Mission statement - To act as a tour guide to the enormous shifting worlds of literature, film, video games, comics, and other activities; pointing out and discussing events and dealiebobs worthy of your valuable leisure time.

Netflix Comings and Goings February 2017

February brings us plenty of hearts and flowers, just in time for Valentine's Day, including Ten Things I Hate About You, a remake of Shakespeare's the Taming of the Shrew. (Don't worry those of you who despise commercial romance, there are some offerings for you also; such as Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies, and Cyber Attacks.)

Both Corpse Bride and Nightmare Before Christmas are coming, as is Finding Dory and Babe. Ultimate Beastmaster and Ultimate Beastmaster Mexico, both Netflix Originals, debut on the 24th.

February waves goodbye to Clueless, quite a few Christmas specials, Mission Impossible 3, as well as documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth.

Available 2/1/17
Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies, and Cyber Attacks (2016)
Babe (1995)
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
Balto (1995)
Balto 2: Wolf Quest (2001)
Balto 3: Wings of Change (2004)
Contact (1997)
Corpse Bride (2005)
Disney’s Finding Dory (2016)
Eleven P.M. (1928)
From This Day Forward: A Trans Love Story (2016)
Gun Runners (2015)
Hell-Bound Train (1930)
Highly Strung (2015)
Hot Biskits (1931)
I Am Sun Mu (2016)
Invincible (2006)
Les beaux malaises: Season 1-4 (2014)
Magic Mike (2012)
Masha's Spooky Stories: Season 1 (2012)
Mother with a Gun (2016)
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Project X (1987)
Silver Streak (1976)
The Blair Witch Project (1990)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005)
The Five Heartbeats (1995)
The Furchester Hotel: Season 1-2 (2014)
The Girl from Chicago (1932)
The Longest Day (1962)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Twilight (2008)
Women in Gold

Available 2/2/17
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016)
Frequency: Season 1

Available 2/3/17
Daniel Sosa: Sosafado--NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Santa Clarita Diet – NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 2/4/17
Superbad (2007)

Available 2/5/17
Elvira I Will Give You My Life but I'm Using It (2014)
Los herederos (2015)

Available 2/6/17
Girls Lost (2015)
Me, Myself and Her (2015)

Available 2/7/17
Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special –NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 2/8/17
Tiempos Felices (2014)
Girl Asleep (2015)

Available 2/10/17
Abstract: The Art of Design
David Brent: Life on the Road—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 2/11/17
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 2 (2016)
Stronger Than The World—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 2/12/17
Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

Available 2/13/17
Code: Debugging the Gender Gap (2016)
Magicians: Life in the Impossible (2016)

Available 2/14/17
Girlfriend’s Day –NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Katherine Ryan: In Trouble –NETFLIX ORIGINAL
King Cobra (2016)
Project Mc ²: Part 4 –NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 2/15/17
Aram, Aram (2015)
Before I Go to Sleep (2014)
Fire Song (2015)

Available 2/16/17
Milk (2008)
Sundown (2016)

Available 2/17/17
Chef's Table: Season 3—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
DreamWorks Dragons: Race to the Edge: Season 4 –NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Kill Ratio (2016)
The Seven Deadly Sins: Season 2 –NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 2/19/17
Girl Meets World: Season 3 (2016)
Growing Up Wild (2016)
Tini: El Gran Cambio De Violetta (2016)
When Calls the Heart: Season 3 (2016)

Available 2/23/17
Sausage Party (2016)

Available 2/24/17
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore –NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Legend Quest: Season 1 –NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Ultimate Beastmaster—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Ultimate Beastmaster Mexico—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
VeggieTales in the City: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 2/26/17
Night Will Fall (2016)

Available 2/27/17
Brazilian Western (2013)

Available 2/28/17
Be Here Now (2015)
Michael Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes –NETFLIX ORIGINAL

The following projects will be leaving us during February.

Leaving 2/1/17
An American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky
An Inconvenient Truth
Black Hawk Down
Bratz: Babyz: The Movie
Bratz: Super Babyz
Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure
Failure to Launch
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Jackass 2.5
Lalaloopsy Girls: Welcome to L.A.L.A. Prep School
Last Holiday
Mission Impossible: III
Save the Last Dance
Serving Sara
Star Trek: Nemesis
The Kite Runner
The Machinist
The Original Latin Kings of Comedy
There Will be Blood
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Leaving 2/7/17
Justin Bieber's Believe

Leaving 2/12/17
Grounded for Life: Season 1 – Season 5

Leaving 2/13/17
Scary Movie 5
The Nut Job

Leaving 2/15/17
Brothers in War
Chris Porter: Ugly and Angry
Exile Nation: The Plastic People
Jack Frost
I Am Not a Hipster
Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Prince of Broadway
Stephanie in the Water
The Man on Her Mind
Unlikely Animal Friends: Season 2

Leaving 2/16/17
Santa Claws

Leaving 2/17/17
Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year

Leaving 2/19/17
Problem Child: Leslie Jones

Leaving 2/28/17

New Netflix Offerings and Old Netflix Vanishings January 2017

Netflix starts the year off strong with a plethora of original work. (A Series of Unfortunate Events season one anyone?) There are also some classics for the horror aficionado (The Shining) some sweet 80’s science fiction (E.T.) for those whose nostalgia was awakened by Stranger Things. You can start the year off with a bang with a five movie Superman marathon and then you can end the month with a strangled scream as Sharknado: The 4th Awakens arrives on January 27th.

Available 12/28/16
NYE Countdowns including:

Word Party
Skylanders Academy
Puffin Rock
Project MC2
Fuller House
Chasing Cameron
Beat Bugs
Luna Petunia
All Hail King Julien

Available 1/1/17
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
After Innocence (2005)
Bee Movie (2007)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Braveheart (1995)
Caddyshack (1980)
Collateral Damage (2002)
Dreamcatcher (2003)
El Dorado (1966)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
HALO Legends (2009)
Hugo (2011)
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011)
License to Drive (1988)
Nancy Drew (2007)
Ocean's Twelve (2004)
Real Detective: Season 1 (2016)
Superman Returns (2006)
Superman II (1980)
Superman III (1983)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Superman: The Movie (1978)
The Parent Trap (1961)
The Shining (1980)
The Perfect Physique (2015)
The Rat Race (2012)
To Be A Miss (2016)
Trudell (2005)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Vanilla Sky (2001)

Available 1/3/17
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Season 11 (2016)
Jen Kirkman: Just Keep Livin'? – NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 1/6/17
Degrassi: Next Class: Season 3 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Growing Up Coy (2016)
Mar de Plastico: Season 1
One Day at a Time: Season 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Tarzan and Jane: Season 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 1/7/17
Alpha and Omega 7 (2016)
Miss Sharon Jones! (2015)
Under the Shadow (2016)

Available 1/9/17
Best and Most Beautiful Things (2016)
Ratchet and Clank (2016)

Available 1/10/17
As I Open My Eyes (2015)
Best Friends Whenever: Season 2 (2016)
Happily Married (2015)
Jim Gaffigan: Cinco– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
We're Lalaloopsy: Season 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 1/11/17
Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Available 1/13/17
A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Aquarius (2015)
Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women
Historia de un clan: Season 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
It Follows (2014)
The Investigator: A British Crime Story: Season 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 1/14/17
Camp X-Ray (2014)
Cardboard Boxer (2016)
Estar O No Estar

Available 1/15/17
A Beautiful Now (2015)
Hostage to the Devil (2016)
Señora Acero: Season 3 (2016)
Twisted Trunk, Big Fat Body (2015)
Wartime Portraits: Season 1 (2014)

Available 1/16/17
Flash of Genius (2008)
Halloweed (2016)
Rezort (2016)

Available 1/17/17
Fatima (2015)
Neal Brennan: 3 Mics– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Roger Corman's Death Race 2050 (2016)

Available 1/19/17
Good Kids (2016)

Available 1/20/17
Frontier: Season 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Papa (2015)
Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 2– NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 1/21/17
Bates Motel: Season 4 (2016)
Grami's Circus Show: Season 2 (2016)

Available 1/24/17
Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil (20160
Kill Command (2016)
Terrace House: Aloha State: Season 1: Part 1– NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 1/25/17
Era el cielo

Available 1/27/17
Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh: Season 2– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Kazoops!: Season 2– NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Shadows of Truth (2016)
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016)

Available 1/28/17
Ripper Street: Season 4

Available 1/30/17
Antibirth (2016)
Swing State (2016)

Available 1/31/17
Bill Burr Stand Up Special– NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Leaving 1/1/17
30 for 30: Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks
30 for 30: No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson
30 for 30: The Day the Series Stopped
30 for 30: Jordan Rides the Bus
30 for 30: Without Bias
30 for 30: Once Brothers
30 for 30: Bernie and Ernie
30 for 30: Requiem for the Big East
30 for 30: The Price of Gold
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman
Angry Birds Toons: Season 1
Blade 2
Bring It On
Bring It On: All or Nothing
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Coming to America
Columbo: Seasons 1 – Season 7
Cupcake Wars Collection: Collection 2
Chopped Collection: Collection 2
Dazed and Confused
Final Destination 3
Flip or Flop: Season 1
Fixer Upper: Season 1 – Season 2
Ghost Town
House Hunters Collection: Collection 3
House Hunters Collection: Collection 3
House Hunters International Collection: Collection 3
House Hunters Renovation Collection: Collection 1
Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Season 1 – Season 3
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Thirteenth Year
Little Black Book
Little Man
Maid in Manhattan
Miracle on 34th Street
Murder, She Wrote: Season 1 – Season 12
Nanny McPhee
Property Brothers: Season 4
Property Brothers: Season 5
Saved by the Bell: Seasons 1 – Season 6
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
The Italian Job
The Painted Veil
Sixteen Candles
Saving Private Ryan
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
The Fast and the Furious
The Uninvited
The Amityville Horror
The Wicker Man
Vanity Fair
You Live in What?: Season 3
Zoom: Academy for Superheroes

Leaving 1/6/17
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Leaving 1/29/17
Stephen King's A Good Marriage

Seekers Notes

We're going through a bit of a health crisis at the moment which means we are spending a lot of time at the doctor's office. As a result, I downloaded several new games, to keep me busy while we wait to see whoever we need to see next. Hopefully next week we'll be in the infusion suite, getting a chemotherapy class drug, which means four to five hours at a time sitting while medicine drips into our veins. Which also means we need a pretty darned entertaining mobile game collection, to help ward off boredom and worry.

Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery tries to be that game but in the end falls short. Hidden object games are excellent when you are not sure how much time you can devote to the game. When you're sitting in the waiting room, where you can be called at any second, opening a game that can be played for two minutes at a time is a pretty solidly reasonable thing to do. Most of the levels I've encountered in this game so far have around a three-minute time limit, meeting the time criteria.

But it doesn't meet the ability to keep a person busy for several hours at a time criteria. Like many “free to play” games, Seekers Notes gives you a limited number of times you can play levels. Then you either have to wait for your lives, in this case they call it energy, to refill, get friends to send you some or buy them with actual money.

They recharge at the rate of three minutes per energy unit, which doesn't sound bad, until you realize that after you rank up a bit you're paying 40 or more energy units to play some of the levels. That's a hundred and twenty minutes to recharge those energy units. Most games that I play recharge at the rate of one life per half-hour. This one is essentially taking four times as long. And when I'm looking for something that I can play steadily for several hours I need to look elsewhere. I can probably play three levels in a row of Seekers Notes. That's incredibly disappointing.

However Seekers Notes does have its pros. It's fun and challenging. Some of the scenes are quite pretty and there are a few interesting bonus games, like a memory style card matching game.

The basic gameplay goes a little like this: you are a new arrival to a town called Darkwood. Town folk interact with you and tell you things such as that the town has a curse upon it. They apparently can tell that you're super good at finding things and they set you little tasks such as finding their lost toys or banishing dreadful creatures.

The actual Hidden Object portion of the game is different from some other games that I've played. Some games the objects are always in the same spot and they just add more and more that you need to find to make the game more complex. In Seekers Notes the objects move around from play to play. One time you open up the ballroom a birdcage veil may be on top of the piano. The next time you open it it might be stuck to a wall.

There are various modes of each scene. Text scene is straightforward with you finding items based on a text description. This can be a little confusing because it may say find a bow and you don't know whether it means the kind of bow you put on a present or the kind of bow you put in your hair or the kind of bow that you use to shoot an arrow.

There are anomalies that come along and change things up. One of them changes the description of what you have to find so that instead of text you see the silhouette of the item. In others you need to find matching pairs. And one more is called a morph where an object changes from one thing to another and you need to find the ones that are changing. This is the one that is most confusing to me. Because I don't see them changing and I'm not sure how the heck I'm supposed to figure out which ones I'm supposed to find. I do see a couple of changes but in general if I'm supposed to find nine sets I can easily find two. That's a little frustrating. It's definitely my least favorite mode.

You can get Seekers Notes for free from the Google Play store and Amazon.

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Netflix Comings and Goings for December 2016

Traditionally we do not publish the week of Thanksgiving but we are breaking that tradition to give you this list of the shows and movies that are coming and going from Netflix in December of 2016.

Available 12/1/16
Always (1989)
Angels in the Snow (2015)
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Beyond Bollywood (2014)
Black Snake Moan (2007)
Chill with Bob Ross: Collection (1990)
Compulsion (1959)
D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)
David Blaine: Street Magic (1997)
Dreamland (2010)
For the Love of Spock (2016)
Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce: Season 2 (2015)
Glory Daze: The Life and Time of Michael Alig (2016)
Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
Hitler: A Career (1977)
Holiday Engagement (2011)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
House of Wax (2006)
Hannibal (2001)
Merli: Season 1 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Merry Kissmas (2015)
National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
Picture Perfect (1997)
Rainbow Time (2016)
Rodeo & Juliet (2015)
Swept Under (2016)
Switchback (1997)
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
The Crucible (1996)
The Little Rascals (1994)
The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
The Rock (1996)
The Spirit of Christmas (2015)
Toys (1992)
Uncle Nick (2015)
Waking Life (2001)
Way of the Dragon (1972)
We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993)
White Girl (2016)
Wildflower (2016)
Zero Point (2014)

Available 12/2/16
Hip Hop Evolution: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Pacific Heat: Season 1 –NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/3/16
Lost & Found Music Studios: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/5/16
Mad (2016)
The Good Neighbor (2016)

Available 12/6/16
Blue Jay
Homeland (Iraq Year Zero): Season 1
Reggie Watts: Spatial—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Devil Dolls (2016)
The Model (2016)

Available 12/8/16
The Cuba Libre Story: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/9/16
Captive: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Cirque du Soleil Junior - Luna Petunia: Season 1 NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Club de Cuervos: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Fuller House: Season 2—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Four Seasons in Havana: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Medici: Masters of Florence: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
White Rabbit Project: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/10/16
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Phantom of the Theater (2016)

Available 12/11/16
Breaking a Monster (2016)

Available 12/12/16
Ricardo O'Farrill: Christmas Special—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/13/16
Colony: Season 1
Killswitch (2016)
I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

Available 12/14/16
Versailles: Season 1 (2015)

Available 12/16/16
Call Me Francis: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Crazyhead: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
No Second Chance: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Rats (2016)
The Adventures of Puss in Boots: Season 4 —NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/19/16
Miss Stevens (2016)

Available 12/20/16
Disorder (2015)
Gabriel Iglesias: Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Season 6 (2016)
Ten Percent: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Break: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/23/16
Travelers: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Trollhunters: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/25/16
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War (2016)
When Hari Got Married (2013)

Available 12/27/16
Chasing Cameron: Season 1—NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 12/28/16
Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season 5 (2016)

Available 12/29/16
The Hollywood Shorties (2016)

Available 12/30/16
The Eighties: Season 1 (2016)

Available 12/31/16
Big in Bollywood (2011)

Leaving 12/1/16
50 First Dates (2004)
American Beauty (1999)
Black Ops: Series 2
Camp Takota (2014)
Carmen Jones (1954)
Cats & Dogs (2001)
Curious George: Swings Into Spring (2013)
Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (2016)
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Event Horizon (1997)
Frequencies (2013)
Medora (2013)
Monkey Business (1952)
Myth Hunters: Series 1
Myth Hunters: Series 2
Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)
Paycheck (2003)
Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (2008)
River of No Return (1954)
Sling Blade (1996)
Thor: Hammer of the Gods (2009)
The Great War Diary: Season 1
The In-Laws (2003)
The Out-of-Towners (1999)
Top Gun (1986)
Valley of the Dolls (1967)
World Trade Center (2006)

Leaving 12/2/16
Legends of the Knight (2013)
The Red Baron (2008)

Leaving 12/3/16
The Best of Me (2014)

Leaving 12/5/16
Holes (2003)

Leaving 12/14/16
The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Leaving 12/15/16
High Profits: Season 1
World War II in Colour (2009)

Leaving 12/16/16
Beyond the Hills (2012)

Leaving 12/22/16
Dark Skies (2013)

Leaving 12/26/16
Just Friends (2005)

Leaving 12/27/16
Spy Kids (2001)

Leaving 12/31/16
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Season 1
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Season 2
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Season 3
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Season 4
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Season 5
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Season 6

How Much Did Pop Culture Influence the Presidential Election?

I've been thinking about the presidential election quite a bit this past week. I have a theory which is possibly controversial. Did the rise of the anti-hero in pop culture directly contribute to the election of Donald Trump?

Years ago being a bad or good guy was very cut-and-dried. There were the white hats and there were the black hats. There was the sheriff in the westerns and then there were the outlaws. There were cops and there were robbers. Basically it was us versus them and we were good and virtuous.

And then all of a sudden things changed. We were introduced to characters like Dexter, who is a serial killer (but a lovable serial killer). We're introduced to Walter White, a character that I loathe but that many, many people loved and rooted for.

I'm not talking about your flawed hero like Hamlet; I'm talking about people who are terrible or do terrible things or a combination of both.

So we went from sort of black and white characters, with very little shades of gray, to sort of treating characters, especially our heroes, as a smorgasbord of food we really shouldn't be eating. We took what we liked and we admired, while we tried to ignore the rest and pretend that the shrimp wasn't actually going to kill us. As long as we didn't eat the parts we were allergic to we would be fine right?

But we are directly influenced by what we watch and read, even if it doesn't feel like we are. So while we were learning to ignore that which was disturbing in our entertainment we were also learning to ignore it in real life.

Both Donald Trump, the presidential elect, and former president Ronald Reagan came from an entertainment background. Mr. Reagan of course was an actor while Mr. Trump was a star in reality television. The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice were both wildly popular and, most importantly, made viewers feel as though they were really getting inside of Mr. Trump's head and learning how he felt and what his core beliefs were.

When Mr. Reagan was elected president my circle of friends thought that a great deal of his appeal had to do with the fact that he was very comforting. He was uncle Ronnie, or your granddad, who would sit you down and tell you that everything was okay and you don't need to think about it at all. It was his very easy-going demeanor I think that helped a lot of people relax at a time when there was a lot of stress over the nuclear arms race. But meanwhile he was passing policy that killed many HIV positive and full blown AIDS patients.

Mr. Trump is equally visible; probably even more so given his extensive use of social media. But he doesn't have that you can trust me vibe that Mr. Reagan had. Instead he might remind you more of a brash, blow hard kind of con man uncle that your mother doesn't want you hanging around with. The one who makes money on the side by selling cigarettes and booze to your friends when you're a freshman in high school. The one who takes you to the brothel with a wink and a hundred-dollar bill when you turn 15 and tells you he is going to show you how to be a man. Or if you're a girl, the uncle who's always looking a little too closely at your friends and making everyone uncomfortable.

How did we elect a man who is a self-confessed sexual assailant? A man who has openly bragged about grabbing women by the genitalia? A man who boasts about not getting consent?

Maybe we need to look to the popularity of shows like How I Met Your Mother which features a character who lies and manipulates women and obviously cares nothing about boundaries or consent. Even a movie that may seem like pure fun, and adapted from Shakespeare, like 10 Things I Hate About You is at its core about objectifying women and treating them as prizes.

If the examples I cited above were isolated incidents maybe I would have to dig harder to come up with reasons why we elected a man like Mr. Trump. But unfortunately these are just a tiny portion of the messages that we're bombarded with every day.

Making our culture, and our country, greater is going to take a ton of work at every level.

Bonus Treat

This week's bonus treat is a poem by Langston Hughes, one of the great voices of the Harlem Renaissance. While some people were calling for America to be made great again Mr. Hughes was calling for America to be America. To be the ideal of America that we all long for.

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.


How To Turn a Fast Moving Thriller into a Slow as Molasses Snooze Fest

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s film from Dusk till Dawn has always had its own little category in my mind. It's a peculiar film, so much so that when I first saw it back in the 90s I thought maybe Quentin Tarantino, who wrote the script, had two script halves that he didn't know what to do with so he just kind of stuck them together into one film.

At the beginning is the story of the Gecko brothers. One of them is deeply disturbed and a sexual predator while the other one thinks of himself as a protector and an all-around super cool dude. Quentin Tarantino plays Richie Gecko, the predator, who also hallucinates, and George Clooney plays Seth, the more responsible brother. (But he's just as quick to kill a person as his more deranged brother.)

The brothers are on the lam after robbing a bank and taking a hostage and are on a collision course with Harvey Keitel and his two teenage children, who are traveling in a motorhome and headed south. Seth and Richie are also headed south while trying to get there ill-gotten gains over the border and into Mexico. They're headed for a place called El Rey which Seth touts as Paradise on Earth.

Naturally their two paths converge, to the detriment of Harvey Keitel's family. Once they are kidnapped by the Gecko brothers, they try to make their way across the border, without alerting the border guards..

So about halfway through this story, which so far has been a kind of classic Tarantino Crime Story, it turns into an absolutely insane, over the top, camp vampire film.

The change is so abrupt and so out of left field that it's kind of hard to take in if you weren't expecting it. I watched it with someone a few days ago and they thought that I had inadvertently changed the channel part way through.

It's an interesting film and I think you should see it if you've never seen it, even if it's just so that you can say that you have. However I was still quite surprised to hear that it was being made into a TV series. The movie has a beginning and an end, and it's very fast paced and everything is pretty much resolved at the end. So how are they going to make a TV series?

So with some trepidation I started watching the series. How did they turn this film into a series? Bye taking an exciting movie and slowing it down until you feel like you're on the last mile of a 100 mile hike, wading through deep mud. It is so so so so slow it's kind of agonizing. It seems like what took just a few minutes in the film is now an entire episode long.

Someone recently asked me what they should watch at that moment. They were trying to wind down for bed and wanted to watch a show that wasn't going to be too interesting or exciting because they wanted to be able to fall asleep quickly. So I told them yeah you should watch the Dusk till Dawn series. It's so slow moving that even if you fall asleep while it's on you won't really have missed anything.

The crazy thing is that Robert Rodriguez's name is all over this series. I believe he wrote the Bible for the series and he wrote the pilot I want to say he is the show runner. How does a man who writes and directs the kinds of films that he does make something that so incredibly dull? Maybe he just got tired of making exciting films and wanted to try something as an experiment?

To be fair it's not just a remake of the film. They are adding new elements to the story, such as the extreme likelihood that Richie is a serial killer who is working for a cartel. Of course this means that there are gruesome scenes of women who've been mutilated after they've been murdered. Blech.

I can only hope that this thing picks up, before I have to mentally file it as a sleep aid.

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Last Wish and The Gulf
Before I go I wanted to speak very briefly about Poppy Z Brite’s newest offering; Last Wish and the Gulf. Mr. Brite, who's also going by Billy Martin these days, has not written anything in quite some time. He has been making his living creating jewelry and I guess I'll call them magical talismans? Although that's not quite right. He's also been painting so he has been being creative but writing beyond his social media updates seems to have been quite difficult for him. So it was with great excitement that I read that he had released a small ebook which contains two stories, one of which is brand new.

The Last Wish is a piece of flash fiction about someone who is determined to go out his way; which is definitely not the mainstream way. The Gulf is a character sketch of a young man whose life is completely up ended when the hurricane strikes. (The story left me feeling quite melancholy.) As expected from Mr. Brite, both stories are well done. The first one reminded me of a one paragraph story by Cuban modernist Virgilio Pinera that explores the hideous depths of insomnia.

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Bonus Treat
As I mentioned above, I was thinking about the terrific short story Insomnia by the brilliant Virgilio Pinera. I dug up this link that also has two other pieces of short fiction: one about eating a mountain and one about swimming on dry land. I particularly like the thing about the fish.



Shop Amazon - Halloween Shop

We're wrestling with shingles and a biopsy at my house so this is an extra short column. Hopefully next week will be better.


Some books are easier to approach than others. There are some books that I can't wait to open the cover and dive in. But there are others that give me what you could call approach avoidance conflict. I want to read them but at the same time I really don't. Chris Lynch’s young adult novel Inexcusable falls into this category. It's told in first-person and it's the story of a high school senior athlete who is trying to explain that he is not a rapist. That it is impossible for him to have done something so terrible.

The story is intercut between present and past. In the present he is in a room with his victim, a childhood friend that he thinks he is in love with. He won't let her leave the room until she agrees with him about what happened. His argument is that he's a good person and good persons don't rape people so therefore he can't possibly be a rapist. Being seen in the best possible light and being like is extremely important to this character, whose name is Keir.

The story essentially covers Keir’s senior year, with him describing certain incidents in two ways; what actually happened and what he wishes happened. It takes a skillful writer to be able to carry out this dichotomy without making the characters sounds schizoid. Mr. Lynch does an excellent job showing us the Keir that us severely troubled and the Keir that wants to be a good person.

Inexcusable is quite readable. I finished it in about an hour and a half. I meant to only read the first chapter and then do something else but I ended up reading it all in one giant gulp with that same horrified fascination you might have when you're watching something terrible happen in front of your eyes. That feeling that you should be able to put a stop to whatever is going on, before someone is badly hurt, but being unable to alter the outcome.

You can read an excerpt here:

BTW, the dialogue at the beginning of the book is pretty stilted. Don't let that dissuade you from reading this book. It gets better.

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

New Netflix Offerings and Old Netflix Vanishings November 2016

November brings us season one of a show called K-POP Extreme Survival. I was hoping this was going to be a music have powers to tame the Savage Beast sort of thing but I was wrong. Instead of being about Korean pop idols singing crocodiles to sleep it's about a girl who pretends to be a boy so that she can become part of a K-Pop group. 4 reasons. To do with love.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which has been garnering tons of buzz, debuts on the 25th. Six children's Christmas offerings bow on the first; most of which are Thomas and Friends related. Burn After Reading, by the Coen Brothers, debuts on the 16th, along with season three of The 100.

In addition Netflix presents 3 films about the political cycle. Two of them are from this year and one of them is from 2009.

This month we get ready to say goodbye to some beloved and reviled shows and films. Fan favorites E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and four seasons of Courage the Cowardly Dog are going bye-bye. The Powerpuff Girls, all six seasons, are flying off into the sky while Legally Blonde one and two also bow out. At the other end of the spectrum, gritty films Urban Cowboy, Deliverance, and Fatal Attraction head for the hills.

Special Political Bundle: this trilogy of terror is available now.

Election Season 2016

Funny or Die Presents: Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie (2016)
In the Loop (2009)
Undecided: The Movie (2016)

Available 11/1/16
The African Queen (1951)
Alfie (2004)
Bob the Builder: White Christmas (2008)
Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)
The Confessions of Thomas Quick (2016)
Cujo (1983)
The Doors (1991)
The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
Jetsons: The Movie (1990)
King's Faith (2013)
Love, Now (2012)
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (2016)
Pervert Park (2014)
Ravenous (1999)
Stephen King's Thinner (1996)
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
Thomas & Friends: A Very Thomas Christmas (2012)
Thomas & Friends: Holiday Express (2012)
Thomas & Friends: Merry Winter Wish (2010)
Thomas & Friends: The Christmas Engines (2014)
Thomas & Friends: Ultimate Christmas (2009)

Available 11/2/16
Dough (2015)
Food Choices (2016)
Meet the Blacks (2016)

Available 11/4/16
The Crown: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Ivory Game (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Just Friends (2005)
World of Winx: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 11/9/16
Danger Mouse: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 11/11/16
All Hail King Julien: Season 4 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Estocolmo: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Tales by Light: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
True Memoirs of An International Assassin (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Under the Sun (2015)

Available 11/12/16
Take Me to the River (2015)

Available 11/13/16
Chalk It Up (2016)

Available 11/14/16
Carter High (2015)

Available 11/15/16
Dieter Nuhr: Nuhr in Berlin - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
K-POP Extreme Survival: Season 1
Men Go to Battle (2015)
The Missing Ingredient: What is the Recipe for Success? (2016)

Available 11/16/16
The 100: Season 3
Burn After Reading (2008)
Jackass 3.5: The Unrated Movie (2011)
Paddington (2014)

Available 11/17/16
Lovesick: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL (Formerly known as Scrotal Recall)
Paranoid: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 11/18/16
The Battle of Midway (1942)
Beat Bugs: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Colin Quinn: The New York Story - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Divines (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Prelude to War (1942)
San Pietro (1945)
Sour Grapes (2016)
Thunderbolt (1947)
Tunisian Victory (1944)
Undercover: How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines (1943)
Why We Fight: The Battle of Russia (1943)
WWII: Report from the Aleutians (1943)

Available 11/22/16

Available 11/23/16
Penguins: Spy in the Huddle: Season 1

Available 11/25/16
Boyhood (2014)
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Michael Che Matters - NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Available 11/29/16
Silver Skies (2016)

Available 11/30/16
Ghost Team (2016)
I Dream Too Much (2016)
The Jungle Book (2016)
Level Up (2016)
Traded (2016)

Leaving 11/1/16
The Addams Family (1991)
Almost Famous (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Barnyard (2006)
Bratz: The Movie (2007)
The 'Burbs (1989)
Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
Chuck: Seasons 1-5
The Core (2003)
Deliverance (1972)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Echelon Conspiracy (2009)
Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
Empire State (2012)
Equilibrium (2002)
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
The Family Man (2000)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Fresh (1994)
Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2005)
The Holiday (2006)
Into the Wild (2007)
Kangaroo Jack (2003)
Legally Blonde (2001)
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)
Major League (1989)
Mansfield Park (1999)
Meet Joe Black (1998)
Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (2013)
Open Season (2006)
Open Season 2 (2008)
Open Season 3 (2010)
Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong (2009)
Powerpuff Girls: Seasons 1-6
Rounders (1998)
Scream 2 (1997)
Sex: My British Job (2013)
Shameless: Series 1-10 (UK)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Something's Gotta Give (2003)
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)
Spy Game (2001)
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
Total Drama World Tour (2014)
Underground: The Julian Assange Story (2012)
Urban Cowboy (1980)
Varsity Blues (1999)
What Women Want (2000)

Leaving 11/2/16
The English Teacher (2013)

Leaving 11/4/16
Gigli (2003)

Leaving 11/5/16
The Homesman (2014)

Leaving 11/11/16
Quartet (2012)

Leaving 11/14/16
Seal Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines (2014)

Leaving 11/15/16
Naked Among Wolves (2015)

Leaving 11/16/16
The American (2010)
Let's Go to Prison (2006)

Leaving 11/22/16
Tracers (2014)

Leaving 11/23/16
The Boxtrolls (2014)
Scenic Route (2013)
Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors (2015)

Leaving 11/24/16
The Boondocks: Seasons 1-4
Chowder: Seasons 1-3
Courage the Cowardly Dog: Seasons 1-4
Uncle Grandpa: Season 1

Leaving 11/25/16
Robin Hood (1973)

Leaving 11/30/16
Stuck in Love (2012)
xXx (2002)

Black Mirror and Kubo and the two strings

Black Mirror

I heard very little about Black Mirror before I watched the first episode on Netflix. I heard it was science fiction and I heard that it was very good. That's it. So I was totally unprepared for the first episode, called The National Anthem. It was some of the most stunning, confusing television I've ever seen. And I really don't want to spoil it so I don't want to go into any details but it begins when a very popular princess is kidnapped and there is one demand only. And that demand is so hateful, humiliating, and bizarre that it's very difficult to take in. The prime minister is asked to do one very specific thing, which of course he immediately refuses to do.

But at its core the story is about public opinion, social media, and how one influences the other and then influences right back again.

This episode is extremely well done with some brilliant and often subtle, low key  acting. (I couldn't help worrying about how much PTSD the actor who played the Prime Minister came away with.) It is  extraordinary well-written and weirdly believable. I didn't want to believe it,  but I did anyway. I found myself laughing at times and then feeling like a terrible person for laughing. I don't know when I'm going to be able to psych myself up to watch the next episode, which I hear is even more grueling; if that's even the right word.

Seasons one and two are currently available on Netflix. Season 3 is debuting in about a week.  You can see the National Anthem trailer here:

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Kubo and the Two Strings

We have a second run movie theater fairly close to my house. They are actually my favorite kind of theaters. And this one costs I think $3.50. I spent $20 for myself and another person, including popcorn and sodas. That's really not too bad for an afternoon's entertainment.

We managed to go and see Laika  House's latest film, Kubo and the Two Strings, on the very last day it was showing. ( I.e. yesterday.) I really like Laika House's work. Coraline was a terrific adaptation and I absolutely love ParaNorman. I don't know why but I somehow missed the Boxtrolls but I plan to catch it in the next couple weeks. I actually didn't know a single thing about this movie before I saw it. Unfortunately I missed the first few minutes due to some miscommunication with myself and my reminder software,  but my movie watching partner had already seen it and was able to fill me in.

Kubo is a little boy whose mother has some pretty serious neurological deficits and maybe some PTSD? His father is dead and he's missing one eye. He supports the family with his magic; when he plays his three-stringed instrument he can make paper come to life, turn into origami, and act out a story.

The great adventure begins as so many great adventures (and misadventures) begin; when he disobeys his mother and stays out after dark. This attracts the attention of supernatural creatures who have been hunting for him and his mother since he was an infant. His mother uses the last of her magic to help him escape and soon he is on his own, with only a paper samurai and a monkey charm for company.

But after he collapses in the snow he awakens to discover that the monkey charm has now turned into a full-sized what to me looks like a Japanese macaque also called a  snow monkey. Soon they meet a Samurai/beetle, played by Matthew McConaughey. He always seems a little strange to me and when I saw his character scuttling across the ceiling I thought to myself if Matthew McConaughey could scuttle across the ceiling in real life I bet he would do it all the time.

There are some lovely quiet moments in the film but mostly there is lots and lots of adventure. Once Kubo escapes from his village he and the monkey go on a quest to find a set of magical armor; the Sword Unbreakable, the Breastplate Impenetrable, and the Helmet Invulnerable. Of course each separate piece takes them to a difficult and or terrifying obstacle that needs to be conquered.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a gorgeous creation, with some scary creatures that are beautifully crafted. If you stay for the credits you can see some of the work that went into creating an enormous skeleton that Kubo and his friends have to fight.

You can watch the trailer here:

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Bonus Treat

This week's bonus treat is a video of two valiant people helping a bear in trouble.

How Silly is too Silly?

Let me show you two quick clips from Teen Wolf. One is Gerard (Aka Grandpa Werewolf Hunter) finding out he has been poisoned and flipping out.

The second one is Deucalion, an even more histrionic character,  pontificating about how wonderful and amazing he is. Destroyer of worlds! Demon wolf! Yadda yadda yadda.

I think the first clip is from season two and the second is from season three. They are so over the top and ridiculous,  especially the lightning strikes punctuating Deucalion's boasts. They are hilarious.  And I can go back to watching the show after the actors finish chewing up the scenery and enjoy myself.

But when I try to get through the intense silliness that is the first half of season two of Gotham, my enjoyment level drops to a two. This after really enjoying season one. The consensus in my house is that Teen Wolf gets away with extremes because it's campy, but Gotham takes itself too seriously.

Three Men in a Boat

Also in the silly camp, but with some surprisingly deep and pressing topics intermixed, is Jerome K. Jerome's classic novel Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). Written just about a century ago, it's the story of three men, who call themselves lazy and hypochondriac, and a little Terrier taking a trip up the Thames. Interspersed with the travelogue are some anecdotes. Most of the book is very funny, as in one chapter about fishing where every person in a bar insists that they are the onesbwho caught a big fish on the wall. And then they accidentally knock it down and it cracks into a million pieces because it's made out of plaster of Paris.

But there are some much more somber notes in the middle of this light-hearted story. Such as when they find the body of a poverty-stricken woman who drowned herself. Unfortunately this was a real problem around that time with what were called surplus women. Women who weren't married, couldn't find a job, or had been "ruined", were often in deep trouble and shunned by Polite Society. Amanda Quick writes  about this phenomenon alun one of her historical novels.

However the parts that are funny are very funny indeed. Not only is Mr. Jerome excellent at describing his trip and the foibles of his fellow humans, he also predicted the future. He talks about how collector's items are just old and wonders if his current day ordinary objects will become cherished hundreds of years in the future. But they already are. He specifically mentions blue and white plates, which are  definitely something that people collect, as well as other items that I frequently see at estate sales. He says, "The “sampler” that the eldest daughter did at school will be spoken of as “tapestry of the Victorian era,” and be almost priceless."  I wouldn't say priceless but older needlework tends to do well at auction and estate sales.

Even if you don't read the whole book you should definitely read the beginning where he describes he and his friends' hypochondria. It's quite good.

You can read the entire thing here: http://www.authorama.com/three-men-in-a-boat-1.html

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)


Despite the fact the fact that there are more recipes available, that take less time to find, than at any time in the entire history of mankind, I still can never figure out my menu for the week. It's almost like there are too many choices so I can't even begin to narrow them down. And somehow we end up eating the same meals over and over again.

In an effort to make the menu planning process easier, I recently got a trial run of three magazines. All of these happened to be on sale for $5 a year on Amazon, which made it fairly easy to justify the expense. One of them, Bon Appétit, I didn't care for it all. (I cancelled that one after flipping through one issue.) The second one, Eating Well, was good but kind of dull.

But the third one, called Saveur, was quite interesting, has some tasty-looking recipes, and the current is all about the origins of foods. (And some drinks,  including wine.)  They look at everything from eggs and chickens became so popular to how soy sauce was invented to how and why Sushi became more popular once it was put on conveyor belts. I did have a quibble; they said that Native Americans didn't eat eggs because there were no chickens butt people have been eating other types of eggs for a long time. Basically if we saw an animal eating it we gave it a try. And there are plenty of animals that lay eggs of all types.

The pictures are gorgeous and the recipes look interesting.  I'll definitely hang onto this subscription for awhile. You can check out their website here: http://www.saveur.com

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Bonus Treat
This week's bonus treat is a video if a robot making peanut butter chocolate balls. (Spoiler alert - it's not really a robot.)

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