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

53 Responses

  1. Will Truman says:

    Finished White Collar. No more!

    On to Flash and Arrow.

    Listening to Robert Ludlum’s Cry of Halidon while I try to figure out what’s next.Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    I ran across a website dedicated to reviewing all of Donald Westlake’s books, so I’m rereading his books about Parker. (Neither Spiderman nor JB’s friend. If you recall the movies Point Blank or Payback, that guy.)Report

  3. Michael Drew says:

    Haven’t started it yet, but Season 3 of The Americans got started this week. I’ve seen most of seasons 1 & 2.

    I’m wondering if anyone else out in the world reacts to it as I do: I root passionately for Stan, the FBI and the rest of “the Americans,” fully in knowledge that I’m supposed to root for “The Americans” (i.e. the Russians.” It gives me a little thrill of not following instructions (one of the writers is on record saying we’re supposed to root for the Russians: maybe you should make your spy family just slightly less cold-blooded in their murdering, then), and it also raises the stakes of viewership, since, if the “heroes” are the Russians, it seems less likely that things will go well for the guy’s you’re (I’m) rooting for.

    Anyone watch The Americans? Anyone get where I’m coming from on this?Report

    • The Americans is the best show on television.

      I do fine myself rooting for the Commies, though. Actually pondered a post on it a while back.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

        I couldn’t ever blame you for rooting for Keri Russell, @will-truman .Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        On some days, I would quibble and say “possibly the best show on basic cable”.

        Other days, I wouldn’t quibble at all. It is a great, great, great show.Report

      • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        It is one of two shows that R. and I watch together religiously (the other being Justified), so it must be good.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        My wife and I got in an argument on the season premiere, because I had reminded her several times that day that it came on at ten, and right before it started, I texted her from the back of the house and told her to get back there, it was starting.

        Well, I guess she was messing around with something else, and didn’t see the text, so twenty minutes in at a commercial break, I stuck my head around the corner and asked her what the heck was going on.

        She came back there immediately and demanded that I start over from the beginning…I told her that she could watch the first twenty minutes tomorrow, I’d told her like five times it was coming on (including a text alarm/reminder) so don’t blame me, and make me start over; and also, pipe down, because I can’t hear.

        So, my love for The Americans almost wrecked my marriage.Report

      • Glyph, what broadcast and/or premium cable show do you think comes close?Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        Depending on the day/episode, I might rank Mad Men or Game of Thrones as serious competition for the title of “best”, and Hannibal only slightly behind. Justified is great, though I put it firmly in the next tier down (great dialogue and plotting, but not as thematically or visually rich as the preceding); it’s kind of the modern day Rockford Files.

        (I take “on television” to mean “still running, even if currently on hiatus”, so if that’s not what you meant, I apologize).Report

      • Still haven’t seen any Mad MenReport

      • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

        @glyph A tv show almost wrecking a marriage sounds very american in the most American sense possible.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        Mad Men, like the Americans, is a show I often find my thoughts returning to in the day or two after the episode.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Me too. Especially after an episode that features Christina Hendricks.Report

    • Have you seen Allegiance? From what I’ve heard it’s a pretty blatant ripoff (which actually makes me want to see it).Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I totally get where you’re coming from… sort of.

      I do find myself rooting for the commie spies, but rooting for them in such a way that they successfully navigate a way into becoming more fully the couple they pretend to be. For me, that’s the real tension of the show: The fulcrum which balances the willingness to be evil in the name of nationalism and the desire to live a simple and good life.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        Totally. As my writing a plaintive comment seeking understanding suggests, I’m not without internal conflict on it at all.

        I guess on the point you raise, I kind of find the way I root consistent with your rooting interest in them as a couple. I don’t want them caught and imprisoned or executed by the U.S. OTOH, I don’t think that her fanaticism allows for th possibility of a genuine life for them while it lasts. But history answers that question for us: she is a matter of a handful of years away from fundamental disillusionment if not existential crisis.

        I look at the couple and can see the “new Russia” in them and their children; my hope is for the Americans to slowly close in on them and eventually force them back to the Motherland. Alternatively, eventual defection probably makes the most realistic sense in terms of what would actually happen (and what they might want). But I feel like such a move would be difficult for her sense of pride and authenticity.

        What would be a total copout would be to end the show on some kind of lame attempt to portray them as “winning” against the Americans and not even acknowledge that the cause that to her justified giving her life over to murder would evaporate from the world a couple of short years after the show ends.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah, exactly.

        It will be interesting when the show wraps up to find out what kind of story we’ve been watching: a romance, or a cautionary tale.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        A main thing I find myself asking is to what extent spying in this context was really so murderous. It seems to me that for all the competence (pornography) portrayed in Elizabeth (and Philip), that much bloodshed has to reflect bad breakdowns of tradecraft, not good spying. And I wonder if our spies killed so many innocent Russians. Knowing that they did would probably mitigate the extent to which I root for the Americans here, but OTOH, if all that can be established is a rough parity, I don’t really mind just choosing our side over theirs.

        If they wanted me to root against the USA, they should have cast a less likable one-step-behind counterintelligence agent than Noah Emmerich. He’s played some pretty nasty men, but he’s never succeeded in denying the character a trace of humanity and even sympathy. And here he’s portraying a pretty typical American government official – not super-competent, not a great husband, but not a terrible guy either – just a guy trying to do his job, pretty much.

        It seems like the writers are asking a lot from the audience to really root for either side in this show.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I honestly don’t think that we’re meant to root for either side on an unqualified basis. If that had been the goal, Stan would be a markedly different character, I think.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Will, I agree, but I do get the sense that, bottom line, the show is about the Russians being more competent than their pursuers, and being real people with semi-normal lives and very real human passion. To some extent, I find that the writing of the Stan character is done primarily to facilitate this, even though Stan is certainly a very well-fleshed out character. But he’s still a character operating within a particular story function, who has yet to break free of it, or really disrupt the portrayal I describe. I agree that it’s more complicated than simple rooting for one side over the other, but in a basic way I think it’s clear where our sympathies are supposed to lie.

        And, one of the writers has stated on the record who we’re supposed to root for (though his co-writer apparently isn’t on board with his statement, and he doesn’t seem totally committed to it himself, either).Report

    • James K in reply to Michael Drew says:


      The greatest sense I get from The Americans is a sense of tragedy. What we the viewers know that none of the characters do is that by 1982 (the year I was born incidentally), there was no realistic possibility of the USSR winning the Cold War. The Soviet economy was a hollow shell by that point, and while the USSR could have theoretically existed for quite a while in that state it didn’t have the resources to compete with the US any more.

      All the principal characters in the show, American and Russian are making significant sacrifices, and ultimately it’s all for noting because little of what they are doing will matter in the final analysis. To take an example from Season 2, even if the USSR succeeded in stealing Fgrngu Grpuabybtl, there’s no way they’re going to be able to field a significant fleet of them, because they won’t be able to afford to.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to James K says:

        I completely view the show this way as well, but I sometimes wonder whether the writers really care that much that The Cause is doomed. TV shows rarely last more than a few years these days, and I fear that the writers think they may be able to get in and get out in time to broadly portray this couple as zealots for a cause (whatever you think of that), but hyper-competent ones that successfully clown the U.S. government on its own territory, and then get out in time to

        Who knows? Who cares? But one imagines them among the relative winners in the New Russia should they go that direction. I can see the show getting out without ever dealing with the End of History and how it would affect an ideologue like Elizabeth. Unlike others, even though I do feel the weight of future history bearing down no these characters, I don’t see much evidence that e showrunners actually care about that (yet). The USSR to me is portrayed as pretty much still a going concern, and to the extent the show unsticks itself in time, it largely looks backward from where it sits, letting us see how these characters were made who they are in the heyday of communist Russia.

        But we’ll see what happens.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to James K says:

        That’s really, really interesting Michael. My read on the show is extremely different than yours. I can barely imagine the show ending how you believe it will end.

        I’d be pretty disappointed if it did end that way. Given that you seem to follow more of the show than just the show, and I follow just the show, I fear you may be right.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to James K says:

        No prediction here. I think it’s probably most likely that they eventually defect. I just have this fear that the writers are not particularly interested in working the fact that “the Jennings'” ideological faith will prove catastrophically misplaced into the resolution of the show. It doesn’t seem in keeping with how they are presenting the characters to this point. But there’s a lot of time for the perspective of the show to change.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to James K says:

        I disagree. While I think there’s a strong possibly they don’t stick the landing, due to the degree of difficulty, (and an uncertain production schedule – how many seasons are they prepared to do?) the entire show has always had a running theme on the search for faith – in people, in institutions, and in higher powers. The search for meaning, for something to believe in, animates every single character’s choices. It’s also why both Paige’s hippie church and Stan’s wife’s EST program are more than just set dressing or plot contrivances – they are there to be the counterparts for the Jennings’* faith the Soviet System.

        *really just Elizabeth’s though. I don’t think Philip has had any faith for a long time now, maybe if ever. But he loves Elizabeth and he loves – he’s addicted to – the adrenaline of the job. (which was also demonstrated last year with Urael oernxvat vagb gur ubhfr sbe gur ivqrb tnzrf, orvat obgu tbbq ng vg naq yvxvat gur guevyy – whfg yvxr uvf Qnq. Cnvtr orvat gur lbhat vqrnyvfg vf, bs pbhefr, whfg yvxr ure zbz.)Report

      • Chris in reply to James K says:

        I assume Stan’s going to have to find them out at some point, and they’ll have to make decisions about their kids, country, etc. It will be tough to do well, for sure.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to James K says:


        You disagree, but I agree? I’m not sure what it is you’re saying they’ll do to end the show, but I agree with most or all of what you say there, especially on the faith of Elizabeth versus the relative pragmatism of Philip. I can certainly see Philip leading her through the process of letting go of her faith and taking the pragmatic step of defecting. I’m just not sure I see the writers letting go in that way.

        But let it be said that I have no idea what will happen. These are just my impressions to date.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to James K says:

        I disagree with the premise that the writers are uninterested in working in the fact that the Jennings faith is catastrophically misplaced. I think they are very interested, but its going to be hard to do, and the vagaries of production schedules may make it impossible (and they may eschew it preemptively because of the difficulty and uncertain timeline – in other words they may not want a repeat of the How I Met Your Mother situation, where the conclusion was worked out years in advance, but too many seasons made them write themselves in a corner such that the ending threw out all the character development of those last couple of seasons)Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to James K says:

        Hmm. I see portrayed faith (Elizabeth), searches for faith (Stan and his wife), and searches for a substitute for faith (such as, just, a workable life) (Philip & his children). I don’t know that I see the doom of a particular faith in what we’ve seen so far, however. I’m by no means writing off that we will see it. But it seems to me you’re giving a lot of benefit of the doubt if you give them credit for dealing with it, even if it never gets explicitly dealt with in the plot. But, that depends a lot on what you’re seeing in the show now that’s reflecting it that I may not be seeing, which I’m not clear on.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to James K says:

        Thinking about it a bit more, there is the possibly that Elizabeth never has her faith tested to the point of existential crisis (and thus shattered.) Politics in Russia today is greatly influenced by the idea that Russia didn’t really ‘lose’ the Cold War, but that it was betrayed by weak internal leadership and moreover, an implacably antagonistic West. The Russian military-industrial complex and the security state apparatus did continue after the dismantlement of the USSR, just with different names, and a lot fewer resources. It’s eminently possible for 1991 to come along and for Elizabeth and Philip to be told to lay low for a while, await further instructions, and/or continue running ops a la Anna Chapman.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to James K says:

        Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Elizabeth’s faith is utterly unquestioning. Very little real faith is. We do see her questioning. But as you say, we haven’t seen it gravely challenged.

        It’s a big We’ll See.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    I picked up Don Carpenter’s Hollywood novels yesterday.Report

  5. Mike Schilling says:

    And tonight is the premiere of Better Call Saul.Report

  6. Michael Cain says:

    I’ve been reading The Metropolitan Frontier: Cities in the Modern American West. At one point the author says that the vernacular in California for travel to the East Coast has become “out East” rather than “back East.” Remarks from the folks in/from California?Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I went to see Inherent Vice this afternoon.

    I recommend it. The plot is largely a secondary concern but the visuals and gags were great.Report

  8. Kazzy says:

    So have to order this! Beyond being fun, there are a ton of great literacy spin off activities you can do with this. Thanks, Jay!Report