SEEN, READ 2020

I really liked this idea by Steven Soderbergh, so I’ll be updating this post all year. I used to use GoodReads and NetFlix to keep track, but that’s not complete, and it can disappear at corporate whim. This can too, but less likely.

All caps, bold: MOVIE
bold: concert, show, other event
All caps: TV SERIES
Italics: Book or Comic Book
Quotation marks: “Play” / “Broadway Show” LOL what are those?
Italics, quotation marks: “Short Story” or “Poem”(all this shit stole from Steven Soderbergh)

1/1
SCHITT’S CREEK (S3 1-6)
Mr. Know-it-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, by John Waters.
1/2
Criminal #11
1/3
FAT GIRL
1/5
HUSTLERS
1/6
“Ride-Along”, Ron Riekki (Akashic: Mondays are Murder).
1/7
DARE ME 2
1/8
“Playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”, Jamil Jan Kochai (The New Yorker).
1/9
“The Porcupine Method”, J. Danielle Dorn (Tough Crime).
THE MANDALORIAN (6 7 8)
1/10
HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE
1/12
READY OR NOT
1/13
DARE ME 3.
THE IN-LAWS (1979)
1/15
Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward.
1/16
“Found Wanting,” Douglas Stuart (The New Yorker)
“I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter,” Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld)
SEIS MANOS S1 1-2
1/18
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (1975)
SCHITT’S CREEK S3 6-13, S4 1-2.
1/20
SCHITT’S CREEK S4 2-7.
1/21
“Visitor,” by Bryan Washington (The New Yorker)
TWIN PEAKS S1 PILOT.
1/22
“God,” by Ben Loory (BOMB Magazine)
TWIN PEAKS S1 2-3
1/23
“A Girlfriend’s Guide to Gods,” by Maria Dahvana Headley (TOR)
NO BLADE OF GRASS
1/26
SEIS MANOS (S1 3-8)
1/27
The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard.
1/28
LITTLE WOMEN (2019)
1/29
GEORGE CARLIN: IT’S BAD FOR YA
1/30
“Sussex, Essex, Wessex, Northumbria,” by Brandon Taylor (Oprah Magazine)
ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
2/1
FORD V FERRARI. DARE ME 4.
2/2
THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
1917
Criminal #12
2/3
The Way We Die Now, by Charles Willeford
2/4
“King of the Blue Rose,” by William R. Soldan (Tough Crime)
“Killer Roll,” by Naomi Hirahara (Discover Nikkei)
Goliath, by Tom Gauld
JOKER
2/5
“Things We Worried About When I Was Ten,” by David Rabe (New Yorker)
Islands Linked by Ocean, by Lisa Linn Kanae
SCHITT’S CREEK S4 3-10
2/6
THE JUNIPER TREE
I WALK ALONE (1947)
2/7
“Turistas,” by Hector Acosta (¡Pa’Que Tu Lo Sepas!)
“The Bones of Rio Rico,” by David Bowles (¡Pa’Que Tu Lo Sepas!)
2/8
Goliath, by Tom Gauld
2/9
HAIR LOVE
HARRIET
2/10
“Deportees,” by James Lee Burke (The Strand)
“Carnival,” by Laura Benedict (The Strand)
2/11
SCHITT’S CREEK S4 11-13, S5 1-2
2/12
THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
DARE ME 6
2/13
“The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror,” by Carmen Maria Machado (Granta)
2/14
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
2/15
“Girls Without Their Faces On,” by Laird Barron
“Thin Cold Hands,” by Gemma Files
“Shit Happens,” by Michael Marshall Smith (The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven)
2/16
City of Margins, by William Boyle
I Kind of forgot for a few weeks so here’s a summation…
2/20
BAXTER
2/21
MEL BROOKS: UNWRAPPED
DARE ME 7
TWIN PEAKS S1 4 5
2/24
Briarpatch, by Ross Thomas
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 1 2
BRIARPATCH 1 2
THE NIGHTINGALE (did not finish)
DEATH OF A SALESMAN (did not finish)
“Sand People,” by Maria Lioutaia (One Story)
“Lethe,” by Leanna James Blackwell (True Story)
2/29
YELLA
3/2
CABARET (1972)
3/3
Agency, by William Gibson
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 3
DARE ME 8
BETTER THINGS S4 1 2 3
3/4
“With the Beatles,” by Haruki Murakami. (The New Yorker
3/6
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
And I Do Not Forgive You, by Amber Sparks
3/7
THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE
3/8
The Lost Bayou Ramblers and Poguetry at Rough Trade NYC
3/9
“Allocthon,” by Livia Llewellyn (The Best of the Best of the Horror of the Year, ed. Ellen Datlow)
DARE ME 9 10
3/10
“Paper Menagerie,” by Ken Liu (Gizmodo/Magazine of Fantasy & SF)
3/12
Jack Waters, by Scott Adlerberg
3/13
You Will Not Be Forgotten,” by Mary South (The New Yorker)
JOHN WICK 3: PARABELLUM
3/14
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 E4
BETTER THINGS S4 4
3/15
SCHITT’S CREEK S5 8-12
Dreyer’s English, by Benjamin Dreyer.
3/16
SCHITT’S CREEK S6 1-4
3/17
VIDEODROME
SCHITT’S CREEK S6 5-7
3/18
IN A LONELY PLACE
3/19
TWIN PEAKS S1 6-7
3/20
“The Promised Hostel,” by Mary South (The Baffler)
TWIN PEAKS S1 8 (finale) S2 1
3/21
Fleishman is in Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
THE ANDERSON TAPES
3/22
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
3/23
Broken, by Don Winslow
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 5
BETTER THINGS S4 5
3/24
VAGABOND
SCHITT’S CREEK S6 8-11
3/25
Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man, by Lawrence Block
3/26
HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I
3/27
STUBER
3/28
THE TIGER KING 1
MANDY
3/29
THE RUNNING MAN
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 6
BETTER THINGS S4 6
THE TIGER KING 2 3
3/30
L’ATALANTE
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 7
THE TIGER KING 4 5 6
3/31
EATING RAOUL
THE TIGER KING 7
SCHITT’S CREEK S6 12
4/1
TWIN PEAKS S2 2 3
4/2
TWIN PEAKS S2 4
4/3
THE DECAMERON
PATHER PANCHALI
4/4
“Love Letter,” by George Saunders (The New Yorker)
“Bullet in the Brain,” by Tobias Wolff
BETTER THINGS S4 7
4/5
Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers, edited by Joyce Carol Oates
LOCAL HERO
4/6
GAS, FOOD, LODGING
4/7
THE LONG DAY CLOSES
QUEEN & SLIM
“The Everest Society,” by Shannon Sanders (OneStory)
4/8
SOLARIS (1972)
4/9
TEX AVERY’S SCREWBALL CLASSICS VOL.1
SCHITT’S CREEK S6 13-14
You Will Never Be Forgotten, by Mary South
4/10
The Burglar in Short Order, by Lawrence Block
Things from the Flood, by Simon Stålenhag
The Recently Deflowered Girl: The Right Thing to Say on Every Dubious Occasion, by Edward Gorey
4/11
UNCUT GEMS
Prisoner 489, by Joe R. Lansdale
4/12
THE LITTLE PRINCE (2015)
The Banks, by Roxane Gay, Ming Doyle.
4/13
TEKKONKINKREET
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 8
BETTER THINGS S4 8
4/15
TOM & JERRY SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION VOL.3
THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND HER LOVER
“Snakes in the Lobby,” by Amie Barrodale (Ploughshares)
4/16
FROM HELL IT CAME
NIGHTFALL
4/17
“I Happy Am,” by Jamel Brinkley (Ploughshares)
4/18
“How to Make a Monster,” by Nyssa Chow (Ploughshares)
THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW
4/19
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK
CATS
4/20
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 9
BETTER THINGS S4 9
4/21
The Grand Dark, by Richard Kadrey
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 10
4/23
PALE FLOWER
Patience, by Daniel Clowes
BETTER THINGS S4 10
4/24
“The Smart House of Mrs. O,” by Lincoln Michel (Granta)
HARVEY
4/26
9 TO 5
SALESMAN
4/28
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
4/29
RAISING ARIZONA
4/30
HAROLD AND MAUDE
PARKS AND RECREATION QUARANTINE SPECIAL
5/1
BETTER THINGS S4 11
FLESH GORDON
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
5/2
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
5/3
Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart
PHASE IV
5/4
MY LIFE AS A DOG
5/8
THE MUPPET MOVIE
The Darkling Halls of Ivy, edited by Lawrence Block
5/10
PASSION FISH
5/12
Dead Girl Blues, by Lawrence Block
BLOOD QUANTUM
5/13
THE STATION AGENT
5/15
LITTLE FUGITIVE
5/16
Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics
5/17
RUBBER
5/18
The Giant’s House, by Elizabeth McCracken
5/22
DOWN IN THE DELTA
5/23
HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT
THE LOVEBIRDS
5/25
French Exit, by Patrick Dewitt
5/27
DOWN BY LAW
5/28
A HIDDEN LIFE
FLEABAG S1 1-6
5/29
FLEABAG S2 1-6
5/30
Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby
6/1
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON
6/4
Worse Angels, by Laird Barron
6/5
WISE BLOOD
6/12
POLICE STORY
POLICE STORY 2
6/13
SMILEY FACE
6/14
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS S1 1-4
6/16
City of Lost Fortunes, by Bryan Camp
“Of Mice and Manny,” by Todd Robinson (Beat to a Pulp)
6/18
“Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey,” by Haruki Murakami (New Yorker)
6/19
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS S1 5-10
“White Noise,” by Emma Cline (New Yorker)
6/23
SERIAL MOM (commentary with John Waters and Kathleen Turner)
6/26
THE NEW LOONEY TUNES S1-10
That Texas Blood #1, by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips
6/27
GO FOR SISTERS
6/30
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson
7/2
Butcher’s Moon, by Richard Stark
ALL OF ME
7/3
HAMILTON: THE MUSICAL
7/4
XANADU
7/5
SUPERMAN: THE MOTION PICTURE
7/6
Weather, by Jenny Offill
7/8
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
7/9
The Cabin at the End of the World, by Paul G. Tremblay
7/10
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS S2 1-8
7/11
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS S2 9-10
7/13
DIRTY DANCING
7/14
PLAYTIME
7/15
TIGERLAND
7/16
LOST HIGHWAY
7/17
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
7/18
M. HULOT’S HOLIDAY
MON ONCLE
EMPIRE RECORDS
7/19
Claire of the Sea Light, by Edwidge Danticat
7/20
TRESPASS AGAINST US
7/22
APOLLO 11
Gretchen, by Shannon Kirk
7/23
THE BLACK HOLE
7/25
Gun Street Girl, by Adrian McKinty
7/26
The Fuck-Up, by Arthur Nersesian
7/28
POLICE ACADEMY
7/30
ARTHUR (1981)
8/7
JUST MERCY
8/8
Bad Mother #1 by Christa Faust and Mike Deodato
DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT
8/9
Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars, by Joyce Carol Oates
8/10
“Fate and Ruin,” by Mary Grimm. (One Story)
8/11
Pulp, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
8/16
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E1
“The Whores Go Down With the Stars,” by Sarah Jilek (Tough Crime)
8/17
“Pulling,” by R. D. Sullivan (Tough Crime)
8/18
Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff
8/22
DRESSED TO KILL
8/23
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E2
8/26
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, by Maxine Hong Kingston
8/28
BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC
8/29
Little Fox, by Edward van de Vendel and Marije Tolman
BLACK PANTHER
8/30
The Code of the Woosters, by P. G. Wodehouse
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E3
9/1
Tricky, by Josh Stallings
9/2
JEEVES AND WOOSTER S1 1 2
9/3
“The Weddings,” by Alexander Chee (Kindle single)
9/4
BIRDS OF PREY
9/5
THUNDERPANTS
9/6
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E4
9/7
The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio
JEEVES AND WOOSTER S1 3 4 5
9/14
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E5
9/15
THE MULE (2014)
9/18
CLASS ACTION PARK
9/19
Bad Mother #2, by Christa Faust and Mike Deodato
THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME
9/20
The Unexpected Universe, by Loren Eiseley
Beowulf: A New Translation, by Maria Dahvana Headley
“Evidence,” by Kaitlin Greenidge (Georgia Review)
That Texas Blood #2 #3, by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips
9/22
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E6
9/24
Frog and Toad: A Little Book of Big Thoughts, by Arnold Lobel
FREE SOLO
9/25
THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE
9/27
The Country of Ice Cream Star, by Sandra Newman
“The Rest of Us,” by Jenzo DuQue (One Story)
Griffin & Sabine, by Nick Bantock
9/28
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E7
9/29
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019, edited by Sy Montgomery and Jaime Green
The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair
10/4
The Night Will Find Us, by Matthew Lyons
10/5
A Pocketful of Crows, by Joanne M. Harris
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E8
10/11
The Fisherman, by John Langan
10/12
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E9
10/13
Generally Speaking: All 33 columns, plus a few philatelic words from Keller, by Lawrence Block
WIN WIN
10/20
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY E10
10/21
Just Us: An American Conversation, by Claudia Rankine
10/22
“Bog Girl,” by Karen Russell (The New Yorker)
Luster, by Raven Leilani
10/24
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, by Anne Carson
Bad Mother #3 by Christa Faust and Mike Deodato
BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY
10/25
“The Bad Kind of Puppy,” by Rita Chang-Eppig (The Rumpus)
The Man of Steel vol. 1, by Brian Michael Bendis
10/26
The Hidden Life of the Fox, by Adele Brand
10/28
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr Katharine K. Wilkinson
10/29
ANIMALYMPICS
10/30
“A Scary Halloween Story,” by Howard Mittelmark (The Awl)
SLAYGROUND
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
10/31
Wytches vol. 1, by Scott Snyder and Jock
11/2
Split Tooth, by Tanya Tagaq
11/3
LET THE SUNSHINE IN
BIG TIME
11/8
Meadowlands, by Louise Glück
That Left Turn at Albuquerque, by Scott Phillips
11/10
Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, by Anonymous
11/12
BABY IT’S YOU
11/14
TRAFIC
11/15
CYBORG
11/16
A Private Cathedral, by James Lee Burke
“Harbor Lights,” by James Lee Burke (included in Barnes & Noble edition of A Private Cathedral)
11/20
KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER
11/21
THE LADY EVE
11/22
“We All Know About Margo,” by Meg Pillow (SmokeLong Quarterly)
11/24
Bad Mother #4, by Christa Faust and Mike Deodato
That Texas Blood #5, by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips
A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself, by William Boyle
11/30
UNSTOPPABLE
12/1
Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh
12/5
ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW
12/9
Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays, by Lauren Hough
12/11
THE BEASTMASTER
12/12
“Hound of God,” by Rob Smith (Pyre Magazine)
DOLORES CLAIBORNE
12/13
SPACEBALLS
12/19
Cold Moon Over Babylon, by Michael McDowell
12/24
OLD MEN IN NEW CARS
12/25
WW84

SopranosCon!

(If you are looking for regular updates, you’ll want to subscribe to my newsletter, Goombah Gumbo)

I went to the first SopranosCon! Fittingly held in The Meadowlands, where so many mob victims fertilize the polluted muck, it exceeded all expectations. I met Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior), Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy), Burt Young (Paulie from Rocky, and also Bobby Baccala’s father), Kathrinne Narducci (Charmaine Bucco, and Mrs Bufalino in The Irishman), and so many smaller players. Over 50 actors were there, including Drea De Matteo (Adriana) who I only saw on stage, and Tony Sirico, who was too ill to make it on Sunday. Paulie Walnuts, get well soon! Here are some photos from the event. As you can see, they made it look like an Italian festival, with the banners. And of course, they had fresh zeppole for sale.

SopranosCon banner
just like it’s the Feast of San Gennaro….

I also met critics Matthew Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, who co-wrote The Sopranos Sessions, the invaluable episode by episode dissection of the show. We talked for a while about the show, crime stories, and how great it was to see everyone together again.

Me and Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz
Three Writing Goons

Everyone there was happy! Who would have thought that a show about a killer seeing a psychiatrist would have such a positive vibe? Dominic Chianese sang Italian songs on stage, Tony Darrow did stand-up comedy, Bada Bing dancer Diana Lynn was in a family-friendly costume… The organizers did a great job. It looked professional (and was). Great local food in the food court, with a replica of the Holsten’s booth and a Tony impersonator if you wanted an onion ring. The entry looked like a Turnpike tollbooth:

SopranosCon TollBooth

They made a maze to look like the Pine Barrens, full of quotes and photos of Christopher and Paulie as they searched for the Russian, in the most famous episode. There was even a van, with an empty Nathan’s hotdogs bag, and some packets of relish and ketchup, scattered in the fake snow! It was brilliant.

SopranosCon Maze
“he’s a fuckin’ interior decorator” … “really? his place looked like shit!”
SopranosCon Van
“mix the ketchup with the relish, it’s better!”
me and Burt Young
“I put one kid through college, I put the other through a wall”
me and Vincent Pastore
Big Pussy and Bigger Pussy
me and Dominic Chianese
Uncle Junior
The SopranosCon gang on stage
Sofia Milos speaks, Johnny Sack and others….

They are organizing a “MobMovieCon” in Atlantic City next year, if you are interested. I might go, depending on the guests. It’s refreshing, now that ComiCons have gotten overly huge, that smaller, focused cons like this can flourish. I was just talking with a friend who lamented that Chiller Theater, a New Jersey institution, seems empty now that the cosplayers and stars go to New York ComiCon instead.

This was a great time. I hope they throw another one soon!

Hap and Leonard, and Joe schooling me

I’ll be reviewing the new Sundance series based on Joe Lansdale’s books, Hap & Leonard, for Criminal Element. The first episode gets the tone and the characters just right. Hop on over to Criminal Element for my full review. I’ve been a fan of the disastrous duo since Savage Season, all the way to Vanilla Ride. I have some catching up to do, there’s a new one called Honky Tonk Samurai that just hit the stores.

Here’s Joe putting me in a fingerlock at Bouchercon in Albany, 2013.

wpid-IMG_20130920_114722.jpg

Lillian Randolph: Erased from Tom and Jerry

Many of us grew up watching Tom & Jerry on the tube, but if you’re old enough you remember the day Tom’s owner changed from a snarky black woman to a strident Irishwoman. Tom’s owner was never named, but she was called “Mammy Two Shoes” by some viewers. Some called her “the maid” when it was obvious that Tom lived in her home. Later, MGM had her legs whitened and her voice re-dubbed by June Foray as an Irish stereotype. The original voice, by black actress Lillian Randolph, was rarely heard again. Randolph was a blues singer who had roles in radio and in It’s a Wonderful Life.

One of my faves- Fraidy Cat, where Tom mistakes her for a ghost

As a child, I remember seeing some of the cartoons before the axe fell. I never thought she was a maid, and there are very few shorts that put her in a maid outfit- she’s usually in a slipper and housecoat, like a single woman reclining after a long day. In fact, in Mouse Cleaning, you can see her dressed up to go to church. That’s one of the few shorts where you get a glimpse of her face, albeit from a steep angle and her hefty bosom blocks most of it. The other banned cartoon, Casanova Cat, is the only one I recall her being in a maid outfit- it’s a fantasy short where Tom goes to call on his white cat beau, who lives in a penthouse.

Rarely seen- Tom’s owner’s face

She does have a caricatured manner of speech, as when she tells Tom, “if you is a mouse catcher, then I am Lana Turner! Which I ain’t.” The NAACP complained about the stereotypical portrayal and MGM removed her entirely in 1949. Lillian Randolph went back to being a blues singer.

Mouse Cleaning

She’s an offensive caricature, no more so than the ubiquitous blackface gags that other cartoons of the time had. Anyone can see why she became the subject of complaints, once you start noticing the shabbiness of the house, and her mannerisms.

whitewashed version :

The Tom & Jerry shorts won more Academy Awards than Disney’s or Warner Brothers’, but I feel they jumped the shark when Chuck Jones came along and reworked the characters. I like Chuck- Hell, I have a tattoo of Pepe le Pew in an undisclosed location– but his Tom & Jerry are way too much like a mute Sylvester and Tweety. They lack the great character of the originals, where Jerry was a tiny Chaplin tramp and Tom was lazy and only chased Jerry when his owner threatened him with sleeping outside. My favorite of all time is perhaps Heavenly Puss, where Tom loses his 9th life and is going to Cat Hell unless Jerry signs an affadavit forgiving him for all his trespasses. It deservingly won the Oscar that year.

You can find many of the original cartoons on youtube, and MGM has released most of them in original form in the Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection DVD sets. The third set omits two cartoons- Mouse Cleaning and Casanova Cat- and several are edited. They finally released some of the originals and we can all see Tom’s owner as she originally was. If you love the old cartoons, I recommend looking up the originals on YouTube or DVD to see the lost performances of Lillian Randolph.