Television Shows of 2019 – Mindhunter

 

“You want truffles? You gotta get in the dirt with the pigs”.

Three years ago, David Fincher, Charlize Theron, and some other producers put forth this series on Netflix and it was grand. We’re all fascinated with serial killers, so what’s cooler than watching a fictional version of the people who coined the phrase and learned how to stop them from interviewing some of the actual killers? Pure evil is a construct that is so unfathomable, but I think we’re transfixed by true crime because we all have evil in our hearts, but the majority of us don’t act on it. So peeping into the brains of the monsters who do, well, it’s cathartic in a way, isn’t it? Cathartic, and a reminder that humans are capable of really really really bad things so try to be good and stuff.

The first season was focused on the beginning of using criminal psychology and behavioral profiling to nab killers in the FBI. You meet the three main characters: Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff, my favorite King George), Bill Tench (played by Holt McCallany), and Wendy Carr (played by Anna Torv). They’re some kind of a behavioral science version of Harry, Ron, & Hermione. Without the BFF part.

Season two premiered on Netflix this year, and it was worth the wait.

Now, the team’s pursuit of the murderer’s mind is too legit to quit! They have more money and a lawman big wig in their corner! However, evil not only needs study in the field (Manson shows up! The same actor who plays him briefly in Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood!) but it’s incredibly close to home for Detective Tench. Detective Ford let the study of killers get to him, and is now dealing with panic attacks. Carr is trying to be herself in private, and it’s not easy. All of this, and they are tasked with nabbing the person responsible for killing a lot of children in Atlanta. All of these elements are dealt with so well. Each character is layered beautifully, the suspense is palpable, and there’s plenty of creepy, gripping drama. After binging this season, I was so excited to get season three in my brain. Because THEY NEED TO GET THAT BTK KILLER!!! So imagine my reaction to this news: Season three on hold indefinitely?!

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Book Review: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

Lost Hills (Eve Ronin #1)Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have no recollection of how I found out about this book. Was it a free (or less expensive) deal on Amazon? Did I see a review while scrolling through Twitter? I honestly have no idea. I do know that I didn’t have any new books on my Kindle, and I needed one to help me snuggle down in bed and read in the dark. So here we are. I wasn’t familiar with Lee Goldberg before and didn’t realize this was a first in a new detective series. Cool beans! I love a good murder mystery/crime series, and this was nicely paced page-turning with interesting characters. Eve Ronin, the ambitious & determined newbie detective doesn’t let her YouTube fame deter her from getting the bad guy, and she knows how to deal with the sexist donut eating older chauvinistic veteran cops. She’ll make a great hero in future novels, I’m sure.

I definitely recommend this if you love crime novels. The author’s written tons of stuff for television along with plenty of other books, so go to town! I’m sure I’ll read more of his stuff in the future.

View all my reviews

Television Shows of 2019: After Life

Here’s the plot of After Life, courtesy of IMDB: “After Tony’s (Ricky Gervais’) wife dies unexpectedly, his nice-guy persona is altered into an impulsive, devil-may-care attitude taking his old world by storm.”

This particular synopsis is hilarious to me because “devil-may-care” is a pretty understated description of Tony’s mindset when the series starts. Plus, his wife had cancer. Not an unexpected thing. ANYWAY. Your favorite atheist, animal-loving, Twitter trolling actor/comedian/film-maker, Ricky Gervais, gives us another series, and it is a gorgeous roller coaster of emotions.

“Hell is other people” is the tagline for the show, and I get it. Tony has lost his wife. He works at a newspaper that’s distributed for free in his locale (not Pulitzer material). He’s grumpy by nature, but his horrific loss only magnifies the grump factor. Tony feels like it’s only a matter of time before he cashes it in, so why not just throw away all the fucks and say everything you feel deep down to the humans you’re forced to live on Earth with? It’s a premise that really appeals to me. We’ve all desired that instinct at some point, right?  Tony does some reckless stuff in these six episodes because of the utter despair he feels, but there’s someone who seems to pull him from the brink every time: Brandy, the dog. Eventually, the coworkers at the paper, the sex worker he hires, his cemetery pal, the weirdo who keeps trying to get local fame in print, and his dementia suffering dad join Brandy in keeping Tony around and on the path to a new outlook.

I loved this show because laughing at the awful state of 90% of our humanity is one of the few things that keep me interested. I love stories that punch you in the gut while making you laugh at phrases like “I fingered Jackie Collins”. I love that there are so many Game of Thrones actors in it. The dog is adorable. Penelope Wilton makes anything she’s in a million times better. More importantly, Ricky Gervais shows he’s one of the best television creators ever. He keeps getting better and emotionally layered. I can’t wait for the second season.

 

Stuff I Like Today

Documentary Now!  One of the zillion television shows I’ve wanted to watch. I finally got started last week, since we saw Fred Armisen’s show the other night (more on that later). Documentaries rule. Parodies rule. A series consisting of documentary parodies = genius. Great cast & expertly executed, regardless if it’s Bill Hader & Armisen taking the main roles, or if it’s the current star studded lineup. Favorites currently are “Sandy Passage”, “Gentle and Soft”, “Final Transmission”, and “Batshit Valley”. Have some champagne filled coconuts:

Grant, by Ron Chernow From the guy who brought you the book that inspired the musical Hamilton! Yep, our favorite Pulitzer winning author is back with another biography, and this time it’s Civil War general/Don Henley look alike Ulysses S. Grant!  I’m not very far into the book, but so far it is a gripping tale of a very smart, awkward, prone to drinking man who is a surprisingly good military leader. Who also is really really bummed that he can’t be with his beloved lady Julia, because he keeps getting sent to far off places. And working with many fellows who’ll end up his enemies. I’m really enjoying this biography, because most knowledge I have of Grant was during the Civil War and told to me in Shelby Foote’s voice. I know close to nothing about his later days as a President.

John Mulaney This man is a comedy treasure. He hosted SNL last night, he’s been doing shows with sometimes-troubled Pete Davidson, appears on the aforementioned Documentary Now!, loves his wife and his dog, Petunia, and is a pleasure to have in the pop culture universe. Feast your eyes upon Bodega Bathroom:

I’m still on that Lady Gaga stanning. Nope, I can’t get over the fact that Gaga won an Oscar last weekend, and THAT SHALLOW PERFORMANCE. I watch it to remind me that I am a human being with stupid feelings.

Also, feel free to do your dishes or laundry, or get in your car and have fun with this playlist I made:

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Press Coverage For The Mysterious Photos

Back on Christmas, I posted this blog about some mysterious pictures that showed up at my mom’s house the day before. It was very odd, and it felt like something that needed resolution ASAP. You see, my family (meaning me and my parents) moved to Virginia back in 1983, thanks to the Navy. Everyone in my immediate family hails from the great state of Massachusetts. My paternal grandparents, uncle, and great grandmother moved down here in the late 1980s and stayed for a while, but all of them have passed away apart from my grandmother (who moved back to MA). They wouldn’t possess any old photos belonging to my mother’s father anyway. SO WHAT THE HELL?! If someone discovered my mom through the ancestry websites she’s been frequenting, why the heck wouldn’t they contact her directly? Or leave a hastily scribbled note along with the photos? Why wouldn’t this person want to connect with her? Why did they go through the trouble of delivering them personally instead of mailing them? Were they worried they’d be rejected or shunned? Was it done on behalf of another person? Ugh, there are  a ton of questions that left unanswered, will haunt my mom (and me to a degree, since some rando knows where she lives and creeped these photos while she was at MY house).

My mom contacted the Virginian Pilot, our local newspaper, and it was covered on the front page.

I tweeted the Pilot article to some of my favorite journalists on our local television stations, and the very sweet Tom Schaad picked it up and did a story for WAVY 10:

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Check it out here.

I honestly just want some closure on this whole issue. We’re a really chill family who wouldn’t mind some new relatives here in Virginia Beach. My mom and dad are retired, and could use some excitement. A newfound family member/friend would be welcome! No shame or judgement here! Personally I am totally down for it. Even if it wasn’t a direct sharer of DNA who sneaked the pictures between the door knob & deadbolt at my beloved parents’ home, I want the TEA! Spill it, stranger! Whatever the backstory is, us Dressers are okay with it.

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Happy Birthday, War

 

U2’s third studio album, War, was released on this day in 1983. It was the start of international path to being the BIGGEST BAND IN THE WORLD. It took the #1 spot on the UK charts from Michael Jackson’s Thriller! How bonkers is that? Songs from this album gave me my first exposure to the band, although, I must admit: I wasn’t impressed. My nine year old MTV addicted self much preferred Michael Jackson videos to four depressed looking dudes singing in the snow and awkwardly riding horses.

Fortunately, my music taste broadened a few years later and I realized this band would be MY band.

War is a pretty raucous record, which is apt considering the title and theme. The singles  absolute classics (“New Year’s Day”, “Two Hearts Beat As One”, and “Sunday Bloody Sunday”), but my favorite track is “Like A Song”.

This track not only features some beautifully raw vocals from Bono, but it ROCKS. And the lyrics are applicable……

And we love to wear a badge, a uniform,
And we love to fly a flag.
But I won’t let others live in hell,
As we divide against each other,
And we fight amongst ourselves.

 

A Magical Visit to New York City

We stayed at The Wellington Hotel again. 10 years ago, we booked a room there; don’t remember why exactly. I assume there was a good deal, and it’s located near all the cool stuff. After that trip, we discovered Borat stayed there in his movie. Nice!

We saw no reason to try another hotel on this trip, since it’s very much what I love about staying in the city: Confined spaces, cramped in a tall building. The shower almost boiled me alive, our Saturday night neighbors were partying hard, and I swear there was a rat colony building Barad-dur in our heater. What I mean to say is it was wonderful.

Our first meal happened on our way to “Middle-earth”. Fortunately, it was right next to Rockefeller Center, my favorite NYC locale. Always nice to gaze upon the source of all that NBC/SNL history.

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The restaurant in question was By Chloe. And holy moly, it was MOBBED. So unusual for us non-big city vegans to experience! We both got the Pesto Meatball sandwich and split some french fries. If we weren’t planning on a big fancy dinner later, we would have pigged out more here (their menu is chock full of tasty looking treats!), but our choice was delicious. The mix of veggies/mushrooms in the meatballs was perfect, and the condiments had heavenly flavor.

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We managed to snag a table in the packed dining area and enjoyed people watching as we nommed. Bliss. I hope we go back soon because I need to try their brunch menu.

Time to start our expected journey to the Morgan Library and Museum! I was delirious with excitement to see the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibit. To be in the same room as The Professor’s massive collection of poems, maps, photos, artwork, doodles, and memorabilia – I wanted to move in there.

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Tolkien’s hand drawn maps were so precise and detailed. Marvelous. His handwriting was too perfect to believe, no matter which language he was writing in. There were intricate shapes and symbols drawn on top of newspapers he was reading at the time. Stunning to look upon. Honestly, words fail to communicate what it felt like seeing such an assemblage of genius. If you appreciate J.R.R. Tolkien’s material like I do, be sure to check this out.

Dinner time! There were so many vegan places we wanted to experience in New York, but we decided to make Blossom our fancy meal destination. It’s in a cute townhouse, with a cozy atmosphere. The diners on both sides of us were very friendly; we ended up admiring and influencing each other’s meal choices! Our first course was the Chef’s Tasting Plate. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Quinoa sushi, deviled tofu (I didn’t know you could devil tofu! Brilliant!), fig bruschetta, seitan empanadas, and seaweed caviar canapes. Everything tasted so magical, I wanted to devour it quickly, but I made sure to take my time and savor the tastes.

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The nice woman to my right had the lasagna for an entreè so that’s what I had too, as it looked gorgeous. It didn’t disappoint. It’s intriguing how us humans (it also helps if you’re a gourmet chef) can create scrumptious dishes without a bit of animal flesh.

The next day was Cursed Child day! First time seeing a show ON BROADWAY! And it’s HARRY POTTER! I was filled with excitement for sure. We had some time to kill before heading to the theater, so we took a stroll around Central Park. There were SO MANY GOOD DOGGOS, most of them wearing snazzy coats. Because it was FREEZING. Well, to us anyway, due to not bringing the warmest of winter clothing. No doggos were photographed, but here are some pics of us and other things (mostly Strawberry Fields).

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We looked for the famous mandarin duck but it was nowhere to be found. *sad face*

Our next quest was FOOD. Sadly the restaurant we walked to was closed, but I did come across a hair salon named in my honor. I’m grateful, but please don’t ask me to do your hair.

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We ended up at Peacefood Cafe, which couldn’t have been more LOVELY. A nice and warm orange apple cider made all chilly perception vanish. I wolfed down the tofu scramble (best I’ve ever had no lie), greens, and potatoes. We also ordered some baked goods to snack on later. Fantastic.

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Feeling full and toasty back at the hotel, it was time to get fancy for Potter. Dress courtesy of Redbubble:

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It would have been silly to take a cab to the theater since it was a 15 minute walk, so yep, back out into the cold for us. My giddiness canceled out the wind chill, however. That and the Times Square sights (Fake Elmos and all – even the Naked Cowboy was doing his thing STILL). Oh snap, there’s the Lyric!

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Because the play itself is so special, I’m not going to say much about it. The only thing that does it justice is the experience, so GO. The story, music, acting, effects, choreography, production, costumes…. Just overwhelmingly breathtaking. So there’s that. I will share some stuff unrelated to the play that made the day so fun. First, we got to pose for photos with our house flags. Slytherin, represent! Oh, and Ravenclaw too.

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There was an usher who had the only job of herding ladies into a single file line for the bathroom during intermissions. He was both militant and fabulous. “Are you with someone? They need to be either in front of you or behind you.” Priceless.

I had a “frozè” in a Cursed Child souvenir cup. That’s frozen rosè, people. A wine slurpee. What a world.

What a world, indeed. But to be more precise, what a city. New York, you are so fantastical and magical on your own, but you’re so adept at surrounding me with the fictional environments I adore so much. I went to Middle-earth and Hogwarts along with Manhattan and Queens, and cherished every single second of it.