Ready for the lowdown on Netflix's August offerings and vanishings? The biggest news is that once again there are an astonishing number of new Netflix Originals, as well as some Netflix Exclusives. Beat Bugs, which seems to be about music and not smashing insects, season 1 will arrive, along with documentaries I'll Sleep When I'm Dead and Fearless Season 1. The Little Prince should be fantastic but the one show that most interests me is The Get Down Part 1, which looks at the music scene in the Bronx in 1977. Executive produced by Buzz Luhramm, it looks fascinating and thrilling. You can watch the trailer here:
About a million Slow TVs are arriving in August, as are two Fast and the Furious films, No Country for Old Men, Saint Vincent, season 17 (!) of Law and Order SVU, and season 13 of NCIS.
If you have young ones you should take a look at what is leaving in August. There are quite a few shows aimed at the younger audiences, including two different Clifford the Big Red Dog shows, Rugrats Go Wild, Wild Thornberrys Movie and of course a Nightmare on Elm Street film. (Just kidding. Obviously kids should be at least seven before they watch those kinds of horror films.)
See below for a selection of titles that will be added to Netflix in August 2016.
All titles and dates are subject to change.
The American Side (2016)
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
APEX: The Story of the Hypercar (2016)
Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (2011)
Big Daddy (1999)
Black Widow (1987)
Critical Condition (1987)
Destination: Team USA (2016)
Funny or Die Presents: Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie - NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
The Family Man (2000)
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Final Destination 3 (2006)
From the Terrace (1960)
Holding the Man (2015) – NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
How To Win The US Presidency (2016)
In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
ISIS: Women Unveiled (2016)
Masha and the Bear: Season 2 – NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
The Naked Prey (1966)
NCIS: Season 13
Pay It Forward (2000)
The Real Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Roseanne Collection: Collection 3
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Sliding Doors (1998)
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Teacher's Pet (1958)
The Verdict (1982)
The Wedding Planner (2001)
What Women Want (2000)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Beat Bugs: Season 1 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
David Cross: Making America Great Again (2016) – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Ever After High: Epic Winter – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Little Prince (2016) – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2 (2016)
Slow TV: National Firewood Evening (2016)
Slow TV: National Firewood Morning (2016)
Slow TV: National Firewood Night (2016)
Slow TV: National Knitting Evening (2016)
Slow TV: National Knitting Morning (2016)
Slow TV: National Knitting Night (2016)
Slow TV: Northern Passage (2016)
Slow TV: Northern Railway (2016)
Slow TV: Salmon Fishing (2016)
Slow TV: The Telemark Canal (2016)
Slow TV: Train Ride Bergen to Oslo (2016)
The Confirmation (2016)
Real Husbands of Hollywood: Season 4
St. Vincent (2014)
Flight of the Butterflies (2012)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Ask the StoryBots: Season 1 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Get Down: Part 1 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Project Mc²: Season 2 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
13 Cameras (2016)
Louis CK: Live at the Comedy Store (2015)
Let's Go to Prison (2006)
Our Last Tango (2015)
The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (2016)
The Last Heist (2016)
Puffin Rock: Season 2 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Bottersnikes and Gumbles: Season 1 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Fearless: Season 1 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Maz Jobrani: I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One On TV (2015)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Seventeenth Year
Septembers of Shiraz (2015)
The Road (2009)
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Dawn of the Croods: Season 2 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Glitter Force: Season 2 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy: We’ve Been Thinking… - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Once Upon a Time: Season 5
XOXO (2016) – NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The State of Marriage (2015)
Ku'damm 56: Season 1
The following titles will be disappearing in August. Better watch them while you can.
Addams Family Values (1993)
The Best Man (1999)
The Gabby Douglas Story (2014)
Jennifer 8 (1992)
Johnny English (2003)
The Nutty Professor (1996)
The Replacements (2000)
Roseanne Collection: Collection 2 (1996)
Rugrats Go Wild (2003)
The Sandlot (1993)
Suspect Zero (2004)
Teen Witch (1989)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)
Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Where the Red Fern Grows (1974)
The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)
Clifford the Big Red Dog: Seasons 12
Clifford's Puppy Days: Seasons 12
Charlie's Angels (2000)
Wish Upon a Star (1996)
Inside Man (2006)
Harry the Bunny (2009)
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
Death Note (2006)
Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds (2008)
Naruto Shippuden: The Movie (2007)
House of Leaves
I heard whispers about House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski for a long time before I actually picked it up. (And no, I didn't put off picking it up because I was afraid I would tear a ligament lifting it (although I really did hurt my ridiculously fragile wrists), at 700 plus pages it's heavy enough to use as ballast on a hot air balloon.) I heard it was terrible and I heard it was unreadable and I heard it was amazing and I heard it was genius and I heard it was scary. In fact I heard it was the scariest book ever written. (Which led to my middle son commenting every time I mentioned something from the book, “That's to make it spoooooky!”) I don't know what the scariest book ever written is but it's not this one. But it might be the most intricate book I've ever read. I ended up describing it as “Interesting in the most tedious way possible.”
So what is it about? Kind of everything. On the surface it is a journal written by a dude called Johnny Truant, who is kind of a lost soul, with a deep psychic wound, who spends most of his time getting drunk or high and having one night stands with pretty much whomever says yes. As the story begins, he comes into possession of tons of writing written by an elderly, blind man who dies alone and sealed into a stinky room. Johnny takes all of the various scraps of writing home and begins to decipher and transcribe them. But as he does he becomes obsessed and starts to suffer from nightmares and night terrors.
The writing he is rescuing is a scholarly piece about a film called the Navidson Record. So you have a documentary, which is a story about a haunted house, and then a critique of the film, and then a guy writing about his experiences with the text of the critique and of course of all of it is actually a novel. If this isn't confusing enough the structure of the story is quite mad. There are are footnotes within footnotes and three typefaces of footnotes, to help you keep track of who is writing what. Some of the footnotes are just pages of lists of names. (As I read them I wondered how many people who read this book read every single word, as I did. And how many of them had a nervous breakdown at the end?) But that's not all. The text itself is every which way. Some pages have the main text, then several footnotes in text boxes, written in varying angles and directions, with one where the letters are mirror image. I can't imagine trying to read this novel while having a cocktail.
At its essence House of Leaves is about a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside, according to the publisher. That's one way of looking at it, I suppose. But it's a phrase famous for describing the TARDIS on Doctor Who. In that universe being bigger on the inside is awesome and leads to rooms with swimming pools, vast libraries, etc, all neatly tucked into what looks like a phone booth. But the house in House of Leaves is much more of a maze; a maze that shifts while people are inside it. Walk into what should be a closet and you can literally travel corridors for hundreds of miles, or follow a staircase that suddenly expands by thousands of miles. It's all madness.
But in the end I am glad I read it. A few years ago I managed to read James Joyce's Ulysses. It took me months and I didn't enjoy any of it. While I was reading House of Leaves I thought of Ulysses and how both works are hard to read. But House of Leaves is significantly easier and more interesting and thoughtful. It gave me quite a lot to think about once I had closed the cover.
Oh, about that scariness? The author sort of sabotages his own scare factor. Every time the book starts be suspenseful or frightening he inserts a ton of scholarly critique, or Johnny starts talking about something completely different and bam, all the tension is lost.
One final thought: you either have to turn the book upside down or read the letters while they are upside down, to get through part of the book. I had fun imagining the expressions of people on the subway watching someone else read the book. Did they think the reader couldn't actually read?
You can read an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/36526/house-of-leaves-by-mark-z-...
(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)
This week's bonus treat is a video that explains the ancient art of creating transcendental granola. The creator goes over all the important elements of making granola such as how to choose a power stone and how to keep the granola from becoming haunted while baking. Good stuff!
The Last One
Imagine that you are a contestant on a hot new reality show, which takes place in the wilderness. You think it's called In the Woods, but the show is actually called In the Dark, because the producers have lied to you and the other contestants. (You had to sign a 96 page release form before filming began.) And then a couple of weeks into filming, while you are off on a solo task, making your way through the woods, an extremely virulent pathogen attacks, killing most of the people around you. But you think it's all part of the show and instead of being afraid or mourning the loss of your loved ones, you just get more and more angry at the sheer callousness of the show creators. How dare they make so many fake bodies and leave them in such horrific circumstances? The more angry you get the more determined you are to not quit, no matter what.
That is the premise of Alexandria Olivia's astonishing, brilliant, debut novel The Last One, which I have to confess I stayed up until 5:58 a.m. reading. I had to finish it before I went to sleep. Told non-linearly from two perspectives, that of a woman who is alternately called Zoo, Mae, and Sam, and that of the show's creators, it's a frightening and tense read.
I was pretty excited when I saw that I was eligible to get an advance review copy of the novel because I thought it looked intriguing and I was not disappointed. Anyone who is interested in how reality shows work behind the scenes should find this novel of interest, even if they aren’t interested in it as an adventure story. I imagine they would still get swept away by the story. It's hard to imagine this book leaving anyone cold or unaffected.
It's heartbreaking, which it should be. We readers would be kind of awful people if we didn't feel sad over a ton of people dying from a stupid illness. Of course one of the contestants is a rotten son of a barnacle, so maybe we can be forgiven if we don't cry if he or she should keel over after a few days of being miserably ill.
I had a couple of problems with the book, but nothing I couldn’t handle. There are some important plot points that seemed a little too contrived or perhaps improbable. We want everything to fit together and all the loose ends to be tied up, but sometimes it's a little too perfect.
I predict that The Last One will be a big seller, so you should get it now. (It just came out on the 12th.) That way you can tell everyone that you read it before they did. You don't want to pass up a chance to be smug, do you?
You can read an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/530330/the-last-one-by-alexandra...
(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)
The Pokemon Go app is so popular that Nintendo's stock has soared and the app is generating a million dollars in revenue per day. That's even more than Candy Crush was making at its peak. Everyone seems to be playing it, except for a grouchy few who are quite vocal about how awful it is. So far I haven't encountered a naysayer who has actually played it, so take these people with a giant grain of salt.
I am enjoying all the positivity around the game. I've heard from dozens of people who are going for long walks, some going three or five miles, and chatting with strangers they encounter who are also playing. It's mildly amusing to me that the same kinds of people who complain about the death of society because we don't interact face to face, and the fattening of society because we don't exercise enough, are the ones also complaining about what a drag the game is.
If you are happily playing pay attention to your local community. I've heard from libraries that are creating special events as well as retailers who are sponsoring sales and refreshments for those who come and play in their stores.
This week's bonus treat is an insane little story from Eugen Sandow's book Strength and How to Attain It. (He was one of the first performing strongmen.) It's about the time someone set up a fight for him in San Francisco. But he had no ordinary opponent. He fought a lion! https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18990506.2.11
I have several thoughts regarding Nick Cutter's novel The Troop. Unfortunately most of them are negative. It's the story of five Scouts and their scout master who are on a camping trip on a small uninhabited island when a man suffering from a gruesome infestation appears. The scout leader, who is a doctor when he isn't scouting, is torn between his responsibility to the teens and his perceived doctor responsibilities. (I'm not entirely sure that he remembers the “first do no harm” part of the Hippocratic Oath.)
The man who stumbles ashore is extraordinarily thin, but also extremely hungry and eating everything in sight. (At one point I think he eats the stuffing from a couch?) His belly looks like he is going to explode but the rest of him is barely even skin and bones.
Written in traditional horror film format, (people vanish or are changed or murdered one by one, until x number of people remain) The Troop has been compared to Lord of the Flies, but aside from both of them having boys on an island, I can't see it. Lord of the Flies is fairly subtle and is about the long-term degeneration of the boys as their veneer of civilization peels away. Conversely The Troop shows us people panicking and seeing what they can get away with when there is no supervision. It's quite graphic and explains every little thing as though we readers are expected to be dunderheads. One of the boys is a sociopath and his mental process is described in excruciating detail. Really anyone who reads horror or watches shows like Dexter has a basic understanding of what being a sociopath means. (Or at least the common pop culture definition, which or may not have any real grounding in psychology.) Anyway, my point is that the book bogs down in places because the author is over-explaining.
So I would call this novel okay. It's not terrible and it's not great. If you have some time to kill and you don't have any better prospects then go ahead and read it. Or if you just don't want to think at all and want the comfort of a tried and true story line, The Troop fits the bill. But be warned, it has a lot of cruelty to animals, told in much too vivid detail. It kind of made me sick.
And speaking of making people sick, the effect of the book reminded me of The Science Fiction Weight Loss Book, a collection of short stories that if I recall correctly (it was published in 82, which is when I read it) was designed to make you lose weight by grossing you out or scaring you.
I'm guessing if you read that, then The Troop, then follow it up with Jeff Goldblum's version of The Fly, you won't eat for at least a week.
You can read an excerpt here: http://books.simonandschuster.com/The-Troop/Nick-Cutter/9781476717722/br...
(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)
Misery With Spoilers; Commenting on the Very End of the Novel
I just finished my reread of Misery by Stephen King. This is a novel that when I originally read it and came to the hobbling scene I flung the book across the room. It was just too much for me. Even when I decided I was going to go on reading, I kind of circled the book staring at it like I thought it was going to bite me.
This time around wasn't as bad because I knew what was coming. On the other hand I knew what was coming which made the whole thing sort of a cringing, panicky experience where I was just waiting for horrible, horrible things to happen.
At the almost end of the book when the two cops arrive and rescue Paul, (who has really already rescued himself ) the cops he calls David and Goliath, he warns them that Annie is locked in the other room and that she's extremely dangerous.
That's when they inform him that the room is empty. There's broken glass and the window is open or broken I can't remember which one. But there's no one in there. She is gone
At that moment I had a horrible idea. I thought oh man, what if none of it happened/ What if he did it all to himself, and there was no Annie Wilkes? That would make a book that is already extremely painful to read into possibly a book that would have to come with a helpline that you can call when you finish. A person with a very soothing voice would talk you down while someone came over and fixed you a nice cup of tea.
This week's bonus treat is for sure not safe for work. It's a gent who is very puzzled by a peculiar doll. It's pretty funny.
King Games has a new offering for us called Farm Heroes Super Saga. I know you will find this hard to believe, but it is a match three game. Shocking, right? As you can tell by the name, it is a spin-off of their popular Farm Heroes Saga.
The game play is similar with some new twists. You can now match four in a square configuration, which will result in a super cropsie. (Think of how you make fish in Candy Crush Jelly or Candy Crush Soda; it's the same move.) They don't give you anything towards your goals when you create them, but they can give you quite a lot of points when collected.
So what's so great about super cropsies? Two things. One, there are levels where you need to collect them to hit your goals. Two, they retain extra points. You know how in the original game the cropsies become more valuable when you match next to them? But that extra value vanishes after your next move. The super cropsies keep that value, which can help you meet those higher goals, like 100 water droplets.
The whole game has a new look but I would not call it a better look. The flowers that were pink are now white and make a particularly unattractive face in one of the stages of collection. The map is now “lenticular”, which as far as I can tell means it makes the player motion sick.
We have some new cropsies to collect, including tomatoes, bananas, pears and plums. There is also a squirrel, who collects nuts, which you get by maneuvering it near the nuts. This is similar to the frogs in Farm Heroes Saga, and how they lick up the water droplets, etc. There is also a goat, which butts squares with hay, enabling you to collect the hay.
Rancid, the raccoon boss, now flings cans onto the playing field. When you match next to them they are flung at Rancid, damaging him. I don't think collecting fruits and vegetables harms him, as they do in Farm Heroes Saga, but you do need to meet cropsie goals, as you do in regular game play.
Unfortunately power ups or boosters are not as easy to get as they are in the original game. Instead of getting free rechargeable boosters, you have to buy them one of two ways. Of course you can use gold, as that is King's revenue source, but you can also buy a couple of them with silver coins, which you earn in a brand new method.
The Country Show allows you to earn both trophies and silver coins. As each show begins you are given a little pot and your own cropsie to grow. (This is reminiscent of the zen garden in Plants versus Zombies.) You have a certain amount of time to grow the cropsie, which you do by earning stars in the regular game. There are five levels you can attain and your rewards get bigger as you ascend the levels. Frustratingly, replaying levels you have already beaten don't count towards your star count.
The most baffling addition to the game are levels that rely on the wind to move the cropsies. In your ordinary Farm Heroes game the cropsies fall down as you remove their fellows below them, working the same way gravity works in real life. In the wind levels the cropsies are blown by the wind in whatever direction you move a cropsie, meaning new cropsies will come from that direction. So if you make a match by moving a pear to the left, the wind will blow to the left and move cropsies into the empty spaces from the right. I had a hard time adjusting to this. I'm pretty good with the match 3 games but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around this and plan for future moves. Keep in mind that you always have two options for each move. If you are making a vertical match you can move a cropsie so the new ones fall down, or you can move the opposing cropsie so the rest move upwards.
The game is available to download for free from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Facebook. The game launches with 205 levels.
This week's bonus treat is a video of a very young child who is playing with a resuscitation training dummy. She is adorbs. https://www.facebook.com/safetyinform/videos/1079233742148722/
A Head Full of Ghosts
I feel like I've read a plethora of is she or isn't she, is it him or is it nothing, ghosts or mental illness or whatever stories lately. By which I mean I've read a number of books recently that could be construed in many different ways. The little Stranger by Sarah Waters for instance raises more than just the question is the house haunted? If it is haunted, who's doing the haunting? Is it a deliberate haunting or is it more like your classic poltergeist; a manifestation of teenage angst? Or is it all a bizarre, bizarre series of manipulations designed to bring about the secret dream of one of the characters?
Paul Tremblay's novel A Head Full of Ghosts raises similar questions. It is the somewhat fragmented story of two sisters (and their parents, but the sisters are the most important characters.) Merry is eight, a little older than the age of reason according to the Catholic church, and Marjorie is 14, in her early teens and having a very rough time. She is displaying some pretty serious symptoms of mental illness but her father, who's recently lost his job and become a bit of a religious fanatic, convinces himself that she's possessed.
As peculiar as it sounds I'm sure to some people the idea of possession is easier to deal with than mental illness. Even with the best medication and care, illnesses like schizophrenia can be devastating and extremely difficult to treat. If you've bought into the pop-culture version of exorcism that is pretty easily treated. Bring in a priest, Bing Bam Boom, chuck out the demon and everything's fine. You hardly have to raise a sweat and it's all over and done with.
Dad takes this possession concept one step further and brings in, with the help of the priest, a reality show production company, which is offering to pay them a substantial fee; large enough to get the family back on its feet. And thus begins the filming of a show called The Possession.
Can you imagine what your life would be like if you were a child and all your classmates, teachers and neighbors were watching you on television once a week? If every detail of the tensions splitting your family were broadcast to the world? If everyone was debating what was real and what wasn't? What a nightmare.
The novel cuts back and forth in time, jumping from the present, fifteen years after the show ended, back to when Merry was a child. This gives Mr. Tremblay the opportunity to include plenty of foreshadowing and suspenseful comments. Part of the story was told in blog form, written by a character dissecting and critiquing the show. This was my favorite part of the book as I found her insights quite interesting.
While I came away fairly satisfied, my middle son thought the book never really delivered. It seemed to be leading up to something but never quite got there. For myself, while I enjoyed it and was interested, it definitely didn't live up to the cover hype. Stephen King says it scared him but it didn't scare me, much. Maybe this is one of those times where expectations work against you. If I hadn't thought it was going to be extra scary maybe I would have been more frightened.
You can read an excerpt here: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062363237/a-head-full-of-ghosts
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire
Going a completely different direction, I just finished reading Howard Pyle's 1888 take on the Robin Hood legend. Unfortunately I read it on the Kindle and the copy I read was lacking the gorgeous illustrations that usually accompany the text. But it was still a fun read, filled with old ballads as well as vignettes of Robin and his Merry Men's lives. My favorite is when Will Scarlet comes to Sherwood. As the popular meme goes, this is someone who gives zero fucks. He is strolling along, dressed in fancy clothes, smelling a flower, when he runs into Robin, who immediately gives him grief for not living up to Robin's ideas of masculinity. Robin thinks he can best Will in a fight, but we all know that fancy dressed dudes who love flowers can have surprising martial skills. This book is particularly appealing because of the strong bonds the Merry Men have for each other. Friendship is nice, isn't it?
This week's bonus treat is a link to the world's greatest amusement park: Diggerland. https://www.diggerlandusa.com/ This is the perfect place for your Mary Margaret Road-Grader role play and of course appeals to those of all ages infatuated with giant machinery. (If you haven't yet read Mary Margaret Road-Grader then please do, it's available at Strange Horizons for free. http://www.strangehorizons.com/2001/20010129/mary_margaret.shtml)
Ready for the lowdown on Netflix's July offerings and vanishings? The biggest news is that are seven (!) new Netflix Original Series premiering. They range from two anime offerings (Kurumukuro and Magi: The Adventures of Sinbad) to two series for children (Word Party and Home: Adventures With Tip & Oh) to Stranger Things, which looks like an interesting mash-up of every scary story I saw back in the eighties. Trailer available here:
Speaking of the eighties, you can relive, or live for the first time, the excitement of all three Back to the Future films, as well as two Beverly Hills Cop movies. (The scene I remember best is the banana in the tailpipe.) Crazy cop fans will enjoy Lethal Weapon one through four while Bronies will get their My Little Pony fix at the end of the month.
If you enjoyed seeing Tommy Chong as the super laid back Yak in Zootopia, you might want to catch Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke before it departs on the first. Be sure to binge watch seven Star Trek movies before they also go away on the first as well as Serenity on the sixteenth. (Oh Wash, how you break our hearts.)
See below for a selection of titles that will be added to Netflix in July 2016.
All titles and dates are subject to change.
41 on 41 (2014)
A Long Way From Home (2013)
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Bad Boys II (2003)
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Beavis and Butt-head Do America (1996)
Between: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Blade 2 (2002)
By the People: The Election of Barack Obama (2009)
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Cinderella Man (2005)
Death Race 2 (2010)
Death Race 3: Inferno (2013)
Deep: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Hello, Dolly! (1969)
Hey Arnold! The Movie (2002)
The Italian Job (2003)
Jackass: Number Two (2006)
Jim Jefferies: Freedumb - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Lalaloopsy Ponies: The Big Show (2014)
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) The Longest Yard (2005)
The Lovely Bones (2009)
Making the American Man (2016) - NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
Marcella: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Marco Polo: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Mean Girls (2004)
Nevada Smith (1966)
Nick of Time (1995)
The Painted Veil (2006)
Raiders Of The Lost Art: Season 2 Rumor Has It (2005)
The Shannara Chronicles: Season 1
The Sting (1973)
Stomp the Yard: Homecoming (2010)
Turner and Hooch (1989)
Watershed: Exploring A New Water Ethic For The New West (2012)
Well Wishes (2015)
Working Girl (1988)
Yours, Mine and Ours (2005)
Kuromukuro: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Big Short (2015)
A War (2015)
The Armor of Light (2015)
Brahman Naman (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL NSU
German History X: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Invitation (2015) - NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
Word Party: Season 1
Mystery Files: Season 1
The Last Kingdom: Season 1
Rolling Papers (2015)
Gridlocked (2015) - NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
Magi: The Adventures of Sinbad: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Todd Margaret: Season 3
The Adventures of Puss in Boots: Season 3 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Holidays (2016) - NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
Rebirth (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Stranger Things: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Liv and Maddie: Season 3
Internet Famous (2016) - NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE
BoJack Horseman: Season 3 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Degrassi: Next Class: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Popples: Season 3 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Wave (2015)
Home: Adventures With Tip & Oh: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Last Chance U (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
LEGO Bionicle: The Journey to One: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Tallulah (2016) - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Season 6: Part 1
Hit Record on TV with Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Season 2
The following titles will be disappearing in July. Better watch them while you can.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A League of Their Own (1992)
Along Came Polly (2004)
Best in Show (2000)
The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Caillou: Season 5 The Central Park Five (2012)
Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke (1978)
The Conspiracy (2012)
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Seasons 1-2
Dinosaur Train: Season 2
Drive Me Crazy (1999)
Flashpoint: Seasons 1-5
The Flintstones (1994)
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
The Game: Seasons 1-3
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
Medium: Seasons 1-7
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Volume 1 (1968)
Mouse Hunt (1997)
My Sister’s Wedding (2013)
Notting Hill (1999)
Numb3rs: Seasons 1-6
Odd Squad: Season 1
The Perfect Storm (2000)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Reading Rainbow: Volume 1 (1985)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Team America: World Police (2004)
Tesla: Master of Lightning (2000)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories (1993)
Wild Kratts: Seasons 1-3
Women Aren’t Funny (2014)
WordWorld: Season 1
Zoboomafoo: Season 2
Venus and Serena (2012)
Color Crew (2010)
Braxton Family Values: Season 3
Apologies for missing last week's column. Unfortunately my lupus antibodies have started some kind of grudge match/beef with my lungs, which is taking up far too much of my energy and ability to think. Hopefully this will resolve in favor of the lungs in the very near future.
Meanwhile, of course I have been playing lots of mobile games. When I'm too tired to think or read it's time to start matching, smashing things or doing both.
Angry Birds Pop
Rovio and Outplay teamed up not too long ago and made a bubble shooter game called Angry Birds Stella pop. Then they changed the name to Angry Birds Pop and have now released something like 800 levels. Of course I have beaten every single one of them, as of press time, although I haven't three starred all of them quite yet.
I enjoy this game quite a lot, especially because it doesn't nickel and dime me to death like the King games like to do. If I lose a level I'm offered the opportunity to get a free booster if I agree to watch an ad that is between a few seconds and 30 seconds long. This is fine with me, especially because that way I see trailers for lots and lots of different types of games. (It's astonishing how many truly terrible games there are out there.)
They have also added a new feature where each day you can take three daily challenges and win more free boosters. Examples; perhaps you need to pop 500 purple balloons, or play ten games as a particular bird (each bird has its own type of booster, with its own ability), or knock 35 pigs out of their bubbly hideouts.
It's a fun game that can be very challenging, and it is a good one for when you're sitting around waiting at the doctor's office, because you can usually play a level in just a couple of minutes. So when they call you back to take your temperature or your x-rays or whatever, you don't feel like you're abandoning your game halfway through.
Nibblers (called Fruit Nibblers when it is updating but plain old Nibblers on my screen) is another game from Rovio but this one doesn't have a single Angry Bird in it. Featuring a bunch of aquatic life heroes, this game takes place on an island. Creatures, aka Nibblers, come out of the sea only to discover that the land is infested with lizards that are happy to see them, because they're hungry and want to eat the sea life. The Nibblers however are excited because there are delicious, delicious berries all over the island.
There are four basic goals to accomplish in the various levels. Sometimes you need to get rid of a particular type of lizard. (While some really are lizards, there are others that probably fit more into a broader reptile class. Also there's a couple that look like tiny weird abominable snowman, or maybe lizards in snowsuits, so I don't know. Classify them however you like.) Other times you need to rescue helpless fish that have stranded themselves and need to get back into the water. Sometimes you need to collect a certain number of berries of various colors. Other times you need to clear spaces filled with mud and with a few lizards usually mixed in.
It's a matching game where you need to match at least three berries of the same color in order to remove them and other obstacles. When you match four colors you get a little guy called Coral, which you can use to shoot across the entire playing field, knocking out anything in its path. Match berries in an L shape and you get Nibblers that shoot in four directions at once. Five in a row and a groovy and mellow octopus shows up. He removes three rows at once, which is quite nice.
As with Angry Birds Pop, when you lose a life you have the option of starting the next level with some type of power up if you watch a short advertisement. This might be a Coral, or some obstacles may be weakened, or you might get a fruit that gets rid of every berry of a certain color on the screen.
Nibblers is also a lot of fun but it's also extremely adorable. I especially like the little cries that Coral gives as he/she is launched or waits for you to activate them. I honestly don't know how many levels there are available right now because I find the game somewhat difficult sometimes and I'm much further behind than I am with Angry Birds Pop. But there are more than 435, because that's what level I am on.
The newest addition to Nibblers is what they call the Grand Tunament. There are three levels to each tournament and you can win boosters as well as gold. And of course the pride you feel when you trounce the other players. Is that worth more than gold?
I finally got around to seeing Zootopia, a film I wanted to see since I saw the previews back when I was at the new Star Wars movie. Starring actors with whom I am mostly unfamiliar, this animated movie is a delight. Set in a time when animals have evolved enough that predators and prey can live together safely, Zootopia is ostensibly about a young lady rabbit who wants to become a police officer.
She's the first bunny to join the force and naturally she faces a certain amount of prejudice. In fact when you get right down to it, Zootopia is about prejudice and bigotry. That's quite a bit of stereotyping going on, which is almost always pointed out by other characters, which is nice. It is a little heavy-handed with the lecturing at a couple of points, but overall the messages go down smoothly.
Judy Hopps, the bunny, is horrified when her superior, Chief Bogo, played by Idris Elba, assigns her to parking meter duties. She was valedictorian for her police training class and is very keen, and the last thing she wants is to be shunted off into meter maid hell. There's a big case going on at the police department with 14 different mammals vanishing. Everyone but her is set to work on the case, and she definitely feels the sting of being left out. But she is one determined little bunny and next thing we know she and an unusual partner are in are on the case, hunting for a missing otter.
This film is beautifully drawn film is beautifully drawn, with gorgeous, lush backgrounds. The characterization of the animals is done so well that the moment Idris Elba's character walked onto the screen, before he said a single word, I thought ooh that guy should totally be played by Idris Elba. On the other hand I didn't even recognize Alan Tudyk's weaselly character, even after hearing his dialogue.
The world building is spot on, with lots of little details that enhance the film. And there are some sly references that will likely go over younger viewer's heads. There is a reference to a character an actor played in a previous Disney movie, as well as a couple of nods to Breaking Bad.
Jason Bateman plays the hustling fox while Ginnifer Goodwin plays Judy. Shakira is fab as a pop idol/mentor called Gazelle. Also adorable are Nate Torrence, who plays a super cute, exuberant cheetah and Raymond S. Persi as Flash, a slow talking sloth that works at the MVA.
There is plenty of action, humor and an interesting mystery with loads of pop culture references. You can watch a trailer here:
This week's bonus treat a short cooking video from Volpi Foods. My youngest likes to look at these before bed, as they are very soothing and help him sleep. There isn't any dialogue and the music is nice. This particular one is an asparagus and pancetta risotto.
The Brides of Rollrock Island
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan is an interesting take on the selkie legend. In case you're not familiar with it, they are fairy women who are seals in one form and human looking women in their other form. When they come ashore and turn into a woman they cast off their seal fur coats. If you can steal that sealskin and keep it hidden from them then they're bound to you. Obviously this is an awful form of slavery. Brides of Rollrock Island at its heart is a look at the multi-generational damage that this slavery brings. Told in multi protagonist perspective it's an absolutely gorgeous book. If you've read Ms Lanagan's work in the past, such as Tender Morsels, you might be a little worried that it's going to be absolutely heart-rending. I'm happy to report that this book isn't nearly as traumatic as the other one. Or at least it wasn't for me. It's a beautifully written, moving story. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/209564/the-brides-of-rollrock-is...
Shining Girls and Broken Monsters
I read Shining Girls last week and then followed it up with Broken Monsters, both by Lauren Beukes. Unfortunately that means I'm now done with all of her fiction and will have to wait for her to write another book. I very much enjoyed reading her novels. Every one is different from the last one which is nice. Don't get me wrong, I like series just as much as the next person but I also really enjoy authors who can change their styles from book to book. (Say for instance Neil Gaiman.) The Shining Girls is a time traveling serial killer murder mystery/thriller. One thing that I love about this story is that it doesn't focus on the killer or the killings or describe them in lurid, loving detail. This book is about the victims and the impact on the victims' family. A young lady survives what should have been a fatal attack and goes to work as a newspaper intern so that she can do what the cops haven't been able to do; find the killer. This is a terrific novel but it is a little confusing because the chapters jump around to different times and I had a little bit of trouble keeping straight what was happening when. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2012/10/11/start-reading-the-shining-girl...
Broken Monsters takes place in Detroit post bankruptcy. It's set in the burgeoning art scene and it also follows a series of murders. If you like the TV show Hannibal you should like this novel. Like Hannibal, it's also very surreal and features bizarre, disturbing manipulation of the victims' bodies. It's told from the perspective of artists, writers, a police officer and her daughter, and a homeless entrepreneur. I found this story quite confusing because I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't. I'm not going to spoil it by giving you my interpretation. But if you don't like stories that can be read in various ways you probably won't like this one. However if you are up for a bit of a challenge with your mystery you should really like it. You can read an excerpt here: http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2014/09/16/broken-monsters-lauren-beukes-...
Magic for Beginners
Speaking of stories that can be interpreted in different ways and are rather nebulous and vague, Ms. Link is the master of this type of story. I read her novella The Specialist's Hat more than a decade ago and I still have no idea what it was about or what was happening. I started Magic for Beginners a couple of years ago and misplaced it. I reread it a couple of days ago and was surprised to discover that one story, Stone Animals, that I previously found extraordinary baffling now seems much more straightforward. It's about a disjointed family that moves from the city into the country. They slowly abandon their possessions as they say that they are haunted. Dad, who is spending way too much time in the city, is informed that his entire office is now haunted. At one point the daughter says that her brother is haunted. Meanwhile mom becomes obsessed with painting and fantasizes about drinking paint and the lawn becomes infested with rabbits. As with all of Ms. Link's works, merely discussing plot doesn't at all convey the sheer gorgeousness of her work. Below is a link to The Faery Handbag, which is an absolutely fabulous story told by a young lady whose grandmother has a handbag in which an entire fairy hill and a small village live. This is one of my favorite stories of all time. The Hortlak is about a lonely young man who lives in a convenience store right by an abyss that's filled with zombies. Some Zombie Contingency Plans is a story with a mysterious painting, a gentleman who just got out of prison, and a teenage house party. The title story, Magic for Beginners is another one that I really like. Told from the perspective of a confused young man whose parents' marriage is in trouble, it's about friendship and fandom. There's quite a bit about a television show called The Library. If that was a real show I would watch the hell out of it. You can read The Faery Handbag here: http://smallbeerpress.com/free-stuff-to-read/2005/07/01/the-faery-handba...
This week's bonus treat is from the Department of the Interior's Tumblr. It's a red fox who is having a bit of trouble. http://americasgreatoutdoors.tumblr.com/post/143893926234/is-it-friday-y...