In case you’re new to Medium Cool, BGinCHI is here once a week to offer a thread on culture, mainly film & books, with some TV thrown in.
Arguments welcomed, opinions respected, fools unsuffered. We hope it’s a welcome break from the world of shit falling on our heads daily in the political sphere.
Tonight’s Topic: Recommendations
For this week’s MC, following an exhausting week and a day of celebration, let’s do another thread of recommendations.
What are you watching, or reading, or listening to that you want to recommend?
Highly recommend Winter Counts.
And while I’m thinking about it, I’d also highly recommend Hernan Diaz’s novel In the Distance. One of the most beautiful and original Westerns I’ve ever read. Just a marvel of a book.
At first, I didn’t see the “o” in “Counts.” Was taken aback but still intrigued.
We’re rereading Small World by David Lodge. It’s fun.
The PBS series Roadkill with Hugh Laurie had a pretty amusing first episode last week, so we’re looking forward to tonight.
We are watching Inspector Morse from beginning to end. In Season 5 now. It is so great. It got me through the ballot-counting.
@Baud: “A cockney tale of January misadventures….”
@zhena gogolia: America has culture too, you know.
Im sure its been mentioned before but ‘The Queens Gambit’ on Netflix.
On PBS, “The Trouble with Maggie Cole.”
I’m in the middle of Charlie Stross’ latest novel, Dead Lies Dreaming. It’s set in the Laundry Files universe, but with different characters. There’s a strong connection with the original J.M. Barrie Peter Pan tale, which is apparently significantly less pleasant than the Disney version.
Also, I finished Naomi Novik’s new novel A Deadly Education set in a magic school that is not a bit like Hogwarts. In the Scholomance, a significant proportion of each class gets eaten by magical creatures. Literally. It’s a bloody tale, and students spend much of their time and energy figuring out how to survive.
If you like SFF, they’re both good books.
I’m trying to read “Caste” but it’s really depressing.
@LuciaMia: We’re almost through “The Queen’s Gambit” and it’s AMAZING.
We give it all our thumbs up.
Anya Taylor-Joy is a revelation in Queen’s Gambit. I then caught her in “Emma” where the character is worlds different. She and her huge eyes have a big future.
Just finished “Fleabag” and am very impressed at where it went over those two short seasons. Can I add I’m disappointed there won’t be a third?
@MattF: I liked Novick’s first few books, but haven’t read anything since. Might give this one a try.
I liked Grossman’s The Magicians, too, on that subject.
I haven’t been able to read much of anything lately. Even goodreads.com is worried.
We got Peacock and we’re watching “Save Me” with Lennie James and Surrane Jones. Also, Fargo is jammin with Chris Rock.
I’m not even medium cool at this point, I’m not cool at all culturally. I hope I’ll regain my ability to read a book and follow a plot for longer than 3 minutes sometime after Jan. 20th.
Hmmm . . . I’ll try to think of something.
Planning to rewatch Hamilton now that the republic might have been saved.
You strike me as extremely cool.
playing star wars: squadrons. (next is AC: valhalla)
reading eisenhower: a soldier’s life, bossypants and the hydrogen sonata
rewatching the legend of korra, unicorn gundam and hip-deep in the mandalorian season II.
i listen to LOTS of things, have an alphabetical playlist of my phone-bourne tunes that reaches into the thousands of songs at days of length. up to dethklok: the soundtrack.
oh, yah. totally just got the peacock. larry wilmore’s show is amazing and amber ruffin is great but i think she’s too high-concept and smart for the format. afraid she’ll get cancelled.
that totally works. i watched it several times leading up to the election.
Well, okay, if you want American culture. I am constantly recommending him, but a formal recommendation of the YouTube videos of J-L Cauvin. He is a brilliant comedian who deserves much more recognition. He has been producing these amazing videos, which are far more complex than just comedy skits. He is inside Trump’s head and he improvs them. Today he did a “concession speech,” which is hilarious but also deadly serious. Devastating satire.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@zhena gogolia: I love those academic Lodge novels. They make me laugh.
@BGinCHI: A Deadly Education is the first of a trilogy and ends on sort of a cliffhanger. So if you find that irksome, you might want to wait. Also, Novik’s previous two novels had broadly similar story arcs, and it’s possible that this one will go the same route. But it’s a good story and well told.
@MomSense: We’ll be here.
‘Tis the season for lack of energy and concentration. Be patient with yourself.
I’ve already watched the Queen’s Gambit twice so it’s time for a new show.
I just finished reading an excellent book on Ireland’s Troubles, Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe and I learned a ton. Superbly researched, well-written with real-life compelling characters recounting a horrible era for the Emerald Isle.
I have just started Gates of Fire: A epic novel on the battle of Thermopylae and I’m really starting to get into it.
@raven: I love her! She’s currently filming season 2 of Gentleman Jack.
I too finished The Queen’s Gambit and loved it.
Watching my 2 Walking Dead shows tonight. Habit. I am watching dead, I guess.
Great British Bake Off, of course. Hot messes!
Dorothy A. Winsor
I just downloaded Winter Counts. I’ve not finished the last three fantasies I tried. That’s a sign I need to change genres for a while.
@zhena gogolia: As an Anglophile I totally understand.
We’d rather watch Euro stuff, but it’s been kind of a dry spell for shows from over the pond (at least for us).
It’s almost cartoon-like, and yes, she was fantastic as Beth.
She’s a solid writer, for sure.
TCM has been running episodes of a documentary called Women Make Film. I’ve only seen one, but intend to catch a couple via tivo tonight or tomorrow. Instead of a simple line-up of movies directed by women, this series takes the elements of film, from generalities like point-of-view down to techniques like close-up, and illustrates them using movies made by women. In the course of this, you learn that there have been a great many woman filmmakers around the world.
I’ve seen a few pretty good things lately, but this is the one I most want to recommend.
@HumboldtBlue: Keefe’s book is fabulous.
Super nice and generous guy, too. If you’re on twitter, follow him.
Gonna look him up right now.
Thanks for the tip!
What’s your handle, not sure I’m following you?
@Dorothy A. Winsor: I get in that rut too, especially when there’s lots going on in the world, and with work.
Let me know how you like WC.
@prostratedragon: Thanks for this! I didn’t know about it and that’s excellent for my upcoming film classes.
@HumboldtBlue: Same as here….
oh. sorry. the eisenhower book is by carlo d’este. bossypants is by tina fey and the hydrogen sonata is by iain m. banks. (who was an INCREDIBLE talent.)
It’s British, but I’m intrigued by Truth Seekers, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, on Prime.
Fall of Civilizations on YouTube – Highly recommended
I’m half way through “The Story of Western Science” by Susan Wise Bauer – accessible and lively. She is a gifted writer. Also try “The Well-Educated Mind”, another really great book.
Just finished “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) Fun and well worth watching.
True confessions time, I guess. My favourite trashy-novelist by far is Jeffrey Archer. Yeah, his writing can be pretty wooden. Yeah, his plots are pretty formulaic. But damned if he doesn’t suck me in every.single.time with his over-the-top villains and suspenseful cliffhangers. Right now, I’m reading the second book in his god-knows-how-many-there-will-eventually-be “William Warwick” series. Sue me. I read good stuff too.
@zhena gogolia: They’re such a good team in Sean of the Dead and
@SiubhanDuinne: There are no pleasures greater than guilty pleasures.
Thought I might start “The Queen’s Gambit” this week.
There are those who call me...Tim? (formerly posh in a mask)
@MomSense: a 60 year old male, I too have lost my taste for the printed word the last 4 yrs. I could chalk it up to age, or overuse of screens, or decaying attention span, anything but who happens to be President at the time…but damn if others aren’t reporting the same phenomenon. It’s possible. Reading isn’t all I’ve lost patience for. It’s possible. Just the existence of that ass might have have wrecked all we liked about us. Which means we can come back now. See you there. Peace.
David ?Booooooo!? Koch
Eagerly awaiting the release of season 4 of “The Crown” next sunday, which focus on Princess Diana
damn, hot fuzz was a great send up of cop tropes. simon pegg was fantastic in it. don’t care for the zombie genre one whit, but can appreciate when it’s done well, and shaun of the dead was on point.
Turns away from the dark chocolate and red wine for a moment to say “thank you” for that imprimatur.
@David ?Booooooo!? Koch:
Man, that really died for me, I think I stopped watching mid-season three.
@David ?Booooooo!? Koch:
Yes, Diana and Maggie Thatcher! There’s going to be some serious scenery-chewing, and I, for one, can hardly wait!
Now see, for me it would be “It’s British, so”
David ?Booooooo!? Koch
@HumboldtBlue: I thought the “coup” episode, the mining tragedy episode, the LBJ episode were phenomenal.
Steve in the ATL
Never!!! What the hell is wrong with you? That and grilled salmon has been my diet for the last six months!
@trollhattan: Those eyes! I wondered aloud to Mrs J if the makeup people were maybe a little too into anime.
@zhena gogolia: He really is great. I couldn’t watch even him for awhile because it was too stressful.
But he really channels Trump perfectly. I almost worry about him for being able to do that so well.
Been slowly making my way through the “Makers of the Modern World” series, political biographies of the national leaders, major and minor, who were at the Versailles Conference in 1919. Finished Orlando (Italy) and just started Paderewski (Poland). There are 32 volumes total and I am enjoying them all!!!
(Also finished the Kitty Peck series of mysteries, which I loved. Read all 4 volumes one after another, boom, boom, boom. Give me a murder set in a big city in the 1890s and I’m happy).
Hot Fuzz is a masterpiece.
We’re deep into our rewatch of the rebooted Doctor Who series and I’m enjoying it immensely. For one thing I haven’t seen the vast majority of these episodes since they first aired and it’s nice to see how well they hold up. For another watching them with my super-smart seven year old son means I get to talk about plot and character and backstory with someone who just loves stories as much as I do.
One thing. We’re just about to finish series six and I have to admit, after always being a Tenth Doctor loyalist I’m very, very impressed with Matt Smith’s Eleven. He’s just so good at playing the ditzy, absent minded old man in a young looking body who can, when pushed, be an absolute cold terror.
Plus Karen Gillan. A woman made of legs.
Well, BGinChi challenged me on not liking American culture. What can I say, I love British actors and writers.
He does seem to be suffering, judging by his tweets. This “comic” video gets quite bitter toward the end.
@zhena gogolia: Snarkingly…..
Well, I’ve read 129 books so far this year, but I’ll keep it to just a few:
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo is absolutely my fave of the year. She should 100% have won the Booker on her own last year, grumble grumble
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson is a close second, and she’s quickly becoming a fave author, as I’ve read two books by her and both were amazing 5-star reads
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier for you fantasy fans, don’t let the mass-market nature deter you
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen made me literally cry at seeing myself and my identity represented and explored so masterfully. Highly recommend to other aces, but also to people who don’t ID as such but might know someone who does
@BGinCHI: Sure thing. They have a web page at https://womenmakefilm.tcm.com/schedule . Above that are links to more resources.
@VeniceRiley: Scott and Bailey was really good along with anything Sally Wainwright does!
A hopeful book with positive suggestions for the future of progressive activism is Naomi Klein’s “No Is Not Enough”. It’s a couple of years old but still of the trump era. She is one of my favorite progressive authors and I just finished this book today.
@SiubhanDuinne: I always felt like admitting how much I enjoyed the Spenser for Hire books was in the neighborhood of a confession.
But I really liked them, so there.
@SiubhanDuinne: Totally OT, but I was looking at The Book of Trump in the sidebar yesterday, wondering if you think you might be inspired to write more, or if I should rotate it out. Think about it and let me know?
Steve in the ATL
In the Superior Court of Gwinnett County
State of Georgia
Case number ____________
John G. Cole, d/b/a Balloon-Juice.com,
[redacted], d/b/a SuibhanDuinne a/k/a SubaruDiane,
Comes now Plaintiff in the above-captioned matter and alleges the following:
Count 1: negligent recommendation of trashy novels
Count 2: tortious interference with good taste in literature
Count 3: loss of consortium
Ok, I can’t continue past count 3….
I really liked Invisible Man. Super creepy. Went ahead and reread HG Wells, which is fantastic. Such a great book. I’m currently reading Money For Nothing. Fantastic writing Prof. Levenson.
You’re a shameful pair. ;-)
While we’re confessing I loved the Oscar Wilde series by Gyles Brandreth. Yes he’s a Tory and a shameless lovie but I don’t care. He clearly loves Wilde, writes well, and the conceit that Conan-Doyle got the idea for Holmes from watching his friend Oscar solving mysteries is just superb.
@zhena gogolia: Let’s hope he can come back from the brink. :-)
I have probably half a dozen semi-drafts in my notepad. I get just so far and then get stuck — probably because I simply don’t know (nor does any of us) how the story is going to play out. If you’re okay with giving me another few days, please do. If you want to delete what there is, I shan’t fuss.
The Thai series the Gifted on YouTube. In the midst of a Thai academy, a special program for advanced students is not what it seems. Then it’s not what it seemed to be when it wasn’t what it seemed. Then there’s more treachery and it’s not even that. Then more secret identities and reversals and some deaths it’s something or other that could be bad, evil, good, or awesome depending on your perspective. At this point, I’m thinking everyone wishes they hadn’t looked deeply into the matter and just accepted that they were selected for the gifted program and not asked any more questions. I think it’s a metaphor for the CNN exit poll, tbh.
We watched Tom Hardy in Taboo and liked it but I’m not sure there will be a season 2. It was a BBC series, we saw it on Hulu.
@Steve in the ATL: I really enjoyed that.
@BGinCHI: I second the recommendation of Winter Counts. When I first read that the plot centered on a reservation enforcer who brings justice when the authorities can’t or won’t, I thought that maybe the author had borrowed the plot from the Longmire TV series. Sadly, the afterword tells us that both the author and the Longmire writers lifted the plot from reality.
Another recent novel that really impressed me was When These Mountains Burn by David Joy. It’s an example of the mystery genre known inevitably as Appalachian Noir. The author, who lives in North Carolina, has written several other novels in the same vein that I enjoyed yet still felt were hard work, somehow. This one takes a plot that could be hackneyed by now — who’s spreading drugs throughout western NC? — and hits all the mystery beats just right.
I’ve also enjoyed Tom Hanks’ collection of short stories called Uncommon Type. In case anyone has wondered whether Tom Hanks the writer is the real deal, he is. The best of his stories take a “normal” family situation, describe it beautifully, then deliver an unexpected twist that makes the reader look at everything from a different perspective.
@Steve in the ATL:
Oooh. I am not an lawyer, but I love it when you talk all deposition and shit.
Been watching Killing Eve, into S2 now. Jodie Comer is amazing, what a crazy character.
@SiubhanDuinne: I wouldn’t delete what’s there, just move the link out, which I could recreate in 2 minutes. :-) But I’ll leave it there.
No rush at all, just wondering. Writing something creative like that, but connected to current events, can’t be forced. It will be ready to come forth when it’s ready, I suspect, and not a moment before.
I started season 3 today and I was a wreck.
has anyone seen the tom hanks as mr. rogers in a beautiful day in the neighborhood? it’s not on our streaming services, and i’m loathe to rent stuff unless it’s GOOD stuff.
@Alison Rose: I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who keeps track of the number, even if you are ahead of me (87).
I loved Matt Smith’s portrayal. He’s youthful and quirky and energetic. There will come a scene (he’s seated and still) where his eyes look every bit the doctor’s age and wisdom. He has surprising depth.
@MomSense: I should get there soon.
Any of you fantasy readers familiar with Giles Kristian’s Lancelot: Arthurian Tales #1?
oh, the eleventh doctor is fantastic. what an incredible character arc. and rory and amy are just as well-developed.
I saw it in the theatre not long before the pandemic put an end to going to the movies. Loved it, and I hope it streams somewhere soon so I can watch it again (preferably on a platform I already subscribe to so I don’t have to spend more money on yet another subscription).
@Heidi Mom: I am a massive nerd. In addition to Goodreads, I have my own spreadsheet where I keep track of a silly number of details of every book. Last year I read 150 and I’m aiming to match that, if not surpass it. I know people say it’s quality not quantity, but………DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY BOOKS THERE ARE THAT I WANT TO READ quantity matters, LOL
Also even pre-COVID, I did nothing besides work and read. I couldn’t travel anywhere even back then, I don’t go out at night, I don’t watch TV, etc etc. Books and Animal Crossing, that’s about it.
Major Major Major Major
Finally got around to Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters. Predictably excellent.
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
I’m reading Murder at Styles – the very first Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot mystery. Amazon had a 30 book/story Agatha Christie compilation for Kindle for $1.99. That’s a lot of content for two bucks.
Last night we watched Silverado, which just hit Amazon Prime. It’s a fun western romp with an all star cast – Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Kevin Klein, Jeff Goldblum, John Cleese, Linda Hunt, Rosanne Arquette, and Brian Dennehy.. Plus it’s a Lawrence Kasdan film.
thank you. i know EVERYONE says this, but mr. rogers was integral and vital to my development into a decent human being and my understanding that no matter how fucked up shit got or how fucked up i was, i still mattered. i love that man.
now i’m gonna have to rent it.
@What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?:
ms blake and i LOVE silverado. it’s like this giant mash-up of all great western tropes done with a master’s hand.
such a delight. great soundtrack, too.
Loved the Spenser novels. More than the TV series based on them, in fact.
How about some interesting music. Biber’s Mystery Sonatas Watch soon tho, They will only be up for another week.
A set of 12 violin sonata’s, each one requiring a unique tuning of the instrument. One even has you crossing the middle two strings. When they did it live some years ago, they had multiple (4 i think) violins, with another violinist out back retuning the instruments to give them time to settle into their new settings.
This set dates from 2017, and was recorded in Boston’s Jordan Hall.
The movie won’t in any way alter your good memories. (EDIT: If anything, it will enhance them.)
Mike in NC
Now that we’ve told Fat Bastard to fuck off forever, I’m going to start in on “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America” by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.
Thank you! This sounds fascinating.
Major Major Major Major
I’ve also finally gotten around to Schitt’s Creek which is good dumb campy fun.
Currently reading The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell, which I must have written down after hearing about it on a podcast or something. Recent debut novel, quite good so far.
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
@eddie blake: Definitely a super fun movie.
Obvious Russian Troll
The list never gets smaller!
Dorothy A. Winsor
The only book that’s held my attention lately is American Dirt, about a woman fleeing Mexico with her 8 year old son after her reporter husband writes one too many articles about the cartels. I was riveted.
The Convert by Stefan Hertmans, a true story that reads like a novel. Beautifully written, it describes an unlikely marriage of a daughter of well-to-do Norman aristocrats and a young man studying to be a rabbi in 11th century France.
I really recommend Run The Jewels newest record RTJ4. The concert video of it on HBOMax, and YouTube was a get out the vote production with Ben and Jerry’s. Beautiful production. No audience in a soundstage in the ATL. Lots of guests on screens, and live, (hello Mavis Staples). The crew is all COVID protected, and they just leave the crew hanging out framed up beautifully. Text book in how to make a great production in COVID times.
I still have the attention span of a gnat. Right now I’m listening to Simon Vance, who I love, perform the audiobook for Elizabeth George’s 20th Inspector Lynley novel, “The Punishment She Deserves.” I keep falling asleep and having to go back. It’s OK – Lynley is missing for the first half, but once he shows up, it’s getting good.
Old Dan and Little Ann
I am always looking for some good book recs. I finished “This Tender Land” last week which was a Huckleberry Finn like tale. I enjoyed it a lot. Now I am almost done with “The Nickel Boys.” A true story about a brutal reform school in Florida. Also good. And Disturbing.
@rjnerd: On a couple of occasions, I’ve accompanied violists in performances of Charles Koechlin’s Viola Sonata. Koechlin, who always had an original turn of mind, asks the violist to tune the bottom string down to Bb for *just* the first and third movements (there are four). Both times I’ve done the piece, the violist decided to bring two instruments out on stage, one with a low C and one with a low B-flat. Retuning onstage would indeed try everybody’s nerves.
Looking forward to the Biber!
@What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?: Silverado is a classic. Excellent all the way around
@What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?:
Between the Amazon cheapies, BookBub, and EarlyBirdBooks, with all their 99¢ and $1.99/$2.99 specials, I have absolutely bloated my Kindle library. But that’s fine — I can always find something to read, including the Christie omnibus you mentioned.
@Obvious Russian Troll: Truth. I told someone that even if no books were published at all for the next five years, I still wouldn’t catch up on my ultimate TBR list. But that’s a nice problem to have :)
@SiubhanDuinne: I like.
@Heidi Mom: David Joy is an excellent writer.
Check out Taylor Brown (Gods of Howl Mtn and Fallen Land, but all is books are great).
Steph Post too, if you like FL noir.
@Old Dan and Little Ann: Can’t go wrong with Colson Whitehead.
After two very uneven seasons, the third season of Star Trek:Discovery has more than hit its stride. Four episodes in, we’ve had two spectacular eps, two very good ones, a distinct direction and purpose, and at least three occasions where I cried in a good way over it. Plus, Doug Jones is clearly one of the great actors of our times, with what he conveys through all that latex.
@SiubhanDuinne: OT, but there is an audio book service called Chirp that has steep discounts on a lot of stuff. $2-$5 is the general range of their daily offerings promoted via email. Android and iPhone
I used to like those too. I haven’t read any lately.
Every time I read your nym I think of John Turturro in Do The Right Thing
It was highly recommended to us so I bought it. We started watching it, and it was kind of depressing. So if you don’t mind depressing (really good acting), I heard it was really a special film. We just didn’t need any more depression in the Trump era.
@Mike in NC:
I might finally read Mary Trump’s book. But then again, maybe not.
I like David Lodge too. I’ll put in a good word for the bookend novels of his trilogy, Changing Places and Nice Work.
I’ve been a fan of academic comedies since reading Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim (and then becoming an academic). I’ve also gotten a laugh from some of Tom Sharpe’s novels (the Wilt series and Porterhouse Blue), though they’re dated and maybe a little too farcical.
Of American writers in this tiny genre, I’ve liked Richard Russo’s Straight Man and James Hynes’s horror/academic satires about an academic anti-hero in “Queen of the Jungle” and Kings of Infinite Space. (Of the latter, Hynes writes, “It is, after all, an office comedy with zombies.”)
Oh! Oh! Got to be either:
“Don’t play games with me. Don’t ever think you’re remotely capable of that.”
“I want you to tell your troops to Run Away.”
Smiling, but the eyes weren’t.
@HumboldtBlue: I should probably see that, then. It’s based on the chants for that New Jersey musician who is IMO the heir to Woody Guthrie.
David ?Booooooo!? Koch
If it’s not too intrusive, why can’t you travel? claustrophobia; fear of flying?
Steve in the ATL
@Dorothy A. Winsor: have you read any of Don Winslow’s books about the cartels? They are fantastic. Dark and incredibly well researched.
Steve in the ATL
@David ?Booooooo!? Koch: she’s obviously on parole. Don’t be a jerk about it.
There’s an iconic scene that involves a discussion about Springsteen but I won’t go into any further detail.
It’s a must-watch movie.
Steve in the ATL
If I may be on topic for a moment, I have recently enjoyed:
”Hinterlands”, a welsh police procedural; and
“To the Lake”, a dystopian Russian series about (timely!) a pandemic, and of course vodka and dysfunctional families. WARNING to any Baptist juicers: one episode contains dancing.
@HumboldtBlue: I’d heard that it was a must-see, but never got around to it. (Which is pretty typical around here.) Thanks for the rec!
Seconded. Also, best opening credits ever.
Jodi Taylor’s “Chronicles of St. Mary’s” series — Historical, time travelling adventure fun
“Danger, romance, history, financial and academic politics, hidden agendas, dangerous assignments, characters you care about, and the feeling that more is going on than you’re actually reading about. I can hardly wait for book two. Just One Damned Thing After Another is a true page-turner.”
David ?Booooooo!? Koch
RIP Alex Trebek
The fellow Canadian valiantly hung on long enough to see Dump deposed.
@debbie: I was gonna chime in with “his best movie” but then I thought “But what about Malcolm X?” and then I thought “maybe I’m just a philistine?” and then I looked up Variety’s ranking, and yeap, DTRT is ranked his #1 movie. It sure had an massive impact on my perceptions of our world. Though, must say, Malcolm X was right up there, too.
I had no idea Lee cast Denzel Washington in so many flicks. I mean, who wouldn’t? But still, he cast him in a -bunch- of movies. Though honestly, he’s always Malcolm X to me. That, and Alonzo “Godzilla Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me” Harris.
Mike in NC
@Steve in the ATL: Russians + Vodka = Dancing
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
All about how Lucretius wrote The Nature of Things (NoT) when BC was all there was.
But wait there’s more: Epicurean philosophy, how manuscripts were copied and why, how a copy of the NoT was discovered in the early 1400s as manuscript hunters searched European monasteries, how Lucretius’ ideas scared the Church shitless, and how Giordano Bruno, the Elizabethans, Montaigne, and Thomas Jefferson were affected by this “book”.
I had no idea….
You gotta see it, it’s a near-perfect movie.
I just re-watched the opening credits and not only are they fantastic I was just reminded of the deep, deep, deep crush I have had on Rosie Perez for the past 40 years.
@David ?Booooooo!? Koch: I have disabilities, both physical and mental, which make traveling pretty much impossible. It sucks because I used to take road trips all over the state all the time, and now I can’t drive at all, or even be in a car. But at least that means quarantine was not as much of a learning curve for me as it has been for a lot of people, heh
Mike in NC
@David ?Booooooo!? Koch: Most of us are eager to see him decompose.
@Steve in the ATL: LOL, you got me, from that teenage shoplifting arrest a few decades ago :P
I listened to Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell series (Bring up the Bodies, Wolf Hall, and The Mirror & the Light.) The actor who does the reading (Ben Miles) has a great reading voice, and I’ve found it really helpful to have an entire separate world to fall into these last few weeks. Can’t think why that is, exactly — I also a book of her essays for here and there (Times Literary supplement, other similar): some of them are very enjoyable, some, surprisingly, not so much. Writing about very American things she seems to miss the context entirely.
When someone brings up Denzel, my first thought is Philadelphia. It may not rank as his best role, but damn if his performance isn’t!
@Steve in the ATL: Second that.
Great writer and excellent human being.
David ?Booooooo!? Koch
@Alison Rose: hard to see how someone who can inhale books is disabled. that said, thanks for being a long time valuable and witty contributor to this blog.
@Steve in the ATL: Did you know that Hinterlands (produced by BBC Wales) is filmed in both English and Welsh? They do a scene in one language, then the other.
Only show/film I’ve ever heard of that does it that way.
Finally, Aubrey Plaza has competition.
If you like that werewolf and vampire stuff, I will recommend (again) Glenn Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. Great writing and I don’t even like the genre.
So many moments.
And that’s the hip hop style I grew up with, NYC-centric original B-boy bounce.
Steve in the ATL
@BGinCHI: I did not know that. But isn’t welsh actually gibberish? I see the signage on buildings in the background and it’s more nonsensical than Dutch or Afrikaans, which is a difficult feat.
I forget if I’ve recommended these before but I really like Hal Willner’s recasting of various composers’ and artists’ work, starting with Amarcord Nino Rota (1981) and ending with Angel headed Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan & T Rex (2020). At the very least always intriguing. (And again apologies if I’m repeating myself.)
@HumboldtBlue: It’s on the way! (Not a fan of streaming, so ownership will be soon.)
@Steve in the ATL: It is no more nonsensical than Finnish.
Steve in the ATL
@Omnes Omnibus: clearly we are in “tallest midget” territory now!
Would love to hear your thoughts. It’s a movie that stands the test of time.
@Steve in the ATL:
I’ve recounted this before but dad tells a funny story from when he first moved to Ventura County in the 80s.
Being a Philly native he was familiar with Welsh place names but was bamboozled by highway signs in California such as Tapo Cyn exit or Topanga Cyn exit.
“How the hell are their Welsh names here?”
The he figured out the abbreviation for Canyon was Cyn.
@Steve in the ATL: Welsh is a very cool language, and once you get some of the pronunciations down, kind of fun to say out loud.
Jodie Comer is astonishing, full stop. Was at least two years before I heard an interview, out of character. Sometimes does a posh English accent but because she’s from Liverpool she reverts to her native Scouse (charmingly).
@Omnes Omnibus: Learning a language with no cognates is a hell of a hard thing….
Either before or after watching Hamilton, go on Youtube and watch Katherine Ryan’s routine of watching Hamilton on Christmas Eve. However it’s NSFW.
J R in WV
I was horrified at our loss of I M Banks, who was a great and creative talent. I was reading his books as they were printed, and then that stopped forever. Sad!
Just ordered Charlie Stross’s newest Laundry novel, they are all great, all his work is great.
@raven: I just finished Caste today, and hope you continue with the book. The story is depressing, but it’s also just mystifying, how people worldwide waste and stifle talent and opportunity simply because of what a person looks like. The end of Wilkerson’s book tells us part of what we need to do
The Covid pandemic has allowed me to read a bunch of things, so here is a list, mostly read since March 2020, but a few from earlier:
A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson
The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein
The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, Bryan Burrough
big wonderful thing: a History of Texas, Stephen Harrigan
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, Jared Diamond
The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World, Charles C. Mann
Human Kind: A Hopeful History, Rutger Bregman
All we have is much work to do.
late to the thread, but then again, it’s not like anyone is waiting on me for guidance on cultural touchstones….
the written word: Just finished the Flashman series (all nine of them) and instead of breaking too much new ground because of our collective wounded psyches, I’m revisiting Vorkosigan Saga of titles. Dunno why, but reading comfort food is about all i can manage these days…
the musical muse: Picked up the latest Power Pop compilation from Ace (Girls Go Power Pop) which has an eclectic mix of all female lineups and some with the lady in front being the featured member. Also slowly starting to explore the shoegaze genre with picking up music from Widpowspeak, Slowdive and Alvvays… good ambient guitar driven escapism.
and on the Visual side: been exploring Aussie crime procedurals with the understated Mystery Road interspersed with the wife’s personal mission to monitor the metamorphosis of the Hallmark Channel showing not only POC love stories but interracial and same sex stories as well. Granted they’re still using the same formula, but in this day and age of so much upheaval, I can’t deny the comfort of having something somewhat reliable that isn’t tied to GOP Intransigence.
I recommend watching my brother’s car Mittens, who I’m taking care of this week. She’s quite adorable. She’d have me playing with her feather on a stick and vinyl tunnel all night if she could.
Best friends with fellow Liverpudlian and Olympic pentathlete Katrina Johnson-Thompson, apparently. They are both very, very Scouse.
@David ?Booooooo!? Koch: I know you don’t mean anything hurtful, but please remember that “disabled” means a lot of things, and just because I’m functional in some ways doesn’t mean I don’t have struggles in many others. Again, I know you meant it lightly, but my particular conditions are very stigmatized, so I’m sensitive to anything that sounds like “you’re not really disabled because [whatever].”
And thank you…I like to consider myself amusing but it’s a label best applied to one’s self by others :)
J R in WV
Yes, the characters were great, the plots were good, I loved those novels, have a ton of them around the house.
Loved The Queen’s Gambit and could watch it again. I’m on a short story reading spree right now. Finished reading Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires last week and I’m rereading Gorilla My Love by Toni Cade Bambara, which I last read when I was a pre-teen in Nigeria and didn’t know what FAO Schwartz was. The stories take on a whole new meaning when you’ve lived in the US a while.
My husband just finished Caste and was impressed (and depressed) by it, so I’ll push off reading it for a bit like raven. Next up for me is Things We Found During the Autopsy by Kuzhali Manickavel. I love the weird beauty of her stories, which are mostly set in India, so I thought I’d read her second short story collection.
I hadn’t realised Tolkien based his Elven languages on Welsh until I heard it in the LOTR films, then it seemed so obvious. Tolkien was, after all, writing about the Anglo-Saxon/Germanic peoples replacing the Romano-British (i.e. Welsh) in his fictional universe.
Unless he wasn’t, in which case Peter Jackson lied to me.
I’ve just been rewatching the first season of Law & Order and it is like a balm for my soul. The show’s ubiquity on cable, and its myriad spinoffs, and its many past-its-prime seasons make it easy to forget how well-written, compact, self-contained, believable and totally absorbing its first decade or so was. It’s entirely linear, with each scene feeding the next, with no character backstories, no romances, nothing but fast-moving plot, a neat two-parts-per-episode structure, and great NYC atmosphere. I don’t want to feel things right now. I want to be diverted. It does the job in spades.
I also mentioned in an earlier Medium Cool thread that I’d recently discovered the spy/intrigue novelist Ross Thomas and am finding his books to be excellent. (Though the casual racism and sexism, reflecting the era in which they were written, can be a problem.) The Cold War Swap is a pretty fun one to start with, if a story about hard drinkin’ men on both sides of the wall in postwar Berlin appeals to you. The one I’m reading right now is about a couple of US political consultants hired by a candidate for office in a fictional West African nation that is about to gain its independence from Britain. I don’t like it as much of the other ones — it doesn’t move as quickly, and stereotypes abound, and the narrating character (one of the consultants) is supremely dull, but reading about the ins and outs of entirely believable campaign skullduggery is engrossing.
@piratedan: Mystery Road is great.
Assume you’ve seen The Proposition.
@Ivan X: Ross Thomas is on my list (it’s a long list).
Thanks, I’m on their mailing list although haven’t ordered anything from Chirp yet.
There were certainly dark moments in the film, but I came away feeling uplifted, not depressed at all. So interesting the way the same movie (or book or painting or what have you) can have such vastly different effects on people.
@BGinCHI: not yet, but will add it to the queue… ty
Ninety degrees north. It’s a book about the late 19th to early 20th century race to reach the North Pole. Wear an extra jumper when read it :-)
Unforgotten. A great mystery series that was on PBS Masterpiece. Season 1-3 is on Amazon Prime.
For you Star Trek fans:
Simon Pegg played Scottie on the recent Star Trek movies.
Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine) played Hawk on Spenser: For Hire
I recommended the British mystery series JONATHAN CREEK to some BJers on twitter, so I might as well do the same here. It’s about a mechanical genius who builds the contraptions for a narcissistic stage magician (Anthony Stewart Head in the first series – he left to do Buffy). He reluctantly teams up with a woman investigative reporter to solve crimes (usually locked room mysteries). It’s great and kind of an anti X-Files, where things that seem to be mysterious and impossible inevitably turn out to be humans doing bad things. It’s on Brit Box, with one of the later seasons on Pluto TV. One note – the female lead was recast several times. The show has kept going from 1997 to 2016, but I haven’t watched beyond the episodes that were initially available in the US in the early 2000s. It was little seen in the US when it came out, but highly influential in Hollywood. The writers of MONK were big fans, and it also influenced HOUSE.
I’ve been going old school and watched all the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series on YouTube. It came out during a period where I really wasn’t watching TV. Sorry I missed this, but glad I had it to watch now. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, there is a fantastic audiobook series on Audible, with Stephen Fry reading all of the stories and novels currently in public domain. He does different voices for all the parts and it is a remarkable achievement. If you join their monthly subscription, it counts as one $14.95 book. At nearly 63 hours of material, it’s worth overcoming any Amazon aversion.
I’ve been sticking to my Criterion Channel subscription. I’ve been working my way through the Pre-Code Joan Blondell, looking forward to Joan Crawford. I want to see all the films in the New Films from Korea series, which look amazing and I’ve seen to few of.
A note: I added the Pluto Channel to my Roku for the Jonathan Creek, only to find out it was a late season, but it looks like one of the things they do for very popular series with lots of episodes is to run a continuous channel of them. You can just go there and dive into Midsomer Murders, for example, and presumably watch forever. It is free with commercials. Many, many shows.
I just finished “The Library Book”; a true-crime/disaster/history mashup of the huge fire at the Los Angeles main library. In 1986, it burned for over seven hours, reached 2000 degrees , and destroyed 400,000 books. Was it deliberately set? No spoilers here.
The descriptions of the fire are heartbreaking, and the history of the library and librarians are fascinating.
If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of it, that’s because a small event in Chernobyl became public the same day.
Fallout from Covid and Trump, I, a voracious reader, can’t read anymore, can only re-read. (Hoping that changes post-January 20. ) I guess I need the comfort of known quantities. Fortunately, there are quite a few that will keep me busy, all of which I recommend: Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Peter Høeg); The Secret History (Donna Tartt); 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami); In this House of Brede (Rumer Godden); The Moviegoer (Walker Percy); The Names (Don DeLillo); Gospel (Wilton Barnhardt); Chronic City (Jonathan Lethem); Night Train to Lisbon (Pascal Mercier).
TV-wise I highly, highly recommend the Japanese shows Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame) and Midnight Diner, and the Korean drama Stranger.
The Mirror and the Light, Mantel, 20 minutes before bed, should go for months as it’s closely printed on what feels a lot like bible paper. Otherwise I hope to cut the screen time now that there’s a little bit less to gibber and moan, in hopes of tackling the last burst of new books unread that was packed before the move. There’s a Phillip Pullman in there somewhere…
Nothing much watch-wise has fallen into the must remember to let others know about it category of late.
Did binge watch the BBC serialized adaptation of Tom Jones recently (on Prime), mostly to savor Brian Blessed and Frances de la Tour, as the the Western siblings, masticate the scenery.
@piratedan: I also just got the Girls Go Power Pop recording. I am quite enjoying it
I’m currently reading The Stone Sky, book 3 of N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy (each of which won a Hugo award). If you haven’t read these yet, I highly recommend. Far future civilizations using deadciv tech they don’t understand, an angry Earth as one of the important characters, amazing prose, and thoughtful writing, characterization, and plotting are among the things which make me glad there were three of these.
Some of my other pandemic reads:
Rule 34 by Charles Stross
The Routes Not Taken by Joseph B. Raskin (about conceived or planned but never built NYC Subway routes)
Ignition! An Informal History of Rocket Propellants by John Drury Clark
1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s by Dan Epstein
Mapping the Heavens by Priyamvada Natarajan
The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso
The Song of the Machine: from Disco to DJs to Techno, a Graphic Novel of Electronic Music by David Blot and Mathias Cousin
Stasiland by Anna Funder
Cockloft by Kyle Thomas Smith
I’ve also picked up some good new music, including (but not limited to):
Cell Walk by Sara Schoenbeck & Wayn Horvitz
Signs by Gerald Cleaver
Freya by Tineke Postma
Blood by the Welf Dorr Unit
Brandon Seabrook’s Die Trommel Fatale
Gnomes and Badgers by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Wild Wild East by Sunny Jain
Lots and lots of time for new media this year.