Random Randomness, 1/22/2016

…it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. — Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

panicI’m a travelin’ man, made a lotta stops all over the world” – Yes, I’m on the road again, last week in San Antonio, which afforded an opportunity to spend some quality time with the Darling Daughter, and this week in…well, the less said about that the better. Security and all that, old bean. I can say there’s no Storm of the Century happening here and the weather is unseasonably pleasant, which eases the sting of being away from home and hearth. I’ve been in the southern U.S. during one or two major snow events, and it was way too sporty on the roads for my comfort. Keep it between the ditches, y’all. Better yet, keep it at home with a warm beverage and a good movie or three.

Blogging 101 – I’m still following along with the WordPress introductory blogging course, though my schedule has made a shambles of my intent to be a model student, diligently complete all course assignments, and hobnob with my fellow students in the forums. I have obtained some useful insights, namely that my blog lacks both focus and interaction, two shortcomings I’ll be working hard to overcome this year. The blood-freezing spectre of “branding” has also reared its ugly head, and I can’t yet say I understand how to transform my online identity into a pervasive brand without hog-tying my creative freedom and imperiling my immortal soul. I’ve wrestled this issue before. Sigh. Anyhow, I’m sure you’ve already noticed the look of things has changed a bit here, with a different theme, tagline, and less-cluttered layout. The most recent addition to the Family Pack, Samster the Hamster, adorns the title banner as official Icon of the Frederation, because he’s all about the attitude.

I won’t talk about politics! I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!

20935579The Man Without Fear – For some reason, I stopped three episodes short of finishing the first season of Daredevil on Netflix a few months ago. I watched those last three episodes this week, and was mostly happy with the way things wrapped up. The conclusion was a bit formulaic—Murdock finds his focus, dons his iconic costume, wins a hard-fought victory over his nemesis, and assumes guardianship of Hell’s Kitchen, brooding over his domain like a medieval gargoyle, awaiting the next cry for help. I loved the way this series portrayed its complicated characters, with all their foibles, conflicts, and compromises. It treated Matt Murdock’s Catholic faith seriously and with respect as an important part of his struggle to be a true hero and effective crimefighter without crossing the line from protector to vigilante.  I’m eager to see how this thread continues into the second season as Murdock confronts a true vigilante in Frank Castle, the Punisher.


5 thoughts on “Random Randomness, 1/22/2016

  1. As far as branding goes: I really loved the trains motif (especially the tag line “always running on subjective time”), and looked forward to seeing which new train would pop up each month. I missed that when you changed blog format. I don’t know if anyone else noticed or cared, but it was a fun thing that I intentionally checked for. It felt just offish from reality and yet still grounded (the same great vibe I got from “Odd Little Miracles.”) Just a thought.

    Re: Daredevil. I finished it, barely, but have the rather dubious position of not being a major fan. Actually, it’s not the show per se I quibble with, but the fanatics who want to tell me that it’s so much deeper, better written, (enter superlative here) than network superhero shows. I think the show suffers from some of the same issues the others do: eventually, all thought of the second life of the character is abandoned and they only become her hero, without much thought/concern for the “double life” aspect. With “The Flash” I sort of shrug it off because A) the tone of the show doesn’t lend itself to deep scrutiny, and B) Barry’s adoptive father works with him at the police precinct, so he actually does have a narrative reason to be on the job for many stories.

    In “Daredevil,” with its gritty “realism,” I kept wondering how in the world these characters were affording a NY office when they took no law cases and had no income. I guess Matt has his father’s trust he pulls from, but that only takes you so far. Where is Froggy’s liquor budget coming from? Why has their landlord not kicked them out? How do they afford transportation?

    The only episode I thought really stood out in transcending normal superhero tropes was Episode 3, “Rabbit in a Snowstorm.” I loved how they melded both parts of Matt’s identity, both as a lawyer and as a crimefighter, showing his skill at using all aspects of his life to get results. I wish there had been more showing him as Matt as the series went on, but we soon lost sight of him and it became all about Daredevil.

    Also: Fisk as a character is interesting, but his dastardly plan left me cold, since he could just as easily accomplished the same exact plan without getting in bed with all those criminal elements, legally, and probably gotten elected mayor for it. Tearing buildings down to build new ones is not a crime. Maybe I’m missed part of it, but I couldn’t but think this supposedly dark evil was really just mundane, run-the-mill corruption stuff that happens all the time, everywhere (getting rid of Fisk does not get rid of dirty contractors or political kickbacks). I wasn’t sure why he felt he had to get entangled in every strange mob family in the entire city in order to accomplish his goals, many of which I didn’t understand any better by the end of the series as at the beginning.

    I will say the show surprised me right up until the end in terms of plot. But it was too enigmatic with too little character work to draw me in for a second season (just my two cents).

    1. On the train motif…I’ve missed that too. I dropped it a few months ago when Google started fussing about blogs not being mobile/tablet compliant and began demoting search results for blogs that didn’t meet the criteria. The last thing I needed was fewer hits, so I stripped everything down, probably too far. The current format is an attempt to keep things clean and decluttered while retaining some personality. The numbers weren’t indicating that the train banners and the posts that acompanied them were creating much interest, and again, I may have been too hasty in my assessment. Limited feedback is the bane of my existence.

      I’ve always liked Daredevil, in large part because he’s one of the least “super” heroes in the Marvel Universe. Aside from his enhanced senses, which are basically a plus-up of the greater sensitivity often found in people who have lost their sight, Murdock is pretty much working off his native athleticism and a better-than-average ability to take a punch, and he lacks the wealth and tech toys that heroes like Green Arrow and Batman lean on. I wish the Netflix series had spent more time with him in the courtroom helping the victims of injustice, and I’m hopeful that they’ll round out that part of his character more in the second season. I liked that his victory over Fisk was largely one of teamwork with his friends that broke up Fisk’s criminal financial empire, with the climactic fight at the end more of a coup de grace.

      Yeah, comic book stories, including this one, are riddled with logical holes that I’m more or less tolerant of, depending on whether the story is showing me a good time. In this case, the fact that they were dealing intelligently with some issues that are often ignored or glossed over (Matt’s faith, Fisk’s ability to love, damaged and distorted as it was, unintended consequences of actions by both heroes and villains) was what held my attention. The fight choreography was pretty gripping, as well.

    2. “Limited feedback” is indeed the issue in most online work; unfortunately, we tend to only comment when we dislike or disapprove. At any rate, I did want to comment and say I, for one, liked the trains. But I hear puppies do well online.

      Re: “Daredevil:” yes, there was a lot of setup surrounding complex ideas. While the fight scenes were indeed well choreographed, I lost interest in them after awhile. I guess I can only take so much bludgeoning before I need a reprieve, and I felt like as the season trudged forward, there was more and more whacking and less and less story to back it up. But, again, I believe I’m in the minority opinion there, and I’m certainly glad long-time comics fans finally got to see their character shine on camera (in a way earlier experiments had not).

  2. Oh, the trains will be back. 🙂 I just need to figure out how best to integrate them into the current theme.

    Everybody’s got their favorite flavor, and Daredevil is something of a niche fandom anyhow. I agree they let the camera linger too long on some of the violence (we really didn’t need to watch Wilson Fisk pound people’s faces into hamburger to understand he’s a homicidal sociopath, for example), and I would have enjoyed a little more emphasis on Matt Murdock’s identity as “the man without fear,” the blind guy who revels in running parkour across the lightless rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen in the dead of night, whose unique perception of the world around him makes a huge difference in that world. Maybe (please!) we’ll see more of that in Season 2.

    There seems to be a push with a lot of these internet-sourced series to amp up the “adult” content as a selling point. Jennifer Jones had the potential to be a compelling tale of a failed superhero trying to reassemble her life, but after a few rounds of drunken bender – sex scene – drunken bender – sex scene, they lost me. Neither Jennifer nor the story were making any progress. Add a villain who’s a telepathic serial psychosexual abuser/murderer, and it was simply a place I didn’t want to be.

    1. Yeah, after barely making it through “Daredevil,” and reading about some of the things “Jessica Jones” would involve, I decided to skip it altogether. I too have noticed the need to amp up the “mature” rating in the streaming world (which is really just a continuation of the cable model). Worse, I feel like many such shows are called “well-written” when, if stripped down of their excess, would not view any better than regular network fare. Obviously, generalities are dangerous, and I don’t mean to detract from some of the truly amazing online work being produced. But there’s a lot of: hey we can do this! Not enough of: but should we?

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