On Witches and Faries

2019 has been a banner year for television. As the numerous streaming services compete, we the subscribing audience were left with a bounty of TV series to enjoy. This is most true in the twin genres of sci-fi and fantasy. This year has seen the conclusion of HBO’s epic Game of Thrones saga. While its ending may have disappointed some fans. Its true climax at the Battle for Winterfell remains an enduring favorite. In 2019 Disney debuted its own premium streaming service, headlined by a new Star Wars franchise, The Mandalorian. Mando as he is called by his friendimies, is a bounty hunter in the mold of the original Star Wars trilogy character Boba Fett, but with a heart of gold. Featuring an adorable Baby Yoda, this marquee effort bodes well for the launch of yet another pay-to-watch platform, in an already crowded market. There is now so much good TV to see that a journeyman effort like The Witcher hardly stands a chance.

Dropped on Netflix this month, this sword and sorcery offering stars hunky Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia and is based on source material created by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. Basically, a witcher is like a warlock and Geralt is also a “good” bounty hunter. Hunting only bad monsters. He co-stars with sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), and princess Ciri (Freya Allan), who find that all of their destinies are tied together. Lacking the production values of either Thrones or The Mandalorian, Witcher compensates with a certain campiness and a sense of not taking itself too seriously. It comes across like a playing of the game Dungeons and Dragons.

Think of the actors as knights of the dinner table, inhabiting their characters, with adlibs and asides. Like in any good D&D story, there is a fair amount of bumbling about, as the characters go hither and yon, questing for whatever each episode has served them up. There is an underlying story, the arc of which is eventually told across this show’s eight episodes of season One and nicely tees-up season Two, which has already been green lit. Witcher is not as good as its better competition, but is still enjoyable and not worthy of just discounting.

Unlike the Staten Island Ferry, Netflix isn’t free. It has held the lead in the race of competing TV subscription services, but everybody and their brother is in the race now. It remains to be seen how well it will perform in the future. Striving for king of the hill shows may not be their forte and the network might be better suited to utility programing, relegated to living on the margins with short haul successes, getting one from place-to-place.

Sailboat Wanted

We got a text from Dan. He found a sailboat for sale on Craig’s List. The seller, who lives near Marquette, about 3+ hours away, is asking $500 or best offer. This is an “old” 13.5′ wooden sailboat, the hull was originally manufactured by the Old Town Canoe Company in 1950. It is a similar model to the sailboat Robert Manry famously used in 1965 to cross the Atlantic Ocean. He set the record for an Atlantic crossing in the smallest boat with that voyage. He called his boat the Tinkerbelle. This boat was refashioned in a similar way as Manry refashioned his (with cabin) and was last sailed 12 years ago. Comes with sails, rigging, and trailer. The seller rates its condition as fair. 

In 1971, while I was in high school, I too bought a sailboat for $500. It was a Snipe, a 15.5′ dinghy. I just Googled its class number and discovered that it was built during World War II. Likely in 1943-45. I didn’t have Craig’s List back then. I think I saw the ad on the school’s bulletin board. I bought it from a classmate. It too included sails, rigging, and trailer and I would rate its condition as fair. After about another $500, a whole lot of sweat equity and my father’s help, it was ready for the water. I sailed it for a few years. First taking the family out on Portage Lake, near Ann Arbor. Then I courted Anne with it. Eventually, what with college, I grew tired of it and sold it again for $500.

My father taught me how to sail, as I taught Dan. There was a boat up here that he loved to sail, a Whaler. It was kind of a pig of a boat, but he loved it and was quite good at handling it. One summer there was a beach wedding and some of the other guest took it out, when they shouldn’t. They nearly drowned and Dan had to help in the rescue. He saved the boat, but no good deed goes unpunished though, because next summer he discovered that someone had wrecked the boat, by destroying its rigging. 

Dan has pined for a new sailboat ever since. He’s in Brooklyn now and when last we visited him, Anne and I took a turn through Central Park. At one of the ponds there (Back east every nonflowing body of water bigger than a puddle and smaller than the Atlantic is a pond.), there was this pictured boathouse for model sailboats. I asked the caretaker about them and she told me that they sell for up to $5,000. I’m thinking now that maybe more than $500 is a better offer.