Coronavirus Days 9 – Nostril Hairs


It’s the important little things you forget to bring when you flee Manhattan.


Usually when I go for one of my long overdue haircuts the barber gives me a sneaky eyebrow and ear trimming. He’ll also take care of my snoz hairs if I make the special request. At my age every thing grows quickly everywhere I don’t want it to. Things could become a tangled mess soon. The only scissors in the upstate house are lettuce trimmers. I tried nose plucking with tweezers but it brought tears to my eyes.


I need nostril trimmers.
I need to get to Hannafords.


Crazy as it all is these days, it’s nice to be able to sit outside on a workday with a coffee. There’s nothing to disturb the country silence save the chirping of birds and the sound of my neighbor, Big Lou , shooting small animals somewhere across the corn field.

Brekkie

I think I may have squirrels in my attic (not a metaphor). Those little pricks ate away the cabling in my Mercedes a couple of years back. It cost me $3k to replace. The dealership explained that American rodents have a preference for European rubber. He then tried to sell me a bridge. I’m borrowing Lou’s shotgun.


On to some recommendations.

Spam


I’m a huge Elmore Leonard fan. Nobody wrote dialogue and created characters quite like he did. He’s the one they all try to imitate, including fanboy Quentin Tarantino . Tarantino adapted the Leonards Rum Punch into his under appreciated film, Jackie Brown. He never adapted again.


Elmore wrote a total of 48 novels over his fifty year career, shifting from westerns to mainly crime fiction. Elmore Leonard’s crooks are small time, lazy and not nearly as smart as they think they are. His books are tight, fast and fun. If you need a great writer to invest in, there are very few as smart and readable as “Dutch”.


There have been a lot of movie adaptations of Elmore’s novels. These are a few of my favorites, both book and movie.

“Dutch” Master


Out of Sight: This was a high gloss production starring George Clooney and a young Jennifer Lopez, in her best role. Everyone loves that car trunk scene. I’d be happy to get stuck in a trunk with Jen. Shit, it wouldn’t even be too bad to get jammed in there with old George.

Out of Sight was directed by Steven Soderbergh, who’s currently on everyone’s radar for Contagion (Netflix). If you want to see his gem, try and track down The Limey – an excellent neo-noir.


Get Shorty: John Travolta is all kind of cool as a hood who gets involved in the L.A. movie industry. This one also stars Gene Hackman, out of character, as a weasely producer. This is the Leonard adaptation with the cast to beat. The film plays more for laughs than his others. The sequel Be Cool is not cool.

Out of Sight


Cat Chaser: It’s not a great film but I have a soft spot for it. This movie nails the low end look and feel I always imagine from his books. Kelly McGillis is beautiful and Peter Weller (Robocop – another rewatchable) should have been a bigger star. I want to stay in that seedy motel movie setting my next sabbatical.


Jackie Brown: When you read Leonard, then watch Tarantino, you’ll see the influence on QT’s characters and dialogue. You’ve got lots of small time hoods talking about nothing much. Jackie Brown is a film as much about loneliness as a gangster film. This one has more in common with Once Upon A Time in Hollywood than Reservoir Dogs (and I loved both). There is one killing in Jackie Brown that shocks me every time. Double bill Jackie Brown with Out of Sight and look out for crossover characters.


All four films are on my Rewatchables list.

Work Wife Jeanine feeling the stress


The Elmore Leonard list was prompted by an excellent binge recommendation from my good buddy John Sullivan.

For those of us who watched Justified , when it originally aired between 2010 and 2015, it was unmissable. It ran 6 seasons with 78 episodes on FX. Raylan, the lead character originated from an Elmore story called Fire in the Hole. Raylan later got his own novel oddly titled Raylan (I read it last month). Justified is best described as a neo-western crime series – basically a kick-ass modern day deputy fighting slightly organized crime.


As a heads up, the first episodes have a standalone format, but the story settles into a broader arc by the end of season one.

I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor, Me & Fizza


If you want a great hero you need a great villain and Boyd Crowders is the fabulous fast talking, white trash protagonist in Justified. The back and forth dialogue between Good Guy Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Bad Guy Boyd (Walter Goggins) makes for some of the shows best moments. But it’s the supporting cast of losers that really seal this excellent binger.

Justified finishes properly and that final line just slayed me.

Tarantino cast both lead actors in Western roles in his last two films. I love those threads.


Shelley – you’ll like this series. Raylan is hot!


I’m currently reading La Brava. Elmore won his only Edgar award for that one.


It is a very supportive community up here in Ancramdale. My property is adjoined by Miller’s farm. When my neighbors lost all their cattle in a barn fire October 2018, the locals came together and organized multiple fundraisers to get the family back on their feet. A new barn was raised and the cattle replaced.

Rebuilt by Supportive Neighbors

Ancramdale still has a great sense of community. They have been very quick off the mark these recent weeks with community outreach programs.

Reach Out Touch Faith – MSG


I’m a big 1st Wave channel 33 Sirius listener. They’ve been keeping it cheery and upbeat these days. There’s nothing like an 80s throwback to lift the spirits. Today it was Never Let Me Down Again – Depeche Mode, while I was driving.

I learned on 1st Wave radio that today is the 30th anniversary of the release of Violator. For those that don’t know their synth pop/alternative/new wave music, Violator is the greatest album from my top band Depeche Mode.


I saw DM for the first time 30 years ago at Wembley Arena starting their global Violator tour. This newly minted fan went out shopping in London soon after and bought himself a pair of white Levi’s and Chelsea boots. But I’m not nearly as cool as lead singer David Gahan and white denim was not the best attire for a sloppy Guinness drinker.

Jeanine – Stacey – AC/DC

I’ve seen every DM tour since. There’s few better songs to get a stadium roused than Personal Jesus. Check out the cover versions by both Johnny Cash & Matlyn Manson.


I had planned to see Depeche Mode in Cleveland for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction this May, but things got in the way. It will happen eventually and I’ll be there.


Stacey was supposed to come back from Florida next weekend. But she missed me so much she’s pushing it back another week. Its sunny in Florida and the horse is still there. Better plan!

Me and Big Lou


Hannafords didn’t have any nostril trimmers but I did buy some Star Wars and Finding Nemo balloons and some spare boot laces in assorted lengths and colors. And some Tic-Tacs.


Evelyn and Beth my new Besties at Hannafords. Thanks for sticking at it ladies.

Coronavirus Days 8 – Shopping with Celebrities


Boredom drove me out to LaBonnes again. If anyone needs a shoe shine I’ve now plenty of polish, in a variety of colors, and protective spray. The shelves were all fully stocked with food products. Not a lot a bread, but no lines.

Things are getting tight


My binge viewing selection for tonight was handed to me at the supermarket!

Just two people in front of me at the register was multiple Oscar nominee Laura Linney. I was shifting towards her, approaching to tell her how much I love her current show when I got the hand .

“Space! Space!” from a salt and pepper haired woman wearing some kind of mohair smock. I was invading her five foot space, even though her little tosser of a son had squeezed between my spuds and her organically filled cart. Maybe your brat is a filthy little carrier mom. And, Christ it’s a fucking check out line, lady. Use Amazon Prime , shop at home you demented Yak.


But I didn’t say any of that . I was a polite social distancer and stayed my cart length social distance and excused myself and smiled like an imbecile. Because people are stressed and we all need to be nicer. Shit!

Shopping today with my good friend Laura


Anyway, on to Ozark on Netflix, starring (my new friend) Laura Linney and Jason Bateman. Season 3 airs on March 27th.

Here’s the basic concept. The Byrdes , an unhappily married couple and their two teenage kids , are forced into hiding in the Ozarks. They need to launder millions for the cartel or they’re dead. And not nice dead.

Julia Garner is a scene stealer as the tough little red neck crook running scams and a strip club. I’d never heard a lesbian bobcat joke before.

Ozark is a show that constantly shifts and surprises with top notch performances across the board.

I learned a trick. If you want to see how good or bad a characters performance is, turn down the volume.

My Cowrona

I have a big issue with most modern sci-fi films. Too many conclude with the same small orb/tube/box that glows and will destroy the Universe in the wrong hands.


Netflix took a great book (Broken Angels) and created a screenplay of cliches . I binged it so you don’t have to. Brienne concurs! Hannah was a little more forgiving.

Watch Me!


I’m creating a new movie category: “Films you probably should not watch with all the panic in the world but Karl is recommending none the less.”


Children of Men is a dystopian thriller set in 2027 England. A never better Clive Owen plays a bored civil servant who is tasked with saving the future of the human race. In the not too distant future the world has stopped populating and your youth alone is enough to create media celebrity.

The film is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who went on to direct the overrated Gravity, with the always overrated Sandra Bullock . Gravity was one big special effect; Children of Men is a masterpiece. It is dark and violent, but it’s also full of humanity and hope.

I have to start giving Shelley (who’s my favorite friend-in-law) some viewing disclaimers , before she blacklists me. Children of Men is a hardcore watch too. Uncut Gems gave her nightmares.


Clive Owen is also great in his one episode of this seasons Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO). That you should be watching too. Larry will cheer you up.


I’m also recommending the book Children of Men – by P.D. James. It has the same core concept as the film but also has major differences . In this case the differences make for an excellent read. The 1992 novel was on many British Books of the Century lists.

Stacey having a good Horse season

Coronavirus Days 7 – The Rewatchables


I didn’t need anything from the supermarket today, I just needed to get out and about. I now have three extra toilet brushes in a variety of pastel colors and some extra extra virgin olive oil. Wifey is still in Florida with the horsey so I’m solo up here on my hill and I get antsy. I may be over buying without adult supervision. Visitors welcome.


I bumped into an acquaintance from my golf club at Hannafords. Marge was looking for an onion. She had no joy. I offered to drive her to my place and trade a couple of old scallions if she had any wet wipes on her. No joy there either.

What does one do for a haircut during a pandemic?

Which all brings me to an alternate binge format: Podcasts.

The Rewatchables is a series of standalone round table discussions centered on movies that the panel love to rewatch. These podcasts are hilarious, educational and a fact fest for movie geeks like myself. The format centers on a general discussion followed by “The Categories”; what’s the best scene; best quotes ; alternate casting; what holds up/what doesn’t and excellent film trivia. Quentin Tarantino was a recent guest on three episodes, discussing some of his favorites. The man’s enthusiasm is infectious. I leave every episode ready to rewatch the discussion topic.

Where’s my brother Mark when I need him?

Pick a film you like and dive in. Everyone loves The Godfather and it’s a great one to start with . GF1 is one of the longer episodes.

A shout out to our friend Mike for recommending this binger to me last year. I’m hooked.

I started my Rewatchables listening with 48 Hours, a film which remains firmly on my all time best list.

The Front Garden Today


So for today’s obvious movie recommendation – 48 Hours .

This is the mismatched buddy/cop film that started them all. The movie was Eddie Murphy’s first starring role and paired him with a much older than he looked Nick Nolte. Nick liked to party back in the day. It’s evident why Eddie quickly elevated to the worlds biggest box office star. He was 21 when he made 48 Hours.

Rooooooooxanne…….

The director, Walter Hill, often features scenes in beer joints named Torchy’s. The Torchys Country and Western bar scene is my top rewatchable pick in 48 Hours. Gantz (James Remar) playing the psycho villain, ranks second on my 80’s bad guy list. Hans in Die Hard will always be my #1 ❤️.

I’m rewatching it tonight.

I have the Blu-Ray but 48 Hours is currently showing on STARZ and streaming everywhere.

Come experience some of my bullshit

As I browsed through letters from home in my old shipping trunk tonight, I found my Granny’s family meatball recipe. It has been passed from Grandma to Grandson across the generations.

I felt this was my time to try it out. Stay tuned.

Coronavirus Days 6 – St. Paddy’s

Merry St. Paddy’s Day!

Plastic Paddy

Luck of the Irish me hole! I quit the sauce nine years ago and the only thing I’ve overstocked at the house is booze. I’ll trade you a Jameson’s for a box of sanitary wipes!

Days Past


I did take a final run for groceries today, before I go all hermit. The buying had subsided at LaBonnes and there was plenty on the shelves. I bought more meat then ventured onward to Irving coffee, for one last public cappuccino. They are now serving take out only.

I figure when everything settles down I’ll need to have a Coronavirus Overstock BBQ. You’re invited.

Irving The Last Take Out


Sticking with all things Irish today, I’ve a triple movie recommendation.


High on my rewatchables list is In Bruges, Martin Mc Donagh’s demented black comedy. The story covers a few days in the lives of two Dublin killers hiding out in Bruges. I had never liked Colin Farrell before but this film made a fan of me. For a change you get to hear his thick Dub accent. Brendan Gleason as always lights up the screen, as the seasoned, more educated partner (that’s Mad Eye Moody for you Harry Potter fans). This movie had me wanting to visit Belgium.

Here’s a challenge – name three famous Belgians .

Triple Tri-Color


Brendan Gleeson is also the guard in The Guard. He’s a whoring, drugging, drinking cop stationed in my home County Galway. Don Cheadle co-stars as an FBI agent brought in to investigate a consignment of cocaine expected to land by boat somewhere in the nether regions of Connemara. Liam Cunningham adds to the cast as a supporting villain (that’s Davos for you GOT fans). The Guard is all kinds of Irish quirkiness. Its violent, touching and hilarious.


Both films are refreshingly non-PC.


For more traditional viewing I’m throwing The Quiet Man in the mix; the Irish American Paddy’s Day staple. This 50’s classic is certainly not the greatest of John Ford movies but it’s fun fluffy viewing. Ireland looks magnificent in sweeping technicolor. And you can love him or hate him, but John Wayne was a movie star.

Toolie & The Duke

As another fascinating aside about me, I have a full set of autographs from the stars and director of the The Quiet Man. I’ve got four eventual Oscar winner scrawls in that book. My grandfather gave it to me as a gift when I was really too young to own it. He had a friend worked as a bus driver, shuttling the stars to the Ashford Castle set, who scored them. I supposed he could have left The cash in the middle of the Headford road if they refused to sign.

Grandad also gave me a lovely pocket watch he’d somehow gotten from a convent. I was only eight at the time and his oldest grandchild. I never understood the story behind that one. What happened the nun? Anyway, I smashed it on the scullery counter swinging it on the pocket chain. Stupid gift for a child really. I still have the autographs though.


On the Irish book front, and pound for pound the book that I can most relate to my family, I’m all in for The Barrytown Trilogy – by Roddy Doyle (The Commitments/The Snapper/The Van). The movie adaptations are worth a look too. The Snapper has the greatest opening line.


And lastly, for an excellent Irish Binger watch Love/Hate (Amazon Prime). It is a compulsive five short seasons. The hardcore stories center around drug dealers in Dublin. Check out Little Finger as a paranoid drug kingpin. Love/Hate was the water cooler viewing back in the homeland when it originally aired. This is definitely not the Ireland of leprechauns and fairy forts. Enjoy.

Happy St. Paddy’s All

Coronavirus Days 5 – Salisbury

Working from home went well today. Full credit to the TransRe IT department (that I’m of course a member of). Everything connected and ran smoothly. The coffee here is great too.


I took a spin to Salisbury, CT to see if I’d have any luck shopping. I did. LaBonnes was open and the shelves were all healthily stocked. Not 100% healthy mind, but it was far from last wheeze either. I beat out some old dear on a walker for the last restocked 12 pack of TP. Sweet!

Score !


Sweet Williams, my favorite little bakery , was also still open. They are closing tomorrow until things blow over. I did get my cheese-bacon-chive scones.

Scone Score !

Altered Carbon is Netflix’s most expensive production to date and it’s all up there to see on the screen. This high concept sci-fi-noir is based on three Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard K. Morgan. The series is complex, dark, highly sexed and violent; everything I could ask for in a ten hour binge.

The first series stars the always watchable Joel Kinnaman (more on him later in another excellent binger). Each episode is titled after a classic film noir. Episode one, Out of the Past (Amazon/iTunes) is named for my ultimate Noir classic – 1947 Kirk Douglas & Robert Mitchum.


The obvious visual influence for the series is my favorite movie of all time. Blade Runner (NetFlix) is the daddy of all cyber-punk films. It’s based on the classic sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep by author Philip K. Dick. It seems these sci-fi scribes like middle-K-names. Dick’s also the writer of The Man in the High Castle, currently on Amazon.

Once you’ve watched Blade Runner binge on with the underrated, perfect sequel Blade Runner 2049 (Amazon).


I’m four episodes into season 2 of Altered Carbon and here’s what I’ve learned so far. Anthony Mackie is a terrible actor and a complex plot doesn’t necessarily mean smart. The fight scenes are top notch though. I will finish watching it and report in.

As I stood peeing upstairs earlier this afternoon and wistfully gazed out my bathroom window, I observed a herd of wild turkeys meander peacefully through my woods. “If only I had a fucking shotgun,” I mused.

Food in but I forgot toothpaste. Tomorrow I’ll start isolation.

Front Garden Ancramdale – Enjoy The Silence

Coronavirus Days 4 – Taghanic Diner

So I took advantage of all the panic.

West Taghkanic Diner is usually impossible to get into for Sunday Brunch. Not today. Their source to table food is delicious and they serve some of the best coffee I’ve had out. Give cups may have been excessive though. Teresa, my server , couldn’t have been nicer. They are quieter than usual but buzzing none the less.


I sat alone at the counter acting like a good social distancing citizen. Plus, they wouldn’t give this single loser a table.


Kieran – I know you like details on the food front. I had eggs over easy on bacon hash with sourdough toast. I had no scones, though they offered a biscuit on the menu.


As a binge recommendation today, I’m going with Giri/Haji, an eight parter on Netflix. Its a fish out of water, Japanese detective in London drama. The plot juggles a murder mystery, layered on top of a Yakuza meets London Mob story, with a bit of an old love angle thrown in the mix. And there’s some youthful lesbian action. This one was originally recommended by my good buddy Brienne.


The girl on the deli counter said these taste fine if you soak them overnight in water or milk.

My book recommendation for a totally immersive read is 11/22/63. Before you say, “I don’t read Stephen King” – this is not his typical fare. The plot revolves around an attempt to stop the Kennedy assassination . This one was awarded the L.A. Times Book Prize in 2011 and was a NY Times top 5 in Fiction. So there!


Here’s a rarity . I’m recommending a nice movie tonight. Local Hero (Amazon Prime) is one that always puts a smirk on my cynical face. A cocky American businessman is sent from Houston to buy a seafront Scottish village for his oil company. That about sums it. It’s whimsical , warm and funny. It will cheer you up.

This is NOT a good time to start reading The Stand.

Local Hero

Coronavirus Days 3 – Millerton

I’ve solved the toilet paper issue.

As is my way every Saturday I headed into Millerton for a bit of a mosey. For the most part it was business as usual in town.


The Oakhurst Diner was open for take-out only. I had a coffee at the counter with the manager Clare. I’m always treated very well in there. Like most places Oakhurst is taking precautions. There’s is the best regular coffee in town. Happy to report that no one has stolen any bog roll from their bathrooms yet.

Clare at Oakhurst


I did meet my buddy Steve Irving in Irving Coffee (no relation) for brunch. It was business as usual there.


Oblong Books was pleasantly active. One of the few upsides to the current going’s on may be more readers.

Irving at Irving


I did see Little Fires Everywhere prominently displayed on their bookshelves. The story centers around an arson and the master and servant relationship between two families in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It’s captivating, very readable and smart. It’s a one sitting read if you put yourself down with it.


I read this when it first came out on hardcover. It’s now a Reese Witherspoon selection. That is like a crucifix to this vampire. When did she become the book expert? That goes for you too Oprah.


Reese has cast herself and Kerry Washington as leads in the current Hulu adaptation. They are not at all who I pictured in the roles.


The author Celeste Ng has a previous novel , Everything I Never Told You. It’s excellent but grim.

Uncut Gems


Tonight I’ve been forced to revise my opinion of Adam Sandler. I’ve never found him funny nor talented before. Uncut Gems (On Demand) just changed all that.

His performance as a compulsive gambling jewelry dealer in 2012 NYC is one of the years best, in one of the best films from 2019. It’s intense. The Safdie brothers last directed Good Time (NetFlix) another rollercoasting nail biter starring main man Robert Pattinson.

The 21 Club – Christmas 2019