Kareem's Weekend Boost (Jan. 7-9)
What to Watch, Read, or Listen to This Weekend
Welcome to my first Boost of the new year. Some people may wonder why I do this weekly frivolous feature alongside my more in-depth articles about intense social and political issues. The short answer: because it’s fun. I enjoy sharing with you the pop culture that brings me pleasure. Instead of pontificating about some complex social problem with dire consequences, I get to feel like we’re just sitting around a table sharing stuff we like.
So, here’s this week’s stuff that I like.
The King’s Man
There is a moment during this action-thriller that took me by such surprise that I actually gasped aloud. That rarely happens, so my compliments to the movie chefs who cooked this prequel up. Like the first two Kingsman movies, this one is a pure delight of outrageous, over-the-top spy storytelling, complete with cool gadgets, romance, and stylized violence. The King’s Man takes us back to World War I and the start of the super-secret spy agency at the ever-so-British hands of the Ralph Fiennes. It’s pure entertainment, especially the scenes with a Joker-like Rasputin.
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Love and Hate in Another Time by Gabriels
Jacob Lusk, the feature singer for Gabriels, is a former American Idol contestant. It’s clear how confining that show was in displaying the full range of his enormous talent. This album has such a rich texture that listening to it envelops you completely. You can feel yourself floating on Lusk’s melodious voice as you’re swept along an emotional lazy river.
Here’s what the group has to say about their album: “Love and Hate in a Different Time is about how we appear to be losing the ability to peacefully be together in a space and express ourselves. Together. We have always endured agendas of hate, hardship and war but we have in someway always found a way to be together and put aside our differences. However in recent times with the development of the technology/disinformation it appears this is tested.”
I love the message, but love the messengers even more.
Get album here.
The Witcher (Netflix)
I wasn’t expecting much from this sword-and-sorcery series starring Henry Cavill (who plays Superman in the recent DC films) when it first appeared last year. You know: elves and trolls and dragons, oh my. But this series turned out to be a lot of fun, thanks to the sly humor and Cavill’s gruff-but-tender warrior.
The plot in the fantasy genre is usually about everyone hunting for “The One,” the only person who can unlock the magic that will cure the world of all its ailments—and monsters. The first season avoids this by using three different timelines and protagonists. Confusing at first, but eventually very rewarding. The second season embraces “The One” idea, but with lots of monsters, magic, and sword fighting to make you forget that minor issue. Very addicting.
Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood
You can feel Rex Stout’s DNA in the genome of this hardboiled detective novel set in 1945 in New York City. Instead of intrepid, wisecracking P.I. Archie Goodwin doing legwork for the brilliant but reclusive Nero Wolfe, we have intrepid, wisecracking P.I. Willowjean “Will” Parker doing legwork for the brilliant and reclusive Lillian Penecost. The story features murder, of course, but also a potpourri of seances, romance, tough cops, slippery suspects, and LBGTQ issues of the time. All of that is wonderfully entertaining.
But the real pleasure is Willowjean’s snappy first-person narration as she transitions from circus roustabout to slick private detective. She’s funny, bold, relentless, and fiercely loyal to her enigmatic and brainy boss. I’ve already purchased the sequel, Murder Under Her Skin.
Get book here.
READ (graphic novel)
Batman: The World
This compelling anthology features writers and artists from around the world as they reimagine Batman visiting their countries and the adjustments he and the locals must make in each location. It’s a clever idea and it’s rewarding to experience so many different writing and artistic interpretations of Batman. The first story is written by Brian Azzarello, one of my favorite writers, and that art by Lee Bermejo is so stunning that you want to hang pages on your wall.
Get book here.