SO GOOD YOU GUYS
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in a theater. It’s been one of my favorite movies since I first saw it when I was ten, but seeing it on the big screen really blew me away. It’s such a stunning, powerful movie, and it reminded me of why I love it so much. That’s what I want to talk about to y’all today. Nausicaä was one of Miyazaki’s first movies, and in some ways you can tell. It’s clunkier than some of his later movies, the music is sometimes very dated, there’s the occasional plot hole, the animation is simpler. But it all works so well, both stylistically and thematically.
So, I mentioned that I saw and loved this movie when I was a kid and I did. But I will confess that about 70% of my initial enthusiasm boiled down to “AIRSHIPS!”. I liked airships a lot when I was young. Still do for that matter. And the airships in this movie are just so amazingly designed. They have this ramshackle look, like they’ve been bolted together from scrap metal, and it works so well for the post-apocalyptic setting. Really, all the designs are great. The Tolmekian army is this bizarre mix of tanks and knights and soldiers armed with guns that look they’ve been taped together that doesn’t really make any sense but, once again, reinforces this view of a world running off the scraps of industrialized civilization. The giant warriors have this amazingly minimalist, stripped down look that emphasizes their terror, and I’ve always liked that even the castle in the Valley of the Wind has windmills built into it. It’s such a good visual signifier of how everything and everyone in this kingdom is devoted to the precarious maintenance of human life. We don’t really see much of the word of Nausicaä, and yet you feel like you know it so well by the end of the movie.
The Subject Of Discussion
TITLE: The Chosen
AUTHORS: David Drake, S.M Stirling
SERIES: Raj Whitehall Series
The Chosen is a book that I like much, much more than it probably deserves. Objectively speaking, it’s a perfectly-decent science fiction book, with all the strengths and flaws of both authors present. But personally? I love this book. I have found myself returning to it time and time again. I’ve owned it for less than a year and I’ve probably reread it at least three times by now. This blog post is an attempt by me to work exactly what it is that makes this book such a good fit for me. Fair warning, I’m calling it a ‘Book Review’ because it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want but this is going to be a deeply self-indulgent article. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, come back next month. We’ll have something about Napoleon up. Probably.
(BTW: SPOILERS FOR EVERYTHING)
The actual plot of The Chosen is simple. On the planet Visager, two brothers with preternatural abilities must help rally the Free World to fight against the Chosen, a nation of basically just-straight up Nazis. The context for this, however, is…….complicated. The Chosen sits at the intersection of two very weird series. First is the Raj Whitehall Series (also known as the General Series), also by S.M Stirling and David Drake. The plot of the General Series is that on the planet Bellevue, long after the collapse of the Generic Space Federation, civilization is slowly collapsing.
What Ever Happened To Bipartisanship?
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there’s a shameful lack of cooperation in Washington right now. Sure, Democrats and Republicans have some disagreements, but there’s no reason they can’t come together to work for the betterment of the country, right? Since Mitch ‘I Broke America’ McConnell first decided on a policy of total and absolute obstruction of President Obama’s agenda in 2009, the “gridlock in Washington!” has become almost a cliche, taken for granted by everyone, a subject of jokes and gentle admonishments. “Hyper-partisanship” is talked about as if it in itself is the problem, with stubborn politicians refusing to cross the aisle out of nothing but irrational prejudice. Anyways, as well all know, politicians are really all the same, amirite?
A few months so ago, during the height of the Obamacare repeal debate, Josh Marshall of Talking Point Memo excellently illustrated the failure of this trope when it came to health care policy, noting that “Pretending that both parties just have very different approaches to solving a commonly agreed upon problem is really just a lie. It’s not true. One side is looking for ways to increase the number of people who have real health insurance and thus reasonable access to health care and the other is trying to get the government out of the health care provision business with the inevitable result that the opposite will be the case. If you’re not clear on this fundamentally point, the whole thing does get really confusing.” Consistently, the media presented the debate over health care as two groups refusing to cooperate out of partisanship. This is true, in the narrowest sense, but the reason there was such high partisanship was because the two parties fundamentally disagreed on how health care should work. And this isn’t just true on healthcare, but on virtually every issue of discussion.