BOOK: Does Not Love by James Tadd Adcox (2014)

December 13, 2014

doesnotlovI picked this book up on a whim while I was at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon a few weeks ago — I’d never heard of it, but was intrigued both by the look of the cover and the blurb on the back, which described it as a story about “domestic terrorism” and an “alternate reality Indianapolis overrun by Big Pharma.”

Those are both phrases I won’t be using again in this review, because, as it turns out, they’re the smallest, least interesting elements of the entire book. I can’t even remember, only a few weeks later, what role Big Pharma played in the first place. I have a vague notion it was some sort of blurry commentary about anti-depressants, but I couldn’t tell you anything more than that, and even that is a suspect recollection.

Instead, this is really a novel about a young couple struggling to overcome loss and not doing a very good job of it.  As the story opens, Viola and Robert are at the doctor’s office, where they are being told Viola has just lost another baby.  They’ve been trying to conceive for a while, and she’s miscarried multiple times.

This latest — this last — loss is the one that finally takes Viola down. It starts with her suddenly overcome with rage over the gentle nature of her husband, who does nothing in response but love and attempt to comfort her.  It’s not your fault, he tells her over and over. Of course it’s not. She tells him her womb has become a grave. Of course it hasn’t, he replies. In bed, he is kind and tender. And no, no, no more, Viola finds herself completely unable to stand even one more second of kind and tender.

In a desperate attempt to feel something — anything — she begins to lash out at him, demanding things she knows he can’t accommodate.  Wanting him to hit her during sex, largely. Wanting him to hurt her the way she feels she deserves to be hurt. He struggles to understand and comply, even watching videos on S&M to try to learn how to do what it is she wants him to do, but he can’t do it.  It’s so far beyond his nature, it’s completely incomprehensible.

In response, she begins a brutally physical relationship with a secret agent who has been monitoring her workplace, a local library.  And here’s where the “domestic terrorism” and “Big Pharma” things  sort of come into play, but only sort of, and with so little intent or weight they mostly feel like an idea the author had for another book he decided not to write, instead trying to roll the loosest version of that concept into this one at the last minute. It doesn’t exactly not fit. But it doesn’t exactly fit, either.

As their relationship starts to come apart at the seams, both Viola and Robert fight to keep it stitched, only managing in the process to tear it apart even more.  Eventually, though, they manage to come to this:

Viola thinks, Okay. Robert thinks, Is that all? Is it as cheap as that? I come back, she comes back, I come back? Viola thinks, Okay. That’s something.

And then they have sex in the kitchen, get dressed, go outside, sip lemonade on the porch, and talk about the weather.

Whether this is a happy ending or an utterly devastating one depends on the way you perceive marriage, I suppose. I could go either way — and I did, about 9,000 times a minute while I read this.

This is the second novel in about five months I’ve read that has so gut-punched me, so painfully, so to-the-core, I could hardly breathe while I read it. (The other one, incidentally, was Three Delays by Charlie Smith.) For very different reasons — and for all the same ones. Viola’s sense of betrayal from her own body, her compounding losses, and her resultant rage at both herself and anybody who dares to care about her — these were all things I related to on such a deeply personal, deeply indelible way I kept flipping to the front cover to remind myself: No, I did not write this and forget I’d done it. In fact, a MAN wrote this. A man wrote it. How is that even possible? That a man could write this? Every other line in this book made my heart crack and pop like a bum knee haunted by an old injury.  I kept thinking as I read, “I should put this down.”  And then I kept thinking, “I never want to read anything that doesn’t make me feel exactly like this ever again.”

Highly, highly recommended, though I have a feeling your mileage is going to vary dramatically. God, to write a thing like this someday — a thing that has this kind of impact on even one human being. Living the dream, Mr. James Tadd Adcox. Living it.

[FICTION]

[Buy from an Indie Bookstore | Buy from Amazon | Browse more book reviews | Search book reviews]

MOVIE: Willow Creek (2014)

December 5, 2014

willowcreekI’ve been incredibly, insanely busy lately, and also haven’t been sleeping well, which, wrapped together, turns me into this big buzzing beehive of unceasing energy. That makes it extremely difficult to sit down and watch a movie, read a book, or do just about anything else that requires focus of a relaxed variety.  I’m not really doing “relaxed” very much these days. Maybe in January. We’ll see.

That said, two weekends ago I had some time to kill by myself at home, and I wanted to use it to watch a movie. A friend on Facebook had recently posted that this flick was fun, so I figured I’d give it a shot and see how long I lasted before I had to get up and clean something I just cleaned two days ago. (Upside to exhaustion-fueled mania: clean house!)

As it turned out, Willow Creek sucked me in right away and kept me thoroughly sucked-in throughout. For a rip-off of The Blair Witch Project about a mythical monster I find not-even-remotely scary, this movie was surprisingly effective for me.

It’s a “found footage”-style horror flick about a young couple, Jim and Kelly, who decide to head off on a road trip in search of Bigfoot for a documentary.  Jim’s been a Bigfoot fanatic since he was a kid and knows everything there is to know about the subject; Kelly’s a skeptic.  He seems to really believe there’s something to find out there in the woods; she loves him enough to be willing to go camping for a few days where there are no bathrooms. (I wonder what it’s like to love someone that much? I’ll probably never know. . .)

Similar to Blair Witch, they start out with an exploration of the small town outside the woods where the most famous Bigfoot sighting of all time took place (I have forgotten the details of that sighting, but apparently it’s legit lore).  There, they interview a few locals, get some advice on where to go, and film a few scenes for color — eating a “Bigfoot burger” at the local diner, smooching a giant wooden S’quatch statue, etc.

The next day, they head out in their car for the spot where they plan to park and hike in, only to be stopped on the access road by a man who threatens them aggressively, forcing them to turn around, and establishing nicely the possibility that what is about to follow is carried out not by Bigfoot but by a crazy local guy with a grudge against tourists (useful tool of reasonable doubt, always necessary in these sorts of things).

They manage to find another way in and start their hike, stopping periodically to film some scenes for their movie.  They don’t find much — some dubious-of-origin scat, a footprint — until night rolls around and they are awakened by a series of strange hoots and cracks from the woods (Blair Witch fans: sound familiar?). Something bashes against their tent.  A bear?  A giant, hairy man-beast? Nobody seems willing to venture out to check, surprise surprise, and not much sleep is had, to say the least.

The next day, exhausted and somewhat alarmed, they decide to hike back out and go home. Only they quickly get turned around, start looping back on themselves, and can’t find their way out (again, Blair Witch fans: sound familiar?).

And then the hoots begin again. This time in broad daylight. Something throws a rock at them.  They run. They’re still lost. They’re forced to camp another night. It does not go well.

Though the plot is obviously ridiculous, and not even remotely original, what makes this movie work as well as it does are the characters themselves and the script, which is very well-written. Jim and Kelly are an authentic, completely believable couple; it only took a few scenes for me to forget I wasn’t watching an actual documentary about two young dumb people on a quest to find Bigfoot.

There’s also a stand-out scene in the tent the first night (I think it was the first night, anyway) in which Jim proposes to Kelly and Kelly doesn’t exactly say yes. This was a surprisingly tender moment, thoughtfully approached. Did I mention the movie was written (and directed) by endearing weirdo comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, by the way?  That’s why I say “surprisingly tender;” who knew that was in there waiting to come out?

I went into this movie thinking Bigfoot was a pretty lame choice of villain, and I still mostly contend that it is. I mean, does anybody really believe in Bigfoot? And even if you do think there’s some giant, hairy man-beast in the woods no one has ever managed to get a good photograph of, why would you automatically assume it was evil?  I mean, a giant, hairy man-beast in the woods that was evil would probably be responsible for a lot more mysterious disappearances and dismembered bodies, right?

However, the last 15 or so minutes of this movie were effectively scary, to say the least.  For no good goddamn reason, I might add, because I DO NOT BELIEVE IN BIGFOOT.  There’s a long shot — maybe 8 minutes — that simply features Jim and Kelly sitting in their tent in the dark, the camera perfectly still, while she clings to him looking down, terrified, and he keeps his face up, listening intently to the sounds coming from outside.  Periodically, they both jump.  And then. . . Well.  Then things get a little nuts.  Something appears that has noooooo right being there.  No right at all, people The camera falls, there is screaming, and then we’re left to guess about what happens next.

All in all, this is a highly entertaining film, and I was really impressed by it.  I wasn’t expecting this to be as good as it was, especially with the aforementioned endearing weirdo comedian’s name attached to it. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Goldthwait’s directorial work (if anybody has a favorite, let me know in the comments!).

Highly recommended if you like scary movies, good writing, and giant, hairy man-beasts in the woods (well, who doesn’t?)!  Good clean fun.

[Netflix it | Amazon Buy/Rent]

Genre: Horror
Cast: Joe Swanberg, Kristina Klebe, Alexia Rasmussen

MOVIE: Virunga (2014)

November 27, 2014

virungaThis incredible documentary uses the story of a group of dedicated park rangers in charge of defending the land and wildlife — particularly the mountain gorillas — of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as a way to illustrate the heinous costs, in both human and animal lives, wrought by ruthless resource exploitation from the West. (Wow, that was a really long sentence. Sorry about that. Stay with me here; I’ll try to do better.)

It opens with a brief history of that exploitation, starting with colonization and running through the present day, where greed, particularly corporate greed, continues to fuel countless wars within and without. The latest round involves a British oil company called SOCO and what they believe to be a major source of untapped oil underneath the park.

Virunga National Park is the last remaining home for the world’s mountain gorillas, a population of about 800. The movie introduces us to several of the park’s rangers, including one of the men who helps run a gorilla orphanage that, at the time of filming, was the home to four young gorillas whose parents had been killed by poachers.  Poaching remains a huge problem in Virunga — not just of gorillas, but also of elephants and other creatures — and is very tightly tied to war on all sides.  Rebel groups in particular have long used poaching, as well as illegal mining and drilling (especially of metals used in electronics), as a source of revenue for weapons and supplies.

For this reason, as well as the obvious environmental ones, DRC long ago prohibited any sort of resource exploration/gathering within its national parks.  This lock-down, however, has intensified the frustrations of those desperate to exploit the valuable ores and wildlife believed to be in those parks, especially in Virunga. Many of them apparently blame it on the gorillas themselves, as well, another thing that has fueled continued poaching in the park. If protecting the gorillas is why we can’t drill for oil, the theory would go, then obviously all we need to do is make it so there are no more gorillas to protect.

Woven together with the story of the gorillas and their protectors is the story of the latest round of war in the region, led by a rebel faction known as M23.  A reporter talking to an M23 leader learns the group is interested in partnering with SOCO — the suggestion is that M23 would be willing to combat the park rangers and secure access, however illegal, to the park, as long as SOCO promises to give them a share of any oil profits that come as a result.

Based on the reporter’s later (undercover) liaisons with a SOCO representative, it sounds as if SOCO is perfectly game, which might be the most horrifying part of this entire film.  The representative, as well as a British security contractor who works for the company, both suggest to the reporter that SOCO routinely pays contractors to work with local rebels, paying them off in order to keep going about their business without any trouble. In other words, SOCO is perfectly willing to break the law and help fund war, as long as they get to  grow ever richer.  As much as I struggle to believe a company as large and as Western as SOCO could get away with something like that, it gets depressingly a lot easier to do when it’s followed by the SOCO representatives talking about the locals, the rangers, and the gorillas themselves — expendable, all.

As the film progresses, M23 begins closing in on the region, and the documentary culminates with an incredibly tense final 20 minutes, in which we hear the bombs coming closer and closer, and then finally erupting in the park.  A young gorilla falls ill and a vet cannot be called in to help him. By the next night, the mountain gorilla population of DRC is 799 instead of 800.  (Watch the park ranger’s face as he describes this loss — see if you can keep your heart from breaking right along with his.)  The local villagers flee, but the park rangers grit their teeth, hoist their weapons, and prepare to defend to the death the land and the creatures they love — knowing full well that “to the death” is absolutely likely, because they will be both out-manned and outgunned by M23. Yet, there isn’t a moment’s hesitation in any of them; it’s what they were put on Earth to do, one of them says. He was born to serve a purpose; he was born to protect those gorillas from his own species, and that is what he will do until he can’t do it any longer.

While I was watching this incredibly moving film, I kept thinking one thing over and over: that mankind is both the worst and the best thing that ever happened to Planet Earth.  I suppose it could be argued it is merely the worst — after all, the examples of the “bests” in this film all come from men fighting the destruction wrought by other men.  But I couldn’t help but think: what a tremendous gift good people are.  So tremendous. I want to be good like that too. And if everyone in the world could watch this film and come away feeling the same thing, my god, what a difference could be made.

Virunga recently became available on Netflix streaming; I’m not sure you can currently find it anywhere else. Seek it out, though, because it’s not only worth watching, it’s worth supporting. Very highly recommended!

[Netflix it]

Genre: Documentary
Directed by: Orlando von Einsiedel

 

BOOK: The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia (2006)

November 16, 2014

peoplepaperThis fascinating, strange debut novel tells the story of a man named Federico de la Fe, a Mexican gent who wages a war against the planet Saturn as a way to combat his crushing depression. Except, as it turns out, the planet Saturn isn’t actually the planet Saturn.  It’s actually. . . Wait, hold on a sec — I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to explain this.

Abandoned by his wife Merced due to his chronic bed-wetting (we can’t all be winners), Federico discovers by accident the cure for both his sadness and his inappropriate urination: what he calls “burn collecting,” a self-harm technique in which he burns parts of his own body to a sear.  Sometimes he does this while hanging out underneath a giant mechanical turtle that speaks only in binary code and seems to . . .  Wait, hold on a sec — I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to explain this.

Wanting a change, Federico packs up his young daughter, Little Merced, and moves to California, where he enlists the help of a local gang of flower pickers in a battle against the malevolent influences of Saturn.  Only, as we soon discover, “Saturn” is actually Salvador Plascencia, the author of this novel, and he’s only being this evil in the first place because his heart, just like Federico’s, has recently been viciously broken. (For bed-wetting? He doesn’t say. Let’s go with “yes” for fun.)

Meanwhile, as the war rages on — well, it’s sort of a war, and it’s sort of raging on — Little Merced is slowly being lost to a lime addiction. Limes, I said. The fruit. There’s also a Baby Nostradamus, but he doesn’t seem to be all that much help. Additionally, and somewhat more compellingly, there’s a third Merced that is neither Federico’s wife nor his daughter, but instead a lady made entirely out of paper who is plagued, among other tings, by the terrible fact that every time a man has oral sex with her, his mouth ends up bloodied and raw from the paper cuts.

Wait, hold on a sec — I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to explain this. . .

In case I have failed to make this clear, this is a very strange novel.  I’m not entirely sure it works, to be honest, but it’s so fascinatingly written it’s hard to put it down even while you’re scratching your head wondering what the hell the author is trying to accomplish.  Narrators come and go, sometimes getting whole chapters, sometimes only a few paragraphs in a column next to a series of paragraphs in columns by other characters.  Sometimes, those paragraphs are blacked out — if the narrator has successfully managed to hide their thoughts from Saturn, also known as the author, using sheets of lead. Baby Nostradamus seems especially keen on making that work, and then sort of doesn’t seem keen on anything much at all. Babies: what can I say?

At its heart, this is a novel about sadness and love, and the power of words (“paper”) to either mitigate or exacerbate the agony of both those things. I think that’s what it was about, anyway. Think, for example, about the metaphor of paper cutting up the tongue of a man who only wants to bring pleasure to a woman he loves.  The sharpness, the bloodying impact of words, or of love itself.  Saturn’s girlfriend, Liz, periodically interjects to beg him (the author) not to hurt her with his novel; another character, Smiley, begs Saturn/the author to explain to him his role in the story, only to be disappointed when it turns out the author barely knows he exists.

I don’t exactly know what it all means, and, to be honest, about 3/4ths of the way through, I was kind of over trying to figure it out.  And that right there’s the problem, really:  this is a fascinating novel full of fascinating things, but ultimately, nothing quite compelling enough to turn it into a real powerhouse in the world of magical realism or metafiction. Which is too bad, because it has some engaging ideas and characters , as well as some truly evocative writing. This kind of “tight concept, loose execution” problem isn’t uncommon in first novels, however, and so I have some hope that whatever Plascencia does next will be similar but better.

Overall, I’m glad I read this book and I recommend it to anyone else who enjoys writing that tries to do something a little different. You may end up scratching your head at the end, but I think the journey will make the ultimate tinge of dissatisfaction worth it.

[Buy from an Indie Bookstore | Buy from Amazon | Browse more book reviews | Search book reviews]

MOVIE: Veronica Mars (2014)

October 16, 2014

veronicamarsI’d been waiting to watch this movie until I could watch it with my mom, who was also a big fan of the series.  Neither one of us was sure what to expect from it, but we were both pretty happy about what we got, I’d say.  Not only was this a great movie for diehard fans of the show, but I think it works really well as a stand-alone mystery too.

As the story opens, Veronica is living in New York, having just gotten her law degree. She tell us she’s grown up, she’s changed, she has no interest in all that filthy snooping business she was into in her youth.  She is, in fact, about to land a high-powered job at a high-powered legal firm. . . when she gets a phone call from her old flame Logan.

Logan tells her he needs her help — he’s about to be put on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, a famous pop singer, and he didn’t do it.  Initially, Veronica, now living with the ever-charming but overly-“nice” Piz, plans to return home to Neptune just long enough to help Logan vet a few criminal attorneys.  But, of course, once she’s back in the world of private investigation, it turns out the lady had doth protested too much (that surely is not the proper way to conjugate that verb, but just roll with it); the lady’s no lawyer, she’s a class-A, snoop-lovin’ shamus.

The gang’s all here, from her dad (Enrico Colantoni, whom I was excited to see in The Mysteries of Laura until it became clear he wasn’t sticking around past the pilot, boo!) to her nerdy gal-pal Mac.  It’s great to see them all again, and the banter is as sharp as ever.  Additionally, the cameo from James Franco made me laugh out loud. TWICE. (Mom: “Who’s James Franco?” Me: “He’s like this super stoner dude who’s really, really smart. Except for the part where he tried to turn As I Lay Dying into a movie, which was really, really dumb.” Mom: “That does sound dumb.” Me: “I knew you’d understand.”)

Overall, they did a great job with this one, funded through a Kickstarter campaign.  And, they left it very clearly open to a sequel, which I’d definitely be on board for.  Recommended for fans of the show — big duh — but even if you never tuned in, you’ll find a lot to love here if you’re a fan of light, easy-going mysteries and solid writing.

[Netflix | Amazon]

Genre:  Drama, Comedy
Cast:  Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino, Percy Daggs III, Enrico Colantoni

Fall TV Week Five: Hang in There, It’s Almost Over!

October 13, 2014

tvset1Winding down now, with just a few stragglers plodding in here at the finish line.  Here’s what’s up this week, and next week should be my last installment for Fall 2014 (with final tricklings-in, plus a recap of what I kept and what I dumped).

WE MADE IT (assuming we make it!)!

Monday, 10/13

janeJane the Virgin – 9pm – CW – I’m not planning to watch this, but it’s gotten some of the best reviews of the fall, so if it sounds like your kinda thing, you should definitely tune in. Gina Rodriguez stars as a young woman named Jane, a virgin who discovers she has been accidentally artificially inseminated by her gynecologist.  I’m not sure how you manage to “accidentally” inseminate someone, but I don’t feel a huge pull to find out, to be honest.  Still, it’s been described as a witty, charming telenovela-style dramedy, and it’s the second in this fall’s new series to feature a predominantly Hispanic cast — that’s pretty great.  Oh crap.  I guess I’ll tune in after all.  What’s the worst that could happen?  I get knocked up accidentally? Go for it, Universe.

Tuesday, 10/14

marrymeMarry Me – 9pm – NBC – From Wikipedia, this description:  “Faced with proposals gone awry and a string of other unfortunate coincidences, Annie and Jake find themselves destined to be together whether they can get it together or not.”  Are you guys still awake?  Yeah, me neither.

About a Boy – 9:30pm – NBC –It’s about a boy.  I hear. (THIS JOKE NEVER GETS OLD!)

Fall TV Week Four: Let’s Get This Thing Over With Already

October 9, 2014

tvset1Hi, everyone!  Sorry for missing the first few days this week — I was out of town Monday and Tuesday for a work-related thing and then my brain was fried Wednesday night.  But you haven’t missed much, as I’m sure you’re already aware. I’m not gonna proofread this one, so I can get it the hell up already, so if it’s riddled with errors and uses the word “actually” 9,000 times blame Autocorrect.  (Because why not.)

Here’s what’s happened this week already, and what’s coming up at the end of it (hint: braaaaaaains!).

Monday, 10/6

The Originals – 8pm – CW — I have no idea what this is!  It’s something about some originals of some kind!

Tuesday, 10/7

theflashThe Flash — 8pm — CW.  I actually meant to record this one, but I blew it.  And that’s probably for the best, because I have a feeling I’m going to be all superheroed out just keeping up with Gotham (already behind on that one).  This is a spin-off of the CW’s series Arrow, about, you know: A REALLY FAST DUDE!  The part that intrigues me about this is that The Flash is apparently a forensic investigator, who uses his superhuman speed to. . . analyze DNA?  I don’t really know.   I might try to catch the pilot this weekend if it’s on Amazon or something.  Did anybody watch this?  Was it fun?

supernaturalSupeNatch – 9pm – CW — Good heavens, this show is still on?  I gave up when the whole angel thing really got hot and heavy — just found that incredibly boring for some reason. Angels schmangels; I want Ghost Facers! Is it still focused on all the heavenly stuff?  If not, I might give it a shot again.  I do miss those boys and their wacky antics.

Wednesday, 10/8

Arrow – 8pm – CW — Never seen it. I’m the worst TV reviewer on the planet.  Why are you still here?

kingdomKingdom – 9pm – DirecTV  – I am a DirecTV subscriber, so theoretically I could watch this show, which I think is their first original series. Which, by the way — must EVERYBODY make their own TV shows these days?  I mean, what’s next — Coming soon to ABC:  Safeway’s newest courtroom drama, “Clean Up in Aisle Five”? This show has gotten really strong reviews, though, so despite the fact it’s “set in the bruised and bloody world of mixed martial arts” (TV Guide), which is not exactly my world, I might see if I can figure out where I go to watch it.

freakAmerican Horror Story: Freak Show — 10pm — FX.  I didn’t bother with the last round of this series, Coven, because my interest in witches is nil, and because this show, even when it’s interesting, can get draw nigh to the Line of Insufferability fairly often for me.  But I just watched a documentary about freak shows/side shows (Bound by Flesh), and man, what a fascinating world that is/was/whatever.  I’ll definitely be giving this year’s story a shot, if only to get a chance to see what Kathy Bates looks like with a beard.

Friday, 10/10

cristelaCristela – 8:30pm – ABC – Another sit-com centered around a comedian — this seems to be the thing this year (Mulaney, e.g., which I haven’t seen yet).  The one interesting element to this is that it’s about a Mexican-American family; that’s kind of nice to see.  I have no intention of watching this show, but hey, way to be diverse, ABC.

Sunday, 10/12

walkingdeadThe Walking Dead – 9pm – AMC.  I’m still watching this!  I DO NOT KNOW WHY!  SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME! Clearly the zombies have eaten my braaaaaaains!

TO RECAP:  Questions:  Did you watch The Flash and was it fun?  Are the SuperNachos still hanging with flying dudes from above?  And WOULD you, in fact, watch a courtroom drama titled, Clean Up in Aisle Five?

Fall TV Week Three: Sunday – Elliott Gould Lives!

October 5, 2014

I’m about to head out of town for work for two days, so may or may not get this week’s TV stuff up tomorrow — if not tomorrow, then Tuesday, for sure! If not Tuesday, than certainly Wednesday!  But here’s what’s up tonight, anyway.

bobsburgersBob’s Burgers — 7:30pm — FOX.  I only discovered this show last year and I hardly ever watch it, yet I ADORE it.  I really ought to do something about that; that don’t make no sense.  This is a really clever cartoon series about a family that owns a burger shop.  It’s very, very smart and funny.  Previous seasons are all on Netflix Streaming, so check it out!  And maybe I’ll get Ebola soon and have enough time to get all the way caught up to a current season.  (Too soon with the Ebola humor?  Yeah, okay.  Fair enough, sorry.)

Homeland – 9pm — Showtime.  I watched seasons 1 and 2 of this and then never went on from there.  What season are they up to? I don’t even know.  I liked season 1 a lot, but not as much season 2, when the lady character went all bananas.  And then I heard the dude dies anyway, so, what is this show still up to?  Maybe I’ll find out some day.  BUT NOT TODAY.

mulaneyMulaney – 9:30pm — FOX.  I don’t know much about John Mulaney, but apparently he’s funny enough to warrant his own show.  I’ve read this show is a little too Seinfeld-y for some people’s tastes, but I liked Seinfeld well enough, and besides this show has Elliott Gould in it as a “wacky neighbor.”  I can think of few things Gould could do better than that.  Also: Martin Short, though he can be a bit hit or miss for me, depending on the intensity of his mania.  Going to check this one out just to see if it sticks.  You?

Fall TV Week Three: Thursday & Friday — Watch Broadchurch Instead!

October 2, 2014

tvset1Before I begin: a quick, exciting reminder (well, I’m excited about it anyway!): there’s a new Boyfriend of the Week up!  Check it out at http://megwood.com!

Meanwhile, back on the tube of boob, it’s only the middle of week three and I’m already behind on watching new stuff. After hearing from a few people here and on Facebook, by the way, I’m definitely planning to give Selfie a try, but will not be bothering with Manhattan Love Whatever The Heck That Was.

Also still digging Scorpion, incidentally.  It’s not brilliant, but it’s fun, and there’s a lot to be said for fun when you’re me.  Thought episode 2 of Forever was much better than episode 1, and am hoping to feel the same way about episode 3, which I’ll probably watch tonight.  It is also not brilliant, but man, I do love me some Ioan Gruffud, and I’m really enjoying Judd Hirsch in it as well.  Might be a keeper.  We’ll see how the next few weeks go.

Here’s what’s up tonight:

vampdiariesThe Vampire Diaries – 8pm — CW.  Never seen this; vampires are my least favorites of all the monsters, and 20-something vampires I tend to find utterly insufferable, especially but not limited to when they are “sparkly.”  I did enjoy The Strain this summer, while we’re on the subject of vamps, though I could definitely pick some bones with it.  Much better than the novel, anyway (my review of the novel is here if you’re interested). I never read the other two in the series, but will definitely stay tuned for more of the show. Corey Stoll is almost certainly going to show up as a Boyfriend of the Week at some point, too. I’ve been seeing a lot of him lately and I dig.

badjudgeBad Judge — 9pm — NBC.  This appears to be yet another tired, tired show about a successful professional woman who can’t keep her personal life in order. Because, as it’s been well-established by network television, women can only achieve one type of success in their lives — professional or personal — NOT BOTH. Pardon me while I barf up my breakfast. This one stars Kate Walsh, for better or for worse (depending on how you feel about Kate Walsh; I flip-flop) as a highly respected criminal court judge who “sleeps around” in her off-hours.  As network TV would like to remind us, women who sleep with a lot of men are BAD.  Men who sleep with a lot of women, on the other hand, are, you know: successful in both their private and personal lives. Pardon me while I barf up my mid-morning snack. Bad Judge: the most perfectly crafted sitcom title of all time (assuming the goal was endless ridicule).

gracepointGracepoint – 9pm — FOX.  This is the American remake of the incredibly good BBC series Broadchurch, which I think aired on BBC America last spring.  David Tennant starred in the original as a sad-sack detective investigating the murder of a little boy, and he’s playing the same role here as well.  This leads me to suspect this will mostly be a fairly straight-forward remake, without much in the way of additional content or perspective, which leads me to my next suggestion:  Don’t bother; go straight to the original without passing GO! Reviews of this one have been pretty humdrum, and I’m not planning on tuning in at all (not just because of the reviews, but also because the original was utterly heartbreaking and I don’t think I can go through it again). You can stream the original on Amazon for $1.99 an episode (there are 8 total) — and it’s well worth doing. Pay for it, please, don’t steal it; I believe in supporting good content with dollars.

Reign – 9pm — CW.  I have no idea what this is and cannot presently be bothered to go find out.  Enjoy!

atozA to Z — 9:30pm — NBC.  This sitcom is apparently a romantic comedy modeled a bit after the movie 500 Days of Summer.  Stars Ben Feldman (Mad Men) as Andrew (of the A in the title), dating a woman named Zelda (of the Z), and will chronicle their relationship from start to finish.  It actually seems like it could be kind of fun, but I’ll wait to try it until I see if it lasts or not. Reviews for this one have described it as a bit clumsy but overall fairly charming — I’ll be curious to hear what you guys think if any of you tune in!

That’s it for Thursday!  Friday only sees the return of Last Man Standing (8pm ABC), by the way, so no post tomorrow!

New Boyfriend of the Week/Month/Year is Up!

October 1, 2014

You’ll never believe this, you guys.  But there’s a new Boyfriend of the Week.

HOLY CRAP!  I KNOW!  My head just exploded too!

Go check him out at http://megwood.com, then come back here if’n you have comments.

It’s a love story, told in stock video footage.  Me + super dork = 4eva.

xo
Meg

NOTE!  Browser problems, naturally!  Videos work fine for me in Chrome, but not in Firefox. In Firefox, you can view by right-clicking and selecting “View video” (will open in Media Player). You can also use the “link” under each to open it in a new window or tab. I know it’s a huge pain — this is crap web design, for sure, makin’ you have to do stuff like that. But I’m crunched for time on solution-finding, and the videos are REALLY important. Because they are FRIGGIN’ HILARIOUS.  So, do your best. And if you can’t see them at all, post here to let me know and I’ll try to resolve the issue later in the week.


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