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

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!)

Drug Name or Sci-Fi Alien?

I watch a lot of television. Because of that, I see a lot of commercials. Over and over again, I see the same commercials. Little by little, they drill their way past my disinterest to lodge brand names in my forebrain.

The worst of them are the drug commercials, with their happy people living happy lives. It’s rare that you can actually tell what condition a drug treats from the commercial alone- there’s a lot of couples walking on the beach, a lot of people playing with their children, a lot of people biking and hiking and dancing.

The mystery of what the drugs are for isn’t what got my attention though, it’s the names of the drugs. The names in these commercials are so multisyllabic and ridiculous that I started to play a little game with myself: Is this a drug from a pharmaceutical commercial, or an alien race from science fiction?

I think this is really funny, so I started to keep a list on my phone. I got this far along before I stopped:

The really ridiculous part is that I made this list a few months ago, and I’ve actually forgotten some of the alien species I added to the list.

What do you think, drug name or alien species?

44/52 (and 23 of 30!)