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Editorial

Personal opinions and commentary.

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The Time Tiny Tim Tiptoed Through the Tulips and Into a Slasher Movie

Let’s be honest—some people are just really fucking boring. They lack that spark, that magic element that makes you sit up and take notice. They can’t help it, of course, but that doesn’t make things any less maddening.

Director Bill Rebane is really fucking boring. The ukulele player who used hemorrhoid cream as hand moisturizer, however, was not. Together, they made Blood Harvest.

I should explain.

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The Baseball Series That’s All About Mommy Issues

When you look at stories about sports, you start to see some commonalities pretty quickly, regardless of the sport in question. This is especially true when it comes to the question of why the characters are playing sports in the first place. “For the love of the game” comes up a lot. Right next to it is “to be the very best”, which you’ll find in a lot of shonen (young boys’) sports stories. For rivals or villains, the motivation will often be the baser desire to make money or an urge to dominate and humiliate their rivals. But one major motivation that pushes people ahead in sports—especially below the professional level—tends to be forgotten. Stories of high school athletes fighting rivalries or to win someone’s love, like you’ll find in Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk or Oota Moare’s Teppu leave out a very important factor that deeply affects almost everybody’s participation in high school sports: our parents.

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Napping Princess Is a Fairy Tale for Car Lovers

My first encounter with Napping Princess was through a series of news pieces during its production. AlI I knew at the time was that it was a Kenji Kamiyama film, it involved a parallel dream world, and the trailer had a criminally beautiful cover of The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” sung by the lead voice actress.

My intention had always been to watch it at some indefinite future point, as what little I saw in clips featured an appealing mix of technology and fantasy. So what could I expect from it? I’m not sure. But I do know that whatever you’re expecting, this movie isn’t it.

Gentle readers, Napping Princess is a car movie.

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How a Crooked Movie Theatre Arcade Game Ruined My Life

It was an iconic summer day. I had just watched Surf’s Up and was ready to tell the masses about the best penguin movie ever released—sorry Happy Feet, you were just aight.

As I stepped out of the theatre and into the sticky hallway, I saw it for the first time. Tucked to the right in an awkward little nook, almost as if hiding, was a real life arcade.

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TIFF in a Jiff: Genre Films to Watch Out for From the Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival—now in its 43rd year—ran from September 6 to 16. This was my third TIFF, and perhaps the biggest change I’ve noticed from year to year is the increasing size of the circus. Spend some time at TIFF and you’ll quickly become overwhelmed by the pomp, the circumstance, and the corporate partnerships. Rushing from venue to venue, trying to fit three, four, five films into a single day begins to take its toll. Faced with this daunting gauntlet, how do you maintain a critical eye—much less the stamina to stay standing?

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Why Lois and Clark is the Greatest Superman Story of All Time

Every Saturday night at fifteen minutes past six, I rushed into the living room and sat, legs crossed, eyes fixed on the television. Like so many before me, I was captivated by the most iconic of superheroes—the Man of Steel, Superman. But the show that held me spellbound wasn’t primarily about speeding faster than a speeding bullet, being more powerful than a locomotive, or leaping tall buildings in a single bound. It was Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and it explored the relationship of Kal-El and Lois Lane in a way that had never been seen before.

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Made from the Red Soil: Fantasies of Misery in Neon Genesis Evangelion

The giant mecha genre is, at its heart, a teen power fantasy. Step into a cockpit and suddenly your body is a hundred times larger, armored and invulnerable. You can fly through space, dodge missiles, and cut starships in half with swords made of diamond-edged light. Nothing can stop you. Neon Genesis Evangelion—Hideaki Anno’s brutal, convoluted 1995 anime in which three teenagers must bond with and pilot the bio-robotic constructs known as Evangelions to prevent humanity’s annihilation— turns this central conceit inside out so violently you’d need an umbrella to keep the spatter off.

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Sigmund Freud Watches Death Note

Light Yagami, the protagonist of Death Note, is a perfect example of the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the world of Death Note, people can obtain powerful notebooks owned by Shinigami—Japanese Gods of Death. If somebody writes a person’s name in the notebook with that person’s face in mind, they will die.

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In Defense of Remakes

I was two years old when my Cuban immigrant parents uprooted our family from the life we’d built in Florida over the course of three years and moved to Puerto Rico to get their college degrees. Neither of them had an education past the sixth grade, and I don’t think they fully understood how much work and sacrifice it would take to put themselves through college with a teenager and a toddler to look after. But they were determined to make a better life for us, and Puerto Rico was the place to start.

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Gaming? In My Classroom? It’s More Likely Than You Think

Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, and Dungeon World, have become more popular than ever thanks to podcasts and shows like The Adventure Zone and Critical Role. For many, the appeal of tabletop games is about returning to a local, communal style of play that’s also cooperative, a stark contrast to online competitive games.

One area where gaming has seen a significant increase in attention is academia, where games are found inside the classroom as objects of inquiry and pedagogical tools, as well as outside the classroom, where they serve social and psychological functions for students.

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Moderating the Hacienda: How Not to Run a Convention

I am not capable of liking things a normal amount. Liking things and talking to people about the things I like gives me enormous, almost inhuman energy—I can stay up until 5 AM on a work night reading about something just because I am so incredibly into it that it’s giving me something like the experience of falling suddenly and deeply in love.

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The Shot-on-Video Devolution, Pt. 2

Last week, things got a little out of hand. It all started with the rise of the camcorder trash-auteur—but soon there were woodchipper massacres, black devil dolls from hell, and the carnal delights of an invisible ghost son sexily blowing at his mother’s hair.

You’ll be begging to go back there soon enough.

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You Can’t Go Home Again: The Legacy of the Angry Video Game Nerd

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared at ZEAL and is republished here with permission.

Permit me, if you will, to take you back to the past. Way, way back a dozen years ago — before major gaming sites made comedy a key part of their video strategy, before most sites even had a video strategy. Before PewDiePies and Game Grumps and ProJareds and Dunkeys. Before the concept of YouTube stars. Back in the mid-2000s, things were simpler: we had a man. A rant. An Angry Video Game Nerd.

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The Best Heroes Help Us Learn to Lose

When I was 22 years old, I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression—finally putting a name to something I never properly realized I had. Throughout my teen years I always thought my experiences were due to teen angst or a result of not knowing how to control my emotions,  or even that I just wasn’t good at being a person.

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Pain Is a Garment: Pornography and Sexuality in Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden

Pornography—notoriously difficult to define, its moral weight and cultural impact bitterly contested not just by prudes and lewds but by opposing factions within movements like feminism—has always been a dicey subject for discussion. Is it art or exploitation? Does it objectify women or empower us? In Park Chan-Wook’s 2016 twisty lesbian thriller The Handmaiden, the complex nature of porn takes center stage, explored with real insight in a story concerned not just with the abuses and ugliness of pornography, but with the beauty and connection it can foster between lovers.

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The Shot-on-Video Devolution, Pt. 1

In the days before the analog extinction, a most prominent purveyor of physical media emerged. Now a fetishized monument, it was at the time considered by many to be a scourge upon the once proud institutions of the drive-in and the grindhouse. Tumbleweeds rolled across vacant lots once lined with cars—their windows steamed, the vans a-rockin’ while the fleapit movie houses of New York’s 42nd Street were on the docket for Disneyfication. Overtaking their spot atop the movie watching world was the video rental shop. Or, as it was known by the ancients, the video store.