Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Crime Report August 4-10, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Southfield August 11, 2014 City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan

Topics Include

  • Authorization For the Language of the Road Mileage Authorization Put on The November Ballot
  • The Confirmation of Robin Dillard-Russaw as Magistrate
  • Maintenance Contract For the Police E911 System with AT&T
  • Various Road Projects

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why I Stopped Playing Gameboy

So a couple days ago I made an offhand comment that the reason why I'm not so much into Pokemon is because I don't have the disposable cash to buy a Nintendo Gameboy 3DS and even if I did there are a million things that I need more than a Gameboy.

Then I realized. I still had my Gameboy Advance and knew more or less where it was. Seriously the great search took about all of 20 minutes.  So now the question I have to ask myself is why hell did I stop playing Gameboy in the first place.

Well there are a couple of reasons. Older retro gamers are going to slap me for saying this but my golden age is the PS2/Dreamcast/Xbox/Gamecube era. And at the time Gameboy couldn't compete for my attention and funds.

Okay I was a spoiled brat but when I was a young child let's call it 9 I negotiated a formula with my parents for determining my allowance size. Grade Level * Level of School= Allowance. When I was a young child it was pretty small. 5 bucks starting. It was enough so that on Fridays after school I could buy a soda and a slice of pizza from the corner store before TGIF.

Good times, good times. (Everything I love is closed now, though something else might have moved in.)

But after a while that grade level multiplier kicked in, right around 2000 in fact. The trade off was that it was expected that I would mostly buy my own goodies with that cash. And between DVD's, PS2 and Xbox games, anime, and fantasy novels. Gameboy just got edged out.

Today Gameboy has a reputation for probably being the most diverse of the "devoted" gaming consoles, and in retrospect that was probably true even back then, but at the time I viewed it as a nerfed system that had the advantage of being portable (My same beef with laptops now. Spend the money on a faster processor and larger harddrive people. It'll last longer too.).

I lost my original advance but eventually bought an S.P. and found it had rechargeable batteries.  Now I see the advantage of that. Batteries are a money sink but back then it was a pain.

Like I said the primary reason I had it was because it was portable. I could sneak Gameboy Color into my backpack and play it during lunch and on the school bus. And if it died I just kept a few spare batteries on me. But with Advanced S.P if the battery died it died. And even if I found an outlet it meant I couldn't move for like two hours taking away the whole portable handheld thing it had going for it.

The way I saw it if I was going to stay on my rump I might as well get "the full experience".

So rather than spend money on Gameboy games I spent it on other stuff.

Right now I don't game so much because I don't have the type of money I had back then but I think I eventually will so I still keep up with things. It looks like the Gameboy 3DS might actually be the best of the last generation if you look at things a certain way.

I'm going to sound like an old man but there was something for everybody in my day. And the promos I'm looking at seem more and more samey. Even the games I've played I like seem like they have had their controls nerfed to appeal to more and more systems.

GTA V's controls in particular are a clunky mess as the game tries to be about 15 different smaller games. In Crimson Skies flying was awesome. In GTA it makes me want to throw the controller at the screen.

I don't know. These are just thoughts that went through my head as I was searching for Metroid Fusion.

Election Clean-Up

Okay most of the election results can be found at the Oakland County Clerk's site, the Secretary of State's Site, The Oakland Press or The Detroit Free Press but for some quick hits that stuck out to me. .

Southfield Councilman Jeremy Moss won the Democratic Michigan House 35th district primary, Mayor Brenda Lawrence won her primary for the 14th Michigan District U.S. Congress seat  (boy did I call that wrong) and State Senator Vincent Gregory won the 11th Michigan Senate primary by only 117 votes.

Those were most of the races I was paying attention to but the SMART millage passed in Oakland County and Prop 1 won throughout the state.

The more interesting question that I'm wondering is, if Moss goes to Lansing and Lawrence is goes Washington neither of which are foregone conclusions since this was a primary but still very likely, what's going to happen here. I would have to check the city charter, but my guess is there will either be a special election or some sort of appointment and in either case I have no clue who are on those short lists.

Council will probably discuss it next Monday. At least I hope they do.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Form of Media

So with my top 10 mainstream anime list I think I hit on a larger media idea. The idea of media representation. Okay I'm a black guy so I've heard and on some occasions made another angle of this argument but that's not where I'm going.

Nope. This is not about racial diversity in pop culture.

Going somewhere completely different. Ready.

I love media. I love reading it, watching it, playing it, and listening to it. I LOVE MEDIA. But I can't experience every piece of media out there. So the bits I do experience color the my view of what their respective medium is.  For instance while I played and liked video games the first game I really loved and had at my disposal to fully take apart. was Soul Caliber the Dreamcast. I had Sonic 2. I liked Sonic 2, I never beat Sonic 2. Damn Aquatic Zone.

But I played the hell out of, challenged my friends to, beat, and re-beat Soul Caliber and it colors my perception of other games because it was one of the games most economically but more importantly experientially accessible to me.  It has become entrenched my archetype of game. And my perception of what is a game is largely effected by that.

But the concept of game is artificial. It's something that is determined by the games that are available which in turn is determined by the games people create.

My point is that the games people are exposed to...Extra Credits did it better.  The games people are exposed to affect the games the create and effects what people consider a game.

But its not just games.  I'm a movie guy. And I've only really been exposed to about maybe 15 plays independent of film adaptation. Reading a script, or going to the theater.  And because of that my idea of what is a play is basically amounts to Shakespeare. I know that's a shame. And I should dive head first into Tennessee Williams. But it is what it is.

And if I on a lark were to try to write a script for better or worse by the shear draw of the medium I would be trying to emulate Shakespeare more than anybody else merely because he's what I had the most access to.

I'm not saying its good or bad but its a media phenomena worth studying, worth thought. How does access affect the form, the intrinsic charactaristics of media.

How Greg Got His Swerve Back

No matter how hard I try I can't just kick it out my head so let me just write it out.

For the past 2 months I've been hinting that something has been bugging me. Here it is.

I had the ephiany that certain elements of my life were making me feel like I did circa 1999. I don't hate that guy but I hate the experience of being that guy. I like to think that I grew up. Sure I still get pissed thinking about all that stuff but life, the universe, and people are all better than I thought they were when I was 12.

I was miserable because I thought my life sucked and I didn't see a way to fix it so I just had to take it all in the hope that God or the universe or whatever would eventually balance things out.


Part of what made a miserable living potato sack was judging myself by a rule book that I was ill suited for. And my evolution as a human being has been about me throwing out that rule book and figuring out what's important to me, not what's important to everybody else, but what are the big things important to me and spending my time and energy on obtaining them.

I don't have a lot of money. I honestly do think that if I keep doing what I'm doing my life will get better in that regard but to me money isn't as important as other stuff. When I graduated college I realized I was going out into a bum economy so I consciously or decided I wasn't going to play that game. No matter what I wasn't going to make the money I wanted.

As far as a career went I wanted four things. Those are what's important to me and if I judge by that measure I'm not doing to bad for myself.
  • The opportunity to learn new skills and gain knowledge.
  • The opportunity publicly demonstrate those skills.
  • The opportunity to effect change in the world around me
  • And an exponential growth of the others 
Those things are opportunity and that will eventually lead to funds but even if they don't they provide one hell of a wild ride that's worth it. My thoughts might change if I hit rock bottom but all the same that's what's important to me. And why should I judge my self-worth on somebody else's scale. 

And as far as being that other guy. 

I am who I am. I like who I am. I don't like who I was. I am not going to be who I was. I will not let ANYBODY force me to go back to that.

And Gurren Lagann summed up the sentiment quite well.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Top Ten Mainstream Anime

Okay so it's Sunday morning and I'm bored. I surf YouTube and find Misty Chonexia's top ten list of mainstream anime.  And I'm not one of those assholes who troll about you didn't put my favorite anime on the list.

Well I am one of those assholes but.

I felt the title of the list was misleading. I think what Chronexia meant was anime that people new to anime would be comfortable with largely using popular anime as a reference. And that works. But what I went in thinking was that it would be a list of anime that people outside of the anime community would have reference for. Anime that had somehow made it to mainstream pop culture.

And the idea of that still kind of interests me. I still feel that anime fandom is still a subculture and examining these titles could help bridge the gap between people familiar with the medium and those who aren't. And it would also let me figure how the medium evolved by studying its heaviest hitters.

 So let's go.

10. Sailor Moon

I need to talk about Sailor Moon. For a brief period of time Madoka Magika deconstructed the magical girl genre that Sailor Moon had more or less codified. So part of me wants to revisit it post-that and see if Madoka not only deconstructed it but reconstructed it. I want to see how Madoka changes how I would engage with the show. Also they've just rebooted the series so I need to watch that as well. And it might be a good idea to take a referesher on the original before I dive into that.

But even without these. Sailor moon managed to explode just before the Toonami boom. Where I hail it aired right along side Power Rangers and a similar enough premise and cultural background to feed into and from that.

My point is if you're a pop culture nerd and devote a decent amount of brain space to Billy you have to give credence to the idea thought that Amy was fulfilling the same role in her xx counterpart series.

But that's neither here nor there. My point is that until toonami Sailor Moon was probably one of the biggest if not the biggest anime properties in the States during the early 90's. And it shows. Almost every anime convention says "Fuck it. Sailor Moon Cosplay contest"  Not just a general cosplay contest no. There are too many Usagis running around for that.

9. Dragon Ball Z

Once Toonami did take off Dragon Ball Z quickly supplanted Sailor Moon as the face of anime. If you are not a 90's kid you don't know.

A lot of people have said that anime is to my generation what kung fu flicks were to our parents and if any one show could be called responsible for that. It's Dragon Ball Z (or Fist of the North Star... No it was Dragon Ball Z.)

Now a days Dragon Ball Z has had a bit of a back lash but it still worth study. Because of it's massive popularity its a good reference point when discussing anime tropes and because some of the polish has warn off its easier to discuss flaws caused by production limitations than something people univerally laud.  The show is flawed but entertaining enough to be engaged with.

8. Naruto

A lot of people hate Naruto but I don't. I've been through this dog and pony show before. Naruto has basically supplanted Dragon Ball Z and has more or less the exact same place in the culture. And for I time I was there. Rock Lee kicking Gaara's ass was kind of badass. But Naruto still has a lot of the production limitations of DBZ which means when it's good it's great but god oh god when it's bad.

But a lot of younger fans don't care. They just want a fun show with a bunch of thunderous action scenes staged with boisterous melodrama. They watch it for the same reasons I watched DBZ and even Smackdown as a kid. Was it stupid. Sure, but it was fun.

But right now a lot of the larger anime community takes issue with the idea that people on the outside feel that Naruto IS anime.  I'll admit the show has its merits but I don't think it represents the best anime has to offer and that debate is tarnishing what for a sizable portion of this generation of fans was their show.

Love it or hate it. You have to talk about it.

7. Pokemon

I have a love/hate relationship with Pokemon. Mostly because I really want to go a nostalgia trip but can't afford a DS like the cool kids. Remember the days when you could get a Gameboy for $80. The 90's.

And that sums up how I feel about the modern Pokemon movement. While each of the individual elements are good enough to warrant a look back what made it ... was it was a pop culture phenomenon. At the time everybody was into Pokemon. The cards, the games, the merch and yes the show.

And that's not so much the case anymore. The world has moved on. People know what Pokemon is but right now it's not the juggernaut it was.

And Nintendo it would take one move to change that. RELEASE A DAMN COUNSEL VERSION ON WII. I'm still pissed that Pokemon Stadium wasn't a 3D version of the original. Do you know how much ass kissing I had to do to get that N64? Do you!?  Majora's Mask made up for it but still there is a principle here.  Heck it doesn't even have to be the Wii. You could probably do it on the DS., which is basically a portable N64 itself. Come on. People would pay out the ass for that.

What was my point again. Right you just couldn't ignore Pikachu back in the day and now you can. Don't get me wrong rock on Pokepeople. But part of the fun was being a part of this big giant pop cultural thing that was happening and the moment is gone.

6. Miyazaki Just Miyazaki

Before Crunchyroll, before Funimation, before Adult Swim, before Toonami, there was NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind, My Friend Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service. To this day this is what anime is to people and it ain't exactly a bad representation.

But Miyazaki has his quirks. You can always tell you're watching a Miyazaki film, and some of those quirks are not essential to the medium.

All the same the man has been able to consistently create films with nearly universal themes over the course of his career. There are very few bad Miyazaki films and that has allowed him to not only become Japan's Disney but the closest thing my generation has had Walt period. And while Don Bluth comes close if I'm being truly honest most of his better movies came out before I was born. Miyazaki is my Walt Disney.

5. Akira/Ghost in the Shell

The original dub of Akira is not a good movie. There is a good movie in there and later dubs fixed some of the problems but it's not a good movie. The story is all over the place and characters make no sense. But damn it if doesn't look badass.

And well that was enough. Akira set the minds of a whole generation of animators and film makers ablaze by expanding the language of the image. There is stuff in there that we've been trying recreate for decades.

Furthermore it is one of the pantheon of movies recognized striving against and mostly coming out victorious over the notion that animation is soley kids. Teenagers maybe, but unless I'm being a bastard and deliberately trying to give kids nightmares (I'm evil.) I ain't showing them Akira.

It expanded the types of stories and visuals animation could incorporate and is widely recognized for that.

Also everything I just said goes for Ghost in the Shell for the same reasons.

Except it has the added bonus of being intellectually mature. This is a movie that requires you do homework to enjoy it. And that makes it flawed but still overall pretty important and worth watching.

4. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is often touted as being the best anime ever. You can debate whether it deserves that title but because of that it often serves as people's gateway into the medium. If a friend asked me. Hey I know you like anime, but I know nothing about it, whats a good example. "BALLAD OF FALLING ANGELS".

And I'm not the only one. Heck outside of kid cartoons Cowboy Bebop was my introduction to anime and also animation as a medium. Lighting, color, hue. Visually it's amazing. The writing is brilliant. And Yoko Kanno's soundtrack is the soundtrack by which all anime music is judged. 

It's good show is all I'm saying.

But beyond that because it's a good show its also the show the fandom choose to represent the medium for a long time. And as I get older and get a little distance I wonder if that's the right way to go. Anime is really diverse and for a time in the mid 2000's it felt like everything was trying to be the next Bebop.

That's not a knock on the shows. But it is what it is.

3. Gundam

I'm late to the Gundam party so most of the versions I've seen aren't the classics. All the same  for a good while the giant robot genre was synonymous with anime. Even now how much of the new line up features a big ass robot. Yeah you can't talk about anime without talking Gundam. And since the franchise has been around and going strong for about 35 years for anybody over 25 this IS anime.

2. Full Metal Alchemist

You know adult swim back in the day was responsible for introducing a lot of people to anime. Full Metal Alchemist is not my favorite show of that era. But it seems to be the most institutionalized. Cowboy Bebop had 26 episodes and a movie. Alchemist had a 50 episode run, another 50 episode run, and I think right now about 3 movies oh and that OVA that came out a while back.

If you're into anime you can't escape it. That said I really like it. And as a show it holds up pretty well. Both the first one and the reboot.  They're both still fresh enough so that its hard to examine their place in the culture except to say they are a big part of it.

 1. Attack on Titan

The phenomenon that is Attack on Titan is interesting to me. The show had massive buzz outside the community even before being dubbed in English and that is weird. I just want take a knife and disect how the hell that happened.

Short answer the internet. Long answer is a lot fandom trends most of which but not all of have to deal with the internet converged at the right time. People who saw the show and were excited about it cosplayed and made fan art to their hearts' content. Sites like Devart and YouTube, which recently came into their own, gave a place where those pieces of artwork could be displayed to people who were curious but not as enthused who then justifiably felt that if the show as good enough for someone to spend 6 months of their life reanimating the title with Nintendo characters it must be good.

We're still seeing this play out but I'm curious how Attack on Titan will affect the perception of anime in the future. Most of the stuff on this list was targeted towards kids and gained that notoriety because parents had to buy merch.

And that's not the case with Attack on Titan.

P.S. I misspelled Miyazaki's name so many times. I am so sorry.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Second Chances

Well this isn't going away.

My assertion is that Pluto Nash is the victim of bad timing being released at time when audiences weren't willing to handwave some of its stupider elements and plot holes in the name of pulpy sci-fi goodness. I honestly do believe that this one deserves a revisiting and we are in a weird time.

Due to Netflix and the internet a lot of older movies are becoming cult classics, and here is my list of movies that deserve that. These aren't movies that people are already talking about or at least I'm going to try not to go that way. This is just a list of movies that I think people should give a second chance.

Also keep in mind these have to have been movies I've seen so most of them are going to be from my childhood.

Dude Where's My Car

The point of this list is to look at movies that for whatever reason didn't work in the context of thier time and I think Dude Where's My Car fits. It's been said by people smarter than me that this is basically The Hangover but more self aware and if that thing can get two sequels Dude at least deserves a special 2 disk re-release.


Well since I did the stupid I should probably go highbrow. The movie has an interesting challenging premise. There is an emotional event in the past and three characters can't agree on how it went down. Your reaction to the film is almost entirely based on who you believe and nobody is completely reliable. The movie does not hold your hand.

In a lot of ways this is a writer's movie. It doesn't really on a lot of flashy gimmicks just a good script and good actors and is a testament to how far that will take you.

These days Netflix and Youtube gives indie films like this a home.

Mirror Mask

 Okay so the children of the 80's gush over Labyrinth and The Dark Chrystal, but there was a period where The Creature Shop was experimenting with computer graphics. And I would argue the visuals are just as imaginative.

But since it wasn't able to ride the good will of the Muppets it was kind of forgotten. I SAY NO MORE! Mirror Mask is awesome. Especially since feels like a proto-Coraline which was also written by Neil Gaiman.

The chronology is a little weird since the book was written before this movie but still if you're interested in the evolution of ideas, this is a good one to check out.


I love Deadman Wonderland. I love the fights. I love the gore. I love the powers. I love the characters. I love the satire. I love Deadman Wonderland! I was and still am still skeptical of New Toonami, but Deadman Wonderland makes it all worth it. As much shit as I talk that one show justifies the entire endeavor.

Yep. Fortress is Deadman Wonderland in 2 hours with the fucking Highlander. WHY THE HELL ISN'T THIS ON NETFLIX?! What got me onto it was late night showings on Cinemax. It's the sort of B-movie shlock perfect for Netflix, or even Crackle. Come on. How many Chris Lambert fans would dig making a late night marathon out of this, Highlander and, Mortal Kombat. Do it! Do it! Do it!

The Final Countdown

Best time travel rules evarz. Oh and F-15's blowin' shit up. Considering this is in the days before Top Gun all the stuff they pull is pretty damn impressive. If you are a Top Gun fan this is one worth looking at.

The truth of the matter is that this feels like an old school 1950's Twilight Zone flavored sci-fi movie but it was made in the same age as Star Wars and Back to the Future. Seriously give it a B&W filter and you would swear it was made 20 years earlier but with better acting and an effects budget. While this thing has spectacle its not thes same sort of spectacle as those films. Furthermore while it has that B-movie feel it takes itself mostly seriously. Not angsty but it is a lot less interested in Zemeckis style humor or sentimentality than you would think it would be.

The Abyss

 Almost everything James Cameron touches turns to cinematic gold.  And it's not like this movie tanked. But I feel like its the red headed step-child of his canon. True Lies gets more ink. Seriously! True Lies. It was made in that period where Cameron still had some grit in him and as far as technical stuff and themes go Judgement Day borrowed a lot.

 Again I'm facinated by the evolution of ideas. And if you consider Judgement Day to be his creative peak (Don't troll Miles Avatar was okay, and while being more conventional Titanic was pretty impressive), this movie is worth studying.

Damn It I Want A Pluto Nash Remake

Okay I'm still on this and I haven't watched it in a long time, but you know what I think the reason why people didn't like Pluto Nash is because it's the sort of goofy, campy, science fiction that was just starting make its way into (well back into the mainstream) in the mid 2000's and is definitely niche.

It's one of those types of movies where audiences wouldn't have a grasp on the genre rule book it was working with, namely late 60's early 70's pulp sci-fi. That weird period between The Day The Earth Stood Still, and Star Wars. Heck I don't even think the actors might have got that.

But in this age of nerdvana think what they could do if they got a bunch of writers and actors who dig that stuff and just went nuts with it.

And without the ironic wink wink nudge nudge we know it sucks sort of crap. I mean playing the concept of Sammy Davis Jr. in space absolutely straight. Space mafia. Oh man that would be awesome. Like dudes in zoot suits in space. Ah Ah god. And they would interrupt some weird space band all Cagney like with their laser tommy guns.

"Nuck see. We're taken ova dis here bar. Anybody got a problem with that."


Aw that would be awesome. Man.  And Rosario's character would be Mae Westing it up with the one liners while Pluto was driving a hover car. Ah god. EH or if you want to make a subtle statement about those types of characters you could even gender swap Pluto. Yeah make it so he's like Rin in the first episode.

Well I just found out why I'm so fascinated with Rin.

It's basically Pluto Nash if you replaced space with THE FUTURE but good and with a brain.

Wanda Sykes Should Have Been In Pluto Nash


Yeah, I said it. It was fun. And I like movies that are fun. Almost every sci-fi thing these days is grim and gritty. I want my movie about a happenin' night club on the moon. Of course I don't happen to own a copy... but when I saw it as a kid I liked it.

And even as an adult I still think the basic premise and tone of the movie could work. Murphy was more or less reprising his role from Harlem Nights except not trying as hard as he had written and directed that and was visibly more invested. But yeah Nash is basically Sugar Ray Quick ten years later IN SPACE!

Harlem Nights is underrated.

Anyway if your going to put something in space why not a kickass night club.

I think what killed it was people had so little faith in the premise and that Rosario Dawson was miscast. I love her. She's awesome, but Nash himself was a jaded snarky straight man. I know I'm crossing the movie streams but what he needed was a Jerry Lewis.

I still like the idea of the character being a woman, but it have needed to be somebody who could bring the wacky with a straight face. Okay times have gone by and the moment has passed but I wonder what Pluto Nash would have looked like with Wanda Sykes.

Let's Treat It Like A Company

So I had a good long talk with Mom about that last thing and she thinks I'm nuts. But I really do feel I'm on to something here so let's go.

Same disclaimers apply. When I'm bored I do thought experiments and because, independent of that what's on my mind is the family reunion, those thought experiments are going to be devoted to it because oddly enough rather than trying to pretend like I'm not going until I'm physically on a plane I'm actually pretty jazzed about it and don't mind having it on my brain.

Okay so there was a lot of stuff she didn't like and most of it felt like that since this was stuff she wouldn't be into why spend the money on it when ticket prices could be lowered. And that's a valid concern and balancing act that would need to be done even if I kept my yap shut. How much cool stuff should the committee plan verses how do you keep costs down but there were a few things that wouldn't leave my brain.

She made me aware that some of what I was proposing would require a huge shift in how the family thinks about the family reunion.

Each year is more or less run independently, a small ragtag group doing whatever they have to do to get the thing to function. And the gist of a lot of my proposals is to was to build up infrastructure and accountability around the institution of the reunion itself.

In other words run it like a company with a rotating board of directors. And that's a major paradigm change. Right now each reunion is "owned" by the host family. And what I'm proposing would take some of that ownership away in the name of strengthening the institution itself.

While I'm going to make a bunch of smaller arguments let me make the big one. As it is right now the success or failure of the reunions is almost entirely dependent on the reputation of whoever we find to host them. I'm not saying they're bad people. On the contrary most of the time they try their damnedest to make it work, but again I'VE LIVED THROUGH THIS, if the reunion is taken up by someone younger or less well known they'll have a hard time getting money for it because, as it is people have to just trust that they'll get a reunion they'll like for the money, and for all the lip service we give there are some times when we don't put our money where are mouths are on that one.

Speaking of the money this would require changing how specifically the host family funds it. Yes almost everybody uses their own cash to prime the pump early on, but we would need to be comfortable saying that once that cash is in the reunion fund it no longer belongs to us. If you pumped 5 grand into it and there is some left over that money would go to the next one unless you specifically declared it a loan at the outset on the balance sheet. And the same goes for every expenditure. Rather than just paying for things out of pocket as we go make recorded loans or donations to keep track of exactly how much money is in the pot and make budgeting easier.


I don't care if someone went to CVS to buy napkins.  It goes on the ledger.

Like I said sometimes the family doesn't know the host branch well enough to fund things the best way possible but you do know what people trust? Numbers. And every year we posted the ledger it would build up trust that no matter who was running things the money would get spent right.

And like I pointed out before the documents could act as sort of a guide to whoever took it next regarding the physical stuff they would need and maybe even a suggestion on how to organize things, exactly what sub-committees to create, what type of budgets they would need, that sort of thing.   It would even clue people into the unexpected expenses that come up out of nowhere. There is no good reason not to do it other than it would take a bit of effort.

And I still want to play Pluto Nash.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Modernizing The Family Reunion

One of the reasons why I might go off the grid on this blog from time to time is that not everything I spend time thinking about is ... appropriate. Let me quantify that. If part of what makes this blog good is that it's interesting it stands to reason that I should find interesting stuff to write about and sometimes the most interesting thing occupying my head is something personal. Or more potently something that involves my interpersonal relationships, my family.

Yep this is one of those though its probably not going in the direction you think it is.

See in about a week and a half I'm headed to my annual family reunion. There is a lot I like but there is also a lot that frustrates me about it. And before I continue let me put up this disclaimer.

This specific family reunion will probably be awesome. I am a critical, snarky, smug bastard by nature but beneath all that is an actual affection for both my family and the institution the family reunion has become within it. Also planning one of these things is tough as a year long endurance run and I am in no way insinuating that I could do it better or that anybody else has sucked doing it or that this family reunion should shift wagons a week and a half before go time.


Remember I'm the guy who runs the website for this thing. If I really wanted to be a spiteful dick I would just blow that up.

If we're being truly honest the family reunion in general has a flaw. It's designed for kids and people with kids which kind of leaves people in my age bracket 18-30 kind of in the lurch. And I need to do it again.

I get it. Out of all the span of the ages that group might be the smallest one and it also might be the one with the least economic power in the planning stages. Before that parents and the family as a whole is willing to spend money on what kids want and after that time a lot of members of the family, though not all of them, may have enough money to just swing for stuff they want. But in the middle not so much. Money is a reality. And almost everything I'm going to say after this should have the asterisk "if we can afford it"

I know most of the time we do this anyway but it was an inevitable turn that this thing would become a how "Greg would plan the family reunion piece" IDEALLY the person running the reunion would know at least two years in advance. Financially the second year would be about individual and nuclear units paying their way but the first would be aimed at figuring out ways to get the family to financially support the thing as a whole.

Now that would mean that each reunion crew would be working wallets at the same time. But donations, merch, carwashes, and baked goods would be voluntary contributions so I don't think people should have much of a problem with it especially if we carry out another suggestion

Financial Transparency
My family plays nice but we are a catty bunch and nothing gets them talking like a scandal involving money at the family reunion. I've seen it happen.

The Onion Looks Back At 'It's A Wonderful Life'
I'm not going to do it because doing it if you're not the host branch it would be a nightmare but adding a section to the website for financial transparency would go a long way. Just have a Google spreadsheet ledger or something so people can see exactly how much money was brought in and exactly where its going. You could even scan and put receipts and invoices in there.

If you did that you might even make the reunion fund revolving and be able to register as a nonprofit. It would increase the trust necessary to get those donations.

Furthermore doing that could act as a guide for guys like me planning this thing later. Do hotels require a down payment for things like the banquet room or group rates? How much does food for the picnic cost? How much for a charter bus?

While having a sit down with the elders might be good for that actual financial documents might be better.

The Hotel
Again stuff everybody already knows. One of the hardest parts is booking the right hotel for the events. There needs to be a balance between having a nice classy hotel and having it be inexpensive enough so that people can go.  If the fundraising and financial stuff worked out well the host family could use those funds to underwrite the hotel costs and negotiate a lower event rate. Meaning that individuals in the family could stay in nicer places.

I say that because if I were running things here in Detroit I would really like to book the GM Renaissance Marriott but that place is expensive as hell at $189 a night.  For the reunion most people swing something closer to $100.  I figure at the end of the day we would book about 30 rooms for 2-4 nights so it would take about an extra 10 grand to swing it sooo there goes that plan.

All the same It's right in the heart of downtown and has a lot of good event rooms that would make other aspects of the plan easier.

Learning from the Con Scene

Okay the real reason why I want to do it in the Renaissance building is because a few years ago I went to Youmacon and every time I think about updating the family reunion I can't help but think there is a lot we could learn from the con scene and if I were running things I would use Youmacon as a model.

How so. Remember the problem that got me thinking about all of this in the first place. I think the reason why that problem exists is because the family has an expectation that everybody in the family if they can will elect to go to all the events of the reunion. This means that every event has to cater to everybody and in doing so caters to nobody.

For instance a few years ago we tried to do an 18 and over Karaoke night but everybody ended up bringing their kids so the music got nerfed as the event slowly turned into a glorified daycare. (Remember what I said at the beginning about being a snarky bastard by nature and having an affection for my family.)

We need to have events that cater to different interests and age groups and cons are great at that. Almost every major panel has an 18 and up counterpart so the speakers can go off the cuff and man the raves. The raves.

You just can't pull that when there are a bunch of 9-year-old's running around in the room.

Again stuff everybody already knows and does.  But since I'm the website guy I've been in a position to observe a few things. Mainly COMMUNICATE AS SOON AS YOU CAN.

I almost never get info when I want it and I'm more or less a communications officer on this thing.

The success or failure of the family reunion often depends on the finances. And all of that depends on people realizing this might be something they want to spend money on long before they can't spend money on it. So as soon say you know the hotel, or have a price on tickets, or are opening up donations and fundraising options, or even just have a committee to investigate all that stuff, tell people!

That way they can give the money to support the endeavor while options are still open to do cool stuff.

And also you want people there. The family reunion for a lot of folks is their summer vacation and it's something they spend all year saving for. Without the intel they may forget to do that and you end up with a whole lot of folks who want to go but can't.

Youmacon has a year round website as soon as they start getting info they post it.

The Problem of Kids
Okay I have to speak for myself here. Some parts of the reunion just aren't for kids. Don't get me wrong a lot of parts are for kids, but some just aren't and it's unfair to both them and everybody else to pretend otherwise. They're bored and unruly. And everybody else is frustrated. Something that the family should have done years ago is just admit this and have a series of kids only events that they'll enjoy and will keep them out of everybody else's hair for the more adult stuff.

Or to put it another way from another event. You're not going to make a 8 year old want to hold it to keep him from interrupting a speech by Jennifer Granholm in her prime. It's stupid to try. You are not going to win that one. And its not the kid's fau...nope not doing that.  Where was I.

The Mandatory Stuff
My family's reunions tend to have three mandatory events. And not having them is not an option. But I think making them good requires some thought about why they came about and who they are for.

The Banquet
I have to be honest. I never liked the banquet. If I didn't go to most of these with my parents I would probably skip it, but I get it. The family reunions started right around the time African Americans were starting to economically and socially do better and its an opportunity for the old guard of the family to do the sort of classy event they would have been barred from going to back in the day.

They worked hard for that. They earned that. It's not my place to take it away.

Part of the reason why I dislike it is because of the dissonance between that and trying to be fun and inclusive to everybody else who might not get it, but if you keep that in mind and do the event like say the corespondents dinner it makes that parallel all the more apparent, letting the younger crowd like me get it.

There are some parts of it where the kids do some stuff and the adults get a kick out of the cute factor and the tradition of it all  but let's be honest most of the night's fun for them is just hanging out with each other and all the glitz might make running around in their wee suits and dresses frustrating to them.

Do the thing then let them change and run around like they want and will do anyway so they don't get yelled at later for ripping or spilling punch on their good pants.

There is generally a good after party but honestly as I will mention later I would make that a separate event. Have a brief intermission. Clean the dance floor off move some tables a bit, set up some lights and then bring everyone back to cut loose like it were a club.

Of course because of the nature of these things... that might not be a good comparison. All the same there needs to be a bar and some tracks and the straight laced 1940's banquet atmosphere clashes with that.

The Picnic

This is probably the event closest to my temperament but its still not the reason I show up. To be honest I don't go for the big events anyway but that's another segment. The picnic is the big general audience event. Everybody gets something out of it. The kids get to run around outside. The older adults get to wist about days gone by, and the guys like me get to just hang out a bit.

I'm not particularly religious and am flirting with outright atheism but I can't say the same for the fam and like the banquet. Who the hell am I to take that away from them. If they want to end it on a Sunday after prayer with one of my family's many reverends fine by me. Take 'em to church.

One of the things that always intimidated me about the family reunion is that I have a large extended family and honestly there are a lot of people there who I don't particularly care to interact with. I'm sorry but if I haven't heard from you in 5 years chances are yes I have forgotten your name. And yes doing the who are you again mambo is kind of awkward.

That's not why I go. I go because it's great opportunity for me to reconnect with the much smaller circle of people who I just don't get to talk to as much as I like for whatever reason.  Because of that I feel that the reunions have to have a place to facilitate those more intimate conversations and that's only going to happen if we admit that not everything can be for the entire brigade. Not everything can be a giant party. And like I said before the con scene has that on lock.

Usual But Not Mandatory Events
Quick Hits

  • Fish Fry
  • Meet and Great
  • River Cruise
  • Golf 
  • Bowling
  • Poker Game 
  • Breakfast
  • Kid Swim Time
  • City Tour
  • All but in Name Room Open House

None of those are as institutionalized but they're stuff people like and if the planning process is open stuff people will generally ask for.  There is a part of me that thinks I'm an introverted freak for that past part but really as I think about most of my thoughts on the matter aren't so out of the ordinary. People like breaking into smaller groups and having some fun.

But a lot of those events aren't fun to me so let's go through some other suggestions.

Stuff I Would Like To See

Pub/Club Crawl

This is a recent idea from the last couple of reunions and it always hits a brick wall for the same reason. One avoidable problem, transportation. A lot of the people being in their early 20's might not have cars and almost definitely wouldn't have driven them out of town, so transportation becomes a nightmare and the plan falls through.

If you plan it early and rent a charter bus you can avoid that problem. Boom. Pub Crawl.

Rave/Club Night
Like I said before I would like to chop up the banquet into three parts. The first would be the banquet for most of the older crowd. Than maybe a old school dance for folks in the middle. And then for the 35 and under crowd a late night wild ass rave.

Breaking it up would let each group know exactly what they were getting into. You wouldn't get young folks bored at the Isley Brothers and old people outraged at Jason Derulo. Everybody would get the party they wanted.

Movie Night
Simple to explain a room that shows movies. You schedule stuff in advance maybe even polling the family about what they want to watch and when so you can get some good stuff. Maybe even a few movies that are hard to find.

You would have to program it right though.

Video Game Tourney/LAN Party/D&D Room/Card Game Tourney

The hardest part of this would be the kid problem. No matter what you tell people they hear video games they think kids. And it would downright piss me off if I actually managed to make this work only to have a bunch of parents screaming at me later that they didn't want their kids playing M rated games or that they're kids got locked out by more experienced players.

It might be a good idea to just play it like pools and have adult and kids swim on this one.

And while I'm at it the same basic set up would apply to TGC's, Role Playing Games, sports and any competitive activity I might want to throw in there.


But like with movies you would have to program it right. What's the game. DOA, Soul Caliber, Smash Brothers, Mario Party, Mario Kart, WoW, Warcraft 3Starcraft 2, Diablo, Rise of NationsMinecraft, Total War, Civilization, Call of Duty, Halo, Madden, Saints Row, GTA, Doom, Street Fighter 2  or good old fashioned PowerstoneWhat?

You need to give people some lead time to practice or even bring their own rig and buy the game if we're doing a LAN thing. Heck even if they aren't it would be good to agree on what the games would be ahead of time so nobody wastes any money buying a game nobody wants to play.

You know for real kicks you could have the competitors in one room and another room for spectators. You know TV and controllers in one and maybe a projector and even live streaming in another.

Yeah you could even do a few overlays if you had the right gear.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anime Night

Hey I said I was basing this off Youmacon. It would be kind of cool to marathon Cowboy Bebop...or Bacanno... or Beck or Hellsing... or Fujiko Mine ... you get the point is all I'm thinking.

Also it has the same problem as the video game tournament a lot of people think cartoons=kids and if a bunch of us decide to have a late night Rin marathon some idiot is going to drop off their kid and then yell at everybody else for showing them that.

It's got to be programmed in advance with some sort of rating system.

Basketball Tournament

I'll be honest Everything up until this point has been about injecting stuff I dig into this thing but you know what surprises me. Despite how much I know my family digs sports specifically basketball we haven't just bit the bullet and made a basketball tourney a regular thing we do at these things. It wouldn't even be that hard to organize. Just figure out the size of the court maybe the player count on the teams and build a roster and bracket with maybe a few age divisions. Boom. I can think of no fewer than 5 guys qualified to ref the damn thing off the top of my head.

P.S. One idea I didn't think of until after I wrote this was having three permanent merchant accounts. One for the reunion 3 years away, one for the reunion 2 years away and one for the reunion 1 year away. A month after each reunion the funds in the accounts would be transferred accordingly.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Television Review: Misfits Series 1 (Spoilers)

It's old but I was in the headspace for it.
Let's do this.

I caught Misfits a while back and it was one of the funniest shows I'd ever watched and I was in the mood to laugh.

There is a lot to like about the show and it was fun to revisit it. I guess the best place to start is the set up.

The Set Up
So a group of teenagers and young adults are doing court ordered community service when a freak storm hits. The storm grants them and a bunch of other people...powers.  Since the show is heavy on the superhero refences that's the right word but a lot of the powers are pretty weird. And Funny, and Weird.

On top of that almost every one of the main cast members are in some form or another dysfunctional.  These are not your save the world types and they know it. Or as one of the characters, Nathan puts it, "You lot superheroes? No offence, but in what kind of fucked up world would that be allowed to happen."

But here is the thing each of the superpowers is tied to the character's own personal baggage and while being relatively light the show is often about them learning to get over it.

Tony The First Probation Worker
Before I get into each of the Misfit's hang ups I feel I need to talk about Tony the probation worker. As his shadow hangs over most of the show. The power he gets is basically uncontrollably Hulking out. Of course his anger issues create the problem of most of the first and for that matter second seasons.

Tony's not a bad guy especially in contrast to the later probation workers who are... kind of assholes. But he's got a temper that he's been struggling to control and the storm messes him up somethin' fierce.

In self-defense the kids off him but rather than call the cops who they feel probably won't believe a bunch of "anti-socials" anyway they decide to just bury the body out back.

If the first season had any sort of an overarching plot it would be the cover up serving as a catalyst for character development. Sort of like a messed up Breakfast Club.

Also while I'm at it there is a later episode where Tony comes back as a ghost and seems pretty well adjusted about the whole affair once he gets over the shock of it all. Like I said even though he gets mad at the kids he's probably the nicest and most competent probation worker the show had.

Let's Meet The Misfits
So again the emotional plot of the story is these guys figuring out that its them vs the world and dispite there reservations they actually need each other.  So lets go with it.

Nathan is a walking id. Not in the Hulk smash sense but he's the kind of guy who's going to say and do whatever he wants no matter what.

And most of the time that means he gets saddled with the funny lines.  He's kind of like Eric Cartman except not evil.  He's not a bad guy he just can't stop himself. In real life Nathan would be annoying as all hell but the writing is so good that you can't help but like him. His lines are really really really funny. And his actor Robert Sheehan has damn near perfect comedic timing.

In most of the shows character interaction moments Nathan is the proactive one and everybody else is more or less reacting to him. The other characters are put off at first but again he's not a bad guy and his is really really funny. Did I mention that yet. He takes things the least seriously and can act as comedic relief whenever things get too heavy.

Again everybody's power is tied to their personalities and Nathan's is perfect for the kind of stunts he pulls. But its also the last to be revealed and the arc of being the only guy without a discernible power is pretty funny.

So Simon was bullied alot. How he wound up with community service is by peeing through a letter box but his back story is really interesting. See one night one of the guys who bullied him drunk dialed him and Simon thought they were going to go for a beer and that would be the end of it. Well again the guy was drunk and said some stuff and it caused Simon to snap. He decided to burn down the guy's house. He threw the tinder into the guy's letter box but as it was starting to burn he noticed the cat panicking and thought. "The cat never hurt me."  and put the fire out the fastest way he could think to.

Simon gets a lot of the character development out of the series and that moment sums him up so perfectly. Simon is socially awkward and is really frustrated by it. Most of the people around him don't do him any favors on that count either, but he's also the most emphatic of the group eventually evolving into the most moral of them.

He never really stops being the shy awkward kid but he also moves beyond it. Also the casting was great. Because of how Simon looks and acts the audience never knows which side he's going to shake out on and when he's the guy stopping everybody else from crossing the line even though he's played by the same guy as Ramsay Snow it sends a message. He's creepy but there is more to him than that.

Simon is desperate for friends, and his arc is learning that his path to that is being the good guy. That's all he needs and the rest will follow. Out of everybody he most embraces the role of the superhero.

All the same he really wants to be noticed and his power is invisibility, which kicks in when he mostly feels ignored anyway. Eventually he loses invisibility and gets precognition. I always felt that the idea to shift powers made the show lose its personality powers angle but with Simon it makes sense.

Curtis was training to be a U.K. Olympian when he got caught with coke. As everybody else is quick to point out "Nobody gets community service for just one vial." Don't he know it. His catch phrase through most of everybody's shenanigans is an exasperated "I'm not even suppose to be here." The judged decided to make an example out of him since he had such a high profile giving him a two year ban in his best years.

He's pissed that his life as an athlete is more or less over. While he's not a saint he's the most normal of the group.  He's still got his baggage. Curtis regrets. He can't move past his mistakes. He just wants to do it all over again and so that the power he gets. Mental time travel which kicks in whenever he desperately wants a do over, whenever he can't get over his guilt.

Over the course of the series he gets into the swing of things and becomes less and less the straight man. Later in the show Nathan's actor left and the comedy duties were split between him and another character who I'm not going to talk about right now.

Kelly puts up a good front but she is really insecure. The first rule of combat is get in the first punch. So that's what she does. The moment she thinks somebody is having a go at her she lashes out.  And she gains the ability to know exactly what people think of her and most of the time it aint good.

Her arc is basically about her learning to give people a chance. Even when their thoughts betray them they might just surprise her. For instance Nathan is a horndog but eventually gains genuine affection for her and once she and yes he can get over the "She knows I want to shag her" stuff they make a pretty good couple.

It doesn't matter so much what other people think about her.

Here is the thing. Alisha craves attention and uses her sexuality to get it. Its what she does. But living like that has its downsides and her power explores that. Nathan will jokingly airhump at the drop of a hat for laughs but Alisha will deliberately try to turn everybody else on buy "fellating" a water bottle and faking orgasm.

The condition of being sexy makes her feel good. And as much as a lot of people hate to admit it feeling good is good. But sex does obscure actual human intimacy. She can never tell if guys are interested in her or that thing.


Her power makes anybody she touches want to have debauched sex with her, giving her a crash course in practical sex ed.

That said this isn't the type of show that's going to condemn sex period it just wants to portray a character who doesn't have it all figured out yet and show her slowly doing just that. Figure out the thin line between love and lust without condemning either except in one case I'll get to later.

The Dynamic (At least for the First Series)
I more or less already described the plot of the show but again what makes it is the characters and how they interact. Curtis and Kelly generally plays the straight men to Nathan and Alisha.

With Simon hanging back and lampshading various superhero and movie tropes while being ignored and told to shut up right up until the point when those superhero and movie tropes start running the show.

He was the first one to compare the group to superheroes.

Old People Need Relationships Too

I'm trying to figure out the best way to do this and I think is run down interesting themes and ideas. Apart from the set up the first two episodes focus a lot on Nathan and his problems at home.

It takes a lot to get Nathan down. The guy can bounce back from anything and has a comeback at the ready for just about any shot anybody is going to take at him. In a weird way he's the most well adjusted or at least the least insecure of the cast but at lot of folks aren't like that.

His give 'em hell attitude has been causing rifts between his mom and her many attempted relationships after his Dad left. She thinks she found the one and wants to make it work so she kicks him out and the first few episodes are about him dealing with that.

One of the community service trip involves going to an old folks home and helping out where he meets a knock out. Did I mention Nathan is a horndog and The Misfits weren't the only ones to get powers.


Like I said powers tend to be based on the personalities and hang ups of their recipients and one elderly lady just wanted to be young again. So she was. In trying to get over it he realizes that despite age people aren't so different and his mom is justified in wanting to have a life separate from him in particular wanting to find someone.

"Woman your age, if you don't settle down before your looks go you got no chance."

She Who Hunts Monsters
So Tony had a girlfriend. Sally and she takes his death not particularly well.

But here is the rub his death was totally self defense. In the show Curtis does his time travel stuff and sees first hand how that day could have gone the other way. The show is explicit if Tony hadn't have died The Misfits would have.

All the same because of how they handled it there is no real way to tell Sally that. To her, these kids are a bunch of murderers who need to get got and as the show goes on it becomes more and more clear the cops are not going to facilitate that.

Sally becomes the show's first villain. Not the show's first supervillian but the first largely external force of the show. Up until she starts doing her thing most of the problems were caused by the cast's own insecurities and in some cases downright stupidity and subsequently are solved when they stop acting like idiot teenagers but that isn't the solution for this problem.

For better or worse the reason why the cops won't investigate more is because Simon oddly enough is really smart about cover ups.  For instance he has the idea to steal Tony's credit card and use it so the cops don't think he's dead just on vacation somewhere. It's a TV show just go with it.

In another show or movie Sally would be the heroine especially contrasted with Simon's general creepyness.

Simon In The Dark
See here is the thing about Simon he actually is a creepy mofo and at the start of the series is kind of off. Remember he's there on an arson charge. But like I said in his character description he is the most empathetic and desperate for friends of the cast. His greatest desire is to be a part of the group and because of that he's intensely loyal to anybody who shows him a hint of human kindness. "The cat never did anything to hurt me."

Sally realizes this and works a Machiavellian plot to ingratiate herself with him enough that he will let stuff go or even better for her decide to turn on the group as a whole.

Here is the thing I really really related to Simon. In a way his vulnerability of "Because you were nice to me" is one of my same vulnerabilities and and her machinations hit me kind of in the gut, especially since at this point other than the stuff that landed him with community service in the first place, he hasn't really done much wrong.

Sally tries to seduce Simon, literally, remember Simon is a nerdy kid who doesn't now how to deal with that type of attention, into admitting what happened to Tony and giving up the rest of the group as she to prays on the darker aspects of his personality pointing out that they treat him like shit and it would be a good way to strike back at them.

But despite it all Simon considers the group the first real friends he's had and it becomes clear he doesn't have it in him to betray them.

She finds Simon's phone with video of idiot Nathan talking about the murder and in a matter of seconds every shoe that could drop does. Simon figures out her plot and when it becomes clear he's not going to just go with it she smashes his head into a mirror.

From there there is a fight for the phone and Simon accidentally kills her on a door handle, all while looking like the psycho killer he's afraid he is.

And like I said before he has a creepy talent for covering up murder so for the next few episodes into season 2 he's carrying that and it makes him sort of bitter whenever any of the rest of the case go with their normal teasing.

He's killed for them. And moreover he's the type of guy that destroys. I'm not talking about season 2 but more or less the entire point of the first episode is to rebuild him afterwards into a better, stronger person than his season one counterpart after what for most of the show will be the lowest and worst moment of his life.

Alisha and Curtis
So there's a relationship nobody so coming. Well by the third episode its established that the two have a real chemistry with one another and find each other sexually attractive.  But there is one major hick up. Remember Curtis is the straight man to the rest of the casts craziness and does not view sex as casually as everybody else. And he's not wrong about that.

But remember sex is the primary way Alisha experiences male appreciation. She knows Curtis is into her but is thrown off her game by the fact that he's not instantly up for doing the horizontal mambo.

It's not as though she has some way to magically make him get over it and... oh... she wouldn't...

Curtis justifiably does not take it well. The show is clear here he feels that she raped him.

"You can't be doin' that to people! THAT WASN'T ME!"

But he eventually gets over it and they carry on a fairly sweet relationship for a while.

The situation also leads Alisha to have some character development. Like I said for her sex has always been a good thing. This is the first time in her life where its bitten her in the ass and made her ruminate a little. The show for the most part still comes down clearly on the side of sex-positivity (one of the running jokes of the show is finding ways for Alisha and Curtis to be sexual and sensual with each other without actually physically touching) , but also seems to find Alisha's sex is the way I feel good about myself views flawed and juvenile.

Curtis Let It Be
It's subtle but the reason for Curtis exasperation at everybody else is that he's fully aware that he just ruined his life and feels like ass about it. It's ripping him up. Normally life has no do overs. But that's not the case for Curtis. His guilt activates his power almost every time he flashes back in the first season it's because he's realized he made a bonehead move and wants to fix it.

The fourth episode allows him to go back and fix the big one. He goes back to the night he was caught with drugs and tries to manipulate things so he doesn't get caught but slowly realizes he's a butterfly of doom. The first time he goes back ends up getting his then girlfriend. But the second trip has the bigger consequence. In the first episode Curtis in disbelief of a panicking Kelly opened a door allowing Tony to get in and brain her. His power kicked in giving him just enough time to convince everybody that Tony had gone nuts and react.

If he doesn't get caught, he's not there and Simon, Alisha, and Kelly die.

After some rumination he comes to realize despite whatever mistakes he's made, or how his life turns out he has a life, a life that matters and he needs to let go of the past and realize not everything, especially not past events that have already transpired lies within his control.

People Are Flawed. Deal With It.
If the show has any sort of grand thesis it is that people are more than their worst traits and that you can't just fix them. For better or worse people are the sum of their parts and changing a part fundamentally changes the person.  Like it or not you have to deal with people warts and all.

The show thrives in the gray.  Nobody is wholly bad. Nobody is wholly good. People are just people. We do things and things happen.

Episode six is probably the smartest, most fun episode in the first series. A girl who gets picked on because of her conservitive views gets the ability to more or less how many of you have watched Code Geass. Well she's Lelouch.

She thinks that at the end of the day the world is a better place without all that pesky sin so she more or less brainwashes people into well ...Cardigan wearing pod people. And its up to the Misfits to slap everybody out of it.

What's interesting is that the last men standing are Simon and Nathan and its Nathan who gives the big speech.

Once you scrape off all the Nathanness of its an argument for free will and individualism and since its Nathan giving this speech its lampshades that both of those things are not about being good or being right but about being yourself.

That a person who is accepts themselves and their flaws is generally better off than someone who is in denial of them, and more over no outside agent has the right to take that away from people by forcing their version of morality upon them.

And then spoilery stuff happens so I guess I'll leave it here.

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