procrastinator picks – best books of 2014

goldfinch2Some years I guess I don’t get around to ten books to select from and I’m lucky if I read one good book. Fortunately a couple of gems in my stack, in alphabetical order.

  • Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon – I always like to hear Michael Chabon speak, he’s intelligent and yet approachable and in this book, a collection of his essays, it’s like hearing him tell a bunch of sort of amusing personal anecdotes.
  • A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers – I haven’t read any Eggers since Heartbreaking… but this was a quick engaging tale of sales in Saudi Arabia showing a little insight into the odd world and the main character’s slightly off struggles.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – By now everyone has seen the film, and what I will say is that while the spirit is captured well the book of course does a much better job at drawing out the characters and drama transition, though I have an issue with likability.
  • Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane – I didn’t love this standalone, U.S. Marshall checking out the criminally insane, as much as the Kenzie Gennaro detective series.
  • As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan LethemHaving very much enjoyed the later Lethem I’ve been getting to his backlog and leave it to him for one to be more random than the next, particle physicist having problems with her boyfriend when a new discovery arises.
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – This book has been on my shelf for ages and underestimated it based on some sort of populous doubt, but found the time traveling romance very well crafted with interesting character development forward and back in time.
  • That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo – Russo is another author I try to keep up with, though I enjoyed it this tale of marriage gone awry left me feeling more down that uplifted.
  • NW by Zadie SmithOn Beauty is still one of my faves but I felt a little disconnected from some of these multiple POV takes on some Londoners.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I wasn’t disappointed by this well reviewed book from an author I knew I could enjoy, following our 13 year old protagonist through tragedy the peculiar path and characters that follow.

Next step fix the reading light on my nightstand to read more in 2015.

Continue Reading

procrastinator picks – top tv of 2014

fx_americans_keyart_p_2012The tv seasons don’t really lend themselves to an end of the year roundup. I’m somehow even less able than with films to remember how I am really feeling about a show exacerbated by the fact that I can’t always distinguish one season from the next. I’ve also waited so long for this list I might be judging The Americans and Justified off of this season instead of the last but they’d still be in the running. At the end of the day I could reorder these 100 different ways but here’s where I’m at this moment:

  1. The Americans (FX) – What a couple of bad ass Russian spies, I’m worried about their balancing their layers of deception with all of those around them, including their family, at least I’m always pretty sure they will somehow make it out of the trickiest of situations.
  2. Orphan Black (BBCA) – The lead in this series playing a myriad of characters was enough to sell it but they’ve kept the supporting characters and plot on par.
  3. The Good Wife (CBS) – I’m not sure where they’ve been going this year but am happy with the continued reinvention and the way that they balance these rich characters and story lines that keep ‘good’ a questionable characterization.
  4. Hannibal (NBC) – The lead actors in this show really make the creepy factor sing, with visual and story layers around them to match, can’t wait to see what the next season will bring.
  5. Justified (FX) – Oh Raylan I’ll hate to see you go after this season but I’m glad to see you pulled in for one last go with these characters who may at sometimes be dumb but they’re always complex.
  6. Ink Master (Spike) – Still my favorite reality show, I love the mix of the different skills and artistry it takes to be good at all the aspects of tattooing and of course just a dash of people drama.
  7. Fargo (FX) – What a random show this was capturing the spirit if not the story of the original film, quirky and dark with a cast of well-drawn characters, this is one of those shows I’m just glad gets made, and I’m curious to see what the next will bring.
  8. You’re the Worst (Fx) – This was my favorite new comedy of last year, centered on a couple of dysfunctional people, their dysfunctional attempt at a relationship, and their dysfunctional friends, funny.
  9. Parenthood (NBC) – I didn’t always love the paths that this family was sent on but the departure of the Bravermans will leave a hole in my schedule if not my heart.
  10. Orange is the New Black (Net) – This show continues to be a great go to binge watch if not because of the lead’s story then because of the myriad of surrounding stories to tell.

Honorable Mention: The Middle / SHIELD (ABC), The Walking Dead (AMC), In the Flesh (BBCA), The Big Bang Theory / Elementary /  The Mentalist / Mom (CBS), The 100 / Hart of Dixie (CW), Brooklyn 99 / The Mindy Project (Fox), Louie / Sons of Anarchy (Fx), Sleepy Hollow / Gotham (Fox), The Blacklist / Parks and Recreation (NBC), House of Cards (Net), The Honorable Woman (Sund), Lost Girl (Syfy), Cougar Town (TBS)

Continue Reading

critics’ picks – must see movies of 2014

boyhood-posterMovies is always the last list I get to because so many movies come out after the year is technically over. I’ve seen a few. We’ll see if I get to move before I do my own list. Stay tuned.

  • American Sniper – AA, AFI, BA, MD
  • The Babadook – AOS
  • Beyond the Lights – MD
  • Birdman – AA, AFI, AOS, CC, CFC, EW, FW, G, IS, MD, RC
  • Boyhood – AA, AFI, AOS, CC, CFC, EW, FW, G, GG, IS, MD, RC
  • Citizenfour – AOS, RC
  • Cold in July – FW
  • Dear White People – AOS, FW
  • The Dog – MD
  • Edge of Tomorrow – MD
  • Foxcatcher – AFI, GG
  • Gloria – MD
  • Gone Girl – BA, CC, EW
  • Goodbye to Language – MD, RC
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – AA, CC, CFC, EW, G, MD, RC
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – EW
  • Ida – AOS
  • The Immigrant – FW
  • The Imitation Game – AA, AFI, BA, CC, GG
  • Inherent Vice – FW, MD
  • Interstellar – AFI, MD
  • Into the Woods – AFI
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune – EW, RC
  • The Lego Movie – RC
  • Leviathan – AOS
  • Life Itself – EW
  • Listen Up, Philip – AOS, MD
  • Love is Strange – AOS, G, IS
  • Lucy – RC
  • Manakamana – MD
  • Manila in the Claws of Light – MD
  • Mistaken for Strangers – FW
  • The Missing Picture – MD
  • Mr. Turner – AOS
  • National Gallery – MD
  • Nightcrawler – AFI, CC, RC
  • Paddington – BA
  • The Sacrament – MLS
  • Selma – AA, AFI, AOS, CC, EW, FW, GG, MD
  • Snowpiercer – EW, FW, MD
  • Takes of the Grim Sleeper – FW
  • The Theory of Everything – AA, BA, CC, GG
  • Top Five – MD
  • Unbroken – AFI, CC
  • Under the Skin – CFC, G
  • Violette – MD
  • We Are the Best! – AIS
  • Whiplash – AA, AFI, CC, CFC, EW, IS
  • Wild Tales – RC

AA – Academy Award Nominations, AFI, AOS – A. O. Scott for NYT, BA – BAFTA Nominations, CC – Critics Choice, CFC – Chicago Film Critics, EW, FW – Flavorwire, G – Gotham Awards, GG – Golden Globe Nomination, IS – Independent Spirit Awards, MD – Manohla Dargis for NYT, MLS – Mick LaSalle for SFGATE, RC – Richard Corliss for Time

Continue Reading

critics’ picks – best books of 2014

seven-killings-900x500The list of possible books is endless but I can never resist seeing what the recommendations are each year, anything irresistible? And for those who just can’t get enough lists I’ll refer you to the biggest list of lists I’ve found at LargeHearted Boy.

  • Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya – FW
  • The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis – Ti
  • Lucky Us by Amy Bloom – Am
  • The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim – PW
  • Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks – Am
  • The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum – HP
  • Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo – Ti
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Am, NYT
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante – PW, FW
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – WP
  • The Secret Place by Tana French – Ti
  • The Painter by Peter Heller – Am
  • Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson – WP
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez – Am
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James – Am, Ti, PW, WP, FW, HP
  • The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson – Am, Ti
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – Am
  • Euphoria by Lily King – Am, Ti, NYT
  • Redeployment by Phil Klay – Am, Ti, NYT
  • My Struggle, Book 3: Boyhood by Karl Ove Knausgaard – FW
  • Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey – HP
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner – FW, HP
  • Preparation for the Next Life  by Atticus Lish – FW
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli – FW
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – Am, Ti, WP, HP
  • In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen – Am
  • A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride – FW
  • My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead – HP
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – Am, Ti
  • Bark by Lorrie Moore – PW
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Am
  • Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga – FW
  • Self-Portrait in Green by Marie Ndiaye – FW
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – Am, HP
  • Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill – NYT, FW
  • The Dog by Joseph O’Neill – PW
  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult – Am
  • Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre – Am
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson – FW, HP
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  by David Shafer – Ti
  • Family Life by Akhi Sharma – NYT
  • I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin – FW, HP
  • The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith – HP
  • We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – Am
  • Nora Webster by Colm Toibin – Am
  • The Southern Reach by Jeff VanderMeer – HP
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – Am, WP
  • Leavetaking by Peter Weiss – FW
  • The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink – FW

AM – Amazon, FW – Flavorwire, HP – Huffington Post, NYT – New York Times, PW – Publishers Weekly, Ti – Time, WP – Washington Post

Continue Reading

critics’ picks – top tv of 2014

transparentWe’ve said goodbye to 2014 and when I think of how we spent it, it mostly with some television. The critics have posted their top picks so take a look and see what they think. Stay tuned for more top picks including my top tv.

  • The Affair (Show) – MRo, GG
  • The Americans (Fx) –  JP, MR, MRo, TG, AS, HS, MZS, DF, AFI
  • Broad City (Com) – JP
  • Cosmos (Fox) – MZS
  • Downton Abbey (PBS) – GG
  • Enlisted (Fox) – MR
  • Fargo (Fx) – JP, MRo, TG, AS, HS, EW, DF, AFI
  • Game of Thrones (HBO) – MRo, TG, HS, EW, DF, AFI, GG
  • Girls (HBO) – GG
  • The Good Wife (CBS) – JP, MRo, HS, EW, GG
  • Hannibal (NBC) – AS, EW, MZS, DF
  • Happy Valley (Net/BBC) – MR
  • High Maintenance (JP)
  • The Honorable Woman (Sund) – TG
  • House of Cards (Net) – GG
  • How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) – AFI
  • Inside Amy Schumer (Com) – EW
  • Jane the Virgin (CW) – MR, MRo, AFI, GG
  • The Knick (Cin) – AFI
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – JP, MZS, DF
  • The Leftovers (HBO) – AS
  • Louie (FX) – JP, TG, EW
  • Mad Men (AMC) – TG, AS, EW, MZS, DF, AFI
  • The Missing (Starz) – MZS
  • The Normal Heart (HBO) – MRo
  • Olive Kitteridge (HBO) – MRo, HS, MZS
  • Orange Is the New Black (Net) – JP, MR, TG, AS, HS, DF, AFI, GG
  • Penny Dreadful (Show) – MR
  • Private Violence (HBO) – MZS
  • Please Like Me (Piv) – EW
  • Rectify (Sund) – MR, AS, EW, DF
  • Review (Com) – MR, AS, DF
  • The Roosevelts (PBS) – MRo, HS, MZS
  • Shameless (Show) – DF
  • Silicon Valley (HBO) – JP, HS, AFI, GG
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC) – MRo
  • Transparent (Am) – JP, MR, MRo, TG, AS, HS, EW, AFI, GG
  • True Detective (HBO) – TG, AS, MZS
  • The Walking Dead (AMC) – TG, HS
  • You’re the Worst (Fx) – MR

AFI, AS – Alan Sepinwall for HitFix, MR – Maureen Ryan for Huffington Post, MRo – Matt Roush for TV Guide, TG – Tim Goodman for The Hollywood Reporter, JP – James Poniewozik for Time, HS – Hank Stuever for The Washington Post, EW – Entertainment Weekly, MZS – Matt Zoller Seitz for Vulture, DF – Daniel Fienberg for HitFix, GG – Golden Globe Awards

And for a roundup of more lists check out: News for TV Majors 

Continue Reading

procrastinator picks – must see movies of 2013


I actually caught up on movies a while ago but as usual there is something particularly daunting about throwing down with a top ten list. Of the movies that I have seen this year some just floated to the top. The order as always is pretty subjective.

  1. American Hustle – Darned if I don’t like a good hustle flick, and darned if this wasn’t a good hustle flick, and not only because of the great cast; an always irresistible (to me) Christian Bale, even when he’s gross he’s good, but Cooper, Adams, Lawrence, Renner, and a wonderful use of Louis C.K. really didn’t hurt.
  2. Her – Spike Jonze’s odd take on topics is often a hit for me but this futuristic romance with almost a seventies stylized look took me along a poignant romance path, even if I do normally hate Johansson her roboticness worked for me in this tale.
  3. 12 Years a Slave – Our protagonist gets tossed into an awful life where we are made to see in him fish out of water but what’s worse, that he’s not really a slave or that slavery exists? Good performances show a lot to be bothered by.
  4. The Way Way Back – The cast and script bring charm to this coming of age tale, summer vacation with mom and her new boyfriend starts out a little rough, but our protagonist starts to come into his own, who knew a water park and its management could be just what it took, Rockwell, Collette, Carell, and Janney add lovely if not lovable character performances.
  5. Enough Said – Second takes on romance through beautifully touching performances by Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini, maybe I’m getting old, ok older, but the realness in the still cinematically unreal relationships was a nice touch.
  6. Out of the Furnace – Did I mention that I love Bale? Well he’s not quite weird enough in this role for it to be my fave but when he tries to do right by his messed up brother he goes from blue collar bad company to back woods worse, violence much?
  7. The Spectacular Now – Admittedly I often enjoy these teen coming of age tales and this slant on the ‘party’ guy and the ‘nice’ girl gives just enough of a less than typical character and path to make it feel sincere and effective.
  8. Captain Phillips – Based on true stories make me a little crazy but I was brought along with the tense turns of the hijacking with Hank’s well played captain, wondered if paying more attention to what really happened would have helped or hurt.
  9. Dallas Buyers Club – The performances from McConaughey and Leto in particular were almost enough to make the movie, but the somewhat historical look at this ’80s cowboy navigating the AIDS medical system kept our story engaging.
  10. Much Ado About Nothing – I do love me some Joss Whedon but I also love an interesting slant on existing material and this modern setting shot on a small break at Whedon’s home brings new light to the romantic Shakespearean pairing.

What were your picks and pans from 2013?

Continue Reading

critics’ picks – must see movies of 2013


Another fine year for film. Following you will see some of the critics and award noms that might point you in the right direction, or not. I haven’t seen them all, but I have done what I can so my seen are shown in bold. And stay tuned for my top picks. Critics key with links below for reference.

  • 12 Years a Slave – RC, AFI, CN, GG, CC, MD, AOS, SH, IS, F, AA, KT, BS, CFC, GA
  • The Act of Killing – RC
  • After Tiller – MO
  • Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – F, MO, GA
  • All Is Lost – CN, AOS, IS
  • American Hustle – RC, AFI, GG, CC, MD, AOS, SH, AA, KT, BS, CFC, MLS
  • The Armstrong Lie – BS
  • At Any Price – MLS
  • Before Midnight – CN, MD, SH, F, GA, MLS
  • Behind the Candelabra – MD
  • Beyond the Hills – F
  • The Bling Ring – AOS, MO
  • Blue Caprice – F
  • Blue is the Warmest Color – F, AOS, SH, BS
  • Blue Jasmine – F
  • The Butler – AOS, BS
  • Captain Phillips – AFI, CN, GG, CC, MD, F, AA, KT
  • Computer Chess – MO
  • The Conjuring – CN
  • The Counselor – MD
  • Dallas Buyers Club – CC, AA
  • Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay – CN
  • Drug War – F
  • Enough Said – CN, AOS
  • Frances Ha – AOS, IS, F, KT, MO
  • Frozen – RC, BS
  • Fruitvale Station – AFI, CN, F, KT, BS
  • Furious 6 – RC
  • The Grandmaster – RC, MD
  • Gravity – RC, AFI, CN, GG, CC, SH, F, AA, BA, KT, BS, CFC
  • The Great Beauty – RC, MD, SH
  • The Great Gatsby – AOS
  • Hannah Arndt – AOS
  • Her – RC, AFI, GG, CC, MD, F, AA, KT, NS, MO, CFC
  • The Hobbit  – RC
  • Inequality for All – BS
  • Inside Llewyn Davis – AFI, GG, CC, MD, AOS, SH, IS, F, KT, BS, CFC, GA
  • The Invisible Woman – KT
  • Manakamana – MD
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – BA
  • Much Ado About Nothing – MLS
  • Mud – F, BS
  • Nebraska – AFI, GG CC, SH, IS, F, AA, KT, BS
  • Out of the Furnace – CN
  • Pain and Gain – AOS
  • Paradise: Love – SH
  • The Past – SH
  • Philomena – GG, AA, BA, BS
  • The Place Beyond the Pines – F
  • Post Tenebras Lux – MO
  • Redemption – MD
  • Rush – GG, MD, BA
  • Saving Mr Banks – AFI, CC, BA, BS
  • The Selfish Giant – BA
  • Short Term 12 – KT
  • The Spectacular Now – F
  • Spring Breakers – MD, AOS, SH, MO
  • The Square – MD
  • A Touch of Sin – MD, AOS, SH, MO
  • Touchy Feely – F
  • The Unknown Known – BS
  • Upstream Color – MO, GA
  • The Way Way Back – BS
  • The Wolf of Wall Street – AFI, GG, CC, AOS, SH, F, AA, MLS

AA – Academy Award NominationsAFI, AOS – A.O. Scott for NYT, BA – BAFTA, BS – Betsy Sharkey for LAT,  CC – Critic’s Choice Nominations, CFC – Chicago Film CriticsCN – Chris Nashawaty for EW, F – Flavorwire, GA – Gotham AwardsGG – Golden Globe Nomination, IS – Independent Spirit Award Nominations, KT – Kenneth Turan for LATMD – Manohla Dargis for NYT, MLS – Mick LaSalle for SFGate, MO – Mark Olsen for LATRC – Richard Corliss for Time, SH – Stephen Holden for NYT

Continue Reading

my best books of 2013

mindWith my continued lesser readings I am not doing a lot of culling when making a list. So here’s a bit about what I read last year.

  • Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante – An unreliable narrator, as her memory fails, reveals details of her life plus a mystery and darned if it isn’t totally compelling, I was won over by the form, the language, the characters, and the storyline.
  • The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson – I dig a little quirk and this artsy family drama where the kids are forced to return home to deal with their unusual parents’ art/life projects hit the spot.
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – College and baseball and love and other dramas collide as we take a closer look at lives that intersect through America’s favorite pastime, I enjoyed spending time with these characters.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Dark and depressing, the walk of a man and his son in a post-apocalyptic, is it hopeful?
  • The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo by Peter Orner – The author’s usual lovely language looks at a volunteer teacher in Namibia, telling about his love for the titled Shikongo but also shares through story snippets to portray a greater picture.
  • In the Woods by Tana French – A detective gets a case that brings him back to his own childhood and we watch the investigation through the lens of what is happening and what has happened, this felt like a slight step up from my typical mystery literarily but still engaging tale.
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest byStieg Larsson – Yeah I wrapped these up, and happy to spend a little more time with our protagonists in these slightly oddly structured crime dramas.
  • The Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz – Back again to visit my favorite SF detective family, who fortunately have enough odd family drama to keep them occupied whether they have cases or not.
  • Sacred/Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane – I’ve still been enjoying a little walk through the backlog of detective team Kenzie and Gennaro, quick and likable page turners.

So my vow to read more may not have gone over all that well but I did stop reading at least one book I couldn’t get into, turns out a Pulitzer does not for me an enjoyable book make, no go for Tinkers by Paul Harding. And I should note I know both LaPlante and Orner from my days in grad school, kudos to SF writers.

What were some of your favorite reads this year?

Continue Reading

critics’ picks – best books of 2013


My book backlog keeps growing and here is some fodder to think of for future purchases. My surveying tends toward the fictional and I’m clearly not all encompassing, for someone who is feel free to refer to this crazy list by large hearted boy.

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – NYT, FW
  • At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon – FW
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – Am, JM, LG/RJ, EW, NYT, Ti
  • Lexicon by Max Barry – LG/RJ, Ti
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – FW, Am
  • Never Go Back by Lee Child – JM
  • Duplex by Kathryn Davis – FW
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers – Am
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – LG/RJ, Ti
  • & Sons by David Gilbert – FW
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – LG/RJ, Am, JM, Ti
  • The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg – LG/RJ, Ti
  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – LG/RJ, JM, Ti
  • Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill – PW
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – EW, Am
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – Am
  • Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai – FW
  • The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner – LG/RJ, NYT, FW, Ti, SFG
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri – LG/RJ, Am, Ti
  • Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem – FW
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra – PW, WP, SFG
  • The Good Lord Bird by James McBride – FW, Am, PW, WP, SFG
  • Someone by Alice McDermott – JM
  • The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud – FW, Am, WP
  • The Son by Philipp Meyer – EW, Am, WP
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – EW, Am
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  – EW
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – Am
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny – WP
  • Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon – EW
  • The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth – JM
  • All That Is by James Salter – Am
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders – LG/RJ, EW, NYT Am, MK, Ti, SFG
  • Half the Kingdon by Lore Segal – FW
  • The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis – EW, Am
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Am
  • Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees – PW
  • American Dream Machine by Matthew Spektor – FW
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – NYT, FW, Am, MK, SFG
  • The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy – FW
  • The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasques – Am
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – EW
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – LG/RJ, EW, FW, Am, Ti
  • The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell – Am
  • The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara – PW

AM – Amazon, EW – Entertainment WeeklyFW – Flavorwire, JM – Janet Maslin, LG/RJ – Lev Grossman and Radhika Jones for Time, MK – Michiko Kakutani, NYT – New York Times, PW – Publishers Weekly, SFG – SFGate, Ti – Time, WP – Washington Post

Continue Reading

procrastinator picks – top tv of 2013


I think we know by now that I watch a lot of television, and I really enjoy much of it. Critics have done it and so it’s my turn, though coming up with a top ten list is always challenging and with television it’s difficult to judge. There are more episodes, seasons aren’t really independent, and honestly I am watching and thinking of shows differently at different times, but this isn’t science right? And of course I should probably state that although I stand behind my choices I could probably make a lot of different versions of this list:

  1. The Good Wife (CBS) – This has been on my list for years but this year it showed how to give new energy to a show that’s later in its arc, great characters and complexity, curious to see if they can sustain it and close out its nice long run with continued excellence (and no I don’t know when this show is ending but it’s s5 and not sure what ratings are up to).
  2. Orange is the New Black/House of Cards (Net) – The original programming from this ‘channel’ was the talk of the town this year and for good reason; both based on existing material but both felt fresh compared to other things on television, Orange’s lead character might be a bit annoying but she’s merely the catalyst for the stories around her with an amazing cast and a good mix of fun and dramatic moments and Spacey does talk to the camera in Cards (which didn’t actually bug me) and I’m curious to see how his scheming will keep up.
  3. Orphan Black (BBCA) – Not only is the primary actress, who we meet as she starts meeting her clones, fantastic in her various roles but the slightly fantastical premise managed to keep things engaging and if not believable an interesting take on ethical and personal issues.
  4. Bunheads (ABCF) – The latest from the creator of Gilmore Girls, a bad name and a silly sounding premise on a network that’s coveting a cheesier side of teen life, didn’t quite land but as the characters in another quirky small town were fleshed out the dance numbers continued to bring the emotion I fell for it.
  5. Hannibal (NBC) – I’m not all that familiar with the various source material other than the Anthony Hopkins iconic moments but this new take just feels fresh with both weird main guys, Dr Lecter and his friend/nemesis/victim Will and the peculiar visual style.
  6. Parks and Recreation (NBC) – I like a good comedy, and even an average comedy, and of the current selections this one is my current fave, they keep a lot of heart with the dysfunction and find the sweet spot of each character’s peculiarity.
  7. Southland (TNT) – They wrapped this series with another bounty of terrible story lines that made you never ever want to be a cop on the streets of Los Angeles but really want to watch these complicated characters needing to make complicated and urgent decisions.
  8. The Americans (FX) – They got me to wish for Russian success and for those high waisted 80s jeans to come back, but only if I look like Kerri Russel, the couple’s relationship to each other and to their goals made this spy show a must see.
  9. Justified (Fx)/Luther (BBCA) – Is it always that a damaged but noble protagonist is more appealing than a straight up antihero, these shows continue to make me anticipate the next chapter as these lawmen navigate their very different worlds.

Honorable Mention (some of these have may have great aspects or may not be as consistent): The Middle (ABC), Longmire (AE), Elementary / The Mentalist (CBS), Brooklyn 99 / The Mindy Project  (Fox), The Bridge / Sons of Anarchy (Fx), Sleepy Hollow (Fox), The Blacklist (NBC), Lost Girl (Syfy), Top of the Lake (Sund).

What about you? What’s are your favorite shows, comment below. Happy watching!

Continue Reading