Saturday Morning Brain Drain [3/9/22]

Image via TV Series Finale

What I Watched: Hemlock Grove, a very, very odd television show. Have you watch this?@lymond , as an industry professional, do you have an opinion on it? It’s violent American horror, produced by Eli Roth and developed by Brian McGreevy, upon whose novel it is based. It’s full of gore, blood, vomit, incest, werewolves, vampires, secret monstrosity biolabs, Romani, affairs, and did I mention gore? It only scored 38 Rotten Tomatoes, but I like it for the weird.

It features some recognizable actors, including a young Bill Skarsgård, Famke Janssen, Lili Taylor, and Dougray Scott.  There are three seasons, it ran from 2013-2015. I am early into season two and am a teensy bit addicted to it, but it garnered a number of negative reviews.

Here is a quote from the Daily Beast:“Hemlock Grove, unfortunately, is absolutely dreadful. The Roth-directed drama is an almost unwatchable muddle of horror tropes and painfully creaky dialogue. The show is set in an eerie Pennsylvania town that is equal parts Twin Peaks; Twilight’s Forks, Washington; and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sunnydale. The brutal murder of a high school student puts the entire town on edge, particularly since it appears that she was ripped apart by a wild animal while en route to a lesbian encounter with her teacher. Two suspects in her killing quickly emerge: Peter Rumancek (Terra Nova’s Landon Liboiron), a Gypsy whom the local kids believe to be a werewolf because of his “quite excessive body hair,” and cherub-faced teenage playboy Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgård), who isn’t a werewolf but is … something else.”

Trailer Season One

Trailer Season Two

Trailer Season Three

What I Read: A bunch of books, all series continuations:

Terminal Peace (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse Book 3) by Jim C. Hines. Here is the blurb from Terminal Alliance (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse Book 1) to set the stage. “The Krakau came to Earth to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species. However, they happened to arrive after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. You know—your standard apocalypse. Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is surprisingly bright (for a human). As a Lieutenant on the Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish, she’s in charge of the Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team. When a bioweapon attack wipes out the Krakau command crew and reverts the rest of the humans to their feral state, only Mops and her team are left with their minds intact.” Good stuff, all three books worth a read – they are funny, creative, and subtle in their current-world critiques. The author’s wife died between books 2 and 3; she had an aggressive form of leukemia and passed away eight months after diagnosis. Book 3 reflects his emotional journey through kindness, devastating loss, and casual cruelty.

Ruby Fever: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews. I am a big Ilona Andrews fan, comprised of a husband-and-wife author team. They specialize in urban magic and post-apocalyptic magical stories. Here is the blurb for this book “An escaped spider, the unexpected arrival of an Imperial Russian Prince, the senseless assassination of a powerful figure, a shocking attack on the supposedly invincible Warden of Texas, Catalina’s boss… And it’s only Monday. Within hours, the fate of Houston—not to mention the House of Baylor—now rests on Catalina, who will have to harness her powers as never before. But even with her fellow Prime and fiancé Alessandro Sagredo by her side, she may not be able to expose who’s responsible before all hell really breaks loose.

Also reads: The Graveside Bar and Grill: A Charley Davidson Novella by Darynda Jones; WOLF (Stope Packs Book 1) by Rebecca Zanetti; Gray Witch (Black Hat Bureau Book 5) by Hailey Edwards and The Rake Mistake: A Wild Wynchesters Caper (Heist Club Book 1) and The Modiste Mishap: A Wild Wynchesters Caper (Heist Club Book 2) by Erica Ridley.

What I Listened To: My Adulthood by Del Amitri; Blue by Big Wild; Sway by Matt Nathanson; and Smalltown Boy, Nova Version, by Catastrophe – this song aged quite well, the original is 38 years old.

Thank you for playing Brain Drain! How are you, dearhearts? DeadSplinterites, what is up with you?

About Elliecoo 493 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. What I watched:  The Marksman, an entirely formulaic and predictable semi-action film with Liam Neeson.  Don’t bother.

    What I read:  This must be what it feels like to be @Elliecoo.  I plowed through the first book in the Gwendy trilogy by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, “Gwendy’s Button Box.”  It’s a very quick 164 pages about a girl who is tasked with being the custodian of a small box that has the ability to end the Earth.

    What I listened to:  This week’s stop on the best engineered albums of all time is My One and Only Thrill by Melody Gardot.  Engineered by Helik Hadar and the legendary Al Schmitt, this was Gardot’s second album and the one which garnered her a profile on 60 Minutes.  Gardot was hit by an SUV while riding a bicycle which resulted in a slew of long term health problems, including sensitivity to sound.  So, her music is quiet and low key so she can both record and perform it.  She credits her interest in music with aiding in her recovery from the accident.  This is a mostly acoustic album, which is engineered for subtlety.  Gardot’s vocals are probably the best recorded on any album, ever.  Sound staging is complex and wide, and each instrument is recorded so that its finest characteristics are brought out.  This is good stuff.


  2. I started reading We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O’Toole, which is a recounting of how Ireland went from a backwards country dominated by reactionary Catholic clergy to a much more progressive modern state.

    I’m not Irish, but I coincidentally saw the first episode of Derry Girls. Hilarious.

    I also saw the first episode of the Lord of the Rings show. It’s not bad, but I ended up fast forwarding over the proto-hobbit scenes. I kept getting reminded of Ewoks.

  3. What I have been watching: Over the past six months or so I have become obsessed with British satirical weekly current events shows. These are all on Youtube and offer minimal interruptions. I got started with The Big Fat Quiz Show, which is hosted by Jimmy Carr, and then added to that Have I Got News For You.

    Both are very similar. There is a host. Jimmy Carr still has BFQS even though sometime in the past word got out that he was shielding vast amounts of income from the taxman. In a perfectly legal way, but it wasn’t a good look. HIGNFY started out being hosted by Angus Deayton, who was thrown off the show when one of the British tabloids found out that he liked to spend his spare time in the company of sex workers and vast amounts of illegal drugs. Since then they have rotating hosts, usually comedians, but sometimes “presenters” (in America they’re called news anchors for some odd reason) and sometimes others. I saw one recently hosted by Boris Johnson (this was from years ago.)  BFQS has three teams of two. HIBNFY has two teams of two, one captained by Ian Hilsop, who is the editor of Private Eye, which is like Britain’s version of Spy Magazine, and the other by comedian Paul Merton.

    The point is all the panelists are very, very funny, even the non-comedians. You don’t even really need to know who they’re talking about to start laughing out loud. An exchange might go, “And did any of you hear what our Foreign Secretary had to say this week about X?” “Oh, yes, Mr. Y, our Foreign Secretary. Didn’t he compare A to B?” Which is funny enough. “And would anyone care to tell me how the [Tabloid X] described this?” And they’ll display the tabloid’s mocking headline or text excerpt. And it’s not all British. BFQS doesn’t have the same amount of banter and it’s done a little differently but it’s more pop and internationally oriented.

    Perhaps HIGNFY‘s greatest gift though is it introduces a non-UK audience to all these incredibly funny and talented UK comedians that I don’t think many of us would have ever heard of, and their stuff is all on Youtube hosting their own shows or performing standup or whatever, so you can lose yourself for weeks, months even.

    • Oh my! The UK continues to offer television beyond excellent mystery and police shows. And of course, The GBBS, your beloved Downtown Abbey, and some random sci-fi (looking at the good Doctor).

      • I don’t think I ever told you (all) about the latest Downton Abbey movie, A New Era. It is excellent. It is 10X better than the first. So, so very satisfying. We ended up buying it and in fact I may need to watch it again right now. I just remembered two things about Have I Got News For You:

        1. I, or rather Dan Stevens, hosted an episode. He is actually very funny, and this episode was from when he was on Downton, so he has the blond, clean-shaven look, not the “I don’t need to go to rehab, I don’t know what you’re talking about” look that he sometimes sports today.

        2. In another episode there is a joke about Julian Fellowes being elevated to the peerage. Someone says something like, “Or as his new friends in the House of Lords say, Downton Abbey, a hard-hitting look at the issues facing us today.”

        Which isn’t really true because under Blair the Lords was reformed almost beyond recognition. They got rid of loads of hereditary peerages and made way for even more life peerages, which are granted when you’ve done something extraordinary in service to the nation. This usually entails serving in a Cabinet that’s been bounced out of power or contributing large sums of cash to the party who’s in power who puts you on the list for a peerage. This happens periodically. Annually I think. There’s no set number of Lords. Boris Johnson will soon be forwarding his next list now that he’s leaving office. This is like departing presidents granting pardons. As the Guadian explained about a month ago:

        Johnson, who will create more peers in the autumn in a resignation honours list, has already appointed 86 peers, bringing the number of members sitting in the Lords to more than 800.


          • You won’t be disappointed. The first one, I thought, was little better than one of the show’s extended-length Christmas episodes. This one is a full-blown movie and the few newcomers they introduce are excellent and actually do serve a point and don’t just clutter up the plot and waste valuable screen time. And best of all the Bateses aren’t accused of any crimes [MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT].

            Sorry to hear about your Covid confinement. You’re up in Montréal still?

  4. I watched the first two episodes of The Patient starring Steve Carell and Dohmnal Gleeson. It’s slow moving, very tense. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

    I’m currently reading Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand and I like it a lot. It’s a historical mystery about a young girl disguised as a boy who encounters Henry Darger, the author of The Vivian’s Girls, while a murderer is loose in a Chicago amusement park in 1915.

  5. I started watching Banshee on HBOMAX, I don’t know why I had never heard of it before but I guess because it originally ran on Cinemax.  First thing I noticed is that main character looks really familiar…holy shit, it is Homelander from The Boys!  I’m really enjoying the show and am now in Season 3 which it has gone downhill somewhat.  It does have a ton of gratuitous nudity and sex scenes but they don’t call it Skinimax for nothing.

    Listening to:  back on the ska train, semi-new Abruptors

    Sounds like I got volunteered to help put a BBQ together for a friend so only thing I may be reading is instructions though I can’t believe it would be that hard.


  6. I watched the first season of Hemlock Grove a while ago. From what I remember – I think it was too gory and I thought the acting wasn’t great.



    Speaking of gory – I’ve been doing a Game of Thrones rewatch while waiting for new House of the Dragon episodes. So far, HOD is underwhelming, but has piqued my interest in reading  Fire and Blood. I loved  the Dragonriders of Pern series as a kid so maybe I can get into the more adult version.

  7. My youngest has Covid 😭. There was a faint positive line on the test coupled with cold symptoms. My eldest has cold symptoms but is testing negative like my husband and me. So we’re here for at least 10 more days (5 of which is quarantined in our apartment). My husband and I are wearing masks and hoping not to catch Covid later this week which would extend our trip further.

    To cope. I’m buying all the art activities at Dollarama and will possibly cave on our no screen time for the littles stance. Silver lining is that my husband has the week off work. So it isn’t just me herding cats in an apartment for five days.

    Sorry for the depressing non Brain Drain part of my post. Let me get back on track:

    I’ve started to read This Mortal Coil which is about a genetic hacker who is trying to survive a global pandemic and hide from the evil mega corporation who controls everything. Humans are constantly genetically enhanced via implanted computers and apps which use nano tech. Unfortunately for the protagonist, her body rejects most of the tech and therefore she is the most human of them all. Of course her father is a genius at coding cures and is kidnapped by the evil corp. Like her father, she is a genius coder/hacker and uses her skills to subvert the evil corp by stealing codes and making them available to all. Like the cure for asthma for example. Back to the virus. It makes people sick for a couple of days and then explode into pink mist which facilitates transmission. It also forces healthy people to cannibalize the infected for temporary immunity. The protagonist has to team up with her hot once friend who now works for the enemy to come up with a cure. It’s a trilogy. I’m only two chapters in and am digging it.

  8. We’ve been watching Janet King on Acorn on the recommendation of one of you lot.  It’s a good show, but it has led my wife and I do understand our own sexism a little better.  Now my wife and daughter are professional women in very important jobs and I come from a family where my mom was a Rosie-the-riveter in WWII and became a pretty important executive later in life.  I had thought myself pretty enlightened regarding gender.  But last night, there was a part in Janet King (Season 2 I think) where we both said, “that Janet is a real bitch” because she was being hard on her colleagues and we immediately realized that if this was some show about a male prosecutor or detective exhibiting the same asshole-ish behavior, we would simply have taken it in stride, believing that’s what makes him effective, even admirable.  I guess checking one’s privilege is an ongoing project in life.

    • @luigi-vuoto right you are! As someone who entered the workforce during the dark ages of institutionalized male domination ( which now thrives in the land of Republican fascists), I do not always see that I have a higher level of acceptance for this type of thing.

  9. I saw Spaceship Earth the Biosphere 2 documentary on Netflix. I was intrigued by Biosphere 2 when it happened many moon ago mostly because of the idea of living in an isolated Biosphere was an adventure.

    The way the first mission imploded was rather hilarious for outsiders, but they glossed over a lot of the infighting in the documentary.

    I didn’t know Steve Bannon was essentially the Pauly Shore (asshole dumbshit) of the Biosphere.

  10. I’ve seen Hemlock Grove.  I couldn’t make it through 3 episodes.  The only reason I lasted 2+ episodes was because it was filmed in the GTA and I recognized some of the locations (also I like Famke Jansen and saw her from a distance in my late friend’s old neighborhood filming what I think were scenes from Hemlock Grove.)

    I can deal with weird, but the plot didn’t make any fucking sense to me.

    • Have you seen Jett? It was also filmed in the GTA. It has a great cast and is actually a good show. Too bad it didn’t get picked up for a second season. I can’t remember Hemlock Grove other than thinking it would be right up my alley and then quitting it after one episode.

  11. Watching – mostly NCIS. O-H has been on a crime show kick lately, so we started this one a couple of weeks ago. I’ve seen the first few seasons before, but stopped around season 4 or early in 5 (I frequently get bored with series after about 3 or 4 seasons… that usually seems to be when they start seriously reaching for ideas. Also, stuff starts not matching up with things that were said/done in earlier episodes). We’re almost done with season 5 and… yeah. I’ve been kind of not paying much attention to the last few episodes because characters are acting… uncharacteristically, and things just don’t fit with previously established storylines.

    Reading – Tilly Wallace’s Manners and Monsters series. I’m on book 6, Hessians and Hellhounds. I’m really enjoying these, so thanks, @elliecoo !

    Just finished Kingdom of Bones by James Rollins, book 17 of the Sigma Force series. This one was much better than the previous one… more and better suspense and more realistic.

    I got Daughter of the Moon Goddess back from the library, so I can finally finish that one!

    Listened to – A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015, both by P. Djèlí Clark, the first 2 parts (novellas) of his Dead Djinn Universe series. Currently listening to the first full-length book of the series, A Master of Djinn.

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