Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Archive for the ‘Look at what I found on the Internet’ Category

new fall course: “Histories of Anti-Capitalism”!

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I’ve got a great schedule lined up for Fall: a special version of my Tolkien course partnering with UWM and linking up with the Haggerty’s “Art of the Manuscript” exhibit, and a grad special topics course called “Histories of Anti-Capitalism.” Here’s a course description — suggestions very welcome!

Other English Fall course descriptions are trickling in here

Course Title: Histories of Anti-Capitalism

Coure Description: “We live in capitalism,” Ursula K. Le Guin once said. “Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.” This course will take a long view of anti-capitalist thought, from the Luddite revolt of the early nineteenth century to the ongoing climate strikes of Greta Thunberg—investigating where resistance to capitalism has flourished and where it has failed, as well as where it has intersected with important trends in feminist, antiracist, anticolonial, LGBTQ+, ecological, and disability activism. We will also explore the speculative literary genre of utopia, and explore how its utopian, quasi-utopian, heterotopian, dystopian, and downright anti-utopian figurations have reflected, inspired, and critiqued the left’s centuries-long struggle against capitalist realism.

Readings: We will consider a wide mix of literary, historical, and critical-theoretical documents of anti-capitalist and counter-hegemonic thought from the last two-hundred-plus years. A final reading list is still being constructed (and very open to suggestions!), but major literary authors could include such figures as Edward Bellamy, Samuel Butler, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Chinua Achebe, Gene Roddenberry, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, and Kim Stanley Robinson, and major theorists could include Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Fredric Jameson, Mark Fisher, C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, bell hooks, Vandana Shiva, Enrique Dussel, Donna Haraway, David Graeber, and José Esteban Muñoz, among many others.

Assignments: Final critical paper or creative project; symposium presentation; weekly sandbox posts on D2L; enthusiastic and informed class participation

Carefully Curated Spring Break Links! Definitely Not Too Many!

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Why, I say, oh why, is it so hard to simply serve the concept and write the adventures of a smart, creative and kind-hearted teenage girl with superpowers? What purpose earthly or unearthly is served by making this character an embittered space tyrant?

… I questioned the desire to attribute the worst aspects of human behaviour to characters whose only useful function, as I see it, aside from simply entertaining young people and anyone else who fancies an uplifting holiday in a storybook world far from the grinding monotony of pessimism and disillusion, is to provide a primary-coloured cartoon taste of how we all might be if we had the wit and the will and the self-sacrifice it takes to privilege our best selves and loftiest aspirations over our base instincts. While that great day is unlikely to happen any time soon in any halfway familiar real world, why not let comic book universes be playgrounds for the kind of utopian impulses that have in the past brought out the best in us?

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March 12, 2022 at 6:38 pm

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Somehow, Spring Semester Returned

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After a week’s reprieve, today is the start of spring semester at Marquette! I have two classes this term and one overload, a one-credit research seminar for the Honors in the Humanities program. Behold!

ENGLISH 4762/5762: Disability and Narrative

ENGLISH 4717/5717: Comics as Literature

HONORS 3954H: Research Seminar

Thanks as always to everyone whose work I draw on to do mine, this time especially Michael Bérubé and Sami Schalk (and also especially Melissa Ganz and Jenn Finn for their incredibly rich models for the Honors seminar!).

Written by gerrycanavan

January 24, 2022 at 8:13 am

Sunday Reading!

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* CFP: Folk Horror. CFP: Current Research in Speculative Fiction 2022.
* Four Tiny Essays on SF/F.
* The Future Is Black, Not Bleak: On Afrofuturist Poetry.

* Notes on Contemporary University Struggles: A Dossier.
* The Great Faculty Disengagement: Faculty members aren’t leaving in droves, but they are increasingly pulling away.
* Hustling to get by: side jobs in grad school. Great Books, Graduate Students, and the Value of Fun in Higher Education.
* Microsyllabus: The History of Campus Policing.
* They fought critical race theory. Now they’re focusing on ‘curriculum transparency.’

* Two years since Covid was first confirmed in U.S., the pandemic is worse than anyone imagined. America’s second pandemic winter: More virus, less death. Parents and caregivers of young children say they’ve hit pandemic rock bottom. Students are protesting covid policies — and the adults who won’t listen to them. America’s youth turn left.
* Families are in distress after the first month without the expanded child tax credit.
* ‘If I Die, I Die’: Meat Loaf Spurned COVID Rules Before Death. Inside Meat Loaf’s Health Troubles, Including Vocal Strain, Alcoholism and Onstage Collapses. Meat Loaf Was My Softball Coach.

* America’s shift to the right in 2021 is worse news for Democrats than it seems. The long slide: Inside Biden’s declining popularity as he struggles with multiple crises. ‘The Lowest Point in My Lifetime’: How 14 Independent Voters Feel About America. Joe Biden Promised Change. He Hasn’t Delivered.

* What Does It Mean If Republicans Won’t Debate?
* Read the never-issued Trump order that would have seized voting machines. Georgia Has a Very Strong Case Against Trump. Would Trump Throw His Own Kids Under the Bus to Save Himself? We May Soon Find Out.
* Florida Advances Bill That Would Ban Making White People Feel Bad about Racism, and No, That’s Not a Joke.
* Scientists Warn that Sixth Mass Extinction Has ‘Probably Started’. How to Prepare for Climate Change’s Most Immediate Impacts. Don’t Look Up Is Missing What We Really Need From Climate Change Movies.
* Scientists Are Racing to Understand the Fury of Tonga’s Volcano. Tonga volcano: islands covered in ash as three deaths confirmed.
* “When my last movie UHF came out in 1989, I made a solemn vow to my fans that I would release a major motion picture every 33 years, like clockwork. I’m very happy to say we’re on schedule,” said Yankovic in a statement. “And I am absolutely thrilled that Daniel Radcliffe will be portraying me in the film. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the role future generations will remember him for.”
* The Moon Knight moment.
* The Star Trek century.
* Do you know what’s cooler than One Ring?

* Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Looks Absolutely Incredible, But… Crunch and TT Games.
* Men Are Creating AI Girlfriends and Then Verbally Abusing Them.
* Smedley Butler Helped Build American Empire. Then He Turned Against It.
* The Fall of NC Mutual.
* Mother sues Meta and Snap over daughter’s suicide.
* Where’s the snow? Milwaukee is nearly 15 inches below its average this season.
* At-will employment in Wisconsin apparently means that you can be fired at any time for any reason but you need your boss’s permission to take a new job.
* Acting Mayor Johnson announces public safety plan to tackle gun violence, car thefts and reckless driving in Milwaukee.
* Discrimination has cost Black home owners of billions of dollars of generational wealth. What can change that?
* Huge, if true: Cryptocurrency Is a Giant Ponzi Scheme.
* Shakespeare Noir. The Tragedy of Macbeth Is a Cinematic Feast for Starving Film Lovers.
* 6 Dysfunctional Family Roles and Their Characteristics.
* New Bad Art Friend / West End Caleb mashup just dropped.
* Alcohol consumption can directly cause cancer, new genetic study finds.
* The Medieval Vegetarian.
* The Battle over Howard the Duck.
* This is your only friend in the world right now. It’s gonna be a long night.
* tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life
* They stan.
* We stan.
* What are the most compelling and readable “plotless” novels you’ve ever read? My answer.
* And it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t be better with the pizza in hand.

Lost in January Links

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* Out now: Extrapolation Volume 62.3 explores the representation of cyborgs in Pat Cadigan’s Synners, care in Gen Urobuchi’s science-fiction, and the critique of Western technoscience in Welcome to Night Vale.
* CFP: Medical Humanities and the Fantastic: Neurodiversity and Disability. CFP: Push: Childbirth in Global Screen Culture.
* Is there a dominant mode of current science fiction? Notes on Squeecore. Portrait of the Author As a Component of a “Punk-Or-Core” Formulation. Science Fiction Is Never Evenly Distributed. The sci-fi genre offering radical hope for living better.

* Science Fiction is a Luddite Literature.
* Notes on the Forum of the Simulacra.

* How To Develop A Planetary Consciousness.
* How climate catastrophe has consumed popular culture. Ride or Die? Mark Bould and the Fast-and-Furiocene.
* Is Geoengineering the Only Solution?: Exploring Climate Crisis in Neal Stephenson’s “Termination Shock.” Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us. Coming back from a time of illness: how finance can learn from climate change fiction. Melancholy Utopianism: The Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. We Can’t Just Grow Our Way Out of This Climate Mess.
* Climate Realism, Capitalist and Otherwise.
* Pop culture can no longer ignore our climate reality.
* Marvel Movies Made 30% Of The Total Box Office.
* Nnedi Okorafor on SF through an African Lens.
* The Matrix Resurrections and trans life (and death). Unpacking the Hidden Meanings in The Matrix Resurrections. A Muddle instead of a Movie.

* Games Studies Studies Buddies is such a good podcast and this is an exemplary episode. Like and subscribe!
* Joss Whedon fully burns down what’s left of his career. The Joss Whedon Era: A Look Back.
* Why so much Obama-era pop culture feels so cringe now.
* Have We Forgotten How to Read Critically?
* From lynchings to the Capitol: Racism and the violence of revelry.
* California’s Forever Fire.
* California, Arizona and Nevada agree to take less water from ailing Colorado River.
* The heat stays on: Earth hits 6th warmest year on record. The Oceans Are Now Hotter Than At Any Point in Human History, Scientists Warn. Here’s how hot Earth has been since you were born. The Supreme Court Case That Could Upend Efforts to Protect the Environment. US hit by 20 separate billion-dollar climate disasters in 2021, Noaa report says.
* As Tax Credit Expires, “Huge Increase” in Child Poverty Feared Amid Omicron Wave. How Did We Go From Stimulus Checks to “Go to Work With COVID”?

* The Ticking Bomb of Crypto Fascism. Tech Startup Wants To Gamify Suing People Using Crypto Tokens.
* Family Capitalism and the Small Business Insurrection: The growing militancy of the Republican right is less about an alliance of small business against big business than it is an insurrection of one form of capitalism against another: the private, unincorporated, and family-based versus the corporate, publicly traded, and shareholder-owned.
* Ultras.
* Democrats will have to do more to save democracy from Trump. The January Sixers Have Their Own Unit at the DC Jail. Here’s What Life Is Like Inside. The January 6th Republicans (from Jonah Goldberg no less). Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes charged with seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Isn’t it pretty to think so?
* The Rise and Fall of Latinx.
* Don’t Look Up Is a Terrible Movie. Really bad. I ranted.
* The Jewish Roots of ‘Star Trek’. Why ‘Star Trek’ made San Francisco the center of the universe.
* A Grieving Family Wonders: What if They Had Known the Medical History of Sperm Donor 1558?
* Percentage that would visit the Moon as a tourist, if money were not a factor.
* On the Legacy of Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo Journalism.
* The end of the pandemic? Study: Omicron associated with 91% reduction in risk of death compared to Delta. Hospitals Are in Serious Trouble. America’s COVID Rules Are a Dumpster Fire. We are the 3.2%.

* School Closures Led to More Sleep and Better Quality of Life for Adolescents. After last year’s learning loss, we need a plan for students with disabilities. Ideology and school closings. Who is this gentleman, Dude?

* The Mangle of Federalism.
* Book bans in schools are catching fire. Black authors say uproar isn’t about students.
* Becoming Martian.
* Last Year’s Longest Strike Just Ended in Victory.
* Yale, Georgetown, Other Top Schools Illegally Collude to Limit Student Financial Aid, Lawsuit Alleges.

* Dismissive Incomprehension: A Use of Purported Ignorance to Undermine Others.
* This Is the Way the Humanities End.
* A professor welcomed students to class by calling them ‘vectors of disease to me.’ He has been suspended.
* These Tenured Professors Were Laid Off. Here’s How They Got Their Jobs Back.
* So you want to work in academic publishing.
* As Afghanistan’s harsh winter sets in, many are forced to choose between food and warmth.
* US inflation reached 7% in December as prices rise at rates unseen in decades.
* Bernie Sanders says Democrats are failing: ‘The party has turned its back on the working class.’
* A simple plan to solve all of America’s problem.
* Sea Power, ‘Disco Elysium’, and the importance of being miserable.
* HBO’s Station Eleven Surpasses the Novel.
* Oh boy, they’re finally rebooting Quantum Leap.
* I’d never known this: Schrödinger, the Father of Quantum Physics, Was a Pedophile.
* Wes Anderson’s next sounds like another mistake.
* Haruki Murakami’s Monopoly.
* ‘Invincible’ Animated Series Sparks Profits Suit Against Robert Kirkman.
* What Elmo’s Viral Moment Tells Us About How Parents Watch Kids’ TV.
* A people’s history of the Beatles logo.
* If you want a vision of the future.
* Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park Is a Terrible Masterpiece.
* The Wire as copraganda.
* BEHOLD! MEGA-MANHATTAN!

* The Strange Literary Puzzle Only Four People Have Ever Solved. And welcome to the Wordle century.

New Year, New Pandemic Links

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* Brace for Omicron. Wisconsin COVID-19 case counts matching levels not seen since November 2020. Omicron is spreading at lightning speed. Scientists are trying to figure out why. Where are hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients? Look up your state. After Vaccines: Where Covid Death Rates Have Risen. Omicron Is Pushing America Into Soft Lockdown. “Things will likely get worse, experts warn.” As Omicron Looms, These Colleges Will Start Their January Classes Online. Junior year. You don’t say. In this Midwestern diner, patrons are sticking with coronavirus.

* The pandemic killed so many dialysis patients that their total number shrunk for the first time in nearly half a century.
* Flood of Creative Works Enter the Public Domain on Jan. 1.

* Absolutely beautiful, don’t even care if it’s true.

* How Will the History Books Remember 2021?
* Retired general recommends wargaming potential coup scenarios. That’s just prudent!
* America’s Electoral Future. What elections?
* Redistricting is Going Surprisingly Well for Democrats. Oh, honey.
* The Twitter Putsch. The Big Lie.
* John Roberts, Democratic hero. Joe Biden Has Been Very Good for the Military-Industrial Complex.
* Milwaukee ranks 2nd in poverty level among top 50 most-populated cities in U.S.
* Non-Mortgage Household Debt in the United States, 2003-2022.
* Fast-Moving Wildfires Burn Hundreds of Homes in Denver Area. ‘We Are in a Climate Emergency.’
* ‘The Fuse Has Been Blown,’ and the Doomsday Glacier Is Coming for Us All. The climate apocalypse is real, and it is coming. The trap of climate optimism.

* We stan.
* We’re preparing for apocalypse wrong — and that could make things even worse. What The Marvel Movies Don’t Say About The End Of The World.

But taken together, at the 100,000-foot level, the fact that each property is basically about someone doing what they were doing anyway, then having to deal with some new iteration of surreal but familiar external forces invading, and never having any time to really think about what it all means because the next thing is already happening, as it turns out — now that we really do live in a notable historical period of continual surreal events that could make you question the foundations of society — everyone has to continue doing what they were doing anyway when the world is ending, and you’ll never have that much time to think about what it all means because the demands of the next thing will be upon you.

What does it feel like when the world ends? It just feels like aliens invading until something else happens.

* The Subversive Playfulness of the ‘The Matrix.’The Matrix Resurrections’ captures the real crisis of our post-truth era. ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Is the Anti-sequel Sequel. The Matrix Resurrections is a messy triumph. Too many movies right now are “about trauma.” The Matrix Resurrections actually does the work. Why trans fans connect to ‘The Matrix’. On the Matrix Resurrections. Blank Check. Even Neo Can’t Log Off.

* Another person discovers the terrible truth about jazz in the Star Wars universe.
* The case against the trauma plot.
* Placement games were 2021’s most calming trend. Black Games Studies.
* LARB’s top-ten most-read of 2021.
* The Radical James Baldwin.
* The End of Neoliberalism in Chile?
* Space Colonists Will Likely Resort to Cannibalism, Scientist Says. Henry Kissinger: AI Will Prompt Consideration of What it Means to Be Human.
* Routine Maintenance: Embracing habit in an automated world.
* Why am I being hurt?
* The Judge Rotenberg Center, a Massachusetts school, still uses electric shock therapy to punish disabled students. How can an entire field of mental health accept this as fine?
* Death Drive Nation.
* I’m older than Frasier. I’m older than Cliff Claven.
* Behold: Star Trek: Coda.
* What are you doing? Listen to Man Bites Dog.
* And the news just gets worse: Exercise necessary for older people later in life, study says.

Lost Semester Linkblogging!

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For a variety of reasons, this was an extremely busy semester, and I simply wasn’t able to keep up with my open tabs (I had several hundred open at one point!). An irrecoverable browser crash killed any possibility of ever doing even an omnibus record of what I’ve been reading and thinking about — but I do have a tiny number of highlights from the semester that I will link here just to close the book on it. I’m hopeful, if not exactly optimistic, that I can get back to a more regular update schedule in the spring…

Apologies!

The podcast will also be coming back too for the end of the Achebe season! Stay tuned.

SFFTV Call for Reviewers

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SFFTV is looking for reviewers for a few recent books:


Becky Bartlett’s BADFILM: INCOMPETENCE, INTENTION, FAILUREhttps://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-badfilm.html

Jayna Brown, BLACK UTOPIAS: SPECULATIVE LIFE AND THE MUSIC OF OTHER WORLDShttps://www.dukeupress.edu/black-utopias

Arthur Krker and Marilouise Kroger, TECHNOLOGIES OF THE NEW REAL: VIRAL CONTAGION AND DEATH OF THE SOCIALhttps://utorontopress.com/9781487540227/technologies-of-the-new-real/

Michael Pitts, ALTERNATIVE MASCULINITIES IN FEMINIST SPECULATIVE FICTION
https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793636614/Alternative-Masculinities-in-Feminist-Speculative-Fiction-A-New-Man

Robert Yeates, AMERICAN CITIES IN POST-APOCALYPTIC SCIENCE FICTIONhttps://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/178921

Contact Gerry Canavan (gerrycanavan@gmail.com) if you are interested!

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November 29, 2021 at 2:13 pm

GSA #7: A MAN OF THE PEOPLE!

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November 5, 2021 at 9:24 am

Spring 2022 Courses!

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Marquette’s English department has put up its course descriptions for the spring, which you can find here: https://www.marquette.edu/english/courses-offered-spring-2022.php

Here are mine!

ENGLISH 4762/5762: Neuroscience and Literature
101 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title: Disability and Narrative

Course Description: From the Shakespearean soliloquy (famously credited by Yale’s Harold Bloom with “the invention of the human” as such) to James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness narration, and beyond, literature has long been fascinated by the inner workings of the mind, and the so-called “cognitive turn” in literary studies of the 2000s created a vast subfield devoted to understanding these representations with more specificity and in more detail. Marquette’s new “Neuroscience and Literature” course, included in the Cognitive Science interdisciplinary major, draws on this critical archive to explore how literature understands consciousness, particularly in the way literature has posited disability and neurodivergence. Narratives about disability follow predictable and often quite hurtful patterns, typically centering compulsory optimism around concepts like “cure” and “inspiration,” or else fixating on inexorable decline—but emerging narratives about neurodivergence also register the efforts of social and political movements to expand awareness about the lives of people whose minds and brains are not neurotypical, and to change social structures, especially in education and medicine, in order to improve the quality of those lives. In literary terms, representing neurodiversity raises questions such as: What narrative strategies do writers use to represent various ways of perceiving the world? What are autistic voices, or amnesiac voices, Tourettic voices, sociopathic voices? Do these differ, and in what ways, from so-called neurotypical voices? How do fictional voices compare to autobiographical ones? How does centering neurodivergence impact the way we tell and understand stories? Modules in the course will pair scientific and therapeutic writing with literary examples that center the lived experiences of disabled people. 

Readings: The final reading list is still being developed, but this semester’s reading list will likely focus on autism, Huntington’s disease, addiction, and depression. Readings will be balanced among fiction, memoir/nonfiction, popular science writing, and literary and philosophical theory around disability studies. Interested students are invited to contact the instructor in advance of registration to discuss material that will be studied in the course.

Assignments: Enthusiastic class discussion; two papers and one final project; online discussion posts; presentations 

ENGLISH 4717/5717: Comics
101 TuTh 11:00-12:30 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title: Comics as Literature
Fulfills English Major Requirement:  Post-1900
Discovery Tier: Cognition, Memory, and Intelligence

Course Description: This course surveys the history and reception of comics and graphic narrative since 1945. We will explore the history of the comics form from its origins to the present moment, watching as the medium shifts from a predominantly American, predominantly male fixation on the superhero towards an increasingly popular international art movement crossing gender, class, and ethnic lines. What are comics today, and who are they for—and why, as Thierry Groensteen has pointedly asked, are comics still in search of cultural legitimization? As in previous instances of the course, we will consider science fictional and superheroic comics alongside high literary novels and confessional autobiographies to gain a full understanding of the medium and its possibilities. In addition to studying comics as literary scholars, along the way we will also consider alternative modes of comics reception, including the great comic book panic of the 1950s, the underground “hippie” counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, film and television adaptation, and Internet fandom today.

Readings: I will poll the class for their particular interests once registration is done but core texts I have taught in this course in the past include Warren Ellis and John Cassady’s Planetary; Mark Millar and Dave Johnson’s Superman: Red Son; G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel; Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead; Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and II; Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home; Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories; Ben Passmore’s “Your Black Friend”; Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis; David Mazzuchelli’s Asterios Polyp; Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Daytripper; and Richard McGuire’s Here. I am, of course, always open to suggestions of new texts.

Assignments: Enthusiastic class discussion; two papers and one final project; online discussion posts; presentations

Written by gerrycanavan

October 26, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Grad School Achebe #6: ARROW OF GOD!

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We are all but faulty microphones in the podcast of an angry God! Grad School Achebe is back with its very-long-awaited discussion of Arrow of God:

Thanks to Aaron Bady for his absolutely heroic efforts to recover the audio from this nearly lost episode and thanks to all of you for your grace and forgiveness on the sound quality. In this one we close out the so-called African Trilogy with Arrow of God — lots of religion talk for all you religion-heads, and a lot more to talk about besides…


Next week: A Man of the People!

Grad School Sopranos #0: THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK

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We’ve had some audio problems with the Arrow of God episode, which Aaron is working hard on and which should be out soon very soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this emergency b-b-b-b-b-b-bonus episode of our brand-new season that is absolutely not a one-off joke, all about The Many Saints of Newark…

Just Another Monday Morning, Just Another Set of Monday Morning Links

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Monday Morning Links!

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Friday Links!

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