The Skunk Report

It was Valentine’s Day, ten PM. The blinds were down. Thumping came from beside the house. Squeaking ensued. Definitely an animal noise. I turned. Outside lights detected motion and lit the area.

I pulled the blinds up. The squeaking came from a skunk, our skunk, as we call her. Haven’t formally named her yet but we know her by her tail, which looks like a well-used white toilet brush.

Furious squeaking kept going. She was jumping and darting briskly around. I zipped into the other room to bring my wife to the spectacle. Not much was on television and I’d just finished reading my book.

“What’s she doing?” my wife asked.

“I think she’s fighting with something.”

“I think she has a mouse.”

The skunk jumped back, leaped to one side, and twirled. “I don’t see a mouse. I think she’s fighting with something else.”

Our skunk turned and rushed away. There was no mouse. As we stood to consider what we’ve seen, another skunk darted out from under the house. Bigger than our skunk, I’d seen ‘him’ before. “Look.” I pointed him out. “I think she was fighting him. They sometimes fight.”

My wife was nodding. “Yes. I read that females will reject males and sometimes spray them in a defensive action.”

“So he came a-callin’…”

“And she said, no thank you.” The skunk disappeared. The lights went off. My wife turned away. “I think she doesn’t want him because she’s in love with Boo.” Boo is our big black cat with a single white star on his chest.

I remained doubtful. I began lowering the blind. The light appeared. ‘He’ appeared. He looked up at me.

I nodded down at him. “Tough luck, brother. Can you go somewhere else?”

He scurried off into the night. The light went off. I finished lowering the blind on the theater and began wondering what I was going to watch on the telly.

Live theater is so much better.

Zomboat

Our entertainment efforts are sinking. By that, I mean, the stuff that others create that entertain us. “Devs” was interesting but I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the science. My wife’s eyes glazed over as soon as I asked, “What’d you think of the science?”

But it was a diversion, as was “The Last Kingdom”. I’m a Bernard Cornwell fan. I was leery and excited about the series when it came out. Sometimes when a movie or series is made about a novel or series, it hurts too much to watch, because they change everything, damn it.

(Likewise, it’s ruined if I know too much about a subject. I didn’t enjoy Ford v. Ferrari as much as many because there were too many small lies. Likewise, Rocketman failed to launch for me. I kept saying, “Elton John didn’t write that song, Bernie did,” or, “That song didn’t come out until years later. WTF?” Then I’d hurry to googlepedia to verify that I wasn’t going insane. Some critics noted that Rocketman was a musical fantasy. Ohhh; like that’s a license to lie. Anyway.)

(Yeah, and that was my problem with “Devs”. I’m not a computer wizard or physicist or anything, but when they said some of their stuff, I retorted to the screen, “What? But — “. Then I whirled to speak to my wife, who steadfastly looked away. Some of it was clarified by the end, but some just hangs out there, waiting for discussion.)

The Last Kingdom” was very entertaining, although I had to keep googlepediaing everything for veracity. Cornwell often explains in his novels where he diverges from history, and why, and often had meticulous reasons. Yeah, I know the series itself is based on some fanciful potentials, but he generally fits it in well.

I’d also gone through the newest season of “Bosch” fast, and then “Upload”. The two seasons of “Counterpart” that were made were swallowed like cold beer on a hot day. We’re indulging in “The Great” but it’s another one where the truth is a dim light. At least they warn you right up front that it’s sometimes historically correct and is satire, but yeah, they cut out a huge chunk of history in making it.

The Aussies, of course, have pitched in something intriguing. They often manage to kick something out that makes us pause to watch. In this case, it’s “Bloom”. It has lost its luster for my wife, but she says she’ll keep watching to see if it ends up making sense.

Besides those, we’re watching “What We Do in the Shadows”. Had to, with Jemaine Clement and Taiki Waititi involved. It’s entertaining (although I keep thinking that Matt Berry is still Toast, but as a vampire).

We really like smart mysteries and comedies, though. It’s best when they’re combined. “Raised by Wolves” and “Misfits” come to mind as two ideal shows. “The Kominsky Method” and “Fleabag” answered our humorous tastes. The Aussie effort, “Rake”, too, and the Brit show, “Shameless” from eons ago (American versions of “Rake” and “Shameless” didn’t work out for me.) We’d tried “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”, and found it, ‘okay’. CBS was a little more fun with “Picard”. But really, where was the new offbeat stuff?

Then I stumbled over “Zomboat”. Zombedy always energizes us. Give us Shaun of the Dead and the Zombieland movies, and we’re very happy. “Zomboat” was like them, but fresher and smarter.

These people were idiots, but with some self-awareness. Better, they had distinct personalities, and were struggling with life and their situation. They bring history but not anything heavy. They were, if you will, well fleshed-out characters.

Alas, it was also only one year, and just six episodes. We went through them in three days.

So now, here we are, searching entertainmentland for new ventures to push the sludge of time along. “Baroness von Skit” was found. A few of those were consumed. They might be the short-term antidote that we seek.

Meanwhile, there’s got to be something else out there.

The quest goes on.

Floofertainment

Floofertainment (floofinition) – 1. Diversion or amusement provided by animals, especially pets, live or via recorded or printed media.

In use: “Floofertainment often ends up with people wondering just what the animals are thinking, or becoming surprised by the animals’ apparent intelligence.”

2. Activities animals use to divert or amuse themselves.

In use: “Many housepets go to the house windows for floofertainment, watching squirrels, birds, and other animals running around or flying past, sometimes becoming as excited and jubilant as an NFL fan watching their team score.”

Flooftella

Flooftella (floofinition) 1. Nutella with animal fur in it. 2. Television shows about animals. 3. Turning on a television or streaming a video or program to entertain pets.

In use: “Every morning before leaving, a flooftella was set up so the cats would have hours of watching birds and squirrels, an offering he made to them because there was little to watch outside of the highrise building.”

Compelling

It was the fourth series of the show. I’d watched and enjoyed two episodes. Character driven but with a strong plot, the pacing was fast, with powerful acting. Then I watched the third episode…

As George T. would say, “Oh myyyy…”

I had to know what happened next. The plotting became diabolical, with more twists and cutbacks than a lonely mountain road. The characters’ complexities increased, the acting stayed sharp and the pacing intensified.  WTH, I thought as Monday slipped into Tuesday, I’ll watch one more. Then I watched another, and then, well, only one remained.

So it was that I’d binge-watched the final four episodes. And it was fucking brilliant and clever, what I look for in my entertainment. No wonder it’s been consistently nominated for awards, and often wins. Love that series, but they’re so far apart. Just like they do to me with Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and several other series I enjoy.

Sure, I didn’t get to bed until two thirty on Tuesday morning, but I have no regrets, and lots of coffee.

 

The Hot New Show

I received an email from Acorn online today. They were touting a hot new show, something called “Mannix”.

After a double-take and then a reread, I pondered, is this a joke? No, so maybe “Mannix” had been rebooted, the latest marketing term for when an old show is made new again.

To duckduckgo I went. I couldn’t find anything on a “Mannix” reboot (although I did think about who could replace Mike Connors, and since we’re re-booting it, wouldn’t it be fun to have a middle-aged black woman as the tough, smart P.I., and then thought, I would love to see Simone Missick in that role) so I went back to the email for more information.

I learned it was the original “Mannix” that’s the hot new show. All of this was a bit depressing because the old is being made new again. Even if you’re basing it on an old series, why not come up with something new and call it something new?

I know, these are sour old man thoughts. The masses who haven’t seen “Mannix”, can’t remember it, or are comfortable with remakes and reboots are shrugging at me and urging me to return to under the rock or get back on my meds. This is our life and how we live, baby, by taking old things and making them new and pretending that we have progress.

 

 

What I’m Watching

I’m not watching much.

Twenty seventeen has not started out great. I’ve seen ads for a television game show, The Wall’, and think, surely this is going to be satirical science fiction. But no; it’s real.

Yes, it’s a lean time in television land, with reruns, award shows and sports dominating. That’s true even though I stream television through Acorn, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Sling and others. Although I’ve cut the cable, as they now like to claim with marketing zeal, television is mostly an entertainment desert.

I’ve gone through ‘Sneaky Pete.’ I’m waiting for more of ‘The Americans’, ‘Orphan Black’, ‘Stranger than Fiction’, ‘The Expanse’, ‘Dark Matters’, ‘Goliath’ and ‘Travelers’. We worked through my wife’s mild infatuation with ‘Being Human’ and ‘The Librarians’. I’ve gone through all of the ‘WestWorld’, Ballers’ and ‘Cake Wars’. Nothing new and offbeat like ‘Miranda’, Gavin and Stacey’, ‘Pram Face’, or ‘Misfits’ is out there. No new ‘Foyle’s War’ ‘Happy Valley’ or ‘The Killing’. No Frankie and Grace. No Harry Bosch or ‘Justified’.  No Wire.

We’re left, basically, with ‘This Is Us’. It’s a good show, with interesting characters, storylines, and structures, well acted and produced. My one gripe is related to its location in Pittsburgh, PA. I lived in Pittsburgh until I was fifteen and visited there often after that. Mom and my sisters still live their with their families. The people on TIU just don’t have the brashness of voice and the unusual talking style I find in Pittsburgh. Pittsburghers don’t tend to talk in soft voices, awaiting their turns. They talk fast, and start talking all at once, which causes conversations to become louder and louder, and more chaotic. They also tend to end sentences with a rise, as though they’re asking a question instead of making a statement.

Well, maybe that was just at my house, with my friends and family.

On the movie side, I’ve seen just about anything that I want to see.

What about you? Anything out there you’re watching that you recommend to others?

Meanwhile, I’ll probably don my brown shirt and take up with Mal for a few days.

What I’m Watching

Here’s an update to my viewing habits with hopes that others will point me into new directions.

I cut the television cable cord several years ago. With digital indoor antennae, I receive signals from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS. We have a Roku and a ‘smart’ television and subscribe to Acorn TV, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Hulu and Netflix streaming.

It’s easy to binge through a year, a season, or a series. I’m constantly on the hunt for new offerings. I like intelligent police procedurals, good British black humor, and…well, intelligent and interesting shows.

Acorn is often one of my favorite sources. They don’t have a large catalog but they manage to pull in good finds from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. I already raced through ’19-2′, which is an entertaining series but a little uneven. Right now, I’m watching ‘Deep Water’ at the painfully slow pace of one new episode a week, and ‘Raised by Wolves’, restricting myself to one of those per night.

I’m on my last episode. I’m bracing for withdrawal. That series is just too short.

Over on Amazon Prime, I’m finishing up on the excellent ‘The Night Manager’. Based on a John Le Carre novel and staring Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston and Olivia Coleman, it has a terrific supporting cast and is tremendously well written, acted, directed and plotted. High marks all around. I’ve already completed ‘Goliah’. I began ‘Fleabag’ but disliked and dismissed it after one episode. However, a dinner companion the other night told me to persevere because it gets better. We’d been comparing shows and books (I’ve convinced her to attempt Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet again as she gave up reading ‘My Brilliant Friend’) so I’m inclined to trust her. She also recommended ‘Good Girls Revolt’. It’s been added to my Amazon list.

Viewing is pretty shallow on HBO Now. ‘Westworld’ is the main draw…. I watch ‘Tracy Ullmann’ or whatever it’s called and that has some enjoyable skits. Her talents still amaze me.

I returned to Hulu for a reduced price after a few months off of them. Sadly, there’s not much that I see as quality from this consortium of major corporations. I’ve watched Casual’ but the characters remain too self-absorbed and shallow, with thin and slightly recurring issues for it to remain an interesting show. I’m watching ‘The Musketeers’ but it’s popcorn for dinner when you wanted lasagna. Someone recommended ‘Blind Spot’ the other night so I’ll give it a go. I’m a Jeffrey Donovan fan so I’ll also try his new offering when it arrives in December. I’ve also started ‘Aliens’ but it’s not holding my interest. We’ll see.

Netflix continues to pull something out of the bag for me. After ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Grace and Frankie’, and ‘River’, they gave me the final season of ‘The Fall’. I’ve also enjoy ‘Luke Cage’ on there, and to a lessor extent, ‘Dark Matters’. The last perplexes me with its industrialized vision of future travel, where keyboards remain the rage. (Or is it an alternative universe?) ‘iZombie’ was finished as far as the episode list was concerned. It’s suffering some growing pains. ‘Longmire’ has been completed to date and we watch ‘The Crown’, but their offering of Queen Elizabeth II seems so diffident, weak and unsure that we’re taken aback. We also spend much time searching for information about how much of it was true and what’s being dramatized to provide better theater. Now I’m enjoying ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Doctor Foster’  although I find neither unqualified viewing success. ‘Paranoid’ disappoints me because it features so many actors I enjoy (like Leslie Sharp, who was terrific in ‘Happy Valley’) but I’m not overly fond of the characters, especially Nina, who I consider too flaky. Her flakiness is inconsistent and I detest character inconsistency. It’s one thing if they develop as inconsistent and are known to be so but this seems to be used a device to pad the episodes and provide extra tension, basically weak and lazy writing.

And that’s where I stand, on the precipice of a viewing gap. That’s not bad, if that’s the worse matter happening in my personal life, and it is. Besides that, several interesting movies are now out (I’m thinking of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and ‘Arrival’) to go see, and I have several stacks of novels to read.

But if you happen to have something else worth watching, please, please…share.

 

 

 

 

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