May 10, 2017, 8:20 pm
I'm not sure how a Goodreads reader got a copy of Robby The R-Word to read before it's released, but as I was perusing the publisher's Web site while offering suggestions on the press packet they're preparing, I noticed that my book had indeed been reviewed. And it's good.
"A captivating thriller that kept me questioning my commitment to the main character," reviewer Talya says. "This book uses modern technology and deceit in clever ways that will keep you reading for more!"
I'm flattered. And I'm fascinated by how different people take away different things from the book. I'm glad she was questioning her commitment to Robby during the book, because that's what I wanted readers doing—after all, there's a chance that Robby himself is the bad guy (I can't tell you whether he is or not until you read the book). And the idea that she picked up on the technology I've smattered throughout the book is nice, too. And the deceit, which I think would be better termed "misdirection," but still, you say potato, I say tomato.
Either way, I'm proud to have this book's first reader review from someone I don't know and who doesn't get paid to review books. That's better, in my opinion, than anything.
May 8, 2017, 10:22 pm
There could be a whole psychological study on why I love standup comedy.
For some unfathomable reason, my parents got me the Los Cochinos album by Cheech and Chong when I was like seven years old.
It was filled with drug humor, and even as a little kid, I got it: two dudes smoked something and it made their minds weird, and it was hilarious. I loved that the album cover was cut to the shape of a Volkswagen Beetle and there was all kinds of graffiti on the back side, but what I really loved was the impeccable timing of the greatest comedy duo (yes, even including Abbot and Costello and the Smothers Brothers) in the history of comedy.
From that time to this, I have always been a fan of standup comedy, and (forgive my rape-forgetting nostalgia), even including Bill Cosby from the '60s.
The man is a bastard. And what he did to like fifty women is unforgivable. But I didn't know any of that when I was laughing to his albums in the 1970s, imagining Junior Jones getting a mouthful of spit, or Fat Albert solving the ghetto's problems, or a traffic jam in San Francisco turning into a used car lot, or a tree biting a car, or a student asking a coach teaching a science class "why is there air?" Howard Stern swears he never understood why people thought Cosby was funny, but I really did, when I was a kid. Maybe that's the problem, Howard was an adult when Cosby hit.
Fast forward to 1983, with Eddie Murphy in a pleather zoot suit, pacing back and forth on a state like his idol Richard Pryor, commanding his audience like a demented conductor, making what now would be considered unforgivably homophobic and racist jokes that made a multicultural audience lose its shit in laughter.
Or in the modern day, my favorite comedian, Patton Oswalt, making me laugh so hard I thought I might literally die of an aneurism while making fun of Holocaust victim Anne Frank's story. Or Louis CK making me spit out my gum while mowing the lawn and listening to him talk about how horrible people his children are. Or, and God forgive me, Daniel Tosh and pretty much everything he has ever said. The man makes me want to pee my pants—even if I don't have to pee—because his humor is so WRONG.
So, when Stern is not producing new shows for four days of the seven-day week, I tune my SiriusXM radio to the four or five comedy channels there, and in the last year or so, I've been loving a comedian named Pete Holmes, who is mostly clean, but whose Christian background makes for some biting and insightful humor nonetheless.
So you can imagine my joy when I saw he had a show on HBO called Crashing, which co-starred two of my other favorites, TJ Miller and Artie Lange (Stern show alumnus).
Also, and this is a side-note, if you ever hear Artie say "Don't come back until you have Hepatitis C," you're watching a show worthy of the title "Wrong, but fucking funny."
In addition, if you hear the protagonist answer the hooker responding to that by asking "what do you like" and the respondent saying "I love free wifi and breakfast for dinner," you know you've stumbled onto a great show.
What I found, besides an over-the-top indulgence of my passion for stand-up comedy, but also a poignant and sometimes-sad telling of the true lives of struggling comedians, paying to perform at open mikes, hawking flyers on the streets of New York City in the hopes of maybe getting five minutes of time if they are able to draw in enough paying customers to the club. And the self-inflicted tragedy of loving comedy so much that they estrange everyone else in their lives, much as an alcoholic or drug addict does.
It is the perfect balance of sadness, humor, hope and despair. It's one of the best-written shows I've watched in awhile, and that's a pretty big compliment, coming from a self-centered guy like me who believes he is a great writer.
Pete Holmes is a great comedian, and I think he may be even a greater writer. Because the show is on pay network HBO, it may not get the kind of viewership it deserves, and that's a tragedy, because it touches all the bases in the best forms of entertainment, while keeping me laughing through all the tragedy and drama. That's a hell of a tough balance to strike.
Did I mention Dave Attell? I've talked about him before—he's one of the best comedians you've never heard of. Scratch that. He's THE best comedian you've never heard of. If you haven't heard Dave Attell's standup, you haven't heard standup. Do not argue. I'm right about this. But Crashing features Dave Attell. So there's a reason to watch it, all by itself. Oh, plus, one of my longtime celebrity crushes (no, not Natalie Portman, at least not in this series), Sarah Silverman. She is a pivotal character that furthers Pete's career, plus, she's also ... um, Sarah Silverman.
Do yourself a favor, and stream or subscribe to HBO and watch every episode of Crashing. You will not be mad at me for suggesting it.
May 4, 2017, 11:23 pm
In the history of television, there has never been a better show than Boston Legal. The premise is simple: A group of lawyers practicing in Boston. One is a passionate, deeply flawed, yet painfully honest advocate, played by James Spader. Another is an eccentric, yet impressively brilliant and deceptively crazy founding partner, played by William Shatner. The friendship between the two is sublime, and uncoincidentally reminds me of my friendship with my friend, Jan Jordan.
At the end of every episode, they ruminate on a balcony in the gilded tower that houses their successful firm. Shatner, the conservative, and Spader, the flaming liberal, find common ground in the kind of platonic love men in America never really share with each other.
But the common thread that makes the show so great is the freedom of honesty most of the characters display in spades. Don't like someone? They say it without fear of the response. Think someone is stupid? They don't mind telling them. Shatner, in one episode, goes to court to defend the idea of someone "sounding black" on the phone, yet has no racism in his character at all. The show at once tears down the political correctness that has castrated American discourse, while defending the sensitivities that inspired that political correctness.
It is, in a single word, flawless.
You can, according to the show, be a feminist, while still understanding the male evolutionary prerogative to ogle. You can defend the equality of all races and creeds while still understanding the innate humanity of categorizing people by their races and creeds.
Something about the show makes it okay for people to be honest about their prejudices (not racial, not gender, but all prejudices) while defending the idea that prejudices are not okay when they affect other people's rights.
I have long said that I'm a Jeffersonian democrat, and by that, I mean I adhere to my paraphrased version of one of Jefferson's most powerful quotes: "Your liberty is absolute, and extends until it infringes on my liberty."
You're free to swing your fist until it connects with me.
I may not agree with why you're swinging your fist, but I really don't care if you do it. Until it hits my face. THEN, I care.
Honestly, I think if America reverted to that simple an understanding of freedom, we'd be a much happier place. And Boston Legal makes that ethos an entertaining exercise in understanding.
Alan Shore, the character played by Spader, is an extreme liberal. And Denny Crane, the character played by Shatner, is an extreme conservative. In the final wash, the show puts to lie the idea that extremism in either form should be tolerated. I obviously identify more with Spader's liberal character, but the show helps remind me that extremism is the enemy of actual and positive change. I'm a socialist. I'm a big-government liberal. But there are valid ideas on the conservative side of the spectrum as well. The show helps remind me that my point of view is absolutely extreme and has to be tempered with compromise if ALL of America is to be included in its idealistic tent. Idealism is the enemy of actual change. I have to be willing to compromise on my views if shit is actually going to be done.
Where else in entertainment can you find such a tempering view? Where else can you get an obviously liberal viewpoint challenged by the same writer from the conservative point of view? It is, and I say this without reservation, perfection in socially conscious entertainment. Liberals can love this show, and so can conservatives. What other show can you say that about?
One character, Crane, worries that in the afterlife, he will carry the ravages of Alzheimer's with him. Shore assures him that in the afterlife, we remain as we were in the best of times. With depthless love, Crane looks at him and says, "Like now?"
How can a show that makes me laugh so hard make me also want to cry? It's amazing, brilliant writing of which I am boundlessly jealous. Robby the R-Word makes me want to cry in several chapters, but I envy a writer who can so effortlessly make me want to laugh and cry in the space of two minutes.
Can I tell you I'm terrified of Alzheimer's? I've always had a problem associating names with faces. I have always seen people and known I should know their names, but I just don't. Never have. But what if that is one of the precursors of Alzheimers? What if the fact that you have to tell me who you are and why I should remember you is something to be alarmed about? I've been locally famous for 30 years, meaning tons and tons of people know who I am, and I have no idea who they are. But what if I should? What if that's all a sign of diminishing memory?
Boston Legal deals with those fears in a fearless way. It sets out on a path to face that reality without flinching—and make it funny at the same time.
The fact is, David E. Kelley is the creative force behind it, and Ally McBeal and The Practice and Picket Fences. It really only proves that he is an amazing writer, and I envy his ability to effortlessly weave entertainment and social commentary together. I find absolutely nothing in Boston Legal to nitpick. And I kind of hate Kelley for it.
I can only get the final season on iTunes, but even though I don't own a DVD player, I'm seriously considering buying the rest and buying a DVD player, simply so I can re-watch all the episodes I miss so much. I've watched them all before, but I want to watch them again.
And if you know me, you know that's the best endorsement I can make for a TV show.
May 3, 2017, 11:23 pm
When you're building a project in the garage, it's impossible to avoid the occasional three-year-old, who feels like he's helping if he wears the welding mask.
Plus, he keeps all the sparks from trashing my glasses, which I've been wearing since my new contacts started frying my eyes.
I'm just glad my babies are so interested in what Daddy is doing. Makes the time pass more quickly.
May 1, 2017, 11:23 pm
My wife's grandparents left her an old bed frame, and she wanted to to something special with it, so she asked me if I'd make a bench out of it that we would give to her mother for her birthday.
It's been a long time since I've worked with metal, so I was reticent, especially since I don't have any welding equipment. But her mother is the best grandmother our children could ever expect, so I thought I'd try.
So the first order of business was cutting the old footer (to the left) into two pieces, which would become arms for the bench. They had to be short enough to accommodate the seat, which meant about 18 inches each.
So I grabbed an angle grinder and rough cut 18 inches (closer to 20) on each side, which left about a foot of footer between the two cuts. The cuts I made were VERY rough, so I needed to finesse them to create the final arms for the bench.
I cut off about an inch on each side with a finer cutter than the angle grinder, And then I set about cutting the cresents into the pipes so they'd match up to the headboard, which was to become the back of the bench. I used a bench grinder to cut the crescents, eyeballing the arcs based on the width of the pipes. The arc is essentially half the distance of the width of the pipes, but again, I didn't measure, I eyeballed, comparing the arc I was cutting to the actual headboard pipe as I went along.
And in the middle, I burned the piss out of my toe. Pro tip: wear something other than sandals when you're grinding metal down.
Once I got the crescents cut into the arm pieces, Aidan, our 15-year-old, who has been practicing welding with a flux-wire welder, wanted to weld the seams, so I let him take over on that part:
Once the arms were welded to the frame, it was time to start thinking about the seat, which presented a special problem, because the frame itself provided no support hook-ins for a seat. So I decided I would use lag screws to attach a wooden seat frame to the bed frame itself, which meant drilling pilot holes and whatnot.
First, I built the frame, with the long pieces offset to allow me to insert the lag screws:
It was important for me to measure accurately, because the back side of the bed frame was about half an inch narrower than the front of the bed frame, simply due to stuff inching around during the welding process. I used old barn wood that we had torn down from a local barn. It was all wet (soaked, actually), because it was raining cats and dogs when I was doing this process.
Once the frame was in place, I had to attach it with the lag bolts:
That was actually a tricky process, because the pilot holes I drilled were a bit too small. Eventually I ended up clamping the boards and the metal together to prevent the bolts from bending the metal outward, and I used a simple 9/16 ratchet to drive the bolts through the wood and metal.
Once the frame was attached, it was a simple matter of drilling the wood planks (ancient 2X6 planks from the barn) into the frame. But first, my wife had to prime the metal for its eventual paint job:
With the metal primed and the wooden frame inserted, it was time to finally tack on the wooden seat:
I used number-25 hex-drive three-inch bolts to attach the seat planks. With everything tacked down, we waited a day for the wood to dry, then April sealed the wood and painted the frame turquoise, ending up with a final product that weighs about 70 pounds:
April 27, 2017, 10:22 pm
The good review of my book, Robby the R-Word, by Publisher's weekly has now made its way to the book's Amazon page.
Here it is:
Wright's police procedural has a lot going for it: a complicated plot featuring a string of strangely related attacks; Robby Turner, a brilliant man who has been completely paralyzed for decades; a captivating, if scatological, beginning; and Detective Bain, who has enough politics to deal with and sufficient amounts of the underdog about her to put the reader in her corner. More importantly, the plot has enough twists, turns, and unearthing of unexpected connections between the characters to keep readers guessing who is responsible for beating Robby's father and other similar attacks. --Publisher's Weekly
Conveniently, they left out the part about the lesbian sex. But I'm not complaining. It looks pretty good from where I sit.*
It also looks like they now have the Kindle book on there, which is cool, since it's 11 dollars cheaper than the paperback.
So, overall, stoked. The book will be out in less than a month, and then you can voraciously consume it, because you won't be able to put it down (patented glue covers ensure that).
I have been goofing off on trying to get Father of Malice into agents' hands, so I guess I could be doing that instead of posting this.
*Also, I laughed when the review said the opening is scatalogical. There is a little bit of shit in the first three chapters. It's funny I didn't really notice until someone else pointed it out.
April 19, 2017, 1:01 am
"Scorpion," a TV series, is ostensibly about the smartest man ever recorded, with something like a 190 IQ.
Maybe, but whoever writes the series has more like a 19 IQ.
I will say this: My IQ has been tested numerous times, and my average score was enough that I can confidently say: IQ scores are (how should I say this...? Ummm) bullshit.
IQ, which stands for intelligence quotient, is about as much a measure of intelligence as a quarter pounder at McDonald's is a measure of levels of sound.
The IQ tests administered in complete sincerity simply measure knowledge, not intelligence.
Anyway, Scorpion acts like being smart is a disease. Like smart people need to be treated differently, because their brains are so focused on physics that they can't be bothered to process social interactions or interpersonal relations. And it's complete bullshit.
There is no universal code saying smart people have to be socially awkward.
Intelligence cannot possibly be measured. How can a smart person say being good at thinking is any more valid than John Elway being able to look over the backs of an offensive line and read the pattern of a potential defensive movement? Or a garbage man knowing exactly where to throw the black Hefty bag to maximize the efficiency of the truck on which he's hanging? True intelligence is immeasurable. The really smart guy discovered how to make fire, how to construct a wheel. Or to make a shelter out of leaves and branches. Humanity has survived to this point because brilliant people solved fundamental problems involved with making sure evolution continued for our species.
Again, the point is this: Smart people are everywhere, even when we're thinking disdainfully about the people whose brains are much bigger than ours. I knew a guy who had mastered calculus in the seventh grade, yet today, he's delivering packages for a parcel service. But who the hell am I to tell him that's not a career a smart guy would choose?
I said all that to say this: Scorpion is absolute bullshit. There are plenty of smart people who are absolutely normal socially. My son Axl is one of them. He could read when he was 18 months old. But put him around his athletic cousins and he's just a regular guy, punching, laughing, throwing balls and being a regular kid.
Smart is relative. It's easy. Being a well-rounded person? Not so much. Neither has to be mutually exclusive. Smart people can be socially normal, and socially normal people can be smart. I, for one, am glad we live in a world where Scorpion is one-dimensional, because real smart people are everywhere, and they don't have to act like nerds to prove it.
Plus, the show's situations are just stupid. Some Bulgarian hackers take over the United States' entire defensive network, seize control of jets in the air, making them dogfight each other. They even somehow manage to take control of the jets' ejection seats so the pilots can't get out. Then the hackers take control of a bunch of Navy destroyers, positioning them at the "four corners" of the continental US, and only the intrepid smart people in Scorpion can stop them, by using a stud finder to reprogram one of the planes' computers as it careens toward earth above them. I shit you not. And then the other smart guy uses Play Doh to coat his hands as he grabs onto a cable in an elevator shaft and jumps 30 stories to the ground to avoid the blast from a cruise missile launched at him because the Bulgarian hackers were mad that he was trying to un-hack them.
And those are the BEST parts of the plot. Don't even make me describe the tandem love-triangle plots between the nerds and their inexplicably attractive love interests.
Bah. But I do love the irony in the idea that the stupidest show on TV is about the smartest guy in the world.
April 18, 2017, 12:00 am
That headline might be a bit extreme.
I dunno if I've ever mentioned this, but I am a 32nd-degree Freemason.
Let me back up. I joined Freemasonry in 2009 for a very specific purpose: I wanted to go through all the secret rituals to see if Freemasons did indeed worship the devil, as conspiracy theorists have since the 1700s claimed.
Spoiler alert: No, they don't.
There is a conspiracy theory floating around that Freemasons worship a "light", and in the 32nd degree, they learn the "light" is Lucifer, otherwise known as Satan, but by that point, they're too involved and realize they have to worship Lucifer, too, since they've already done all the other rituals.
It's absolute bullshit, and I'll tell you why.
Like I said, I joined Freemasonry myself specifically to figure out if that was true. The fact is, there are only three levels to true Freemasonry: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. An Entered Apprentice is just a guy (yes, "guy". There are no women in Freemasonry) who has pledged to become a Mason and keep its secrets. (Spoiler 2: The secrets are no great shakes; you take more solemn oaths if you join a church). To become an "Entered Apprentice," the initiate is taken through a series of secret lectures all pointing to one ideal: Freemasons are a fraternity of men dedicated to helping and supporting the other men in the fraternity. I can say that without betraying my oaths to keep the specifics secret.
To become an Entered Apprentice, you have to recite an oath that is dictated to you by the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, which is a guy who has been a Master Mason for some time and has been elected for that year to be the guy leading all the rituals.
The next level of Freemasonry, level 2, is a Fellowcraft. To become that level, you have to be able to recite the oaths of the Entered Apprentice by heart. One Master Mason asks questions, and you answer them based on the oath you take. Some people recite both the questions and the answers, which I guess shows that you really paid attention or something. I was one of those: I asked my own questions and answered them, which appeared to impress the hell out of the guys in the lodge.
As a Fellowcraft, you take a new oath (Masons call them "obligations") which is very similar to the Entered Apprentice oath, only expanded: you renew and re-confirm your dedication to helping fellow Masons out if they need it, and to asking for help if you need it.
To get to the third degree, Master Mason, you have to be able to answer questions about your second obligation, which you recited in your initiation into the Fellowcraft degree. Again, I asked my own questions and answered them, which, following the pattern, impressed the hell out of the other Masons.
You are then taken through a lengthy storytelling and ritual (with more questions and answers) for the third and final degree of Masonry, Master Mason. And at the end of the day, the only thing you're committing to, other than supporting your fellow Masons, is being a good person who believes in God.
And voila, you're done.
Unless you want to pursue the ancillary degrees of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, which takes you from the fourth degree to the thirty-second degree, which I did about a month after I became a Master Mason.
And after all that degree work, which I completed in McAlester, Oklahoma, you learn the final secret of Masonry, which I can't reveal directly because of the oath I took, but which I can tell you without reservation, is a commitment to God and Jesus in the traditional sense of who they are, much as you would hear in almost any church in the world.
Never, in my entire experience with Freemasonry (of which I have achieved the highest rank), was there any mention of serving the devil, Lucifer or any other such nonsense. Since I don't believe in the devil (a totally different post), I would have laughed and left the building, had that been the case.
I tell you all that to tell you this: Two main characters in my book Robby the R-Word (coming out May 23) are Freemasons. And their Freemasonry is key to the mystery that is finally solved in the book.
You should pre-order the book, which will not only give you a great bit of mystery-solving fun and the craziness of Freemasonry, but will also enter you into a sweepstakes where I'm going to sign and send a copy of one of my other books to the winner ... ABSOLUTELY FREE! Do it! Pre-order the book now, because (at least until Father of Malice comes out) Robby the R-Word will be your favorite book ever.
I swear, on my obligation as a Freemason, you will love Robby. Go order it, because.
April 11, 2017, 8:08 am
Robby the R-Word will be out in about a month. Publisher's Weekly, a trade magazine that booksellers read when deciding whether to stock certain books, did a review of Robby this week, and I'm pretty happy about it. Here it is:
Wright’s (Minister of Justice) police procedural has a lot going for it: a complicated plot featuring a string of strangely related attacks; Robby Turner, a brilliant man who has been completely paralyzed for decades; a captivating, if scatological, beginning; and Detective Bain, who has enough politics to deal with and sufficient amounts of the underdog about her to put the reader in her corner. More importantly, the plot has enough twists, turns, and unearthing of unexpected connections between the characters to keep readers guessing who’s responsible for beating Robby’s father and other similar attacks. Unfortunately, the author has marred what is otherwise a really fine story by dropping in a graphic sex scene between Bain and Jessica Vann, a woman whom she meets in the course of the investigation. Jessica only briefly reappears in the novel to be ogled by Bain’s male partner Officer Russell, which makes the whole affair seem like a gratuitous performance piece written as a male fantasy. The book could otherwise be a satisfying read for a wider audience, albeit one that is prepared for coarse language and graphic violence throughout. (May)
I know what you might be thinking: Hey, that middle part there isn't so good. But I don't agree with the you I've made up in my head to say that. Here's why, and I'll take it bit by bit:
Unfortunately, the author has marred what is otherwise a really fine story by dropping in a graphic sex scene between Bain and Jessica Vann
So reviewers almost always have to find something to pick at. This would be that. Because the sex scene, while there, is not at all graphic. In fact, if you've read my other novels, this may be the least graphic sex scene I've ever written. The publisher said when the editor, Amy, pitched this book to him, she told all the book's plot points and twists, and then, as a parting shot, said "oh, and a splash of girl-on-girl sex," which apparently became a catch-phrase at their office. And it really is a splash, not anything more than that.
Jessica only briefly reappears in the novel to be ogled by Bain’s male partner Officer Russell, which makes the whole affair seem like a gratuitous performance piece written as a male fantasy.
This part is actually actively untrue. The character they're talking about, Jessica Vann, is actually an important witness in the case and appears in multiple chapters. True, Russell ogles her in a later chapter (when he first meets her), but that's also very brief, and if it's a "male fantasy," then male fantasies must include being brutally shot down. But again, as I said above, they have to say something negative.
The ultimate truth is, I don't think those lines are negative, because who doesn't like a good sex scene? What reader is going to see that review and go, "Well, I was going to buy the book, but if it has a graphic girl-on-girl sex scene, forget it!" The publisher, who said it was a "four star" review, believes that part of the review may actually expand the audience for this book.
Either way, most Publisher's Weekly reviews I've seen are mostly negative, so with this one being positive, it stands out, and it makes me happy.
So go buy the book already! If you do it before May 23, you get entered into a drawing to win a free, signed copy of one of my other books!
April 6, 2017, 10:22 pm
Let me declare my bias before I say anything: I don't think the United States should have attacked Iraq, and I think once the Taliban fell, we should have gotten the hell out of Afghanistan.
I'm not an isolationist, I just think there needs to be a compelling national interest for the United States before we jack some motherfuckers up.
Realistically, since the debacle in Vietnam, the American military has been beefed up to the point that there isn't a country on earth that can beat us, so that's not a concern. I mean, there is zero chance Syria is going to come kick our asses. But how and when we use that power is important. Was the chemical weapon attack in Syria important enough to us that we needed to intervene? Certainly, it sucked for the people who got attacked by the chemicals and whatnot, but lots of people are killed by crooked regimes all over the world all the time and we don't intervene.
I dunno. Congress seems to be supporting the strike, Hillary Clinton has come out in favor of it, and on and on, but still. We are not the world's police force, and our military is not the world's paddle.
And I think Western attacks and wars in the middle east never seem to end well for us. All they seem to do is create new terrorist groups who are upset that we're fucking with them.
I'm going to withhold judgment. Maybe this was a righteous strike. I certainly hope so.
But my gut tells me this might have been a horrible idea. I hope I'm wrong.
April 6, 2017, 8:08 am
Two of my favorite shows came back this week, and I was worried about both of them, because it's apparently tough to keep quality going for multiple seasons in a TV show.
My favorite current show, iZombie, came back for its third season this week. To be honest, this is the one I was most worried about, because it has been cleverly written, yet just campy enough for two seasons, and that's a big accomplishment. So naturally I worried that season three would let me down. First, let me synopsize (which, according to autocorrect, apparently is a word) the plot: Liv, a medical doctor, went to a party where she didn't know a local drug dealer was infected by a tainted energy drink that turned him into a zombie. He scratches her (and kills a lot of other people) and she turns into a zombie who hasn't fully converted to the Romero shambling, mindless things. As long as she can find brains to eat, she'll stay mostly human, part zombie. So she quits medicine on live people and starts working at the medical examiner's office, where she has ready access to brains. One side-effect: she gains some of the memories and attributes of the brains she eats, so turns out she's good at solving murders using those memories.
I know. It sounds like a stupid premise. But it is like chocolate cake wrapped up in another chocolate cake, melted down and fried in chocolate cake batter. The characters she gets involved with (the medical examiner, who quickly discovers her zombie-ism and works to help her, the roommate who works at the DA's office, the cop she ends up helping solve murders, the boyfriend who becomes a zombie himself, the drug dealer who turns zombie entrepreneur by opening a funeral home, scratching new people and then extorting them in exchange for brains) and the writing are exquisite. So naturally, when, at the end of season two, she discovers an entire zombie army that's going to set itself up in Seattle as the zombie home base, I worried.
But I had nothing to worry about. The writers are still excellent, and the show still entertained, with Liv and Clive (the cop) trying to work out what to do with the knowledge that zombies are setting up base in their town, Blaine (the former villain who is now an amnesiac) trying to piece together who he used to be—with the help of the assistant DA, who happens to be Ravi (the medical examiner)'s ex-girlfriend. It makes for a multilayered, fun, still-campy ride as they struggle to deal with the invasion and still come up with a cure that doesn't leave everyone completely memory-less.
Ah, iZombie, thank you for coming back strong.
Agents of Shield
Agents of Shield, Marvel's mostly-human government agency charged with protecting humans from the super-powered, is only coming back from its mid-season break, but it was a pretty big one. A former ally has turned on the agency and trapped most of its top people inside a Matrix-like dream state called The Framework so he can ... well, I'm not really sure of his motivations. Doesn't matter.
In any case, I was worried, because the Framework is an alternate reality where the greatest pain of their lives has been removed, so their lives are completely different and satisfying. Agent Coulson, the director of Shield, never joined the agency inside the Framework, so he's a high school teacher. Agent May never shot a little girl, who later went on to kill hundreds of people, so she's an agent at Hydra now, trying to make up for letting that girl go. It goes on and on, but you get the picture. The truth is, I was worried that this was a post-jumped the shark plot ploy to give the writers something else to do.
But I was wrong.
The Framework feels eerily real, like the way America could easily become after a massive terrorist attack where one person with supernatural powers killed a bunch of people and there was nothing anyone could do to stop her. It feels very much like post 9/11 America if there had been a second shoe drop. It's totalitarian, and citizens are brainwashed into valuing the state above the individual, to turning in neighbors who they believe to be "subversive."
If you could imagine Scientology as a government, this second-half of the Shield season feels very much like that, and it's thrilling.
So I'm glad Shield didn't fumble either.
Go watch both these shows. Do it. I'll wait. ... ... ... See? I was right!