5 Quick Things: November

Welcome to 5 Quick Things that I saw during the last month that I thought were interesting enough to share. None of them are particularly timely so feel free to just enjoy πŸ™‚ This month is a special all YouTube edition.

>Number One<

Pop Music Reviews from a Hooded Figure

I often remark that I love Robert Ebert’s work as a film critic. Not just for his wit or because I always agreed with him but because Ebert is able to do something that nearly no film critics these days can do: meet a piece of work where it is. Instead of projecting what he wanted to see in a film, Ebert would try instead to ask what the film was hoping he would get out of it and then review the work according to that criteria instead, leading to an appreciation or at least acknowledgement of things done with care and consideration that most people would see as mainstream dross. Todd in the Shadows does a fairly similar thing. Unlike many music reviewers on YouTube he actually likes pop music to some degree and tries to consider pieces and artists for what they are. He doesn’t dismiss bands because they’re not high art or their melodies aren’t as complex instead he looks at what makes pop music great (fun lyrics, good hooks, catchy songs, etc) and judges them where they stand. He also goes through one hit wonders and tries to figure out why there was no second hit or what conditions produced the first one which, in many cases, is just really interesting.

>Number Two<

Comics, Sabrina, Religion, and Representation

If you love the world of comics, makeup tutorials, and an occasional foray into the spooky ItsSuperEffective is the channel for you. I love Faust’s amazing makeup videos and impressive deep dives into older comic series (especially Teen Titans related material and spooky / occult style comics). In the video above he blends together a review of the latest Netflix must-watch series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina with personal experiences and a lesson in Satanism, Witchcraft, and Occultism. Not only did this review cover many of my thoughts about the show but it does so while giving you a rundown of why its difficult to embrace the shows odd take on “witchcraft”. I have a lot of thoughts about Sabrina and religion that I might have to save for another time but whenever I have a conversation with someone about the issues I have with the show, I send people this video as primer so we’re on the same page.

>Number Three<

Speed Running Historical Records

Even less of a secret than the fact that I like video games is the fact that I like video game history. On top of that, I happen to like speed running in videos games too! It makes Summoning Salt‘s channel an absolute no-brainier when it comes to content I’m excited about. Each video takes a game (or game level) and explores how its speed runs were created, changed, and improved over time. I would have said that doesn’t sound too exciting until I watched this video above on Choco Mountain from Mario Kart 64. More than any of his other videos, this one broke me. It’s such an interesting story that started in the way back days. Pre-high speed internet speed running was a different animal and its often not well documented but the same types of cooperation, ingenuity, and drive that are so prevalent in speed running existed long before the tools we use to track and record these things more accurately. It’s such a joy to watch humans band together and accomplish something – even if that something is just playing a video game very fast.

>Number Four<

Food and Memory

At the end of the day, it comes back to food for me. Food is universal, food is nurture, and care. It’s history and connective tissue between humans. In this series of videos on Grandma’s Recipes they film and cook alongside Japanese “grandmothers” who are all over 80 years old. They listen to their stories, they learn about their feelings, and of course, their food. It is such an intimate and quiet look at how culture, food, and history tie together. I was especially affected by these because they reminded me of what I was and wasn’t able to share with my grandparents before they passed.

>Number Five<

Themes and Influences in Genre

Why, if its so beautiful and its story is pretty interesting, don’t I like Altered Carbon?

I thought about it for days, even weeks after watching the first four episodes and what I came down to is mostly that it is taking the visual language, fears, and themes of another era and transplanting them into the future without any regards to what those things mean today. That’s also the conclusion that Just Write comes to in this beautiful exploration of Cyberpunk and its visual / thematic styles from the 70s and 80s to now.

Without giving too much away I let out a sigh of relief when it pointed out that there are amazing modern updates to cyberpunk stories out there today that don’t just cop the visuals and ideas of the 80s and try to parrot them back as if they have the same weight as they did then. We live in a world that has been inexorably changed by technology and globalism since then and writers of the genre should take note at how those changes should be reflected in their works. This video is well worth your 12 minutes and if you have a little more time, its worth it to go through the back log of videos on Just Write!

That’s all for this month, see you in December where we’ll be doing all-fandom feels all the time as a gift to myself!

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