Ghost Adventures: The Pinnacle of Reality TV

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A beefy, black-clad, gel-haired, sometimes-badly-tanned man stands dramatically in the middle of a desert. He did not believe in ghosts, he tells you, in a deep and strangely jarring monotone. Until he came face to face with one. What follows are high-contrast images of creeping shadows, sped-up footage of anonymous scary-looking women in white dresses, someone with what I assume is meant to be blood but looks more like lipstick gone wrong around their mouth, and flickering grayscale images of frightened-looking or conspicuously-posing members of the cast.  The strange fusion of jock, nerd and theatre kid stereotypes is Zak Bagans, the other guys are his paranormal investigation crew, and these are their Ghost Adventures. And you can already tell you’re in for a wild ride of reality television.

Currently with twelve seasons and still going strong, Ghost Adventures follows Zak and his team as they travel to reputably haunted locations and lock themselves in for a night to try and capture evidence of ghosts. Along the way, expect shoddy re-enactments of the local ghost stories, over-dramatic narration, and the three investigators inevitably screaming “BRO! HOLY [BLEEP] BRO! DID YOU SEE THAT DUDE? [BLEEP], DUDE” and/or “I can really feel an energy in here man. Holy [bleep].”

It is ridiculous. And it is the best reality TV show I have ever watched. Continue reading

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Overthinking Bargain Books: Sellevision

After being so pleasantly neutral about The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex, it’s sort of morbidly satisfying to have the next obscure novel plucked from the sales shelf be one that I’m so baffled and outraged by.

Hey, it sounded fun—after all, what could be more ripe for comedy than the quirky, white-lit, commercial world of a home shopping channel? There’s something intriguing about that alien landscape and the glittering hosts who rule over it, whether they’re joyfully explaining what this particular powder makeup can do to clear your skin and improve your life or playing out entertaining fabricated loops of domestic bliss vs greyscale footage of clumsy terror in infomercials.

For some people, existing and thriving in this weird world of advertising is their job and their life. Sellevision asks “what must it be like behind the scenes?” in… what I assume was meant to be a satirical way.

Where do I even start with this? Continue reading

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Hiatus Notice

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How’s everybody doing? Caught any good Pokemon in your neighbourhood?

There’s going to be a two week break from posts on this blog, after which unfortunately the dread scourge of academia returns and I will have, among other things, an entire novella to pull out of the ether for course credit. With that in mind I’ll most likely be going back to the post-a-fortnight format.

Thank you for reading as always!

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Firewatch, A Game About Avoiding Your Problems Until They Burn Everything Down

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There are few things louder than silence. If you want to drown out guilt, grief, responsibility and other uncomfortable emotions that demand your attention and threaten to take over your life, your best bet is a trip away from society and industry where your only company is a really big forest. Forests don’t judge and demand nothing from you but mutual peace and quiet, and that quiet will form walls that keep out those pesky, hard-to-deal-with feelings. This is part of Henry’s logic, anyway, when he takes a job as a fire lookout in the Middle of Nowhere National Park, Wyoming, following his wife’s decline into early onset dementia and his inability to cope with this. He soon finds, though, that the silence of the forest is not as welcoming as it might have once seemed. Continue reading

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Sad Sexy Flapper Stories

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I’ve found myself up to my ears in Jazz Age lady literature these days. I’ve written about two novels recently: Treading Air, for the July issue of Good Reading (a big article on glossy paper and everything! Woo!) and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald for my uni news site. Both land the reader in the middle of the changing landscape of the 1920s, following a Modern Woman as she falls desperately in love, struggles with her marriage, seeks her own independence and is generally swept up in this weird, liberated new world of the Jazz Age. The fact that one is in glitzy, rich America (and the world beyond; Mrs Fitzgerald traveled an awful lot) and one is in humid, sticky, working-class Queensland gives the two novels different flavours but the core of their stories–and many other recent releases, like A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald — is the same, leading me to wonder if the Sad Sexy Flapper Story is a budding genre in and of itself. Continue reading

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The Pretty Cure for All This Gritty Nonsense

Go! Princess Precure

I’ve written a few posts on here about magical girls and how important they are, so it was with a bit of a shock that I realised, apart from my beloved W.I.T.C.H. comics, a few out-of-order chunks of Sailor Moon I caught on TV as a kid, and Puella Magic Madoka Magica, I hadn’t actually… watched that many. Of course, most of this is because my pre-and-early-teen self broke out in hives at even the implication that a show or book was girly (the dread scourge!!). Perhaps sitting down and periodically bingeing all 50 episodes of Go! Princess Precure with CP is a kind of retrospective remedy for that, but mostly, it’s just been ridiculous fun. And it’s made me think more about the genre, and balk a bit at  Madoka (specifically, the movie continuations) and how they take great pride in being deliberately gritty deconstructions that kind of… kick the breath out of the entire point of magical girls.

Go! Princess Precure is 2015’s instalment in the Precure (or Pretty Cure, or PreCure, or Cute Girls Save the World With Perfume All Year Every Year and Sell Millions of Toys in the Process) series; the story of three (later four) young girls who gain the powers of the Princess Precure to battle an evil kingdom of despair. They transform with the power of Princess Perfume and Dress Up Keys, gaining frilly skirts and Big Hair, and for their final attacks they go into Elegant Mode and earn themselves enormous ballgowns. They exhibit the true traits of princesses: beauty, inner strength, kindness, delicacy, and above all hope and love and determination to follow their dreams. It’s ridiculous, adorable, and genuinely engaging and well-put-together (kids’ shows can be like that—who knew?). Also strangely relaxing, which I realised was only strange to me because, again, the magical girl show I’m most familiar with is bloody Madoka Magica, where the most openly determined and hopeful magical girl warrior gets her head bitten off three episodes in. Continue reading

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Sense8tional: A Sense8 Review

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What do…

A troubled Icelandic DJ trying to get by in London

A San Francisco hacktivist celebrating Pride with her girlfriend

An action-movie-loving bus driver from Nairobi

A German safecracker trying to get out of his mobster family’s shadow

A closeted melodrama actor living in Mexico City

A Korean businesswoman/part-time martial artist trying to keep her family company afloat

An Indian scientist preparing to marry a man she’s not in love with

And a Chicago cop with a heart of gold and parental issues

…have in common?

Well, nothing much at all, until they all witness the suicide of a mysterious, almost angelic woman in white. From that moment on, they start noticing strange things: they can taste what someone else is eating on the other side of the world, hear the thoughts and emotions of people they’ve never met, and master skills they’ve never even tried to learn. They’re a cluster of Sensates, spread across the globe but linked by a psychic connection.

Head to Popgates for the full post!

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