Wednesday, October 10, 2018

YouTube TV

© by Gerald So | 5:30 AM

With a ten-year-old Samsung TV giving up the ghost, a 32-inch Toshiba TV of forgotten age, and fed up with our rising cable TV bill, my family switched to an Internet-only plan last month after buying TCL 55-inch 4K UHD HDR Roku smart TVs for $400 at Costco.

With YouTube TV for $40 a month, we get almost all the local broadcast channels, more cable channels than with our last package, more sports channels than ever before, and DVR-like features to save unlimited programs for nine months.

Our monthly bill dropped from $177 for TV and 100 Mb/s Internet to $115 for 100 Mb/s Internet and YouTube TV.

Netflix Spenser Movie Wonderland Filming

© by Gerald So | 5:00 AM

Netflix's adaptation of Robert B. Parker's Wonderland, Ace Atkins' second Spenser continuation novel, is now filming in Boston. To recap, Peter Berg is directing Mark Wahlberg as Spenser with a script by Sean O'Keefe.

As reported in Variety October 2nd and 8th respectively, joining Wahlberg are Black Panther's Winston Duke as Hawk, Alan Arkin as Henry Cimoli, and in unrevealed roles, Bokeem Woodbine, James DuMont, Iliza Schlesinger, Hope Olaide Wilson, and Post Malone.

Wonderland's IMDb page has also filled out with the crew, such as music composer Steve Jablonsky. The premise still sees Spenser as an ex-con sucked back into Boston's underbelly as he investigates a sensational murder and the conspiracy behind it.

Putting aside the apparent change in Spenser's character, the inclusion of Spenser's boxing trainer Henry Cimoli gives me confidence the inciting incident of Ace's novel will be preserved: Henry is roughed up by thugs linked to a development scheme forcing tenants out of a Revere Beach condominium.

Ace also shared some set photos on his Facebook page, and I have to say Spenser's close-cropped hair, suit, and coffee are right from the books.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Robert B. Parker's Birthday

© by Gerald So | 8:00 AM

One of my favorite authors, Robert B. Parker was born on this day in 1932. In April 2007, critic David J. Montgomery of Mystery Ink Online awarded Parker the Gumshoe for Lifetime Achievement and asked me to write a tribute. The Mystery Ink site has gone dark, but I still have the tribute in my files and want to share it in memory of Parker, who died January 18, 2010:

Not until the summer of my first year in college did I realize how much reading it would take to be a writer. I picked up The Godwulf Manuscript because I recalled TV's Spenser: For Hire was "based on characters created by Robert B. Parker." I was most interested in reading about Hawk, the amoral enforcer vividly portrayed by Avery Brooks, but by the end of the novel I didn't mind that he hadn't appeared at all. By the end of that summer, I had read the first eighteen Spenser novels at the pace of three-a-week.

Parker showed me that a single character could be a thinker, a fighter, a lover, a gourmet cook, and seem no less real. He showed me that the same few words could convey humor, suspense, and literary significance.

Born September 17, 1932 and raised in Massachusetts, Robert Brown Parker attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine where he began dating his future wife Joan Hall. Parker served with the U.S. Army in Korea from 1954-56 and worked in tech writing and advertising before completing his Ph.D. in 1970. His dissertation traced the classic hero from the Western frontier to the urban landscapes of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald.

Spenser debuted in 1973 as a tribute to Chandler's Philip Marlowe, but unlike the solitary brooding Marlowe, Spenser is basically content, with a circle of friends that widens as the series goes on. While these friends (most notably Dr. Susan Silverman and Hawk) keep Spenser grounded, they also increase the relevance of Parker's work. He can tell a tight hardboiled tale and do a little social commentary on the side.

In the late 1980s, at the height of Spenser's popularity, Parker was hired by the Chandler estate to complete the last Marlowe novel, Poodle Springs, and to write a sequel to The Big Sleep, Perchance to Dream. Within the past decade, Parker has introduced series protagonists Paradise Massachusetts police chief Jesse Stone (Night Passage) and female P.I. Sunny Randall (Family Honor). He has also written a handful of Westerns, screenplays, and out this month, the teen novel EDENVILLE OWLS.

Parker makes no secret that his surge in productivity was motivated by money. Some criticize his businesslike attitude, but the same attitude established him as a reliable favorite, and there's no denying his particular gifts—thoughtful characters, efficient prose, and appealing voice—remain intact.