Category Archives: Various and Sundry


Let’s Talk About Death! (But, y’know, indirectly)

It’s Friday, so it’s time for something light and cheerful. How about death? It is Friday the 13th, you know.

No really, this is about as fun an exploration about the language we use regarding shuffling off the mortal coil that I recall seeing this side of a Charles Addams cartoon. And the doctor below happily explains all sorts of geeky trivia regarding words.

Seriously, if I understood how much fun I might have before having to smell flowers underground, I would have continued some of my linguistic studies.

That Piece on Focus You will Forget to Read

This interview, by Vox‘s Sean Illig with journalist Johann Hari, came out in February… and then I finally checked it out in March… and now I’m only posting about it in May.

via Vox (Getty images)

The way I finally got to it was actually to listen to it, because the article is actually a summation of a more detailed slightly-more-than-an-hour audio interview.

It’s full of useful insights especially… dang, I might need to listen to it again.

A Secret of Happiness or Now I Want to Check In With Silver Medalists…

It’s not uncommon for me to kick off Monday’s with a post about motivation or life satisfaction, so I figured I’d post this brief article by Arthur C. Brooks over at The Atlantic. In short, Noël Coward may have been on to something when one of his characters in Design for Living goes on in a perfect theater banter way about how one can have too much of a good thing. Basically, the happiest people may not do the best in life.

How happy is this person a scale of gold to bauxite?

I’ll be looking for related studies and other takes on this studies in the future.

Why the Spice Flowed the Way it Flowed in Dune

While it seems that not everyone liked the latest screen version of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel Dune, it’s the first film in a long time that I finished watching and wanted to immediately watch again. I’m up to seeing it five times now, so it’s safe to say I’m a fan (I find much to love in the other two screen versions as well, but that’s for another post).

One of the most striking aspect of this version is the now Oscar-winning visual effects, which is something that Jourdan Aldredge goes into over at the site No Film School. Specifically, he talks a lot about that tool filmmakers frequently call upon when they need something fantastical: green screens.

Dune did not use green-colored screens nor even the older school blue screens. It used sand-colored screens.

If you, like me, went, “Whaaaaaaat?” you can check out the article mentioned above and also go directly to this video essay explaining what they did:

The New Streaming Squid Game & the Contraction of Creativity

So based on last week’s post about the schadenfreude over the disruptor Netflix being disrupted, here’s a piece by Joy Press for Vanity Fair about the changing landscape of streaming TV.

Illustration by Derek Abella

Now, once you read the article, you may find the title above a tad click-baity, but the article is predicting possible directions for the industry to go. Many of those directions look to be safe, one might even say traditional, avenues in terms of greenlighting programming. One of the more interesting aspects is that the broadcast vs. streaming are, while obviously different distribution channels, not zero sum distribution channels. As the CEO of CBS points out, “the average age of people watching Survivor on CBS is 60—and 37 for those streaming it on Paramount+.”

So, give it a read and consider how your selection of streamers might be changing their strategy –or not– in the year ahead.

Ted Lasso and the Turn, Turn, Turns of TV Seasons

Note: This post and the related links abound in spoilers for Ted Lasso, season 2.

This past weekend, my wife and I finally finished the second season of Ted Lasso, the comfort-food comedy-drama that is nominally about soccer, but really seems to be a backdoor effort to assemble a Gen X mixtape playlist whilst making equal numbers of jokes and pop culture references every single minute.

The gentle yet foul-mouthed comedy of season one remains, but makes room for not only elements of fantasy (hello, Santa), but several storylines about mental health and, in some cases, the inability to accept the need for therapy (hello Gray Nate and your unresolved issues with your father).

It’s hard in this day and age to avoid spoilers, especially for buzz-worthy shows and films, so I knew that some people who adored season one of Ted Lasso were rather negative about season two. Now finally I can check out all the digital ink spilled about the season.

via Apple TV+

Once again, the always insightful Emily St. James over at Vox has a great piece looking at Ted Lasso, the season two backlash, and my favorite part: some musing on how series evolve over time both on their own and in the estimation of audiences. Give it a read (after finished season two, of course).

Micronations: The Amuse-bouche of International Affairs?

It could be because each micronation origin story is chock full of ingredients ripe for a quirky biopic, but I love learning about micronations. And there appear to be no end to them popping up. In fact, the Internet seems to have given some of them a new lease on life… or sovereignty.

I mean, the flag is different, but I’m not sure how many people will want to fight under it.

Over on BBC Future, Jessica Mudditt explores the ongoing existence of micronations, with some particularly deep dives into the origins of Atlantium, a micronation smack dab in the island-continent-country that is Australia. They also touch on Ladonia and a few others, which is nice because when was the last big news about Sealand? I’m still holding out for literature-inspired micronations as Terabithia would be just and right to found here in Virginia.

Schadenfreude, thy name is Netflix

So, the news that Netflix lost subscribers last week has generated more online articles this week than… well, new shows dropping on Netflix any given week (spoiler: it’s a lot). It seems many people are delighting in the fact that the streaming disruptor is now finding its plans disrupted. Now, I’ve been a Netflix subscriber going back to when they were only DVDs by mail. In fact, I still get DVDs by mail in addition to their streaming (as some titles aren’t streaming anywhere). So as I value the service, I want to see how it gets through this.

And we’re going to get the next season of The Dragon Prince, right? Right??

One of the more in-depth ones is a long-form article by Josef Adalian for Vulture, which I found a worthwhile read.

The New Generation Combating Online Misinformation

I’ve been offline for much of the past few weeks, but –in a sense– that’s okay, because the Internet can be dark and full of terrors… and terrible misinformation.

Graphic by Naomi Antonino for CNET

Luckily, there are some energetic folks who have just may have found their calling, or a significant first act, learning how inane conspiracy theories and misinformation propagate on the Web. Learn more in this long-form article by Oscar Gonzalez for c|net. And stay curious… and skeptical.

Boldy Going: First Contact Day, 2022

Okay, I’ll come back and expand on all of this, but for the Trek fans among you, there are several things to celebrate

First is that season 3 of Picard is going to get the band back together as they close out a certain British Frenchman’s story:

Next, they have a glorious 4K restoration of Star Trek: The Motion Picture on Paramount+. If you’re not already itching to see it, wait ’til I explain a simple test to see if you want to watch it (hint: many of you won’t and you should feel free not to).

Finally, they’ve been rocking a series of 30-second character teasers followed by an official trailer for the May 5th debut of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and some clever (video editing) engineer has put them all together:

Again, I’ll come back and comment on all this later. For now: live long and prosper.