Advent Day 14: Dark

I do love the unexpected, and some unexpected goodness has been coming to use courtesy of German TV in recent years. I’m anxiously awaiting a follow-up season to 1983, but meanwhile Netflix offered the opportunity to indulge in Dark, and this show satisfied my appreciation for batcrap crazy storylines that take you where you least expect.

There’s mystery. There’s horror. And there’s time travel. Children are going missing. Suspicion and distrust linger over everyone. And nothing is quite as it seems. Wonderfully atmospheric and very creative. I do appreciate a show that swings for the fences, and this one went for broke.

 

 

Advent Day 15: Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown

Advent Day 16: Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horror

Advent Day 17: Freeze-Frame Revolution

Advent Day 18: Haunting of Hill House

Advent Day 19: Wind River

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature

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Advent Day 15: Parts Unknown

It’s been a tough year, and one of the really shocking moments was the death of Anthony Bourdain. At a time when some countries openly persecute those who are different and try to shut out the world around them, Bourdain broke down barriers and embraced cultural exploration.

He traveled. He tasted the delicacies of nations. He talked to people and tried to understand them and their thinking.

He was, in the truest sense of the word, a diplomat. Had he been able to apply those talents to international relations he truly could have ushered in meaningful change, because he was able to do what so many politicians (and people) can’t. He found the wonder in every culture, the common ground, the riches that couldn’t be measured. He visited places few travel to, like Myanmar, and he ventured to places where Americans aren’t always welcome. And everywhere he found people who showed him tremendous hospitality. He didn’t gloss things over or pretend everything was wonderful, but he showed the good things too and he sent messages of hope to the world. He built bridges. When we watch the episodes and see that people in the Middle East or Africa or Asia aren’t so different from us, perhaps we can find a way to dial down the rhetoric, stop meddling in other nations and learn from them. That’s what Bourdain did. And that’s why he was accepted everywhere.

 

He went to the places others fear to travel to, and he found hope for freedom in Libya, the widest smiles in the Philippines, all the things to love about Beirut and so much more.

He is missed.

Advent Day 16: Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horror

Advent Day 17: Freeze-Frame Revolution

Advent Day 18: Haunting of Hill House

Advent Day 19: Wind River

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature

Advent Day 16: Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors

BookcoverSticking with a horror theme, one of my favorite books from this past year was Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors. This is also a very distinct addition to my book list, because it’s an anthology. All of the stories follow Dana Roberts, who specializes in eliminating evil spirits and investigating alleged paranormal phenomenon.

Written by Joe and Kasey Lansdale, several stories follow Joe’s character, Dana, through different jobs. Then Kasey steps in and introduces a counterpart to Dana who had me laughing out loud. If her writing is any indication, Kasey brings the sass in that family. My original review is here. Absolutely loved this collection. So much so that I’ve never put it away. I let it out of my sight only long enough to lend it to one of the teens.

 

Advent Day 17: Freeze-Frame Revolution

Advent Day 18: Haunting of Hill House

Advent Day 19: Wind River

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature

Advent Day 17: Freeze-Frame Revolution

I have to admit I have a strange habit with my reading. It’s either terrible or wonderful, depending on the book and who you ask.

I’ve judged book awards for the last three years (for a site that’s now taking a bow) and been a paid reviewer. I’m starting a new paid reviewing position elsewhere.

As a result, I get a lot of books that I don’t necessarily choose, or pick from a limited list, and I don’t always pay that much attention to genre or theme or anything else. I just dive in.

36510759The Freeze-Frame Revolution wasn’t one of those books, but the practice bleeds over to other review copies I accept. I keep a list of what is due when and try to work through it and don’t refresh my memory on the particulars before I do.

So there was a moment when I set this book down to help with dinner and told Brian, “This is batshit crazy and I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t care! I love it.”

And wow, did I ever. I strapped myself in for this wild and crazy and completely original ride. The author is one of those authors that’s smart enough to know that readers don’t need to be info-dumped with all the answers up front. The revelations keep coming as things progress and this dystopian sci fi story has a thrillerish pace that increases page after page. Even thinking about this book right now reminds me of how intense it was, and how I was on pins and needles waiting to find out what would happen. My original review is here.

 

Advent Day 18: Haunting of Hill House

Advent Day 19: Wind River

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature

Advent Day 18: Haunting of Hill House

Does anyone still need a reason to watch Haunting of Hill House? I absolutely loved how this series looked at children who’d lived in a haunted house and explored the PTSD that messed with their lives as adults.

And anyone who appreciated that aspect of the story will be thrilled to hear that the director is bringing his touch to an exploration of The Shining.

I found Haunting of Hill House fascinating. It was interesting to consider how those childhood experiences would affect each person.

 

This goes beyond ghosts. The psychological horror is real. The trauma is real. And the way people put up walls, live in denial and shut others because they can’t cope is all too real. Will it take another tragedy to bring the Crain family back together again? Or will new conflicts tear open old wounds and destroy what little is left of this family?

 

Advent Day 19: Wind River

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature

Advent Day 19: Wind River

 

Wind River isn’t a complicated story. An Indigenous girl is murdered on a Reserve, and as is so common with the rest of the U.S. when it comes to Indigenous people, almost nobody cares. Add in a tracker who is struggling with his own grief and some incredible performances and you have a gut-wrenching story that looks at love, loss, justice and what connects us all, in spite of skin color or zip code.

There’s a scene in this movie that left me a complete emotional wreck. That’s how powerful the performances are.

Brilliant. Must watch. And must watch again.

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

There are 5000 people in Letterkenny.

These are their problems.

Letterkenny is simply the best comedy perhaps ever. It doesn’t even matter that it has the extra bonus of being Canadian, although that definitely adds to some of the humor because they love taking the piss out of Americans.

The dialogue is superb. It’s so quick and precise and brutal. We’ve watched all the episodes on Hulu twice and still find ourselves catching things we missed first time around.

Funny thing is that I’m not the big comedy fan in the house. In fact, I’ve long had an aversion to comedies. It’s the rare comedy that hooks me as a die-hard fan.

Yet since 2016, I’ve needed comedies in my life.

And thank God there’s some top shelf stuff out there to enjoy. Hulu better get seasons 3-6 soon. Figure it out.

 

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature