All posts by Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, photographer, and all-round fangirl geek.

She currently lives in Los Angeles, and primarily covers geek culture, entertainment, and the performing arts. She’s been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others. You can see more of her work (and her social media connections) over at her website angiefsutton.com.

Tea & Review: ‘The Shape of Water’ is Incandescent

{All images used courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.}

Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.

The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro. Produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Copyright 2017. (Seen December 5, 2017.)

You ever read a book where the writing is so glorious it almost distracts from the plot of the book? Where you spend just as much time admiring the writing as you do thinking about the actual book? The Shape of Water is a gloriously filmed movie, with absolutely gorgeous cinematography — almost to the point of it being a distraction.

Set during the Cold War, The Shape of Water is del Toro’s take on the fairy tale. We are introduced to Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman. She works alongside Zelda (Octavia Spencer) during the night shift at a government facility as a cleaning woman. She lives with Giles (Richard Jenkins), a closeted gay man who does artwork for advertisements, watching musicals and variety shows on television. And every day is the same.

Every day is the same, that is, until Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) is introduced, having acquired ‘the asset’ in South America for the facility to study. At first, we only see a container with water, with movements indicating some sort of creature. But one evening, Elisa is cleaning the room it is in, and meets him (Doug Jones).

At first, it’s a friendship: she sees him as a bit of a pet, trying to tame it and not wanting to see him hurt. But, this is at heart a fairy tale, and so the friendship turns to love as Elisa explains to Giles at one point that the amphibian man (as is listed on IMDB) is the only person to not care that she is mute, and sees her for who she is.

Continue reading Tea & Review: ‘The Shape of Water’ is Incandescent

Podcast Review: Ending the ‘Dinner Party’

Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.

The Dinner Party Download, produced by American Public Media, and hosted by Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam. Was released weekly, with an approximate running time of 60 minutes. Started January 2012.

Back in October of this year, if you were near me at all, you would’ve heard me give out a tropey ‘big no’. You see, I had heard that one of my favorite podcasts, The Dinner Party Download, was ending in December. The last ‘live’ episode is set to be released this week.

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Fandom Friday: My ‘Citizen Kane’ List — Round 1

{Header image courtesy Pixabay and used under a Creative Commons Public Domain license..}

Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary.

I have a list of movies I’ve started calling my Citizen Kane list. I’m sure it’s something that we all can relate to: movies (as well as other media, for that matter) that, while we’ve never actually seen, are such a part of our cultural landscape that we may as well consider them watched. Funnily enough, Citizen Kane is no longer on my list as I finally saw a few years ago.

Here are five from my current list of movies that I’ve never actually seen from beginning to end, but I know all about them. And yes, the goal is to eventually take these off the list. Maybe when I invent that 48 hour day.

First is my genre shame: I have never seen Blade Runner. Even worse? My partner and I even own a copy. The problem? It has both the original and the director’s cut, and so I don’t know which one I want to watch first. I’ve seen arguments for both being the one to watch, and while I will definitely watch both, I know the first one I watch will be the one I will relate to more. The idea of replicants, the cyberpunk elements, the performance of Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, and the concepts behind it have colored the visual world of science fiction since 1982, so there isn’t much here I won’t already know. With the sequel coming soon, I plan on watching it. I just need to decide which one to watch first.

Continue reading Fandom Friday: My ‘Citizen Kane’ List — Round 1

Tea & Review: ‘Fish’ Podcast is the Ultimate Edutainment Experience

{All images used courtesy the No Such Thing as a Fish Facebook page.}

No Such Thing as a Fish
produced by BBC Two / QI
Hosted by James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski, and Dan Schreiber.
Released weekly, with an approximate running time of 60 minutes.
Started March 2014.

Did you know that there is an American cricket team in Compton (as in ‘Straight Outta….’)? How about that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller coaster ride? And Leonardo da Vinci made sculptures out of marzipan and got angry when people ate them. These are just some of the fun facts you will learn when you start listening to the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish.

Started three years ago this month, the podcast is a byproduct of the British quiz show QI. Hosted by the researchers of said show, who are cheekily titled the QI Elves, the podcast combines the best of British humor and the fun parts of research and education.

Each week, the approximately hour long podcast is hosted by four of the Elves (mostly James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski, and Dan Schreiber, although they occasionally have someone else come in for one of them). They each present their favorite fact they came across that week, and then discuss it. The topics range from somewhat serious to outright hilarious, and are always fascinating.

Continue reading Tea & Review: ‘Fish’ Podcast is the Ultimate Edutainment Experience

What I Had Hoped to Get from ‘Sherlock’

{All images courtesy BBC One.}

So, Sherlock series 4 has come and gone, and I’ve already expounded greatly (to the tune of over 4,000 words) how much “The Final Problem” was a horrible way to end the show, if indeed it is the last episode of the series. In said review, I wrote about my expectations for the show, and how that may have been a problem going in. It got me thinking of all the little things I had hoped to get out of series 4 (and even series 3 for some of these) and that I hope we get to, should the series ever make a comeback. Some are silly, and some are legitimate things I wished the show would explore.

As a fan of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman beyond Sherlock, I’ve had the opportunity to hear both of them sing (i.e., Cumberbatch sang in August Osage County, and Freeman in Saving Santa), and while they aren’t exactly Tony award winners (Freeman especially), they can at least carry a tune in a bucket. So, why haven’t we had a musical episode? If we have to maintain ‘realism’ (which, considering the James Bondness of series 4, I will have problems if THAT’S the only reason why), have it where Sherlock has to take the place of an actor in a stage musical. (Maybe even where we see that when Sherlock actually TRIES to act, he’s horrible at it? And dear God, the idea of what Martin would do if John had to be on stage as well: I keep thinking of that tag scene from “The Puppet Show” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

In fact, I wish the show would’ve let both Freeman and Cumberbatch show off their comedic chops more often. Yes, the show is a drama and we should take it seriously, but all the best dramas are interspersed with comedy, and both Freeman and Cumberbatch have great comedic timing. Which leads into another silly one: we finally got a canon ‘The game’s afoot’ (one legitimate one in “The Abominable Bride”, and one of Sherlock quoting the source in “The Lying Detective”): couldn’t we have gotten John to say “No shit, Sherlock” even once?

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Geek Speaks: The Uses (and Abuses) of Science Fiction

This piece appeared on Contents May Vary on November 8th 2013 Photo Credit: Geoffrey Long

What do you get when you bring together science fiction writer and co-editor of Boing Boing Cory Doctorow, Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson, and transmedia specialist Dr. Henry Jenkins for a conversation about the purpose of science fiction? You get what Jenkins described as the Three Tenors for geeks: last night’s Geek Speaks panel on “The Uses (and Abuses) of Science Fiction.”

In partnership with the Annenberg Innovation Lab, this is the first in an ongoing speaker series Jenkins created “to provide a homeland for those of us who are geeks here at USC to get together and hear from interesting thinkers from across popular culture and new technology.” The goal, according to Jenkins, is to help build up the community of geeks at USC, and he hopes to have one panel a semester.

The conversation ranged from the panelist’s geek ‘origin stories’ to the participatory culture of science fiction to what draws them to science fiction. Johnson stated that, “one of the things that we all talked about is that the science fiction that has inspired all three of us is usually science fiction with an opinion.”

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My ‘To Be Read’ Pile – 2017 Edition

{Header image taken by Angie Fiedler Sutton.}

I read … a lot. The only problem is that ever since the invention of the Internet, my off-line reading has been sacrificed for all the reading I now do online. So, while I do still read quite a bit, my ‘books I’ve read’ pile has slowly shrunk over the years.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2013, all of our books got packed into boxes. They’re still (mostly) there, partly because I have yet to have the discretionary income to buy bookcases, and partly because we weren’t 100% sure we were going to stay in this apartment, as going to USC was the primary reason for picking the place we did.

Over the three years since, I have picked up a handful of books. Some of them were from teachers, suggestions for further reading in my studies. Most, however, were ones purchased at various book-related events such as the Los Angeles Festival of Books or at book signings.

Continue reading My ‘To Be Read’ Pile – 2017 Edition

Tea & Review: Sherlock’s ‘Problem’ is Aptly Named

{All images courtesy BBC One.}

Sherlock, series 4, episode 3, “The Final Problem”
Written by Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat
(based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle)
Directed by Benjamin Caron
Produced by BBC (in partnership with PBS Masterpiece)

So, in my last review of series 4 of Sherlock, I wrote that the television show was one of the rare pieces of media where I process my own thoughts through reading other reactions. This rings true so much more in this, what is framed as the last episode of the show. Not only the reviews from Indiewire, Vox, the Nerdist (which I apparently remembered the title from), The Guardian, The AV Club, The Mary Sue, and Just Add Color, but the plethora of responses from other fans as we all digested this last piece in the world of Sherlock. It made me reevaluate my place as a fan, and think about the show as a whole. Needless to say, this has major spoilers.

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Prepare for Takeoff: BBC Radio 4 Rebroadcasts ‘Cabin Pressure’

{All images used courtesy BBC Radio 4}

Note: all quotes come from Wikiquote.

Brilliant!

The BBC Radio 4 sitcom, Cabin Pressure, is currently being rebroadcast from the beginning. But hurry up – the first episode of series 1 only has five more days.

If you’re unaware of this lovely piece of comedy writing, the basic story is of an airline company … well, make that an airplane. “I don’t have an airline. I have one jet. You cannot put one jet in a line. If MJN is anything, it is an air dot,” as the head of the company, Carolyn Knapp-Shappey (Stephanie Cole) states in the first episode, “Abu Dhabi”.

Having gotten the jet in a divorce, Carolyn sets out to run a private charter company. Accompanying her on this is her not-so-bright son Arthur (played by the show’s creator and writer John Finnemore). She has two pilots: “I have a good pilot and a safe pilot; and the safe pilot’s in charge of the good pilot,” as she says in “Ipswitch”. One of the pilots – the good one – is First Officer Douglas Richardson, played with smarmy fun by Roger Allam (V for Vendetta and the original Javert in the London Les Misérables). The safe pilot is Captain Martin Crieff, played with comedic incompetence by some actor named Benedict Cumberbatch (not sure if you’ve heard of him, or anything: it’s not like he’s been getting any roles lately).

While the show is primarily the four of them, there are the occasional guest stars, including later in the series a recurring spot for Anthony Head (known as Anthony Stewart Head here in the states) as a sometimes dater of Carolyn.

Photo from the last recording session.

Continue reading Prepare for Takeoff: BBC Radio 4 Rebroadcasts ‘Cabin Pressure’

5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To

{Header photo taken by Richard T. Sutton.}

With thanks for the prompt from The Nerdy Girlie.

When I was younger, my mom had the book The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Written as part encyclopedia, part travel guide, it took on the conceit that imaginary places were real, and described everything from Oz to what a Hobbit was. Almost all the entries contained glorious maps of these fictional places, and many of the entries included illustrations as well.

I remember devouring this book, even the entries on places I hadn’t visited yet and ones I tried and never got into. I loved the concept that I could easily find out the details of Narnia and the surrounding area, for example, and learned more about other fictional worlds.

So when I first hear the phrase ‘5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To’, I immediately think of fictional places: Narnia, Hogwarts, Prydain, the Shire, and Discworld. Of course, it’s a bit difficult to travel to any of those places in real life (although I did go to the Kilns, which may very well have been inspiration for Narnia).

The Nature Preserve outside of the Kilns. If that isn’t Narnia, I don’t know what is. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

For real life visits, I decided to discount the handful of places I’ve already been. So, most of London was out (although I would love to go back), as well as the many nerdy places here in Los Angeles. I’ve also visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s final home in Manchester, Mo., and went to Williamsburg, Va., when I was 7. And, of course, I regularly go to a Ralphs for grocery shopping – although I have yet to see any Night Vale creatures there.

Continue reading 5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To