Post #120: Happy New Year!


Greetings, and a very merry New Year to all of you out there. I guess it’s customary this time of year to make resolutions. But I’m struggling. Last night I resolved to drink less this year, then promptly poured myself a beer. So…well…there’s always 2015.

Some brief apologies for the extended wait between posts these last couple months. The hate mail, which I know comes from a place of love and real pain on the part of our loyal readers, has been piling up on our desk. And rest assured, we read every last piece of it, and try to reply personally as often as we can. Chalk it up to this: I’m starting a low-residency MFA program and the prep work, along with the end of the teaching semester has been kicking my already  bruised ass. We’ll resolve to serve you better in the new year.

Until then, here’s a few recommendations to ring in the new year, as well as one urgent observation.

You should watch…

The Newsroom on HBO. I had listened a little too loudly to the bad buzz on Sorkin’s latest. And though he’s reminding me of Woody Allen in the way he repeats both themes, motifs, and plot points, assuming his genius excuses such blatant repetition (which it kind of does), the show, especially the second season, is definitely worth watching. A great ensemble cast. Whip crack dialogue. Laughs. And a nod to serious issues of the moment, even if they’re delivered with a bludgeon to the head. This guy is one of the great screen writers of all time.

You should see…

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. There’s some hit or miss moments, but you get to spend almost an entire hour with a giant dragon voiced by Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch.

You should listen to…

“Foreverly” by Billie Joe and Norah. This is an odd one. Greenday’s Billie Joe Armstrong and jazz/pop chanteuse Norah Jones teamed up to record a whole album of Everly Brothers tunes. The results are spare, haunting, and beautiful.

You should eat…

More Peanut Brittle. I proved this holiday season that it can be eaten as an entire meal without losing consciousness.

You should read…

Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro. I’d explain why if they hadn’t just given her the fucking Nobel Prize. She’s that good.

And finally, one urgent observation…

Black bean sauce really doesn’t taste that much like black beans.

Happy New Year’s from all of us here at The Almost Right Words. We wish you a healthy and productive 2014.


Post #69: Elementary

Things you should be watching

I want to take a brief moment to plug the BBC’s Sherlock, a spunky, savvy and devilishly fun re-boot of the oft mined Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I stumbled upon Sherlock by chance while flipping through selections on Amazon Prime, and though I originally thought “Oh Christ, more Sherlock Holmes?” have savored all five of the ninety-minute episodes I’ve watched. Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, that’s really his name; actually it’s Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch) plays Holmes and Martin Freeman plays Watson and the two, for my taste, make Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law (who play Holmes and Watson, respectively, in the recent Guy Richie directed big screen versions) look like trashy impostors. Especially Cumberbatch, who does for freak-braininess in Sherlock what Billy Ray Cyrus did for mullets in the 90’s. And Cumberbatch is not sexy, in spite of legions of female followers. He’s an odd looking bloke, actually. Lean and birdlike. But his fiery portrayal, which pushes Holmes into a more A.D.D. infected and cold hearted version of Conan Doyle’s cooly brilliant icon, is a high wire, kinetic feat and among the more memorable performances I’ve seen in a long time. Freeman is also stellar, mostly as comic relief, and because he seems to know that he’ll better serve the show by staying out of Cumberbatch’s way. Highly recommend you make some time for this particular duo from 221B Baker Street. Though the show is soon to be filming it’s third season, here’s the original promo.

As a brief addendum, I’ve been re-reading some of the original Conan Doyle stories and they’re as good as I remembered. Short, clever, timeless. And, thanks to our good friends at public domain, free through iBooks or Kindle.