Books »After the Apocalypse

by Maureen McHugh (2011)

After the Apocalypse has solidified Maureen McHugh as one of my favorite current authors. I recommended her novel China Mountain Zhang a while back and have only grown fonder of it over time.

Her latest, well reviewed collection of short stories is bookended by more well worn apocalyptic scenarios: zombies and refugees walking through abandoned, dangerous suburbs towards (hopefully) a safe place.

With McHugh’s unique prose (she’s got an amazing ability to speak believably from a wide range of points of view) and creative mind, even zombies can be new again.

The other stories, which take on the apocalypse in different ways, are unique, humorous, and very human. There’s a debilitating disease transmitted through chicken nuggets, a woman struggling to get by in a shattered economy by making custom baby dolls and dildoes, a boy who develops amnesia after a dirty bomb explodes in Baltimore, and a group of people that get the unnerving sudden ability to fly.

While the stories are paranoid and frightening, they’re also almost optimistic. Each one is about survival, not in a Rambo sort of way, but how normal people under horrible circumstances just manage to carry on.

I really love this book and want to run out and get more of her work. It’s been truly inspiring to me (especially as I am writing short stories myself) and I’ve even contemplated writing a fan letter (which I never do).

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Posted on February 1, 2012

Movies »Bill Cunningham New York

directed by Richard Press (2010)

Bill Cunningham New York is not a “fashion” movie, per se, but a loving portrait of a man with integrity, individualism and passion.

As one of the original street style photographers – first for Details, then WWD, then the Times, he brought real women and the runway closer together, giving each equal spotlight with his camera.

Still using real (non-digital) film, riding a bike everywhere, refusing to be beholden to anyone, and living in a tiny, cluttered studio – the often cut throat, vain and bitchy world of high fashion has not changed him in the past several decades.

He’s a visual historian of New York and as a person, a true inspiration.

He shows the beauty of a life lived simply, with kindness and passion.

Available on netflix instant.

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Posted on January 30, 2012

Songs »Ryu The Red Nosed Ninja

by Doctor Octoroc (2011)

I continue my week of great Christmas songs!

Eight bit cover songs seem to be the it thing lately but you won’t hear me complain about it!

Especially when artists are making once mediocre Christmas songs into listening awesomeness like Ryu the Red Nosed Ninja.

Apologies to Rudolf, but it’s just never been one of my favorites.
As a spacey, spooky video game like tune, though it’s transformed!

The entire album, 8 Bit Jesus, is available here.

A great way to support an artist directly while gaining some nerdy holiday listening cheer.

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Posted on December 20, 2011

Movies »The Trip

directed by Michael Winterbottom (2011)

It’s a compliment to Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip that it reminds me of one of my most favorite movies of all time, Withnail and I – and not just because it features two long time friends from the city headed into England’s more rural areas.

There’s a very bittersweet poignancy that both films reveal about friendship, being stuck as the person you are and the simple pains that come with being alive. (Even if it gets a touch heavy handed at the end).

Steve Coogan is particularly and hilariously self effacing as himself (?) traveling on a wine and food tour that was originally meant to be taken with his young girlfriend.

Instead, after being told they are “taking a break” he reluctantly brings along Rob Brydon who, unlike Coogan seems perfectly content with his place in the world even if his goofy impersonations and happiness make him an annoyance to those around him.

The two bicker, joke, insult and chat through gourmet meals. At first, I couldn’t imagine how anyone that was not already a fan of these actors could take any interest in the film, but the beautifully photographed and well put together film transcends its seemingly dull plot to evoke a quiet swelling of emotions while also making you laugh out loud.

You’ve seen one of the funniest clips if you’ve watched “This is How Michael Caine Speaks” but there’s more to this gem of a movie.

It’s on Netflix instant, so do enjoy!

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Posted on November 14, 2011

TV Shows »American Horror Story

Thumbs See Potential

Too much too soon American Horror Story! No need to blow your whole jump cut editing wad in the first episode. There’s everything to be said about a slow burn when it comes to horror.

Maybe you’ll calm down and realize your potential with time. I hope so.

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Posted on October 17, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: How to Be a Gentleman


Wow, How to Be a Gentleman was canceled before I even got around to writing my review. It’s a shame not because it was good (it wasn’t) but I was glad it gave Murray a job. Love that guy.

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Posted on October 9, 2011

Books »Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

by Wells Tower (2010)

All Wells Tower’s characters: a bullied kid with a crappy stepfather, an old men left with nothing to do, a newly divorced man stranded in Florida and even a Viking who’s lost his thirst for pillaging are all living unsatisfied lives.

It could make Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned a depressing read. Yet! Tower’s writing possesses humor (without being quaint), pathos (without being hokey) and crystal vivid description (without getting in its own way).

This, his debut book of short stories has made him a bit of a hyped darling -but just because he’s praised doesn’t mean he’s not worthy.

I can’t wait to read more from him and pass this along to my avid reader friends.

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Posted on October 6, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: Suburgatory

Thumbs Say This Was One Of Jim’s Least Favorite

One thing I’ve learned from watching all the new Fall shows is that people that write television hate people who are different from them. Or at least they think we all hate eachother.

The latest cross culture bashing comes from Suburgatory which relies on stereotypes that frankly confused me. So big city teens hate shopping while suburban girls all have nose jobs? I did not know this.

Stereotypes aside, what was more insulting was the flimsy attempt at heart warming understanding. If this girl was really as wry as her Emma Stone face and snarky narration suggests, no way she’s getting soppy over a bra. Especially not that bra.

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Posted on October 6, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: Hart of Dixie

Thumbs Hated Having to Spend Time Writing This

I’ve been trying to come to terms with the idea of spending the time to write about Hart of Dixie, CW’s desperate attempt to reach “real” Americans via good old boy stereotypes (they love the simple life and teaching uppity women lessons), big city career women stereotypes (they’re bitches that wear Chanel and need to learn a lessons from aforementioned men), references to Carrie Underwood, outlandish Southern accents, and a token black guy (really, just one guy?)

I decided I’d been punished enough just having to watch it.

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Posted on October 6, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: Terra Nova

Thumbs Feel Sense of Deja Vu

Terra Nova could be one of those shows I get caught up on a couple seasons from now once enough people I trust say it’s great. But there just wasn’t enough in the pilot for me to stay tuned until then.

Compared to almost everything we’ve seen, it’s good even though it’s terribly derivative of Avatar, Jurassic Park and others. But you know, I’m fine with that lots of sci-fi is.

My problem is that nothing new was added and the dialogue was flat out lazy:

“grab the wheel!”, “what??!”

or “can’t blame a girl for trying”…

almost every line could have been plucked from another boring action movie.

Cast should have been scruffier too.

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Posted on October 4, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: Prime Suspect

Thumbs Ask Where Helen Mirren Is

Why didn’t they just call this “Tough Lady Cop”?

While I like that Lynda La Plante is getting paid, naming Prime Suspect after her groundbreaking series is an insult to all of us that loved it.

To be fair though, I had expected Bello’s performance with that god awful hat to have all the subtlety of a one woman play (picture woman thumbing her nose, sittin’ on a chair backwards and saying “ya know whaddimean?” in a New Yawk accent) and she was better than that.

But come on, they didn’t even learn the lesson from original – that actual, frustrating and realistic police work is far more interesting than tidy crimes that get wrapped up in 40 minutes.

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Posted on October 4, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: Charlie’s Angels

Thumbs Forgot All About It

What’s the opposite of unforgettable?

The new Charlie’s Angels!

I had actually completely forgotten we had even this until Jim reminded me.

All I remember was wondering if drug dealers really host catered parties where everyone wears white mini dresses and white suits?

This is no She Spies.

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Posted on September 28, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: Whitney

Thumbs Sad

I don’t have much to say. Whitney is just too half assed to even qualify as a show.

Really? Girlfriend tries to add spice to sex life with a nurses outfit and the dude falls on his head and passes out? The robot that wrote that should have been updated about ten years ago.

Plus, it’s just very awkward to watch someone who finds themselves adorable.

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Posted on September 25, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: Unforgettable

Thumbs Bored

It’s probably not fair to dismiss a show because I don’t like the way the lady purses her lips.

But here we are.

Have you seen a cop drama with a “strong” female lead haunted by her past? What about one where she and another cop used to bang? What about one where she goes to a warehouse alone to catch the real killer only to be saved by said cop? You have? Then you’ve pretty much seen Unforgettable.

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Posted on September 25, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: A Gifted Man

Demme Makes It As Good As It Can Be

I’m not going to like anything that could be described as ghost whisperer meets ER no matter how good it is.

But I have to say, if you stories about like ghosts (which are really just golden hearted secular angels) and mean, rich men learning how to love impoverished Hispanic children, then The Gifted Man is probably the highest quality version you can find.

It’s directed by Jonathan Demme, so it actually looks like a professional show (something I’ve found shockingly lacking this season) and the cast is largely stellar. She channels Meryl Streep, he balances a tough roll, but I was most happy to see the wonky eyed entomologist from Silence of the Lambs back on screen.

Almost skipped this one entirely (like I did H8R).

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Posted on September 24, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: The Playboy Club

on NBC, but not for Long

The success of Mad Men, which let’s face it, is the only reason this thing exists, yielded many lessons.

To name a few: people appreciate a fine attention to period detail, audiences can deal with deliberate paced and unconventional plot lines, that characters don’t have to be stereotypes to be interesting.

The only thing The Playboy Club seemed to gleam from it though was to get someone who sounds exactly like Don Draper. Close your eyes and listen – that guy must have listened to nothing but those Mercedes Benz ads for weeks to prepare for the role.

Otherwise, this is drivel. Young girl with big dreams, mobsters, a narration by Hugh Hefner from beyond the grave. No doubt the creators saw Scorsese in their ideas. More accurately, they brought Burlesque to the small screen without the camp and wagon wheel watusi. Which is a truly boring thing to see.

Van turned it off several times. Even babies aren’t impressed and they light up when a Pillow Pets commercial comes on.

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Posted on September 23, 2011

Books »A Song of Ice and Fire

by George R R Martin (1996-????)

There’s so much to say about the epic Song of Ice and Fire series but so little you want to give away to those still buried within its thousands of pages.

Like so many others I picked the books up after loving the HBO adaptation… and what a fun time to be reading it. It’s the kind of book you want to discuss with people incessantly and there’s no shortage of fellow readers. Jim even texted me after especially incendiary chapters in disbelief.

With that kind of fervor and enthusiasm that the books evoke, George R.R. Martin has created something truly unique and it’s little wonder that the world is entranced.

I was as well as heartbroken, shocked (repeatedly and effectively), obsessed, angered, relieved, frustrated, awed and now after just finishing Dance with Dragons filled with a venomous ache for justice, some conclusions and frankly for some plot lines to get on with it already… ( I felt like Martin Sheen thinking “Mereen, shit I’m still only in Mereen”)

Yes it’s not without its flaws one cringe worthy sex scene where cock and cunt cant be told apart proves that but what’s harder for this reader is the scattered scope after the whirlwind of awesomeness in book three. The plot splits between two books and beloved characters aren’t seen for hundreds upon hundreds of pages. I can only imagine how frustrating this must have been for readers that had to wait years for the next book as I am about to do for book six.

But despite the flaws and the fact that it might never be completed, this is one extraordinary reading experience. Now I get to see how book two is interpreted on the show… too excited.

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Posted on September 21, 2011