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the return of david tennant.

Happy Easter, everyone.

I never slept last night, so I sure am tired, but here is some good news to share before I catch up on some sleep in a much needed way. I just read on Vulture that David Tennant and Billie Piper are returning for the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who. Now, it’s always possible that it will be in some really lame way, like a single thirty-second scene. Also, based on the way we last saw Billie Piper’s character, Rose, this might not be Tennant’s original Doctor character, but may be the second version instead… still, just the possibility that we will see the two versions of the Doctor interact gets me all hot and bothered.

Either way, David Tennant being back is good news no matter what! He is risen, he is risen, indeed!

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the good and the bad.

This blogging challenge is a good thing for me. I still have a long way to go in getting my brain back into gear in terms of creativity, but at least I’m doing something every single day.

However, one issue with the challenge is that with the need to post something new every day, quality will suffer. Some days I won’t have much time, and I won’t want to waste a good topic on a half-assed post. That will leave RtM with uninteresting posts that never really go anywhere and are clearly just filler.

Like this one.

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cocktail posts are coming.

Some time soon, I’m going to share some posts about making cocktails. I’m deepening my exploration of well-made cocktails, cocktail history, various recipe ingredients, etc. I want to share this journey of learning via this blog, because… why the hell not? This may be in the form of videos, or just in written posts, or whatever.

Obviously, there will be posts about classic staples like the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, and a scratch Margarita (“Sour mix in a margarita? What is this, Auschwitz?”).

I was wondering if you folks might have suggestions. Favorite cocktail? Favorite spirit? Strong feelings about the right and wrong way to make a certain drink? Sound off, folks.

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Cheers!

 

 

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‘the imperfectionsists,’ by tom rachman. [fictionista.]

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Christopher Buckley of the New York Times wrote that The Imperfectionists was “so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off.” That’s the sort of work Tom Rachman has done with this book. It’s called a novel, but it is really a series of vignettes revealing the lives of staff (along with the owners and a subscriber) at an international English language newspaper based in Rome. Thus, the only character present throughout the entire book is the newspaper. Having worked as a journalist, Rachman has the insider insight to add satisfying depth and details to his fictional paper.

There are so many bittersweet romantic notions surrounding the dying newspaper industry, which are thrown into even starker contrast by the oddity of an English language paper in Rome (the reason why the paper exists to begin with adds even more heartbreaking truth to this). That being the case makes this particular setting the perfect backdrop for the bittersweet moments (although some are just bitter) of the various characters we meet in this book.

Rachman’s prose is perfect, and fans of word craft should definitely read this book. His short glimpses into the lives of these folks is carefully wrought to let each feel whole, like all the best writers of short stories have the power to do.

I read the book back in early February, and it was a part of what started to get the creative forces in my heart thawing. It’s one of those things that is just so wonderfully crafted that it made me want to create something of my own, writing so good it made me want to write. I can’t imagine offering anything higher praise than that.

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warrior.

url-3This is a movie I danced around for a long time. All signs pointed to it being unexpectedly good, but I just couldn’t convince myself I’d actually enjoy a movie about MMA. Well, chalk another point up for iCheckMovies. I know I mention that a lot, it really does just add so much to my movie-watching habits.

What had happened was that a while back, I completed my first and only list on iCheckMovies, the Reddit Top 250. I even wrote about it. Well, a few months ago, Reddit changed their list, stripping me of the trophy I had so rightfully earned. Dicks. Thus, Warrior was now in the way of getting my platinum trophy back. It’s available to stream instantly on Netflix, so… what the hell, right?

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Warrior is really good! On Rotten Tomatoes, (where the film has an 83% score) the consensus is: “Warrior relies on many of the clichés that critics of the genre love to mock — and it transcends them with gripping action, powerful acting, and heart.” I agree entirely. This is a small, powerful story about family, abuse, pain, and forgiveness, carried on the backs of three really wonderful performances. The sports film clichés are transcended because Warrior doesn’t try to bypass them or ignore them, but journeys deep into the heart of those clichés, offering depth and grit where we would often only see shallow nonsense.

It actually had to be a movie about MMA. These characters make sense within this sports metaphor, one desperate enough to put his body on the line for his family, one so angry and hurting that rage is all he has left to navigate the world. The savage brutality of MMA isn’t ‘pretended’ away, it adds to the visceral grittiness as we see an outward manifestation of what these characters are carrying internally.

There are definitely some awkward sports movie realities, especially the moments when publicity for the fighting tournament is being used to move the story along (something that happens several times). Yet, Warrior exceeded my expectations in every way, and if you’ve got a free evening and a Netflix account, you should check it out.

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shadow and bone, by leigh bardugo. [fictionista.]

shadow and boneI bought this book because it caught my eye when I was looking through Amazon’s Best of 2012, Editor’s Picks. The first novel in what is eventually scheduled to become The Grisha Trilogy, it is set in a fantasy world based on Tsarist Russian culture, history, geography, and mythology instead of the more common Anglo-Saxon and European sort. By the time we as readers first arrive in the nation of Ravka, a nation perpetually at war with its two neighbors, it has long had a dark scar slicing through the nation’s heart, cutting off the capital from the all-important coast. This dark scar, the ‘Shadow Fold’ or ‘Unsea’, is a deadly place, full of flesh-eating monsters. One only crosses in the accompaniment of great force, and even then the best hope is not being noticed.

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The story follows a 15-year-old orphan girl, Alina Starkov. She is an unremarkable, weak, unnoticed, melancholy insomniac. On a military journey through the Shadow Fold, Alina’s closest friend in the world (a boy named Mal) is about to be killed one of the Unsea’s monstrosities, when Alina inadvertently unleashes a power from within herself that has been awaited for centuries. Suddenly, it appears she may be able to heal the Shadow Fold, but she can also be a powerful weapon. She is thrust into intrigue and danger, not knowing who can be trusted and who just wants to use her for evil ends. Only time will tell if she is the world’s salvation or damnation.

I really enjoyed every page of Shadow and Bone. I had (I suppose still have) an idea for a novel about a broken creature summoned incorrectly to save a doomed world, who must wrestle with his own brokenness if he will ever truly do what he is capable of. Bardugo does a lot in this book that I day-dreamed about when I’ve thought about that story. I love the way Alina is at war with self-doubt, desire, and hope within herself. It resonated in a pretty deep place for me. Before I had even finished the book, I had already pre-ordered the second book in the Grisha Trilogy, coming this June: Siege and Storm

 

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poster for ‘ender’s game.’

The first poster for Ender’s Game is here! To offer an overly short summary, the story is set in a future in which humanity has had disastrous conflicts with an alien race, and is constantly fearing and preparing for the next war, knowing hope of surviving another conflict aren’t good. Our protagonist is Ender Wiggin, a brilliant child selected to attend an elite military academy where kids are trained in tactical strategy and space warfare using various games. Turns out, Ender is a tactical genius, and there are some who believe he is humanity’s only hope. Yet, as is the case in all wars, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

As crazy as Card is in real life, I love this book. The second book is remarkable as well, but I’m not sure there would be much of a mainstream audience for a sci-fi movie of that type. It’s very different in tone. I would watch the hell out of a Speaker for the Dead film, but it would be interesting to see if the powers that be would be willing to foot the bill.

Anyway, if you haven’t read Ender’s Game yet, you have until November 1st if you want to beat the movie’s release.
Ender's Game poster

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archer, one more thing.

Okay, okay, two posts in a row about Archer, but I need to update something I completely forgot about when I wrote yesterday’s post. Another great thing about Archer is that it is entirely and intentionally anachronistic. It is completely untethered from any single historical era. Just a small sampling of the limitless examples: the KGB and Soviet Union not only exist, but are still the primary enemy of the US in many episodes, the characters all dress like its the 60’s, the computers often look late 70’s early 80’s, Archer’s valet Woodhouse fought in World War I, they all have GPS cell phones, Dane Cook and internet pornography are joked about… seriously, the list is unending.

It’s a pretty great quirk, and allows the writers to tell whatever jokes they want without worrying about time period. In any other show, perhaps it would be tiresome and seem lazy. In Archer, it fits perfectly, somehow. Just another thing to love about Archer.

I promise tomorrow’s post won’t be about Archer. Probably.  

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archer, now reigning as my favorite comedy.

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My love of Archer has never been a secret, but the fact that I’d now count it as my favorite tv comedy is a new development. For those unfamiliar with the show, it is about super-spy Sterling Archer, codename: Duchess, and the rest of his selfish, hilarious, insane coworkers at ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service). To use some alliteration for a moment, the show is droll, dirty, and deranged. Also, delightful.

I still remember the first episode, when FX extended the listing for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to an entire hour so that DVRs would keep recording for folks to catch a special sneak peak of the Archer pilot. It was a few months before Archer actually aired in earnest. Right away, I was in love. The show’s smart, raunchy, irreverent, self-referential comedy, packed to the gills with pop culture references, is basically the sort of thing I would design if somebody asked me to sit down and create my dream comedy. All of my favorite tv comedies are like that, from Sunny to Bob’s Burgers to Community. And now, in my opinion, Archer has separated itself from the pack as the smartest and funniest of the lot.

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Archer was created by Adam Reed, who tickled my funny bone in college on Adult Swim with Sealab 2021. I can literally watch this show over and over and over. And I do. Not counting the current season, I’ve seen every episode at least three times. Probably a lot more than three times. As is the case with the best comedies, in television and film alike, there are layers you only catch after repeat viewings. There are so many vague and obscure references in Archer that even a fairly knowledgable pop culture guy like me has no chance of catching all of the various references in every episode. It would be a fun group project to create a truly authoritative wiki that catalogues the references second by second for the purposes of allowing easy access in those moments when someone is watching and they just know something is a reference, but they’ll be damned if they could figure it out. The current Archer wiki only points out the most obvious references, which isn’t particularly helpful.

Anyway, the show has so much I love. The voice cast isn’t good, it’s perfect. Per. Fect. H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Amber Nash, Judy Greer, Adam Reed, Chris Parnell, Lucky Yates… each member of the cast couldn’t be any better. The guest stars are also always stellar, Burt Reynolds (as himself), Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Peter Serafinowicz, Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Timothy Olyphant… the list goes on and on.

I love this show, and there are no signs quality is going to start slipping any time soon, last week’s episode ‘The Honeymooners‘ is one of my favorite yet!

Long live the king! Or, the duchess, I guess.

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