being enthralled by the theatre and competition of it all. It’s a reminder that sports, no matter how obscure, offer a degree of drama that is just not possible to replicate, a truly unique experience. So get excited! Because it is exciting to once again stumble upon alpine skiing at 3 o’clock in the morning and being enthralled enough to watch it until the very end.

David


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

Coming at you with the hottest takes, the Life in The Kraken Podcast returns to talk about the Best of 2017 in Film and TV.

Oscarathon 2018 continues, so stay tuned for all the Oscars coverage insanity.

David offers his thoughts on the video game Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Keskel returns to lament the closing of Anime Strike and offer his top 10 recommendations for Amazon anime.

Matt returns with an all new addition of Hidden Levels.


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 Month.

David: Hmm, let us see… Well, with Oscarathon in full force,  let’s go with one of the more forgotten Oscar nominees, Call Me By Your Name. Luca Guadagnino’s emotionally charged movie (based on André Aciman’s book) is one of the most visceral experiences from last year’s cinema. Full of amazing performances, the film is headlined by a star-making turn from Timothée Chalamet and also exhibits proof that Armie Hammer is probably best as an over-qualified supporting character (as he is here) than his usual leads. This is a messy love story that is handled maturely and with an open mind that will offer much for everyone to talk about. Guadagnino’s direction is superb and draws you in for an emotional ride. The last twenty minutes of this film is truly a sight to see, and provides a reminder that Michael Stuhlbarg is a treasure.  This film got a little lost in the awards shuffle, but is definitely one that should be watched.

Kyu: The third in not-his-real-name David Wong’s epically stupid John and Dave series, What the Hell Did I Just Read?, mostly lives up to its predecessors, John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Touch It. The stakes are lower than those first novels; where JDATE (not the Jewish online dating site) and Spiders saw its dumbass dickheads Scooby Don’t their way through confrontations with Lovecraftian villains from beyond time and space and toxic masculinity (respectively), What the Hell Did I Just Read? is as small-time case-of-the-week banal as is possible when the case involves shapeshifting alien perverts, mysterious bureaucrats in sinister cloaks, and the most elaborate supernatural homage to Dude, Where’s My Car? ever. Rather than wrapping up a trilogy, Wong seems poised to let John and Dave keep experiencing the scariest, stupidest shit Undisclosed [town name redacted to stop people from mailing so many cursed objects to John and Dave] can throw at them for years to come. Freed from those expectations, What the Hell is a delightful romp and a chance for Wong to give his self-named protagonist a little character development in the bargain, as John and David’s girlfriend Amy help David wrestle with whether or not his depression is clinical and treatable or just the price of living in the kind of place where a giant bat/mantis monster that preys on pets is probably unrelated to the madness at hand. Funny, creepy, exciting, ridiculously, poignant, and pointedly irreverent, this novel continues Wong’s unbroken streak of books that manage the tricky task of fulfilling and puncturing their genre at the same time. When’s the next one out?

Keskel: I recommend Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family. Ufotable, who should be working on the second part of the Heaven’s Feel movie, have decided that, while 2017 could be argued to be a year of Fate, they were the only people with both a checkbook big enough to buy the Fate licenses and an understanding of Kinoku Nasu‘s work. Having played the original Fate/stay night game, adapting Fate into a slice of life cooking show is actually a completely accurate and respectful (in both tone and content), thing for Ufotable to be doing instead what I’d like them to do, which is chain their animators to their desks so they can release Heaven’s Feel part 2 sooner.


That’s it for this month. The Kraken just delivered his state of the dimensional union, and it is strong… well, now that the Kraken has eaten Universe 15. No one liked that universe anyways.

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