Tuesday, December 8, 2015

John Lennon Remembered, and CHAPTER 27 (film)

My 2nd residence in Manhattan was the same block as the Dakota. (I'm still not sure how I got such a great deal on W. 72nd St. to be able to afford it.) Every time I walked up the street to Central Park I thought about him, and all the history there. And every 8 December, there were always many acolytes both at the Dakota Apartments, and the "Imagine" Memorial just east, inside Central Park.

My parents were massive Beatles fans and I know that my birth name was at least partly influenced by Paul McCartney. John Lennon, though, was the strongest id of the group. He had such an amazing life journey, not just the fame and fortune of it all, but his transformation from a frustrated, pent-up, almost criminal youth to a peace-and-love, universalist embracing philosophy. What a cultural touchstone he was. And what a tragic waste.

Mark Chapman was an addled excuse for a human being, but he was portrayed with intriguing commitment (seriously, with the weight gain he is unrecognisable) by Jared Leto in the sleeper CHAPTER 27 (2007), which follows Chapman's time in NYC leading up to his assassination of John Lennon. He's not glamourized or sympathised at all, and it's sad because you know how it's all going to end, but it does put you into an interesting time and place, and the supporting cast (generally all playing Lennon fans – Lindsay Lohan, reminding us that she CAN be a really good actress– or paparazzi– Judah Friedlander of 30 ROCK fame– that Chapman interacted with) are all phenomenal.

Friday, October 30, 2015

3 Fun Low-Budget Thriller/Horrors for Halloween!

SUBMITTED FOR YOUR HALLOWEEN ENTERTAINMENT

3 Fun Low-Budget Thriller/Horrors…

Currently on Netflix

All released within the Last 3 Years!


Image result for creep movieImage result for zombeavers movie



Did a Triple Netflix thriller feature today, in the spirit of Halloween!

All 3 made on a shoestring budget, all worth catching in their own way (but your mileage may vary):

1. CREEP. Videographer gets hired to film creepy Mark Duplass for a day. Starts normal, then #ThingsGoWrong.

2. ZOMBEAVERS. The title really says it all, doesn't it? Surprisingly far better than it has a right to be, probably because it was far worse than I was expecting. But worse in a good way. Characters are all unpleasant assholes, but the cast playing them is surprisingly engaging, which makes them watchable. Obnoxious oversexed college girls visit a Cabin In the Woods, Toxic Beavers rise from the dead, and #ThingsGoWrong.


3. WOULD YOU RATHER. Agatha Christie meets SAW? A dinner party is hosted by ghoulish billionaire Jeffrey Combs (veteran of Re-Animator), who promises a lucrative prize to the 1 of his 8 guests who "wins the game". Which means that #ThingsGoWrong.

Happy Halloween viewing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fargo Season 2 So Far


Well, I am still waiting for Season 2 of FARGO to wow me in the same fashion as Season 1. Last season kicked off with a thrilling opener and never eased up.

2 Episodes in on S2, though, and despite some nice touches, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Problems:
1) No Lorne Malvo, or any character resembling him.
2) No Lorne Malvo. (Yes, a second time. It's that important.)
3) S1 showed our sleepy, smiley Midwest folk being shaken up by evil influences (again, it all comes back to –mostly– Malvo.) In S2, it seems the Evil is already alive and thriving, and nobody's surprised or shocked. It's all jaded cynicism from Day One.
4) The motivations of our young couple make no sense. Unlike S1 Lester (the delightfully weasel-y Martin Freeman) who was pulled into the Vortex by Malvo (see? again!), our S2 antiheroes begin their misdeeds and cover-ups for no understandable reason whatever. As a result, they are unrelatable.
5) I don't want to spend this much time with the quirky gangsters. There are far too many of them, and besides, they're not really amusingly quirky at all. They're mostly just very unpleasant.
6) Aliens? Really?


One plus: if this gets any new generations to listen to Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, well, that's a minor win.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Having finally seen Waitress, I'm reminded of how much I liked Adrienne Shelly: her acting, directing, writing were all utterly charming. In interviews she always had a guileless, quirky sweetness about her, and always looked like a radiant ingenue even in her late 30s, which belied her fierce intellect below the surface. Plus she'd attended my alma mater, Boston University, only a couple years before me. I'd always wished to see her make it bigger than she did, but this allowed her to create a lot of her own opportunities in film.

It still stuns me to remember that she was murdered in 2006, at age 40, by a 19 year-old Ecuadorian construction worker, in her own Manhattan apartment. She had a happy marriage, a 2 year-old daughter, and WAITRESS had just been submitted to Sundance. It would be her final acting and directing project. She never had the chance to flower into the fully-fledged writer/director she certainly would have become on the heels of that film's plaudits.



It seems such a senseless waste of life of a woman who clearly embraced the bittersweet humor of everyday life. That some violent kid could just take it away from her, and from those that loved her, blows my mind. Remembering Ms. Shelly gives me pause and reminds me that every day is precious, that your life can turn on a dime. Perhaps I'm driven to write this because of the recent murders of journalist Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward, whose deaths were equally shocking and sudden.

On this, my wedding anniversary, I am grateful for my life, the love of my life Christine, and the great family and friends that surround me. I guess my tribute to the late Ms. Shelly is also partially meant to inspire all of us to seize our opportunities to live every single day as fully as possible. Even when things are presumably on track and stable, tragedy can strike– yet the world must continue on. This seemed to be Adrienne's own outlook. May your legacy live on, Ms. Shelly. I admired your work greatly.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Interviewed for AudiobookReviewer Website!


Thanks to www.audiobookreviewer.com and Paul Stokes for interviewing me for their website! I didn't think to sexy-up my booth before getting a picture, but despite the milk carton and the wall cracks, I really do get great sound in here.


http://audiobookreviewer.com/interview/narrator-paul-woodson/

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Paul's Backpacking Tips




  • Keep it lightweight, but be able to carry lots of water if necessary.
  • Bring music; it makes me hike faster and takes my mind out of the doldrums that creep in on long stretches. I use an iPod Shuffle separate from my phone, but most thrus I saw this year simply used their phones.
  • Keep your phone/camera in a light, flat, easily accessible waterproof transparent pouch (I use an eCase). Unless it's a torrential downpour, or you're climbing rocky stretches where falling is a danger, you can keep it sealed in your pocket safely but pull it out at a moment's notice for a quick picture or get information.
  • My standbys for quick energy (these have contributed to some of my high-mileage days): Trader Joe's coffee packets (milk & sugar already pre-mixed; $1.99 for 10 and they taste just as good cold as hot); Nuun Electrolyte tablets which come in a cool tube the size of a quarters roll and a multitude of flavors (and they make other tablets for Vitamins and Energy; I'm talking the ELECTROLYTE ones); and also Clif Shot Blocks. Combined with decent food, they will serve you well.
  •  Also, carry a secondary battery pack. I have one from Monoprice that cost me $30, charges 2 devices simultaneously, weighs about 5 oz., and gives an iPhone about 3 full charges. I've never run out of juice, even without power for 3-4 days.
  • To get the longest life from your phone/device, put it in Airplane Mode and turn off Location services unless you really need them for a specific reason. You can leave your device on in these modes for days without a significant loss of power (unless you are reading/listening to music, etc.). Just enable those features when you need them.


You can also peruse Paul's Appalachian Trail Journals and Pics from the past 12 years at www.trailjournals.com/mooseboy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to Spend a Fortune on Cheap Food

 

Feeling fleeced twice in Astoria, Queens, tonight.




I think I'm done with Dillinger's Wing Night. Not that I was ever a big fan to begin with. But for all its touted value, it is subject to more rules and hidden costs than other local establishments which are more forthcoming about their deals.

My recent favorite Happy Hour watering holes along 30th Ave.– Dominie's and Blackbird's Café– have always dealt straight with me, and I've never left either place feeling grumpy, as I generally do when I leave someplace feeling like I just got conned.

I decided to give Dillinger's one more try tonight. I've had a spotty track record there– despite my first experience being generally enjoyable, the rest were pretty irritating. The last time I tried to dine there before tonight, I could not even get a seat, was largely ignored, and was passed over in favor of couples for table space,  and couldn't order food or drink without being seated.

What's the draw? Well, every Tuesday, Dillinger's has "25¢ Wings". (Those quotes will be explained shortly.) So every Tuesday, a normally quiet little neighborhood bar & grill becomes a madhouse of poultry-chomping deal-seekers. I'm not embarrassed to count myself among those who like a beer and a meal for a discount price, and as I said, both of those are found at Dominie's ($5 weekday pizza, delicious) and Blackbird's ($6/12 wings and $4 for all beers, mostly quality microbrews Wed. Nite) with less crowds and less restrictions.

Oh, and better overall pricing, when you get down to it.

But let's start with the rules. Unable to determine anywhere online what time "Wing Night" actually began, I ventured into Dillinger's at 7 minutes to 6 p.m., noticing on the sign outside that it began at 6:00. Good,I thought, I'll be getting a jump on the crowds. I was easily able to take a seat at the bar (although asked to slide a seat over, later, to accommodate the growing hordes), and asked whether I had to wait until exactly 6 p.m. to place my order. The answer was technically, yes, but I could order my drink now.

BTW, this is one of the restrictions– one which I totally understand– you must order a drink with your Wings. I get that; they need to make up their price and they are balancing the cost. No problem there. But then, all drinks are full price. No happy hour discounts during a time and weekday that EVERY other bar in the area– indeed, most of the USA– is offering $3-4 beers. No, here I paid the full $6 for a pint of Long Trail, for the privilege of my "25¢ wings". But OK, sacrifices must be made in the name of cheap wings. I understand.

When 6 o'clock rolled around, and I was able to place my order of 15 Garlic Wings, the server looked doubtful and said, "You might have to order another drink for that many wings." Really? 15 is considered a large number? I asked how many were usually OK to order with just one beer, but because of a language barrier (and a bit of loudness at the bar), I never really heard the answer. In the end, I bought another beer anyway.

Which was my next mistake. Granted, their $11 Yuengling & PBR Pitcher special is a pretty good deal– and in retrospect, I should've just ordered a pitcher all to myself. A full pitcher of Yuengling would have cost LESS than the 2 pints of Long Trail & Yuengling I ended up ordering ($11.50). I didn't even know I'd be expected to order a 2nd drink all because I was going to ingest the unheard-of-except-in-Guinness-Book-eating-records total of 15 Chicken Wings, but I went along with it. Because at this point, I was pretty much trapped at my barstool.

When the check came, I was flummoxed to learn that my "25¢ Wings" were in fact 45¢ apiece. Because I'd ordered Garlic, you see. And tasty as they were, I would have gladly forgone that herb to get wings that were actually A GREAT DEAL. There was no warning from the server, "You know, those cost extra," or anything. Just add it to the bill, and suddenly the deal isn't looking like such a bargain. Oh, and ranch dressing on the side is an extra 50¢. That last one doesn't irk me too much as I knew it beforehand, but it adds up.

So instead of 25¢ wings and 2 happy hour beers, we have 45¢ wings, 2 full-price beers, and extra for the sauce. I ended up paying nearly double my expected tab, and more than I've ever paid for the same amount of food and beer at Blackbird's Wing Night– despite their deal actually NOT looking as tempting on paper. Alternatively, I would've spent less for a full Mexican platter and nice cerveza at a private booth in my favorite local sit-down restaurant, than I did for 2 beers and a plate of wings at a cramped barstool in a noisy bar on "Discount" Night.

I might not have balked at the price on a regular night. But since this was supposed to be the Great Deal, the Big Bargain, I couldn't help but walk away feeling like a sucker.

To alleviate my frustration, I stopped in for dessert– something I never do– at 16 Handles on 30th Ave. on my way home. I'd tried it before in Manhattan, and had always been meaning to try the local franchise, just blocks from my apartment.

Already full from the wings, and wary of any further price gouging, I judiciously selected the smallest cup, filled it only ¾ full with soft-serve yogurt, and added only the most meagre of toppings: 2 incredibly tame half-spoonfuls of crushed candy bar. Proud of myself for my economy of selection and self-control, I strode up to the scale/register.


This cost $7.20.

My little cup came to $7.20. This has to be a joke, I thought, as I forked it over. I enjoyed a couple ashen mouthfuls on the 5-block walk back to my apartment, by which time much of it had melted into mush.

Moral of the Story?

Until further notice, Blackbird's Café on Wednesday Nights ($4 beer, $6 for 12 wings), and Dominie's M-Th Happy Hour ($5 beer, $5-6 pizzas from scratch) are far better 30th Avenue deals. Even the beer selection is better at both places. If Dillinger's had been less Ranger-Beaver-ish about its rules, warned me about the inflated prices on options, had Happy Hour pint specials, and for that matter, had a better selection of beers, not to mention not made me feel like a criminal for thinking I could get 15 "discount" wings (which weren't) by buying only ONE pint, perhaps I would've stuck it out.

Sorry, Dillinger's, but you lost me this time.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

August Audiobook News from Your Friend and Humble Narrator

 

It's been a busy summer for your droog Paul Woodson. Here's a roundup of recent audiobook endeavours. 

 

Paul joins roster of Deyan Audio Narrators

I'm excited to be in the great company of Deyan Audio! More news on this as I learn more myself.

Night Slashers released!

I'm pleased to announce the recent release of the audiobook of Rashad Freeman's NIGHT SLASHERS. I've done a few mysteries, but none quite so gritty as this. A New Orleans plastic surgeon's life is in uproar when people around him keep being murdered. Whodunit? His business partner? His grizzled old Army buddy? Or even the surgeon himself, during a number of blackouts that are peppered with flashbacks of his service in Vietnam? You'll have to listen to find out!

Purchase NIGHT SLASHERS on Audible.com



 

A Bridge Through Time by Jennae Vale–
Production Complete; Available Soon on Audiobook

It was a pleasure to narrate the first book in Vale's THISTLE AND HIVE Series. Featuring a pastiche of English, Scottish, and American accents, this delightful Romance novel juxtaposes a modern American woman and a medieval Highland Laird! Of course it's love at first sight, with a smattering of time travel, adventure, and humour! This was a favourite of mine to narrate, and I think it will be one of yours, too– if you enjoy manly, burly Scots sweeping lassies out of their ghillies. Och aye!

https://soundcloud.com/paul-woodson/z-retail-sample?in=paul-woodson/sets/audiobook-samples

The audiobook is not yet released; but in the meantime enjoy this preview clip on SoundCloud!

 

Engaged to Narrate and Produce Keira Montclair's
Brightest Star in the Highlands!

I'm very happy to begin pre-production on an audiobook by bestselling Highland Romance author Keira Montclair, THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE HIGHLANDS! The author herself selected me to narrate this next book in her Clan Grant Series. I'm eager to begin this new arrangement and add to my repertoire of rugged Scottish heroes and intrepid Highland heroines! Watch for it in a couple of months! In the meantime, read (or listen to) the first six books in the series (not narrated by me, FYI).


http://www.amazon.com/The-Brightest-Star-Highlands-Jennie/dp/1515009939

Saturday, July 4, 2015

ROOTS, Remembered and Finally Appreciated


I was far too young to understand or appreciate Alex Haley's ROOTS as a child. Even when I remember my Mom watching in the early 80s, as I flitted in & out of the room occasionally taking a morbid interest, asking what thumbscrews were– that was almost certainly a re-airing. But tonight, with the Holiday weekend upon us and the apartment to myself, I've begun watching.

Though it moves slowly, and I've had to acclimate myself to 1970s US TV standards, the sheer humanity of its story outweighs any occasional lapses in production value tenfold. It didn't take me too long to realize that I was watching a masterpiece.

After finishing, I agreed with a friend who said each episode "ripped his heart out of his chest" – it ripped my heart out too– there was always a familiar pattern of happiness followed by disappointment followed by tragedy, which then repeated.

I really liked the complexity of the characters; nobody was a heroic or villainous stereotype, but as in real life, everything was much more multifaceted and gray. Obvious metaphor ("It wasn't just black and white") is obvious. Not all the white characters are horrible; not all the black ones are admirable. There's even an interesting subplot involving a white couple who become like family to the black characters, both pre-and post-Emancipation.

In so many other films about slavery, we always hear from the anti-slavery side – Abolitionists, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Thaddeus Stevens, etc. There is always a feeling of hope, of possible escape, because somewhere else, we know people are fighting to end this great Wrong. But in ROOTS, we experience only the world of the enslaved, and the most we see of such faraway grand pipe dreams are whispered tales and rumors. The North may as well be as far and unreachable as Africa.

So many great actors - baby Levar Burton and John Amos as Young & Old Kunta Kinte, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, not to mention a detestable Lloyd Bridges, a queasy Ed Asner (as the grudging captain of a slave ship), and OMG, Robert Reed– that's right, Mike Brady of THE BRADY BUNCH!– as a wealthy slave owner!

This should be required viewing for all Americans, black, white, and brown. White folks especially need to watch it, as I worry that there's a lot of historical ignorance going around. ROOTS makes the struggles (and joys) of black Americans relatable to all people. Even today as we celebrate our great nation's inception, we should not forget the sins of its past.

Learn and Advance is the rule. We must always Learn and Advance.
 
Highly recommended. Rating: A.
 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Highland-Revenge-Audiobook/B00ZD1QABO/ref=a_search_c4_1_3_srTtl?qid=1434653141&sr=1-3

HIGHLAND REVENGE Audiobook available!

HIGHLAND ECHOES Audiobook completed– soon to be released

both by Ceci Giltenan/narrated by Paul Woodson


 Pleased to announce that my 2nd set of Ceci Giltenan's Highland Romance audiobooks are rolling out! This time I am voicing her FATED HEARTS series.

Already available: Highland Revenge (Fated Hearts Book 1), a novella that's also a part of the Scrolls of Cridhe Series , on which Ceci Giltenan collaborated with fellow well-known Highland Romance authors Sue-Ellen Welfonder, Suzan Tisdale , Kate Robbins, Kathryn Lynn Davis , Lily Baldwin, and Tarah Scott. (I've had the pleasure of narrating 2 of Lily Baldwin's books as well.)

The 2nd book in the series, Highland Echoes, is a full-length novel, and has its audiobook in the can and will be available on Audible any day! Watch for it on Audible (you can keep tabs on my current audiobooks by visiting my Titles Page - (http://tinyurl.com/paulwoodsonaudible). As usual, it was a pleasure to narrate Ceci's work!

Cheers, all, for listening!


Monday, June 8, 2015

I'm very excited to announce that my Featured Release of the Month, THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT , the 1921 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs,  was #3 in the Audible "Classics" Category the week of its release (last week)! I never expected such interest so quickly, but it's a great feeling! I even got my wife to listen to the whole thing and she loved it (which is no small feat)!

By today, it's dropped to #5 in the last 7 days, but I managed to snag this screenshot last night:

Also, both EFFICIENCY EXPERT and Hawthorne's THE ARTIST OF THE BEAUTIFUL were, respectively, #14 and #33 in Classics over the last month! Feeling good about tackling these classics in between some of my other audiobook work (more about my newest projects in the next post.)

Thanks, Mike Vendetti & Steven Jay Cohen!
http://www.audible.com/pd/Classics/The-Efficiency-Expert-Audiobook/B00YB97KCM/ref=a_newreleas_c2_15_thttp://www.audible.com/pd/Classics/The-Artist-of-the-Beautiful-Audiobook/B00XI0U748/ref=a_search_c4_1_19_srTtl?qid=1433782897&sr=1-19

Monday, June 1, 2015

APAC 2015!!!




2015 was my first APAC ( Audio Publishers Association Conference), and I had the joy of meeting and hearing a multitude of incredible talent in the ‪#‎audiobook‬ Industry! And I was able to thank Scott Brick personally for inspiring me to take that first step!

Also, an old dorm mate of mine from Boston, Peter Shankman, was the Keynote Speaker!

Here are some pics from APAC. (I was so busy I really didn't take many)





Friday, May 29, 2015

https://seelkfireice.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/my-chat-with-paul-woodson/
My recent interview with Audiobook Reviewer/Blogger Enikö Tolnai is now online!


Ms. Tolnai asked me some great questions that I couldn't just use stock answers for. I'm happy to have her as a listener, reviewer, and acquaintance!
(She also designed the lovely collage of my titles that appears at the top of this post.)

Thursday, May 14, 2015


 Artist on Audible Birthmark on Audible

2 Classic Short Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, THE ARTIST OF THE BEAUTIFUL, and THE BIRTHMARK, are now available on Audible.com, narrated by Paul Woodson!

These 2 stories complement each other well, as they both feature the rich romantic prose of Hawthorne,  and address Hawthorne's much-visited topic of Man vs. Nature, delivered passionately and flowingly by classically trained actor and narrator Paul Woodson.



THE BIRTHMARK:

In this classic Hawthorne short story set in the late 18th century, the ambitious young scientist Aylmer cannot bear the fact that his otherwise flawlessly beautiful wife Georgiana bears a tiny birthmark on her cheek, an imperfection that he believes his scientific methods can cure. Devoted wholeheartedly to her husband, Georgiana allows Aylmer to work his scientific wonders upon her, so that the blemish no may no longer torment him. But tampering with nature can prove a fearful business….


THE ARTIST OF THE BEAUTIFUL:

Obsessive, reclusive, artistically inclined watchmaker Owen Worland spends his entire life trying to capture natural beauty in his scientific inventions. But he is frequently discouraged and set back by the interference of the townspeople, his former master, and the lovely Annie Hovenden. Will Owen ever fulfill his life's goal and create the ultimate perfection?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Today is NATIONAL TELL A STORY DAY!

Or as we're calling it in the Twitterverse/Hashtag World,

#Listen2aBook Day!


A select number of people who contact me today (either via the contact box on this website, or via my Twitter account, clickable at the top of this website) can receive a promotional review copy of one of my audiobooks FREE through Audible.com! Tell me which of my books you are interested in (see the links at the top or side of the page) and specify a valid email (not shared or put on mailing lists) at which to receive the code for your free copy!

This is valid April 27, 2015 only. Not all of my audiobooks may be available as a free promotional copy.

Cheers, and enjoy listening to your book!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Here's a bit of a plug for my recent Young Adult Adventure ‪‎audiobook‬: Kirkus Reviews star-winner BLACKHEART'S LEGACY by Sally Copus! Enjoy! ‪#‎Lotsofaccents


 Blackheart Audible Link


While I've always taken pride in my accent work, and tend to narrate books with a large ensemble of characters and multiple voices, many of them tend to have the same dialect (English, Scottish, American variations). Here, though, the adventure comprises a vast number of characters from all over the world. Everywhere from the USA to Scotland to Jamaica to China is represented. (Don't worry, no offensive stereotype voices here.) 

It was a joy to narrate, and I'm just listening back to Audible's final commercial version; audio quality sounds nice. Although aimed at 11-to 14 year-old audience, it's really a lot of fun for adults as well.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Preview of my Newly-Ordered Business Cards
(Phone # intentionally removed)


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My latest audiobook,  the YA Fantasy Adventure RED by Jennifer Anne Davis, is now available!


Red - True Reign Book 2
by Jennifer Anne Davis

Fantasy/Young Adult

Just released on Audible.com!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015

FX's Fargo Finally Reviewed

 Jesus, people, the ‪#‎Fargo‬ TV series is AWESOME. If you missed it (as I did), check it out. Like the Coen Bros.' 1996 film, it straddles the line between thriller & dark comedy.
Billy Bob Thornton deserves every award he wins for this (Is Malvo in fact the Devil incarnate or just the most diabolic man alive?), and the all-star ensemble as a whole was excellent:

Martin Freeman (also doing amazing work), Colin Hanks (once more playing a nice-guy cop), Oliver Platt, Bob Odenkirk, Glenn Howerton, Key & Peele (you read that right), Adam Goldberg, Keith Carradine, Joey King, Rachel Blanchard, Stephen Root, and last but certainly not least Allison Tolman in a star-making role as the Marge Gunderson-ish small town cop.

Neither a remake, reboot, nor spinoff, the new FX series takes place in the WORLD of the Coen Bros' film FARGO (set some years later), with none of the same characters, but all of the same tropes. As in the film, the actual Fargo, North Dakota, appears but briefly in mostly peripheral scenes, and the rest of the action hovers around Bemidji and Duluth (one small city and one medium/large-sized one in the frozen northern third of Minnesota.

Rather than a slow startup to let us familiarize with the town & the characters, the premiere episode is a doozy and features several horrible crimes (to say more would spoil). Once hooked, you're all but obligated to watch Devilish B.B. Thornton and the Faustian Freeman wrangle over the wrongdoings they've become complicit in.

Although throughout, I always knew I was watching FARGO, the series seems to owe just as much of a debt to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, since Thornton's villain immediately reminds one of Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh (even down to the page-boy bowlcut, though less severe here) – a primary difference being Thornton's loquacity and ability to "blend", while Bardem remained taciturn and stoic. A bit of style seems also borrowed from David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS days, although FARGO's dark humor is in far greater supply than Lynch's projects ever were.

Looks like the series has been renewed for a 2nd season, you betcha! With mostly a cast of brand new gals and fellas. Seriously, check it out.

Grade :A.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

  • A friend of mine mentioned that today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, which got me thinking.
     
    I've been listening to a great podcast called Dan Carlin - Hardcore History. You might find it captivating; I do. At the moment he's on World War I. He covers other fascinating and controversial topics like American Expansionism in the 1890s, the Reformation, Ethics of the Atomic Bomb, etc.
     
    Specifically regarding his episode on the Ethics of using the Atomic Bomb first, and how at that point, the firebombing that both sides (but mostly the Allies) had been perpetrating on civilians in large cities a) was actually just as bad or worse, carnage-wise, than the 1st atomic weapons– the A-Bomb just facilitated doing it faster; and b) reinforced the fact that the greater the distance from your intended target/victim, the more impersonal it becomes, the easier it is to pull the trigger/drop the bomb/incinerate noncombatant civilian women & children. Heavy stuff.
     
  • And on the Auschwitz front, thank God the Russians were victorious and all, but the crimes, rapes, murders, etc. that they committed essentially as revenge against the Nazis when the tide turned, are just as horrific. Madness was at its full tilt at that time.

    By comparison, the Western Front was almost a "gentleman's war". I think the main reason we don't see more films or stories about the Eastern Front is that it's too freaking horrific.
     
    This is a bit of a rambly blog post; sorry about that. Just some jumbled thoughts on this frozen night in New York, after the Blizzard That Wasn't (Here).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Honestly, I didn't expect the documentary ROOM 237 to be so nutty.

Man, I thought *I* read too much into films sometimes, but some of these theories about what Stanley Kubrick really MEANT to convey via his film of Stephen King's THE SHINING have me scratching my head and thinking, "Oof. Get a life."

It's still pretty amusing as a way to re-visit the masterpiece, but a better way to do that is just to watch the original and draw your own conclusions. It's one thing to argue for potential symbolic interpretations of a work of art, but another to conclude that this is what Kubrick "Obviously MEANT", whether it's arguing that he was apologizing for faking the Moon Landing, or that the Hotel Manager was purposely framed (with a paper tray, for about 1/4 of a second) to look like he had a boner pointing at Jack Nicholson.

A good example: One theorizer points out that the room key for Room 237 shows only the capital letters R, O, O, M, and N. "And the only words you can make from those letters are Moon and Room. He's referring to the 'Moon Room' where the Apollo landing was faked."

Well, #1: You CAN spell several more words with those letters ("Moor", "mono"), but #2: Sadly, you overlooked the only word that uses all 5: MORON. ;)