Swift Studies

A recent article on an academic conference devoted to Taylor Swift prompted some discussion online. The article by Emily Yahr was posted on Dec 26, 2023, here:


My response was as follows:

I felt similarly perhaps 15-20 years ago when a college offered a semester length course on the topic of Lady Gaga, and I was aghast, but then I kinda got out of it.
Taylor Swift is no different in this regard, though I think the Swifties are more of a force than the Monster ever were.
But that’s the thing: the fact that both of them have a fanbase large enough to be a) identified by name and b) make an impact beyond the pop music sphere warrants the study.

And it’s not like pop-culture focused conferences are a new thing. From the article:
“One academic told her that, after speaking at events focused on Bob Dylan, Nirvana and the Beatles, they were thrilled to discuss a prominent female artist.”
… so there is this, at least, with expanding the scope of artists that can be discussed.

I think that’s pretty swell.

(And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve presented on pop-culture related topics academically at the PCA before, as well as several Games Studies and Film Studies conferences before.)

I think there’s value in the conference though. The budget is usually pretty minimal, relatively speaking, from my experience with a couple organizing committees. It let’s the researchers get some reps in too, which honestly can be invaluable.

And obviously there is *something* going on with the Swift and her fanbase, so a bit of scrutiny isn’t a bad thing, even if I’m not on board with Lacanian interpretations of Swift’s Folklore either.

(Or anything Lacanian,tbh.)

When it comes to the utility of examining, pop-culture, I’ll grab a quote by Bruce Sterling from a couple decades past:

“The most fertile ground for analyzing motives is pop culture – not because pop culture is deep, but because it’s so shallow. It’s where those wishes and longings are most nakedly evident” (Sterling , 2002, pxii-xiii).

It was informative when I was looking at the role of #ScienceFiction back in the early Double-Ohs. It’s still solid now.

This whole subject was on my to-do list for the podcast a couple episodes from now. Look for an episode titled “The Old Man and the River” in the new year. I’ll link back to this when it gets posted.

Happy holidays

Had a fantastic few days off, visiting with family and loved ones, and managed to get a few little things done. The first few days of the vacation have felt like a whirlwind though, and I’m looking to have some time to focus over the next few days. Let’s have a quick rundown of the agenda, and what we’re looking to accomplish:

  1. Draft of the book chapter. This is the big one, it’s due March 1st, and I’d like to have the first pass done soon with enough time to edit. February will be very busy and classes start soon too, so the draft has to be done right away.
  2. Getting the implausipod podcast and websites up-to-date. There’s a few missing transcripts, and a couple are missing their bibliographies as well, and those both need to be updated and current with the material. In addition, I’d like to re-tune the implausipod website to be more than it is right now, which is just a list of shows. It needs a pretty big upgrade, and might need to be separate from here too.
  3. Finish one or two of the episodes that have been in the pipeline for the last couple months. Goes without saying, but they need to be completed. There’s a lot more to discuss in 2024, and I’m excited to talk about it with you!
  4. Re-do this blog in terms of visuals and content. more images, more stories, and static content where it needs to be, and accessible.

Of course, this is somewhat focused on the online stuff. There’s a ton of other stuff to take care of as well, but this is what’s relevant to the audience here. Thanks to everyone for an amazing 2023, and excited for 2024 too.

Grats 2023

Quick update from the ‘pod for the holidays:


 Hey, everybody, it’s Dr. Implausible. Thanks for joining us here on the eve before the eve before Christmas on the Implausipod. We’ll have a new episode coming up for you soon on the Doctor Who 2023 Christmas special, but in the meantime, I just wanted to reach out and say thanks to everybody who’s been listening to us over the past year and a half.

I’m going to read out some names: thank you, I appreciate you. If you recognize any of the names that I read out here, just know: I’m listening. I feel seen and feel heard and that’s really encouraging. So if you’re here from Victoria, British Columbia; Portland, Oregon; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Prairie Village, Kansas; Fredericton, New Brunswick; Winter Park, Florida; or Valmo, Kronenberg County, Sweden; Newcastle, Delaware.

St. Catherines, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; Toronto, or Vancouver, British Columbia; I appreciate you. Thanks for everything you do. Wichita, Kansas, I don’t know why Wichita is listening to me, but I appreciate you too. Ashburn, Virginia; Amherst, Ohio; Airdrie, Alberta; Sacramento, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Poitiers, Vienne, France; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Chicago, Illinois; Plano, Texas; Wichita, California; Pico Rivera; Phoenix; Brooklyn; Hyde Park, and so many more.

And anybody listening in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, too. I appreciate all of you. I don’t have a lot of communications going on, but like I said, you make everything we do here at the Implausipod worthwhile, so just wanted to say thanks. We got some exciting stuff coming to you through the rest of the holiday season into the new year.

We’re going to finish off some things, some threads that we dropped earlier on. And wrap up some loose ends before starting a few new projects. I’ve got a nice long list of about 140 or 150 ideas for episodes, and that’s not even including the stuff that happens with the news that comes out. So, if you want to hang with us over the next year or two as we try and tackle some of those topics, I’d sure love to have you around.

Take care during the holidays, look after your friends and your family, all the best. We’ll talk to you soon. Take care.

The Giggles

is up. Spent about 5 hours today editing the episode, to get it sounding better.

It’s one of those processes I find I can lose myself in, just keep working.

Which is a good thing, even though I might forget to eat or drink.

…so. Maybe not that good. But i like it

And that’s why it’s just a quick update tonight.

Check it out!

Documentary filming

Met a friend for dinner, and old mentor who has become a dear friend, and the discussion, after the usual formalities turned to recent works, in this case photography and film-making. I updated him on my experience after having visited the Sphere in Las Vegas, which I documented on the podcast in Episodes 20 and 21.

And he had some great advice. We spent a bit of time discussing beginner photography equipment (or which more in the new year), and then shifted to film.

I know it’s hard to tell by all the images I have on the blog, but I’m a pretty visual thinker, and often have an image or film clip in my mind of what I’m trying to tell.

The challenge (for me at least) is to coax that out of what I see in the real world. AI-assisted art tools can help, somewhat, if you’re comfortable with the “prompt engineering” that goes behind creating the images you want. There are some significant drawbacks, however, including the sourcing of the training data, and the power that is used to run these algorithms.

The other option is to make it yourself.

That old adage of “if you don’t see what you want in the world, then you need to make it” (or “be the change you want to see”).

But that can be a whole other set of challenges. Gear, learning to use the tools, time, energy, travel, tools for editing, and the time to do it, and a whole host more.

But it is do-able. Thousands do it every day on the online video platforms.

And in this case, the goal of what I want to see is a documentary film.

So let’s document that process, and see what we can create.