Monday various

  • Fringe wasn’t originally meant to have alternate universes. I am not even a little surprised by this. It’s only when the show settled on the alternate universe storyline, when it started having an ongoing plot that wasn’t based in creatures-of-the-week, that it went from being one of the worst science fiction shows on the air to being one of the best. (I highly recommend io9’s primer to anyone looking to get into the show for the first time. There’s a lot early on you can, and will probably want to, miss.)
  • In case you missed it, the best New York Times correction ever. [via]
  • Genevieve Valentine on suspension of disbelief (particularly in the movie In Time:

    If your movie is super high concept, and I decide to see it, I have probably, to some degree, already accepted the concept, you know? “Everyone in the future has a puppy surgically grafted to their chests.” Okay, fine, I promise not to spend a lot of the movie going, “Surgically grafting a puppy to your chest is a weird thing for a person to do.” I will, however, question every piece of outerwear that does not have a dog-head flap in it, or any moment in your movie where a character is like, “Well, now my dog has grown too big for my chest cavity and medical science didn’t allow for that in the many generations we have been living with these grafted puppies, so now it’s too late for me, you go on!” Because that is worldbuilding, and that you need to do. And the higher the concept is, the more work you need to do. (Moon, for example, requires little. Dark City requires more.

  • See also: Why fiction’s freest genres need its most rigid rules:

    In these genres, the fundamental realities of a world can be anything imaginable: There can be wizards, or dragons, or intergalactic spaceships, or time travel, or dragon-wizards in time-traveling intergalactic spaceships. Nothing can be assumed. Which makes it mighty easy for authors to cheat by changing the rules whenever it’s convenient to the plot: “Oh, did I not mention that dragon-wizard time-travel spaceships are sentient and can crossbreed to produce baby spaceships? Well, they can.”

  • And finally, Writers are Like Porn Stars. There, that ought to bring in some more comment spam. (SFW — it’s another io9 link — though the image is maybe a little risque for the workplace.)

Tuesday various

  • Following up on the story last week, the Nieman Journalism Lab digs deeper into The New York Times‘ fact-checking faux pas:

    The hope for building fact-checks into everyday news reports is that it would push political reporters to be more thoughtful and reflexive about their own work — to leave out quotable-but-dubious claims, to resist political conflict as the default frame, and in general to avoid the pat formulations that are so ably managed by political actors. But inevitably, all of us will be disappointed, even pissed off, by some of these routine fact-checks — and perhaps all the more so when they’re woven into the story itself. [via]

  • Can you name the ABCs of ’70s film? I got most of these, although frankly, I think “N” is a bit of a cheat. There are lot more, from different decades and different genres, here. The “I” in the 1980s one is definitely a cheat. I’m sorry, but I refuse to call it Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Speaking of which, Raiders of the Lost Archives — a shot-by-shot comparison of Raiders of the Lost Ark and its many (sometimes direct) influences. It’s interesting, although Spielberg and Lucas have never hidden that the movie was an homage to the adventure serials they loved growing up. [via
  • Todd VanDerWerff on NBC’s The Firm:

    It’s like the show wants to be a straightforward copy of the movie, only told over a full season, but it also wants to be a sequel to the movie. Thus, it becomes a story about people who experience nearly exactly the same collection of events, don’t really seem all that concerned about it, and then also take on a case of the week because they’ve figured out they live in a TV show.

  • And finally, there’s a a gorgeous five-story mural in Montreal. See above. [via]

Tuesday various

All the news that fits, we print

Today was an okay day.

We had another of our regular “brown bag” lunches at work, this one with Robin Pogrebin, a journalist with the New York Times, who talked about her own history with the magazine, the general state (and likely future) of print journalism, and answered some of our questions. It wasn’t as interactive as last month’s improv session, but it was interesting.

This evening, after work, I took the subway downtown to the NYU campus to hear novelist (and NYU professor) Zadie Smith talk. She wound up mostly reading from her novel-in-progress, a novel she’s apparently been working on for the past six or seven years — and which is quite good, from the sound of it. Afterward, she took questions from the audience. I stayed for most of that, but sneaked out a little early near the end. Smith’s a funny and engaging presence, but I had me a train to catch. (I also had yet to have dinner, and it was already half past 7.)

All in all, a pretty okay day.

Wednesday various

  • The slow (but perhaps inevitable) death of Borders:

    In 2001, Borders would go on to partner with, allowing the online book retailer to handle their internet sales for them, if you can believe it. There’s a photo of Jeff Bezos and then-Borders president and CEO Greg Josefowicz shaking hands to celebrate the partnership. Josefowicz has weatherman hair and a broad smile, and he’s beaming past the camera with the cocksure giddiness of a guy who thinks he just got rid of all his problems because he sold his dumb old cow for a handful of really cool magic beans. But when you pull your eyes away from Josefowicz’s superheroic chin, you notice that Jeff Bezos is smiling directly into the camera with keen shark eyes. His smile is more relaxed, a little more candid than Josefowicz’s photo-op-ready grin. It’s the face of someone who’s thinking, I finally got you, you son of a bitch. [via]

  • The slow (and ongoing) death of Wikipedia:

    After years at the top result on practically every Google search, Wikipedia has lost its urgency. Kids who were in 8th grade in 2004 have gone through their entire high school and college careers consulting (i.e. plagiarizing) Wikipedia; to them, Wikipedia is a dull black box—editing it seems just a bit more possible than making revisions to Pride and Prejudice. [via]

  • Apes From the Future, Holding a Mirror to Today:

    But it has to be said that the movie science fiction of the original Apes era, with its now laughably primitive effects, in some ways benefited from its technical crudeness: the spectacle rarely got in the way of the ideas, and when the ideas are engaging, as they are in the first “Planet of the Apes” and “Escape,” the simple effects function like sketches, indications of some greater, not fully realized, narrative and intellectual architecture.

  • The Playboy Club as female empowerment? O RLY?

    Perhaps the good news is that we’ve now reached the point where it’s considered smart marketing to push a feminist spin on your show about Playboy Bunnies. Perhaps we’ve reached the point, in fact, where you have to try to fit your show into a “we have smart and strong women characters” mold. (Earlier in the tour, we had a panelist argue that Entourage had some of the strongest female characters on television, which raised eyebrows similarly.) Perhaps it’s good news that strength, like sex, presumably sells. Just don’t look for it here.

  • And finally, a little late linking this, but: Remembering legendary Cleveland rock critic Jane Scott [via]