We have had an action packed last two weeks. We attended a wonderful wedding in Cape Breton, stayed with a dear friend in New Brunswick, spent a few days with our very special friends in Cape Cod and then rounded out the visit with a visit to our Boston based friends who run a great liquor store in their neighbourhood. We stayed at a quirky B&B in Spencer, Massachusetts run by a retired opera singer and the former caterer for the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. We’ve had company for the last two weekends in Thornbury which both featured wonderful dinners. We got to meet two sets of new neighbours on our block and this past weekend we hosted George’s Florida golfing group and enjoyed some particularly fine veal and superb wine.
Needless to say, not a lot of TV has been watched in the mean time, but here are a few recommendations:
On the big screen
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is a memoir that has been a favourite of book groups for several years. Now a motion picture, it is still a terrific exploration of a harrowing childhood, Woody Harrelson gives his most remarkable performance yet as an alcoholic father of at the Walls family. He portrays a delusional dreamer who plans to live in an unattainable glass castle while failing to provide the necessities of life for his three children. The resilience of his children is inspiring testimony to the indomitability of the human spirit.
Atypical – I binged on the first season of this wonderful show that stars Jennifer Jason Leigh. It’s about an autistic 18-year-old boy who is navigating his way through his senior year of high school. It’s touching, funny and addictive. Enjoy!
The Defenders is a Marvel comics based series that brings together the characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. I am slightly ashamed to confess how much I enjoyed this utterly mindless martial arts show. I especially love Matt Murdoch’s Daredevil (played by the extremely appealing Charlie Cox) way more than I should!
Line of Duty This BBC series is on its fourth season. I binged on the first 4 episodes of this season about an internal affairs department that investigates police corruption. Wonderfully addictive.
The President Show star Anthony Atamanuik did an interview with Seth Meyers that gave great insight into his hilarious portrayal of Trump. You can catch the interview on YouTube.If you haven’t been watching this show (Thursdays at 11:30 following The Daily Show on Comedy Channel), you should give it a look.
Animal Kingdom originates on TNT in the US and the second season will be seen later this season on Bravo. A searing look at a California crime family led by a terrifying Ellen Barkin. If you haven’t seen season 1 yet, it is available on Netflix.
Suits is in its 7th season. I admit I have grown tired of the Mike and Rachel storyline, Lewis Litt’s endless manic episodes, etc. Could this be the last season as Rachel (Megan Markle) may be leaving the show to marry her true life prince (Prince Harry)?
Game of Thrones really has been thrilling this season. The dragons have been called into service and tonight Jon Snow’s magnificent seven go after a Whitewalker. Not to be missed.
Nashville is fabulously entertaining in its corny rivalries and love stories. The music is always great as well.
Preacher is a genuinely bat-shit crazy series about the search for God. Indescribable!
I binge watched last weekend’s 3-episode Black Work, a gritty British crime miniseries.
New episodes premiere tonight of Season 4 of Endeavour, about the young Inspector Morse.
Father Brown continues its nostalgic charm offensive about the crime solving capers of a portly British vicar in small town 1950’s Britain.
I have compiled a list of my favourite depression avoidance mechanism shows in light of the Trumpocalypse, Korea, Charlottesville, Barcelona, etc.:
Baroness Von Sketch (Tuesdays on CBC)
Stephen Colbert The Late Show (Mon – Fri on CBS)
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon – Thurs on Comedy)
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee(Wed on Comedy)
The President Show (Thursdays at 11:30 on Comedy)
Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays on HBO)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Sundays on HBO)
CBS Sunday Morning is my therapeutic way of spending most Sunday mornings exalting in all things pop culture.
I don’t usually comment on news programming but over the past two weeks, I have not been able to believe my eyes and ears. The Charlottesville, Va coverage and Trumpocalypse continuing events (Bannon’s resignation, Mueller’s inquiry, etc.) have been must-watch TV. CNN‘s sister network HBO produces VICE TV and their Charlottesville episode (Aug. 14) is breathtaking in its analysis of a far right movement. This past week I particularly enjoyed the work of several of its anchormen who tried to interpret the events of the day including Trump and his response to the Charlottesville events. They include: Fareed Zakaria, Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, and Andrew Cuomo. They have all worked extraordinarily hard to explain and enlighten their viewers regarding the recent events of Charlottesville and its aftermath. This morning’s Fareed Zakaria GPS is particularly informative regarding the differences between Germany’s reckoning with its past versus the US approach to slavery and the Civil War.
NPR and CBC were both mainstays for us as we drove many kilometres on our recent road trip. Their level-headed analysis of current events served as a counter-balance to the hysteria of the 24-hour news networks.
We listened to a number of books on tape during our trip including the following:
Al Franken: A Giant of the Senate We loved this wry and witty autobiography by the very clever Franken. Fingers crossed that he becomes President one day.
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder. This is a harrowing account of a finance genius’s terrifying fight for justice in Russia and how it made him an unlikely international human rights leader and Vladimir Putin’s number-one enemy.
The Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. This self-help book is written by a superstar blogger who cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
Not My Father’s Son: A Family Memoir by Alan Cumming. We adore Cumming from The Good Wife and are about to start this autobiography of the very outspoken Scottish actor.
House of Spies by Daniel Silva. I inhaled this book, as is the usual case with a Silva espionage novel. There is cause for celebration among lovers of spy fiction as Daniel Craig has just announced he will do another James Bond film. As is the case with many of his novels, we are primarily in the Middle East, Russian oligarchs abound, and there is a joint effort by intelligence agencies to hunt down an international terrorist mastermind.
The Marriage Bureau True Stories of 1940’s London Match-Makers by Penrose Halson. I have just started this charming anthology as it is my Toronto book group’s September choice.
Our summer weather continues today with a blue sky and a suspicious absence of rain. I attended our annual Thornbury antique show this morning and am looking forward to being able to eat dinner outside this evening from the porch of our golf club which has a glorious view of Georgian Bay. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may!! Go out there and seize the day while we have this beautiful summer weather.