• Books,  Movies

    My Favorite Watches and Reads of 2023

    It’s January 1, so we’re all contractually obligated to post our favorites of the past year. (Don’t blame me–I just work here.) But if I’ve learned nothing else this year, I know I need to keep better track of what I watch and read in the future. That said, here are a few of my 2023 takes. Series and Films Reservation Dogs (Hulu and FX)Sure, Reservation Dogs started in 2021, but it ended this year, and I can confidently say it will remain one of my favorite series. On paper, it sounds like a good watch, but as a series, it lives and breathes heartbreak, humor, and joy. The entire…

  • Books,  Miscellaneous,  Writing

    Across the Table from David Sedaris

    This piece was originally written in November, 2016 and first published on US Represented. Friday before last, I went to see David Sedaris read at the Center for the Performing Arts in Denver. For those who don’t know, Sedaris is an American author, humorist, and radio contributor best known for his delightfully skewed slice-of-life essays and articles about his family and life abroad. Going in, I hadn’t been sure whether Sedaris would be doing a signing that evening or not, so I was happy to find out that I’d be able to get him to sign a book. Hopping up from my seat, I clambered over my wife, friends, and…

  • Movies

    Being Excellent, and Other Lessons from Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan

    Tonight, I watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for probably the thousandth time. There’s a little exaggeration in that number but not much. Over the years, since I first watched this flick with three friends in a San Diego cineplex, my appreciation for the way Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves triumphantly play these two dudes has only grown. Excellent Adventure is often dismissed as just a silly movie, and it is silly, but it’s also much more than that. It’s an adventure with a ton of peril but no conventional villain, and it’s a dangerous story in which no one gets hurt. From a storytelling perspective, that usually amounts to…

  • Writing

    The Longest Day

    During our fourth week of U.S. Navy boot camp, we found ourselves in the service of the mess hall. The navy called it Service Week, and we’d been warned about it for the previous three weeks. Everyone said it would be a sweet little piece of hell made up of the most interminable days imaginable. To the carefree civilian, we were told, eight weeks in boot camp might seem like nothing, but to the recruit, Service Week was like a month of decades. Still, we wondered if what we’d been told about Service Week was just another example of our collective leg being pulled. Getting a break from being berated…

  • Books,  Movies

    A Few Thoughts About Doctor Sleep

    Mike Flanagan masterfully adapts King’s source material, and Ewan McGregor and Kyliegh Curran are perfect as Dan and Abra. Speaking of Dan Torrance, poor dude. What a life. McGregor inhabits him with sadness and heart. I like to think Abra will have a better go of it. Also, I’m always glad to see Cliff Curtis and Bruce Greenwood in anything, and they’re excellent in this one as Billy and Dr. John. And who’d have thought to cast Henry Thomas in the part he plays (no spoilers)? Not me, for sure, but wow. It isn’t for everyone, and some of the scenes, even as they faithfully serve the story and characters, are…

  • Movies

    The Man Who Invented Christmas

    For the first time in around ten years, I recently re-read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a group of friends, and I was surprised at how much I’d mis-remembered or plain forgotten about it. Mostly, I was reminded how beautifully it was written and just how dark, powerful, and revolutionary a story it is. Dickens catches a lot of flack—rightly so, at times—for “padding” his stories, but A Christmas Carol is lean and efficient. Inspired by that re-read, my wife and I watched this movie tonight, The Man Who Invented Christmas, a somewhat fictionalized account of Dickens’ conception and composition of A Christmas Carol in just about six weeks. This…

  • Miscellaneous,  Writing

    A (Last) New Year’s Resolution

    As the new year recedes in the rear distance, at least every other advertisement I see is related in some way to weight loss: gyms, home exercise equipment, diet plans ranging from sensible to so drastic I’d need to swear off tasty food for the rest of my natural life. In that place where capitalism intersects with insecurity, everyone banks on everyone’s desire to lose weight, tone up the flab, and feel sexy. Or feel sexier, at the very least. I mention this because this is the time of year when I’m usually contemplating resolutions right along with everyone else, and they’re all at least marginally health related: lose weight,…

  • Movies

    A Few Thoughts on Duncan Jones’ Mute

    Last night, we finally got around to watching Duncan Jones’ Mute, and today I’m still processing it. It was densely packed with narrative, beautifully shot, and deeply disturbing. So, in other words, a productive way to spend a Saturday night. I’ve read quite a few negative reviews of Mute, most of them citing slow pacing, overwhelming visuals, and a confusing storyline as negatives. I can see their points, though I don’t entirely agree. It’s definitely a film that demands careful attention, which doesn’t always go over well these days. A few observations: -I enjoyed all the references to Jones’ other film Moon, complete with Sam Rockwells (not a typo). Also,…

  • Books

    Kira Jane Buxton’s Hollow Kingdom

    Every once in a while, you take a chance on a book and it doesn’t pay off. That’s just the nature of the business of reading. If you only read the writers and genres you know, there’s no fun in that. Plus, you’ll never expand your horizons, which sort of defeats the purpose of reading in the first place. Still, relying on reviews (especially those of the Amazon variety), lists, and word of mouth will only get you so far. Sure, taste is subjective, but I can’t count the number of books I’ve started after hearing positive recommendations only to wonder “What were those reviewers thinking? Did they lose a…

  • Movies

    A Few Stray Observations on Knives Out

    What a cast. With the exception of Blanc (Daniel Craig) and Marta (Ana de Armas), no one cast member gets an inordinate amount of screen time, but they all make their scenes count. Michael Shannon is always a little terrifying, even when he’s not really supposed to be. Captain America notwithstanding, no one plays an entitled jerk like Chris Evans. Once Daniel Craig is no longer James Bond, I look forward to the Benoit Blanc mystery movie franchise. I quickly lost count of the memorable lines, but I honk-laughed at Blanc’s comment about what the Nazi child was allegedly doing in the bathroom.