I haven't done one of these posts in a while, so there's quite a bit I've enjoyed since then. I'm going to be more selective than usual for this one, though it's still a long list.
Really quick before I jump in, the paperback of The Business of Short Stories is now available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble!
The Real O'Neals
This show is hysterical on its own, but it's also great to experience with a child on the rainbow. I introduced my daughter to it, and she absolutely loved it. She is always actively seeking positive representation, and this hit the right spot.
It's about a young man in an Irish Catholic family who comes out, not only to them, but to everybody, including the other students at his Catholic school. While it's a light, humorous look at many aspects of an individual who has come out, particularly in a family where that could be extra problematic, there are many incredibly touching moments and some heavier topics are touched upon.
The mom is played by Martha Plimpton, who I've been a fan of since Goonies. She's still fantastic in this. (Hulu, I think)
I may have recommended this one before (?). Not sure. But I love it, so I'm recommending it again. If the name Taika Waititi means anything to you, you'll know that his being attached to this show means comedy gold. This is a TV show by indigenous people for everyone. Reservation life isn't easy, but with an eclectic group of folks moving around the rez, it's also never boring. With a fabulous cast of older familiar faces in addition to the young actors the show primarily follows, there are phenomenal moments of humor. All the while, people get a backstage glance at rez life and the challenges therein.
There are mild fantastical elements, basically in the form of a spirit guide who haunts one of the main kids. He never got to fight Custer, because his horse stepped in a gopher hole and rolled over on top of him as he rode down to the battle. Every time he's on the screen, I'm laughing. But maybe there's some wisdom under his comedy, after all. (Hulu)
I know, this is an old one. I've only just discovered it, surprised that there was a Christina Applegate show I'd never watched. It was also fun to discover a younger Melissa McCarthy in this one.
A woman wakes up in the hospital with complete amnesia. As she tries to get back to her life, she discovers she was a horrible person before her accident. The situations she finds herself in, often because of who she used to be, are hilarious, and her parents are ridiculous. Light and entertaining. (Hulu)
I had no idea until last night that this show existed. Suicide Squad 2 wasn't the best (though I actually liked it), but John Cena's character Peacemaker was one of the better elements. Well, he's got his own spinoff, and it's hilarious. It popped up after we'd finished a movie, and we clicked on it out of curiosity. The opening sequence will make you laugh, which is always a good sign.
Peacemaker is loyal to the U.S. to a fault. He follows orders and takes things very literally. This shows follows his miraculous recovery after a building fell on him in Suicide Squad 2. He's been hired to kill very bad people. However, he's a bit of an idiot. Fun and mayhem ensues.
Also, he has a pet/sidekick American bald eagle named...Eagly. Seriously. (HBO)
I hadn't heard anything about this, but saw it streaming. Seeing who the actresses were, I figured I'd give it a gander. So glad I did! While the storyline isn't necessarily terribly original, the actresses and writing make it worth it.
Three women face life after one of their friends dies suddenly, just in time for their midlife crises. Maggie Q plays a doctor who decides she needs a change, so applies to work at a grocery store. Eliza Coupe is a mom with questionable momming abilities and an addiction to artificial sweeteners. Ginnifer Goodwin starts considering an affair with her younger personal trainer. Their foibles are unforgettable, and the actresses smash their roles. (Hulu)
It's a reality show, but I had to add it, because my husband and I got hooked on this mindless entertainment for a while. The cameras follow the crew of luxury yachts as they scramble to work the interior and exterior for eccentric, rich clients. Drama, humor, sex, romance, tensions, and fights riddle the ship's crew, but they have to be professional when interacting with the clientele. The staff are global, so if you like accents, you'll be in Heaven. Never worked with a chef? Well, you'll learn they're all crazy. The chief stew is basically mom to the rest of the crew, and they aptly resent her for it. The bosun or First Officer runs the deck crew with varying degrees of success. And, hey, if you've ever doubted sexism is alive and well, you'll see it on a few seasons, especially if you get to the one with the Smashton Bru Crew. (That's not a typo--bru is bro in South Africa). Happily, it's not a constant issue in other seasons, and the captain of one of the fellow shows, set in the Mediterranean, has a female captain.
There are several variations, including Below Deck Sailing Yacht and Below Deck Mediterranean, plus a new show starting in February, Below Deck Down Under. My favorite captain is the one on Sailing Yacht, a laid back, but firm, guy from Canada. (Peacock, Bravo)
We Sold Our Souls, Grady Hendrix
If you like dark, but humorous, Grady Hendrix is your guy. Especially if you also like a clever new view on tropes. While this one isn't my favorite by him, I enjoyed it. The MC gets a blast from the past when the guy who used to be in her band, but tricked his bandmates into selling everything to him shows up on a comeback tour. Her need for revenge quickly becomes a desperate rush to save not only herself and her ex-bandmates, but the world. It turns out those contracts he had them sign involved more than their playlist.
The Winter People, Jennifer McMahon
I'll admit that I wasn't sure I'd like this one at first. It felt too meandering and it was hard to who anyone was or why they had anything to do with the others. However, the writing was beautiful, and I was certain it would tie together eventually, so I persevered until it wasn't about persevering but about not being able to put the book down.
An isolated farmhouse holds more than its share of secrets. From that farmhouse, a single mother goes missing, leaving her teenager daughter suddenly responsible for her little sister while trying to find out what happened to her mom. Hidden caches in the floorboards and a sealed closet door in the master bedroom lead her on a mission that introduces her to crazy and dangerous people and a secret she never saw coming.
Yours Cruelly, Elvira, Cassandra Peterson
It will surprise absolutely no one that I'm an Elvira fan, so when I happened across a signed copy of this at Barnes & Nobles (does that mean I missed the signing?? Sob), I had to get it. Here's the thing, though, her time as Elvira is a relatively small portion of a fascinating life. I found myself enthralled with her adventurous personality and pure bravery in throwing herself into new situations and opportunities. From her days as a groupie and go-go dancer, to being a showgirl in Vegas, to traveling Italy with a band then getting stranded there, penniless, she finds a way out and eventually makes it to Hollywood, making it big, but not in the classic way.
I had a lot of fun reading about the band and club scene in Colorado Springs (yes, she was a local) while it was still coming into its own. In addition, she dishes on some celebrities, some of which you'll appreciate and some of which you'll see for the snakes they are.
Die Trying, Lee Reacher
It's been some time since I read a Reacher novel, though I used to enjoy them. It took me a bit to get past the rampant use of sentence fragments, but once I did, I was sucked in.
Jack Reacher finds himself held hostage with a female FBI agent, no explanation, and no concrete knowledge on whether they were after him or her. They're dragged across the country to deal with a dangerous group with a fraught ideology and a violent plan.
I felt like Reacher was allowed to be more flawed and human in this one than what I remember from earlier books. He even faces a seriously phobic moment that had me tense, too.
Okay, so this one was more for fans to get a meta revisit than anything else, but it was floofy entertainment for a while. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. The actors who took over as Morpheus and Agent Smith didn't have the charisma of the original actors (close, but just not there), but it was good to see Reeves and Moss back again, as well as Jada Pinkett Smith. I liked Neil Patrick Harris's role, and it felt fitting. I'm glad I didn't actually pay to go see it, though, so I'd recommend waiting until it's back on HBO or renting it when the time comes.
It's not often I get to see angry, militant Graham Greene vs. calm, philosophical, friend-of-the-white-man Graham Greene. You'll also probably recognize Floyd Red Crow, even if you don't know the name. In this film, a white man is fighting to cease deforestation, working with local tribes. But when his efforts in court are a loss, Greene's character overhears him saying he wants to make the men who did this pay, to suffer. Greene takes the MC hostage, along with the head of the logging company, whisks them away to the middle of nowhere, and proceeds to makes things very rough for the logging exec.
There are some problematic areas, including, of course, the Great White Savior trope, but I felt like that was subverted a bit. When I looked up the director, it was, of course, not an indigenous director. However, the director had fled dangerous politics in Poland, and this was his first English-language film. I found it fascinating watching the take of someone who was very much an outsider in all ways. The fact that he'd cottoned to this issue upon fleeing his own country meant it touched him in some way, but also that it was a visible issue at the time.
I'm a Greene fan, so I'll watch anything he's in. I liked seeing him angry for once. I liked seeing him fight back. I'm not going to lie, there was some satisfaction in that. (Shudder)
February 2 will not just be the usual IWSG day, though that will be happening, too, but it will also be an opportunity to pay tribute to a friend the blogging community has lost. Jeremy Hawkins died earlier this month, and Alex J. Cavanaugh is organizing a tribute to him. Click on Alex's name for more information.
T-6 days and counting! I've closed signups for help with the launch, because I've been absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response from you guys. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped and will be helping by spreading the word in the next month, and to those of you who have visited and commented at other blogs. Here's the ongoing schedule: