When I read the book during an ill-fated book club a few years ago, I was constantly torn between admiration for Strayed for undertaking a difficult journey and frustration at her motivations and gained “insights.”

The feminist undercurrent is welcome, but I was still just as frustrated that a major lesson turns out to be this: “There’s no way to know what makes one thing happen and not another, what leads to what, what destroys what, what causes what to flourish or die or take another course.” That’s a pretty good summary of what it means to have an external locus of control. It’s good that Strayed doesn’t actually believe this because she couldn’t possibly have completed her trip if she did.

The writer Rebecca Cusey thinks that, “Cheryl never finds a transcendence beyond the boundaries of her own self.” I agree.

The movie’s director, Jean-Marc Vallée, also directed Dallas Buyers Club which also had moving moments and excellent performances from its actors, but that I also thought was deeply flawed. Whatever that movie did to help humanize those struggling with AIDS in the early days of the epidemic, it also presented scientists and the FDA in particular as villains willing to make people suffer without good cause.

Thoughts Concerning Game of Thrones


  • It’s infuriating to me how much more enjoyable this was to me than Borgia or The Tudors. The dialogue is consistently better, the characters more vivid, the storylines more interesting.
  • Loved this: “There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: ‘Not today.’ ”
  • There are a lot of things that evolved the same on GoT planet just as they did on our planet. Apparently, evolution favors humans, cats, dogs, rats, pigs, potatoes, poppies, etc., regardless of things like climate or geography.
  • Beware of people who’ve watched Game of Thrones without subsequently undergoing therapy.
  • Khaleesi’s dragons (Sir Sean Connery) start out small. They grow. Why? They’re magical. Why must they eat? Why must they grow over time?
  • Brienne of Tarth vs. The Hound!
  • The most magical thing about GoT: lots of wine; not one vineyard.
  • Reproduction on this planet takes place when men slap their flaccid penes against others’ pudenda. Just to be clear: we can graphically depict all manner of sadistic murder, but an erect penis or a vulva are completely out of the question. This isn’t new.
  • This classic sex and violence in media debate reminds me of a recent conversation I had with some LDS missionaries. I’ve been meeting with missionaries on and off for a few years now. They’re always very polite, of course, and the conversations are always interesting. They were very polite, for example, when I told them how unfortunate I think the church’s latest stance on homosexuality is. And, they were very polite when I informed them that I’m agnostic and then gave a brief explanation of my utilitarianism. And, they were very polite when I questioned a basic premise of Christianity (namely, that God sacrificed Himself to Himself to save the humans he created from Himself — this doesn’t fit LDS theology perfectly, but the difference, I think, is unimportant). They also politely listened as I told them that I don’t think omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence are compatible with the allowance of suffering.

    The missionaries, as they usually do, suggested that if only I would read scripture with an open heart I’d be persuaded by it. I told them that, as someone who attended a Christian school, who has formally studied Biblical Hebrew, and who has generally been exposed to quite a lot of Judeo-Christian scripture, I feel like the open heart I started reading it with closes a little more each time I revisit it. Continue reading “Thoughts Concerning Game of Thrones

Flash Binge


Some thoughts on my recent The Flash binge (with major spoiler at end):

  • Proof that I’m 13: The premise of a fast-running “metahuman” defeating various villains by running really, really fast should have gotten old really, really fast, but somehow didn’t. For example, “Oh! A giant wave is heading toward Central City and will (apparently) destroy it.” Flash: “I clearly have to run back and forth really, really fast to stop this from happening.” Or, “Oh! There’s been a rupture in spacetime and this is creating a singularity. What will we do?” Flash: “I will run really, really fast inside the singularity.”
  • The Flash doesn’t get his proper moniker until, I think, more than halfway through the series. Prior to that, he’s “The Streak.” I take it he doesn’t like this name because it calls to mind either soiled underwear or exhibitionism. I guess he prefers “The Flash” because it calls to mind only the latter?
  • Thinking back over the season, most of the episodes don’t seem to me to pass the Bechdel Test (i.e. there must be two women who talk to each other about something other than a man). There are two main female characters and they talk to each other very infrequently.
  • I could be off on this, but it seems that about 80% of episodes include either a scene where The Flash talks to his wrongfully imprisoned father while both men weep because of how they adore each other or a scene where The Flash talks to his adoptive father while both men weep because of how they also adore each other. Of course, I teared up every time as I’m a sucker for actors crying at each other.
  • There is a character (apparently Peek-a-Boo in the comics) who can teleport to places as long as she can see the destination. At one point, she teleports into a windowless armored vehicle and then back into a moving car. How does she know the car is still there? How did she know she wouldn’t be teleporting into someone inside the armored vehicle? Sure, it’s a comic book show, but why bother telling us the rules if you’re going to break them so brazenly? Continue readingFlash Binge”

List of Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows

(Sequels intentionally excluded)

5th Element, The
12 Monkeys
28 Days Later
10,000 B.C.
About Time
After Earth
Altered States
Back to the Future
Batteries Not Included
Being John Malkovich
Bicentennial Man
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Black Hole, The
Blade Runner
Butterfly Effect
Captain America
Children of Men
Cloning of Joanna May, The
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Cloud Atlas
Colossus: The Forbin Project
Cowboys & Aliens
Dark City
Dark Skies
Dark Star
Day After Tomorrow, The
Day the Earth Stood Still, The
Death Race 2000
Déjà Vu
District 9
Edge of Tomorrow
Ender’s Game
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Europa Report
Ex Machina
Fahrenheit 451
Fly, The
Forbidden Planet
Fountain, The
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel
Galaxy Quest
Groundhog Day
Guardians of the Galaxy
Handmaid’s Tale, The Continue reading “List of Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows”