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Optimus Prime and the Religion of Toys, Part 1: The Total Work of Art as a <i>Transformer</i> of Culture

Optimus Prime and the Religion of Toys, Part 1: The Total Work of Art as a Transformer of Culture

This one comes to us from Jeremiah Lawson, the first in a three-part series! First and foremost, play is self-presentation. – Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method About forty years ago an animated program began that helped revolutionize the way some Americans enjoyed and thought about popular culture. Thanks to changes in FCC regulations during the Reagan […]

The Mirror Has Way Too Many Faces

The Mirror Has Way Too Many Faces

This past New Year’s Eve marked the first one for my husband and me to actually go out in Sydney — though, with two kids and middle age defining our lives, “going out” consists of joining friends at the North Sydney Olympic Pool for a family night of swimming and fireworks. And, it turned out, […]

Crime and Punishment and <i>Adventure Time</i>: A Kierkegaardian Reflection on Lowliness

Crime and Punishment and Adventure Time: A Kierkegaardian Reflection on Lowliness

“Because when you have stanky old wizard eyes, sometimes you see things that are real, and other times it’s like crazy, crazy, crazy, in your face, all the time. *sighs* All the time.” – Ice King Adventure Time​ is the single best kids show (which is also secretly for adults) of all time. I’ve obsessively […]

Horsin’ Around in Weakness

Horsin’ Around in Weakness

This one was written by Blake Nail. The shower drain continued to back up even after numerous attempts to pull the mushy clumps of hair out of the black hole. Outside help would have been a wise decision, but I figured I could fix it myself. So I poured Drano down the drain’s hatch over […]

Preoccupations: Painting Ponds or Hiding Sea Monsters?

Preoccupations: Painting Ponds or Hiding Sea Monsters?

In The Crown’s retelling of British history, we find Winston Churchill having his portrait painted by the royal family’s artist Graham Sutherland. Though the show’s writers have surely taken liberties to imagine how these more intimate moments would have gone, they present a scene that is a poignant depiction of how profoundly art can function […]

On Houses, Both Haunted and Absent

On Houses, Both Haunted and Absent

When Jason and I dated, we bonded over a variety of shared interests, but our favorites were the holy trinity of tapas, Jesus, and camp horror. The two of us were among the dozen viewers who kept Harper’s Island on the air for an entire season. (He figured out who the killer was by the […]

<i>Maniac:</i> Saved by an Easy-to-Swallow Capsule

Maniac: Saved by an Easy-to-Swallow Capsule

This one comes to us from Ethan T. Perkins. My latest binge-watching series on Netflix was nothing I intended to watch. I had heard a few mentions via Twitter about Netflix’s latest psychological thriller/comedy, but it was not on my list of things I was waiting to start. I saw the trailer completely by mistake. […]

The Strange Absurdity of Scorekeeping in <i>The Good Place</i>

The Strange Absurdity of Scorekeeping in The Good Place

A bonzer contribution from one Sam Guthrie: With seasons 1 and 2 of NBC’s The Good Place streaming on Netflix, Kristen Bell and gang bring the laughs with the show’s expository mirror reflecting the religiosity of our modern world. The Good Place follows the adventure of Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) as she navigates her existence […]

Wait for It: The Surprising Perks of Suspense

Wait for It: The Surprising Perks of Suspense

Waiting, of any kind, is generally just stupid. We can all agree on this. We are on the same page here: I don’t like waiting, you don’t like waiting, nobody likes to wait. We want what we want, and we want it yesterday. Veruca Salt got this (“give it to me noooow”), and so did […]

Lance Armstrong's Moving Finish Line

Lance Armstrong’s Moving Finish Line

Where were you in 2012 when Lance Armstrong confessed his steroid sins to St. Oprah? Did you immediately take off your 2004 (!) Livestrong wristband and trash it, or did you simply let it fall behind the bedroom dresser? Was it the talk of your town, or did it just confirm your lack of interest […]

Depraved Puppetry: Is There Any Good News in Dark Humor?

Depraved Puppetry: Is There Any Good News in Dark Humor?

A shining example from our Humor Issue, here’s an essay about rude puppets (and love, and death). You can order the magazine, or subscribe here. The most inappropriate show that has ever aired in the history of TV is Wonder Showzen. It’s amazing that the show survived MTV2 for two whole seasons, from 2005 to […]

Getting to Know Fred

Getting to Know Fred

My childhood memories involving Mr. Rogers were probably pretty average for kids my age; he was the nice storyteller that my parents trusted enough to give full control over our afternoon TV; his show always moving at a infuriatingly slow walking pace, with enriching guests like Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians showing up to uphold […]