• movie reviews

    Movie Review: THE FALL GUY (2024) **

    The Fall Guy is an extremely self-aware action movie about Hannah Waddingham’s wig, and also a stunt guy who finds himself tangled in a wee bit of a murder mystery along with his director ex-girlfriend.

    I really try not to watch movies I think I’m not going to like, seeing as how I prefer to come in with enthusiastic analysis rather than criticism. I probably would have skipped this one if I’d looked up the director first, since I haven’t liked David Leitch movies in the past either. I should have suspected I simply wouldn’t like it because I’m really tired of Ryan Gosling’s Kendoll schtick.

    Anyway, obviously I didn’t love it, but I think it’s a harmless movie with its heart in the right place (highlighting the stunt teams who don’t usually get nearly enough regard). But I’m going to resist the urge to write an essay about why this isn’t really a good romance, or a plot with any tension, or dialogue-related complaints; it is HARMLESS and I don’t need to go off.

    Instead, let me tell you who I think will enjoy this movie:

    – If you like it when you don’t feel like things might actually go wrong, and you know nobody’s ever in peril, I think you’ll like it. The action scenes are so stunt-focused and well forecast as such that it’s obvious these are just exciting tricks, like you might see at a theme park. I can see folks really loving that. It’s exciting! Good stunts are always impressive. What’s not to love there?

    – Are you enjoying Ryan Gosling’s whole schtick? This movie is all of that. In fact, every actor seems to be trying to meet Ryan Gosling on that level, and they’re kind of doing his whole cadence and semi-naturalistic talking-over-each-other affable chattering.

    – You know that genre where Hollywood really loves Hollywood and just makes loving movies about itself? If you like that, you’ll loooove this.

    – How about self-referential humor? Where (an incredibly sexy) Winston Duke cites the action scenes he’s copying while engaging in those fights? Doing split-screen while debating if split screens are any good? Random cameos?

    – If you like dogs biting crotches, this movie delivers on your behalf.

    I was mostly rubbed the wrong way by this, but I really don’t see any reason it didn’t perform better at the box office. It’s extremely inoffensive and a sort of fun-oriented experience movie. I really, really thought of stunt shows at theme parks while watching it. That’s not my kind of thing. Is it yours? Then you’d probably love it. Have fun y’all.

    (image source: Universal Pictures)

  • movie reviews

    Movie Review: The Dark Knight (2008) **

    In The Dark Knight, a chaotic new villain disrupts the status quo of Gotham’s corrupt underbelly, driving the entire city to the brink of madness. And he does it in a very fashionable purple suit with a green vest.

    This movie is, in my esteem, the best of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. The Bat is my favorite caped (anti)hero; I have a very long-lasting, very personal fondness for any and all Batman adaptations. For a few years when these movies came out, I would say that Nolan Bat was my favorite. Nowadays, it simply does not rank.

    Obviously The Dark Knight hasn’t changed. I’ve changed. I was twenty-years-old in 2008, and Nolan Bat hit me hard. It hit the culture hard! I was trying to explain to my young teen how the impact of the film was absolutely seismic — which had them raising an eyebrow, because they were so bored by the movie, they almost fell asleep. Sometimes they woke up because I burst out laughing, like when I saw the Batmobile again. Least penisy Batmobile? Yes. But does anyone else think it looks like the fantasy version of a Cybertruck? I bet Bale Bruce would have bought a Cybertruck.

    Nolan did a killer job hitting American culture at the right moment. At the time, the idea of all phones being surveillance devices was still kinda science fiction. We were only a few years out from 9/11, the Bush II era was sunsetting, and the discourse around terrorism was intense. Some degree of jingoism was more standard (at least, where I was back then) because of a patriotic desire to cohere against external threats, and I more readily believed in “a hero we need, but don’t deserve.” This version of the Joker is more terrorist-like in his strategies. He is chaotic evil, unpredictable, unknowable, the way that many white Americans regarded our enemies of the time.

    It’s striking how much of this feels simultaneously cynical and naive. Do you really think Gotham’s cops would be horrified at Batman brutalizing the Joker in an interrogation room? Highly doubtful.

    There’s nothing more 2008 than the limited palette and brutalism. This was an era where we sucked all the color out of movies, ashamed of the excesses of the 90s, and not yet arriving in the nostalgic neons of the later 10s. Really, the whole thing feels ashamed: despite being an *absurdly* gravelly Batman with *ridiculously* militaristic attitudes, the self-seriousness of Nolan Bat is doing the absolute most to distance itself from campy comic book *everything*. Several key characters seem fabricated just so he won’t have to deal with the burden of comic book lore.

    In retrospect, it’s laughable. Like a parody of itself. But I can’t deny it hit perfectly at the time! Every good moment in the movie remains constantly memed, even by a generation that hasn’t necessarily sat through the laborious plodding plot of the movie itself. So many quotes have become the blood in our cultural veins. Yet I have reached a point where I feel Nolan Bat is best experienced in memes, plucking out the good bits and leaving behind everything that’s so monotone visually and dynamically.

    I guess I’m tired of Nolan’s style nowadays, too. I used to say he was my favorite auteur. Now I’m so frustrated by his muddy dialogue, buried under the rest of the audio, that I can’t even appreciate the way his movies are edited to great scores like a 2.5-hour long cinematic music video. His inability to write a woman with dimension drives me nuts.

    The action scenes are still pretty sweet, though.

    One other thing that hasn’t changed is how utterly delightful Heath Ledger’s Joker feels. My kid perked up whenever Joker was Jokering around, and I did too. Against the wooden blocky backdrop of Batman, here we got a funny and deliberate and pitch-perfectly sinister Joker. He’s so colorful by comparison. His suit is colorful, his Bugs Bunny-like cross dressing is colorful, and his “yeah, I guess I’ll shoot this guy too” gestures are colorful. As a Millennial, I can’t let mention of Ledger pass without pining for the future career we never got to see from him. I’m still devastated.

    I can recognize this movie was so good in its time and also that it’s not good for me in this time. I can imagine lots of people still loving it: great score, solid performances, great action (when you get to it), a very cohesive aesthetic (surely others are still into that). But my definitive Batman these days is absolutely Batman Returns (deliciously goth as it is) and this one left me feeling extremely beige.

    (image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

  • sara reads the feed

    Alocasia are the woooorst, X-Men ’97 was so good, and fantasy fulfillment

    Alocasia are on my shit list. I usually talk shit about my maidenhair fern, but I have shit aplenty for alocasia too. Basically I hate plants that act like they’re gonna die, then come back looking extra cute like nothing happened.

    They’re emotional abusers, I’m telling you. Do they care if we suffer pain watching them die off again? NO, they do not. They just keep doing their little things like it’s a no-thing.

    Maidenhairs will die off if you forget to water them for a second; alocasia like dying off because they need lots of plant food. They’re the most fertilizer-hungry plants I’ve got. If you’ve got an alocasia that seems incapable of growing more leaves — like, every time it grows a new one, an old one must die — it’s usually because they aren’t getting enough nutrients.

    I’m terrible about remembering to feed my plants. My house has two levels, and the fertilizer lives on one level. So usually only one floor’s plants are getting fed at any given moment. Why not get a second thing of fertilizer, you ask? Or split the one into two? I keep asking myself that same thing.

    I also keep asking myself, why not just let the plants die-die, forever?

    There’s no tidy answer. I’ve been booting plenty other plants from my life, but these ones persist. Maybe the very fact they demand emotional reactions makes me more attached to them.

    Spider plants stick around even though I also find them frustrating. Their roots drive out all the soil in no time flat, and then they act like drama queens because they’re always thirsty. You can keep them alive. They’re hardy plants. But they get all ugly if you don’t keep up-potting them. A single spider plant (and it’s never a single spider plant) is said to max out with a twenty inch root ball diameter. I don’t have room for this many twenty inch-plus size pots. I mean, I have room, but not the lighting.

    Oh god, I need to upgrade my lighting, don’t I?

    At some point it’s likely that my house will be nothing but a few stubborn euphorbia, a couple orchids, and ten thousand pothos.

    And probably a single perpetually dying maidenhair hanging out with its spider mite-riddled single-leafed alocasia friends. Like some stupid asshole gang of stupid jerk plants. Stay gold, alocasiaboy.

    ~

    This sort of nonsense is why it makes total sense to me that baobab trees migrated across the ocean from Madagascar. (Smithsonian Mag) Plants can be so willful.

    ~

    Engadget: X-Men ’97 didn’t have to go that hard, but I’m so glad it did

    I truly hadn’t expected to love X-Men ’97 as much as I do. Easily my favorite TV show of 2024 at the moment.

    I don’t know why Beau DeMayo was fired (I don’t think anyone but DeMayo and his supervisors do), but it’s said he’s hard to work with. I have to side-eye that statement in regards to a queer Black man, but all right. What do I know? I’d love if they can sort through their issues and get him back on board. The gay-ass nature of X-Men ’97 is why I’m so attached to it. The fact it goes so hard is why it has my eternal devotion.

    Brad Winterbaum compares the genocide at Genosha to 9/11 (Variety), and doesn’t mention the Pulse nightclub shooting (Out).

    DeMayo has an influence on s2, and nothing to do with s3. (IGN)

    ~

    Cronenberg’s new movie, The Shrouds, sounds like an intensely personal piece about the grief of a widower. (Vanity Fair)

    I absolutely adore Crimes of the Future for being such an intimate narrative about disability and chronic illness. I don’t know if I’m going to see The Shrouds for a while, but the raw honesty of Cronenberg’s work is hypnotic. Aging artists deserve platforms to share their truths. We deserve these projects to help us along with age.

    ~

    I feel fonder of Challengers in retrospect than I did while watching it. It’s available to watch at home now (Variety), and I hope lots of people will. It wasn’t a movie for me — but I think it was kinda fabulous.

    ~

    The New Yorker discovered that movies like The Idea of You (and romances at large) work for some people because folks like fantasy fulfillment. Imagine that.

    ~

    NPR asked what brings sibling close together. I am very very close to one of my siblings (obviously) and good friends with my sister, so I reflected on this a moment.

    My answer is that caring about people can bring you close. I am a mess, and Sibling has always loved and cared for me through it. Sibling is a different kind of mess, and I love and care for them through that. We’re not codependent — but we know we can depend on one another when shit hits the fan. And we often have. That forges a unique bond.

    With my sister, I’d say what has us close is communication. Being willing to talk through awkward shitty stuff means that we can be close even though we have not had an especially warm bond over the years.

    It’s like any relationship: You choose to invest into it. The relationships you give attention will thrive. They must be watered and fed like those fuckin’ alocasias.

    I had great friendships with older women when I was a young adult, and one thing a dear friend told me has always stuck out: Love is an action. It’s not a feeling. It’s what you do for and with each other.

    ~

    I used to go on a lot of cruises. I no longer do. There are so many reasons — human rights concerns, ecological damage, safety issues — but one of the big ones is that cruise ships are not humane about illness. If you get sick, you can get dumped anywhere. And if you need an emergency evacuation, you may not be allowed to leave until they’ve over-charged your credit card to pay their medical bill. (NPR)

    ~

    Disneyland performers have voted to unionize. (NPR) Good luck! I hope they get every single one of their needs met.

  • Diaries,  writing

    Update on writing Insomniac Cafe

    I’m tearing through my Friends rewatch now. I’m trying to make sure I finish it about the same time that I finish the rough draft of my book, Insomniac Cafe, which is a surreal horror Friends redux. Ergo my relentless Friendsposting on social media lately.

    I’m working on season five out of ten. Phoebe’s surrogacy for Frank+Alice is still weird (mostly because Frank+Alice are gross). Remember Frank+Alice? She was his high school teacher? They married when he was 18 and she was 44? I knew people this happened with IRL and I didn’t really grok how repulsive it is at the time. I’m currently 36, and the very idea of hooking up with an 18-year-old, much less someone I have power over like a student, makes me wanna peel my skin off.

    I forgot Chandler and Monica got together so early on the show. Although I always kinda think Chandler is a homo so deeply in denial he doesn’t even know it, I still love his relationship with Monica. They’re so freaking cute together. They manage to remain real friends while also being super enthusiastic about each other.

    It’s stark contrast to the relentless drama of Ross and Rachel, who I will never stop hating as a couple. Ross just doesn’t have redeeming qualities! (Note I must make on every single post: I adore David Schwimmer’s performance. Just wanna say, all the crap I talk about Ross doesn’t apply to the actor. The actor is hysterical. Ross is probably so loathsome because David’s so good at it.) And when the two of them are together, they are mi se ra ble. When they’re not together, they’re fighting and horrid. He’s so petty. Jealousy is one of my least favorite traits, and he’s *obsessively* jealous.

    I find it difficult to believe Ross and Rachel could ever be friends, much less long-term romance partners. She would just be constantly henpecked by the dude. I will not be doing nice things to Ross in my book.

    Speaking of names (were we speaking of names?), I decided not to play with the copyright protections of “parody” for Insomniac Cafe. So none of the characters are gonna be named Ross/Rachel/etc — they’re getting names based on the actors’ other comedy roles, mostly. Rachel will be named Joanna, after Aniston in Office Space. Monica is Gale, a la the horror-comedy Scream character. This is similar to Final Girls Support Group, which named actual horror movie characters after their actors (iirc).

    But I totally recast Ross because I love David Schwimmer and I’m gonna do bad, bad things to Ross. I call him Adam instead. As in…like…I mentally cast Adam Driver to play Evil Ross. lmao. Can you see it? I think this is the funniest thing in the world. The book is a little funny — black comedy, maybe — but calling Ross “Adam” because everyone is played by the Friends except Ross, who is Adam Driver, kills me every time I think about it.

    I’m still waffling about whether I actually kill off Ross and hook up Rachel with Joey, though. I love the pairing, but it’s pretty unpopular, and I don’t want people to be distracted from the ending by something like that? I’d prefer to keep the focus on the book’s themes. And all the really gross stuff in it.

  • A cute happy cartoon computer mascot character smiling and doing a thumbs up
    sara reads the feed

    Alas, more AI-related news

    Donald Glover and Wyclef Jean have been promoting Google’s AI initiative. (Quartz) Apparently using artists to promote it is meant to get ahead of accusations that AI is bad for artists. This deal doesn’t make me feel like AI is more acceptable; it makes me like those artists less. Normally I have lots of Childish Gambino on my writing playlists, and since reading this article, I’ve just been going “ugh” and skipping past it when he comes up.

    I make no secret of my anti-AI stance. There are just so many reasons to be opposed to it.

    To the best of my knowledge, none of the AI tools have datasets where the included data came from consenting people. Companies tend to do a lot of foggy language surrounding their data usage to make it hard to know whether your stuff is getting used, and it usually *is* getting used, as with Slack. (Ars Technica)

    Even Adobe, who’s been offering people money for video clips, is mostly working off of material which may be legally indefensible. (Hollywood Reporter)

    But behind closed doors, companies are warning that the way most AI systems are built might be illegal. “We may not prevail in any ongoing or future litigation,” states a securities filing issued in June by Adobe. It cites intellectual property disputes that could “subject us to significant liabilities, require us to enter into royalty and licensing agreements on unfavorable terms” and possibly impose “injunctions restricting our sale of products or services.” In March, Adobe unveiled AI image and text generator Firefly. Though the first model is only trained on stock images, it said that future versions will “leverage a variety of assets, technology and training data from Adobe and others.”

    Beyond that, it’s so, so bad for the planet. As I’ve previously shared, a ChatGPT prompt uses 15x the energy of a traditional web search, (Quartz) and some experts say it’s more complicated than even that. (Bluesky)

    I also just don’t understand why people want to use this stuff to replace human-made artwork. The act of creation is a solid 90% of the reason why stuff is good! Most of the magic occurs between artist and art. Whatever your favorite painting, I guarantee there is a lot more of a relationship between the painter and the work than you, who is looking at it. There’s the skills it took to get there, the techniques, the place they did it, the sensory experience of creation, the thoughts and feelings of making things come together.

    Frankly, everything AI produces is either bad (or hews closely enough to stolen material to be good, but arguably plagiaristic). It’s *not good* at what it does. The best work they promote has, at best, a sort of loopy dream logic that doesn’t stand up to any degree of scrutiny longer than scrolling past it real quickly on your feed.

    Nicole Thoughts Stained With Ink has a more comprehensive publishing-specific post about her anti-AI stance that I appreciated reading. Like she says, there are plenty of good uses for AI that we can benefit from. AI assistants can be really helpful on myriad matters. You could say that the anti-motion sickness tech Apple is trialing is a kind of AI (Jalopnik via Quartz). Also, we should be using AI to understand complicated scientific concepts that are too difficult or labor-intensive for humans to work on. That stuff is good. The art stuff is bad.

    Companies aren’t going to behave well of their own volition. Unfortunately, politics in America is extremely not ready to help with this. (Engadget)

    “It’s very hard to do regulations because AI is changing too quickly,” Schumer said in an interview published by The New York Times. Yet, in March, the European Parliament approved wide-ranging legislation for regulating AI that manages the obligations of AI applications based on what risks and effects they could bring. The European Union said it hopes to “protect fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law and environmental sustainability from high-risk AI, while boosting innovation and establishing Europe as a leader in the field.”

    Schumer seems to disagree with finding that balance, instead stating in the interview that investment into AI research and development “is sort of the American way — we are more entrepreneurial.”

    And in the meantime, Google is doing more to bury actual search results under AI nonsense, (Ars Technica) but Childish Gambino is okay with that I guess.

    Every company and well-heeled musician isn’t all-in on this, though. Sony Music now prohibits AI developers from using its catalogue for training data. (Ars Technica)

    I would love for there to stop being AI-related news so I can stop writing posts like these.

  • sara reads the feed

    Collective action, responsible universities, and ongoing populist growth

    Collective action for real change

    Her Hands, My Hands talked about collective action over on her blog. Do you remember how we’re boycotting Kellogg’s? I admit, I haven’t thought about it in a minute. We don’t typically buy stuff from them anyway, but there are so many brands under the umbrella, I’m not sure how closely we’ve stuck to that.

    She’s got a clear vision for how we improve things long-term, and it’s the boring, unsexy work of civil responsibility.

    The only way to stop this cycle is by pushing politicians to pass bills that make such things illegal, with sentences and penalties that will actually hurt mega corporations’ bottom lines. As currently there’s little political will from politicians themselves, the public must engage with them to force them to act in line withe the majority of the public’s actual wishes–which means calling your local and state and federal electeds, often, *and* voting in every election–local, state, federal–for people who have either already delivered, or who you believe will deliver, on your actual values and goals. And then calling whoever wins that seat. Often.

    I was a lot better about all of this in 2016-2020, and then I was so broken and tired. Let this stand as a reminder that I have Political Adulting to do.

     

    Another university agrees to divest from Israel

    Although there’s a lot more noise around protests gone wrong, some universities have worked peacefully with protestors. In Ireland, Trinity College successfully came to an agreement.

    Also, a public university in northern California listened to protestors and came to an agreement. (AJE)

    Sonoma State would do more to disclose its contracts and seek “divestment strategies”, Lee wrote. It would also not pursue partnerships that are “sponsored by, or represent, the Israeli state academic and research institutions”.

    In exchange for the concessions, student activists agreed to dismantle the cluster of tents on campus by Wednesday evening.

    Students still remember that governance should be by and for the people governed.

     

    The Republican party marches nearer populism

    The Tea Party is officially gone. Politico covers the closure of FreedomWorks, which was a once-hot libertarian group.

    The organization cites Trump as the problem, and it shows how the Republican party is being pulled apart by opinions on the ex-president. It’s libertarianism vs populism, and populism seems to be winning.

    FreedomWorks leaders, for example, still believed in free trade, small government and a robust merit-based immigration system. Increasingly, however, those positions clashed with a Trump-aligned membership who called for tariffs on imported goods and a wall to keep immigrants out but were willing, in Brandon’s view, to remain silent as Trump’s administration added $8 trillion to the national debt.

    “A lot of our base aged, and so the new activists that have come in [with] Trump, they tend to be much more populist,” Brandon said. “So you look at the base and that just kind of shifted.”

    This same split was creating headaches in other parts of the organization as well. “Our staff became divided into MAGA and Never Trump factions,” Brandon said in an internal document reviewed by POLITICO Magazine. It also impacted fundraising.

    Considering that the GOP is now chaired by someone surnamed Trump, it’s clear that the party is all-in on a particular charismatic leader, and their stances are whatever his stances are. Is there room for anyone else?

    Even Mitt Romney, who has typically represented an Older Kind of Republican, asserts that Biden should have pardoned Trump for everything. (NBC) Apparently trying to hold Trump accountable for things is actually more pro-Trump?

    So what happens to the Republicans (former or current) who don’t wanna fall in with this populist movement? Genuine question.

    My guess is that the Democrats will increasingly court them and move further right. We’ve been seeing strong man-like discourse from Biden (largely in the form of Dark Brandon), and the Democratic party certainly has room for authoritarians. (Lawyers, Guns, & Money)

    That poses a problem for anyone left of center-right, and I think it’s gonna be a bigger issue going forward. The Green Party is unserious (they tend to hold anti-scientific stances, like anti-vaxx stuff) and there isn’t really anywhere for voters squeezed left to go. That’s possibly the greatest threat against Biden’s reelection, and the election of future Democratic presidents: A lot of leftward voters simply cannot abide the kind of imperial action Democrats are willing to take, and may not mobilize in support.

    I’ve got no predictions for how this turns out in the long term, but I hope that most of us can agree it’s easier to shout at Biden to do the right thing for another four years than deal with another charismatic populist Trump presidency.

    Look up top for that post about collective action. Even if Dems retake the presidency, we’re gonna need a lot of that for the next twenty years in order to avoid a high-level populist relapse.

  • Diaries

    Warm nights and long naps

    I went for a couple short walks tonight. It’s the time of year where there’s still light at eight o’clock, and you can wander through twilight at a balmy seventy-something degrees Fahrenheit. You only need a sweater if you want to keep the bugs off your arms. Nevada does sunsets like any desert state — think spectacular oranges and pinks striped against cozy midnight-blue — but we’re in a place that’s a touch more meadowlike than, say, much of Arizona.

    One of my favorite things about warm days is how you get glimpses of others’ lives. People out teaching their wee ones how to golf on the playground, folks using the park for batting practice, rugs thrown over fences to dry off, garage doors open to rearrange things, kids wandering with friends as they delay heading home.

    The birds sing pretty late at this time of year. There’s something roosting in my plum trees, low enough that I kept startling it walking underneath. I bet I won’t see many plums this year. The birds will eat them all, I’m sure. I’m all right with that.

    ~

    I can’t resist napping a lot. I don’t know what it is. I’ve been sober-sober from weed for months now — I quit at the end of January, and we’re well into May — yet it’s possible my body & brain are still healing from years of endocannabinoid fuckery, I suppose. It’s not like I’m doing a lot of physical activity. I stand a lot and walk a bit, but I’m not lifting the way I used to. I don’t leave home to go to work. Some days it feels like most of my activity is getting up to eat and standing sleepily at my standing desk for a while before going back to lie down again.

    Yesterday I managed to stay awake all day. I slept great the night thereafter. Then I napped for three freaking hours today! What’s up with that? I’ve had my thyroid and blood sugar tested and these things seem fine. Can I really still be recovering something like 110 days into sobriety? Maybe, maybe.

    Still, I am getting writing done, a thousand words at a time. I’m not zipping along very fast but working on Insomniac Cafe is weird because it’s a weird book. Trying to figure out the dismount on a surreal horror novel is tough. It needs to feel right, and say what I intend, and it needs to be deeply unsettling.

    While I don’t do a lot of active writing, I’m also working on my charcoal illustration, “make it make sense.” I’m kinda in the place where it looks ugly. All of my bigger pieces go through a long ugly stage (or two) where it’s blah and not very visually readable, and pushing through that is a pain. It’s hard to imagine I’ll ever get somewhere I like. I usually do. But I don’t know how.

    I wish I’d chosen a composition with more face in it. I really love doing human skin in charcoal. I didn’t want to do a face-focused portrait because I used to do them too much, but…I just really like doing skin!

    ~

    The quality time I’m getting with my kids right now is such a dream. My thirteen-year-old is more personlike than ever, but they’re also going through an especially indulgent stage where they just wanna do stuff with us. They don’t really care what. That means they’re watching more TV and movies with me than ever. All I ever wanna do is inflict my media on them. Show them the things that shaped me. Listen to their snark about Friends. That kind of thing.

    My nine-year-old is still a little bit of a baby, in his way. He’s also getting quite grown — don’t get me wrong. But reading “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud together has shown me specifically where he’s yet to neurocognitively develop abstract thinking. And that makes him feel like he’s still a wee bit of a sweet baby. He’s so sharp, though. He gets a lot more than he doesn’t. He demonstrates his understanding of many concepts (like the different ways you can arrange panels to modify the readers’ perception of time) by pointing them out in later chapters, or in the kid-oriented comics he’s reading.

    Thanks to my 9yo, I’ve also been reading more Dav Pilkey. The newest Dog Man book, “The Scarlet Shedder,” was an unexpectedly emotional and political read. It’s Dav Pilkey’s manifesto against AI, done in a clever and entertaining way for kids. It also tackles resilience through the hard parts of life. Considering the naive style, the extremely silly aesthetics, and general FUN of his books, I wasn’t expecting this one to slap me in the face. My 9yo got really emotional about reading it, too. Dav Pilkey is his favorite author. He has good taste!

    ~

    My mental health is in the trash can. I feel great when I’m doing specific stuff (being with my kids, focusing hard on something), but the zero spaces in between are filled with anxious chaotic noise. I wish I felt better.