Author: Oh-Amy

For years I have had friends tell me I should have my own column (i.e. see printed old-school media) and I just nodded and did nothing. You know that person that you always ask where you should go to do this, and where you should go buy that and where you should go eat whatever? I somehow became that person. I finally decided to put it all together in an easy to use format. (That and a friend bought me a domain name, thanks Cindy!) I am a life long Twin Cities resident who actually has been to St. Paul for more than the State Fair and a hockey game. I have two friends who live there, I visit them occasionally. Although I live in suburbia, I work and do most things in the cities. I have been in advertising for more years than I can think of without gagging and did some freelance rock journalism along the way. I love all animals, except wild turkeys (they are EVIL), the Minnesota Twins (even though they routinely disappoint me), and the Replacements. 'nuff said.

Three Shows to Get Your Binge On

Seriously, where does the time fly? I feel like just yesterday it was the Fourth of July, you know the day Target decides summer is officially over and it’s time for backpacks and trapper keepers and boots. Summer does not spring instantly to mind when one thinks about binge watching but I think it is the perfect time to find a couple of shows to fall for and spend some quality time cuddling with your remote and a cold brew.

OJ: Made in America: This mesmerizing five-part documentary series directed by Ezra Edelman originally aired on ESPN in June. (A channel I mostly pretend does not exist, even with my limited internet cable connection options.) Not to be confused with the F/X series that gave Ross from Friends his first job in years (kinda like Chachi at the RNC). OJ: Made in America gives context to how and why Mr. Simpson walked and why the verdict was so divisive at the time.

Anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s could not escape the cult of OJ Simpson. He hawked orange juice (naturally, because advertising types are so creative) and ran through airports trying to convince your dad and all the other dads to rent a car from Hertz. He was in movies (Towering Inferno), television series (Roots) and charmed the pants off your grandma on talk shows. He was golden.

But beneath the smile and the athletic prowess was a grade-A narcissistic, controlling asshole. A wife-beating privileged football star who got away with murder, two of them to be exact. A man who skated through life on his ability to run with a football who hobnobbed with the elites, mostly ignored his own community, and only remembered the fact that he was African American man when he was down and out and it suited him.

I really, really, encourage you to watch this documentary. It is as compelling as Making a Murderer and in my opinion a better overall series. Blasphemy, I know but it’s true. The not guilty verdict is explained in way that most (white) people probably NEVER would have understood before this horrible summer of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and all the others who came before them. Consider this Must-See TV without Central Perk or Smelly Cat. (Coming to Netflix in August, streamable on ESPN.com)

Once you finished OJ, you will for sure need a palate cleanser. Luckily these next two shows will not leave you with a terminal case of the sads, quite the opposite in fact. Yay!

Lady Dynamite: Maria Bamford, where have you been all my life? I liked this series so much that I watched it twice and may even go for a third viewing if Hillary does not increase her poll numbers greatly after the DNC. Seriously, what is wrong with America? Lady Dynamite is weird in a good way like tater tot hotdish or just about any food on a stick. It takes place in the past, in the present, in Los Angeles and in Duluth (actually Roseville, apparently Duluth was too expensive for the producer’s budget). No glorious shots of America’s greatest lake, Superior, which is a shame because Duluth is such a beautiful city, maybe spring for some stock footage at least for season two, okay?

Maria plays Maria, her pugs play her pugs and everyone and everything else are stand ins for the many facets of her life as a stand-up comedienne/actress in Hollywood who struggles with mental illness. Lots of people will probably recognize Bamford from her stint as the crazy Target shopper lady from a few years back. She does not do those commercials anymore and most definitely never will again after the way she mercilessly skewers her former employer’s union-busting ways. Interestingly there has been nary a peep from the fine folks at Checklist about their portrayal on the show. Wise move, Bullseye, wise move.

Every time I think Mo Collins’ Susan character veers too far into Fargo territory Minnesota bad accent-wise I watch the local news, they interview a local and I am reminded that unfortunately sometimes stereotypes do exist for a reason. From the worst manager ever to her pug out Babe-ing Babe in a fierce sheep herding competition, Lady Dynamite is the perfect show for your summer fun binge. (Netflix)

The Strange Calls: Constable Tony Banks is having a bit of a shit life. His girlfriend won’t return his calls, he lost his shoes (along with his dignity) and his father (the chief constable) has re-assigned him to a small town working the night shift in the hopes that he will quit, like all the others before him. Toby’s job is to live and work out of a crappy trailer answering the phone calls of the town’s lonely and loony populace. He is assisted in his endeavors by the town’s self-appointed night security officer, a man named Gregor who says he is decades younger than his appearance would suggest and thinks the town is a hot bed of paranormal activity because of a local volcano.

If Lady Dynamite as weird with its juxtaposition of past/present, Los Angeles/fake Duluth, talking dogs and a commercial for a product called Pussy Noodles than fasten your seat belts because The Strange Calls is an even wackier ride. I could not even explain it if I tried other than to think of it as sort of a mash up of Hot Fuzz, The Vicar of Dibley and just about any show on the SyFy channel.

There are only six episodes at less than a half an hour each so you can easily binge this one quickly and then get yourself outside to the nearest PokéStop.

Up all night, binge-worthy shows to Netflix now

Back in the pre-internet, pre-cable days summers were pretty much virtual wastelands as far as television viewing goes. Sure there were a few summer replacement shows (anyone else remember The Hudson Brothers? Yes, Kate Hudson’s dad did actually have a job once) but mostly it was nothing but reruns of TV shows your dad liked. Consider this updated post a combo of those two ancient TV relics, a rerun combined with just enough info to make it seem like a brand spanking new summer replacement show, minus Kate Hudson’s dad.

Pretty much all of the shows listed below have new seasons available to stream with the exception of The Honourable Woman which will sadly not live to see another episode. The hairdo’s remain questionable in Peaky Blinders, modern technology is still scary AF in Black Mirror, Dicte tries to make nice with her dad and no one gets one bit happier in Happy Valley and that my friend is a good thing for us fans.

I have always been somewhat of a night owl, going to bed early was never part of my routine. I had older parents who stayed up late and even though I wasn’t supposed to, I often times watched the Tonight Show right along with them from the hallway where they could not see that I was still up on a school night when little girls were supposed to be in bed. That practice of staying up later than I should has never gone away. What has changed though is how very far I can push it. One of the many less than fun things about getting older is how much more your body rebels against any change in its routine. Eat a little too much between Thanksgiving and New Year’s when you are twenty-five and it is not even noticeable, do that a couple of decades later and not only is it noticeable it takes until Easter to get rid of and by then the Reese’s peanut butter eggs are out and there are Peeps bunnies and chicks everywhere and pretty much all bets are off.

Staying up all night is no longer an option for me on the regular, but sometimes when I find a series that I really, really like, I can come pretty close. These five shows are binge-worthy for various reasons, mostly because they are so addictingly good or they have Tom Hardy in the cast.

Happy Valley:  more like mega unhappy valley, despite its idyllic appearance somewhere in the Yorkshire countryside. This six episode series stars Sarah Lancashire (Ms. Foster from my very favorite episode of Doctor Who and currently seen on PBS’s Last Tango in Halifax) as Catherine Cawood, a small town divorced cop who is barely coping in the aftermath of her daughter’s suicide. Her marriage broke up, she is estranged from her son and she is raising her grandchild with a little help from her former addict sister Clare (Siobhan Fineran) or as I will always fondly remember her, O’Brien, the maid you don’t ever trust with a bar of soap from the first couple of seasons of Downton Abbey. One day on the street Catherine spots Tommy Lee Royce, the man who she believes raped her daughter and is the father of her eight-year-old grandson, Ryan. In addition to being an alleged rapist and now paroled drug dealer, Mr. Royce (played by James Norton yet another Doctor Who guest player) gets involved in the kidnapping of a local businessman’s daughter. How Catherine ties the two together while dealing with the loss of her child is what makes this series so watchable.

There are a couple of episodes of this series that are quite graphically violent, Mr. Royce is not a very nice man, and I had to fast forward or avert my eyes more than a few times. Blood and violence are not my scene and luckily there is so much more going on that I could easily get past something that in another series I would not be able to stick with. Sarah Lancashire is amazing, she is a good cop, a loving grandmother to a child her ex-husband can barely acknowledge even exists and a grieving mother whose pain is truly believable. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Black Mirror: if you have not heard about this one than I am not sure what kind of a cultural black hole you live in but you should get out of it right away and start watching this show. Take today’s modern technology and amp it up a bit, toss in a little of Twilight Zone/Tales of the Crypt-like creepiness and you pretty much get the gist of this import from Britain’s Channel 4. Each episode is a stand alone, with two series of three episodes each currently available on the old Netflix. I watched them in chronological order because that is the way I roll but you don’t have to. In fact, I almost gave up on episode one, The National Anthem, as it was that personally disturbing to me. But if I could make it through that one you can too, and the pay off is pretty amazing so hang in there.

I liked this show a lot, but there were a couple of episodes that really stood out from the crowd, White Bear, which is not just the name of a lake and a town in Minnesota, but the story of Victoria Skillane, a young woman who wakes up with no memory of the day before who is being pursued relentlessly by people she does not know yet alone the reason why. This episode stars Lenora Crinchlow, who any Brit-show watcher may recognize from either Doctor Who or the original Being Human. Amnesia in both movies and television as a plot device is a bit of a bete noire usually but this is beyond anything I have ever seen before on All my Children or General Hospital, like Laura totally forgetting she knew Luke and Elizabeth Taylor showing up in Port Charles, and actually made sense albeit in a way I was at first rather uncomfortable with, that is until a couple of news stories of such cruelty and brutality happened within days of my watching White Bear and I was like, yeah, I could get down with that.

My other favorite episode by far was The Entire History of You about a couple having relationship issues but with some fun modern technology ways to cope. I don’t want to say too much about this one lest I spoil it for you other than to say that Robert Downey Jr. has already optioned the movie rights for it which is so weird to me since there has already been a kinda/similar movie made and it was called The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and it was perfect, so just back off Iron Man, back off.

The Honourable Woman:  it’s like MI-5 and Looking for Mr. Goodbar got together with Not Without My Daughter and had a baby that wasn’t named Homeland. I let this one sit in my queue and stew for a couple of weeks before I decided to check it out and then ended up not getting up from my comfy furalicious bean bag chair for over three hours which was not so good for my 10,000 steps a day minimum lifestyle goal. Three episodes without moving so you know it’s gotta be good as there were no potty breaks for either me or the dog. Luckily I had my popcorn and milk duds and she had a chewable so all was good during our binge-a-thon into the murky politics of the West Bank.

These things are seriously comfy

These things are seriously comfy

The Honourable Woman (yes, that is Brit-spelling) just recently aired on Showtime and has miraculously already shown up on Netflix. I say that semi-snarkily as other Showtimes series I want to see like Master of Sex and The Affair are still not Netflix-able and that is pretty annoying. Thanks to this show I now have a new fear, that of billowing curtains in fancy restaurants and waiters with bread knives. Trust me, you will feel the same way after the opening of episode one. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Nessa Stein, a rich British lady do-gooder with a big secret in her past and a bad habit of sleeping with the help. Some of the plot holes are big enough to drive an Escalade through like the supposed security expert guy who falls for the old my-mother-does-the-books-at-night-at-a-stone-factory-out-in-the-middle-of-bum-fuckville, let’s go there, when anyone, let alone a security expert would know that was a one-way trip to not making it to the next episode. But the cast, especially Stephen Rea as the soon to be retired MI6 Middle East chief, and the overall story more than make up for a couple of dumb turns.

Dicte: is the only non-Brit show in the whole batch and is about yet another crusading Scandinavian journalist a la Annika Bengtzon, although Dicte is set in Denmark instead of Sweden and instead of a non-helpful boyfriend Dicte has a non-helpful ex-husband. Dicte also knows how to wear the heck out of a scarf in a way that I find very intriguing since whenever I try to do something similar it just ends up looking like a big giant rat’s nest of a mess. This show is slick and produced and very American style-wise, which is a trend I have noticed in Scandinavian shows now that I have watched quite a few of them and am totally fine with that. If the woman playing Dicte looks familiar to you then you have probably seen the movie High Fidelity, where Iben Hjejle played John Cusack’s girlfriend and where I now realize my obsession with listicles probably goes back to. Thank you Nick Hornby!

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Dicte moves back to her hometown with her teen-age daughter to start a new life but also to find out some things from her troubled past. Her parents were/are Jehovah’s Witnesses and disowned her once she left the fold which was news to me as I did not know the Witnesses did the shunning thing like the Amish and Church of Scientology do.#thingsyoulearnfromDanishtvshows

Peaky Blinders:  I have to be honest and say I did not binge watch this one until I heard Tom Swoon-worthy Hardy was in series two and then you can bet your sweet ass I blew through the last couple of episodes just so I could get there. Peaky Blinders were real gangsters in Britain in the time period right after WWI and got their name by carrying razor blades in the caps so they could blind their enemies or just slice them up like so many watermelon or apples when you play Fruit Ninja on your phone or at the Big Thrill Factory.

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This series reminds me a bit of the BBC America series Copper in that it is dark, not so much in subject matter but as in dark-dark, like the lack of proper lighting so everyone looks the same and I just wish someone would turn on some damn lights except then I remember how horrible the haircuts are and there’s the rub. Now I know Peaky Blinders is going for the realistic period look but a large part of the problem I had with this being wholly binge-worthy was the male hair-do’s which are in my non-professional opinion are MAJOR hair-don’ts. I mean like not ever. They were so distractingly awful I could not ever forget they were there, like the Babadook, they haunted this show.

Perhaps they are historically accurate although I have seen plenty of shows or movies taking place in roughly the same time period (Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises just to name a few) and no one looked as hideous as poor Iddo Goldberg (so cute in Secret Diary of a Call Girl) or the almost too pretty for a boy Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins). Peaky Blinders is about a family of brothers who are gangsters who get messed up with the IRA (never a good idea) while trying to be legit bookmakers and along the way get mixed up with gypsies (the Irish traveler kind like in The Riches) and communists (the Emma Goldman kind like in The Americans) and there are lots of otherwise interesting things going on but you can just never escape the hair elephant in the room. In fact, the last time I saw hair that awful it was the 1980’s and it looked something like this:

I ran alright, away from such hideousness.

 

 

The Wrapture, Mexican Style

I’m just gonna put it out there, I am only an okay cook. I mostly follow recipes by others who have the knowledge of all things culinary but there are one or two things that I made up all on my ownsome that are quite good. One of those is my Mexican inspired sweet potato lettuce wraps. As a dietary flexitarian I avoid meat but do eat fish and have zero qualms eating the occasional turkey sandwich because those birds are evil bastards and make geese seem nice. I used to make these super-simple and super-tasty wraps with ground chicken but I am still skeeved out by some pâté- like crap I got from Whole Foods once that stunk my whole house up for days and I have an industrial grade exhaust fan. Never again, not when you can use lovely non-at-all-stinky sweet potatoes. Here is what you will need:

Sweet Potatoes (I used one HUGE one and it made about six or seven wraps.)

Taco Seasoning (I buy Ortega. You could make your own but why when the folks as Ortega do such a nice job? Seriously this one is good AF and cheap.)

Olive Oil

Black Beans (I like Goya best, avoid Eden Organics, otherwise known as the Hobby Lobby of the food world.)

Butter Lettuce (I prefer the hydroponic kind and so do my cats, they can hear the plastic opening from three rooms away. Bad kitties.)

Mexican Cheese Blend (I like Trader Joe’s, the cheapest, bestest place to get cheese)

Avocado

Whatever else you like on your tacos. Sometimes I add rice, sometimes corn, sometimes a packet of God knows how old Taco Bell Fire sauce I found in a drawer. You do you and all will be right with the world, minus Donald Trump and Brexit of course.

Let’s talk sweet potatoes for a moment, I like the hard as a rock paler than a Minnesotan in mid-January ones. Those orange squishy things are yams to me (technically they aren’t) and should only be seen at Thanksgiving with toasty marshmallows on top.

Now this is what I call a sweet potato!

Now this is what I call a sweet potato

Note the huge -ass sorta sharp heavy knife, don't wimp out on your tools.

Use a good, heavy knife. You will need it.

Peel and chop your pale-ass sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces, as uniformly as you can so they cook evenly. Drizzle some good quality olive oil and toss the potatoes until coated. Now add the taco seasoning, as little or as much as you like. Honestly I use like a quarter of the package most times (I told you it was CHEAP).

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Put the perfectly-seasoned-to-your-personal-satisfaction potatoes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. The least amount of dishes the better is my motto, one less dish to wash, even in a machine built for such things is a gift people. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on what you consider to be bite sized. I have a teeny tiny toddler sized mouth (It’s true, just ask my dental hygienist). Flip them around and bake a bit longer if they need more time. No one likes their potatoes al dente.

Use parchment, no one likes cleaning sheet pans, do they?

Assemble your toppings like you are running a fancy-pants Mexican bar where the wait staff wears spandex knickers and a red sequined bolero jacket. Oh wait, that was me, back in my college days. Never mind. This is one of my favorite go-to meals, so delicious, so easy and cheap as chips as the Brits would say because they are gonna need their chips to be extra cheap now that they are Brexiting.

We are never ever getting back together

Our relationship had been stagnant for years. I felt like I gave and gave and got very little back in return. Sure there were some bright spots over the years, Orphan Black, Project Runway in the Bravo days and the best adaptation ever of Pride & Prejudice back when A&E actually produced shows with art and entertainment in mind instead of ones about strange addictions and not knowing you are pregnant. Just like the real-life couple inspiration for the movie Love Story (Al & Tipper Gore, minus the leukemia) our very long-term relationship had reached the end of its days. This was no Becky with the good hair type of situation though, nobody cheated, it was simply time to cut the cord and move on so I did.

It was a tough break-up, as all mostly one-sided relationship break ups can be. It was especially tough in the beginning during those long, dark January nights when all I wanted to do was pick up the phone and tell them how sorry I was and that it was all me and not at all them. I missed not being able to mindlessly flip through endless channels of shows that I had zero interest in and home shopping channels I never purchased a single thing from but still watched sometimes because just like Mount Everest they were there. They were always there. But then I remembered how J-Lo said love don’t cost a thing and this particular love was costing me way too much so with Jen’s help I have been able to stay strong and Comcast-free for almost six months now.

It has not been easy but these days cutting the cord does not necessarily mean no cable access. With premiums channels like Showtime and HBO Now available as stand alones and subscription services from iTunes I figured I would just pay for what I really wanted and nobody ever had to put a ring on it. I could come and go as I damned well pleased something I could never do in my previous relationship. I also signed up for Sling TV’s basic internet cable package for $20 a month. With Sling I still have access to a news channel (CNN, not my fave but at least it is not FOX) for when bad things in the world happen and I feel the need to watch people with nebulous credentials say the same stuff over and over again without letting little things like facts get in the way. And while I no longer can watch Tiny House Nation (insert large crocodile tears here), HGTV devotes Monday nights to various tiny house shows so I can still be equally intrigued (a couch that turns into a bed, a ping-pong table AND a desk) and repulsed (composting toilets or people with children living without doors or walls) on a weekly basis. There are enough channels on Sling’s basic package that I can make it work just fine.

Because I like to know what is going on in my own town local channels were a must which meant I had to buy an antenna. I bought two different ones to see which worked best and so far I have to say neither. The Mohu Leaf got mostly positive reviews but it is still hit and miss reception-wise usually on the one channel I want to watch at that one particular moment. I also bought an RCA with good old-fashioned rabbit ears and it is the same damn thing. Supposedly the roof top mounted ones work great but if I wanted something ugly on my house I would get a satellite dish or a Trump banner. I guess I will learn to live with the spotty reception.

Unfortunately Comcast did get to keep the Minnesota Twins in our divorce. Years ago the Twins sold their not-at-all-immortal souls to Fox Sports North so the only way to see any of their home games on television is with a cable subscription. I figured if my dad could listen to Twins games on the radio then I could too and given how embarrassingly bad they are playing this year it’s probably for the best that I can’t actually see them because listening is tough enough. It is possible to buy a subscription from MLB for away games so if they ever start playing better than the Bad News Bears before Walter Matthau took over as coach I may sign up.

It took a little while to get used but I am feeling pretty good about this break up. The amount of money I am saving is a major plus and I am finally starting to make some headway through my long-ass Netflix queue. Because so many people are cutting the cord and the millennials never connected to one in the first place it is inevitable that the Comcasts of the world will figure out a way to capitalize on some sort of à la carte pricing structure but until then I think I am going to be okay out here on my own.

 

A Graffiti Bridge to Nowhere

It has been seven hours and way too many days since Jehovah’s sexiest witness left us with a major case of the sads. The world is a whole lot less interesting, Minnesota in particular, because now all we have left are 10,000 lakes any of which I would gladly give up if we could get the little guy back. (Not Lake Minnetonka though, we gotta keep that one for obvious reasons.) Prince was of course much more than just a genius musician he was also a bonafide MOVIE STAR. At one point in 1984 he had not only the number one album (Purple Rain), but the single and movie to go along with it. Like everyone else on the planet in 1984 with a heartbeat, five bucks and a driver’s license I saw Purple Rain at the time but had not seen it all the way through since. So in honor of the late, great Purple Yoda I decided to go on a Prince-a-thon to revisit and recap his cinematic career from best to well, let’s just be kind and say less best.

1.) Purple Rain: I loved this when it came out. I loved it because it was filmed at the club where I spent my formative years (thanks to a real fake ID), it starred the most famous music dude in town and the songs were amaze-balls. I am pretty sure that even with the purple-tinted sunglasses (Oakley of course) I had on at the time I knew it wasn’t exactly a Casablanca or Segei Eisenstein’s Potemkin level of celluloid greatness before me (I was a film minor FFS) but I did not care then or now. The electrifying musical performances more than made up for any of the gaping plot holes, the ridiculous amount of misogyny and the fact that Steve McClellan was somehow no longer the manager of First Avenue but had been replaced by some guy from Detroit named Billy. Whatever Prince. (iTunes, and some theaters)

 

2.) Under the Cherry Moon:  I did not see this movie when it came out and sadly I was not alone in my indifference. UTCM was both a commercial and critical flop, winning a whopping five Golden Raspberry Awards and beating out the completely ridiculous Howard the Duck for worst movie of 1986. (Interestingly enough that movie also starred a Minnesotan, Lea Thompson.) But now that I have seen it twice I can honestly say those golden raspberries were completely undeserved and I am not alone in that assessment.

Prince and The Time’s mirror man Jerome Benton play cousins who spend their days and nights on the French Riviera scamming rich ladies trying to earn enough dough to get back to Miami. Kristin Scott Thomas (in her film debut) plays their latest and richest mark yet who is proving to be a bit more of a challenge than their usual suspects. Originally shot in color, it was switched to black and white prior to its release which was a great call  because UTCM is drop-dead gorgeous to look at.

Prince dances, prances and lays the doe eyes on extra thick but he and Benton have great on-screen chemistry and their silly screwball routine about going to the wecka stow is classic. Between the clothes (Chanel, pre-Kunty Karl), the scenery (Nice) and the songs (Kiss, Sometimes it Snows in April, Mountains),  UTCM is more than worth spending three bucks and some of your extra time on. (iTunes, Amazon)

 

3.) Graffiti Bridge: I am not gonna lie, Graffiti Bridge is pretty bad. So bad that I was regretting not having my iPad with me so I could surf the web during the dull parts and there were lots of dull parts. Ostensibly a sequel to Purple Rain it has absolutely none of the charm, hit songs or performance magic of its predecessor. According to the plot line, fake First Avenue owner/manager Billy has gone to the great nightclub in the sky and left another club called Glam Slam (also RIP) to the Kid (Prince) and Morris Day. I do not know who got First Avenue (Apollonia, perhaps?) or how Glam Slam got moved to Seven Corners (WTF?) but at least fake dead Billy had a will. Just let that one sink in for a minute.

Even though money-grubbing Morris allegedly owns half of Glam Slam he somehow wants to destroy it which makes no sense but neither does this movie so there you go. I think Prince hit peak Prince-ness with Graffiti Bridge (he wrote, directed and starred) but seemed utterly bored by the entire process. Mostly shot on a sound stage at Paisley Park his ennui shines through loud and clear. It’s a bloody mess but it could have been much, much worse. According to one-time Prince dancer extraordinaire Cat Glover, Madonna was supposed to play the Angel role that ultimately went to Ingrid Chavez. Watch it if only to say that you have seen it and then go rewatch Purple Rain any of the awesome performances that have cropped up on YouTube while you can. (iTunes, Amazon)

 

4.) New Girl Prince episode: Here is your chance to see Prince show Zoey Deschanel just how adorkable is done. I probably should rate this television appearance above Graffiti Bridge but New Girl is only 20 plus minutes long minus commercials and Prince is not in all the scenes so demerits must be given. On the plus side you hear a snippet of one of my all-time-favorite Prince songs When You Were Mine, there are pancakes involved and he made the producers remove all traces of a certain reality show family that were set to appear. Prince was the sensei of shade and man am I going to miss his not-at-all-subtle ways with the side-eye. (Season 3, episode 14, Netflix)

 

If you still need more Prince in your life (and who doesn’t?), check out this fantastic podcast with André Cymon. Recorded a couple of years back after Cymon released his first album in about a hundred years this interview offers great insight into the makings of the Minneapolis sound.. Cymon and Prince were childhood friends and lived together for years after Prince moved in with Cymon’s family. André was also Prince’s bassist during the pre-Revolution days and was known for his uncanny ability to pull off wearing clear pants and not looking like a total try-hard twat. He recorded a few albums in the 80’s but then went on to became more known as a songwriter and producer. Cymon is a great story teller and you won’t be bored for an instant which is good because this podcast clocks in at over two hours, something I wish I’d known when I started listening at 11:30 on a school night.

http://podcastjuice.net/the-prince-podcast-andre-cymone/

 

 

 

Purple Reignia

Minnesota, the land of 10,000 Prince stories. Pretty much everyone has one, including me. The last few days have been harder than I ever could have imagined and yet oddly comforting. The shock of his loss is palpable and everywhere but the outpouring of grief has been offset at least a little bit by the many public memorials, street concerts and all night dance parties that have happened across the city in his honor without any incidents because we’re classy like that up here in the north country. Forget Kevin Bacon and his six degrees of separation. No one in the Twin Cities has to go any further than two degrees of Prince separation. Everyone knows someone who either had an encounter with Prince at the state fair eating Tiny Tim donuts, or was in one of his many bands (two peeps from my high school for sure), or was an extra in Purple Rain (I’m just saying, if everybody who said they were in this movie really were than the credit list would be twice as long).

Unlike Dylan, the Coen Brothers or just about anyone else with an iota of fame, Prince never left us and for that he earned our eternal love and respect. He was a Minnesotan through and through. He went to sporting events (he loved the Minnesota Lynx), showed up at clubs (he had a permanently reserved table at the Dakota) and rode his bike around his Chanhassen neighborhood as if he were just a regular guy who worked at Target or Best Buy corporate. There was no drama with this one and there certainly could have been because he was a mega-genius wrapped up in a neat little pixie package.

The mid-to-late 80’s was a magical time to live in Minneapolis and be into the local music scene. Bands like the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Walt Mink, Trip Shakespeare and Soul Asylum meant you could go out just about any night and not regret the loss of sleep (well maybe once or twice if the ‘Mats were having an off night). Thanks to Prince, Alexander O’Neal, The Time and the Flyte Time crew, the Minneapolis sound was getting huge and gaining world-wide attention. Then Purple Rain came out and suddenly we were cooler-than-cool, and not in the expected winter-weather kind of way. Prince put our city, First Avenue and the mind-boggling purification benefits of Lake Minnetonka on the map and for that we are forever grateful.

There are and were many reasons to love Prince. He was an icon musically and sexually for a generation that needed some guidance during the just say no years. He spoke out about HIV/AIDS when the president at the time could not even acknowledge its existence. He could wear a puffy shirt like nobody’s business and didn’t mind a little black lace or shoulder pads, mainstays of 80’s fashion mostly reserved for Limited Express shoppers. I love the fact that Prince was a devoted Joni Mitchell fan and I especially love the fact that he wrote Purple Rain the ballad, as a direct response to the in-concert popularity of Bob Segar’s We’ve Got The Night. With a 1% African-American population in Minneapolis when he was growing up Prince had to find his inspiration somewhere and it certainly wasn’t going to be by watching Soul Train since the market was too small for it to even air here.

I had many Prince sightings throughout my formative years, usually at First Avenue where he was either tucked behind the glass of the VIP section or blocked by burly bodyguards. One time I saw him as he was coming up the stairs and I was coming down. There was no one else around and I could feel myself holding back from wanting to say something lest I blew my whole “we’re cool” persona. When we both stopped on the same step I realized that I was finally taller than someone in Minnesota and that someone was Prince. We both had on heels but his were much taller than mine. I was doing my happy dance on the inside when our eyes locked and he gave me that sly, pants-meltingly sexy smile he had. Let me tell you Prince was HOT up close, scorching really. I about died right then and there and hadn’t even been to a high school reunion yet. I lived and would run into him occasionally after that, usually at the grocery store, but we would never have meaningful eye contact again. Thanks to a job I had at the time I was lucky enough to be invited to the grand opening of Paisley Park and that is one piece of direct mail I will never, ever recycle.

Sometimes unfortunately it does snow in April in Minnesota and sometimes, just like Joni Mitchell said, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Prince’s charitable donations were many and not widely publicized, partly because of his faith and partly because he was not that kind of guy. There are people with solar power in Northern California thanks to him and a charter school in Minneapolis would not exist without his financial support. He bankrolled school music programs across the country and probably bought more boxes of Girl Scout cookies than you or I could ever imagine (hey, it very well could be true). The Carver County sheriff said it best at the press conference last Friday. To the rest of the world he was a celebrity but to us he was a neighbor and a friend, and we will miss that friend terribly.

You Spin Me Right Round Baby Right Round

Forgive me dear blog friends, it has been far too long since my last post and I am totally willing to binge-watch season two of both Catastrophe and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as punishment. (Since I have already finished Catastrophe this is going to one of the easiest penances ever.) For the last couple of weeks a local radio station has been asking listeners to send in their top ten essential albums. Essential to me means like the top ten records you would want to have with should you get stranded on a tropical island yet miraculously still had access to electricity or bucket loads of batteries to keep your Walkman powered up. I came up with a list but then I forgot my password and trying to remember what it could possibly be, or even resetting it, seemed like far too much work, hence this post.

Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the kids of today. They have no idea about one of the greatest ways ever to listen to music and no I am not talking about vinyl. Vinyl is the craft beer of music to hipsters and while I appreciate it, and still listen to records occasionally, my all-time favorite audio delivery system was and always will be the humble cassette. I loved just about everything about cassettes, their size, their portability, the familiar hiss and the sheer joy of spending hours on the floor in your bedroom, just you, a turn table and a couple of tape decks making the best mix tape ever. Sure you can make a mix CD but it is just not the same kind of DIY experience. Yes the tapes got eaten up by mean decks every now and again but unless the tape was completely torn apart you just needed a good ol’ number two pencil and some patience and that baby could be back up and playing sweet, sweet tunes in no time.

So here are the top ten essential albums I would have posted on the radio website if I cared enough to reset my password. These are the albums required for me to pass the time alone whilst stranded on a tropical island. FYI: I would also need some decent sunscreen, non-toxic bug spray and plenty of weather appropriate clothing because in my mind this is not some sort of wacky Naked & Afraid kind of scenario.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen: I have to be honest, I have not seen the Boss in concert since the 80’s and I am fine with that because I saw him many times up until Born in the USA came out which was about the same time all the dumb shits like Chris Christie and Tim Pawlenty started to be fans. Twenty years later when they found out Bruce was a progressive they were like what?? And I was like umm, have you ever listened to the words to ANY of his songs? I thought not. BTR was one of my most treasured record purchases ever and will definitely be coming along for the ride.

Horses, Patti Smith: Growing up in the 70’s there were not a lot of female artists to look up to that were not of the folksy variety. Patti Smith showed me and lots of others that girls could be punk rockers too and for that I am eternally grateful. The album cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe is stunning and so was Patti. Interestingly a couple of years later she had her one and only “hit” song (Because the Night), which was penned by the Boss himself. Patti is not only a musician but also an accomplished artist, poet, writer and world-renowned cat lady. She is my spirit animal.

Appetite for Destruction, Guns & Roses: Not gonna lie, I am a rock chick through and through. When Appetite came out I was working in my first grown up corporate job with a bunch of middle-aged moms and ex-frat boy sales dudes. To say that I did not fit in is an understatement of epic proportions. Every day when I left my suburban office I got in my car and blasted GNR the whole way home. Don’t ask me to defend Axl Rose for any of his abysmal behavior throughout the years because I can’t but if I am going to be stuck on a tropical island without cocktail service (can there be cocktail service, pretty please?) then I am going to need to release some steam somehow.

Hysteria, Def Leppard: When I got my new car (that is no longer at all new), the one thing that I missed from my much beloved Accord was the tape deck. And in that terribly missed tape deck there was a cassette that had been in there for years, and years, and years, and it was this one. Hysteria was 80’s pop metal at its finest and I will fight anyone to the death who says otherwise. There was nothing like cruising around one of Minneapolis’s beautiful lakes at night, moon roof open, blasting a little Animal and remembering those times will help while away the time waiting to be rescued.

Don’t Tell a Soul, Replacements: I loved the ‘Mats like mad. I went to their shows whenever I could and even when they were bloody AWFUL (which often was the case) they were still ten tons of fun and twenty times better than the bands that were getting all the attention/money at the time. I only ever bought one of their albums (again, cassette) and that was part of the problem. Their fans did not buy their music and despite Paul Westerberg being on many critics BEST SONGWRITER EVER lists at the time, they made very little money. Don’t Tell a Soul has both I’ll Be You and Aching to Be on it, two songs that pretty much guaranteed Westerberg’s inclusion in the rock lyricists hall of fame. I will think of this often while listening to my cassingle of Alex Chilton.

Disintegration, The Cure: Robert Smith, he of the hair that has never seen a comb and proud graduate of the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane school of lipstick application. You were and still are my favorite depressed Brit (with Morrissey being a very close second). Pictures of You, Lovesong and Fascination Street are just three of the great songs off this one. When I am feeling sad and lonely on the island I will pop this baby in and pray desperately for a search party.

Nevermind, Nirvana: Remember how in my Appetite for Destruction listing I talked about working in suburbia with people I had nothing in common with? This came out during that same time period. I loved Nirvana from the get-go, finally music that I liked was not only getting airplay and attention but also making money. I specifically remember coming to work the Monday after Nirvana was on Saturday Night Live and all my co-workers were talking about was how awful they were and all I could think of was that I had to get the hell out of there stat. (That and the fact that they were moving to a suburb even further away, but the Kurt Cobain derision makes for a much better story.)

Rocks, Aerosmith: I grew up in a suburb where the houses were close together. The kind of place where you needed at least two people’s front yards to play baseball, three if someone was really good at hitting or the outfielder was really bad at outfielding. I went through a pretty severe Steven Tyler phase, I thought he was the BOMB and I played this record non-stop. So much so that my next door neighbor once told me that he never had to play his because he heard mine blasting through the window all the time. You are welcome ex-neighbor boy.

Seven Travels, Atmosphere: Hip hop is not my thing generally but there are a few exceptions and Atmosphere is one of them. My favorite song on this one is a hidden track Say Shh and when I am alone on that island I am going to be playing this one on repeat because of lines like “Minnesota is dope” and “I’m from Minnesota, land of the cold air” which is something I will probably be missing after all that time in the heat. (But then again probably not.)

Frosting on the Beater, Posies: There is almost nothing better to me musically than a perfectly crafted pop song. The Posies were one of the many underrated and overlooked bands of the 90’s who deserved so much better. I was torn between this and Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend but the Seattle boys won out. There is not a stinker on this album anywhere and when I want to belt out a song or two for me and the monkeys to play air guitar on it will probably be one from this album.

Would any of these albums be on your list? What records would you choose to be stranded on an island with? Let me know in the comments!

 

Vampire Weekend

For some reason Easter always makes me think of two things, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and vampires. Now the deliciousness of the greatest pairing in food history is understandable, its peanut butter and chocolate together for goodness sake, but the vampire thing maybe not so much. Let me try to explain, Easter is when we celebrate the resurrection and since vampires are the living embodiment of the previously dead it kinda makes perfect sense. Vampires have been considered pretty cool for a long time since 1897 when Bram Stoker first created Dracula. That coolness factor was seriously damaged by the Twilight series when they became sparkly yet dull-as-dishwater and turned Kristin Stewart into one of the highest paid “actresses” in Hollywood, further proof that there really is no justice in this world.

Barnabas Collins was my first vampire, and you know what they say, you never forget your first. I used to run home from school in first grade so I could catch the tail end of Dark Shadows, if my grandmother would let me. Now my grandma was a total soap addict but she was also pretty religious and did not think too highly of me watching a show about werewolves and vampires. She was a grandparent though and usually caved in and watched it along with me, probably praying for my mortal soul the entire time. So in honor of Easter and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and all things Cadbury, here are a couple of vampire pics you very well may have missed but are well worth checking out this holiday weekend.

What We Do in the Shadows: Fans of Christopher Guest and his mockumentary style of movie making will adore this flick about a group of four vampires living together as flatmates in New Zealand. Vampires, they are just like the rest of us, they fight over who’s supposed to do the dishes or take the trash out or who got blood all over the bathroom. I hate when that happens.

Jermaine Clements (Flight of the Concords) is Vladislav, an 862 year old vamp with a mortal enemy called The Beast (his ex). Taiki Waititi is Viago, a 379 year old romantic who still loves Katherine, his girlfriend from the old country, currently living in a nearby senior facility. Jonathan Brugh is Deacon, who at a mere 183 years young, is the baby of the group, especially when you consider the oldest vamp is 8,000 year old Petyr. Petyr looks like Gollum, lives in the basement and does not interact much with his roomies. Petyr does not have to attend house meetings nor is he expected to do any chores, so apparently age does have some benefits, if you happen to make it to 8,000.

The quartet spend their days sleeping and their nights prowling the streets of Wellington looking for victims and hoping to get asked into one of the cool clubs. Deacon has a servant/familiar, Jackie (Jackie van Beek) who is a mega-desperate vampire wannabe type. One night to speed up the process she invites an ex-schoolmate and an ex-boyfriend Nick (Cori Gonzales Mac) over for dinner in the literal sense but things go horribly wrong and next thing you know Nick is the new roommate. RIP Petyr.

Newbie Nick creates all sorts of problems for the other three but he does get them into all the clubs they so desperately wanted to go to and he comes with a computer nerd best mate named Stu (Stuart Rutherford) who hooks the vamps up with all the mod cons like cell phones and the internet. Fans of Flight of the Concords will recognize Rhys Darby (Murray from FOC) as Anton, the alpha dog of the werewolves who is a gentleman and expects his fellow wolves to act accordingly. If you need a good laugh after eating a bunch of ham and cheesy potatoes and way too many Peeps than this movie is for you. I loved it so much I’ve watched it twice. There is a sequel already in the works and I can’t wait. (HBO, iTunes rental, Amazon and Google Play for purchase)

Only Lovers Left Alive: If you like your vampires cultured and sophisticated with a smattering of clinical depression thrown in for good measure than this one’s for you. OLLA is a Jim Jarmusch film so you will either love it or hate it, depending on how much you like art house cinema and his particular minimalist style of movie-making.

Tilda Swinton is Eve, she lives in Tangier and spends her spare time reading one of the eight million books she has stashed in her funky casbah. Eve sneaks out at night to collect blood from her friend/dealer Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) who it turns out really did write all of Bill Shakespeare’s plays, who knew? Eve’s husband Adam (Tim Hiddleston) lives in an abandoned neighborhood in Detroit making dark funereal music, buying vintage guitars and designing his own electrical system. He also moonlights as a doctor, names Faust, so he can get a constant supply of O negative blood, because killing people is so last year. Eve books herself on a couple of red eyes to Detroit to see if she can snap him out of his funk but since Adam used to pal around with Bryon and Shelley (not exactly known for being a barrel of laughs), it’s not looking too promising.

Adam drives Eve around Detroit at night proudly showing off his abandoned, dilapidated city. He even takes her to see the house Jack White grew up in and surprisingly it looks pretty good, especially compared to Adam’s, which could use a lot of TLC. Their happy reunion is short-lived however when Eve’s pain-in-the-ass and the ultimate houseguest from hell sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) shows up.

This movie is worth seeing for a lots of reasons but mainly for the performances of both Swinton and Hiddleston. She kicks ass and looks fabulous whilst doing it and Loki has never been hotter, he practically out iggies Iggy Pop himself and that is no easy feat. Hiddleston’s star has risen since this movie was made so he probably won’t be doing anymore weird little indie flicks like this which is too bad. Only Lovers Left Alive isn’t for everyone but fans of Jarmusch or movies that are not the same-old same-old will be glad they took the time to seek it out. (iTunes, Starz, Google Play)

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Lights

I did not grow up in a particularly religious household. We were Catholic in a very loosey goosey kind of way. My mother was the product of parochial schools and my father was a convert. The conversion happened years before I was born so in the sixteen years we had together the only Catholic experience I remember sharing with him was his funeral and he wasn’t really there so I’m not entirely sure that counts. Probably not.

Growing up the only times we went to church (my mother and I and sometimes my Swedish Lutheran grandmother, don’t ask) were the usual big deal holidays, Easter, Christmas, sometimes Palm Sunday. There were a couple of times in my life where I was a little more into it. After my father died I guilt-tripped my mother into going every Sunday for a while. My wanting to go regularly had absolutely nothing to do with the holy spirit and absolutely everything to do with a boy I went to high school with who had the kind of parents who MADE him go to weekly Mass. My goals were simple, sit close enough so when given the slightest chance we could shake hands during the “peace be with you” and “also with you” moment and no one would be the wiser and think that I planned it that way, no not at all. Teenagers think they are so smart. Problem was the parish was pretty large and finding space within the acceptable peace giving and receiving range was not that easy. I gave up eventually and went back to sleeping in on Sundays.

So while we did not go to confession or attend Mass regularly, the one thing we religiously did do was follow Lent rules. You had to give up something that mattered and there was no meat or poultry on Fridays, ever. Anyone who grew up in a Catholic home, even a not very religious one, probably did the same and can remember the dinners that came along with it. Friday meals often meant some sort of hotdish (casseroles for the non-Minnesota speakers).  Tuna hotdish was a staple and the bane of my Lenten existence. My mother made it like all the other suburban ladies of her generation with cream of mushroom soup, quite possibly the vilest creation Campbell’s ever foisted onto the culinary world, and I use that term loosely.

I cannot stand onions or mushrooms. She eventually caved in on the onions but the soup was non-negotiable. Heaven forbid anyone made a bechamel from scratch in those days. I did not care that the actual pieces of mushroom in the soup were the size of an atom, it was gross and disgusting and I much preferred the Fridays when she made salmon loaf or we had breakfast for dinner. The very best Friday night Lent dinners though were without a doubt going to a fish fry. Church fish frys are the best, VFWs and American Legions have their charm but nothing beats a church basement without proper restaurant-quality ventilation. It can quite literally take your breath away and stink up your clothes for days but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since many churches cater to a certain nationality based upon the ethnic background of their parishioners you can take a virtual culinary trip around the world for cheap (generally about ten bucks) and not even have to bag your liquids or be body searched. If you like pierogies hit up a Polish church, if you like hummus find a Lebanese one, there are lots of options out there and Lent is too dang short to not try at least a couple while you’re at it.

For a classic fish fry experience there are two in Minneapolis not to miss. St. Albert the Great is about the closest thing to fish fry heaven there is on Earth. St. Albert’s is a city church with a diverse parish. If I was ever going to be a regular church-going person this one could be it and not just because they have homemade grandma desserts of which I could eat each and every one. Spaghetti, soft white rolls that stick to the roof of your mouth like Wonder bread and a priest straight out of central casting who walks around the basement with a microphone in hand like he owns the place. Father Gillespie talks to everyone, tells bad jokes and cajoles people into buying raffle tickets or playing bingo, whether they want to or not.

The other big kahuna fish fry happens only once a season and it is so damn popular there is even a drive-thru option for those not wanting to face the sometimes Disney-esque lines. Our Lady of Grace calls themselves the Lollapalooza of fish frys which seems kinda appropriate if the alt-fest was held smack dab in the middle of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The fish comes from local eatery Tin Fish (they cook it outside to cut down on the odor situation) and the pasta courtesy of D’Amico. It’s not in a basement but a gymnasium and the desserts are from Costco but don’t hold that against them because the food is pretty stellar. Throw in Wally the Beerman and a good time is pretty much guaranteed to be had by all.

 

The crying game

There are lots of things in life that can make you cry. Not getting any chocolates for Valentine’s Day, very sad animal stories, breaking your toe on one of your dog’s stupid bones that you have asked her quite nicely to put away a thousand times before and the simple fact that even though McDonald’s is now serving breakfast 24/7 you still can’t get any biscuit options past ten unless you live in one of a handful of states, none of which I would ever choose to live in, despite my love of all things biscuit-y.

 

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Some people don’t cry very easily and others cry at the drop of a hat like America’s least favorite tan dad, former Speaker of the House John Boehner. Whether it was being crowned House of Representatives king-of-the-prom or getting backstage passes to see the coolest pope in the universe this guy can bring on the waterworks like nobody’s business and I sorta miss him for that, and for that reason only, because he was a terrible speaker. Personally I kinda fall somewhere in the middle between being all dead on the inside or cries like a weeping puddle of Boehner, depends on what I am watching, how crappy my day was, or you know, hormones. But if you feel like you need a good old cry these three movies bring on the waterworks for me each and every time and even if they don’t make you sniffle a whit they are still great movies.*

Dear Frankie: stars Emily Mortimer (woefully underrated as an actress in my book) as Lizzie, a single mother of a hearing-impaired mute boy named Frankie (Jack McElhone). Lizzie is on the run from Frankie’s abusive father and goes to great lengths to make sure Frankie never meets him by making up the name of a merchant ship and turning Frankie’s father into a crew member. Frankie regularly sends letters to his fake father on the fake ship and Lizzie responds with stamps from around the globe to make the story believable and everything is hunky dory until the fake ship turns out to be real and coming soon to the quaint coastal village they currently reside in. Lizzie needs a fake dad real fast and her friend and chip shop boss finds her one in the guise of an unamed visiting sailor played by Gerard Butler.

Fake daddy takes his job very seriously and his pay-to-play gig turns into something much more than anyone was bargaining for, least of all Lizzie. He buys Frankie a fancy book about the ocean and when he hugs his pretend father in genuine gratitude the feels begin in a big way and you can tell this movie is moving in a direction that will soon require some tissues. When one night Lizzie tells fake daddy that she only gets to hear Frankie’s voice in his letters we understand why she has been faking it so hard for so long. (Netflix, YouTube)

Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About A Father: I saw this movie the very first time when I was sick in bed with a cold, the kind of sick where you can listen to the TV but not really watch it because your head feels like it weighs a thousand pounds. Once the movie started though I had to get over it and watch because I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. Dear Zachary started out as one kind of documentary by the filmmaker but due to horrific, unforeseen circumstances ended up a completely different one. If Making a Murderer made you angry about the sorry state of our criminal justice system then Dear Zachary will make the Canadian one look even worse, but for opposite reasons. Andrew Bagby was an only child, adored by his parents, a good guy with a solid group of friends, one of whom Kurt Kuenne, set out to make a film about Andrew initially for his parents to remember him by and then subsequently for Bagby’s son Zachary to get to know him by after Andrew was killed by Zachary’s mother before he was born. This is NOT A SPOILER since it was the original premise of the film.

Parents are not supposed to outlive their children, that is not the natural order of things. Watching what Andrew Bagby’s mother and father go through to have a relationship with Zachary, their only grandchild and last tangible piece of their son on Earth is punch-to-the-gut-wrenching. Only an android could watch this movie with its shocking turn of events and not ugly cry, a lot. Grab a full box of tissues for this one, you will need it. (Netflix, YouTube)

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont: Recently widowed Mrs. Arthur Palfrey (Joan Plowright) decides to move to a residential hotel in London, to a room absolutely without a view and an assortment of other widows and widowers, (mostly widows). She and her fellow residents spend their evenings in front of the telly watching old Sex & The City reruns while they wait for members of their respective families to come visit. Mrs. Palfrey hopes to spend time with her grandson Desmond and calls him repeatedly but he never returns the call. One day while out on a walk she takes a tumble and is rescued by a young man around her grandson’s age named Ludavic Meyer (Rupert Friend in his pre-Homeland days). To thank him, Mrs. Palfrey invites Ludavic to dinner and all the single ladies assume he is the much talked about but never actually seen Desmond.

Mrs. Palfrey and her fake-but-so-much-better-than-the-real-thing grandson bond over their mutual love of Wordsworth and Blake and it’s all so sweet and cultured and cute that you just know something’s gonna make it all come crashing down to reality and it does when the real Desmond shows up unexpectedly one afternoon at the Claremont. This movie proves that sometimes fake or manufactured families can often times be more kind and loving to one another than the real blood ones and that old people deserve much more than just being put into cold storage somewhere until they die. (YouTube, Amazon Instant)

* seriously, if you don’t shed a tear or twenty watching one of these movies than we are going to have to assume you are a Cyberman or a Dalek or some other member of the undead.