*TV SERIES RECAP: THE STRANGER

Imagine someone showing up out of nowhere to reveal a deep dark secret that nobody is supposed to know and exposing something hidden and possibly devastating from your past? That is the unique premise of The Stranger. Based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Harlan Coben and adapted for TV by Danny Brocklehurst(Shameless).

The Stranger is a mysterious woman (Hannah John-Kamen), who pops up out of nowhere, and drops bombshell after bombshell on unsuspecting people. Revealing secrets and throwing people’s lives in complete disarray. The central character is Adam (Richard Armitage), a successful lawyer and family man. He is approached by the mysterious Stranger and is told that his wife Corinne (Dervia Kirwan) lied to him about a lost pregnancy and has kept secrets from him. After confronting his wife about the revelation of her fake pregnancy, Corinne mysteriously vanishes.

The plot moves pretty fast as Adam begins to investigate his wife’s disappearance frantically. Every single character seems to have their own unique storyline, which directly and in some cases indirectly connects all the characters in the series to The Stranger and to whatever truth she has revealed. The cool thing is that there are twists within twists, some are pretty obvious, and you see them coming, and some are entirely unexpected.

Social media and technology are effectively used in the plot. It helps propel the story forward, which not all modern shows have successfully executed when using modern technology in their plotlines.

The ensemble cast is excellent. Detective Johanna (Siobhan Finneran) is brilliant as a down to earth detective. Her character was well written and carried a unique sensibility that only a seasoned actor could’ve achieved. Paul Kaye, our old buddy Thoros of Myr from Game of Thrones, shows up as a corrupt detective Patrick Katz; he became one of my favorite characters from this show. The always fantastic Stephen Rea plays a retired cop who hires Adam to wage a legal battle to stop a redevelopment project from tearing down his neighborhood to build newer and affordable housing. The cast of teenagers was solid; they were all pretty compelling and exciting characters.

The Stranger is an engaging mystery series that keeps you on the edge of your seat; however, as far as a mystery series is concerned, it is not as remarkable as, say, The Dublin Murders, which I loved and could not get enough of. Still, The Stranger is a very well put together, entertaining, and extremely binge-able show.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

The Stranger (2020). Streaming on NETFLIX.

*02-10-2021

Lei alguna vez por ahi que la promesa y la esperanza de una mejor vida siempre estará centrada en un pasado doloroso ya superado, pero nunca olvidado.

Creo que esa filosofía es adecuada en este día, ya que justamente hoy 10 de Febrero mamá hubiera cumplido otro año mas de vida.

En estos últimos 5 años, los meses de Febrero y Marzo siempre me golpean fuerte y este año no es la excepción….me imagino que los próximos seguirán sido iguales o peores.

Mi vida tiene dos etapas, la primera con mamá y la segunda después de mamá. La segunda es obviamente la mas difícil, las mas dura.

Su ultimo cumpleaños en vida no lo pude pasar con ella….me toco salir un poco tarde de mi trabajo. Mamá me llamo varias veces y me pidió que aunque salga tarde que igual intente pasar por el restaurante donde ella y mi hermana iban a cenar juntas. Mamá eligió uno de sus restaurantes favoritos, un restaurante super conocido en Virginia de comida estilo Pekin. Lo irónico es que justamente al frente de ese restaurante se encuentra la iglesia en la cual en menos de un mes el cuerpo sin vida de mamá iba recibir su ultimo adios.

Esa noche creo que termine de trabajar como a las 10 o 10:30 algo así — Ya entonces la cena había concluido y ellas ya estaban de vuelta en sus apartamentos.

Recuerdo que la llame al salir del trabajo mientras caminaba hacia el metro para tomar el tren a casa. Hablamos alrededor de unos 10-15 minutos… me comento que le gusto su cena, pero note en su voz que falto algo — ella no necesitaba decirme nada, yo la entendía super bien, creo que los dos nos entendíamos super bien sin tener que decir mucho.

Era obvio que ella hubiera preferido que los tres hubiéramos compartidos esa cena juntos, pero ella entendía muy bien la rutina de vida de este país y no me reprocho por no haber podido escaparme del trabajo temprano. No era la primera vez que yo tuve que faltar a una cena o algún almuerzo por causa de trabajo. Obviamnete yo no tenia la menor idea que ese seria su ultimo cumpleaños con vida.

El fin de semana siguiente me encontré con ella como solía ocurrir casi todos los fines de semana, pero no era lo mismo. No haber compartido con ella su ultimo cumpleaños en persona me sigue atormentando.

Después de su muerte mi rutina de trabajo siguió siendo igual. Continue saliendo del trabajo tarde, continue caminando hacia el metro tomando la misma ruta de aquella noche de aquel Miércoles, 10 de Febrero en 2016 — caminando solo por la noche después de un largo día de trabajo. Caminando por la fría oscuridad de aquellos inviernos de Washington…recordando nuestra conversación de esa noche de su cumple, pensándola, extrañándola y arrepintiéndome de muchas cosas.

Fue en una de esas caminadas hacia el metro que decide ya no postergar mas mis planes de moverme a New York. Llegue a la conclusión que este era el momento indicado de poner en marcha los planes de exilio…exiliarme de todo aquello que me haga recordar a mamá — alejarme de aquellas calles de Washington, Virginia y toda mi rutina.

Cerrar una etapa y comenzar otra no es fácil, pienso que la mejor manera de encontrar un nuevo camino es mirar hacia atrás y encontrar como construir un puente emocional por el cual transcurrir, y tal vez así poder dar una transición hacia el futuro.

Aunque trato de evitar mirar hacia atrás y de no vivir de nostalgias, pero es super difícil especialmente cuando cargas contigo tanta carga emocional y los pecados del pasado. Peor aun cuando cargas contigo los daños que tu mismo te haz causado a través de los años.

Mantener el equilibrio entre la depresión y el dolor es un trabajo diario: Es muy importante estar siempre pendiente de tus pensamientos, de tus sentimientos y controlar tu mente para que no te lleve a sitios oscuros. Quizás solamente personas que han experimentado grandes pérdidas o terribles desastres podrán entender a lo que me refiero.

Todavía recuerdo sus rostro como si la hubiera visto ayer. Recuerdo sus manos y todas sus peculiaridades. Su manera de preocuparse por mi bienestar. Es justamente en fechas como esta que mi mente se llena de recuerdos, nostalgias y arrepentimientos. Pienso que en cierta forma nunca llegue a cumplir las expectativas que mamá había puesto en mi.

Pienso que ella esperaba tanto de mi. Mi nivel intelectual siempre fue alto, quizás es el mas alto de toda mi familia…. ¿pero que hice con el? ¿Que hice con tanto talento? Absolutamente nada importante. Me dedique a perseguir faldas, amores de una noche, fiestas y resacas. Me dedique a no cumplir sus expectativas.

Por otro lado, esa frustración de no haber cumplido con muchas promesas me sostiene y me llena de energía. Escucho los cientos de mensajes de voz que aun conservo guardados. Los escucho y es como si ella estuviera hablándome desde el mas allá, dándome aliento, diciéndome que todavía me queda mucho tiempo, y que el ultimo capitulo todavía no se ha escrito.

Algunos la recordaran en su cumpleaños, tal vez la recordaran en el día de los muertos o tal vez la recordaran para navidad. Sin embargo, yo la recuerdo todos los días. Esta conmigo siempre: En el cafe de cada mañana….cuando camino por las calles de New York, cuando me paro y miro a los rascacielos imponentes de esta inmensa metropolis y suspiro en su memoria, agradeciendole por haberme traido a este pais.

Me recuerdo a mi mismo que estoy acá, viviendo en la ciudad mas grande y mas importante del mundo. Vivo una vida envidiable, gracias a ti. Vivir en New York no es fácil, no es para cualquiera. Esta ciudad es dura y te pone apruebas constantemente. Solamente los fuertes sobreviven New York, y me siento súper orgulloso de haber logrado tanto en tan poco tiempo.

Las cosas que e logrado en estos últimos ańos en New York sobrepasan los logros de todo el tiempo que viví en Washington. Acá encontré mi camino, me encontré conmigo mismo. Y sobre todo encontré la forma de reconciliarme con mi pasado. Tu me diste esta oportunidad de estar donde estoy. Tu coraje y tu pasión por vivir hizo posible todo lo que existe a mi alrededor….eres tu y solamente tu la razón de todo.

Hoy es 10 de Febrero y estas acá conmigo. Siento tristeza, siento dolor y nostalgia — pero ya no me siento tan solo. Me conoces mejor que nadie. Sabes de todas las cosas que estoy haciendo, las cosas que he logrado después que te fuiste. Sabes de las victorias grandes y pequeñas. Sabes que las promesas incumplidas serán cumplidas pronto.

Recordarte me llena de esperanza, así como dije al principio que la promesa y la esperanza de una mejor vida siempre estará centrada en un pasado doloroso ya superado, pero nunca olvidado.

Eso es precisamente el motor de mi vida: El dolor y la esperanza.

El dolor ya lo manejo bien, especialmente cuando escribo y me desmorono emocionalmente escribiendo solamente para mi. Cuando abro mis venas escribiendo en este blog y al final no publico lo que escribo y lo guardo para mi. Lo mucho que trabajo en ese guion que llevo tiempo escribiendo, o en el manuscrito que quisiera darle una mejor estructura y convertirlo en un libro. no se…veremos.

Pero la esperanza es la clave de todo. La esperanza hacia lo que está por venir. Por que tu, mamá, indirectamente, me enseñaste que la esperanza es exactamente lo que nos permite ir más allá de nuestros límites. Y curiosamente, es así que me doy cuenta que todavía sigo aprendiendo mucho de ti.

Happy Birthday Mom!!

*2020 NFL Season Wrap up and Super Bowl Recap

Well, the 2020 NFL Football season has come to an end, and it is time to wrap up the season for my Washington Football Team.

The first thing I gotta say is that the future looks extremely promising, more so than anything that I can remember in the last 30 years of being a fan of this team.

Once again, we find ourselves in a familiar spot, still looking and hoping for a stable answer at the Quarterback position.

Dwayne Haskins was a bust, simple as that. It didn’t work out, and we waisted a first-round pick on a player that most scouts and experts warned teams to avoid taking in the first round. The Haskins debacle should serve as a cautionary tale from now on for everyone in the front office of this team.

Alex Smith won the comeback player of the year, and what a comeback it was. 

Sports media wrote off Smith at the beginning of training camp. His comeback was the crucial turning point for Washington to be in a position to make the playoffs and win the Division.

Going forward, a healthy Alex Smith on the field means that there will be an efficient and capable Quarterback running the offense. Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen add competent depth to the position.

We now know that we are not getting Matt Stafford, and Alex Smith has not yet decided on his playing future. I hope he returns for another season, and he becomes a bridge to whomever we draft in the off-season. I don’t think we should trade for a Quarterback if Smith decides not to retire. It will cost way too much to trade for Deshaun Watson, Marcus Mariota, or even Sam Darnold.

Hard pass on Carson Wentz, Mitch Trubisky, Jimmy G, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Nick Foles.

Dak Prescott might be available, but I have never been sold on him. However, Rod Taylor, Gardner Minshew, and Jacoby Brissett pique my interest.

Kyle Smith left for Atlanta as VP of player personnel… I was disappointed to see him go. But I guess the stink of the Bruce Allen era was a heavy burden for Smith to carry on and continue in Washington.

It feels like the time for crappy free agent signings is done and over with. Marty Hurney and Martin Mayhew have a strong connection to this Washington team and its glory years; I’m confident that they will have a solid draft and a productive approach to free agency.

Re-signing Brandon Scherff should be a top priority. Offensive Line depth will be crucial in 2021; maybe we can address the OL in the draft. I like what we are doing at the Running Back position, and it wouldn’t hurt to add another piece there. 

Chase Young was the runaway Defensive Rookie of the Year, and our Defensive front continues to be the star of the show. But we need to start resigning or figuring out how to keep most, if not all, of our core defensive players. Salary Cap issues are supposed to be Marty Hurney’s strength, and I hope he figures out a way to keep all of these guys here. Jonathan Allen should be the first in the defense to get some type of deal done.

Ryan Kerrigan will entertain free agency, which is sad; I hoped he would stay to finish his career here.

Our secondary needs to be addressed in the off-season, along with some upgrades here and here. I thought that Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby were formidable, especially towards the end of the season — and Kam Curl filled in very nicely as Safety replacing Landon Collins.

I don’t get tired of saying that this team is one of the most attractive destinations for free agents who want to be part of something special. The NFC EAST is ours for the taking….The Eagles firing Doug Pederson was nuts, and even nuttier was their hiring of Colts OC Nick Sirianni as their new Head Coach. Philadelphia will be a mess next season. Dallas is in decline and will most likely finish 2021 with a losing record. Maybe the NY Giants might give us some headaches, but I still don’t think Daniel Jones is their answer at Quarterback.

In any case, my level of excitement is insanely high at the moment, and I cannot wait for the 2021 season to start. HTTR…or, I guess, HTTFT.

SUPER BOWL GAME:

BUCCANEERS 31 — CHIEFS 9:

There were dubious penalties against the Chiefs in the first half of the game that sank Kansas City pretty deep; those penalties were a big deal; they put Kansas City in a bad spot from the get-go, and the Bucs, to their credit, never relented. The refs should have allowed more latitude 

This game was not really about Tom Brady. He didn’t do anything spectacular or inspiring; He connected with Gronk twice. He connected with Antonio Brown once, and Leonard Fournette had a 27 yard run for a touchdown that pretty much sealed the game for Tampa Bay. 

The Bucs coaching assistants were the difference makers in 2020 for Tampa Bay. Effective and efficient game plans by Todd Bowles and Byron Leftwich were the key factors here. This 2020 Buccaneers team came in loaded on both sides of the ball with better weapons than the 2019 Buccaneers team. The addition of Leonard Fournette was genius and paid big-time dividends on offense. Gronkowski found his rhythm by the middle of the season and never looked back.

Brady is considered the most successful Quarterback in NFL history, mostly because of his 10 Super Bowl appearances (7 wins, 3 losses). I, however, have my reservations. I do not consider Brady to be the GOAT by those standards, and I certainly, do not think Belicheater to be the Goat NFL coach, as some in Sports media have suggested.

Without question, Brady has created a remarkable career for himself, but most of his Super Bowl wins are surrounded by controversies. Most of those controversies are regarding some of the shady tactics employed by his former Patriots Head Coach Bill Belicheater. 

Mahomes backpedaling, scrambling, and even throwing as he was falling was impressive. He made terrific and accurate throws while in distress. He continually tried to produce any sort of spark and even threw a couple of end zone balls into the hands of his receivers that were dropped.

Kansas City came in with a reshuffled and patched up Offensive Line, which left Mahomes extremely vulnerable to Tampa Bay’s defensive front. The pressure was relentless, and Mahomes could never get any type of rhythm going. 

All in all, I get the sense that Kansas City will make the necessary adjustments in the offseason and will be back contending in 2021. 

On the other hand, Tampa Bay, I feel, is one and done, especially if they cannot keep their defensive unit in one piece — without a dominant defense, Brady’s decline will be much more noticeable in 2021.

See you all on Draft week.