The Fourth Annual Mindless Diversions Unsolicited Shopping Guide



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

Related Post Roulette

27 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    (I also figure that this can do double duty as the “Sunday!” post. So… what are you reading and/or watching?)Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

      Black Mirror is finally on Netflix streaming and it is seriously awesome. I have one ep to go (out of six) and will finish tonight. It’s an anthology of near-future sci-fi, focused on technology/media. Twilight Zone, Fifteen Minutes Into The Future kind of stuff.

      Excellent and very, very dark. I may attempt a more serious writeup or recaps if I can get any time.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Glyph says:

        Wow. I watched the first episode right up until the last scene, and that really peeved me.

        I’ll watch another, but that sucked. Otherwise, it was like reading phillip dick the the first time. Like Dick, a little tone deaf about the women. But I did like the throat hold; that was perfect.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        The first ep is actually one of my least favorite, though I did like the fact that they saw it through all the way to the bitter end. I actually liked that last scene quite a bit, because instead of reading it as some sort of truth about men and women, or these two in particular (though it felt as though it could be realistic even there – some sights can’t be unseen, and the shot of him alone at the bottom of the staircase was heartbreaking and really well-composed), or political compromise, I read it as a metaphor instead for what is lost in one-on-one interpersonal communication when we replace it with everyone interacting via mass-broadcasting/social media.

        Watch at least the next two and see if you feel any differently. I’m not going to say there’s nothing problematic in those either, but I think that there’s enough ambiguity and thought there to make it worthwhile (in retrospect, your Dick comparison makes perfect sense to me).Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Also, I finished up last night. The last two episodes are maybe the weakest of the lot, but there’s still some good stuff in there (at least in “White Bear”).Report

  2. Avatar dhex says:

    the only sweater you’ll need this holiday season –

  3. Avatar Glyph says:

    I’ll save music recommendations in the hopes I’ll get around to a year-end post, but here’s a couple things:

    The Returned – French series about dead people mysteriously coming back to life, not as zombies, just…no longer dead. If you can suspend your need to know “…but why?” and simply enjoy the characters asking (and attempting to answer) that very same question, there’s a lot to enjoy in this very meditative, well-acted and increasingly “WTF?!” series that has a little bit of Twin Peaks in it.

    Bluetooth headphones – sound quality is pretty average, TBH – Bluetooth is just not an ideal way to transmit music. But the build seems solid, they have long battery life, and they come with a nice hard case and an included flat cable for use as regular, non-bluetooth ‘phones (sound quality seems a bit better, and it means they aren’t useless when/if the battery dies). I’ve mostly used them for mowing the lawn where they’ve been a godsend, since previously I was wasting a good 10 expletive-filled minutes each time re-seating my earbuds after I caught the cables on something.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

      Get a Bluetooth adapter that you can plug headphones into. Better sound quality with pretty much the same freedom of movement/portability.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I have one of these, which I love:

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        The headphones themselves aren’t bad-sounding (I plugged in the cable to check). Unless I am missing something, with the adapter you still have Bluetooth as the weak lossy link between your source and the phones (and you still have some cables to get caught on things)? Or do I misunderstand how it works?

        I have some wireless headphones I use for home listening that sound damn good, (uncompressed/CD quality) but they use a proprietary tech (KLEER instead of Bluetooth) and have a large base station, so it’s not an option for portable.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        You still lose some with Bluetooth, but can use whatever speakers/headphones you want. I’ve yet to find good quality Bluetooth headphones that weren’t outrageously expensive, but I stopped trying about a year ago, so maybe they’ve gotten better. But if you already have headphones that sound great, the adapters are almost all under $50.

        I like being able to switch between my walking ear buds and sitting headphones too, plus the mic.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chris says:

        See, this annoys me. I can run HD video over WiFi so what’s so hard about decent sound over Bluetooth?Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Glyph says:

      When it comes to headphones, it’s just all about Bose, full stop. You’re buying anything else (other than the cheapest $5-$15 drugstore Skullcandy), you’re wasting your money. Their service is fantastic, too.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Michael Drew says:

        with the caveat that ears are different the world around i would counterargue strongly – bose is generally awful and overpriced.

        i would take most sennheiser products over theirs, or if you want to spend a few extra ducats, grado is really worth it. (for certain kinds of music; grado is much better for traditional recordings, rather than stuff that’s more heavily electronic)

        second caveat involves listening environments and types of music listened to; for subway commuting, i was very fond of the creative ep-630 (a clone of the sennheiser cx300) in-ear phones, as i could get them for 10-20 bucks and was using them on the subway. had a tight fit and were ok for running as well, though i can’t recommend that in an outdoor urban environment due to the risk of death from drivers, cyclists, etc.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I’d split the difference and say Bose is pretty good, but def. way overpriced IMO. Both my wired and wireless over-ear home listening are Sennheisers, using the wired ones right now (I haven’t tested Grados, though my buddy keeps repping them).

        There are all kinds of reasonably-priced in-ear phones that are decent now, I’ve been really surprised at the available selection (though to be fair, the one Sennheiser in-ear I bought SUCKED).

        I keep eyeing these reasonably-priced (relatively-speaking, of course) planar (same tech Magnepan speakers use) headphones:

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    The picture for this post reminds me of a reverse version of one of my favorite Holiday songs.

  5. Avatar aaron david says:

    If you have someone who is bookish (both reads and loves books in and of themselves) this is the place to go:

    In the watching category, we watched Hannibal s1, which was pretty good, but should not have had Eddie Izzard along with the filler episodes; Broad City, high-larious and everything that Girls wants to be but is two pretentious to achieve; and Hinterland, BBC crime set in Wales.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

      Oh, I really liked Izzard in Hannibal. I thought the fact that he was basically playing a low-rent Anthony Hopkins impersonation worked both within the context of the story and in a fun meta way.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

        Yeah, both he and Molly Shannon totally drug me out of any groove those episodes had. Overall there were some interesting things going on, but between them and Hannibal dressing like its 1980 I was mostly confused. The first episode is an M-Fer though and I can see having problems just meeting that level of intensity. In my view they should have brought the number of episodes down to 6-8 like True Detective to tighten it up.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        That Molly Shannon one I didn’t see until later (they pulled it from broadcast in the wake of Sandy Hook). It was overall a pretty weak ep (though it had one plot point I thought relevant to the overall arc) so it was no big loss.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    No presents. We give no presents at Christmas. Not one. I will get a tree this year; go out into the White Mountain National Forest on snow shoes; maybe a snowmobile if I want to get into deep woods or it’s really cold. I’ll make some cookies (I did this afternoon for my sweetie’s students,) and there’s a boom antenna on the roof with colored lights around it’s pyramid legs, a star from a string of blue lights and a wreath covered with green lights on the front of the house. The real decorations are the red rose hips, the fir trees and their cones, and all the creatures that live amongst them, even with the snow and the cold. We’ve got a lot of snow now, really early, and really fast.

    Better to be a Hobbit, and give presents on your birthday. Don’t drive to the mall.Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    I did like the show “Legends”.

    As for stuff, I’m getting some stuff framed that I got from this guy because they are cool as hell.

    And since I got some gift card monies, I’ve been playing around with a “Samurai Umbrella”, which has a strong cool factor and could replace my current broken umbrella. Search on Amazon.Report

  8. Avatar Chris says:

    I almost never read books in the year that they were published, or usually in the decade they were published, ’cause I’m always behind, but Richard Flanagan is probably my favorite contemporary author (maybe with Victor Pelevin, on the strength of Life of Insects alone, or Pat Barker ), so I actually bought a copy of the book he published this year when it had only been released overseas. And then it won the Man Booker Prize, which made me happy the way that my favorite team winning a championship does, which is a little odd I suppose.

    Anyway, it’s a really good book, but don’t take my word for it (from the Amazon page linked below):

    “Some years, very good books win the Man Booker Prize, but this year a masterpiece has won it.” —A.C. Grayling, Chair of Judges, Man Booker Prize 2014

    “Elegantly wrought, measured, and without an ounce of melodrama, Flanagan’s novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.” —Financial Times

    So you should definitely read The Narrow Road to the Deep North. And if you like it, Wanting, The Death of a River Guide, and Gould’s Book of Fish (the novel for which he was most famous until this year) are all excellent. All would make great gifts for the reader(s) in your life.Report

  9. Avatar Jeff lipton says:

    Re “Her”:
    [[“Her” characterizes future Los Angeles as a streamlined, clean city with efficient rail transportation.]]

    So fantasy then.

    For TV, I recommend “Sleepy Hollow” (the current season has major problems, but the first is excellent). If you don’t fall in love with Nicole Beharie, there’s something wrong with you. Also Brooklyn 99 — a work-place comedy where the workers ALL like each other.

    Books: “Ordinary Acts of…” Series by Julia Kent is delightful erotica with no BDSM

    “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — about being Nigerian, at home, in the US, and abroad

    “Engraved on the Eye” by Saladin Ahmed. Short story collection with an Arabic flavor.

    “Can You Feel Anything When I Do This” by Robert Sheckley. From the 70s or so, but holds up nicely.Report

  10. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    I will second Jeff Lipton’s recommendation of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Probably the funniest show on broadcast TV right now.

    For a book gift I’d recommend The Guts by Roddy Doyle. It picks up the tale of Jimmy Rabbitte (The Commitments), who’s now dealing with cancer while running Doyle has a way with dialogue that is second to none.

    For a music recommendation, especially if you’re a country music fan (not the “country” that’s polluting the airwaves these days), or just a fan of well sung song, I’d give you The Cactus Blossoms from, of all places, Minneapolis. I saw them open for Nick Lowe and they knocked my socks off. The harmonies are just unbelievable. Here’s a sample: