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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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42 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    I finished Echopraxia. Not sure what I think about it – either it is really fragmented, and/or I was (I read it in small irregular chunks, and Watts kind of demanded your full attention with Blindsight and I wasn’t really able to provide that here for various reasons). I did enjoy the little nods to The Thing and Alien here and there.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    Oh, and just once more I’ll rep the French sort-of-but-not-really zombie series The Returned. Teeee-riffic.

    I’m starting to get irritated because there’s a couple Brit sci-fi shows I am interested in but I can’t seem to find a cheap legal way to watch them (yes, I still prefer to pay; but, I’m also a cheap bastard). I started to stream one of them on a…less-legitimate site, and the quality was great but it kept hanging and I was tired and gave up.Report

  3. Avatar Glyph says:

    Oh and also: I finally got around, last night, to firing up the most recent Star Trek movie, only to turn it off in disbelief 5 minutes in.

    Unless that first 5 minutes is a dream sequence or something (let me know!) it may or may not be a good movie; but it’s not Star Trek. It’s some generic teen-action/CGI-fest that uses the same names but doesn’t even pretend to be the same thing.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Give it a chance, @glyph . It stays true to the spirit of the mythology you love.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        notsureifserious.jpgReport

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Yeah, I am serious. The Abrams Star Trek movies are their own thing but they’re fundamentally optimistic, playful, and ultimately revolve around the Kirk-Spock dynamic with McCoy the Cynic as a spice dish. Quinto’s Spock is more brittle than Nimoy’s, and Pine’s Kirk is marginally better at Starfleet politics, but the vision is of a basically good future with dangerous enemies and clever, brave protectors.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Maybe I should be more clear.

        (And again, I am reviewing the first five minutes of the movie, which I am aware is fundamentally unfair). SPOILERS BELOW

        Why is it that every modern movie assumes the audience won’t be hooked in unless they start with a bang, each more immense than the last? EVEN THOUGH WE ALREADY KNOW THIS WILL BE A MOVIE WITH STARSHIPS AND ALIENS AND LASERS IN IT?

        We’ve got Kirk and McCoy racing through some sort of forest/crop, pursued by tribesmen, stopping briefly to slay some alien monster video-game-o-no-problemo and then – OH GOD NOT THIS SCENE AGAIN – leaping off a mile-CG-high cliff into the water, where we find (grits teeth, steadies self from nerd rage, goes on) The Enterprise, a starship that historically cannot enter atmo, has somehow not only done that, but submerged.

        INTERCUT with – Spock, DROPPING INTO A FREAKING VOLCANO (but you know, his best girl gave him a buss and a ‘go get ’em, boyo’ – way to make interesting subtext into boring text and lame up Uhura, guys) to stop its explosion.

        Now, any one of these moments, on its own, and built up to properly, could actually have been quite enjoyable, even exciting.

        Mushed all together, right up front, with no foreplay like that, I feel like I’ve been assaulted. Perhaps JJ was the ideal person to take over SW from Lucas after all.

        I didn’t have a problem with them (literally) blowing up ST continuity in the last one (not that ST is all THAT continuity-heavy to begin with); I understood they wanted to make their own sandbox and not be tied down. I enjoyed the last one, silly contrived coincidental meetings and nonsensical handwawy physics (even more so than usual, plus fiddling with understood transporter functionality) and all, because they still seemed like they were trying to make a Star Trek movie.

        But this? This is generic anything.

        God, maybe since JJ has gone on to Star Wars, he could hand ST over to someone else.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        That’s a good assessment of the first JJ movie, but the second one is Loose Change in Space.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        The Eugenics Wars were an inside job.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I dunno, @burt-likko ….you’ve Rickrolled before.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Glyph,
        Gleepers. That’s starting to sound like Michael Bay levels of horrid.
        I thought the first Abrams ST movie was a pretty perfectly shot action movie.
        It had rhythm and flow and fun.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Coincidently, or at least i assume, i watched two fan made Star Trek movies on youtube last night. Both make a point of keeping the Roddneberry vision of the future and people not sucking in the forefront. One, The Tresssarian Intersection, aside from clearly amateur, although enthusiastic, acting was genuinely good.

      The other needed a bit more generous viewing but was still good. One of the main plots was two gay crewman, one Kirk’s nephew, being in love and wanting to get married. Which everyone was fine with although the inevitable plot consequences of two crewman in love and life threatening danger were sort of obvious.Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      @glyph

      I feel the same way. Star Trek Into Darkness was a generic sci-fi actioner wearing Wrath of Khan‘s skin as a coat.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      @glyph

      Did you turn off most recent movie, or the first of the most recent series of movies?

      I wish I knew exactly what “thing” Star Trek really is that other things trying to be Star Trek need to be, otherwise they’re not Star Trek. I’m not a Star Trek guy (I like it fine, I’m just really into it), so while I know many of the features that make it distinctive, I have no idea what its true, indispensable essence is.

      I also wonder, if a thing were honestly trying to be Star Trek, but failed, but nevertheless succeeded at being a good movie even in your estimation, why that station would disgust you. Or, is the issue that you don’t perceive it to be honestly trying to be Star Trek? If that’s the issue I can understand that, even if I think it’s a little uncharitable toward a production team that’s tasked with making a new product that appeals to a new audience that is still, to some critical extent, still Star Trek. It’s a pretty tight spot to be in. (Not that I feel bad for him; I’d trade places today).

      For myself, I’m pretty excited to see what he does with Star Wars. I do wish the origin stor(ies)y had been available for him to tackle rather than the perhaps superfluous later episodes, as I admire what he’s done with Star Trek thus far. (Though on that, again, I am not a Star Trek person, and thus may actually appreciate that/if he has failed to even make a Star Trek film-proper.) I’m a little worried that the entire enterprise will seem unnecessary and tacked-on, no mater how well-made they are.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Missed your further comment. The “teen” thing made me think of the beginning of the first Abrams installment.

        It seems to me that you’re right that the opening action sequence follows the rhythm of the standard action flick. Abrams can be relied upon to do that in most of his work. So is it part of the essence of Being Star Trek that a Star Trek movie Does Not Do That?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        …Also, from an imagined Trekkie perspective, I can certainly understand the submerged-Enterprise thing as being a deal breaker. From my perspective, though, if I were a fan and I had to choose between no more Star Trek films and ones that check certain conventional boxes in terms of pacing and set pieces for modern major blockbusters, I’d certainly take the blockbusters and the effects dollars that come with making the movies in ways that bring the box office. I would want the Enterprise not to be submerged if that’s against the rules, though. But if you listen to Abrams in interviews, though, that’s exactly the kind of constraint he I think took off the table in agreeing to do the series. If he was going to do them, they were going to be his movies. I can certainly understand having an issue with that.

        Nevertheless, like @burt-likko says, they seem like Trek to me, albeit in an unusually entertaining incarnation. As I say, I’m not sure what makes them not-Star Trek, or what would make them Star Trek. If they’re not Star Trek, I’d like to understand why they’re not. But I’m not sure even then that I’d wish they were.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @michael-drew I’ll be the trek nerd here. I’ve only seen the first of two new movies, which i found entertaining enough but basically a generic action flick. However it was unnecessarily stupid in many ways but that is typical of big budget flicks nowadays.

        One part of ST, that is definitely out of fashion these days, is seeing the future as general positive and people as sometimes living up to their ideals. They do seem to be trying to keep that part of ST. The part i think they, and almost all modern movie sci fi misses, is seeing the universe as a wondrous amazing place filled with fantastic ( in all the meanings of fantastic) things and creatures. Those weird, different and other worldly visions can run the gamut from friendnly to beyond our comprehension to deadly. Modern movie sci fi seems only see the deadly and in terms of the generic action plot lines.

        ST was able to create and develop entire new races. In some cases those races have their own language, which is very silly, but also expanded universe novels.

        On a separate note, i find the modern action movies mostly boring because they such a strong set of tropes, pacing and plot lines. They are far to predictable for me. I’d rather watch a bad b-movie to riff on it. Yeah i often see the same tired tropes but i might get humor out of riffing it and, sadly, crappy movies are the only ones that might actually surprise me. Okay the surprises are in how monumentally stupid or inept they are, but we take what we can get.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        @greginak

        I think I understand to a great degree.

        A few things I’d say. First, our tastes may simply differ. When I go to see an action blockbuster, I guess I don’t mind that it has predictable pacing and signposts, because I know it’s going to. Maybe that’s says something about the sad state of modern moviemaking, but I feel like there are plenty of movie categories I can see where I can count on the unpredictable or at least have a fair expectation of it, but the action blockbuster just isn’t one of them. If I get it, great, but if not, I don’t feel disappointed. Again, maybe that’s sad, but there it is.

        So I guess the question is whether ST should be exempt from that categorization at this point. I.e., is it essential to Star-Trek-ness that a movie is not a conventional action blockbuster, with the attendant structural implications? In that case, then, yes, this ST series isn’t really ST, because certainly that is what this series is. It’s too big a brand at this point not to be. Victim of its ow success in that way. But thats what I was asking: what’s in the nature of ST that means the modern versions of it can’t be that? Again, I’m asking; I don’t have the familiarity to say.

        The other thing I’d say about fantastical creatures and optimism and the like is that that may have been ST at one time, but that ST dealt with the Federation in its full capacity, did it not? Maybe the Kirk bio doesn’t go back far enough to really change that basic time setting in the scope of ST time, but these Abrams stories are the stories about how a kid from Iowa ends up in the captain’s chair of a Starfleet starship. That’s necessarily going to be a little bit more of an Earth-bound story. And the development of the young Kirk from a troubled teen to the cool commander we see in the series is bound to be a more bumpy, slightly less obviously optimistic (though ultimately still optimistic, given what we outside the story know – another reason we ought to accept a bit more gloominess in the short-run than we might otherwise in Trek) ride than the ones we took with him in maturity.

        Again, it might be because I’m not in any way a Trekkie, and/or because I have no taste in genre film and have just been beaten down by today’s cookie-cutter plots and pacing, or because I just enjoy the eye candy of the modern blockbuster. But I’ve liked what Abrams has done with the series just in terms of producing watchable movies. Indeed, I liked the first Abrams installment a great deal and then heard not-great things about the second, so I expected not to like the second. Then I watched the second and was surprised to find I might have liked it more than the first. I’ve been meaning to watch it again to see if I was just being easy on it.

        But as to whether it really is Trek, I defer to you guys. But I’m curious why it is or isn’t.

        By the way: Get a life, will you people? 😉Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @michael-drew – I should make clear, I’m not an Abrams-hater by any means, but do find his work (or projects with his name attached anywhere) flawed to some degree. But he still was at least somewhat involved in getting us two good seasons apiece of Alias, Fringe, & Lost. My guess is that the move to megabudget filmmaking will magnify rather than hide his flaws (or, just as possible, megabudget filmmaking may not be where his strengths are best used), which leads me into my first main point that @greginak already referred to:

        1.) I have a general complaint about the rhythms and tropes and storytelling of modern blockbuster filmmaking. Look back to even a rousing actioner like Raiders, and it still takes a few pregnant minutes to get the (heh) ball rolling.

        The original Star Wars does open in media res with a battle, and I think that was sort of fresh at the time (and, maybe that’s the model JJ is trying to follow), but I think it’s generally good, in ANY film, to give viewers a couple of minutes to sink into your universe before you start blowing it up. (Or look at Wrath of Khan, which starts with a battle fakeout/simulation, then moves on to its ‘real’ opening, a quiet scene of Kirk feeling old and getting glasses and drinking with an old friend.) So it doesn’t feel like “Star Trek”, in part, because it feels like every other modern sci-fi and action movie.

        2.) I have a great deal of affection for ST: TOS, having grown up with it; it was an important part of my childhood and youth. The other ST series I’ve seen some of here and there but don’t feel nearly so strongly about. So I’m not sure if I’m a full-on Trekker or not (I could give convincing arguments either way. The ‘Pro’ arguments might be particularly embarrassing in their apparent conclusiveness).

        But as others have alluded, there seemed to be at least an ideal of optimism and peacefulness and ideas and problem-solving (interspersed, of course, with Directive-violatin’ and phasers and torpedoes and sex appeal and blowin’ stuff up). I’m not sure that the new stuff is all that interested in that side of it, just the action and the melodrama. Take that away and again, what you’re left with is generic (nominal) sci-fi action product.

        I dunno, maybe I should try to watch the rest and see if it gets better. I’ve been sick and stressed and in a foul mood, so maybe I’m being too hard on it.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @michael-drew The key problem with ST movies is that most of them haven’t been good. Only Wrath of Kahn was great. A couple of the other TOS movies were good and fun but they mostly achieved that by having lovable characters we enjoyed spending time with, they weren’t good as movies on they own. WOK was great although it succeeded based on having two epically scenery chewing bombastic actors at their prime and a well done and emotional arc with Spock. It was a small intimate emotional movie that was pretty much based on WW2 sub flicks. But that worked for that ST flick.

        It has been hard for people to find what works for ST on the big screen. What has worked has rarely been what people ( well ST nerds) loved in the TV shows. Only the Bond franchise has had more lame outings in a franchise people keep wanting to see. That is some sort of an accomplishment.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @greginak , well, IV & VI are good IMO (and III isn’t terrible, as long as you essentially view it as an extended episode of the TV show linking II & IV together).

        But again, I have hella affection for TOS (have I mentioned before that I could recite Kirk’s opening monologue – mispronouncing ‘civilizations’ as ‘cilivizations’, then ending with a WHOOOSH as the ship races by – by age 3? Or that Mr. Spock was my imaginary friend for a while as a little kid? Or that I distinctly remember choking up both at Spock’s death/funeral at the end of II, and seeing NCC-1701 fall and burn at the end of III?) which may be my downfall. I’m too close to be fair.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @glyph Oh i agree those flicks work as essentially extended episodes of the series. That is fine in that sense but suggest ST might just be something that is better as a TV series. In a series they have plenty of time to develop main and supporting characters, character arcs, other species and have a mix of action, light, and sci fi stories.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Well, I’ve sweet-talked my way into a cushy seat in the sports book at the Wynn with only a $10.00 bet on the Packers. Lots of Packer Backers here! Gotta put up with some cigarette smoke but WTH it’s Vegas.Report

  5. Avatar aaron david says:

    Funniest thing I have seen in a while:

    Report

  6. Avatar Chris says:

    Reading Germans, thanks to Jay. I will be reading Germans for a while, too.

    Also reading Under the Volcano, which begins with an epigraph that spans two pages, so that I didn’t immediately recognize it as an epigraph. I was reading along thinking, “This seems familiar, but damn can this dude write,” then I flipped the page and see “-Sophocles, Antigone.”Report