Inside the Writers Room of Lost

by Chris Burfield in

Javi Grillo-Marxuach is probably not a name you're familiar with. If you are then you probably already know which article I'm about to point you to. He was a writer from the very beginning of Lost through the end of season 2. So he was there to lay the foundation for one of the great TV shows of the 2000's, if not one of the best ever. It didn't have the greatest ending but I will defend seasons 1 and 2 as some of the best television ever written. 

Anyways, he wrote an epic post, about 17,000 words on what it was like to work in the writers room at the very beginning. If you're at all interested in what that was like or are interested at all in the creative process then I encourage to read it. And if you're a Lost superfan then you have no excuse not too.

I'll admit to not reading the full thing just yet, but here is a slice from the middle (link to full):

As a result, even though JJ and Damon had sold a show about a mysterious tropical island full of polar bears and patrolled by a free-roaming cloud of sentient smoke, we had to continually promise during the show's development, the filming of the pilot, and even well into the first and second season, that -- at most -- our sci-fi would be of a grounded, believable, Michael Crichton-esque stripe that could be proven plausible through extrapolation from hard science.

Of course, that was a blatant and shameless lie told to network and studio executives in the hopes that either blazing success or crashing failure would eventually exonerate us from the responsibility of explaining the scientifically accurate manner in which the man-eating cloud of sentient smoke actually operated. Nevertheless the onus was on us to generate tons of exciting stories that could stand on their own without leaning too hard on genre, and in television there is only one way of doing that: have great characters who are interesting to watch as they solve problems onscreen.

So, while we routinely discussed such genre questions as "what is the island?" We also asked ourselves "Who are these people, why were they on the plane, and why are they interesting company in a desert island?"

And So It Begins.... (The 2016 Election Cycle)

by Chris Burfield in


The invisible primary for 2016 has been going on for some time but I was hoping we would have a few more months of peace before the true start of the 2016 election cycle. Ted Cruz had to go and ruin it, announcing his candidacy yesterday at Liberty University. 

Aside from ruining the peace he already earns a black mark in my book for the way he announced his run. He used Liberty, an evangelical university, and in turn Liberty used him. That in and of itself should disqualify him (and Liberty University) in any reasonable mind. 

As I have said before, the church and its institutions should not be used for political purposes. Once any aspect of the church gets mixed up into politics it has never and will never end well.

Side note, students of Liberty were basically used as props for Cruz since they are forced to go to regular "convocations". It just so happens the special guest for this particular one was announcing his run for president.

Side note to the side note, does anyone else see the humor in a university called Liberty coercing attendance to something like this?

First & Final Frames

by Chris Burfield in

In case you're new here or haven't been paying attention I love movies. So, when I saw the video below posted at The A.V. Club it caught my eye. There is no narration, just simple side by side comparisons of the first and last shots of various movies. It is an interesting way to examine what directors choose to hook you with in the first images and what they choose to have you walk out of the theater with.

In case you're wondering where the next AFI film review is at then let me fill you in. Netflix is taking its sweet time in shipping Toy Story to me. So once I get it and re-watch it then the review will be up. In the meantime I saw number 98, Yankee Doodle Dandy, last week and already have the review written. So if Toy Story doesn't arrive this week I may post my reviews out of order. We'll see.

Good On State Senator Jeff Tarte

by Chris Burfield in

He is the primary sponsor of a new bill currently working its way through the North Carolina legislature which would repeal the religious exemption to the rule which requires vaccination before enrolling in a public school. However, the new wording of the rule would still allow home schoolers to be exempt.

All I can say is good! As I have stated before, your liberty does not grant you the right to put other people in danger.

While there should be no need for a compromise on this issue, after all there is not one shred of evidence that vaccines cause the harm the "deniers" claim they do, if there is going to be a compromise then this is the place to have it. If you want to endanger your kids and others then keep them at home and teach them yourself, do not bring them into the public schools. 

Jon Oliver Destroys the NCAA

by Chris Burfield in

Today is the first day of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and no I don't think those pointless play-in games the last two days really count as the start, regardless of what the NCAA says. So it is no surprise that Jon Oliver took the opportunity on Sunday to destroy the NCAA on his show "Last Week Tonight". 

I love every minutes of this clip. Yes, I will watch some of the tournament over the next three weeks but it is about the only college sports I'll watch all year. I cannot stand how the NCAA and the quest for more money is destroying the academic mission of countless schools while the students, without whom there would be no games, do not get paid a dime.


If you're looking for a more serious take then I highly recommend the documentary "Schooled: The Price of College Sports". It is available to stream on Netflix Instant.

The Pride of Nostalgia

by Chris Burfield in

I came across a beautiful post by baseball writer Craig Calcaterra yesterday. It starts off as an anti-nostalgia post, at least the type of nostalgia which can be destructive, an obsession with the past and wishing we still lived there. A healthy nostalgia, those times were nice kind of nostalgia is not the kind he is against. He applies to this baseball but then about mid-way through the worm turns and it becomes about life in general and this is where it hooked me.

From the End (link to full):

But there’s another way to think about this concept. To think that, every time you look back to the good old days (or the good old you) and either claim them to be superior to the present or wish you were still back enjoying them, you’re killing all of the selves you have become since then. You’re killing those incarnations of you which leaned and evolved and, per Updike’s construction, became born anew with fresh knowledge or perspective. And that’s a best case scenario. An alternate one is that you have never learned, changed or evolved and that your callback to the good old days is a signal of your defiance against all of the forces that, in the normal course, help humanity advance and evolve. “I’ve learned nothing and experienced nothing new worth mentioning” you’re smugly saying. “And I’m damn proud of it!” That’s about the saddest thing I can imagine.

Do read the whole thing.

Alternate Careers for Frank Underwood

by Chris Burfield in

McSweeney's comes through again and delivers some excellent hilarity for the day, that is if you like House of Cards. 

Author William Lessard takes various Underwood quotes from the show and turns them into phrases that would come from someone of a different profession.

Read the whole thing but here is a sample (link to full):

“There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.”

— Frank Underwood, D.D.S.

“Centuries from now, when people watch this footage, who will they see smiling just at the edge of the frame?”

— Frank Underwood, Wedding Videographer


Open Borders Day

by Chris Burfield in

March 16 is Open Borders Day. 

I was not always pro open borders, in fact I used to be very anti-immigration. Then I took some economics classes. After that I saw all the Bible passages which tell us to love our neighbors and to look out for the stranger in your land for you were once strangers yourselves.

I can't give you a rundown of all the economics and justifications, however, I can provide a bunch of links to better writers who do.

If someone makes the claim there is a process for unskilled immigrants to come into the country then they are either uninformed or lying, probably the former, this handy flowchart from Reason gives a good overview of the process (click image to enlarge):

And then Bryan Caplan, George Mason economist, provides a clear and concise review of the academic literature on immigration. 

From the beginning (link to full):

How would one go about overcoming this presumption (the moral case for open borders) ? For starters, you must show that the evils of free immigration are fairly severe. Immigration restrictions trap many millions in Third World misery. Economists’ consensus estimate is that open borders would roughly double world GDP, enough to virtually eliminate global poverty (Clemens 2011). The injustice and harm that immigration restrictions prevent has to be at least comparable to the injustice and harm that immigration restrictions impose.

But hard evidence that immigration has major drawbacks is not enough. The proponent of immigration restrictions also has to show that there is no cheaper or more humane way to mitigate the evils of immigration. Surgery wouldn’t be morally justified if a $1 pill were an equally effective treatment. Why not? Because even if surgery will save the patient’s life, there is a cheaper, more humane way to do so.