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29May2015 1900: Supergirly

Phew, finally carved out some time to blog. I came down with some kind of crazy Spring Cleaning bug, started buying furniture and curtains and scheduling yard work and jeez. That's not what I'm supposed to do with my evenings! I'm supposed to type words nobody reads about comic book media! Yodelling into the canyon. To that end, let's all spend some time with the trailer for CBS' Supergirl.

Back? Good. How many times did you cringe? My count was one. One continuous cringe for six and a half minutes, muscles spasming and a frown down to my belt. Every line is haha-awkward-girl terrible or late-80s-feminism didactic. I'm not sure why Kara Zor-El needs to be 100% meek before she goes full cape; one of the best aspects of The Flash is that Barry was already set up with a pretty good career before getting zapped. In fact, this whole trailer feels like it was made before anybody know The Flash was so awesome. How awesome? So. Supergirl feels like a network drama from ten years ago. It also feels like the trailer spoils the entire first season.

Today on Monty's Ahead of the Curve, it is also possible to "acquire" the actual Supergirl pilot...and it's going to need some major rewrites. It begins with voiceover narration, presenting the origins of Supergirl as an addendum to the origins of The Other Guy and racing through her childhood before depositing her firmly in her adult role as a hapless servile non-entity. That bit in the trailer where they quickly run through a bunch of costumes? That's verbatim from the episode. That on-the-nose girl power speech from Calista Flockheart? Is immediately preceded by an on-the-nose woman power speech from Supergirl and is actually more subtle than many other girl power moments throughout the episode.

That may be the most damning problem with Supergirl; it does a lot of telling and precious little showing. Agent Carter spent her entire season surrounded with misogyny, but she dealt with that misogyny by being better than every goddamn person in the room. Supergirl's answer is to make nearly every character a woman and have them all etch their monologues onto a glass ceiling with a knife. It sounds like nails on a chalkboard and doesn't actually accomplish anything.

Let's stop torturing metaphors. Today on Monty's Behind the Curve, I started mainlining Orphan Black during my marathon Marvel Heroes sessions. Hey everybody! Orphan Black is really good! You all knew that already! It's mostly a one-woman show about the ethical minefield of nonconsensual human experimentation. Also she's inexplicably British in the middle of Somewheresville, America. Probably Vancouver, NY like so many other shows.

When I see a song over five minutes I groan. It's not going to be an indie rock masterpiece, a metal monster, an R&B classic. It's going to be a looping soundscape, with a 30% chance of it even being danceable. [Samo Sound Boy - Baby Don't Stop] refuses to stop and implores you not to stop either -- assuming you are the titular baby.

Yesssssss it's almost here the fourth wave is coming it's coming [Downtown Boys - Monstro] is ska of the non-melodic shouting variet-oy but we have to push through that to get the singing back yessssss.

Eighty seconds longer than [Baby Don't Stop], we are now subjected to [Sagan Youth - Surface]'s looping soundscape. 6.75 minutes of an early 80s hellscape scrolling past your ears.

[Meadowlark - Eyes Wide] sounds like the singer from Sylvan Esso brought her piano over to the XX's house and they jammed for a while. THUMBS UP oh no does this mean I like pop now

20May2015 2000: Tattooed War Boys

Mad Max: Fury Road is probably the last movie I should see this year. I love it, everybody loves it, it deserves all the praise it's getting. But now I'm looking ahead to all the movies I was going to see to and they all seem...stale. Jurassic World? We already gave those guys two chances to prolong the magic and they couldn't. Ant-Man? No Marvel movie can even see Fury Road with a telescope. Terminator: Genisys? Your trailer spoiled all your twists -- not even time travel can bring me back at this point. George Miller is seventy years old and he just kicked down the doors of Hollywood screaming "What the fuck are you even doing in here?" He puts Paul Greengrass in a headlock and shouts "People need to see the action beats!" "Action movies need to keep moving and be fun!" he yells while pointing at Christopher Nolan. "Heroes should do, not talk!" as he gestures at a Whedon-shaped hole on Twitter. "That'll do, pig," and he pats Justin Lin on the shoulder. Peering into the future at San Andreas and into the past at Age of Ultron, their framing flaws are magnified and their CG is revealed for the sham it always will be.

It is also, perversely, somehow an R movie. It's the PGest R movie I've seen in a long time. Violence is always present but is never lingered on. Deaths usually come in a fiery explosion and half-off-screen; I don't think anybody is ever even shot. I don't remember any swearing, even silly future-dystopia swearing. I don't think they give an R for "unrelenting adrenaline". The only thing left would be the brief shot of topless frauleins hooked up to milking machines. It's five seconds at the very beginning of the film and if that ends up costing the movie three hundred million dollars I think we should all be more upset than we already are. Things like this matter when comparing the opening weekend grosses to the hivemind. PG-13 just sells better and the playing field is massively unequal.

I didn't like white boy bands when they came around the first time. My avowed love of robots should soften my attitude towards Cyborgz 2 Men, but [The Japanese House - Still] is the same old R&B junk run through that XBox Live voice filter everyone hates.

Here we go with some funk! The theme for the past couple of months is putting some pretty good funk beats behind a guy who has no business singing a funk song. [Marching Church - King of Song] is attempting to cash in on this trend. Is this funk parody? Is Marching Church a punk band that be trolling? I refuse to look things up.

Beep boop beep boop it's our first "feat" in a while. [George FitzGerald - Full Circle (feat. Boxed In)] avoids the usual rap trap by going down the electro dance road instead. I think I have to thank Boxed In for remixing what was probably a pretty weenie George Michael-esque song.

I'm holding on tight to the spinning wheel of musical fads. My eyes are shut against the rushing wind as we hurtle down a neon tunnel. I know -- I believe -- that somewhere up ahead there is a trombone, a chain wallet, a man ordering me thrice to pick it up. As the wheel spins through 2015 I hear, ever so faintly...could it be? Off to my right, the unmistakeable strains of Herbie Hancock. It is only [Soul Clap - So Sedated].

13May2015 1800: Ex Astris Scientia

In my head, those bright spots on Ceres are going to be some water ice or other less exciting form of ice. Maybe metallic meteorite fragments. But in my heart? This could still be a forward mining outpost for the dinosaurs. I will cherish that hope until closer pictures dash it to beautiful pieces.

Somewhere in all the Marvel madness, sandwiched between killer robots and beating up killer robots, I made time to see Ex Machina. It's a movie about probably-not-killer robots. You know me: I am at all times both up and down to see a movie about robots. Ex Machina is an exquisitely rendered film about the most incredibly basic man-builds-robot story. The plot and pacing hark back to something from the 70s, where we'd put a small number of actors in a scifi cage and watch them come unglued. But since then we've had innumerable scifi films that explore the same themes but layer in oodles of you're-a-robot, I'm-a-robot, everyone's-a-robot, the-Internet's-a-robot, and Ex Machina does none of that. It tiptoes up to every cliché twist about humanoid robots and then backs down. It explicitly tweaks the characters (and audience) for even believing those twists are possible. Charitably, it is a clean baseline from which to build the next four decades of AI movies. Meanly, it is Blade Runner without ambiguity. Roooooobots.

[Rioux - Sleepwalker] sounds like somebody remixed a Smiths song over a chill electrofunkbeat. Mr. Rogers lays down some verses while rolling through his neighborhood in a Tron lightcycle. Carl Sagan wants to tell you how neon lights look at night.

The YouTube thumbnail told me all I need to know about [The London Souls - When I'm With You]. The album art has all the look of those discount-bin 70s compilations of artists your dad remembers. You want some 70s pop-rock, complete with chorale backing and tambourines? Somebody must.

Oh good. It's six minutes long and opens with a synth bass beat. [Fort Romeau - Not a Word] is exactly as advertised: no words. No more words than 11h30, anyway.

[Ex Cops - Black Soap] gets the pity vote this week by being relatively unterrible. The vocalist was doing really well despite being squeaky princess clean, but then the refrain busted in with ridiculous pop production and stale chord progression. There's some special sauce that Metric has that Ex Cops doesn't quite.

The YouTube thumbnail told me all I need to know about [Scuba - Why You Feel So Low]. A psychedelic kaleidoscope overlaid on the outline of a human head -- there are quicker ways to send me screaming in the other direction, but few of them are legal. Don't call it a comeback, raves have been here for years.

06May2015 1830: The Future Passes

I finally ponied up some money for my own Soylent, a foodlike substance I've been following for quite a while. It' advertised! It's food! I can eat it! And that's really all I can say about that. It's the dirty damned Neutral of food products, created to fill those gaps between inspiration for meals. The endless parade of potato-and-chicken dinners can now give way to the futuristic liquid nutrition I've always mildly desired. It tastes like bread dough. I wish it didn't taste like bread dough.

Is Hateful Eight out already? I didn't -- oh. [Oddisee - That's Love] starts with a full 70s funk sound like Tarantino was spinning the vinyl. Then Outkast shows up and lays down some verses between trumpets.

I can't nail down this song. From the band name I thought [Django Django - Shake and Tremble] was going to be some gypsy bluegrass concoction. From the first few seconds I thought I was in for some screaming metal. That quickly morphed into some sort of Bond song before achieving its final form as...the Grateful Dead?

Who wants an early-80s torch song? [Marriages - Skin] wants to give it to you! It could have been love, it's just toy soldiers.

With a name like [Jessie Baylin - Black Blood] I expected death metal again, and again Google spares us. This is actually a 50s female country song with inexplicable synth between verses. This could very well be a Dolly Parton cover.

It's refreshing to hear a foreign language that isn't Spanish. [The Very Best - Guju Guju] is in the reggae way but in a language I don't know, making it 20% more bearable. I'm digging on the very nice synth patch here, there's depth and bass to the notes I don't usually hear. It's still reggae/"world", though.