First Look at Ruby Rose as Batwoman

The CW released it’s first promo photo for the upcoming series “Batwoman”. The series has Orange is the New Black alumni Ruby Rose playing the titular role as Batwoman, Kat Kane. The new series will be part of The CW’s DC television universe which includes shows like Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. The partnership between DC and CW has been very successful so far because of both parties dedication to using actors, directors, and writers who are long time fans of the comic book characters. Two months ago when Ruby was a guest on The Tonight Show she got emotional when talking about how much it meant to her to play this character, that’s encouraging for several different reasons. What do you think of the new Batwoman?

 Ruby Rose as Kat Kane, Batwoman.

Ruby Rose as Kat Kane, Batwoman.

Posted on October 9, 2018 .

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Halloween is coming up and pumpkins, spiders, and the undead are popping up all over my social media feed - it really is the most wonderful time of the year! And to make the holiday even sweeter, Netflix recently announced a new original series that I can’t wait to binge while downing candy corn and mallow pumpkins: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell.

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Not quite sure what this promo poster is teasing? An offbeat horror series? The Great British Bake Off's goth cousin? Macabre Muppets? How about a little of each. Christine McConnell is a powerhouse of creativity - a skilled photographer, designer, baker, seamstress, and overall gentile badass. Imagine if Tim Burton and Dita Von Teese had a love child and Martha Stewart was the fairy godmother. And speaking of Dita Von Teese, expect her to show up in an episode or two.

McConnell will be creating spooky and spectacular eats and creepy crafts in her Addams Family-esque home for all the “wildly inappropriate creatures” within, namely Henson Alternative (the adult Muppet spinoff) puppets: a werewolf, raccoon, and mummy chihuahua. “This is our home,” Christine states in the trailer, “and it’s a place where the strange and unusual are safe and welcome.” Right on.

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The series premiers October 12 on Netflix, but until then, check out Christine’s Instagram feed and marvel at her truly curious creations or test out one of her recipes to get you in a spooky mood.





Posted on October 7, 2018 .

Space Oddities - September: Oklahoma City

I decided that once a month in 2018, I’m going to take a quick trip to explore/see/do/hear something weird and unusual in the space around me. I’m calling these Space Oddities and this is September…

After making an appointment a few weeks ago to get my next tattoo in Oklahoma City, I decided to make the most of a quick day trip and fit in a few fun stops while I was there. And because September has proven to be a bit busy for me at work, I also decided it would be my monthly Space Oddity (so practical).

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I left super early to make it to OKC in time for an amazing late breakfast at Cafe Kacao, a quietly trendy Guatemalan restaurant in, what I figured out later as I was waiting for my food, a renovated 1980s Wendy’s building. The coffee choices on the menu looked amazing, as did all the breakfast foods (my love language). I ordered what might have been the tastiest breakfast I’ve ever had: Tostones Eggs Benedict with carne asada and spicy Hollandaise. Dang.

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After breakfast, I had just enough time before my tattoo appointment to stop by one of the most colorful spaces I’ve ever seen and loved: Womb Gallery. Well, what used to be the Womb Gallery - I’ve been trying to find out if it’s still open and it appears as if the gallery has closed. That’s not to say it isn’t worth stopping to marvel at its wild exterior, though.

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Womb was a psychedelic arts center co-founded by Flaming Lips front-man Wayne Coyne and the building is drenched in colorful murals and shapes and patterns and if it doesn’t make you smile, you might be dead. I’d been there a few years ago on a day it just wasn’t open and this time around it was permanently closed, so I’m destined to have never seen the inside, but that’s okay. I derived enough happiness just walking around the outside and that’s kinda all I’m looking for in a Space Oddity adventure.

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Compared to my last tattoo appointment (clocking in at over four hours), this time around was pretty quick. I had it done at Black Mint Collective in Oklahoma City and I love how it turned out!  Simple and stylistic and just enough of a Wes Anderson vibe for my taste. Here’s a recap of what each symbol represents: Monstera leaf // Golden Girls -- Apple // The Beatles (Apple Records) -- Record player // Moonrise Kingdom -- Tent // The Royal Tenenbaums -- Keychain // The Shining -- Rug // The Big Lebowski.

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The only thing I didn’t think about ahead of time was having a three-hour drive home with my arm wrapped up in Saran Wrap from wrist to elbow… very limited mobility, so it was an interesting ride home. But I had Harry Potter to keep me company! Always (no pun intended) bring a good audio book on car journeys.







Posted on September 27, 2018 and filed under Space Oddities.

grandson: Hype Music For Your Next Protest

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War. Racism. Gun Violence. Police Brutality. The Drug Epidemic. If you were looking for a record to score the fight at your next family gathering - look no further. No hot topic is left uncovered and they’re all backed by searing guitar riffs, crushing beats, and poignant lyrics. Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together (or cross your arms) for grandson.

grandson is Jordan Edward Benjamin, a Jersey-born-Toronto-raised musician making music tackling the topics you were too afraid to address on social media without fear of being disinvited to Thanksgiving dinner. He’s relatively new on the scene and has recently signed with Fueled by Ramen. If his debut EP is any indication, he is definitely an artist you’ll want to keep on your radar.

A Modern Tragedy - Vol. 1, dropped earlier this year and it is filled from front to back with fist pumping anthems. Blood//Water is the first single from the album and is the perfect example of grandson’s blend of rock, hip hop, blues, and political message. If you’re looking to dip your toes in grandson, start here.

“Thoughts and Prayers” explores the tragedy of gun violence and is accompanied by an even more tragic video that displays a map of the United States lit up by an ever growing number of school shootings. It’s heavy stuff.

If you decide to head further down the grandson rabbit hole you’ll no doubt find more songs to get your head bobbing and, more importantly, get you thinking.

A Modern Tragedy - Vol. 1 can be found on iTunes as well as Google Play and Spotify.

Posted on September 24, 2018 .

Serial: A Return To Form

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After over two years Serial is back and, in one episode, seems better than ever. With a change in formula season three now focuses on "one courthouse week by week" differing from the previous seasons which covered one case week by week. 

The first season which famously covered the murder of Hae Min Lee and the conviction of Adnan Syed was captivating, causing listeners to speculate on whether or not Syed was indeed the killer or just another victim of the murder. The podcast not only made amateur detectives of everyone listening but also promoted a new trial of Adnan set for 2019. It set the standard that so many podcasts strive for when covering true crime.

Unfortunately the second season, for me at least, left a lot to be desired with an in-depth investigation into the Bowe Bergdahl case. Perhaps it was the large scale of the case that was off-putting since the majority of America had dismissed Bergdahl as a soldier who just abandoned his post or maybe it was just too ambitious to cover a case that was already so big. Either way, season two lacked the intrigue found in the first season.  

In the interim, Serial teamed up with This American Life to produce S-Town. A podcast that, though wasn't a trial, grabbed the attention of the listener the same way season one did AND had all episodes streaming from day one. With S-Town's popularity it proved that going into a story blind was far more enjoyable than trying to change the minds that had already been fed with countless hours of coverage on a big news story.

Season three of Serial hits the ground running covering individual felony court cases out of Cleveland, Ohio. Instead of sitting on one case over a season we will be treated to multiple cases over the span of the next few months and I could not be happier.  

Serial: Season Three: Episode One AND Two are available by clicking HERE or going to wherever it is that you get your podcasts! 

ENJOY! 

Posted on September 20, 2018 and filed under Podcasts We Listen To.

Jack Ryan Analysis

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It seems like just yesterday John Krasinski was selling paper and falling in love with the secretary at Dunder-Mifflin. Now he’s Jack Ryan and he can’t seem to keep his shirt on for some reason. I finished watching Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan series last week. I was supposed to immediately follow that up with a review for Reservoir Geeks, but I couldn’t. After watching the new series I felt the need to go back and look in to all the movies that came before it. I’ve always been a fan of the character and I’ve even tried to force myself to read some of Tom Clancy’s dictionary-sized novels. I did not think that I could correctly honor the character of Jack Ryan-CIA Analyst without providing some analysis about the rest of his incarnations.

I started my trip down memory lane by watching the Harrison Ford led Jack Ryan films: Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and of course Air Force One (I’ll fight you if you say that’s not just an unauthorized “Jack Ryan is the president” movie). To this point I believe Ford’s portrayal of Ryan most closely resembles the character in the book. He’s a humble but confident and capable analyst who is tack sharp and regretfully gets sent out into the field. Unfortunately, the stories in both Ford’s films are nothing to rave about. In fact, I just watched both films this weekend and I couldn’t tell you the difference between the two. They are both decent films, but nothing special.

Next I tried to watch The Sum of All Fears. The keyword here is tried. I don’t think that this is a particularly bad film but it’s not particularly good either. There are Nazi’s and Russians, Ben Affleck tries his hardest, Morgan Freeman is there, and so is James Cromwell. I really can’t say much, I kept drifting off while trying to finish it and I eventually gave up. I think this was most of America’s reaction to Ben Affleck’s swing at Ryan. Maybe Ben just isn’t good at portraying “franchise” characters. He always does well when he plays an original character that he can mold but give him a character that’s already developed and he’s just a bucket of yuck. (i.e. Batman, Jack Ryan, Daredevil)

Did you know Kenneth Branagh tried to reboot the Jack Ryan series in 2014 with Chris Pine as the lead? I did, I think…. but I also didn’t….did I?. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was one of those films that looks like it could have been a big blockbuster with Kevin Costner, Chris Pine, and Keira Knightley. However, Shadow Recruit was given ho-hum reviews by film critics and fans alike. Fans of the books said Branagh tried to make the Jack Ryan character into too much of an action star. They may have a point, the poster is Chris Pine walking away from an explosion with a gun in his hand. I don’t know if that screams analyst.

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I saved what I knew to be the best film, for last. The Hunt for Red October is both the first Jack Ryan book and his first film. If you can manage to suspend disbelief for 2 hours while listening to a supposed Russian submarine Captain with a thick Scottish accent (it’s ok because it’s Sean Connery and he’s awesome) then this is THE Jack Ryan film to watch. The story is exciting, filled with twists and action. Some of my favorite character actors Sam Neill and Tim Curry have absolutely pivotal roles. Sean Connery plays a Russian Captain with map of the sea in his broken heart. He just wants to leave the memories of his dead wife behind him so he defects to the U.S. There’s good character development and subtle backstory for almost every character that needs it. This is also a master class of pacing, it does not feel like a 2hr 15min movie. There’s only one real problem I have with this film and I feel like I might need to ask for forgiveness for this one. I can’t stand Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan. I don’t remember feeling this way the first time I watched the movie way back when but I really find him to be just the most obnoxious person in the room at all times. He seems smarmy. At one point I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when he’s crawling through the submarine talking to himself like he’s John McClane , which makes sense being that Die Hard and Hunt shared the same director. But Alec Baldwin is not Bruce Willis and Jack Ryan is not John McClane. Alas, if that’s the worst thing about this film then it’s really not all that bad though, is it?

With all that out of the way now I feel as if I can give you my opinion of this new Amazon Prime series Jack Ryan. Unfortunately, my aversion to posters showing CIA analysts walking about from explosions with a gun in their hand is triggered right off the bat with this version, but it doesn’t matter.

It’s good.

I mean it, it’s not just good compared to the other versions. It’s just good, it might even be great. The story is exciting, all the cast seem to be made for their parts. John Krasinski is surprisingly (to me, at least) perfect as the titular character. He’s smart, confident but not cocky, and definitely burdened with the cost of not making the right decisions. The is the perfect Jack Ryan. The character adapts to television like it was meant to be there from the beginning. Giving Ryan hours to develop his theories and plot his plan to fight the enemy is the perfect way to accurately portray his character. The first series is built on gradual moments of clarity for Ryan in which you can watch him take in all the information that is happening and then think (or talk) through the situation to get the solution to the problems that lay in front of him. Maybe the best example of this is (Spoilers! But not really Spoilers! I’ll say Spoilers over when I’m done) his time spent interrogating a couple of men in an American Military camp. While one prisoner is literally being tortured Ryan decided to share a meal with the other to get information from him. (Spoilers over! sorry?). Amazon’s analysts told them to renew this show for a second season before the show had even streamed the first season and they were right. I give Hunt for Red October a pass on the Scottish Russian captain because the story was great and Sean F’n Connery. I also give Jack Ryan a pass on the gun-toting, explosion-walking CIA analyst poster because of a great story and John F’n Krasinski.

Watch it.

Make & Bake

One of the only genres of reality TV that I can get behind is the creative competition show. You know… Project Runway, Forged in Fire, RuPaul’s Drag Race, etc. While I try to tune out any drama that may arise (it is reality TV, after all), I’m so in awe of watching talented individuals create something, anything, under time, budget, or competitive constraints. Heck, throw away all the constraints and I'd just watch creative process videos for days.

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One of my favorite shows in this genre is The Great British Baking Show and a new (slightly different) season just dropped on Netflix. I also just finished checking out NBC’s new Making It, which feels like a distant, crafty relative of all the British bakers I love, so I thought I’d give a rundown of each show. Not that it’s a competition.

Hosts

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GBBS: This season, both Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who have hosted the series from the beginning, were replaced. Bummer. But not a total bummer because the new hosts are the wonderfully wacky Noel Fielding and the surprisingly emotional Sandi Toksvig. Their silliness is kept to a demure and distinctly British level and they really feel like a support system and friendly face for the contestants.

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Making It: Aside from being crafty, the main reason I wanted to watch Making It was for the hosts. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman walk the contestants through each week’s challenges and it’s obvious the two are good friends in real life. In this situation, Nick is the arts & crafts aficionado and Amy is the not-creatively-inclined-but-arts-appreciative sidekick. I was a little off-put by how over-the-top the side segments were, though. There was no subtlety to their gags and puns and it felt like it was taking time away from the main focus of the show.

Judges

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GBBS: The newest season of The Great British Baking Show sees Paul Hollywood back, but not veteran Mary Berry. I was a bit worried about the new hosting dynamics, but I actually really enjoyed Berry's colorful replacement, Prue Leith. Both Hollywood and Leith gave honest and humble praise when earned and constructive and helpful criticism when necessary. With the exception of the technical challenges, the judges roam the room, observe the contestants, and ask insightful questions to make the most informed decisions in the final judging. And more than any other season, I believe, contestants emotionally accept the coveted Paul Hollywood Handshake.

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aking It: The judges for Making It are Dayna Isom Johnson and Simon Doonan. Both have legitimate crafting cred: Johnson is Etsy’s Trend Expert and Doonan is a Barneys NY Creative Ambassador. Unlike GBBS, the judges for Making It appear only after the first challenge and then interact with the contestants for the second challenge before revealing the winner for the week. Like GBBS, they offered thoughtful criticisms and praise, but the interactions felt a bit bland. I didn’t ever really feel like they were totally wowed, except maybe on the last episode.

Facilities

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GBBS: All the baking goes down in a tent on the grounds of an English estate. While picturesque, the outside weather often affects the outcomes of the bakes: chocolate melts, custard oozes, and bakers drip.

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Making It: Contestants craft in a chic, modern barn in the woods. While most stayed inside to complete their challenges, a few contestants popped outside to work in a bigger space or make use of the power tools.

Challenges

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GBBS: The Great British Baking Show consists of three challenges: a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a show-stopper. Contestants are able to plan and practice for the signature bakes and show-stoppers, but the technical challenge is like a pop quiz on a subject of which you have no knowledge. It’s intense.

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Making It: Making It features two challenges: a faster craft and a master craft. The faster craft is done in just a few short hours and the master craft in, what seems like, a day. While GBBS contestants must rely solely on their own knowledge and skills, there are assistants helping the makers construct and assemble their master craft projects.

Prizes

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GBBS: Each episode, a Star Baker is chosen and, in the end, the winner is given a crystal cake stand trophy. And maybe some flowers.

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Making It: Each of the two challenges per episode has a winner, who receives a patch. In the end, $100,000 is awarded to the winning Master Crafter, though the hosts are quick to emphasize that it’s not about the money… it’s about a job done well.

They’re pretty similar, right? In structure, anyway. Amy even references the GBBS at one point in Making It. I had high hopes for Making It as a craft enthusiast myself, but, if it wasn’t obvious, my love runs deep for the British. To me, the camaraderie and relationships among the bakers is, no pun intended, more sweet than that of the makers. The series also really showcases the nuances of baking and it bothered me how little Making It actually showed of, well, making stuff. It felt very rushed and like so much more was being crafted behind-the-scenes. I was very pleased with the winner of Making It this season and would watch again if they come back with more, but I’d probably tune in after my GBBS fix.

Posted on September 9, 2018 and filed under TV Reviews.

So, I had a Colonoscopy!

This all started about a month ago. I went for a regularly schedule blood donation. Part of the donation process is they check your hematocrit level. Basically, they see if you have enough red blood cells per volume of blood. I failed my screening. The tech doing the test didn't seem concerned so I figured nothing to worry about. She said come back in a couple days and it should have come back up. Two days later, I started my day with a big breakfast and went to donate. I failed my blood test again. This time it was lower. This time she seemed concerned. On the way home I called my doctor and he had me come in for some tests and an exam. He did a physical, took some blood and took an oral history. Well, part of my history is I have been dealing with IBS-D for over a year now. Its been going on so long and I otherwise felt healthy so I just started living with it. My Doctor however thought that is a big red flag and should have come in much, much sooner. I'm sure he is right, but by this point, it was easy to deal with. Even before he had the results of the blood work back, he suggested I see a Gastroenterologist and start taking iron supplements to get my levels back up. There was a concern I had a bleed in my stomach or colon. I took the list of recommended doctors and picked a close one with good reviews. 

At the GI Doc, he reviewed the blood work and took another oral history. Thankfully, my hematocrit had come back up and everything else looked normal on the blood screening so that was a great sign. During my conversation with the Doctor, I mentioned I am a frequent blood donor. I go every 8 weeks like clockwork. Donating blood is easy, painless and is something you can do to help the community as a whole. Well, turns out, even donating at a safe interval, it can cause you to become anemic. Basically, you deplete your iron faster than you can build it back up and at some point, there isn't enough to make new blood so your red count goes down. Looks like I am a victim of doing too much of a good thing.

But...I still have IBS-D. Its still something that needs to be dealt with. The Doctor suggested we do an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy and Colonoscopy. Big words sound scary, but in reality, its just  putting a camera in both ends to take a look at the plumbing.

I know more than a few people that have had such a procedure and knew the part to fear is the prep, not the actual exam. Think about it, if they are going in to look at the plumbing, you need the pipes to be as clear as possible. That means flushing your entire GI tract. I am here to walk you though that process, let you know what to expect and give a few tips to make the process easier. 

A key part of that flush is you need to be on a liquid diet for 24 hours prior to the procedure. This is the part I was fearing the most. I absolutely hate feeling hungry. I am always thinking 2 meals ahead. I was sure this would be the worst part... I was wrong...

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This is a 3 step process.

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Step 1: The directions given say the day before the procedure, have a liquid breakfast, followed by a full bottle of magnesium citrate. So, I made a cup of beef broth and sipped it while staring down that clear bottle of Drano for humans. What magnesium citrate is is magnesium salts flavored with artificial lemon flavor. Think salty Lemon Pledge. My poor stomach did not like this stuff one bit. I tried to lay on the couch and watch some TV, but the churning going on within was like a tempest looking for an escape. The bottle says expect a movement in 30 minutes to 6 hours. Like clockwork, at the 30 minute mark, the event had officially begun. Im going to save you the horror of the play-by-play, but I will give you some tips. Get the best toilet paper money can buy. Spare no expense. Wet wipes. Get them. The medicated kind. Go ahead and get yourself a tube of diaper cream. I didn't do this, but knew I should. I was tempted to venture out and get some, but the thought of being away from my sacred bathroom sent chills down my spine. Now, this is the biggest, #1 tip I can give you. If you take one thing away from this it needs to be this. Do not, and I mean do NOT, eat spicy food for upwards of a week before the flush. That's all I will say about that. You are all smart enough to know why this is good advice.

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Step 2: At lunch I am to mix a full 238 gram bottle of Miralax with a half gallon of the clear beverage of my choice. I chose lemon-aid Crystal Light. I have had Miralax before, its not bad plain, but a half gallon of it is no joke. You will need to flavor it, chill it and drink it over ice. Oh, and you have to drink it all in the span of 2 hours. At this stage in the game, you might as well bring that laptop to the bathroom and pull up Netflix. You aren't going anywhere for quite awhile. You may think this is enough fluid, but its not. You need to be drinking water or something clear constantly. Both products so far work by pulling tons of fluid into your colon. You will start to feel dehydrated. 

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Step 3: 2 Ducolax tablets at 8:00pm. By this point I am hangry, cold and feel absolutely hollow inside. This phase feels like insult to injury. Seems sadistic to do this to someone with nothing left inside. But, oh no! You are not empty. Those 2 little pills somehow shake loose any remaining anything left on your gut. Its ruthless. The directions say no fluids at all after midnight so I attempt to go to bed at 11:30 or so. 

Sleep is an elusive vixen. I think I had about an hour of actual sleep before my 5am wakeup call. 

The procedure: I arrived at the GI center and signed in, filled out the appropriate paperwork and waited my turn. The pre-procedure stuff if standard. They take my vitals and ask the standard questions then lead me to a gurney where I put on the ever so stylish gown and start the waiting game. Soon, my nurse anesthetist came in and introduced herself and gave me some Versed to calm my nerves. It put me in a happy place. Once in the procedure room, I was given the sedation which was a cocktail of Propofol and fentanyl. Then, I woke up! I remember absolutely nothing. No pain, no discomfort whatsoever. Next thing I know I am in recovery and my nurse is taking my drink order. That was the best damn diet coke and stale saltines I have ever had. After about 30 minutes, my Doctor comes in, talks to me about what he saw and found and I was sent on my way. Thankfully, other that some gastritis, everything looked good. While that is a relief, I would still like to know what caused my IBS-D. I say caused because for whatever reason, I haven't had any issues at all since the procedure. Its like they reset the computer, or in this case, pooter!! Sorry, potty humor is never not funny.

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All in all, parts of this process weren't near as bad as I thought they would be and parts were way worse. I don't want to scare you off from getting this done if your Doctor recommends it. Colon cancer is a silent killer. You can have a terminal case before you have any symptoms at all. I just want all to know what really to expect. In real terms. Its rough, but necessary. Listen to your body, if you think somethings wrong, go see a Doctor. If they want to do some tests, even a colonoscopy, do it.  

 

Posted on September 7, 2018 and filed under Friendly Advice.

RG Restaurant Review: Farmbyrd

Have you ever loved a restaurant so much after your first time there that you went back again the very next day? That's exactly what I did after my first visit to Farmbyrd, the great "Rotisserie and Fry" restaurant in Plano.

Posted on September 6, 2018 .

Henry Cavill Nabs New Netflix Series

Netflix announced this morning that Henry Cavill has signed on to play Geralt of Rivia in it's new series based on the popular fantasy book and video games series, "The Witcher".  The series of fantasy books was originally written by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski and was subsequently adapted to a popular and critically lauded  series of video games starting in 2007. 

There have been rumors of a film going back as far as 2012 but this incarnation is set to be a whole series for Netflix. Lauren Schmidt Hissrich  known for Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s The Defenders, Umbrella Academy is set as the writer, EP, and showrunner. Hissrich announced Cavill officially joining the project via twitter “He was my first meeting...I didn’t have writers or scripts yet – just a greenlight and a lot of passion. That was four months ago, and I’ve never forgotten the passion he brought. He IS Geralt. He always has been. I’m so thrilled to welcome HENRY CAVILL to the Witcher family.”

Cavill is undoubtedly most well-known for his most recent stint as Clark Kent/Superman in the new DC Universe films and also his mustache did great work in the newest Mission: Impossible. It should be noted that this isn't his first foray into the world of television. Cavill spent 4 seasons working on the critically acclaimed Showtime drama, "The Tudors".

Is there anyone you would rather see Geralt than Cavill? Put your hands together for good casting.

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