jack: (Default)
I've bashed my head on this before but not got a specific answer. Now I read through it in some more detail.


In West Wing episode 1, Josh insults some evangelical christian leaders. In a meeting trying to resolve this, the following happens.

* One of them proposes a radio address (presumably by the president) on a topic important to them, including public morals, school prayer or pornography. Apparently meaning "people in school should not have access to condoms", "people in school should be forced to perform christian prayer" and "we don't quite know what we want you to do but we're very upset about pornography".

* There is a muddle of people speaking at once, and he cuts in again, saying, "I'd like to discuss why we hear so much talk about the First Amendment coming out of this building, but no talk at all about the First Commandment."

* He says, "The First Commandment says 'Honor thy Father'."

* Toby breaks in, and says that's wrong, that's the third commandment. He is very long-suffering.

* He says, what is the first then?

* The president enters the room and quotes: "I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt worship no other God before me."


I'm fairly sure the intended impression is, talk show guy spoke without thinking and screwed up something basic, Toby and the president correct him.

But firstly, the first commandment seems SO basic, it's hard to see how he could get it wrong. Whether or not he's a good Christian overall, quoting the commandments, especially the first one, seems like the sort of thing he'd do all the time.

Secondly, when I first heard it, I assumed this was "honor your father and mother", but now I wonder if it's supposed to be honoring *God* thy father. Although that doesn't quite fit any of the specific sentences either.

I'm not sure if the commandment he was quoting was supposed to be directly related to the previous discussion or not. Either of the possibilities doesn't seem directly relevant to the school stuff, but it's possible it is in a way that's only familiar if you know the usual arguments people make.

Several people point out that all the people involved have *different* traditional commandment numbering. Toby is Jewish. The christian leaders are protestant. And the president is catholic. I assume in America the protestant version is widely known and often considered canonical? I spent some time on wikipedia checking the different traditions for how to break up the commandments into ten.

But that doesn't seem to fit much better. The president could be quoting the protestant version (or possibly a slightly abbreviated catholic version?)

There's no way to make "honor thy father and mother" into 1 or 3, it's 5 for both protestants and jews (and 4 for catholics).

It could instead be "have no other god" or "don't take God's name in vain" but that doesn't quite fit, either the numbers or the quote.

My best guess is that someone wrote an exchange that worked, probably based on the traditional protestant numbering[1]. And then it got edited for various reasons, and ended up in a version which sounded good but didn't actually make sense.

The best alternate explanation is (a) Christian leader guy genuinely didn't know what the first commandment was (or forgot in the heat of the moment) (b) Toby was trolling by deliberately making something up, knowing no-one could call him on it as he had a different numbering anyway (c) the president (an intellectual catholic) knew the confusion of the numbering, but quoted a first commandment that would be expected to protestants and wasn't exactly wrong by his own tradition.

But to me that seems too complicated, if all that was supposed to be there, there'd be more indication. The mistake would have been one where it's more clear how he came to make a mistake. Toby would have sounded different if he was blowing smoke than if he was correcting people. There'd be some acknowledgement that SOMEONE would have known the first commandment, that this isn't exactly an obscure piece of theological trivia the president researched.

[1] West Wing does much better at research than most shows, but they seem to research a particular topic, it still seems like minor things not the main theme of an episode get overlooked sometimes.

Transcript: http://www.westwingtranscripts.com/search.php?flag=getTranscript&id=1
jack: (Default)
Community. Rewatched first two series. Got bored in series three. I think there was still a lot of good things after that, but I wasn't as excited by each episode.

Rewatching s1 of west wing. Still very good. See twitter for running commentary. It's strange that WW made so many things famous you can't look up if they're true or not, you just find they were in the WW.

When I was being excited by Natural History of Dragons #3, I forgot to say, they investigate translating an ancient syllabary language. made me think of rochvelleth :)

Watched Doctor Who "Veritas". Some things are tedious: that's not how computers work, and that's not how random numbers work. It's almost the opposite. But overall I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Read the latest wild cards. Weird that it just happens to be set in Taraz (Talas) in Kazakhstan when ghoti et al are visiting that country. Although it unfortunately doesn't include much actually specific to Kazakhstan.

There's so many things that are really interesting about the wild card books. Partly that lots of famous authors show up writing a really different style of thing to what they usually write, often more straightforwardly engaging. Partly that main characters in one story thread show up as minor characters in other story thread, and you get a good triangulation on them, how they think of themselves vs how different people see them -- often with no Word-of-God on which is more accurate.
jack: (Default)
A Dangerous Energy, by John Whitbourne

Recommended via cjwatson iirc. An alternate history where magic exists, but is subsumed into a practical/academic discipline by the catholic church, from which England never successfully split. I think it's set now, but the politics and technology feel a way before that?

I love stories about the study of thaumaturgy. The main character grows up into quite a sociopathic man, but the journey of his researches, his friends, his sins is very interesting.

Lamentably, stories about the nature of the soul/magic/afterlife are doomed to be disappointing in the end when it is not ultimately revealed; this does better than most.

We are all completely beside ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler

See woodpijn's brief review here: http://woodpijn.livejournal.com/104297.html

The protagonist is now at university, but lost touch with her sister and her brother when she was about five, and isn't sure which of her memories of what happened are accurate. But it's not deliberate abuse, nor deliberately false memories, it all arose quite naturally out of what actually happened.

And it doesn't dwell only on the negative, she fills in her life experiences at various points, and it's really interesting to hear how she grew up.

I don't have a lot to add, there's an important twist a quarter of the way through, which didn't feel contrived, but I don't want to talk about in case people want to read it.

Justice League Unlimited

This animated series is a pretty good introduction to many of the DC heroes. Especially the 3rd episode where Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman and Green Lantern are turned into younger versions of themselves.

It kind of annoyed me by being 80% really good messages, but kind of annoying in the remainder. Message of "give peace a chance, don't fight for no reason" is good. Portraying anonymous eastern-european countries as prone to fighting for no reason until american heros help them, maybe problematic. Having multiple prominent female characters treated as equal, good. Having them all have lots of cleavage, maybe problematic. etc.
jack: (Default)
JourneyQuest is a web video series by Zombie Orpheus, who are the team who made The Gamers. It was really funny!

Unlike The Gamers, it takes place solely in the fantasy world, there's no humour in the way real-world players choose to play characters, which I really loved. But there's a lot less "ha ha, roleplayers are often all men and make sexist jokes" humour, which is good!

It starts with a simple four-person adventuring party seeking the legendary "Sword of Stabbing", but spirals out from there as they become unexpectedly destined to succeed, the plot tangles up with the orcs they met, the bardic college track them to try to ballard the story... My favourite characters are probably, Perf the hapless wizard who always ends up in the centre of things, and the clever orc who always appears put upon as the involuntary voice of reason.

You can watch series 1 & 2 here: http://zombieorpheus.com/shows/journeyquest/

And there's a kickstarter for #3 here.

It does leave me with that feeling of "great characters, great setting, great concept, but now I've moved beyond just laughing at them and I want to know WHAT HAPPENS. Move the plot along already". But that's basically "it's fun, but not very long" which is hard to argue with.
jack: (Default)
Hudson Hawk

A film with Bruce Willis as a once-famous cat burglar just getting out of jail, blackmailed into taking several Leonardo Da Vinci related heists. I once played a very good 8-bit platform game based on it, which captured the feel of catburgling quite well for the time. It was one of the first games I actually finished, which was really exciting.

A few bits are really fun, when they sing the same song to time themselves and keep themselves in sync as they go around different parts of the building. And the introduction of the gang with candy-bar codenames. But then it descends from heist movie into slapstick action movie and I mostly lose interest.

Steven Universe

One of the animated children's TV shows which lots and lots of people have been very excited by recently. The crystal gems are three gemstone-themed alien people who protect the earth from various monsters, aided by half-human half-gem Steven.

A lot of people praise the handling of emotional themes, eg. Greta Christina on episode 5: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2015/12/10/steven-universe-episode-5-frybo/ on how one of Steven's friends disappoints his father. It's generally a good role model, having lots of examples of flawed people who are not all good or bad and easily-accessible examples of complicated emotional stuff.

The episodes mostly about some of the humans don't hit my emotions as hard as they do other people, but I also liked a lot else about it.

The gems are all aliens who, it seems, don't have two different sexes, but are all coded as "female" in the show, whatever their role in society. Which I think works very well, considering the number shows which have used "male" as if it were equivalent to "default, no marked gender".

Steven's emotional maturity and skill with his gem powers are shown growing really realistically. It's not always a straightforward "he learns how to do this, and then can do it henceforth", but there's a clear sequence of "he can't do this", "he can do this some of the time and is excited when it works", "he makes a lot of effort and isn't sure if he'll succeed", and finally "he does this fairly reliably". I think, if you watched episodes slightly out of order, it would still work nearly as well, but there's a definite benefit to watching the whole series mostly in order.

And in many ways, the "struggling to learn how to do it" is more realistic than having a "one episode where he learns it". It's very moving to watch Steven progress from automatically being left at home during missions, to being automatically included in the team.

The worldbuilding is great. The early episodes do a very good job of painting the general situation, the gems, raising Steven, protecting the world, etc. But as we slowly learn more, learning about the gems original homeworld, and where the monsters come from, and the history of Steven's mother, we learn a richer story that doesn't contradict what we learned. And it's all sufficiently consistent, it's possible to speculate and be correct, and things introduced in later episodes don't make nonsense of the earlier episodes where they weren't established yet.

I'd rather have MORE of that, but then, it's not aimed primarily at me.

More media

Jan. 11th, 2016 10:21 am
jack: (Default)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (tv)

Produced by Tina Fey, who made 30 Rock. The main character attempts to join normal new-york society after spending 15 years trapped underground in a bunker in Indiana. The rationale is that they were kidnapped by an apocalyptic preacher who convinced them the world had ended in 2000, but the show is very much about Kimmy aspiring to a normal life, not dwelling on the traumatic history.

The first few episodes start strong, affectionately making fun of Kimmy's difficulties and cuttingly making fun of how messed up the world can be, especially sexism. But oh boy, I wish it could extend that understanding to everyone else: it's good there ARE Korean, Native American, hispanic characters, but it leans really heavily on stereotypes without really subverting them :(

Jessica Jones (tv)

Like everyone says. From Marvel (IIRC), but the feel of the show feels more inspired by detective things than superhero things. JJ is someone who was previously thralled to someone with mind-control powers, now escaped and working as a private detective. What I have heard from people with PTSD or past abuse is, it's a good portrayal of someone with those problems, and otherwise enjoyable, and that may mean you want to watch it or may mean you don't want to watch it.

The Flash (tv)

Based on the DC comics character. I watched the first episode a while back and enjoyed it, now I watched the second episode. I thought it was about as good, the fun bits were fun, but I didn't get drawn into it as much as with some of the other shows I've watched, and "protagonist keeps best friend/love interest in the dark" I'm just SO BORED WITH.

Supergirl (tv)

Did I talk about this already? I can't remember. Anyway, it was very fun, I liked the way it focussed on supergirl's problems being supergirl, on having many of the main characters being women, of making versions of Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant and even Superman, that seem to have grown up since their typical characterisation. It feels like supergirl has agency, and her decisions actually drive the plot, when too many superheros do "what their handler says". OTOH, that does mean there's a certain amount of vacillating.
jack: (Default)
After the dramatic changes in episode 22, I finally watched the next two (and having seen all of season 1 except the last episode). Now I have all the thoughts, which are major spoilers for the show, but aren't really about the show (so are hopefully ok to read if you don't think you'll watch it).

Read more... )

Code Geass

May. 5th, 2015 10:29 pm
jack: (Default)
Half way through season 1 of the Code Geass anime box set dvds. Random thoughts, without much spoilers:

Thank you to Alex for recommending it, it's exactly the sort of thing I like.

It makes much more sense than it sounds like! The premise is like, two paragraphs with national politics and magic and giant robots and resistance groups and high-school politics and chessmaster protagonist and antagonists all in one thing and sounds ridiculous. But when I actually watch it, it flows very naturally. The new Britannian empire has conquered most of the world, including Japan. Partly by using the next generation of military hardware, giant robots. The protagonist is a minor Britannian noble at high school in Japan with a grudge against the emperor. He gets caught in up the japanese resistance. He also acquires a mysterious power from a secret research project in a resistance operation gone wrong, which he exploits ruthlessly and effectively. The characters are about 18 (I think), at just the age when it makes sense they might both be in high school and also in the military or secretly in the resistance.

But also, everyone's uniforms (military and school) are ridiculously sexy all the time for no reason.

It does chessmaster strategists ever so well. There's a common problem of _saying_ someone is a clever strategist, but everything they do is basically magic "hi, I did stratego-babble and now we're winning". But a surprisingly high amount of the time, it manages the magic sweet spot of me going "oh, of course, that was clever" when something happens.

And the worldbuilding hangs together too. You see two people in a giant robot, and you immediately know which is better than tanks but worse than the other giant robot and how much of a chance it stands. Good pilots are clearly more effective but not magical.

It's interesting to see what genre conventions are new to me and I consciously notice and which ones I don't. Presumably Britannians are supposed to look western and the Japanese are supposed to look Japanese? But I can't tell by looking between western and japanese and indian (?). It's hard to imagine a british animation about britain being conquered by a foreign empire, and primarily about characters from that empire living in britain.

OTOH, I'm very curious to know more but not as emotionally engaged as I might be -- fewer and fewer things make me genuinely get excited about the fate of the characters. And I'm worried it will descend into moral greyness and things not mattering (but don't tell me I know there's still a lot of plot changes coming up and I'm going to watch it without wanting to know more).
jack: (Default)
I've decided in my personal canon, the last one-two episodes were actually the ending one-two seasons earlier, and it was a _fairly_ good ending, and then the producers said, no, wait we can do even better than that, let's film an alternate ending.

And then they retconned out that ending, and filmed most of the last one-two series, all except the last one-two episodes. And the characters had some of the same character development, but spread out over a longer time period. Ted got over Robin, really, and he and the mother lived happily ever after. Marshall and Lily became successful. Barney grew up and had a decent relationship with Robin. Robin travelled the world, and joined shield!
jack: (Default)
For nine seasons, HIMYM is the often INCREDIBLY, INCREDIBLY annoying, sometimes sweet, sometimes funny story of Ted and friends, and all the ways Ted messes up relationships, told as the story of Ted explaining to his children how he first met their mother.

I really liked most of the last season (with a few unfortunate exceptions) with all the little hints with other cast members meeting the children's mother, and Ted not quite doing so yet, but having flashforwards to things they did together.

I'd assumed that any ending would be a let down, assuming that Ted would meet the children's mother in the last episode, and there was no possible way that could be a surprise. But I was very pleasantly surprised that they built up a whole season showing Ted and the children's mother continually nearly meeting, and showing her meeting the other characters, and building her up as a character, it felt like if they just capped it off with the expected meeting at the end, it would have been perfect, much better than I expected for a show built around a premise that encapsulated its own ending, and dragged out for nine seasons.

Thoughts and feels, including spoilers )


Feb. 10th, 2014 12:28 pm
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I saw the first episode of Three Musketeers. I liked it quite a bit. I was a bit bored by the plot, and thought Athos should have more gravitas than the other musketeers. But I very much liked the way it showed the setting, it seemed very much in keeping with the book, and I liked they made up an appropriate plausible story rather than trying to stick too closely to the original plot.

I actually find it more interesting when film adaptations add something interesting, rather than just reflecting the original. It's just that USUALLY the changes take away whatever was more unique or interesting about the original and make it more like a standard good-guy-bad-guy-gets-the-girl hollywood plot I've seen before. I liked that they kept d'Artangan's duel with the musketeers, and that he flirted with CB despite her being married, and that the Cardinal is trying to do the right thing by France even if he's manipulative and ruthless, which are often left out of adaptations. In fact, the duel almost makes MORE sense -- his dad's death gives d'Artangan a reason to immediately commit to fighting the musketeers other than bravado, which makes more sense to a modern audience. (I'm just annoyed the first episode had three people pretending to be the musketeers before you know what they really look like, it's too confusing).

And I like that it keeps the feel of real life-or-death stakes, but also the devil-may-care humour, of the duels, and of Aramis and Porthos bullying the cardinal's guard. And I quite liked Porthos. There was a minor fuss whether casting a mixed-race actor was inappropriate, and I may have felt unsure if it was a character who was more explicitly expected to be European, but it seems entirely in keeping with Porthos' character and Dumas' ancestry.

Doctor Who

Apr. 2nd, 2013 12:14 pm
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I haven't seen most of the most recent seasons, but I watched the first episode of the new season at Eastercon.

I was glad I did; watching with a thousand other fans does bring out the good aspects[1]. The funny bits were funny and the emotional bits were emotional and the awesome bits were awesome.

However it shared the problem which exasperated me with most of the seasons since it was first brought back, that the general incoherence of the premise-of-the-week undermines any sense of success or failure. I want to be sucked in, worried about what's happening and panicked, hoping the doctor can fix it. But when I know everything will be resolved with thirty seconds of technobabble, or not, according to the needs of the plot, there's no point rooting for him :(

[1] I often have a similar experience listening to authors talk about their intentions with their book, that it can make me go "ah, I see what you were doing and it was really interesting" rather than "how on earth are so many things wrong with this book?" :)
jack: (Default)
Dear ridiculously annoying advert protagonists,

It's possible to have fun without recorded music! Talk to each other. Play a board game. Make out with each other. Learn how to say "hello" in chinese. Dance to an imaginary capella. Make an impromptu amateur film based on gender-switched versions of the adventures of Tin-Tin acted out with halloweeen decorations.

You don't have any imagination. This is why your whole universe is devoted to selling some particular brand of broadband internet.

Love, Jack
jack: (Default)
Dear ridiculously annoying annoying advert with too much embarrassment,

If you're deciding between "playing a CD" and "playing a perfect playlist which you haven't got working yet", why not play a CD and work on getting the playlist working at the same time? Then you get the best of both worlds and don't have to yell at each other!

Love, Jack


Mar. 30th, 2012 10:37 pm
jack: (Default)
Huh. Apparently someone really did make a TV series about Nathon Fillon (Captain Mal Reynolds) solving crime using his knowledge of scifi & fantasy pop culture. Really. It's like pure fan service :) It's ok, but not as good as it sounds.