Klaus Schulze & Dune

I’ve been thinking about (and listening to) Klaus Schulze a lot lately. He passed away in April. I’ve been listening to his music since I was a kid, when I first started getting interested in electronic music. I remember buying this 1983 live album on CD, at some point in the 80s (though probably not in 83, since I don’t think I had a CD player yet). I need to dig that out and rip it at some point, since it’s not on Apple Music.

And he showed up in a few Matt Howarth comic books. I think I’ve read both of the comics mentioned on this page. I know he’s been in at least one or two others.

He released an album called Dune in 1979, which is on Apple Music (or at least part of it is). And there’s also Deus Arrakis, which came out earlier this year. The Bandcamp page for that one has this quote from Schulze:

On the one hand this album was created as spontaneously as all my albums before, on the other hand it has a special history: when I produced my eleventh album ‘Dune’ in 1979 I already knew the ‘Dune’ trilogy by Frank Herbert inside out like other people knew their ‘Lord of the Rings’. I was totally fascinated by this monumental story of the desert planet and I read the books over and over again.

He continues on about Dune and his thoughts about the books and movies. It’s interesting.

The 1984 Dune movie had a soundtrack mostly by Toto, which is a thing I probably knew at some point, but had completely forgotten about until I just now looked it up on Wikipedia. There’s one lone track on there by Brian Eno, Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois, though. I just brought that album up on Apple Music, and it’s quite something. The Eno track sounds pretty much like you’d expect an Eno Dune-related track to sound. (Good!) The rest of the album is… mixed. The tracks have names like “Robot Fight” and “The Floating Fat Man.” A few of them have dialog from the movie mixed in with the music. Some of them are quite nice, actually, but a few are pretty bad.

The 2021 film has a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. There are actually three albums out related to it. The main soundtrack itself, something called The Dune Sketchbook, and another called The Art and Soul of Dune, which is apparently a companion to a book about the film. (The Sketchbook album also has a contribution from Schulze.) I’m not a huge fan of Zimmer, but I generally like his stuff, and his Dune music is very good. Here’s an interesting article from the Times about it.

And one more Dune-related bit of music: April Larson’s You Stand in a Valley Between Dunes, a 2017 album inspired by Dune.

Doctor Who and Godzilla

If you were to judge my life based on my recent posts here, it would seem like I spend all of my time reading comics, listening to podcasts, watching movies, and so on. I do still have a full-time job as a programmer, and I spend most of my time on weekdays heads-down at my computer, working hard, I promise! I just haven’t had much to say about it here recently. There have been a few things I’ve thought about writing up, but they’re such niche topics that I can’t imagine them being very interesting to anyone but me. (Of course, most of these posts probably aren’t interesting to anyone but me…) All of which is preamble to excuse writing another post about comics and movies and podcasts and stuff. (What else am I going to do with my spare time in 2021?)

After finishing Doctor Who: Flux, I had a hunger for more Doctor Who content, so I dug into my backlog of comics and audio. I listened to The Lost Stories: The Fourth Doctor Box Set, a Big Finish audio drama that I’d bought back in 2016, featuring Tom Baker’s Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. I really enjoyed it. I wrote in my Goodreads review that it was the first Tom Baker audio I’d listened to, but I was organizing my notes this morning, and realized that I’d listened to a set of novel adaptations with Baker and Lalla Ward back in 2018. My Goodreads review for that set was pretty short, but I guess I liked it.

I’ve now started the Destiny of the Doctor series, which is a series of eleven stories, featuring the first eleven Doctors, that was released for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, back in 2013. I got it as part of a Humble Bundle in 2017. I’ve only listened to the first one so far, but it was pretty good. These aren’t full-cast dramas, they’re stories read by one or two narrators.

I also started reading the Ninth Doctor comic book series from Titan. I have the first two volumes of that from a Humble Bundle from 2018. It’s a pretty good series, featuring the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack.

I have a good backlog of other comics and audio dramas from those Humble Bundles, but of course every time I start reading/listening to this stuff, I start poking around for more stuff that I don’t own yet. I’d like to pick up the rest of that Ninth Doctor comic series, for instance. And more of the Tom Baker audios. And the new Ninth Doctor audios. And so on.

On the related subject of consuming DRM-free comics and audio from old Humble Bundles, I should mention that I’ve been using Panels for the comics, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I had some trouble with it repeatedly crashing on me yesterday, but I updated it to the latest version, and that’s been stable. So I guess there was a bug that got fixed. I’ll probably commit to a yearly subscription on that at some point. And on the audiobook front, I’ve been sticking with the Apple Books app to listen to stuff, using Audiobook Builder to put MP3s together into single audiobook files. (I bought that back in February.) I also recently downloaded BookPlayer to my iPhone, to try out. BookPlayer is an open source player for DRM-free audiobooks. It looks promising, but I haven’t actually tried it yet. Since it seems like it can pull stuff from OneDrive directly, I could simplify my workflow a bit by using it rather than Books.

My other recent pop culture obsession has been Godzilla. I’m working my way through the Criterion box set that I bought earlier this year. I’ve watched through to Son of Godzilla. Destroy All Monsters is next! For most of these movies, it’s the first time I’ve seen the original Japanese version. The last time I’ve seen most of these was probably back when I was a kid, on TV, as a Saturday afternoon movie. And that would have been the chopped up, dubbed, American version, obviously. For something like Son of Godzilla, it’s a goofy movie either way, so watching the uncut original, in Japanese with subtitles, doesn’t turn it into Citizen Kane, but it’s a more interesting experience to watch it that way, I think. I’ve been logging them all on Letterboxd, which has some pretty fun reviews for some of these movies.

Oh, and thinking about Doctor Who and Godzilla made me wonder if there’s ever been any kind of crossover between the two. There’s fan fiction of course, but the closest I could come to a “real” crossover is the Dr. Who character from the Japanese King Kong show and King Kong Escapes movie. Godzilla has of course met King Kong, so that puts Godzilla just one degree of separation from a character named Dr. Who, even if that character isn’t exactly a time lord.

Thanksgiving Eve

I had some PTO days to use up this year, so I decided to take this entire week off. Originally, I had some semi-ambitious half-formed plans about maybe going in to NYC and visiting some museums again, and maybe even staying overnight. But I got a bit sick a couple of weeks ago, and, while I’m mostly over that, I’m still not keen to go out in the cold, get on a train, and deal with NYC, crowds, and so on. So I’ve largely been sitting in my armchair reading comics, or sitting on the couch watching TV.

My Thanksgiving plans are, shall we say, minimal. I have no plans to go out, and I haven’t bought any traditional Thanksgiving foods. So maybe I’ll have a turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch, and a frozen turkey burger for dinner, and that’s about as close to honoring Thanksgiving as I’ll get.

Looking at some posts from previous Thanksgivings, I guess things could be worse. 2018 was a particularly bad year, with the snowstorm and the Christmas music debacle. Somerville hasn’t played Christmas music on Main St. in a few years, and hopefully they won’t start it up again this year. But there was one thing this year, from last weekend: some kind of issue with the sanitary line out of my apartment building that caused the building to have a bit of a stink going for a few days. (That actually almost moved me to go into NYC for a day or two, but they got it fixed before things got too bad.)

And for anyone who’s still reading after all that, here are some notes on the comics I’m reading this week, and the TV I’m watching.

I’ve read through a couple of B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth omnibus volumes. I have all five, in hardcover. I bought them as they were coming out, in 2018 and 2019. I’d read most of the previous BPRD run in single issues. The end of that run and the start of Hell on Earth happened right when I’d stopped buying monthly books. So picking up the hardcovers for Hell on Earth seemed like a good idea. I don’t know if it really was though. Dark Horse has a 50% off sale going on right now for digital stuff, so if I’d waited and just bought the digital versions, I could have gotten all five for just over $30, and I wouldn’t have to worry about what to do with these big hardcovers once I’m done reading them.

And I did wind up spending some money on Hellboy-related stuff from that sale yesterday, including all of the Lobster Johnson volumes, and all of the Witchfinder volumes that I didn’t already have.

I’m mostly enjoying Hell on Earth, even though I’m not generally a big fan of post-apocalypse fiction. I should probably take a break from it, and read something different today, but I think I’m just going to go ahead and jump into the next volume. If I’m not enjoying it, then I’ll switch to something different.

For my TV watching, I finished season two of Locke & Key on Netflix. It’s a pretty good show. I’ve been listening to the Locke & Key: Unlocked podcast after watching each episode and that’s been fun. I’ve mentioned this before, but I do really like the idea of companion podcasts for TV shows. They can sometimes be too silly, or too fawning, but if you get the right mix of elements, they can be really good.

I’ve now started watching season four of The Expanse on Amazon. Season six is coming out soon, and I actually didn’t realize that I hadn’t even watched season four yet. I knew I hadn’t watched season five, but I thought I was only one season behind, not two. Either way, it’s been a good season so far. And on the podcast front, I’ve started downloading some season four episodes of The Churn podcast, which was originally the official SyFy channel podcast for The Expanse, back when it was on SyFy. Even though the show has moved to Amazon, I guess the podcast is still being done by SyFy, though I’m not completely sure about that. I’m also curious about the Ty & That Guy podcast, which is hosted by Ty Franck and Wes Chatham. That’s more of a rewatch podcast, I guess. They’ve only just gotten through season three. If they start season four soon, that might work out well for me.

I’ve been keeping current with Doctor Who: Flux, watching the episodes as they’re released. I’m getting them through Apple, so I can’t watch them until the day after they’re released, but that’s good enough for me. I have mixed feelings about this season, but hey… it’s Doctor Who! I haven’t had much luck in finding a good Doctor Who podcast. There are a lot of them! I did find one I liked a while back, but it seemed to be dead the last time I checked. Maybe I’ll try the Radio Times one.

And I will likely watch the first episode of the new Hawkeye series on Disney+ today. It seems to be loosely based on Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run, which is very good. I read the first two volumes of it some time ago, and just bought volumes 3 and 4 from Comixology, where they’re currently on sale for $1.99 each.

I’ve found that my stay-at-home vacation routine is basically to read comics until my eyes are too tired for that, then watch TV until my eyes are too tired for that, then listen to podcasts until it’s time for bed. I can’t say that I’m proud of that, but it is what it is, and it’s about all I feel up to doing right now.

So I guess that’s about it for this low-stakes blog post. Honestly, I was mostly writing this because it’s too cold out to go for a walk and I don’t feel like doing any indoor exercise right now, and I’m not really ready to dig into any reading material just yet. I’m still waking up.

distractions

I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking about signing up for Disney+. Well, I did that, and have now watched most of the first season of The Mandalorian. It’s a pretty good show. It’s basically just silly Star Wars escapism. (And silly escapism is something I need right now.) I’ll definitely be keeping Disney+ through to the end of the year at least, so I can also watch season two, and Soul. Since Soul is being released on Christmas day, maybe I’ll actually watch it on Christmas. (I won’t have much else to do…)

I feel kind of bad about giving Disney any money right now, especially given the recent news about how they’ve been treating Alan Dean Foster, but I know that one random nerd boycotting Disney+ isn’t going to get them to pay Foster his royalties.

And, as I’ve probably mentioned before, the pressure to sign up for even more streaming services is increasing. It was just announced that the new Wonder Woman movie will be going straight to HBO Max on Christmas day, so that’s two big movies I could watch at home, assuming I can talk myself into paying $15/month for HBO Max. And the new Animaniacs on Hulu premieres tomorrow, I think, so that’s another thing I’d like to watch.

The return on investment for my traditional cable subscription seems to be shrinking, so I am once again considering dropping it. I still watch some news and a few late-night shows, but I could probably get enough of that online if I dropped cable. Most of the drama shows I would have been watching in the fall never started up, and, for a few, I’m not sure if I’m really interested in them anymore. NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans both just started new seasons, and I’m really not that interested in them. Those kind of shows have always been kind of a guilty pleasure for me, but, in the wake of the pandemic and some of the other stuff that’s gone on this year, they seem kind of pointless now. Unless they can find a way to reinvent their formula to work under current conditions, I think maybe it would be better to just take a break for a couple of years on the whole “police procedural” genre. NCIS is side-stepping the pandemic for now, by setting the current season in 2019 (at least to start). NCIS: NOLA set their first two episodes in March 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, and they’re trying to address it, but I’m just not that into it. So, dropping the “police procedural” shows, that leaves maybe the CW DC Arrowverse shows, which should start back up in January and February. But that’s not really enough to keep me paying for cable. (And I’m not sure if I’m all that excited about those shows either, to be honest.)

One related item that I’ve discovered recently, while watching The Mandalorian: The best way for me to watch stuff like that is on my Apple TV, with my AirPods. The AirPods can pair with the Apple TV box directly, bypassing the actual TV entirely. And the Apple TV setting to reduce the loudness of music and sound effects really helps even things out so that I can understand dialog better, I think.

Con crud, NYCC, Picard, Apple Music, and other distractions

One of the good things about a virtual con is that it should be impossible to get the con crud when you don’t leave your apartment. But after NYCC last weekend, I woke up on Monday feeling pretty bad. I guess I caught a cold at some point over the weekend. I probably picked it up while out grocery shopping. So I was nursing a cold through the first half of the work week, and eventually gave up and took a half-day on Wednesday to rest. It seems like taking time off for a cold shouldn’t be necessary if you’re just working from home anyway, but taking an afternoon off to nap and listen to podcasts did help.

I may watch some panels from Baltimore Comic Con next weekend. They’re supposed to be streaming their panels live, unlike SDCC and NYCC, where most panels were prerecorded, and they have some interesting stuff on their schedule. Also, unlike SDCC and NYCC, nearly all of the panels are actually about comics books! (I’m not knocking SDCC or NYCC. They both did great jobs of putting on a fun virtual event on short notice.)

I’ve been continuing to overdo it on Picard, as I mentioned last weekend. I’ve now watched all the episodes of season one, all the Ready Room episodes, all of the extras on the Blu-ray discs, and listened to about half of the Greatest Discovery podcasts. I also watched the “Trek the Vote to Victory” Biden fundraiser event on Tuesday night, which was a lot of fun, and included a number of the Picard actors, including Patrick Stewart. I guess I’m almost done with Picard for now, though I may keep going through those podcasts. They’re enjoyable, though I’m falling behind in all my other podcasts.

In my continuing quest to lose myself in diverting entertainment, I watched Weathering With You last night. It was almost as good as Your Name, though I think the general consensus is that it’s not quite as good. (Your Name has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Weathering With You has 91%.) For me, Makoto Shinkai still isn’t up there with Miyazaki or Satoshi Kon, but he’s pretty good. I have thoughts about Weathering With You, but they’re not terribly well-organized yet. In some ways, it follows a lot of pretty standard anime tropes, but it makes some really weird decisions along the way, and I’m not sure what kind of conclusions I should draw about those. I’m pretty sure that trying to analyze this movie too literally would be a mistake though.

And I’m continuing to play around with Apple Music. I think I’ve got my library in pretty good shape now. Everything on my PC and Mac has been either matched or uploaded. My iTunes/Music library now says that I’ve got 14,000 items taking up 95 GB. I guess that’s now showing the total size of everything in the cloud. I wish there was an easy way to see how much you have in the cloud vs local from within Music/iTunes, but you need to go into Finder/Explorer to do that. I still have about 44 GB on my Mac. At some point, I think I’ll start deleting stuff from my local library there, and just rely on streaming on the Mac. I’ll keep local copies of everything on my PC, in case I decide to discontinue Apple Music.

I spent a lot of time yesterday fiddling with my library, trying stuff out, and moving stuff around. I found that a lot of the stuff I bought via iTunes back in the early days confused Apple Music a bit. I had to delete some old files and replace them with new ones. And a bunch of files with weird characters in their file names needed to be cleaned up too. (Those might already have been broken, and I just hadn’t noticed before.)

Streaming from Apple Music to my Sonos works pretty well. I’m currently listening to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde on the Sonos, and it sounds pretty good. This is a version that I ripped from CD and that isn’t available in Apple Music, so I guess I’m just listening to my own ripped version, but streaming from Apple’s servers. I’m curious about how that stuff works. How many other Apple Music subscribers have ripped that particular CD set? Any, or is it just me? If so, does Apple keep all the individual rips, or do they just point to a common base set? If two people encode different rips of the same album, at different bit rates, can Apple tell that they’re the same work, and just keep whichever one is the best rip? If I were to re-rip some of my old stuff to lossless, then re-match it in Apple Music, would Apple keep and stream my lossless files? Or would that be pointless? I’m probably spending too much time overthinking this stuff.

The general theme of this blog post, and honestly about 90% of my recent blog posts, has been distraction and self-absorption, generally in stuff that doesn’t much matter. But I think that’s OK. I voted. I’m supporting charitable (and political) causes that I care about. I’m staying informed on current events. I’m wearing my mask. And I’m showing up to work every day and doing my best. If I want to spend my Sunday morning thinking about doing a lossless re-rip of all my opera CDs, that’s fine!

NYCC, days three and four

After watching a few panels on Thursday and a bunch on Friday, I wound up mostly doing other stuff yesterday and today. This is one of those areas where there’s a big difference between actually being at a con, compared to just watching panels from home. If I was actually in New York, at Javits, I would have gone to more panels, even if I wasn’t that interested in them, purely because I was there. At home, given the choice to watch a panel that I’m not that excited about vs. binge-watching season one of Star Trek: Picard, well, I opted to spend most of my spare time watching Picard. I’ve now seen the whole first season. Plus all of the Ready Room episodes on YouTube. And maybe a few episodes of Greatest Discovery. And maybe I also read some reviews from tor.com. Basically, I kind of overdid it on Picard.

My viewing was briefly interrupted by this horrible truck parade that came through downtown Somerville. The linked article says “hundreds of pick-up trucks, SUVs,” and so on, but it was really more like a few dozen total, mostly pick-up trucks and motorcycles. They made a lot of noise, but there really wasn’t much to it. The BLM marches we’ve had in Somerville are generally better-attended, though they make less noise and take up less space, since they’re all on foot.

The combination of all that Trek with the truck parade convinced me to give Biden a few bucks so I can watch this Trek the Vote to Victory thing on Tuesday.

Back on the subject of NYCC, I did watch and enjoy the panel on Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal, and was happy to learn that there are new episodes airing right now, and more coming. If I hadn’t watched the panel, I wouldn’t have known about the new episodes. I had thought that Primal was a “one and done” kind of thing, and really didn’t expect any more. I’ve already watched one of the new episodes, and it was great.

And the Animaniacs panel was great too. I think I’d heard mention of the new Animaniacs show some time back, but had pretty much forgotten about it. Turns out, it’s going to start up on Hulu on November 20. Of course, I really don’t want to sign up for a Hulu subscription, but I’ll keep an eye out for a Blu-ray release or if they put it up for sale on iTunes or whatever.

There are a few more panels I might watch tomorrow or later in the week, but I think I watched all of the ones that I was really interested in. Now, I have to try to get used to the idea of “going to work” tomorrow. Weird, though, that going to work looks almost exactly the same as being on vacation. I’ll be waking up in my own bed, and I’ll be spending most of my time alone in my apartment, staring at a computer screen, just like a did on my time off. (The trick is that I have to try to do productive work that somebody will pay me for, while I’m staring at the computer screen.)

I guess things are going to stay this way, at least to some extent, for quite some time. The latest word from Dr Fauci is that we probably won’t get back to “normal” until the end of 2021. Which probably means no NYCC or SDCC next year either.

NYCC day two

Today was the second day of the virtual NYCC. I spent a lot of time today watching panels. I didn’t really have anything else to do today, and there were a bunch that I was interested in. I might as well just list them out, with some notes:

  • Adam Savage’s Favorite Cosplay Show & Tell – This was a fun little “show & tell” with Adam Savage showing off some random stuff, including a couple of spacesuits. He’s always fun to watch.
  • Ready Player Two – This was a conversation between Ernest Cline and Wil Wheaton, about Cline’s new book, the sequel to Ready Player One.
  • Twenty Years of Harry Dresden – And this one was a conversation between James Marsters and Jim Butcher, about the Dresden Files. (Interesting that both this one and the Cline panel involved a conversation between an author and the actor who does his audiobooks.)
  • Lewis Black’s Rantcast – This was basically an NYCC special episode of Black’s Rantcast podcast. It was funny, of course, but also surprisingly touching. He was reading letters from fans ranting about stuff they missed (and didn’t miss) about the usual in-person NYCC.
  • Batman Beyond Cast – A discussion with Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, and Andrea Romano.
  • In Conversation with Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV – This was the only actual comic book panel I saw today. Honestly, I didn’t get much out of it, since I’m not currently reading any of the Batman books that Snyder and Tynion are working on. I may eventually pick some of them up, but not until I’ve caught up on my backlog. (Or at least put a dent in my backlog…)
  • SYFY’s Resident Alien – A panel with Alan Tudyk and other folks involved in this new series. They showed the first ten minutes of the first episode, then did a Q&A. I’m a big fan of the comic, and I’m a little concerned with how different the show seems to be, based on what I’ve seen of it so far. I’ll give it a chance, when it airs in January, but I can’t say I like the direction they seemed to be going in, from those first ten minutes. (I think part of what I didn’t like might have been a misdirect, but I’m not sure.)

I won’t bother with links. If you want to watch any of these, you should be able to find them on NYCC’s YouTube page.

Impulse purchases are always part of the con-going experience. Yesterday, the Trek panel got me to run out and buy Picard season one on Blu-ray (though I was going to do that eventually anyway). It did not convince me to sign up for CBS All-Access, but they’re gradually wearing down my resistance on that. Today’s panels pushed me in the direction of a few purchases, none of which I’ve actually pulled the trigger on. I almost ordered some of the Dresden audiobooks, but I held off. Ditto on a Batman Beyond Blu-ray set. (If I could have found that on sale for a bit cheaper, I would have bought it.)

I haven’t reviewed tomorrow’s panel schedule at all. I’m hoping I can find a few comics-oriented panels to watch. So far, the con has been heavy on promotional panels for books, movies, and TV shows. (Actually, not many movies, now that I think of it. Mostly TV shows. The movie industry has pretty much shut down for now, it seems.) I’ll have to do all of my usual Saturday chores tomorrow, so I’ll probably be busy until around lunchtime. But I’ll likely fill the afternoon with random panel watching. And I should be able to relax all day Sunday and enjoy whatever they have going on for that day. Then, it’s back to work and the “real world” on Monday. Sigh.

NYCC day one

Today is day one of NYCC, or Metaverse, or whatever we’re supposed to call it now. Much like SDCC, it’s all virtual this year. They’re really trying to make it a full con experience, which is nice. There are a bunch of panels streaming on YouTube. I took today and tomorrow off from work, just like I did for SDCC, and I’m trying to get into the con frame of mind, as much as I can. I watched the Star Trek panel earlier today, live, and just finished watching the recording of the Doctor Who panel. (I had a doctor’s appointment today, so I had to break out of the con mood for a couple of hours mid-day to take care of that, and missed seeing the Who panel live.)

I’m not sure which panels are being done live vs. prerecorded, but according to this article, about 25% of them are supposed to be live. So that’s cool. They’re all being streamed “live” at a specific day and time, with the YouTube chat window going, so that helps thing feel a bit more “live”, even if it’s just a prerecorded panel.

The article linked above compares Metaverse to SDCC@Home and DC FanDome, and how NYCC is trying to learn from what worked (and didn’t work) from those two events. And here’s another article about Metaverse, and the evolution of virtual cons. I’d be really happy if we can go back to having in-person cons next year, but I’m not optimistic. If there are in-person cons next year, I probably won’t want to take the chance on going to one, unless, by some miracle, this country actually gets its act together enough to get COVID-19 under control so large gatherings are safe again. I suspect that cons will still be mostly virtual through at least the first half of 2021.

The Star Trek panel was fun. I’m still resisting the urge to sign up for CBS All-Access, but I might break down and do it soon. Lower Decks looks like it’s a lot of fun, and I’m guardedly enthusiastic about season three of Discovery. I picked up the first season of Picard on Blu-ray today, so I’ve got that to watch now. And I guess I can wait a while on Lower Decks and Discovery, since they should both come out on DVD/Blu-ray eventually. (I already have the first two seasons of Discovery on DVD.)

I actually bailed out of the Star Trek panel a bit early, so I missed the announcement that Captain Janeway will be returning in the new Star Trek: Prodigy show on Nickelodeon. I’ll probably watch that one as it comes out, since it’ll be on “normal” TV and I can TiVo it.

There are a couple of more panels I will probably watch tonight, including one on The Expanse, and one on the Sandman audio adaptation. There’s really not much going on today that’s actually related to comic books, which is a bit of a bummer, but there’s more stuff tomorrow.

The Rise of Skywalker

I took the day off from work today, and went out to see the new Star Wars movie. I don’t go out to see many movies in theaters anymore, but I’ve seen most of the other Star Wars movies in a theater, so seeing this last one seemed like kind of an obligation. I’m still a bit sick, but I’m not doing too bad. I went to a 9 AM showing and made it through the film with the aid of a cup of coffee, two cough drops, and a few tissues. And one bathroom break. (I think I am now officially too old to make it through a 2.5 hour movie without a break.) Oh, and one call from my boss. (I considered ignoring it and calling back after the movie, but I thought it might be important. It wasn’t, really, but that’s ok.)

As a movie, it’s pretty much what I expected. There’s not really too much room for surprises and creativity in a movie like this. It needs to tie up everything from the prior two movies, sprinkle in some nostalgia from the original trilogy, add in some cute new characters for merchandising, and (maybe) set up some stuff for spin-off Disney+ shows. Overall, it was fun, and I’m probably going to want to see it again, if for no other reason than to the catch the parts I missed during my phone call and bathroom breaks. I may wait until it’s out on Blu-ray to see it again though.

The NY Times has a good review roundup for Rise of Skywalker. It’s (mostly) spoiler-free, as is their own review here. Their review calls it “one of the best. Also one of the worst. Perfectly middling. It all amounts to the same thing.” It’s kind of like there’s no real point in reviewing the movie, but it has to be done, I guess? Their take on The Mandalorian, Baby Yoda Is Your God Now, is also kind of weird and maybe a bit nihilistic.

I’ve been thinking back on my experiences of seeing previous Star Wars movies. I remember being pretty excited about The Phantom Menace, back in 1999, and actually going to a midnight showing for that one. I can’t imagine doing that now. For Revenge of the Sith, in 2005, I went into NYC and saw it at the Ziegfeld. (The Ziegfeld, of course, isn’t a movie theater anymore, so that option wouldn’t have been open this time around.) And for Last Jedi, the previous installment, I was also kind of sick, and also (eventually) saw it in Manville, on a weekday morning.

Anyway, I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. I’m still a fan, but I think maybe I need a break. Hmm, Sátántangó is still playing at Lincoln Center. That would be a good palate cleanser. If I could get in by 3 PM, I could even see it today. (Too late for that, though, really.)

Star Trek Discovery Season Two

A quick follow-up on my ST Discovery post from last week: I just noticed a reassuring observation about season two in Paul Duffield’s Twitter stream:

So that’s a good sign.