4 Shows to Fill the Game of Thrones Void

Shows that will help get you through the long and dark Game of Thrones hiatus.

If you’re like me, you’re suffering from a sever case of the post-season finale blues after Game of Thrones seventh season ended last week. Include the fact that the new season probably won’t come out until 2019 (18 months!), and you’re down right depressed.

You need a show (or shows) to fill the giant void that Game of Thrones has left in your life. To help, I’ve compiled a list of recommendations for you to help ease your pain, because I’m such a nice guy.

I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid other shows in the fantasy/medieval genre because I think watching a show that just reminds you of Thrones won’t help you get over it.

So here are four shows that you can watch instead.

1. Peaky Blinders

Where to watch: Netflix (seasons 1-3)

This badass show will have you swearing in a terrible English accent for days after binge watching it (for a week after, I said “by order of the Peaky FOOKIN’ Blinders” at least 3,000 times). Starring Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, pretty much every Christopher Nolan movie) as Thomas Shelby, the head of the Shelby family crime organization in Small Heath, England, Peaky Blinders is a lovely gangster series about power, family, and crime that takes place in the era between World War I and World War II. It’s got violence, back-room power-grabbing, and really thick British accents; everything you could ever want in a TV show. Its funky, bluesy soundtrack also gives it a raw, modern energy few period shows have.

It starts off with a London lawman (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park) being sent into Small Heath to bring down the Shelby’s. Meanwhile, Thomas maneuvers family business to takeover even more territory and consolidate their power. Naturally, things get ugly. Its brutal, dirty, and visceral. It’s bloody fantastic.

A great thing Blinders does is keep itself feeling fresh by adding new characters and incredible actors to the cast each season. Additions like, Tom Hardy, Paddy Considine, and (for the upcoming fourth season) Adrien Brody, make each season feel new and original. Now’s a great time to binge watch Blinders as the new season should return before 2017 is out.

2. Preacher

Where to watch: Hulu (season 1)

Preacher is such an amazingly weird show that it’s difficult to describe. Basically, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) is a preacher in a small town in Texas with a troubled past (used to be an hit man or assassin or something) and a dwindling faith. One day an unknown force gives him the power to command anyone to do his bidding with his word. His ex-girlfriend, Tulip (Ruth Negga), shows up to bring him back to the life of crime and killing he left behind. Also, there’s Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) who is a vampire and becomes Jesse’s best (and only) friend.

I left a lot out (like the angels trying to reclaim the force back from Jesse, or the saint of killers), but I could write probably 5,000 words about it and I don’t think anyone wants to read that.

It borrows and is influenced a lot by classic western movies and shows, while also carving itself into something wholly original. Preacher is profoundly strange, gruesome, and darkly hilarious. I love it. (And that’s just the first season; the second has been even better so far)

3. Rick and Morty

Where to watch (Hulu, seasons 1-2)

If you don’t love this show I have no respect for you.

4. American Gods

Where to watch (STARZ app, Amazon Prime with STARZ subscription, season 1)

If there is one show on television right now with the potential to inherit the Game of Thrones audience and its place in pop culture, it is American Gods. A show with an outlandish premise — gods are alive and live among us — which remains grounded with gritty realism and violence and sex.

Like Thrones, Gods is based on a best-selling book from over a decade ago. Written by Neil Gaiman (who also is an executive producer of the series), Gods follows Shadow Moon, a recently released convict who falls into work with a man while flying home, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). Wednesday hires him and exposes him to a world where gods, the old and the new, mingle among mortals.

Its one of the most visually rich television shows I’ve ever seen. Gods checks all the same boxes that made Thrones such a massive hit. Gratuitous violence? Check. Unabashed nudity and sex? Check. Impressive production values? Check. Compelling characters and confounding storylines? Check and check. Plus, there are so many scenes where afterwards you just go “wow”. (I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a scene where a guy gets kicked in the balls SO HARD he splits in half and his spine goes flying.) (It’s awesome.)

I love the cast almost as much as the show. Ian McShane (Deadwood, John Wick), my pick for the best actor alive today, as the devilishly charming conman Mr. Wednesday? Oh hell yes. Peter Stormare (Fargo, 22 Jump Street) as a psychotic Polish god who bashes people’s brains in with a giant hammer? Yes please. Crispin Glover (Back to the Future, Charlie’s Angels) as Mr. World, the main antagonist who is just creepy as hell? Checks out.

Words fail to describe how absurdly bizarre and great this show is. You just have to experience it, you know? I didn’t even get around to mentioning the seven-foot tall leprechaun named Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber). The problem is it’s only on the STARZ app, and most people don’t have a subscription. But, you can do what I did and use that free one-month trial and cancel when you’re done.

If you honestly watch the first episode and have no interest in continuing to watch the series I will pay you out of my own pocket (not really, I’m poor). Gods wrapped its first season over the summer and was picked up for a second. I think this show will become a massive hit so my advice is hop on the bandwagon before it gets too crowded.

McGregor vs. Mayweather is completely dumb, and I love it.

The first time I saw or heard of Conor McGregor wasn’t from a knockout or fight, it was at a press conference. It was April 2015 and I was watching SportsCenter. They showed a clip of a the promotional tour for UFC 189, featuring Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor for the UFC featherweight championship.

I was never a huge UFC fan so I had never heard of either of them. Then they showed McGregor grabbing the UFC featherweight championship belt away from Aldo and holding it triumphantly. Dana White tried to keep Aldo and McGregor from coming to blows. McGregor looked like an absolute madman. The Dublin crowd went ballistic. I was smitten.

I had always liked UFC and thought it was a bad ass sport, but never got invested into it because there wasn’t one fighter I liked enough. They all seemed one in the same to me. Everyone looked a like, talked a like, and had the personality of bricks. The only fighter at the time who I actually cared about was Ronda Rousey; none of the male fighters seemed to have a fraction of her star power.

Then I caught a glimpse of McGregor going full-WWE and stealing a title belt and screaming obscenities in that thick Irish accent while thousands of Irish fans collectively lost their shit. I didn’t know anything about him and I didn’t care, I just knew I now loved a fighter named Conor McGregor

Aldo and McGregor didn’t actually fight until UFC 194 in December, where McGregor knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds and captured my heart forever. Since then McGregor has been one of my favorite athletes, and become an international star. In my opinion, Conor McGregor IS the UFC.

That’s not to say I don’t think McGregor has flaws. He’s brash, profane, and kind of a dickhead. He’s gotten in trouble for saying misogynistic and possibly racist things to his opponents before. I don’t believe McGregor is racist or really even a sexist, he’s just an asshole. An equal opportunity asshole, though. I don’t believe he cares about the color of the skin of the his opponent, he’s going to say whatever he can to get underneath their skin. That’s what fighters do, the great ones anyway. However, I do wish he wouldn’t call everyone a bitch, or would realize how bad it looks to shout, “dance for me, boy!” at his black opponent.

When the McGregor vs. Mayweather bout (yes, McGregor should be the marquee) was announced, I was torn between being excited and apprehensive. I may be a McGregor fan, but I’m also a realist and knew McGregor had almost zero chance to beat Mayweather. But the thought of McGregor knocking out Mayweather and telling him to go “fook” himself made me positively giddy.

You see, I hate Floyd Mayweather.

I mean, REALLY hate him.

I truly mean it. Mayweather is a serial woman-beater that would be in prison if it weren’t for his money and fame; if he wasn’t the undefeated champion and face of boxing. He’s also the single-most boring boxer I’ve ever seen and whom I blame for the slow death of the sport. I’d venture to say that this fight is the final nail in boxing’s coffin. Boxing had to get MMA’s biggest star to fight its retired legend to make news.

It’s bizarre to me that Mayweather has any fans whatsoever, knowing what we know about the walking sack of feces. He’s plead guilty multiple times to hitting women, he’s been in jail for his crimes, and yet no one seems to wonder if he should be fighting at all. Ray Rice lost his career for hitting his wife; Mayweather gets treated with kid gloves.

As far as the fight is concerned, anyone can see that this is closer to an entertainment spectacle than an actual fight. Both fighters are going to get a huge payday regardless of the outcome, and the likely outcome is a 12-round snooze fest.

Then again…who cares? There’s a 98% chance that the build up and trash talk up to the fight will be more interesting than the fight itself. The world tour, which was gold for the most part, featured some of the most brutal shit-talk (and Mayweather just screaming “hard work!” for some reason) and greatest outfits in press conference in history.

Boxing purists (which, by the way, have become the new “worst online people”) say it’ll be an embarrassment to the sport. I’d say it can’t be anymore embarrassing to boxing than the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao debacle. They should be more embarrassed by Paulie Malignaggi, that guy needs to just take his L and exit stage right.

Make no mistake; McGregor winning would be a cataclysmic shock. It would be the biggest upset in boxing sports history. Any logical approach to the fight will lead one to be absolutely sure Mayweather will win. That’s fine, but don’t be upset or when I take the completely emotional approach.

I’ve chosen to instead enjoy every ounce of the build up and become completely emotionally invested in McGregor. Because that’s way more fun! This fight is truly a spectacle of once-in-a-lifetime proportions, so why not enjoy it?

This fight has no business even existing, but it does. And that’s kind of awesome! It’s a dumb fight with nothing but egos at stake, and those are honestly the best kind of fights.

Call it nothing but a money grab and a swindling of people’s wallets and overrated. I don’t care, I’ll be glued to the TV in my “49-1” t-shirt invested in every second of it.

Mystic Mac in the sixth.

Book Review Series: The Lost City of Z

My thoughts on the book “The Lost City of Z” an insane true story and exciting read by David Grann.

I’ve done a lot of reading over the summer, so I decided to share some of the books and my thoughts on them. I’ll hopefully get around to writing about all of them so there should be seven or eight of these. If you’ve also read any of these books you should mention it to me because talking about books with other people is fun.

You may notice a lot of these books have been adapted into movies or TV shows. I don’t know why but I’m attracted (not in that way) to books that have a kind of second life in TV or cinema. Maybe because I like being the guy who tells you (puts nerd glasses on), “the book was better.”

*In Daenerys Targaryen’s voice*

Shall we begin?

THE LOST CITY OF Z

A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

By David Grann

IMG_1171City of Z is the true story of Percy Fawcett, famed British explorer who in 1925 went into the Amazon to find a mythical and lost city, which he simply called Z. He never returned and after years without contact he was presumed dead, another victim of the harsh nature of the brutal Amazon.

The non-fiction book is also a chronicle of author David Grann’s research of Fawcett leading to his own expedition into the Amazon in search of clues leading to the truth of Fawcett’s disappearance. Did the indigenous people or the unforgiving conditions of the jungle kill him? Can a civilization like Z truly have existed in the rainforest, and if so, did Fawcett find it?

You’re lying to yourself if you don’t think that’s an awesome premise for a book. Its got everything: fantastical tales of lost civilizations a real-life Indiana Jones in Fawcett, his mysterious disappearance, the battle of man vs. nature in the deadliest forest in the world, and its all true!

It’s a relatively light and easy read, just a little over 300 pages, and Grann does a tremendous job of balancing the more grandiose elements of the story with his own journalistic skepticism and the gritty nature of exploring in the Amazon.

220px-PercyFawcett
Col. Fawcett looking every bit like the legend his reputation made him out to be.
Colonel Percy Fawcett is an artillery officer, explorer, archaeologist and grade-A badass. He spends most of his life traversing through the Amazon, mapping what was unmapped before him, going where others wouldn’t go or died trying to. He becomes legendary for his athletic prowess, survival skills, exploration accomplishments, and incredible moustache.

Eventually, he gets into his head the idea that an ancient and lost city that at one time contained millions of indigenous people and immeasurable riches is hidden somewhere in the vast rainforest. Conquistadores described seeing such things deep in the Amazon in the 1500s. Since, however, no one has been able to back up such extravagant claims.

Pretty much everyone is like, “Those conquistadores were full of shit, man. There’s no ancient city, only small hunter and gather tribes can survive in the unforgiving Amazon.” But Fawcette’s like, “Oh yeah? I’m gonna find that damn city and y’all will look dumb and I’ll be a hero”.

I mean that’s basically what happened.

Fawcett’s intent to find the lost city makes him an international sensation, and his journey is followed throughout the entire world. His disappearance and the ensuing rescue parties to find Fawcett also make headlines around the world and the mystery of Fawcett becomes one of the biggest stories of the decade if not century.

It’s a great story that’s turned into a fun and engrossing book by Grann. It really is a book for everyone; it has the adventure and romantic themes of a quest novel grounded in the meticulous detail of Grann’s writing and research.

A great non-fiction read for history buffs and an exciting adventure for those more into the fantasies of fiction.

4 out of 5 mustaches

My Summer of Unemployment

What I’ve done so far this summer (spoiler: not much).

I don’t know why I started a blog. It doesn’t really have a purpose, besides I guess being a digital, personal journal. Mostly to fill time I think, trying to be more productive and all that. I didn’t know where to start, what should be my first post, so I just decided to write about what I’ve done this summer.

I didn’t really have any plans after graduation. Leading up to May 21st, 2017, I focused on schoolwork. I would once in a while check the job boards and such, but a large part of me didn’t want to jump into a job right away.

Graduation was weird. I didn’t get emotional like some others. It was just kind of a bizarre feeling. Not sadness about leaving Marquette, I knew I would keep in touch with the people I wanted to (and in the age of Facebook, that’s really easy), but it was weird seeing some people for the last time. My major (journalism) was kind of small so I saw most of the same people in my four years of classes, and it struck me that I would likely never see most of those people again. It’s a strange feeling.

Anyway, among my fellow graduates that day, I was probably a minority. It seemed like everyone had a job waiting for him or her or had a plan for when they stepped off that stage. I was content to play it by ear. My plan went as far as moving back home to Green Bay, and look for a job, but take my time doing it.

I’m not crazy about getting a job right out of college, I got the rest of my life for that, you know? I wanted to unwind a little bit, enjoy a summer with no responsibility or cares. And that’s mostly what I’ve done.

Throughout May and June I hunted for jobs, not really knowing what I was looking for but applying nonetheless. Had a couple interviews but nothing panned out. I wasn’t that discouraged. Part of me was glad I didn’t get a job; I was enjoying my summer vacation, the first since 2010 where I didn’t have a job or school to fill my time.

Spent a lot of time reading, watching TV, and checking twitter approximately 4,000 times a day. Would see a movie once in a while, take out my parent’s boat, and so on. On the weekends I’d go to the local bars. Visited my sister in Tennessee for a couple days. Saw Tom Petty at Summerfest (a bucket list item). Probably would be a boring summer to a lot of people, but not to me. One of my favorite things to do is nothing.

On July 9th my mom broke her kneecap in Vail, Colorado. She and my dad were zip lining, on vacation celebrating their 25th anniversary. She had surgery in Vail, and came home bed-ridden, unable to move her leg at all.

Recovery time was about 6-8 weeks, so since then that’s mostly been filling my time. I do my best to take care of her, run errands for her, chauffeur her around. I don’t mind, gives my days more purpose. I stopped looking for jobs for about a month because I couldn’t just leave her all alone while my dad also worked full-time.

She’s tough though and needs me less and less everyday. Soon she’ll be back on the mend soon and working. I’ve started looking for jobs again. As it turns out, it still sucks.

And that pretty much brings us to today. Its probably only interesting to me, but it had been awhile since I’d written anything and I was starting to get the itch. I don’t know, it feels good to put thoughts onto paper again.

I don’t know how often I’ll write posts for this blog, maybe every day, maybe once a week, who knows. Whenever I feel like it, I guess. I’ve got some ideas for posts that’ll be more interesting and lively than this one, so if you thought this one was boring maybe give the next one a try.

I have no idea how to end a blog post.