Outside Reading — Saint George edition

The Strange Afterlife of George Carlin by Dave Itzkoff

I think I’ve made my appreciation for the work of George Carlin abundant clear around this here digital place. Plenty of other people dogging cars out there on the superhighway feel the same way, though there’s a peculiar tendency to twist the master comic’s pointed observations to fortify their own rickety soapboxes, extrapolating his routines to be about modern concerns such as COVID-19 vaccines. Writing for The New York Times, Dave Itzkoff explores this phenomenon. He correctly includes ample commentary from Kelly Carlin, the comedian’s daughter, the caretaker of his legacy, and the only person with any level of authority to speculate on ho he might have responded to modern travails.

The Spell ‘Doctor Strange’ Is Missing: Sam Raimi’s Macabre Vision by Calum Marsh

I already tapped out my thoughts about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and I wish I had better expressed a particular insight that Calum Marsh shares in this Critic’s Notebook piece from The New York Times. Perhaps helping to sidestep spoilers for the currently playing Marvel feature, Marsh focuses on the reveal of Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, in Spider-Man: No Way Home, comparing it to a similar villain’s emergence in Spider-Man 2, directed by Doctor Strange helmer Sam Raimi: “The ‘Spider-Man 2’ scene is dazzlingly inventive and fun. The only thing interesting about the ‘No Way Home’ one is that Jamie Foxx is reprising his role from another ‘Spider-Man’ film.” That simple comparison, as well as anything, explains the creative dead end Marvel Studios has raced headlong into. Increasingly, the films are about a procession of casting stunts and meta-fictional falderal that serve the narrative only tangentially while giving the faithful self-congratulatory moments of recognition like the limited edition trading cards that need to be hunted down by purchasing multiple packs.

Protests Over Abortion Access Shouldn’t Have to be “Civil” by Lexi McMenamin

It’s been infuriating to watch the collective institutional response to peaceful protests over the looming eradication of the abortion protections ensured by Roe v. Wade. With a few exceptions, government officials have wailed and moaned about the tragic affront of appointed-for-life Supreme Court Justices facing an understandably aggrieved citizenry. The same leadership blithely shrugs over, say, the constant flood of death threats into the offices of Representation Ilhan Omar, basically saying they’re the cost of doing business. Inspired in part by the week’s most pathetic expression of toxic privilege, Senator Susan Collins calling the police after a notably polite message to her was written in sidewalk chalk outside her home, Lexi McMenamin pointedly explains why all these calls for civility are misguided at best and deliberate attempts at suppression at worst.

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