Stuff I Liked in 2016, pt. 4 – TV

Watching TV is hard. I swear that once I used to just turn on a box, but now I have to navigate dozens of platforms across multiple devices to sit through hundreds of old episodes of 17 seasons of a show to understand what’s happening in the one on Sunday so I can decide that I don’t like it. These 10 shows were worth all that.

BasketsBaskets (FX)
Most comedies have lazed out of being funny, original, and sincere and just go for two out of three. Baskets hits the trifecta. Everyone rightly talks about Zach Galifianakis’s and Louie Anderson’s performances, but its Martha Kelly’s deadpan guilelessness that holds the show together.

Beyond the WallsBeyond the Walls (Shudder)
A French miniseries about a woman who inexplicably inherits a Parisian townhouse and then disappears into it. I was lucky enough to watch Beyond the Walls in a theater, and the world of the house expanded to envelop the room. Turn off the lights and turn on your big-screen TV and you’ll come close enough.

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Stuff I Liked in 2016, pt. 3 – Movies

2016 stands out for the potentially great movies I haven’t seen. For the first time in years, I can compile a list of films that I regret not having the $15 for admission more than I regret spending that $15 on Crunchwrap Supremes. 1Including Arrival, Moonlight, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Bad Batch, Silence, A Monster Calls, American Honey, and Hacksaw Ridge. Meanwhile, my own favorites were seen by far too few people who aren’t me. Here are ten of them:

Doctor Strange10. Doctor Strange
A dinky script and a performance by Benedict Cumberbatch so hammy that they have to stop the movie every 30 minutes to add a coat of glaze can’t blot out IMAX 3D visuals that made me feel like what I imagine audiences in 1968 felt when first seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Witch9. The Witch
This exceptionally creepy and gorgeous psychological horror about isolated Puritans besieged in the woods : M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village :: Alien Howard the Duck

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1. Including Arrival, Moonlight, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Bad Batch, Silence, A Monster Calls, American Honey, and Hacksaw Ridge.

Stuff I Liked in 2016, pt. 1 – Books

According to my Goodreads page, I finished 30 books in 2016, which proves that even in today’s era of bite-size, high speed information intake, I still love nothing more than telling people how many books I’ve read. Here are the top five (from any year).

Watership Down by Richard AdamsWatership Down
by Richard Adams
I’ve always said that Watership Down is one of my favorite novels, but it’s been so many years since I first read it that I worried going back to it I’d find it hadn’t kept up with me. It has. This is a true all-ages book.

I realize now that as a child one reason Watership Down was so important to me is that it guided me into grown-up ideas–most notably that life involves shocking change and loss and requires bravery to face them–but at age 41, if I were reading it without preconceptions, I can’t imagine I’d label it a children’s story. That’s because its themes have only become more essential to me as I’ve aged. I’m able to more deeply plumb them, and Adams’s book matured with me to help me examine how bravery intertwines with the concepts that are most important to me now: compassion, responsibility, modeling behavior. Being a grown-up.

That aside, Watership Down is epic fantasy the way it should be written, with a rich world, thrilling set pieces, and memorable characters (Hazel is still one of my favorite heroes in all of literature). As a writer, I envy Adams’s acute originality in conceiving a rabbit adventure within the bounds of scientific reality and the rigor he employed to pull it of. As a guy who wishes he had a metal band, I would definitely name it Hazel-Rah.

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From the Archives: My Interview With Donora, PA’s Greatest Partridge Family Tribute Band

While digging through my storage space recently, I yanked some particularly Goodwillable sweaters out of an old trunk and underneath found a stained manila folder. Inside was something I thought I’d lost — the only known extant photocopy of my music newsletter from many, many years ago, “The Bird Stump.” It contains the final interview with one-man Partridge Family tribute band, In a Pear Tree. I’ve scanned in all four pages, below.

The Bird Stump by Seth Madej, pg. 1

I Wrote a New Pilot About Baseball. Someone Should Read It.

This weekend I finished a new half-hour pilot script. It’s titled The Perfect Game, and it’s about a hipster artisanal baseball team that goes pro. They’re called the Portland Zeitgeist. I love it. It’s my ninth pilot.

Yes, nine pilots. Seven of which I wrote since I moved to LA and which, when added to two specs and a screenplay, means I’ve written 10 scripts in six years. 1Plus work for MADPuppet Nation, BBC America, etc. Along with creating and producing a full episode of a radio comedy that the Los Angeles Times loved, starring one of Hollywood’s most talented actors who also happens to co-star on one of TV’s most successful shows.

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1. Plus work for MADPuppet Nation, BBC America, etc.

Stuff I Liked in 2015, pt. 5 – Twitter

I regularly curse Twitter for harboring pettiness, selfishness, and casual cruelty, but the truth is that, for every moment of those, there are many more moments when the incessant cleverness of the people I follow keeps me company and pulls me forward when nothing else does. My new year’s gift to you is 25 of those moments.

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