On December 5, I’ll be some sort of complicated hi-tech “webcast” over the “internet” with Franciscan Media. Check it out here – you have to register, but you can probably manage that.
On December 7, I’ll be in Charleston at the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore, signing Bambinelli Sunday for, most appropriately, their “Baby Jesus Party.” Come see me!!!
And remember…Bambinelli Sunday is a real thing. Maybe your parish or religious ed program could have your own “Bambinelli Sunday?” Invite the children to bring in the Baby Jesus figure from their own nativity sets for a blessing after Mass? Think about it! There’s still time……
Ages and ages and ages ago, when I was teaching theology in a Catholic high school, they made us, as all schools, even Catholic schools, do – dress up for some idiotic “spirit week” thing. You know how it is. Monday! Krazy Hat Day! Tuesday! Striped Socks Day! Wednesday! Pajama Day! Hate. White-hot hate for that crap. Anyway, one of the days was ..what? Blast from the Past? I think so. So I studied my (limited) wardrobe and donned: Black turtleneck, black skirt, black tights, black shoes and a beret. My seniors gazed at me without comprehension. Are you French? they wondered. Except for Rashida. Rashida perked up. ”You’re a beatnik!” she said. A+! Well, twenty years later, here’s the latest from Rashida: She’s part of a new fabric company – I know nothing about these fabric and craft things, but despite that, I was still completely taken with this short video describing the beginnings of Cotton + Steel. Anything that’s about vision, creativity, initiative and courage is inspiring, isn’t it?
Math stuff. Continuing to love Beast Academy and everything else from Art of Problem Solving. Seriously – if you have a child who’s struggling a bit with some aspect of Pre-Algebra on up – check out the videos at least. Very good.
This week’s travels, not too far from home:
Special Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. It’s good – we’ve seen some of these models before, in similar exhibits, but this one was quite comprehensive and gave a good sense of the depth and breadth of Leonardo’s interests.
I spent the last two nights staying up way too late binge-watching The Wrong Mans on Hulu Plus (all episodes are up on Plus …they’re being release one a week on regular Hulu.)
At least binge-watching this one was a far less demanding commitment than doing the same with any number of American programs. It’s a 6-episode comedic adventure caper starring James Cordon and our hero from Horrible Histories, Mat Baynton. (My daughter worked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last summer, ran into Baynton on the street on her last day, and probably thoroughly confused him as this excitable American girl told him how her little brothers can sing all the lyrics to “Pachacuti” ) (Next task is find a way to watch Yonderland, the new show from the HH crew.)
I was almost immediately confused by the plot and it certainly had some weak points, but all in all I quite enjoyed it, thanks very much. Laughed out loud a lot at 12:30 AM. Lots of great actors, the usual painful humor of the mild-mannered finding themselves in insane situations and even a bit of not-to-sappy heartwarmth as everyone finds their inner strength, etc. I don’t ‘recommend” it because I don’t “recommend” cultural stuff to other people because inevitably someone gets offended and taps out an outraged/disappointed missive at my poor taste or low standards. Whatevs. I liked it a bunch and will probably rewatch it, so there you have it.
The Wrong Mans, which debuted on BBC2 in September and is now airing on Hulu, is limited in all of the best ways. It consists of only six episodes, each roughly 29 minutes in length. The tone is consistent, the scope is clear, the stakes are big but the landing is pillow-soft. It’s an outrageously stylish comedy of errors in which two small-town nobodies — played by series creators Mathew Baynton (as Sam, the quasi-competent ectomorph) and James Corden (as Phil, the excitable doof) — become embroiled in an increasingly intricate web of kidnapping, violence, and deceit. In the pilot, Sam — after a long night spent emptying bottles and drunk-dialing an ex who also happens to be his boss — witnesses a dramatic car crash. After the smoke is cleared, a cell phone remains. It rings. The voice on the other end demands money and a meeting or someone’s wife will be killed. Sam is horrified. Phil — who lives with his mom, talks like a gangsta, and rolls his own sushi — is exhilarated. Soon, against all better judgment — and against all audience expectation; shows that feature Belle & Sebastian songs in the first act rarely have coke-snorting, chest-licking, pistol-packing Russian gangsters in the third — the two are in it up to their necks and over their heads. Sam gets blood on his wool Paddington jacket. Phil gets body-slammed by a Chinese hostage. Limbs are threatened. Lives are lost. A Jamie Oliver lasagna recipe is irreparably tweaked.
In lesser hands — or after being pawed over by literal-minded, profit-hungry development execs — this sort of cross-genre mash-up would never work. But The Wrong Mans has such a steady focus and particular point of view that it succeeds wildly on two fronts: It’s both my favorite new comedy of the fall and the best action-thriller I’ve seen in ages.
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