Jon Stewart; or why I will be crying my eyes out later tonight

Tonight at 11pm, the final episode of Jon Stewart’s 16 year run as the host of The Daily Show will air.

I remember when Jon took over as host of The Daily Show. Back then, during Craig Kilborn’s short run, it was more childish and immature and it appealed to high school me. I used to watch it every night while chatting on AOL Instant Messenger with my friends. Then Jon Stewart took over and while the silly jokes were still there, it was clear the brains behind the gags were not just going for the easy punchline. I suddenly found myself learning about the world, about politics, in a way I had never been engaged before.

I watched Daily Show all through college and for a good while after that. I attended the Rally for Sanity in Washington D.C., one of the craziest events I have ever been to. Jon and the crew were the voice of reason, or at least they admitted how ridiculous politics can be, and will always be. Instead of thinking “am I the only one who sees this?”, Stewart reassured me that, no, I was not crazy, the world was crazy.

Like Joss Whedon’s shows, Jon Stewart and The Daily Show made me feel less alone in this crazy world. They reminded me that other people, a LOT of other people, laugh at the same jokes as me and have the same serious concerns about our world. It was comforting.

I know when I watch that final episode I will cry. Not just because it is goodbye, but because I won’t know where to go to find that comfort anymore. Yes, there are little niches and nooks on the internet that probably provide similar satire, I can watch John Oliver’s segments on YouTube, but a mainstream, popular source of levity on a daily basis won’t be readily available to me.

And maybe I will be surprised again by Trevor Noah and the new team taking over.

But right now I am very scared, as I see the new presidential candidates lining up, as I see that FOX NEWS is still a thing, as I see ignorant comments online about all of the things happening in the world…and I realize that after tonight, Jon Stewart won’t be there to react to it, to tell me that my frustrations are well founded, that I am not the only one staring at the screen and wondering WTF is going on.

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in praise of Hannibal (why are you not watching the best show on TV?)

Hannibal Season 3 is a prime example of how much better a television or movie series based on books can be if all of the source material is out in advance. Watching this season, as the writers fold in the 31-year old story of Red Dragon and knead it into their current narrative, into our current world…there are only a few more episodes before it is all done, but even after the show ends, there will still be this delicious dish left over for others to savor.

Going to ramble a bit about the show vs the book so spoilers here and there for both of them. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

I just read Red Dragon a few months ago and I thought it had stood up pretty well, but, of course, Will and Hannibal’s relationship is nothing like the show. When Harris wrote the novel, he had no idea what Hannibal would become. Bryan Fuller ans his team managed to craft a prequel to the story over the past two years, lifting elements from other books in the series and they have made the characters and story richer for it. The connection between Hannibal and Will is even stronger, even creepier.

With the addition of Alana Bloom and her relationship with these two men, the story gets an extra layer. Watching her “wag her finger” at Hannibal in last night’s episode made me worried about where her path would ultimately lead. She knows Hannibal will kill her. I feel like she is resigned to that fate, but she will do everything in her power to keep him locked up for as long as she can. I’m concerned she won’t survive this season, that maybe instead of sending the Red Dragon after Will, Hannibal will send him after Alana and her new family. Though I suppose that wouldn’t really count as him killing her, which was his promise. He is very particular about language and meaning, that Hannibal.

The scene between Will and Hannibal was so fantastic. The language was magnificent, as Hannibal proclaimed that he had created a family for Will already and how betrayed he felt, not because Will took the stand against him in court (though his comment about the cologne shows it did bother him a little), but that Will has moved on and created a strong bond with another person, a person who makes him better, not worse. Hannibal doesn’t like it.

And, of course, Jack and Hannibal. Trying to play each other. Was Hannibal really surprised that Jack read his note? He must have known that would happen and as soon as Will revealed that he had read it, Hannibal knew Jack had too, that he had manipulated Will and also Hannibal. Or had Hannibal manipulated Jack? I think they are believe they are playing each other and are aware that the other is playing them.

I love how Hannibal’s cell shifts between reality and the mind palace he has created for himself. That one moment Will is beyond the glass and the next they are in Hannibal’s office. And the flashbacks to Hannibal’s secret life with Abigail…his comment to Will about the “ready made family” with Molly, how her already having a son meant that he didn’t have to worry about passing on the traits he didn’t like about himself…and then telling Will that he gave him a daughter once. But for Hannibal, Abigail was the daughter with the traits he wanted, someone willing to hunt with him and for him. Something a biological child could not guarantee him either.

Then we have Richard Armitage lurking around as The Tooth Fairy The Great Red Dragon, with only moments of actual dialogue but mostly it’s about flexing and twitching and screaming into the sky. Yet he is still amazing and captivating. The way he curls his back and his hands, the agony of transforming. It took me a moment to realize that so much of the book we are IN Dolarhyde’s mind, HE hears the voices but in reality no one else would, so those moments of him freaking out, growling, smacking himself, there is a voice he hears that we do not. We are the sane ones watching him, NOT hearing the voice of the monsters in his head. It makes it even more terrifying because as an audience we can’t even pretend to understand.

JIMMY! BRIAN! FREDDIE! The old gang is coming back together and they are just as amusing as they were before. Especially Jimmy’s line about being overly fond of cats (which later made me think of Beverly and how we all cried for her even though Hannibal had slaughtered so many before her…anyway, we are all overly fond of cats/Katz).

In conclusion: THIS SHOW! and I WANT MY SILENCE OF THE LAMBS FINALE!

books read in July

Hm…not as many as I thought…you know why? Because I signed up to be a moderator at a book conference in October, got the list, checked out all those books…and then immediately set out at finding other books to read instead. Because that is what happens when I get any kind of assigned reading, even when I assign it to myself!

ANYWAY, it’s a short list. I’m including a couple picture books because why not?

Wolfie the BunnyWolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun, fantastic book about family, specifically dealing with siblings. Because when your parents bring home a little brother, you assume he is another species. Great for a school visit.

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I Am Princess XI Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea what this book was about and it was a pleasant surprise the whole way through! Very quick read, just enough suspense to keep you reading one more chapter and I love the Princess X comic! Highly recommend it!

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern GeekPopular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. Really cute book, perfect for geeky teens who want reassurance that popularity is more about point of view. I don’t think this was works as well for an adult read, but I think middle schoolers (Maya is in 8th grade when she write this) will identify with Maya and her classmates and her grand experiment.

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Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book gets an extra star for being such a surprise! I’ve read plenty of books by comedians and usually they end up either being transcripts of their stand up acts or a strange mix of memoir and gag chapters. Aziz Ansari was smart. Instead of just signing a book deal and taking the easy way out of copy+pasting his jokes, he instead decided to use this time to dig deeper into something that has inspired much of his observational humor – dating and relationships in the modern, mobile phone world. He teamed up with a sociologist, did his homework, and created a fascinating book about the pros and cons of dating in 2015, about how much has changed in the world of relationships and how things have stayed the same. A really fun read!

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The Princess and the PonyThe Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is going on the school visit list for sure! I love Kate Beaton’s adult comics and she managed to write a children’s book that is just as much fun. LOVE IT!

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