Central Cortex

Thoughts on the arts, society, politics, and various geeky topics.


Welcome to Central Cortex

This is the blog of Janice Dawley. Why is it called “Central Cortex”? Well, the Cortex was the interplanetary equivalent of the internet in Firefly, a show I was totally into back in 2003 when I first created this blog, and I’ve never changed the name since then. Strangely enough, I’ve barely written anything about Firefly here, but I’ve written a LOT about other TV shows and movies, as well as literature, politics, various cultural topics, and my own life.

Latest stories

Noirvember, 2021

Humphey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon

Last month I learned about a movie-watching challenge called Noirvember that was founded by “cinema fanatic” Marya E. Gates. The goal is to watch one film noir movie a day during the month of November. It was a daunting prospect, but I’ve always been interested in the genre, and this month happened to be a mostly fallow period in my TV viewing schedule, so I jumped in by signing up for a 2-week...

Thor, Ten Years Later

Thor with Coffee Mug

After watching the first season of Loki on Disney+ (highly recommended!), I realized I barely remembered the events of the first Thor movie in which Loki was introduced. Plot points from the film are mentioned several times in the show, so I decided to rewatch it, and just for kicks write a full-on recap – an activity that is particularly fun when the film being recapped isn’t great art. Spoiler:...

Recent TV Viewing, May 2021


I’ve been watching quite a bit of television this spring, and some of it has been quite good! Read on for more about the highlights as well as my thoughts on a couple of mixed bags. Mare of Easttown Kate Winslet plays a dumpy detective in suburban Pennsylvania who is struggling to process the death of her son while also dealing with a lot of other family drama. And Jean Smart plays her...

2021 Oscars Best Picture Nominees


I didn’t make as much of an effort to prepare for the Academy Awards this year, because… pandemic. I’ve had less energy to engage in projects that take a lot of time and concentration, and I’ve been reluctant to shell out $20 to digitally “rent” some of the nominated films. However, I did manage to see six out of eight of the best picture nominees as well as a smattering of the rest. Below are...

2020 Oscars Best Picture Nominees


Despite all the craziness in the world recently (or perhaps because of it), I’ve been all about movies in the past few weeks. Specifically, prep for the Oscars! This year I made an effort to see all of the Best Picture nominees before the awards ceremony — and I succeeded! My thoughts on the films are presented below, in the order in which I watched them. There are some minor spoilers...

My Tolkien Fandom Oral History Interview

Lord of the Rings Book Cover

A few weeks ago, I learned of a massive audio interview project being conducted by Marquette University to gather the input of 6000 Tolkien lovers on what made them fans and what his work has meant to them. Each interview is limited to 3 minutes. I figured, why not? I’ll do it! As it turned out, I spent considerably longer than that writing up my notes ahead of time and editing repeatedly...

Thoughts on Star Trek: Discovery

Image from Star Trek Discovery's Opening Credits

To be clear before I start, I am a huge science fiction nerd, in all media forms — books, TV, movies, comics, games… everything. But I am not what I would call a fan of Star Trek. Have I watched a lot of it? Absolutely. For long stretches of time, Star Trek (in various incarnations) was the only SF on television, and for much of my life it has been a wonderful bonding experience to...

Best of 2018

Best of 2018 Collage Image

As always, I remain fairly indifferent to spoilers, so continue at your own risk. MOVIES Faces Places (2017) A documentary about a road trip around rural France that is also a documentary about itself and the growing friendship between the directors, New Wave legend Agnès Varda and “photograffeur” JR. There’s a free-wheeling openness to experience and the people they meet as well as a touching...

Best of 2017

Best of 2017 Collage Image

I had some really great media experiences in 2017, though as usual some of the works I list below were released in earlier years. My comments are mostly spoiler-free, but since I don’t really care about spoilers, I might not have noticed if I revealed anything important. If you are a spoiler-phobe, tread lightly… MOVIES Moonlight This film is a masterpiece, and I do not say that...

Memories of Prince

Prince Photo by Michael Ochs

Learning of Prince’s death last week really shook me. This post is an attempt to express some of what he has meant to me over the years. Albany, NY. May 1983. At a time when my experience of cities was almost nonexistent, my sister and I went to SUNY to help my mother pack up her stuff and return from her final year in residence at the university. The campus was warm and bright and full of...


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