"I could resurrect the dead, but I choose to resurrect the living."

This is a media lifestyle blog, for those of use who eat, sleep, and breathe stories. Much media analysis and criticism is posted, but occasional forays into fashion, food, decorating, and other pursuits are made. If you live your life according to your best-loved characters, in the tone of the show you're currently marathoning, and with the soundtrack of your favorite game, you might be one of us.

Only Lovers Left Alive Is And Isn’t The Vampire Movie We Were All Waiting For


I had some really conflicted feelings walking out of Only Lovers Left Alive. On the one had, here was a visually stunning story about many lovable characters struggling with vampirism, mortality, and love. It included so, so many things I love and have loved for many years. Dark, brooding artistic vampires, disgusted with their life and suicidal. Transcendent vampires, celebrating the incredible gift of immortality. Vampires making casual references to historical events, having in-jokes about the most important figures of the past millenium. Vampires debating the ethics of blood drinking. Gore, romance, highly dramatic costumes. All these things that we signed up for when we first fell in love with Lestat and Dracula and Carmilla and Ruthven. Still, something tugged at me all night after watching it. 

Read More »

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: grimdark is lazy, good is hard work and Jewish American superheroes



First I know nothing about Marvel comics: all my context I got from the films Thor (delightful) and Avengers Assemble (remember very little except it had good jokes and the final action scene was too long), and reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night because of this which I saw a few people reblog:




(okay and also all the gifsets of Sebastian Stan crying. I WAS MIS-SOLD ON THIS FOR THE RECORD, THERE IS LITTLE TO NO CRYING AND ALSO HIS HAIR IS AWFUL.)

If Kavalier and Clay taught me anything it’s threesomes are the best solutions to love triangles Jewish-American cartoonists in the 1930s and early ’40s were all over inventing subversively American heroes to fight Hitler, and I was very unsurprised when I got home and looked it up to learn that Captain America was created by two Jewish guys too. (I know this is really basic comics history stuff and I’m sure fifty people have written dissertations on “He’s A Mensch: The Jewish Identities of Captain America and Superman” or whatever.) What really slotted everything into place was realising that Captain America was created and entered on a cover punching Hitler in the face before America had entered the war.

Basically (right?) Captain America was created by two Jewish-Americans to shame the US into properly fighting Hitler.

Like, I am Captain America, the America you say you want to be, and I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is and actually do something about it. And yes he’s over-the-top and tacky but that’s where the challenge is, right? The chest-thumping American patriotism says “We are good and spread liberty! And also freedom!” and Captain America is like “great! I am that, and I have to point out you are not actually doing that”.

AND I think this is Jewishly on purpose, and here’s why:

Judaism has this important phrase/concept/slogan/life motto from the third-century-ish text Pirkei Avot, which goes: Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor (it’s not to you to complete the work of repairing the world) v’lo atah ben chorin l’hivatel mimena (but neither may you desist from it). You won’t be able to fix the world by yourself, or in your lifetime, but that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility to work towards it.

I feel like grimdark/anti-heroes are a response to the fact that the world is neither good nor moral, like “well if the world isn’t like that, I won’t be either”. But they’re also excuses for not working towards fixing the world: I won’t bother because it’s all fucked anyway. Lo alecha and Captain America say, yes, it is fucked, but you still have to work towards fixing it. And yes, it’s hard, that’s why it’s called work.

Which is why I think saying “Oh, if Captain America represents the US he should be a dick, because the US is a dick” or “Captain America is an imperialist symbol of US superiority and is therefore bad” are both off base and a dodge of having to do that hard work.  

"If Cap = America then Cap = dick because America = dick" is basically just throwing hands up and going "right but guys have you noticed that actually America is imperialist and horrible? DO YOU SEE?!” and implying “so what can you do about that, right?”. Captain America says, “Try to make it better! is what you can do!”

And about saying he’s a symbol of US imperial superiority, I mean, he is a symbol of America but aimed as a criticism at real America.  He’s the American ideal cranked up to five million - for the purpose of shaming America for not living up to what it says it wants to be. And he is aimed at Americans, so I can see a criticism for him being US-centric in that metanarrative sense, but he’s yelling at America to sort their shit out and I think him yelling at non-USAmericans to sort their shit out would be much worse? But I definitely don’t think Cap is supposed to be about how great America is, he’s about pointing out exactly in what ways and how much America is failing to be great. And then saying “but, that doesn’t mean you get out of trying harder!”

Also, how great is it that his ‘weapon’ is a shield.

so um that’s what I thought about when I saw The Winter Solder last night. that and biceps.

This is amazing on so many levels and also makes me want to have a special fandom-centric Shvi’i shel Pesach/seventh night of Passover virtual seder table on Tumblr to talk about the intersections of Judaism and popular culture with food and media crit and discussions of the diaspora.  ALSO everyone should read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.


I would also like to respond to the original point, which I think is very true and not discussed enough around the Tumblr scene. The role of Jews in comics CANNOT be understated. Basically what we understand of comics was created by a bunch of liberal, socialist New York Jewish men. I’m always talking about the role that Zionism played in the Genosha and Wakanda ideas (written in the 70s when it was still kinda cool and subversive to be Zionist and ethnic seperatism was very trendy). In general, Marvel’s Magneto is a dissection of the role of the oppressed victim and violent resistance in global politics (did you know that Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr met in Israel? It’s pretty blatantly about the pitfalls of oppressed people militarizing, but mutant resistance never becomes outright villainy because neither is violently resisting those who seek to destroy you…ugh it’s so interesting).

BUT YES STEVE ROGERS. The reboot was in the Silver Age, which was pretty liberal period in terms of the politics of comics. People in the 60s and 70s felt the EXACT SAME WAY we do about the optimism of America in WWII. As in, we don’t know where they got it from or what it means because nowadays we’re all just so lost. The CA arcs in the MCU are PERFECT in that way. But again, liberal New York Jews in the 60s. You are 100% correct that that’s EXACTLY where they were coming from. They believed in widespread social change, about paradigm shifts and changing global consciousness. They were ALL ABOUT the idea that superheroes being mirrors for the changes needed in the world. Also they were trying ery hard to appeal to their target audiences and keep selling as much as possible. I don’t want to overstate their case, but it was 100% on the minds of both the creators and the rebooters, that there is an ideal of America that is not realized, but we have to go out and work towards it and that was 100% coming from a place of Jewish values.

Also a quick jaunt to the CA Wikipedia brings up this gem:

'As part of the aftermath of Marvel Comics' company-crossover storyline “Civil War”, Steve Rogers was ostensibly killed in Captain America vol. 5, #25 (March 2007). Series writer Ed Brubaker remarked, “What I found is that all the really hard-core left-wing fans want Cap to be standing out on and giving speeches on the street corner against the George W. Bush administration, and all the really right-wing fans all want him to be over in the streets of Baghdad, punching out Saddam Hussein.”’

They literally had to kill Captain America in the middle of the War on Terror because no one could decide what side the Cap would be on. Now THAT’S interesting.




there is literally no difference between academic scholars discussing their interpretations of a text and a bunch of people yelling YOUR HEADCANON IS WRONG at each other

As a Masters student I can vouch for this.

As a published scholar, I can vouch for this too.

“Irked fans produce fanfic like irritated oysters produce pearls.”

Jacqueline Lichtenberg in Fic by Anne Jamison (via treizquatorz)

Love it.

(via marybegone)

OMG, the next fanfic gathering or workshop or blog should totally be called The Irritated Oyster.  I’m getting bunnies for the logo as I type. 

(via drinkingcocoa-tpp)

I say this ALL the time. A good, complete, satisfying story does NOT a fandom make. Fandom is born when there are gaps to fill in, when things haven’t been explored, when things when unsaid. That doesn’t mean good media doesn’t produce fandom and it doesn’t mean a large fandom means the source media is inherently bad. Harry Potter, in focusing on one boy’s heroic journey, left a lot of things up in the air - character resolutions/backstories, worldbuilding, romantic narratives, etc. and thus the fandom swooped in. HP was a good, complete story, but there were gaps. But then there’s things like Supernatural, where the show had WAY more potential than payoff and the source material was constantly shooting itself in the narrative foot, so the fandom is really fixing what the creators failed to do. And then there’s stuff like Buffy, where the story was really, really complete and satisfying, because the final season focused solely on providing as much closure as possible, so while it’s hugely popular, fandom is perhaps less active in fan-creation, because there’s just less to say.

“Bad books on writing tell you to ‘WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW’, a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.”

– Joe Haldeman (via maxkirin)

http://nobodysuspectsthebutterfly.tumblr.com/post/41600143087/bythebeautifulsea-nobody-laugh-at-me-but-what »


nobody laugh at me

but what does the word “meta” mean when used in the context of fandoms (like game of thrones is a big one i’ve seen it used in) or social situations? i’ve seen tumblr posts on both, referencing this “meta” entity, and i think once someone offered to…

Just to be clear though, most of what tumblr calls meta is NOT metafandom. It is analysis. Analysis is NOT meta and the use of the word in the contemporary context (which is basically post-modernism) specifically excludes basic analysis. When someone word an essay about why fandom latches on to so many broody white dude type stories, that’s metafandom. Talking about the specific functions, themes, characters, etc of one or even multiple broody white dude stories is not meta, even by fanlore’s definition of it.
And I know usage determines definition, but the word meta has a specific and very useful meaning and it’s not “analytical” and I would be very frustrated if I couldn’t talk about meta as in metafiction or metatextual on this site anymore without confusion.
So I’m just going to keep complaining about it while everyone keeps doing it anyway.


Some call Mahabharat an intense Sci-Fi story of heroism and human nature. Grant Morrison’s 18 Days, a mini-series about Hindu mythology’s greatest epic, portrays that better than anything else. 

What is so Sci-Fi about Mahabharat?

Stem cells (how do you think the 100 Kauravas were born?).

Temperature-controlled armor (with first-aid healing technology).

Vimanas (flying craft and spaceships).

Astras (basically weapons of mass-destruction).

Bheem’s mace (said to be 100x stronger than Thor’s hammer, with said calculations).

Arjun’s “Gandiva” Bow (it recognized him).

Alien-like creatures (dinosaurs, giants, monsters, etc.).

Rishi Markandeya (he was basically a human computer who could tell past, present, and future).

There are many more examples within the story. 

Historians, Hindu and non-Hindu, are trying to figure out whether or not Mahabharat was derived from ancient Indian records of extraterrestrial activities. 

This is beautiful and interesting, but friends, I hate to break it to you, but historians are not trying to figure out whether anything was derived from extraterrestrial activities.
Just…what? No. Historians are never trying to do that, ever. Probably the first thing historians learn is the difference between myth and history, namely that most cultures are always trying try to pass off myth as history.
When historians read the Mahabharat, Hindu or non-Hindu, they are all pretty much in agreement that this never actually happened the way it was written down.
I’m all about comparing mythology to modern speculative fiction. In fact, I always advocate for stronger academic connections to be made between the two (Joseph Campbell, fuck yeah!), but come on, guys, this is basic. This is the fundamentals of learning history. I shouldn’t even have to tell you this.



i really like the idea of a fantasy setting but in modern times. elves on smart phones and taking pictures for their instagram. dwarves getting into console wars and calling each other casual gamers. mages casting dangerous spells for the vine. i want it.

"Dude I dunno, necromancy is pretty fucked up." "Do it for the vine."

Big-data surveillance is dangerous exactly because it provides solutions to these problems. Individually tailored, subtle messages are less likely to produce a cynical reaction. Especially so if the data collection that makes these messages possible is unseen. That’s why it’s not only the NSA that goes to great lengths to keep its surveillance hidden. Most Internet firms also try to monitor us surreptitiously. Their user agreements, which we all must “sign” before using their services, are full of small-font legalese. We roll our eyes and hand over our rights with a click. Likewise, political campaigns do not let citizens know what data they have on them, nor how they use that data. Commercial databases sometimes allow you to access your own records. But they make it difficult, and since you don’t have much right to control what they do with your data, it’s often pointless.

This is why the state-of-the-art method for shaping ideas is not to coerce overtly but to seduce covertly, from a foundation of knowledge. These methods don’t produce a crude ad—they create an environment that nudges you imperceptibly. Last year, an article in Adweek noted that women feel less attractive on Mondays, and that this might be the best time to advertise make-up to them. “Women also listed feeling lonely, fat and depressed as sources of beauty vulnerability,” the article added. So why stop with Mondays? Big data analytics can identify exactly which women feel lonely or fat or depressed. Why not focus on them? And why stop at using known “beauty vulnerabilities”? It’s only a short jump from identifying vulnerabilities to figuring out how to create them. The actual selling of the make-up may be the tip of the iceberg.

Is the Internet good or bad? Yes.  — Matter — Medium