His Dark Materials – 3 seasons

Somehow I managed to get through most of 3 seasons of His Dark Materials.

It really isn’t very good.

The books are much better – His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

And the big budget 2007 film is better – The Golden Compass. GREAT cast.

My favourite character on the TV adaptation might be Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter. That’s a tough role when you know you’ll be compared with Nicole Kidman who’s perfect in the film version.

The show follows the orphan Lyra, played by Dafne Keen, as she searches for a missing friend and discovers a kidnapping plot related to an invisible cosmic substance called Dust.

Ultimately, I didn’t care much about the plot. The prophecy. The Magisterium. Nor many of the characters. Dust. Angels. I really didn’t care about anything in this show.

Most interesting are the animal companions called daemons.

And there are some interesting special effects and speculative fiction touches.

Read the books. Watch the movie. Skip the TV series.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is a great writer.

This is the first book of his I’ve read.

Colter Shaw is an itinerate “reward-seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons.

When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job. The investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of Silicon Valley and the cutthroat billion-dollar video gaming industry–and then a second kidnapping happens…and this victim turns up dead.

The clues soon point to one video game, The Never Game, in which the player has to survive after being left abandoned.

Is a madman bringing that game to life? If so, Shaw has to stop him before he strikes again…and before he figures out that Shaw is on his trail.


I’ll be reading more Jeffery Deaver, for sure.

Deaver was chosen to write a new James Bond novel: Carte Blanche set in 2011 and was published on May 25, 2011.  So he’s definitely got credibility as an author.

Little America – seasons 1&2

What a great idea. Short vignettes of the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and unexpected lives of immigrants in America. Based on true stories.

In an era where ReTrumplican Americans are against immigrants, this show is timely.

In fact, filming of episode 8 had to be moved to Canada when Trump placed a 90-day restriction on entry to the U.S. by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Shaun Toub as Faraz was maybe my favourite character in the season one 8 different episodes.

Little America is a series produced for Apple TV+.

Season 1 launched January, 2020. Season 2 December 2022.

Rotten Tomatoes 95%.

I found season 2 not as compelling, though still worth watching.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Blind Date by Ottawa’s Brenda Chapman

A new series begins – the Hunter and Tate Mysteries.

Book #1 is OK.  Easy reading. 

I doubt I’ll continue with the series.

True crime podcaster Ella Tate is shaken to her core by the horrific assault and murder of Josie Wheatly, a teacher she has never met … because not only had Josie moved into Ella’s vacated apartment three months earlier, but her Facebook photos reveal a striking resemblance between the two women.

Within days, two people close to Ella are harmed, and she fears that she’s become the target of twisted revenge from her crime-reporting days. 

Reluctantly teaming up with her neighbour Tony, a hairdresser who loves the finer things in life, and Liam Hunter, the persistent detective assigned to the cases, Ella struggles to stay one step ahead before she becomes the target of the final kill.


A New England by Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg is one of the few artists I’ve seen live. And in a small venue.

He’s exactly my age and I related to his political activism. An opponent of fascism, racism,  bigotrysexism and homophobia, and a supporter of a multi-racial Britain.

His record label boss Andy Macdonald observed that “his presence onstage took on more of the avenging angel”.

An impressive and passionate performer.

Kirsty MacColl recorded the song the year after its release by Bragg (1983).  It was her biggest solo hit.

Billy first performed it like a busker. Rough. And a short version. Kirsty expanded the song.

This duet, to me, seems a good compromise between the versions.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I was twenty one years when I wrote this song
I’m twenty two now, but I won’t be for long
People ask when will you grow up to be a man
But all the girls I loved at school
Are already pushing prams
I loved you then as I love you still
Though I put you on a pedestal
They put you on the pill
I don’t feel bad about letting you go
I just feel sad about letting you know

I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl
I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl

I loved the words you wrote to me
But that was bloody yesterday
I can’t survive on what you send
Every time you need a friend
I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
It’s wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care

I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl
I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl
Looking for another girl
Looking for another girl
Looking for another girl…

The Wild One by Nick Petrie

5th book in the series.

When I realized my favourite character, Lewis, was not going to be in this story, I was disappointed.

BUT a murder mystery set in a December blizzard in Iceland turned out to be right up my alley. 😀

Losing ground in his fight against post-traumatic claustrophobia, war veteran Peter Ash has no intention of getting on an airplane–until a grieving woman asks Peter to find her eight-year-old grandson.

The woman’s daughter has been murdered. Erik, the dead daughter’s husband, is the sole suspect, and he has taken his young son and fled to Iceland for the protection of Erik’s lawless family.

Finding the boy becomes more complicated when Peter is met at the airport by a man from the United States Embassy. For reasons both unknown and unofficial, it seems that Peter’s own government doesn’t want him in Iceland. …


Benedict Cumberbatch IS Sherlock Holmes

I rarely go back and rewatch TV or movies.

But the 2010 to 2017 modern-day London adaptation of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson has stayed on my mind.

It was the first major television series I can recall that used YouTube editing techniques to tell the story.

It’s even more impressive considering how poor the digital video software was over those years. They used Avid Media Composer.

Today the most popular software packages are:

Fast paced, irreverent, funny. Cumberbatch is perfect as the brilliant high functioning sociopath.

Amanda Abbington, Freeman’s then-real life partner, plays Mary Morstan, Watson’s girlfriend and eventual wife. A nice touch. They have 2 children together.

First time around I was a bit disappointed in his archenemy Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott) — but that weird performance seemed better to me on second watching.

Of course everyone would love to see more episodes, but it seems unlikely.

For one thing, the season 4 was good, but inferior to all the preceding episodes.

Here’s a montage on Vimeo of some of the video editing techniques.

I got my 5th Covid jab

NO … I’m not worried about cardiovascular disease or stroke. The tiny risk is far outweighed by the benefit of the vaccine.

The XBB.1.5 variant is super infectious, though not all that dangerous.

We’re all going to be exposed. Scientists feel about 80% of those exposed will get it sometime soon, even if you are vaccinated or have had Covid in the past.

I’m hoping another vaccine might help (a bit) when I get it.

So far as I know, I haven’t had Covid yet.

Also, I’m traveling soon to Bermuda, a nation that is behind most of the rest of the developing world in vaccine & natural protection.

There’s a pretty good argument not to bother with #5 — but getting the vaccine is free, easy, and I’ve never had a side effects.

OCDaniel by Wesley King

Good book. I enjoyed it.

Wesley King is the author of over a dozen novels for young readers.

His debut, OCDaniel, is an Edgar Award winner, a Canada Silver Birch Award winner, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and received a starred review from Booklist.

The author suffered in silence with Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) when he was a kid. This coming-of-age novel is quite autobiographical.

13-year-old Daniel is shy and smart. He’d be bullied if not for his best friend Max who is a school football star.

Daniel is on the team too — as back-up punter and water boy. He really doesn’t want to get on the field.

The only stranger kid in his Grade is Sara Malvern who does not speak to anyone. Though she keeps her grades high.

Daniel is shocked with Sara approaches him with a personal problem. And speaks.

She fears her father has been killed by her Mom’s new boyfriend.

It’s partly a murder mystery.

Simultaneously, Daniel is secretly writing a book called The Last Kid on Earth.

This book is ideal for kids and teenagers.

The author is most famous for writing kids books for Kobe Bryant.

He wrote a prequel, as well, about Sara ➙ Sara and the Search for Normal.

Somebody Somewhere – season 1

Somebody Somewhere is funny.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds a 100% approval rating.

It’s charmingly real-to-life. The cast does not look Hollywood.

I’d never heard of comedian Bridget Everett before seeing this show, based on her life in hometown ManhattanKansas.

… The ReTrumplicans of Kansas must hate this series. 😀

You think you’re Pinterest. But you’re actually Hobby Lobby.

Bridget worked in the restaurant business for 25 years before finally able to quit around the beginning of 2015.

Amy Schumer brought Bridget on to tours as an opening comedy act.

Drag King Murray Hill as Fred Rococo is entertaining.

But easily my favourite character is Jeff Hiller as Joel, Sam’s co-worker and friend. He was cast instantly. Perfect.

Somebody Somewhere has been renewed.

Click PLAY or watch an insight into the show on YouTube.