Wes Alwan, who co-hosts The Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast with PMP host Mark Linsenmayer, joins the discussion along with PMP co-hosts Erica Spyres and Brian Hirt to discuss Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood in the context of Tarantino’s other films.
Wes thinks the film is brilliant, even though he’s not otherwise a Tarantino fan. How is this film different? We consider T’s strange sense of pacing, his comic violence, his historical revisionism, and casting choices. Is this a brilliant film or a fundamentally misguided idea badly in need of an editor?
Wes is working on a very long essay on this film that isn't yet complete, but he’s written plenty of other long essays about the media and has recorded several episodes of his own PEL spin-off show, (sub)Text: Get it all here.
Surely technological advances have made it unnecessary to ever leave the house, right? Is there still a point in seeing live people actually doing things right in front of you?
Dave Hamilton (Host of Gig Gab, Mac Geek Gab) joins Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt to discuss what’s so damn cool about live music (and theater), the alternatives (live-streamed-to-theaters or devices, recorded for TV, VR), why tickets are so expensive, whether tribute bands fulfill our needs, the connection between live music and drugs, singing along to the band, and more.
Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt take on both Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel plus the Bruce Miller/Hulu TV series through season 3. There’s also a graphic novel and the 1990 film.
We get into what’s needed to move a novel to the screen like that: The character can’t just remain passive as in the novel in order to keep us suffering with her past the first season as storytelling beyond the book begins. We talk about Atwood’s funny neologisms (like “prayvaganza”) that didn’t make it into the show.
How does race play into the story, and how should it? Is the story primarily a political statement or a self-contained work of art? Given the bleakness of the situation depicted, can there be comic relief? How can we have a nominally funny podcast about this work?
Some of the articles we drew on or bring up include:
You may be interested in these related Partially Examined Life episodes (Mark's long-running philosophy podcast): #181 on Hannah Arendt and the banality of evil, #139 on bell hooks and her historical account of conditions for black women not terribly dissimilar to the ones described by Atwood, #90 interviewing David Brin about the connections between speculative fiction, philosophy, and political speech. PEL has also recorded several episodes on Sartreand Mark ran a supporter-only session that you could listen to on Nausea in particular. Also check out Brian’s Contellary Tales podcast #2 talking about another breeding-related sci-fi story by Octavia Butler.
Are cartoons an inherently juvenile art form? Even animation aimed at adults is still typically considered genre fiction--a guilty pleasure--and the form enables tones and approaches that might simply be considered awful if presented as traditional live action. So what's the appeal?
Dee's voice can be heard in substantial portion of today's cartoons, especially for animal or monster noises, like Boots in the new big-screen adaptation of Dora the Explorer, Momo and Appa in The Last Airbender, Animal in the new Muppet Babies, etc. He's also a deep thinker who proudly defends cartoons as providing primal delights of humor, justice, and narrative meaning.
Mark, Erica, and Brian engage Dee about his experience as a voice actor (e.g. as Klaus German fish in a Seth MacFarlane sit-com, figuring out what Adventure Time was actually about, doing all the similar-but-distinct voices of the various clones in Clone Wars, coming up with a language for The Boxtrolls, and recreating Mel Blanc's voices in Space Jamand other Looney Tunes projects), his role in collaborative creation, the connection between cartoons and vaudeville, how live-action films can be made "cartoonish," graphic novels, cartoon music, and more.
We also touch on Love & Robots, A Scanner Darkly, Larva, the documentary I Know That Voice, and the 1972 film What's Up, Doc? Introduction by Chickie.
We did read a few articles in preparation for this about the phenomenon of adults watching kid cartoons:
Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt finally cover a current film, and of course use it as an entry point in discussing the social function of super-hero films more generally, how much realism or grittiness is needed in such stories, whether to repeat or bypass the origin story, everlasting franchises, the use of multi-verses as a storytelling device, exaggerating the potential in a story of new technologies that the audience doesn’t really understand, and more.
Jonathan built his career playing 19th century American Indians on horseback and is best known for his voice acting as John Redcorn III in King of the Hill (starting season 2) and then for his recurring role as Chief Ken Hotate in Parks and Recreation. Erica Spyres, Mark Linsenmayer, and Brian Hirt talk to him about those roles plus acting in The Magnificent Seven, True Grit, and his current role as Sitting Bull in Annie Get Your Gun (also featuring Erica) currently running at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.
Jonathan talks about Hollywood’s record and progress in portraying indigenous Americans, his own struggles to get native views reflected in the works he’s participated in and the differences between acting on stage vs. film and TV. When is an anachronistic work too far gone to update it, and is it even legitimate to try?
Erica Spyres, Brian Hirt, and Mark Linsenmayer are joined by Ian Maio (who worked for marketing for IGN and Turner in e-sports) for our first discussion about gaming. Do adults have any business playing video games? Should you feel guilty about your video game habits?
Ian gives us the lay of the land about e-sports, comparing it to physical sports, and we discuss the changing social functions of gaming, alleged and actual gaming disorders, different types of gamers, inclusivity, and more. Whether you game a lot or not at all, you should still find something interesting here.
We touch on the King of Kong documentary, Grand Theft Auto, Overwatch, The Last of Us, Borderlands, Super Mario, Cuphead, NY Times Electronic Crossword Puzzle, and more. Be sure to watch the Black Mirror episode, “Striking Vipers.”
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