The Jumbotron Fallacy

Jumbotron

So I saw the new Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay, and it reminded me of something that really annoys me about movies and TV shows.

Here’s an example. Think of Dr. Mindy Lahiri, in The Mindy Project, storming into the doctor’s office at the end of an episode. She’s chasing her boyfriend, Dr. Danny Castellano, and they’re about to have a mild confrontation about their relationship that will resolve the arc of the episode. (This has happened on The Mindy Project more times than I can count.) As soon as they enter the doctor’s office, they’re squabbling with each other, and every single person in the room turns to watch them. Whether it’s their fellow doctors, or patients in the waiting room, or the UPS guy who needs someone to sign for a package, every single person in the scene will stop what they’re doing and watch the drama between Mindy and Danny unfold. Usually these people have no context for the drama, because it all began in private – for example, Mindy is upset at Danny because he won’t let her keep a toothbrush at his apartment, which she feels is indicative of his fear of commitment. But suddenly everyone in the background seems to understand what these two are fighting about, and they seem to think it’s the most gripping scene they have ever witnessed. The bystanders know what Mindy is talking about when she refers to Danny’s toothbrush by its adorable, private nickname – they chuckle when they hear it – and then everyone coos and pats the shoulder of the person next to them as the happy couple makes up. Half a second later, in unison, everyone returns to typing at their computers, rubbing a sore elbow, or signing for a package.

What the fuck, right?

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Did You Hear? Hard Times

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

Who is this guy, what microphone is he using, and how can I steal his voice like Ursula in The Little Mermaid? This song makes me think about how much a first impression matters: On his 2012 album Sundark and Riverlight, I first heard him arranging and performing in this acoustic, organic style. If I had come across any other album first, I would have had a significantly different frame of reference. (Case in point, here is the same song done… differently. Yeah, I’ll bet you didn’t expect that.) Any time I hear a new band, my expectations and comparisons are forever based on the first thing I hear, which means it’s always a bit strange to go further back into earlier work, like coming in at Kid A and then skipping back to Pablo Honey, or first hearing Abbey Road followed by Help!

- Brook Reeder

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The Black Cat at Coalesce Book Store

FA

If you’re out there in the real world, you can find J.M. Geever’s award-winning The Black Cat at Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay, CA.

And if you’re lucky enough to be stuck on the internet, you can buy the paperback and e-book here.

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The Glass Family Tragically Loses Another Sibling: Google

JD_Salinger

Google Glass is doomed, according to reports from Silicon Valley.

It joins a long line of Glass family siblings who, having been scarred by high expectations and public cruelty, are forced to retreat into their own failure and depression.

“The future of technology.” — David Pogue, The New York Times, September 2012

“I’m not afraid to compete. It’s just the opposite. Don’t you see that? I’m afraid I will compete — that’s what scares me.” — Franny and Zooey and Google

“I don’t know what good it is to know so much and be smart as whips and all if it doesn’t make you happy.” — Franny and Zooey and Google

“I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.” — Franny and Zooey and Google

J.D. Salinger’s fans still hold out hope that he is working on a new manuscript about the only remaining Glass sibling who has not met a tragic end: Ira.

- Brian Hurley

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Did You Hear? Fitta Happier

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

Today’s post combines Radiohead, a marching band, and a hip-hop supergroup. It’s just the kind of mash-up I enjoy most, where all the disparate parts combine into something altogether new and interesting in its own right. So often with remixes and mash-ups I’d rather be listening to the original instead, but this track blows right past that objection. And in case marching-band/pop crossovers are your thing, be sure to check this video of a marching band raging

- Brook Reeder

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University Mottos That More Accurately Describe My College Experience

UPenn

COGNITIO NON RESIDENT IN HOC LOCO

Knowledge does not reside in this place.

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OMNES EDUCATORES CONTEMNET EORUM ALUMNI

All educators despise their students.

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STULTO EST BELLUM FACERE CONTRA ATHLETAE

It is foolish to make war against the athletes.

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ABSTINENTIA A EBRIETAS EST QUEDAM EXILIUM

Abstinence from drunkenness is a kind of exile.

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NOW READ THIS: A Muse and a Maze

A Muse and a Maze

Is writing like cartography? Definitely. We’ve said it before, and people who are much smarter than us — like Peter Turchi, author of Maps of the Imagination — have written about the (ahem) overlapping terrain between stories and map-making.

Is writing like a puzzle? Sure, why not. That’s the premise of Tuchi’s latest book, A Muse and a Maze. It’s full of lush illustrations, embedded puzzles, and notes on Harry Houdini, Alison Bechdel, tangrams, labyrinths, and sudoku. Turchi argues that anything with a plot is like a puzzle with a solution: to make one, you have to carefully divulge and withhold information to lead people toward a “state of wonder.”

Start by solving the puzzle in the title.

- Brian Hurley

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Did You Hear? On the Regular

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

“Hi hi, howdy howdy hi hi.” Oh man, this track is pushing the boundaries of genre, style, taste, and probably a few more, but it’s all done so casually! The vibe is like some carefully calculated apathy, at least until we fly into the cowbell. Then it gets a little dark. In any case, I can’t stop listening to it, and so I’ll pass it along to you. ‘This is me on the regular, so you know.’

- Brook Reeder

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