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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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124 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I watched the first four episodes of the Man in the High Castle when Lee was over. Here are some random and not-so spoiler thoughts:

    1. The opening sequence manages to make Edelweiss from the Sound of Music absolutely chilling.

    2. Rufus Sewell is excellent as the Obbengruppenfruher.

    3. The main protagonists are just a bit too bland. Bland personalities, blandly attractive, bland motivations.

    4. The TV series turns the alt-history novel “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” into an alt-history underground film. I find this problematic. For those who don’t know, The Man in the High Castle was a alt-history by Philip K. DIck where the Nazis and Japanese took over the United States.* There is a novel within the novel of dissident literature where the Allies won WWII (though in a rather perposterous way from our own real victory. Rex Tugwell is an unlikely President.)

    You see bits of the alt-history film in the Amazon TV series. The problem is that it is just taken from real world film footage. You see Winston Churchill do his V for Victory sign. You see FDR, Stalin, and Churhill being pleasant for the cameras at Yalta. This makes me wonder where the so-called Man in the High Castle got the footage. This makes me want to watch the series to see how they explain the existence of this footage but not in a good way.

    *According to Lee, there are documents that say Hitler did not think that Germany would have the capacity to invade the U.S. until the 1980s.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      Having the characters obsess over literature wouldn’t really work well in a visual medium like television. The audience will want to know what is in the book and having the characters read out loud to themselves or others would be kind of ridiculous looking. If the character read the literature in silence, it would be frustrating for the audience because they want to know what the fuss is about. However, changing the Grasshopper Lies Heavy into a propaganda movie is problematic because the Allies win scenario in Philip K. Dick’s novel was very different from our own and depicted that would be difficult.

      If I’m remembering correctly, most of the main characters in Philip K. Dick’s novel were older than the characters in the TV series, early to mid-30s rather than mid-20s. They characters were made younger in order to add hotness probably.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    I agree that Inside Out was overstuffed – the high concept just took too much explanation (though they did the best they could, in simplifying/compressing it). I also, even as a Parks & Rec fan, find it a little exhausting to spend so much time with Leslie Knope as my protagonist. It wasn’t a BAD film (Pixar generally avoids that) but it wasn’t one of my favorites, or one I have any desire to see again. However, my wife found it really moving, so…

    I finished With Bob & David (though I didn’t watch the “behind the scenes”, ‘5th’ ep). I was…disappointed. Maybe it was watching it by myself rather than with others, but I thought it dragged, aside from a few bits of inspired silliness (THE END).

    Watched 2 more eps of Jessica Jones. Still enjoying it, though as the villain comes more and more into the picture physically, the less effective I find him – I really liked the horror aspects of the first few episodes when he was basically a faceless shadow stalking around the edges. I’m also on the fence about the casting of some of the secondary characters (though I was thrilled to see Cool Lester “Smooth” Freamon show up briefly, and as a police detective!)

    One thing that’s interesting about the villain (and this is my first exposure to these characters, so if they delve more deeply into his history in the comics or later in the show I don’t know about it) is contemplating the degree to which such an ability, possessed from childhood, would automatically MAKE someone a sociopath (or at least, almost definitionally preclude them from learning the necessary empathy not to be one).

    IOW, the villain is perhaps not a bad person who happened to gain a power – the villain may be a person whose power made them nearly-incapable of being anything but a bad person.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph
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      I thought Amy Poehler did a great job of not being Leslie Knope. Her character was a bit overbearing, but not at all hyper or socially obtuse, and her voice was smoother more evenly flowing than Leslie’s. I found In and Out to be easily the best Pixar film since Toy Story 3 (assuming that Cars 2, which I skipped, was no better than Cars, and a reason not to give up on them. The Good Dinosaur TV ads make it look like a film that parents would have to endure for their kids sake, so I have a hard time thinking of it as Pixar. And my daughter, whose taste I trust, didn’t enjoy it much, though she thought the animation (especially the backgrounds) were amazing.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        Someone else I know said something to the effect of The Good Dinosaur is a good story with the wrong moral.

        Which, given how I know that the moral tastes of the person in question and my own overlap somewhat, dampens my enthusiasm somewhat.

        But I do enjoy “boy and his dog” stories.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I’m guessing you don’t mean the Harlan Ellison one.Report

          • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Mike Schilling
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            says:

            Had a good and true friend in college who was a fervent (though not evangelical or irritating) Christian. She and I had just had lunch and decided to go see a movie. She said “No violence. No sex, ok?” Around the corner we came across “A Boy and His Dog” playing at a local theater. Neither of us had heard of it, considered it kismet, bought tickets. For me, at least, a hilarious memory I have re-visited many times. Bless her heart, she was a good sport about it.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
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          Took Bug to see The Good Dinosaur. He enjoyed it, although the end was a bit scary for him (he’s only three). As the adult, it was OK,but not as good as some of their other work, story-wise.

          The animation, though, was uncanny valley territory with regard to the environment. I kinda got the feeling that this movie was a showcase for that.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          “a good story with the wrong moral” is also how I’ve heard “The Incredibles” described.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            It’s arguable that the moral of Incredibles would have been seen as contemporary in previous eras… which makes me wonder if Dino’s moral is in the same boat.

            Which might have me actually loving the movie more.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              What incorrect moral did you think the Incredibles offered, or that Good Dinosaur does?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                One of the through-lines in The Incredibles is “when the petty, jealous ordinary suppress the great, they do so to the cost of their own society; people without superpowers should just be content with what they’ve got, and celebrate the gods who walk among us.”

                Like, the bad guy’s evil plan is “give everyone rocket boots”. And when he says “when everyone’s super, no one will be“, it isn’t presented as “people will have even greater ability to cause problems and make trouble”, it’s presented as “now we’ll bring you Super People down to the rest of us and you won’t be so special anymore, ha ha!”

                Which, um, okay, you’re right that “I can fly” won’t be special and unique, but that will be because we all can fly, which is kind of okay I should think.

                Plus which, all the hero characters in the movie have inherent abilities. They don’t build their own super-strength suits or freeze shooters or forcefield generators; they just have that stuff. Sometimes they use gadgets but most of what they can do comes from themselves. The only character in the movie whose super-abilities are entirely self-made is the bad guy. (It’s also suggested that, because his abilities are prosthetic and not inherent, he can’t use them very well.)

                So, y’know, The Incredibles does have a good (albeit pedestrian) message about “to thine own self be true”. But movies don’t usually present us with “…and if thine own self is ordinary, deal with it, because trying to reach above that doesn’t end well either”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                I do not yet know the moral of The Good Dinosaur yet. I hope to find out soon.

                As for The Incredibles, it had to do with some weird concept of a natural aristocracy. Duck gets into most of it.

                I mean, imagine a movie where you take many of the same characters and make Syndrome a good guy. You don’t have to change *THAT* much of Syndrome’s character to get the outlines of a decent story. How much do you have to change the Parr family to get a story with the moral of something like “slow and steady wins the race” and “normal is, itself, incredible”?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
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                OK, I can see that interpretation, but it strikes me as looking for a negative when there is a solid positive staring you in the face.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Please understand: from my perspective, the “There is a Natural Aristocracy!” was staring me in the face.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Did you not also see the message that the Natural Aristocracy is obligated to help as best they can while doing as little harm as possible? The whole attitude of disregard is what forced the Supers to withdraw in the first place. Being better does not permit one to act with abandon.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Oh, yeah, but that strikes me as a gnat to swallow following the camel of the natural aristocracy.

                Don’t get me wrong! I think that this story and moral would have done very well in other eras.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The thing about Natural Aristocracy is that it’s a moral that runs all throughout the superhero meme. It’s like saying “The problem with the sky is it’s blue”.

                How do you do a superhero story (for kids) that does not gloss that moral over?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Well, using the characters from The Incredibles, change a thing here or there and make Buddy a good guy also fighting against a bad guy *AND* have his inventions make *EVERYONE* super. Show kids flying to school! Dads working jobs involving picking things up and then putting them down! Heavy things! Moms multitasking at their jobs that give them equal pay to the heavy picking up and putting down jobs!

                Or, alternately, have superheroes fighting supervillians without ever, for a second, discussing how normals could never ever become as special as superheroes.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                OK, I see where you are coming from.

                Still, part of the movie, a large part, was spent showing that, despite the powers, they are still people. They have worries, & fears, and they act out, etc.

                When I think Natural Aristocracy, I think more Jupiter Ascending*.

                *Which was 90 minutes of my life I’ll never get back – so very, very, very bad…Report

        • Avatar Boegiboe in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I’ve had some very good disagreement discussion about this wrong-moral point with several people, with me making the case for the need to tell a good story overwhelming the imperative to create the image of a good morality.

          For the record, I liked Inside Out a huge amount; I’ve long ago accepted that, now that I’m a father, I cry at every movie I watch with my daughter. My heartstrings are entirely undefended when I’m feeling and empathizing at the same time.

          On the other hand, when a certain character died in The Good Dinosaur, as I was tearing up and sniffling, my daughter turned to her aunt on the other side of her and said “Welp, s/he died!” The closeness of experience may all be in my head…Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Boegiboe
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            says:

            I don’t mind walking out of a movie thinking “what a great story! what a horrible moral!”

            A good story is a good story, after all, and there’s a shortage of those.

            I do, however, find my busybody in the back of my head thinking that the story should have been PG instead of G, or PG-13 instead of PG, or R instead of PG-13…Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph
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      says:

      For than a few people are interpreting the villain as being a negative version of the “typical” fanboy fantasy, in contrast to the Doctor, which is a positive take on the fanboy fantasy. If this interpretation happens to be correct and what the Jessica Jones team is going for partly, it seems to be more than a little heavy handed. A lot of critiques of nerd culture and some of the fantasies that nerdy men have reek of kicking somebody who already gotten beaten up.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        I’m not really sure I follow what you are getting at.

        What I mean is this: a person who grew up with this ability, would probably have a lot of difficulty in seeing people as anything more than objects.

        Someone who acquired this ability in adulthood, would hopefully use it in accordance with their understanding of what personhood is – they STILL might be corrupted (“absolute power”, and all that), but there’s at least a chance they might not be, or that they could at least consider boundaries – but someone for whom the world had always been 100% free of personal conflict or need for negotiation or their own subjugation – someone with the Godlike ability to always see their words and will turned into action, without question – would likely have no tools to comprehend that the way they experience reality, is not simply the way the universe works.

        It seems to me that their sociopathy would be nearly guaranteed.

        IOW, if a child with this ability were discovered, the best course of action might be to kill them, while you still can.

        (Preacher riffs on this ability too, with the Voice of God – but our hero acquires the ability in adulthood, and has a moral center already, and one of the themes of Preacher is of course that God is not Good).Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Glyph
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          ‘Kill them while you still can’ – Herod tried this; history has not treated him kindly.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph
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          says:

          I’m really just introducing an alternative interpretation of the Purple Man from Jessica Jones. You have your interpretation. Another one is that the Purple Man in Netflix’s Jessica Jones is a sort of antithesis of the Doctor from Doctor Who. The Doctor, especially in his 10th and 11th guises, is everything that many nerdy men want to be in their fantasies. He is zany, witty, a snappy dresser, and gets to behave like an eccentric oddball in public but still save the day along with his generally gorgeous companion and TARDIS. The Doctor also has a strong moral center. The Purple Man is the opposite of this. He behaves like the Tenth Doctor but he is an evil, immoral sociopath instead of a force for good. Rather than Jessica Jones choosing to follow him on her own free will, the Purple Man is using his power to force her to be his companion. Rather than saving the day, he is wrecking havoc.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph
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          says:

          Didn’t Krishna break the world quite frequently as a baby?Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim
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            says:

            Not sure, but my thought isn’t so much about the *power*, itself; more what that power would do to one’s perceptions of other humans, and their/your shared reality (this being MD, let’s not follow the implications of my argument through to what it would mean for gods).

            Spoilers follow; also, I’m about midway through the series, so my descriptions of what the power entails may be incomplete or incorrect.

            Here’s what we know about his powers at this point:

            1.) Kilgrave needs to be in physical proximity to the person being controlled at the time he implants his suggestion. We’ve seen him silence an entire restaurant, but control no one over the phone or radio.

            2.) That control lasts 10-12 hours, then wears off (as long as he is out of proximity).

            3.) Implanting the control does not appear to tax him in any way – he doesn’t appear to sweat, or need to concentrate, or anything. It appears effortless and costless to him – he just says what he wants you to do, and then you do it.

            4.) The implanted people are controlled mind and body – while under his sway, the victim wants whatever Kilgrave wants, so it’s not like being held physically at gunpoint and forced to do things. JJ and the cop both say that there was a small corner of their mind that futilely-fought – but by and large you are a different person (an extension of Kilgrave) while under his voodoo – this is part of what psychologically messes his victims up so badly, because they didn’t FEEL that they were under someone else’s control during that time, so the guilt feels all theirs – this makes it harder to forgive themselves, because they falsely feel as though they must have chosen to do the awful things they did.

            Now, assuming he’s had this effortless ability from childhood – before he even understood it – how would that warp his perceptions of others?

            8-year old Kilgrave, to friend: “I like your G.I. Joe, can I have it?”
            Friend, smiling – “Here you go!”
            Kilgrave: “Thanks!”

            Next day, after the voodoo has worn off –

            Friend: “Hey, I really miss my G.I.Joe and want it back.”
            Kilgrave (possibly legitimately-confused and hurt at this turn of events): “But…you happily gave it to me yesterday, don’t you remember?”
            Friend, brightening up: “Oh yeah, now I remember!”

            It seems to me that Kilgrave would inevitably grow up thinking, not without reason, that whatever he does, says, or recalls is always right – why else would everyone always agree to his suggestions and courses of actions and recollections?

            His version of reality will always appear “correct” to him – and everyone else around him will appear to be stupid, weak-willed pushovers.

            Surely if this sort of charmed, can’t-lose life is his alone, then he must be better than everyone else….right? Taking constant advantage of other people would seem no more morally-questionable to such a person than stepping on an ant on the sidewalk, and just about as unremarkable. Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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              IOW, it seems to me to learn empathy, you have to lose at least sometimes. Being unable to ever lose any debate or conflict or struggle – being able to always easily get exactly what you want, when you want it, without fail, forever and ever amen – would almost inevitably produce a monster, it seems to me.

              And IF that’s true – well, then how morally-culpable is Kilgrave? Maybe he’s a monster who never had a chance to be anything but a monster.
              Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Glyph
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                Shoulda just called him Grendel…Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Glyph
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                That’s a really good analysis Glyph. I’m not a parent myself but as I understand childhood development pretty much every kid starts out as a near sociopath; they start out barely understanding themselves, then after a few years they have a handle on how they themselves feel and begin noticing that these people around them also might have feelings and wants. The way they figure that out is by bumping into other peoples desires, hitting boundaries, getting disciplined/guided by their parents. If you introduce a power, as Purple Man has, that negates those boundaries/discipline factors then yeah I think it’d be an open questions as to if/how said child would develope to view other people as anything beyond objects to manipulate. OTOH, however, if they failed to view people that way then they’d also fail to have the empathy necessary to know to hide their power. Society would then discover their existance and would take steps to rid itself of them (a police sniper, for instance, would conclude a purpleman chapter in short order).Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to North
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                they’d also fail to have the empathy necessary to know to hide their power

                I’m not sure this is true – true sociopaths are supposedly quite inventive and accomplished liars – they DO feel they are better than everyone else, they DO see others as objects to be manipulated (often via elaborate deception) for their own pleasure and gain, and the key characteristic of one, is that they lack empathy. Otherwise, they are eminently rational, and self-preservation is rational.

                Which of course leads to the million-dollar question for the true sociopath – how morally-culpable are THEY, if they are simply wired that way?

                I watched another two eps last night, and they DO delve a bit into Kilgrave’s backstory, so spoilers follow:

                He *has* possessed the ability from a young age (around 10 or so) and gained it when his scientist parents used experimental treatments to cure his degenerative neurological disease that would otherwise have killed him by twelve.

                It *is* more-or-less effortless to him, to the point where he must be careful what he says, lest he accidentally give commands without meaning to.

                And to tie into my points about “warping perception” – his perception of his parents is that they were torturing him via their experimentation (arguably true, since they were doing unethical, unsanctioned repeated cerebro-spinal taps etc.) and that they then abandoned him (again, arguably true, since they fled after he unwittingly caused his mother to badly-scar her own face with a hot iron while he was having an argument with her).

                From their POV of course, they were attempting to save him, and fled only because they became afraid of him and what he might do.

                The show did a brief “can the monster be made hero” storyline, with JJ debating whether or not Kilgrave could be externally-directed to use his power and nature for good – this is a story which is interesting to me, and pops up to varying narrative and thematic success in places like Dexter (completely wasted the premise), chipped Spike on Buffy (mixed results, arguably neutered the character), and Ralph Fiennes’s character in Schindler’s List (one of the most powerful moments in that film was when he maybe COULD have changed, but realizes it’s too late for him and he’s already damned, so he just goes with it).

                They dropped this idea pretty quick though, to simply have JJ torturing Kilgrave to try to get proof of his powers or a useable confession. This might be the “gritty” or “realistic” or “cathartic” or “just” scenario to some, but it’s of course just plain ugly.

                Still – JJ’s small smile when she finally realizes that (for whatever reason) she’s now apparently partially- or totally-immune to Kilgrave’s powers, made up for a lot of the crud (the mostly-charisma-free secondary characters and their boring storylines are almost completely awful – congrats, lesbians of America, on getting your OWN completely stupid and clichéd TV love-triangle!)Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph
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                An average person who developed Kilgrove’s power at the age Kilgrove did, should have enough moral sense already not to become a sociopath. By the time you reach double digits, you probably lost a bit and realize that other people have desires and needs. OTOH, considering the circumstances Kilgrove might have been rather pampered by his parents.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
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                Or tortured by them (from his PoV) which explains a lot.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq
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                Well, pampered and (from his POV) tortured…

                I have a feeling that the show will shy away from delving any more deeply into this question (we generally need our villains to be clearly, unambiguously villainous), but they have at least touched on it, so my questions/speculations were actually pretty on-the-mark!

                And it of course makes Kilgrave’s obsession with JJ ever more clear – making her unstoppable body an extension of his unstoppable mind must have made him feel omnipotent; and the fact that she alone has the ability to resist (and therefore surprise, and dominate) him – well, that’s probably a turn-on to a person who must otherwise move through life constantly bored as hell (this is always an interesting twist to me on vampires – that a lot of the horrible stuff they do, they do to relieve the boredom and ennui of hundreds or thousands of unvarying, unchallenging years). Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph
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                Writing villains is always a challenge. If you don’t provide any motivation beyond mere bloodlust or greed or any human trait, your stuck with a one dimensional character. Make the villain too sympathetic and you have your audience feeling too sorry for them to be angry, horrified, and terrified.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq
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                It was maybe a little anvilicious, but Kilgrave attempting to meticulously re-create JJ’s childhood (the only time she says she was happy, and the period of life that Sickly Kid Kilgrave didn’t get) makes a twisted kind of sense, to show his idea of “love”.

                And of course, JJ watches the video of him being tortured as a child, then proceeds to…torture him.
                Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph
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                Your not making a very convincing argument on why I should root for JJ if I decide to watch the show. I think your also giving a good argument on why a lot of people are going for the Purple Man/rapist analogy rather than yours. If Purple Man is supposed to be a dark version of the typical male nerd fantasy, or Anti-Doctor, than its a lot easier to see him as a villain and loathe him. As a person who never really had a chance, than you might oppose him to stop him from doing harm but you can’t really hate him.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq
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                I’ve never argued AGAINST a rapist analogy – you can’t, it’s explicit and textual.

                But even rapists and murders are either made and/or born, and the questions of how that happens – and what it means – are still interesting.

                Also, you’re not even watching?! What the heck are you doing all up in my spoilerrific comments dude?Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph
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                Spoilers never bothered me because seeing how you get to the place is equally as fascinating.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
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                The problem with creating a villain is that you pretty much need to have a moral code that you’re willing to stick by. “This is Right/Good and That is Wrong/Evil”.

                Once you get into more mature and nuanced questions of morality you start saying “well, you know, how do we know that that person is Wrong/Evil… maybe s/he just has a different world view…”, and suddenly you don’t have a story with a villain in it at all. Just strong-willed people hashing out uncertainty (maybe with one more likable than the other).Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird
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                Kick the Puppy generally does the trick, if you need a trope to establish villains.

                If you don’t want someone strongwilled, take someone crackerjack like the Joker. (I have it on good authority that folks like that do exist, though they tend to die quickly).Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird
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                Length of story also drives this. In a two-hour film, we don’t need to know why Hans Gruber broke bad.

                Make that a multi-part series, and now we do.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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                Heh…Google “Hans Gruber”, and Google throws up the bio of an Austro-Canadian conductor, but with Alan Rickman’s mug up top.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird
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                Daredevil seems to do that well with Wilson Fisk.

                You know he’s the bad guy, but you can relate to him in some pretty disturbing ways.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Yeah, Fisk was excellent. I think I liked him a little better as a villain than Kilgrave.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Glyph
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                In total fairness, I think that’s partly due to the fact that Vincent D’onofrio is the better actor of the two. Nothing against David Tennant, mind you, but D’onofrio is one of the greatest character actors of his generation.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Zac
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                Agreed he’s the better actor, but the character is also more sympathetic and human. Fisk may do something awful, but he does it because he believes it’s the best way to help the city by breaking a few eggs, or because he’s in a fit of rage; he doesn’t do horrific things just for his own selfish entertainment. He does have a sort of “code”.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Glyph
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                Well, a man’s gotta have a code.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph
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                Fisk is also a normal powerful gangster with a gangster’s motivation. You could take all the super-heroism out of Dare Devil and Fisk could still work as a villain or character. The Purple Man is more dependent on his supernatural powers to work as a character. This makes him less relatable to.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Glyph
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                Well if he got it at that then it’s no problem narratively at all, he’d already have a basic understanding of how social interactions work by then.

                If he’d had the power since birth that’d make him different from normal sociopaths who, while they don’t have empathy, do have the negative feedback loop of consequences for their lack of empathy to train them to lie. In this power scenario that loop doesn’t exist because the power insulates them from any consequence of their action; anyone in direct contact with them agrees with the power wielders PoV of the scenario by default.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to North
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                True, but the minute he realizes that he’s only able to control people in his vicinity (and is therefore, as you say, vulnerable to a sniper or other long-range weapon), he’d probably want to keep his head down whenever possible. His own parents experimented on him – what would the US govt. do?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Glyph
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                says:

                Ah but that’s what you’re missing. If the sociopath had it since birth it would not occur to them that they were doing anything untoward. Though, thinking it through, it’d probably never come to that as, with parental discipline and restraints disabled, they’d probably off themself.
                Toddler: “Want to drink pretty blue liquid!”
                Parent of normal toddler: “No honey, that’s antifreeze, it’ll make you go blind and then die. You can’t have any and if I catch you fiddling round with it I’ll tan your ass.”
                Parent of Purple Toddler: “Sure sweetie, I’ll get your sippy straw for you.”Report

          • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Kim
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            says:

            Absolutely off topic — In the supermarket today, as Xmas songs played in the background, the loudspeaker spake: “Krishna, clean up in Aisle 7. Krishna, clean up in Aisle 7.”Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph
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      says:

      Mayo (2.5) loved “Inside Out” mainly because it was visually stimulating without being overstimulating.

      My friend’s daughter (8) loved the film and is watching it non-stop.

      I think kids in between those two — who tend to be the target audience for Pixar — likely missed it,as the story was more involved and dealt with some rather abstract concepts. So I think the age of the child really could color the response.

      As an educator, I appreciated a rather nuanced take on emotion and a recognition that children do — and should — feel things other than happiness.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        As an educator, I appreciated a rather nuanced take on emotion and a recognition that children do — and should — feel things other than happiness.

        The goal seemed to be in service to feeling happy again, though.

        (And, honestly, I never really understood the importance of “Disgust” in the various dynamics. It was fascinating that she was the one who gave the advice about not talking to the popular girls because “we want them to like us!” but Fear and Anger actually had roles.)Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          Well, I think desiring happiness is appropriate.

          I often talk with my kids about the feelings they want to have versus the ones that are okay to have. Many conflate the two but I point out that it is okay — and healthy and normal and good even — to feel sad or mad or frustrated or angry or bored at times. But that we should pursue and support one another in feeling happy and good and the like.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I thought disgust was brilliant, particularily in her justification “I keep us from getting poisoned” and how they tied her into social interaction, desire for popularity and especially fashion. Brilliant!Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Glyph
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      says:

      We just saw Inside Out today.

      It was just a good movie, but Pixar seems to only make great movies (among the ones I’ve seen), so by that unfair metric it was a disappointment. I agree “overstuffed” is the right word. There were giant, large sections navigating the brain that could have been skipped without affecting anything. (That abstract thought factory comes to mind. It was cute and artistic, but I expect Pixar to do be able to do that *and* have it service the plot.)

      Additionally, by the time the first attempt to get back via one of the Personality Islands fails, you know that Joy and Sadness aren’t going to be able to get back via any of them (except perhaps Family). Seeing this from 30(?) minutes in. it’s a bit of a drag to have to see them fail using the methods that you already know are going to fail.

      As for our 3-year-old, she loved it, I guess. It’s a cartoon. I actually can see watching this with her over the coming ten years and discussing what is going on. It did occur to me that this felt like an educational film with some sort of plot tacked on to help explore the subject matter.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    The kids and I just saw Meet the Patels, which is a documentary about a first-generation Indian-American’s experience with the American version of arranged marriages. It is just plain wonderful: funny, warm, and respectful of both older and younger generations. Two of the main character are an actor and his filmmaker sister are as comfortable and skilled as you might expect, but their parents, who never been involved in film before, were so natural and funny that they’re now getting offered parts in other films.Report

  4. Avatar aaron david
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    says:

    I started rereading The Plague on the holiday, as it has been close to 30 years since I read it. I also picked up John McPhee’s The Headmaster in HC, so savoring that. I am also rereading A Princess of Mars, which is pure joy.

    The wife is watching JJ, and she knows I am indiferent, so she is watching it on the table while I watch The Decalogue again.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Like Saul noted, I’m watching the Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. For reading, I’m reading an obscure Italian novel that happened to be translated into English by D.H. Lawrence. Translating is an art rather than a science and lot of good books have been undone by clunky translations. When you translator is a great novelist in his own right, you get one of the best translations possible.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    I’m reading Jenny Lawson’s second book “Furiously Happy”. I really enjoyed her memoirs and thought this would be more of them, but it is more of an exploration of her struggles with various mental illnesses than it is a straight memoir (there was some of this in the first book but that was much more memoir). It is a powerful read, making certain mental illnesses specifically and mental illness in general accessible and understandable to someone who has been fortunate enough to not have many person struggles in this area. There are multiple passages that make me say, “Wow… I had no idea. Thank god I’m reading this,” and/or “Everyone needs to read this.”Report

  7. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    Almost done with Stranger Than We Can Imagine, by John Higgs.

    I really think people here would enjoy it; it does not present information which is new to most of us, but it instead seeks to draw connections between all kinds of disparate disciplines and media to show what the unifying conceptual threads of the twentieth century were. I may try to post a more complete review once I wrap it up.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    @saul-degraw might appreciate hearing that I hit the Guggenheim this weekend. I was unimpressed. They were featuring work by some guy named Alberto Burri, most of which looked like ripped garbage bags or spilled paint that dried. But, hey, art!

    However, I also hit the Cloisters which I thoroughly enjoyed… in part because I was trying to figure out how they got some of the architecture from Europe to here.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Burri experimented with what is art by working with different materials that aren’t normally considered artistic materials like plastic or iron or focusing on the use of a particular color.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        Legit question: If Burri is asking, “What is art?” is it ‘wrong’ if my answer is, “Not a bunch of ripped and burnt garbage bags”?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          It’s not wrong, it just proves you are a philistine.

          😉Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          Yes, but leave open the possibility that it’s just the arrangement that’s annoying you.
          I think I might be able to do something interesting with ripped and burnt garbage bags.
          (bonus points if I can make the whole thing about a reimaging of a rape survivor).Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          On this same topic, I overheard a couple talking at the Cloisters (medieval wing of the Met) about whether everyday objects — even those artfully made — qualify as art. Many of the pieces were things like forks, plates, and containers of one type or another. And while they were all decorative or ornate, they were all still functional. But they were also old and undoubtedly the work of a “craftsman” of some kid… the pieces were from the 12th-14th century. So in a thousand years, will my unearthed fork or dinner plate be considered ‘art’? Why or why not? Will it matter if the fork was mass produced by a machine versus being hand made by a skilled professional?

          I really think any answer other than, “Art lies in the eye of the beholder,” is impossible to justify.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            Boy do I have an author for you!Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            Marcel Duchamp argued that art is taking a concept in your head and turning into physical reality. Anything that fits that definition is art. This was how Duchamp defended if infamous urinal sculpture or Mona Lisa with a goatee painting.

            By this definition, the everyday objects in the cloister are art and not art. The craftsman had a concept of what he wanted the knife or drinking vessel to look like but he did not conceive of it as art per se. However, the passing of time turned it into art.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      @kazzy

      They took the Cloisters apart brick by brick and reassembled it brick by brick.Report

  9. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    I’ve been inhaling the Almighty Johnsons, which is a modern family dramedy about a bunch of people, mostly related, who are also Norse Gods. Add in that it’s set in New Zealand (mostly Auckland) and the only remaining question is why I didn’t find out about this show before this month.

    Chewed through another 15 stories or so in the ginormous ebook of Tor.com stories that came out a few years back. Read Rebecca Stead’s charming and thoughtful YA, Goodbye Stranger.

    Otherwise I was mostly traveling and dealing with life, though of course that wasn’t *everything*. 😀Report

  10. Avatar Miss Mary
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    says:

    Cat videos! Ahh, Mondays. 🙂Report

  11. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    Teenager and I finished Season 3 of Arrow, so we started watching Jessica Jones last night. Here’s how I’d describe my reaction to the first episode, over the course of the episode:

    *Yawn*
    *Yawn* *Stretch*
    *Yawn* *Stretch* *Pull out phone and start playing Smashy Road… to get cars for the 7-year old, I swear*
    *Yawn* *Stretch* *Hang out on Twitter*
    *Yawn* *Stret…* Wait a minute, what’s happening?
    HOLY SHIT! DID YOU SEE THAT?!Report

  12. Avatar North
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    says:

    This may freak Jaybird out but I just finished Sandman: Overture which is basically a Sandman Volume 0 book that explains what our prickly Endless Lord of the Dreaming was up to prior to getting captured in a basement in England. It’s quite brilliant. I hope to see it discussed by the Sandman experts around these parts at some point. I particularily liked how one of the Endless who generally is thinly portrayed in the main series gets a significant role.Report

  13. Avatar Zac
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    says:

    So over the weekend, I’ve been working my way through Transmetropolitan. I avoided this series for a long time because growing up I noticed a strong overlap between people (well, fellow teenagers, anyway) who were huge Transmetropolitan fans and people who were insufferable tools. But now that I’m much older and it’s been over a decade since it ended, I figured it was safely distant enough for me to appreciate. So far I’d say it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. A lot of it really hasn’t aged well, IMHO…it is clearly very rooted in a lot of 90s cultural stuff that feels very dated now. And there’s a sort of juvenile mistaking-vulgarity-for-edginess thing (is there a word for this? I really feel like there ought to be, if there isn’t) that I no doubt would have marveled at as a teenager but now find a bit tedious. But I have to admit it also has some very interesting ideas floating around, and some truly moving stuff. I especially enjoyed the issue about the Revivals, people who had cryogenically frozen themselves and were now being revived in the unfathomable future of the setting. The idea of the future being so overwhelmingly alien to a person that it more or less drives them mad is one that surprisingly little fiction I’ve come across has played with, and I thought this was a rather novel take.

    For those who have read it all the way through: would you say the series has a real arc? I’m about a quarter of the way in and I haven’t detected one yet, but I’m curious to know if it’s just a matter of my not having gotten far enough.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Zac
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      says:

      It’s been years since I read it so this is based on recollection – for me, I’d say there’s not that much of a real arc, and that “juvenile mistaking-vulgarity-for-edginess” not only describes some of Warren Ellis’ stuff, but Garth Ennis’ too.

      That said, I liked the art/background details a lot, and Fear and Loathing in Blade Runner was always going to be a great idea, so it is a fun world to spend time in (like you say, there are a lot of interesting ideas floating around – one of my biggest complaints is that these interesting ideas are often introduced and resolved/discarded very quickly, without deep exploration – though this maybe helps give the story that fast-paced, disorienting Singularity-cusp feel).Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        Glyph:
        It’s been years since I read it so this is based on recollection – for me, I’d say there’s not that much of a real arc, and that “juvenile mistaking-vulgarity-for-edginess” not only describes some of Warren Ellis’ stuff, but Garth Ennis’ too.

        You know, it’s funny you say that, because I was considering re-reading Preacher, which I haven’t read since I was 17 or 18, in light of the AMC series coming out relatively soon. But I’ve been worried I won’t enjoy it nearly as much the second time around, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why — you drawing the line from the Ellis’ work to Ennis’ elucidated that quite neatly for me, so thank you.

        Glyph:
        That said, I liked the art/background details a lot, and Fear and Loathing in Blade Runner was always going to be a great idea, so it is a fun world to spend time in (like you say, there are a lot of interesting ideas floating around –one of my biggest complaints is that these interesting ideas are often introduced and resolved/discarded very quickly, without deep exploration – though this maybe helps give the story that fast-paced, disorienting Singularity-cusp feel).

        Hah! “Fear and Loathing in Blade Runner” is a great way of putting it. I have to admit I can’t help but hear all of Spider Jerusalem’s lines in my head in a cartoonishly-over-the-top Hunter S. Thompson voice (basically, like Colonel Hunter Gathers from Venture Bros).Report

        • Avatar Maribou in reply to Zac
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          says:

          @zac @glyph For me that is not so much vulgarity-that-thinks-it’s-edgy as just part of who those two writers are. I think they are sometimes-edgy, sometimes-brilliant writers who also happen to be gleefully vulgar writers. Does that make any sense? I just don’t get the feeling that they are trying too hard – they seem much more genuine than their lesser imitators.

          Not that that really changes anything – Jaybird really dug The Boys for a while but I can’t even get into it because of HOW crass it is. Still, it helps me with Preacher and Transmet.

          I thought Transmet had an arc, but I also read all of it in about 2 days while writing a final paper in between issues, so blasted if I can even say what it was.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Zac
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      says:

      would you say the series has a real arc? I’m about a quarter of the way in and I haven’t detected one yet, but I’m curious to know if it’s just a matter of my not having gotten far enough.

      The arc is subtle, kinda. The problem is that the main character is the Mary Sueiest of Mary Sues and, as such, doesn’t *NEED* an arc. He’s already as perfect as he’s going to get and any flaws are merely in service of how perfect he is.

      That said, the criticisms that he gave against The Beast and how they grew more nuanced and the criticisms that he had against The Smiler and how they grew more nuanced were interesting… but, ultimately, didn’t go anywhere.

      It’s got some shining moments (The Revivals, for example) but, mostly, I read it, laughed, and I forget I read it until election time when I start wondering “which one of these people is The Smiler?”Report

  14. Avatar CK MacLeod
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    says:

    Excuse me folk, but on Maribou’s suggestion I need to check something out here:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580934048/Report

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