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

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40 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    I finished Butcher’s Crossing. It was very good but I was able to predict the plot changes and things that would happen. The writing was excellent though. One of my big complaints about modern publishing and writing is seemingly the endless idea that length=quality. This was a short and good novel at 270 plus pages.Report

    • aaron david in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      That one is on my short list, and I agree with you on the length issue. I am 2/3 of the way through the new Elroy, and at 6-700 pages, I needed to take a break, read some short stories and period fiction.Report

  2. James Hanley says:

    Reading #1 daughter’s college entrance essays and making her revise them.

    Talk about privilege–I’m realizing that obviously not every kid has a parent who can do a good job at this.Report

    • Troublesome Frog in reply to James Hanley says:

      I’ve often wondered how much the college essay really allows admissions officers to find the “right fit” as opposed to simply selecting for students who had good essay reviewers. My time in the business world with interview questions like, “If you were a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be?” hasn’t done much to convince me that college admissions people have figured out some sort of secret sauce that the rest of the world hasn’t when it comes to matchmaking and qualitative assessment of candidates.Report

      • dhex in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        essay is only part o’ the puzzle.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        T is important too.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Troublesome Frog says:


        In my Career Seminar class, I throw interview questions at the students each week, pushing them to improve at answering them. What kind of cookie would you be is going on the list. I don’t even care if it’s actually asked–part of the goal is to get them to think about how to answer likely questions, but the other part is to get them to be able to handle ridiculous questions without panicking.Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        We had similar training when I was in school. I’m all for preparing for it, but I’m genuinely curious about whether those types of questions actually give the interviewers the information they think they’re getting, or if they’re up there with zodiac signs and phrenology for choosing employees. I’m sure they have high confidence that it provides deep insight that trained professionals like themselves can interpret, but we’ve all heard that before from a lot of professions that don’t exist anymore.

        I’ll say this: My temptation to ask that question during an interview has brought me close to exposing exactly the type of person I am, so maybe it does work in a perverse way.Report

      • The best pre-employment test I’ve ever heard of was a $5 Lego set. The boxed set was slid across the table to the prospective employee, the employee was asked to assemble it.

        Yes, instructions were included.

        My acquaintance, who experienced this directly, put the set together, slid it across the table to the interviewer. The interviewer responded: “You wouldn’t believe how many people this test eliminates.”Report

      • I might have screwed up that interview by thinking that using the instructions was a trap.

        When I interviewed at a large software company in the Pacific Northwest, I was handed a circuit board with a light bulb on it and was told “This is a prototype of a night light. Test this” (it was a software testing job).

        I said that the first trick was to get the bulb to turn on. I was busy working on the jumpers before I saw that there was a small button that it so happened turn the light on and off.

        I left there thinking that I was an idiot, but they hired me.Report

      • In my acquaintance’s case, using the instructions was part of the test.

        “Can this person follow instructions?”

        I mean, for 99% of the workforce out there, being able to read a document and then create something that looks like something? That’s more than victory.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        “Very nice. Now explain why we shouldn’t have all of our Legos assembled for one tenth your salary in Bangladesh.”Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        I’m genuinely curious about whether those types of questions actually give the interviewers the information they think they’re getting, or if they’re up there with zodiac signs and phrenology

        I suspect the latter, except for one thing. I don’t think the actual answer matters so much as how the employee deals with the question does.

        On the first day of my career seminar, after walking in and introducing myself to each person individually (regardless of how well I already know them), I ask their first interview questions. They have no forewarning, and each student gets a different question. Then we review and critique. The great majority of the time they stumble badly, so I emphasize pausing to collect their thoughts, having the confidence to ask a clarifying question, and turning the question to their advantage. I don’t think anyone gives a crap what kind of cookie you are, but they do care whether you can handle the question without panicking. (Me? I’m a soft chocolate chip cookie–I’m chippy, flexible, and I don’t crumble.)

        I do this nearly every day of the term (the course meets once a week), and have the students critique each others’ performance, so that they pay attention and learn from each others’ successes and non-successes. The great majority improve a lot through the term.

        We academics don’t actually get much experience with interviews of this sort, but I’m lucky that we have a former personnel director for a regional airline in our administration and she loves to help out with this kind of thing. She helps us conduct our mock interviews at the end of the term, too.

        Although it’s not an academic/intellectual class, it’s one of the more rewarding to teach because the improvement in student performance is so much more visible than it is in most courses.Report

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    The Shield isn’t Breaking Bad or The Wire, or even Homicide or the Sopranos, but it’s only about one tier down from those. If you’ve never seen it, $30 is a steal.Report

    • I’d say The Shield better than Homicide, once you get past the first couple seasons of the latter.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        I probably agree. Wikipedia reminds me that Forrest Whittaker was in both seasons 5 and 6 of The Shield, and they were the bomb. (Season 4, with Glenn Close, was disappointing, because they could have done so much more with her character.) Season 7, on the other hand was kind of muddled. (Ivp cynlvat bss gur Ohytnevnaf ntnvafg gur Rphnqbevnaf (be jungrire gurl jrer), abg Ivp if Funar) and I totally lost track of the plot at the level of who was doing what to whom at any given moment.

        I value Homicide more, becasue seasons 1 and 2 were as good as network TV gets. But Shawn Ryan did a much better job of keeping his show vital over the long haul than Tom Fontana did.Report

      • I was underwhelmed by Whittaker’s character. Everybody on the show is flawed, but he was too conveniently flawed, I thought.

        Anthony Anderson was pretty amazing, and made some of the latter seasons worthwhile. I’m not going to argue that there wasn’t some slide during the later seasons, but unlike Homicide, even when it was flawed, it was still fun as hell.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Vg’f GI. Ab jnl Ivp vf tbvat gb unir gb frqhpr n cynva jbzna.Report

      • Vs Puvxyvf jrera’g zneevrq, V’q jbaqre vs vg jrer jevggra va uvf pbagenpg gur ahzore bs gvzrf gur cybg pnyyf sbe uvz gb xvff be znxr bhg jvgu n ubg jbzna.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I’ve been ripping on The Shield on recent Sunday threads. Hulu finally put out Seasons 6 & 7, and I finally finished them up. I had watched it through The Funny Years (Seasons 1-3), and spottily through The Guest Star Years (Seasons 4-5), but I lost interest during the last two. It used to be an amusing show, back when the Strike Team had to balance their day jobs (police work) with their night jobs (crime). But by the end, the writers had just given up. Characters could walk down the street shooting people and there’d be no repercussions. Was is because the characters had reached the point of desperation? Sure. But that wouldn’t explain the complete lack of consequences, and even the lack of anyone noticing.

      The show lived by three rules. One, everyone is corrupt, or at minimum corruptible. Two, there’s always a price. The street demands justice, and if not the street, then the board room, the municipal building, or the prison yard. Three, Vic Mackey is magic. Rules 2 and 3 are incompatible.

      I don’t know if I have to say SPOILERS for a show that’s been off the air for a while, but I just wrote it in caps, so my conscience is clear. Some people would say that the finale was dramatic, as Vic’s fate was worse than death. That’s hard for me to accept. First of all, his worse-than-death fate looked like pretty much every day of my life. But secondly, if the show had stayed consistent, Vic would be a little red splotch on the sidewalk within hours. Are we supposed to believe that the cops and the gangs and everyone else would have let bygones be bygones like the Irish guy on The Simpsons’ Whacking Day? “Ah, you framed a few of my family members, and killed a few more, but it was all in good fun.”Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Pinky says:

        I agree with you about Vic’s fate. Ubarfgyl, jvgu gur rkprcgvba bs Funar, V gubhtug vg jrag va vairefr eryngvba gb trggvat jung gurl qrfreirq. Yrznafxl jnf gur yrnfg onq, naq jnf xvyyrq ol uvf sevraq. Ebaavr jnf arkg, naq raqrq hc orgenlrq ol uvf sevraq naq yvxryl vf yvxryl qrnq orsber gbb ybat nf jryy (naq rira vs abg, ur’f arire trggvat bhg). Ivp? Zru. Gung’f bayl n greevoyr sngr vs lbh yvir va Ivp’f zvaq jurer ur guvaxf gung fbzrubj ur’f tbvat gb trg gb tb ohfg fbzr urnqf sbe gur VPR. V qvq guvax gung gur raqvat jbexrq vafbsne nf vg qrzbafgengrq whfg ubj qvibeprq sebz ernyvgl naq gur pbafrdhraprf bs uvf npgvbaf gung ur’q orpbzr. (I rot13 it because, even if it’s not a new show, Jaybird may be going to watch it shortly.)Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

        Jung nobhg Pbevaar? Nyy nybar va n fgenatr pvgl jvgu ab zbarl naq gjb fcrpvny arrqf xvqf.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

        Gur fubj jnf hygvzngryl gur fgbel bs n iveghbhf choyvp freinag, jub jnf sbeprq gb ghea n oyvaq rlr gb Ivp’f pevzvany znpuvangvbaf, naq hygvzngryl jnf qrfgeblrq ol gurz. V fcrnx bs pbhefr nobhg gur Vagreebtngvba Ebbz pnzren. Jr ybfg lbh gbb fbba, pnzren.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Well, I’ma sit down and watch the opening now. I’ll be back after the first coupla episodes.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        Come back after the first.


      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Whoo, doggies.

        This is an interesting show.

        A few weeks back, listening to NPR, they were talking about Matt Scudder’s new movie, “A Walk Among The Tombstones” and they made a very interesting point: most criminals are stupid and uninteresting. You read about this serial killer… this Hannibal Lecter, this Norman Bates Mother Mother… and you’re immediately fascinated and interested. Unfortunately, the vast majority of criminals out there are, as we’ve said, stupid and uninteresting. They aren’t some weird flavor of sociopath. They aren’t insightful psychiatrists… they’re stupid people who find themselves in a bind that normal people don’t find themselves in and who do stupid things as a result that happen to get innocent people hurt.

        So I’m watching a television show devoted to crooked cops busting stupid and uninteresting criminals and I find myself wishing I lived in a universe populated with Hannibal Lecters instead of these stupid bangers/bankers who commit these stupid, stupid, petty crimes that end up with so many, many wrecked lives.

        And it makes one inclined to not spit at the television when a crooked cop (who does things such as help sisters-of-mercy in trouble) busts yet another stupid and uninteresting thug who has already been demonstrated as having been guilty.

        Which makes me wonder if the reason The Shield is so interesting is that everything is topsy turvy and the writers for the show don’t bother making the criminals interesting (just like real life), but put that effort into showing the different facets of a crooked cop.

        But I’m only one episode in.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        Have you seen The Commish? Hard to believe Vic Mackey looked like this. I actually watched Commish and so I’d mentally made a note to see The Shield when it came out. By pure luck, I happened to stumble across the first episode as it was airing. Woah.

        A couple of non-spoiler (past the first episode) background notes:

        Chiklis said that the big thing they wanted to do with the first episode was drop you right into the action. No “this is how they first meet” or “This is how the conflicts start”… just “There you go.” It really, really works.

        The writers say that they actually never meant to make the Strike Team as interesting as they did. It was supposed to be Mackey and his mostly interchangeable team. That changed really quickly.

        Terry is played by Reed Diamond. He was on Homicide for a couple of years, and they figured that there would be audience overlap so he would be recognized. They set him up as an interesting player and even made sure to put his name on the opening credits, to make what happened all the more surprising to some. (Diamond is a tragically under-utilized actor.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        I never watched “The Commish”. My sister did, so I may have walked past the show as she watched it countless times… but it never registered. I understand that, once upon a time, he was, as we say, “porky” but made himself, as we say, “buff” for the next show…

        His charisma survived the weight loss.Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Jaybird says:

        You forgot Daddio?!

        How dare you, sir?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yeah, Reed Diamond looked like perfect casting for Vic Mackey’s main antagonist; that was a genius piece of misdirection.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

        “Diamond is a tragically under-utilized actor.” Wholeheartedly agree. I haven’t seen him much, but I’ve never “caught” him acting. He’s just the character.

        I thought The Shield had some really great acting across the board, whatever problems I had with the writing. It’s easy to see that Walter Goggins (Shane) did a great job with some really heavy lifting. But I think about small roles, like Billings – it’s really tough to play the comic relief putz on an intense drama without looking out of place. Billings’s actor did it seamlessly. Of course, Jay Karnes was outstanding as Dutch.

        There were a few problems. I thought that Benito Martinez did good work as Aceveda, but the character zigzagged so much that sometimes Martinez seemed unsure of himself. He would have been better off gunning the engine and driving right over those scenes. When in doubt in Farmington, err on the side of bravado. On the other hand, the three big names (Anderson, Close, and Whitaker) all overdid the bravado to the point of caricature. Especially (wheeze) Anthony (wheeze) Anderson (wheeze).Report

      • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        The actor that played Billings has a recurring part in Homeland too, and once again, you kind of want more of him than you get.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        And Paula Garcas did a superb job of looking really pretty.Report

  4. Will Truman says:

    I’ve had a hard time watching TV the past week or so, as Lain has been making it kind of difficult. I watch Continuum as I can, though. I am towards the end of Season 2. If the cliffhanger isn’t too bad, I may switch over to The Bridge or Suits for a spell before getting back to watch Season 3.

    I’m on the last book of the second phase of Turtledove’s Southern Victory series. We’re in the 30’s and the Confederacy’s descent into fasicm is occurring. As I think I mentioned, the third phase never made it to audiobook, but I don’t think I will be rushing out to buy the dead tree version, as I’ve been listening to over 150 hours of this storyline. But I do like it! I’ll probably be checking out Turtledove’s Atlantis series (in which the east coast of the US split off from the North American continent a bazillion years ago).

    But before I go back into the worlds of Turtledove, I am going to finish up Stephen B White’s Alan Gregory series. Apparently my wife has been waiting for me to do so, so we can talk about the ending. I have three books left in that series.Report

  5. ScarletNumbers says:

    I would imagine you could’ve borrowed it from your local library.Report

  6. Maribou says:

    I have been watching Person of Interest, obvs, but also I finished up Vicious (wish there was a second season already), and started watching Lost Girl, which (after 1.5 episodes) appears to be a PI show starring a succubus. Was it people here who kept telling me to watch it? Someone kept telling me to. Anyway, I like it a lot, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it jump the shark at any moment. There is a fine line between quality B-movie-style TV and schlock.

    Reading wise, I finished Stand on Zanzibar and then read two fluffy but delightful modern SF juveniles by Janet Edwards, Earth Girl and Earth Star. I enjoyed ’em so much I actually bought the 3rd from a UK bookseller – it’s not out in the States until next year… don’t want to wait that long. I also reread a bunch of Smurf comics. (Papercutz is putting them out in anthology format, and I used to spend HOURS upon hours rereading them – in French – when I was a kid, along with Astérix and Tintin and Spirou.) Oh, and this year’s volume of Best American Comics, which is notably not only edited but *organized* by Scott McCloud – he is a fine organizer. About halfway through a Lynda Barry book, Syllabus, which is fragmentary and odd and wonderful. And I just started Wolf in White Van (by the lead singer of the Mountain Goats), which is also fragmentary and odd, and showing flashes of being wonderful (too soon to tell), but in very different ways.Report

  7. Burt Likko says:

    Finally finished Breaking Bad!

    Damn, Walt changed in that last season.Report