What else is on?

After the rage and ugliness of yesterday’s post, I was in need of a palate cleanser. To answer that need, I bring you talk of some new stuff on television! I watch a lot of television. Too much television. I love a good and entertaining story.

With that in mind, here are a few of the new shows that I’m looking forward to seeing in chronological start-date order.

Call Me Kat: Already started.
Mayim Bialik’s post-Big-Bang-Theory outing is two episodes in so far. It’s a fluffy sitcom with lots of fourth-wall breaking and a great cast. Leslie Jordan is worth watching in absolutely anything, and the rest of the ensemble keeps up beautifully. With Jim Parsons on board as an executive producer (but not a cast member,) this is entertaining so far. I doubt it will get a second season, but we’re all starved for comedy so maybe I’m wrong.

The Watch: Already started.
This is a vaguely steampunk adaptation of a group of characters and concepts conceived of in Sir Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels. The adaptation is very loose, as the original Discworld setting was more medieval than steampunk. Discworld purists are unhappy with the project because it’s not faithful to the source material, and Neil Gaiman compared it to “Batman if he’s now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat.” While I agree that it’s not really Discworld anymore, I’m still watching it. I’m three episodes in, and it’s entertaining despite the departures from the original stories.

WandaVision: Jan 15.
This is set after the events of Infinity War and Endgame, so we go into the series knowing only that Vision is dead. Because of the pandemic, 2020 was a year with no Marvel movies or tv shows. This gave us an unwanted pause between the events of Endgame and literally all of Marvel’s Phase 4 releases. As you might imagine, I’m dying to see this show. I need to know what happens next!

Batwoman: Jan 17.
While I’m mostly not talking about returning shows in this post, I’ll make an exception for Batwoman because it’s effectively a reboot. Since Ruby Rose surprised us all by departing the show at the end of last season, we have a new woman (Javicia Leslie) in the cowl. The show is setting up the disappearance of Rose’s Kate Kane character as a central mystery for the new season, but I doubt it will have a satisfying resolution since Ruby Rose has no interest in returning to the series. Regardless, I do enjoy a good comic book tv show, and this looks to be a fun second chapter.

Walker: Jan 21.
Now that Supernatural finished its eleventy-fifth and final season, Jared Padalecki has moved on to the CW’s reboot of Walker: Texas Ranger. I’ll give the pilot episode a watch, but I don’t expect to be super enthralled.

Resident Alien: January 27.
This was announced months ago, and I’ve been excited to see it ever since. Alan Tudyk is just so much fun to watch, and this is a really entertaining premise.

Equalizer: Feb 7 (after the Superb Owl)
It is the season of reboots, and Queen Latifah taking on the title role looks like a lot of fun. This seems like it will have more in common with the 1980s Equalizer series starring Edward Woodward than the recent Denzel Washington movies of the same name.

Clarice: Feb 11.
Set about a year after the events of Silence of the Lambs, this show follows the ongoing story of Clarice Starling. It has the potential to be very good or very bad. If it turns out to be very good, I hope like hell they snag Mads Mikkelson to pop up here and there as Hannibal Lecter, just to keep things interesting.

Superman & Lois: Feb 23.
Tyler Hoechlin’s delightful version of Superman was first introduced in the Supergirl series. He’s popped up in other Arrowverse shows here and there, and he has rapidly become one of my favorite actors to wear the cape. I’m both happy and scared for this show because as much as I like Hoechlin’s Clark, I haven’t been impressed with Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois Lane. Add to that the fact that they’ve got children- two boys. Suddenly, Superman is a family man. It’s a different dynamic to any version I’ve really seen before. I want to like it because I usually love Superman stories, so I remain cautiously optimistic that it will avoid sucking.

Punky Brewster: Feb 25.
Soleil Moon Frye is back as Punky Brewster. As an adult. Honestly, do I need to say more about this?

Foundation: Some time later in 2021.
Making a tv series out of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is incredibly ambitious. Until recent special effects technologies came into being, this would have been borderline unfilmable. Apple TV+ hasn’t announced a release date, but it looks absolutely fabulous. Plus Lee Pace is the Emperor of the Galaxy and Terrence Mann is in one of the main roles. Color me intrigued.

What have you been watching lately? And what new shows are you excited for?

4/52

2004 Steven Was A Big Dummy

In April of 2004, I complained in a LiveJournal post that the $76.50 ticket price for a Prince concert was just too expensive. I was an idiot and a first-class buffoon. If I could time-travel, I would absolutely go on a tour of my stupid decisions, and I would repeatedly slap these younger stupid Stevens.

I did see Prince once, with Jade Walker and another friend. The year was 1997, and Prince was going by “The Artist” at the time. The show took place at the Miami Arena, a venue which has since been demolished and turned into a parking lot. The price for that ticket was a smidge over fifty bucks, and I would happily pay a much, much higher fee to see His Royal Purple Badness one more time.

I never had the chance to see David Bowie live. I didn’t really know how much I loved Queen until Freddie Mercury was already gone. I never saw Michael Jackson or George Michael. I missed Oingo Boingo’s touring days, although I did finally manage to see Danny Elfman in London.

Music is life. I say that so, so often on this blog, but it’s more than just a pithy slogan for me. Concerts are so much a part of my identity that I push through travel anxiety and a dislike of crowds to go to them over and over.

I went to 28 ticketed shows in 2019. In 2020, I went to seven.

Thanks to the pandemic, almost all the shows I wanted to see for the other nine months of last year were either canceled or postponed. It will be months before we can really do concerts again- there’s a sprinkling of new shows available at a few venues, but at greatly reduced capacity, and in a very different form than what I’m used to.

Now that vaccines are starting to be distributed, I’m more impatient than ever to get back to regular concert-going, and I have a not-really-very-short-list of artists that I would go far, far out of my way to see.

From the “I had a chance to see them, but circumstances kept me away from the show and I’m still mad about it” file:

  • Betty Who – She played downtown Orlando and I was otherwise engaged.
  • Ciel Gloss – She did a show in New York when I was there in December of 2019 and I couldn’t make it work.
  • Imagine Dragons – I actually had tickets to this show, and was unable to go at the last minute.
  • Mindy Gledhill – She played a Northern Virginia venue really close to here. I wasn’t here yet. Timing is everything.
  • Kesha – This is another tour that was canceled by the pandemic.
  • Janelle Monae – Another Orlando show that I am KICKING myself for not catching.

From the “I deeply respect their artistry and I really really really wanna see them live despite all the hype!” file:

  • Taylor Swift – Does Taylor Swift really need commentary from me?
  • Mavis Staples – This woman is a badass and she’s toured vaguely near me a few times and I really should have just made the drive.
  • P!nk – Pink is one of those shows that I really just should have ponied up the money to see when she played Orlando.
  • Lorde – I wonder if she’ll ever tour outside of New Zealand again. Damn, I hope so.
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – I actually saw her once, and the show was so good that I would absolutely see her again. If your opinion of her is based solely on “Call Me Maybe,” you should check out some of the other stuff on her five albums.

From the “I learned about this artist after their last tour concluded and then a pandemic happened and now I want to see them live so badly it probably looks like I have to pee” file:

  • Meg Myers – I was introduced to this artist by another friend, right after her tour in support of “Take Me To The Disco” ended. If I had a time machine…
  • Grendel – This band has been around for 20+ years already, but I was unaware of them until just recently, and I love what I’m hearing.
  • Marit Larsen – I’m not sure if Marit Larsen ever tours in North America- she’s from Norway and has mostly stuck around Europe and the Nordic countries. Maybe once it’s safe to fly long distances again.
  • Kelsea Ballerini – She’s a much newer artist with one song that got plastered all over the radio, but I’ve listened to more of her stuff and she’d be a blast to see live.
  • Ladyhawke – She’s another New Zealander, and I have no idea if she tours the US.
  • Jackie Venson – I first saw Jackie Venson on Austin City Limits, and she kicks ass.

I’m aware that most of the names above are in one particular genre of music, but I promise there’s other stuff on my radar. Don’t get me wrong- this is by no means a complete and unabridged list of who I want to see live- I’ve already got tickets to see eleven different shows later this year, and I’m watching carefully for announcements about others.

Music is life. And I miss living.

What concert do you most wish you’d seen when you had the chance?

2/52

Whamageddon Memorial

On the 24th of December, at 1:12 PM in the afternoon, I have ascended to Whamhalla. It’s my own fault, I suppose- I was listening to a Pandora holiday station, but I thought I was going to be safe because they were playing the likes of Tony Bennett and Gene Autry.

Good luck, my fellow Wham Warriors who are still in the game- just eleven hours remain on the East Coast!

#whamageddon

Prowling on little cat feet, December is upon us.

While I have been writing a post for every day of November to be a part of NanoPoblano, I have also been reading the posts of the other Peppers. Their lives and their writings are amazing, and I am reminded of something Ray Bradbury said:

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

– from “Zen in the Art of Writing,” by Ray Bradbury

It’s been lovely to watch each of my NanoPoblano compatriots tipping themselves over each day. I wanted to also say thank you to those of you who spent time reading along and commenting during this NanoPoblano month- having comments to read and interact with made it a far more entertaining venture than simply writing into the void.

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do for the last post of November- I considered a recap of the month, but considering how much I dislike clip shows on tv, that seemed ill advised.

I considered a few brief thoughts on some random links and articles that I’ve been collecting all month, like geese and egg creams and weird winter relationship rituals, but I don’t think I want to do that right now. Maybe I’ll come back to that in December.

I thought for a while that perhaps I’d talk about all the things that I want to do when the pandemic is over, or the things I’m looking forward to coming up. I don’t want to do that now, though, because looking forward when there’s still so much Covid to endure just seems like a special new form of torture. We’re not there yet.

I considered wrapping up with a post I’ve had stewing for a while about St. Elmo’s Fire, growing up, and suffering through limerence… but that post isn’t cooked all the way through yet, and if I serve it too early, it will give my friends food poisoning.

I thought about posting some photographs of food, because good lord I sure do take a lot of photos of food, but this isn’t Instagram and I’m not a food blogger, although I sometimes pretend to play one on TV.

I thought I would have trouble coming up with something to write about every day this month, but I never really wanted for ideas, even if sometimes those ideas were a little cheesy, and even if sometimes I had trouble finding the time and concentration to make them real.

I am delighted by the fact that I can make a blog post out of all the things I’m not making into a blog post. I like the weird symmetry of that.

One last thing, before I turn my attention to an unrelated but very important piece of bloggery… I cannot believe that not a single one of you commented on my “Chairman Meow” joke during the Hong Kong posts!

And now for something completely different:

As we roll into December, I begin the annual challenge of Whamageddon. The rules are very simple:

  1. The objective is to go as long as possible without hearing Wham!’s Christmas classic; “Last Christmas”.
  2. The game starts on December 1st, and ends at midnight on December 24th. (I use my local time zone, but not everyone follows the rules in an identical way.)
  3. You’re out as soon as you recognize the song.
  4. Only the original version applies. Remixes and covers do not send you to the fields of Whamhalla, although they might raise your pulse a bit.
  5. If you like, post on social media with the #whamageddon hashtag when you get hit.
  6. The intention is that this is a survival game, and not a battle royale. In other words, don’t be a dick and don’t play Last Christmas to your friends. No Whammied Rick-Rolls, please.

I play Whamageddon every year, because it’s a really silly bit of fluffery and I enjoy pretending to anguish over my fallen brethren as they ascend to Whamhalla. Two years ago, I was taken out by a Wham-grenade planted by someone I trusted, foolishly. Last year I survived despite some perilous journeys to places where piped in Christmas music is the norm.

This year will be strange. On the one hand, I work from home and live alone, so my media control is pretty straightforward. On the other hand, I sometimes take the metro and go into places where I have no control over what I might hear. Even a walk across the street to get a sandwich might expose me to The Song.

Will you join me on the battlefield? Will you play Whamageddon with me? C’mon, it’ll be fun!

How was your NanoPoblano month? And will you play Whamageddon starting tomorrow?

51/52 (and 30 of 30, y’all! ::dusts off keyboard::)

Five Stars.

I am stingy with my five-star ratings.

I’ve been tracking the books I read on Goodreads.com for about ten years now. 257 of them are in my “read” category, and of those 257, I gave ten books five stars.

When you’re rating a book and you mouse over the stars, here’s what the mouseover text says:

★ - did not like it
★★ - it was ok
★★★ - liked it
★★★★ - really liked it
★★★★★ - it was amazing

Well obviously these are very, very high standards and are not to be taken lightly. Most really great books don’t top a four-star rating for me. The vast majority don’t even break three stars, to be honest. And for me to call a book amazing, it has to blow my socks off in a particularly memorable way.

When DiAnne talked about books all the way back on day 9 of NanoPoblano, I considered a top ten list… but top ten lists shift and shimmy based on mood and the passage of time. My five-star books, on the other hand, remain five stars.

With that in mind, I’d like to share six of the books that I rated five stars on Goodreads.com. These are all fiction, although not all of my top-rated books are.

The Girl Who Drank The Moon – Kelly Barnhill

This book is the newest one on the list by a wide margin, and was also the 2017 Newbery Medal winner. The story is full of magic and moonlight and witches and one Perfectly Tiny Dragon, and I don’t want to say more because it would just spoil the story- you only get a first time reading book this magical once. This is technically written for young readers, but I enjoyed it perfectly well as an adult. The story definitely did not go where I expected it to go, and I’m in love with half the characters, especially the aforementioned Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Really now, who doesn’t want their own Perfectly Tiny Dragon companion?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (series) – Douglas Adams

The link above is to the “Ultimate” edition, which really just means “five of the novels and a short story.” I love this entire series, end to end, and I have for most of my life. I started reading this series when I was about nine years old, and I remember being absolutely delighted when new books in the series kept coming out over the following years- my first exposure with the habit of great genre titles to make you wait for the next installment.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide series has been books, radio shows, an LP, a television miniseries, still more radio shows, comic books, trading cards, and so much more. When I went to Edinburgh in 2012, the entire trip was built around the fact that the cast of the radio show was doing a live performance, with Neil Gaiman as the voice of The Guide. Going to that show was the culmination of three decades of love for the HHG franchise. The entire series is fluffy good fun and I enjoy re-reading it once every few years.

Pyramids – Terry Pratchett

While all of the Discworld novels are entertaining, the seventh book in the series is somewhat separate from the rest of them- it has no shared characters from the rest of the series, and has little to do with the story arcs from the other novels.

The book is a hilarious satire of religion and faith, set in the desert kingdom of Djelibeybi, which is basically Discworld’s answer to Egypt. The story is about a twelve-year-old Pharaoh named Pteppic (the P is silent), newly graduated from the Assassin’s Guild, as he tries to meet his responsibilities, build a pyramid for his recently deceased father, and deal with a headstrong handmaiden named Ptracy. (Again, the P is silent.) There are mad priests, sacred crocodiles, and a mathematical genius named You Bastard who happens to be a camel.

I’ve always been a little bit fascinated by Egyptian culture, pyramids, and the like, so this was just a delight to read from cover to cover.

Stranger In A Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land is another one that I like to re-read every so often. First released in 1961, it tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human being who was raised on Mars, away from any other humans. The story begins with his return to Earth, and shows him learning to deal with other people and their complicated lives for the first time. So-called “Human Nature” is alien to him, and he introduces the world to his own beliefs and values.

This book is the origin of the term grokking, or “to grok,” a word that has its own Wikipedia page and is now in the dictionary. The Library of Congress named it one of 88 “Books that Shaped America.”

It’s really, really good.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite book is, I usually answer this one. I love it dearly and it’s another one that I re-read once every few years. Here’s what it’s about:

What if the end of the world was going to happen next Saturday, just after tea, and the major players in the end times have misplaced the antichrist? This book is the story of that eventuality. Among the very large cast of characters is Aziraphale, the answer to “what if C-3PO was a fussy angel instead of a fussy droid,” a fast-talking, fast-living demon named Crowley, witches, Witchfinders, hellhounds, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and of course the antichrist.

Good Omens was notably adapted for television last year, and that was one program I had been waiting for since the first time I read the book in the early 1990s. I was utterly convinced that it was completely unfilmable, but if modern technology can give us a convincing Balrog and an updated Howard the Duck, it can certainly show us the end of the world. It turned out to be completely delightful and I’m incredibly happy with it, but it still only captured about two-thirds of the wonderfulness that is this hilarious, amazing book.

Still Life With Woodpecker – Tom Robbins

While most of this books listed in this post are in no particular order, I chose this one for last because it is the only title that is neither science fiction nor fantasy. Still Life was written by Tom Robbins in 1980, and it concerns the love affair between a red-headed environmentalist princess and an outlaw.

The novel repeatedly addresses the question of “how to make love stay.” Although it is set in more or less the real world, it most definitely has elements of fantasy. It is at times quite funny as well.

As I’ve been writing this post, I’ve also been looking at other people’s reviews of these books on Goodreads, and this one is divisive- a great many people leaving reviews did not like Still Life With Woodpecker. Ah, well, to each their own.

What are some of your top-rated favorite books?

50/52 (and 29 of 30!)