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Good Stuff

I used to have a couple pages on my website called "What I'm Watching" and "What I'm Reading." They're still there, actually, but they're years out of date. I just don't have the time to keep them up any longer, with all the other things on my plate.

But that doesn't mean I have stopped watching movies or television, or that I don't read. I still read voraciously, watch lots of television, and go to a movie a week, on the average. So I thought I'd say a few very brief words about stuff I've enjoyed recently.

Most of the films I see are the ones I'm playing at my own theatre, the Jean Cocteau... but not all. A few days ago, Parris and I caught the new JUNGLE BOOK at the Violet Crown down the street from the JCC, and I loved loved loved it. A magnificent production. Supposedly it's a remake of the old Disney cartoon version, but it's about ten thousand times better for hardcore Kipling fans like yours truly (Kiplers?) Not completely faithful to the books, which I count as an enduring masterpiece, but it certainly captures much of their flavor, which the cartoon did not. Gorgeous to look at (CGI has come a long way), genuinely exciting... Shere Khan is scary. My only quibble is Baloo. Much as I love Bill Murray, and I do love Bill Murray, I wanted a lot more of Kipling's Baloo. Murray's version is so very Bill Murray he could have wandered into the jungle straight from GHOSTBUSTERS. That's minor, though; the other voice actors did a marvelous job of becoming their animals, and the kid playing Mowgli (who has gotten some mixed reviews) struck me as charming and unaffected, a natural and believable performance. If you like Kipling, see this one. If you like good movies, ditto. (I wonder if talking animals make this fantasy enough to be eligible for a Hugo next year? I'd certainly be willing to nominate it).

Meanwhile, on television... this really IS the Golden Age of television, so much good stuff to watch. It's hard to keep up. Parris and I are going to miss THE GOOD WIFE, but we've been enjoying the hell out of BETTER CALL SAUL and COLONY, and the new season of PENNY DREADFUL has been fun so far as well. The show that's really knocking our (argyle) socks off, however, is the second season of OUTLANDER. Diana Gabaldon should be thrilled; they are really doing her books proud. This year the action moved to France, and the costumes, sets, and cinematography have all been fabulous. As have the performances. Both of the leads are terrific, and Tobias Menzies (who also appears in GAME OF THRONES from time to time) is sensational in his double role. They should nominate the guy for an Emmy twice, once for each character. OUTLANDER is one of the best shows on television, a wonderful blend of historical drama, science fiction, fantasy, and romance.

Books? Well, if you haven't yet grabbed a copy of Joe Hill's THE FIREMAN, you need to. Original and gripping, a page-turner... and I am looking forward to meeting Joe in person when he visits the Jean Cocteau on Monday for a reading and signing (tickets going fast! get yours now). I've also really enjoyed a non-fiction title from a couple of years ago called THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL, by Daniel Stashower, which is simultaneously a bio of Edgar Allan Poe and a "true crime" account of a sensational NYC murder case that inspired him to write "The Mystery of Marie Roget." Call this one history or biography if you must, but it reads like a novel... and I especially loved the stuff about the New York City press, one of my obsessions.

Oh, and while the stack of ARCs and bound galleys and new books by my bedside waiting to be read is taller than I am, I'm especially excited by a couple of recent arrivals. HIGH GROUND, the first volume of Melinda Snodgrass's new space opera series, is here, and I can't wait to get into it... especially since one of her villains, BoHo, is actually my creation (he is not really villainous, he's just misunderstood) from the days when Snod and I were making up characters for a new shared world series that never took off. ((Think of BoHo as the Flashman of Space; I loved George McDonald Fraser almost as much as I love Kipling)).

Also on hand is David Anthony Durham's new historical novel, THE RISEN, his take on Spartacus. DAD never disappoints, and Spartacus is another fascination of mine... I look forward to seeing how Durham's take on him differs from Howard Fast's and Colleen McCullough's.

Also just in is Lisa Tuttle's THE SOMNAMUBIST AND THE PYSCHIC THIEF, featuring Miss Lane and Jasper Jesperson, the Victorian-era detectives she first introduced in her stories for DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS and ROGUES. Those were hugely entertaining stories, and I am eager to see what Lisa does with the characters at novel length. Fans of Sherlock Holmes should love this.

So... lots of good stuff.

Life is too short. So little time, so many books and movies and television shows.

Comments

( 100 comments )
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lucy_inthessky
May. 18th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
All sounds good!
Just added some of those books to my goodreads list! Thanks! Loved the update, glad you're happy!
po8crg
May. 18th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
Books
Can I recommend Ada Palmer's TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING which I've just finished and thoroughly repays the reading? It's not a light read because it's such a complex multi-layered world, but it repays the effort in spades.
rodrigozanotta
May. 18th, 2016 07:12 pm (UTC)
Vikings
Should give it a try to the show called Vikings. Great show, great main character.
jacobsb2440
May. 18th, 2016 09:19 pm (UTC)
RE: Vikings
Rollo would be a perfect young Robert Baratheon, and Lagertha is an actual blackbelt who could play an awesome Rhaenys or any Targaryan role, along Johanna Lannister!!!
Re: Vikings - TheTiny Jingles - May. 19th, 2016 03:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
secret_woman
May. 18th, 2016 07:16 pm (UTC)
I am so out of touch with tv shows right now. We have cable but it's always on kid shows. When they go to bed, we just watch Netflix since our shows are off already. We don't have DVR. Maybe I should remedy that!

Also I miss reading. I read 'The Alchemist' a couple of months ago and loved it. I will add those books to my list of what I must ready. I'm trying desperately to get back into it.
cashcraig
May. 18th, 2016 07:17 pm (UTC)
The new JUNGLE BOOK was magnificent. The characters were full of life, the sense of adventure ranged from light-hearted whimsy to life-or-death terror, and the CGI reached near-unprecedented levels. It is a home run both for Disney and for director Jon Favreau (of Marvel movie fame).

Now the question is... has the technological groundwork now been laid for more Disney classics centered on talking animals? Does this make a Lion King remake feasible?
grrm
May. 18th, 2016 07:19 pm (UTC)
Maybe... but as much as I loved THE JUNGLE BOOK, as a general rule I'd prefer more original tales and adaptations, and fewer remakes. THE LION KING is fine as is.
(no subject) - cashcraig - May. 18th, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - RM Busch - May. 18th, 2016 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - May. 19th, 2016 12:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - linnymay - May. 19th, 2016 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Panagiotis Karachalios
May. 18th, 2016 07:20 pm (UTC)
Good stuff
Thanks for the tips George! I love better call Saul as well!

Quick question! Which is your favorite GoT season so far?
MeereeneseKnot
May. 18th, 2016 07:23 pm (UTC)
I've read quite a few things from your 'What I'm Reading' section, with my favorite recommendation of yours being 'James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon' - what a biography!

I'm happy to get more fodder for my reading list; The Beautiful Cigar Girl sounds particularly fascinating.

I was very happily surprised by how much I enjoyed The Jungle Book, beautifully done film (haha at 'Kiplers'). I loved Better Call Saul as well; definitely one of my favorite airing shows (loving it more than Breaking Bad), along with Mr. Robot. The latter returns this summer - have you seen the first season?

Such an abundance of good media!
Jordan Ray
May. 18th, 2016 07:23 pm (UTC)
New York Press
If you like the history of the New York press, have you read The Sun and the Moon by Matthew Goodman? It's about the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, in which a newspaper, The New York Sun, published a series about a scientist's observations of the moon through a powerful new telescope. Spoiler, he saw Man-Bats.

The book is great narrative history.
grrm
May. 18th, 2016 10:00 pm (UTC)
Re: New York Press
My famous unfinished fifth novel was all about the New York press in the era of yellow journalism... BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER was my title... one day, I need to finish it.

As for the Moon Hoax, Howard Waldrop has been writing a story about that for, oh, twenty years now.

Edited at 2016-05-18 10:00 pm (UTC)
az123456789876543211
May. 18th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
The Americans
You should watch the tv show The Americans, it's on its fourth season now and it's truly a masterpiece.
dragonborngurl
May. 18th, 2016 07:25 pm (UTC)
Cool, thanks for sharing all that George. I watch all the series you mentioned except The Good Wife, but if I understand correctly, you do not watch it. Anyway, there really is a fantastic Plethora of shows to watch. I love Outlander and I agree the show runners are doing a good job of interpreting DG's books. I think if I had to recommend only ONE show for you to watch, it's really difficult to narrow it down but I would have to push 2 series, The Walking Dead series and Mr. Robot! They're both brilliant examinations of Society and human nature; normal and not so normal and all the questions that cause us to think profoundly about all the shades in between.
vtbob88
May. 18th, 2016 07:28 pm (UTC)
I've got Joe's The Fireman on my list to pick up when I head out to buy King's new one as well, End of Watch.

Also, glad to hear you've been enjoying Better Call Saul! It was definitely my most anticipated show each week for both seasons so far.
Sara Foster
May. 18th, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
Outlander
Outlander is such a fabulous book and TV series. My mother has beed reading it since I was just a wee bairn, and i picked it up for the first time a few years ago, and simply fell in love. It quickly moved up to become my second favorite book series (Right behind ASOIAF, of course!) And we often giggle about her favorite author and mine turned out to be good friends.

Would you ever consider writing something with DG? That is sure to be a book I would fall head over heels for!
arya_wolf
May. 18th, 2016 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks!!
We're on the same page with TV. Better Call Saul runs the emotional gambit, from hilarious one minute heart breaking the next. Brother Chuck is a piece of work, can't wait to find out what happened to his wife. Outlander is stunning!

Added your book recomenations to my list. Do this again in six months.

Many Thanks!!!
R2SO4
May. 18th, 2016 07:36 pm (UTC)
I definitely have to agree on Penny Dreadful and Better Call Saul. Haven't seen the others yet, but I plan to.

While we're on the topic, I greatly appreciated THE EXPANSE on SyFy Channel. Are the books worth reading in your opinion?
grrm
May. 18th, 2016 09:58 pm (UTC)
The books are terrific. The most recent, NEMESIS GAMES, should really be on the Hugo ballot this year... and might well have been except, well, you know, Rabids.
(no subject) - clonedllama - May. 20th, 2016 04:50 am (UTC) - Expand
alp_turkol
May. 18th, 2016 07:42 pm (UTC)
Picking a show
As a college student, I unfortunately don't have enough time to watch everything that I want to watch, and lack of time pushes me to be very careful when picking a show to watch.
When you and Parris start watching a show and realize you're not a huge fan of it, do you give it some time and try to watch a bit more before you call it off or do you just not watch the next episode?
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