TV Review – Ray Donovan

Is this a show about a Hollywood fixer or a family whose mobster father’s crimes keep coming back to haunt them?

I don’t know….I’m not sure the people behind the show know either, but either way, I like it.

BQB here with a review of the Showtime series Ray Donovan.

About to close its fourth season, this show stars Liev Schreiber as the titular character Ray Donovan, the man that Hollywood celebrities go to with problems that can’t be handled through regular channels (i.e. the police, lawsuits, etc.)

I have to admit it, when I first started watching the show in 2013, I thought this sounded like a great premise.  Surely there must be a seedy underbelly to Hollywood that we mere mortals never see.

The series began strong.  Ray beats up a pop star’s stalker with a baseball bat.  As the show moves on, he blackmails celebs, hides their dead bodies, etc.

Problem – the show, pretty much from the start, made the Hollywood stuff a side dish and the family drama the entree.

Ray’s father is Mickey (Jon Voight) , an ex-convict recently released after serving a long stretch.  Despite being in his seventies, Mickey is constantly plotting a heist, a hustle, any number of get rich quick schemes that threaten to tear the Donovan clan asunder.

It goes without saying that looking out for his brothers is Ray’s second full-time job.

Here, the actors who play Ray’s brothers shine.  British actor Eddie Marsan is boxing club owner/trainer Terry.  Marsan’s performance captures the essence of a man who is single, getting older, clearly depressed over not having a family of his own and wishing he could have done more in life.  His brain was willing but his past boxing career left his body weak.

Meanwhile Dash Mihok stars as slow yet loyal Bunchy, sort of like the family puppy dog who from time to time declares that he too can put on his big boy pants only to end up causing trouble.  Still, you can’t help but hope that Bunch puts on those big boy pants one day.

Pooch Hall, a boxer in his own right, is the Donovan family’s black half-brother, Daryll aka ‘Black Irish’ a young, wannabe boxer and the product of Mickey’s affair behind the late Mrs. Donovan’s back.

The show follows a basic formula:

  • Ray tells Mickey to go F himself and never talk to anyone in the family ever again because he is tired of cleaning up after him.
  • Mickey ignores Ray and concocts an illegal scheme.
  • Mickey is so charming that he tricks one, two, or sometimes all three of the Donovan brothers into helping him.
  • Mickey’s plan is botched, resulting in potential criminal charges, arrests, and/or other criminals coming after the Donovans.
  • Ray, not wanting to see one, two, or all three of his brothers go to jail or worse, uses his fixer skills to bail them out.

I’ll say this for the show – it is schizophrenic.  A third of the time it is about scummy Hollywood life and the other two-thirds are devoted to the family drama.

Is it a Hollywood fixer show or is it The Departed with palm trees?  (Oh, I forget to mention the Donovans are all Bostonites transplanted to California, so expect a lot of wicked bad Bah-stahn accents, kid.)

Other cast members:

  • Ray’s henchman Avi, an ex-Israeli agent played by Steven Bauer who often tells Ray the hard truths he doesn’t want to hear.
  • Ray’s hench-woman, Lena – messy haired lesbian played by Katherine Moennig.  I thought it was interesting that this show has a hench-woman.  And she doesn’t do the stereotypical “oh let me put on a pretty dress and fool the men” schtick.  She is a pretty serious member of Ray’s fixing operation.
  • The other Donovans – Paula Malcolmson as Ray’s wife Abby, who puts up with Ray’s constant cheating and Kerris Dorsey and Devon Bagby as Conor and Bridget.)  Viewers, you may not be able to relate to a bat wielding leg breaker like Ray (and that’s no doubt a good thing) but if you’re a parent, you can probably relate to the spoiled brat hi jinx that Ray and Abby have to deal with on a regular basis.

At times, I have thought that the show would be better if it would pick one angle and stick with it.

If it is going to be a show about a Hollywood fixer, then focus on Ray doing illegal shit to get celebrities out of trouble…OR…

…if it is going to be about a man who constantly has to bail his dumb father and brothers out of trouble, then focus on that.

But somehow, this cast and the folks behind the show make it work, tie it altogether, and provide a good story.

Thus I can’t fault them for having two angles.

I keep coming back to find out what will happen next and that is always a sign of a good TV show in my book.

And while Jon Voight has had a long career starring in many acclaimed movies, in my mind, his role as Mickey “I do horrible things that ruin my family’s lives but I’m so charming they forgive me in five seconds” Donovan is what I will remember him for years from now.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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The Yeti Escapes!


3.5 readers I don’t want to alarm you, but the international war criminal/fuzzy snow monster known as “The Yeti” has escaped Bookshelf Q. Battler Headquarters.

It wasn’t much of an escape as he was free to leave at any time and frankly the food bill was getting to the point where I was doing my best to nudge him out the door.

I tried to be subtle about it – leaving want ads for jobs that yetis can do lying on the coffee table and inviting hot she-yetis over to fix him up with, but he refused to leave…

…until now.  Has he changed his evil ways? Was he rehabilitated during his stay at BQB HQ or is out there right now, plotting and scheming his revenge against me, your noble blog host, BQB?

Who knows?

Keep an eye out and if you happen to see an international war criminal/fuzzy monster walking around, let me know, but don’t feed him…unless you want a lazy, non-rent paying roommate to move into your crib for years on end.

Stupid yeti.

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Is There Life After Death?

Oh, its the question we all hate to think about, isn’t it, 3.5 readers?

Honestly, I don’t know, though the idea that one day this all stops and that’s all she wrote is depressing.

The idea that we wake up and we are ourselves but somewhere else, hopefully somewhere nice, is a good thought.

I worry about it sometimes and all I can do really is push the thought away.  It becomes paralyzing if dwelled on for too long.

I can see both sides.  There has to be something more than what we know about life, the universe, human existence, than what we already know.

Scientists can explain the Big Bang Theory but where did all the rocks that banged into each other come from?

On the other side, life can be hard.  A lot of tragedy. Suffering.  It becomes difficult to not assume we are alone.

Moreover, its hard to go to a funeral and see someone who was once alive lying there all quiet and still and not think that that’s all there is to it.

Unfortunately, the only ones who know for sure are the dead and they aren’t talking – whether because they can’t because they’re in another world or because they just don’t exist anymore – I don’t know.

People fight too much over religion.  Nobody really knows.  We hope.  I hope there’s life after death.  This all seems like a big waste if there isn’t.

I know people will probably say, “It isn’t a waste if there isn’t” and I suppose that is true.

Still, as I get older, I look back on mistakes made, paths not taken, I realize there’s less and less time to accomplish what I wanted and that hope for an afterlife is more and more needed – the idea that maybe this life is to suffer through the learning process and then in the next life you be great knowing what you know after a lifetime of trial and error.

I’m just talking out of my butt.

I don’t know what happens after we die, but I hope its something more than becoming a leftover carcass.

Don’t let me get you down though.  If you’re young, live life to the fullest so you don’t end up wondering about the “would have, could have, should haves.”

If you’re old, well, you’re still alive, so there’s still time to do some stuff you always wanted to do but haven’t yet.

Sorry to start your day on a depressing note, 3.5 readers.

What say you?

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If you’re just tuning in…


I’ve gotten a lot of new blog followers over the summer and it dawns on me that sometimes the point of this blog isn’t clear.

So here goes:

I’m Bookshelf Q. Battler and this blog is Bookshelf Battle, a chronicle of my experiences as a world renowned poindexter, epic nerdventurer, reviewer of pop cultural happenings, champion yeti fighter, and most importantly, caretaker of a magic bookshelf.

Wow that’s a lot.  But wait. There’s more.

I’m not sure why, but my magic bookshelf tends to drag a lot of craziness into my life.

Is it the bookshelf’s fault? Is it just a coincidence? I don’t know.

At any rate, about a year into blogging I was notified by an alien dictator known as the Mighty Potentate that I am his chosen one.  The MP, you see, despises reality television and therefore believes I am the writer who will one day publish a novel so finely crafted that it convinces the masses to abandon all TV shows where cameras follow dullards around for no reason.

If I don’t put that novel out before I croak, the Mighty Potentate will conquer the earth.

Gotta be honest…that’s a lot of pressure.  I try not to think about it.

In the meantime, the Mighty Potentate has dispatched his second-in-command, Alien Jones, to watch over me, keep me safe, give me guidance and so forth.  He usually writes an “Ask the Alien” column where readers can ask him questions but he has been rather busy with his intergalactic duties this year.

I live in East Randomtown, USA, a terrible place full of dumb dummies.  I’m actually considered one of the town’s top citizens because I started a blog that attracts the attention of 3.5 readers. One of my readers is Aunt Gertie.

FYI – this blog never gets more than 3.5 readers.  I don’t understand it.

Regular columnists include:

  • “You Can’t Argue with Science” with Dr. Hugo Von Science
  • “Stop Sucking” with Motivational Speaker/Anti-Suck Expert Vinny Baggadouchio
  • Search Engine Optimized Poet
  • The Astounding Nerdstradamus
  • “Things That Really Frost My Ass” with Uncle Hardass
  • “Things I Worry About” with Lloyd Bunson, Professional Worrier

My archnemesis is the Yeti, an international war criminal/fuzzy monster hellbent on bringing down this blog because it is too interesting and yetis want the world to be boring.

I’m also at odds with Leo McKoy, town barfly who achieved great fame in East Randomtown when he delivered a sandwich to 1990s teen heartthrob James Van Der Beek.

McKoy is actually running against me for the position of East Randtomtown Mayor, a position I hold as our last mayor was devoured by zombies during a zombie apocalypse.

This year, I have been focusing on writing books, though my columnists stop in from time to time.

I review movies often.  Ironically, I rarely review a book anymore which sucks because, you know, you’d think I would given the blog’s title.  That was actually the initial point of the blog to begin with.

Meanwhile, my pop culture detective Jake Dashing continues to file reports on the most vexing questions circulating about the entertainment industry.  His love interest is my attorney, Delilah K. Donnelly, who thankfully lowers herself to advise me on legal and business issues surrounding my bloggery.

Last but not least, I live in BQB HQ with the two most valuable members of the BQB organization: my main squeeze, Video Game Rack Fighter, and my trusty philosopher pooch, Bookshelf Q. Battledog.

There you have it. If you are a new member of the 3.5 readers club, you are all caught up.


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RIP Gene Wilder


A sad day in the comedy world, 3.5 readers, as actor/comedian Gene Wilder has passed away at age 83.

He had a long resume of hits but the ones that stand out to me are Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Producers and two films where he paired up with comedian Richard Pryor in the 1980s – Stir Crazy and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

I could go on all day long about all of these films.  In fact, the press has done a great job of that.

So instead I’ll expand a bit on See No Evil, Hear No Evil.  This was a 1989 comedy in which Pryor played a blind man named Wally and Wilder played a deaf man named Dave.

Together, they witness a murder.  Wally hears it.  Dave sees it.  A mixup leads the cops to think they did it, so they go on the run as a team with Dave being the eyes and Wally being the ears.

I remember seeing this as a kid and laughing a lot.

COP: Was there or wasn’t there a woman?

WILDER AS DAVE, BECAUSE HE’S DEAF: Fuzzy wuzzy was a woman?

What was your favorite Gene Wilder moment, 3.5 readers?


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200 Views Until my 50,000th view

Exciting news, 3.5 readers.

I’m 200 views away from this fine blog being viewed a whopping, an astounding, an awe-inspiring 50,000 times.

Even more amazing is the fact that 49,000 of those views were provided by my beloved Aunt Gertie, seen below:


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Do People Still Use Checks?

I saw someone write out a check at a grocery store the other day.

She had the checkbook. The pen.  She wrote it all out by hand, the whole nine yards.

I mean, I’m old enough to remember a time when people did this regularly and this was a common sight.

But its been years since I’ve seen someone do it.

I was surprised.  In my mind, I was all like, “Damn lady, are you some kind of cave woman? Do you write memos on stone tablets using a hammer and chisel? Are you about to get into your Flintsones mobile and run the thing away with your feet?”

And she wasn’t an old lady or anything. She was fairly young.

Anyway, that is where technology is at.  Someone used a check and I nearly plotzed.

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Go Topless Day


Happy Sunday 3.5 readers.

Fun fact: today is International Go Topless Day.

I’m not sure I should link to information about this holiday because that would warp your degenerate minds.

Needless to say, there are women who believe it is discriminatory that men get to walk around topless and they don’t. So they have parades and events and stuff where they let their fun bags fly free.

Ehh…of all the causes out there I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of opposition.  I don’t think you’ll find a lot of men saying, “No!  No I do not want to see those boobs!  Cover up those boobs!”

Although personally as a man, I can tell you that we men often view easily viewed boobs as some sort of trap, kind of like Lucy holding the football only to yank it away and laugh when Charlie Brown runs up to kick it.

I assume (though don’t get mad at me if you think this is assumption is wrong because I don’t I’m just talking at random here) there are probably some women who’d whip the ole sweater cannons out only to be all like “How dare you stare at my sweater cannons?!” if a man stares at them.

Am I in favor of this holiday? Well, sure. I don’t mind free range boobs.  I’d probably still sneak glances because like I said, typically seeing boobs requires copious amounts of effort so when they’re easily seen my mind is trained to think something’s up, but at any rate if adult women want to let it all hang out, they won’t get any argument from me.

Then again, I can also see the argument many might have that this is a slippery slope.  Should men be allowed to let their junk hang out?  Should we all be able to go pantsless and let our cheeks flap in the breeze?

Maybe we should. Maybe thats how we were made. Maybe we should all revert to Garden of Eden pre-Eve apple munch days when we were all innocent and frolicked in the sun in our birthday suits.

Then again, clothes do serve a purpose.  They keep us warm.  They keep us from leaving skid marks on publicly used seats.  They keep us from getting our germs all over supermarket produce. I’m not sure how that works.  Germs leap off your butt and onto the cucumbers.  For a better explanation, you’ll have to conduct noted scientist Dr. Hugo Von Science.

Heck, clothes probably even keep our junk from getting slammed in car doors more than we realize.

And there are probably some people who might get offended by the boobs.  Maybe they’re trying to take their kids for a walk and don’t want to cover their eyes the whole time.  Maybe there are enough boobs in Congress already that we have to see on the news 24/7.

Perhaps we could limit free range hooters to nude beaches.  Getting some sun on those things is the only real reason to turn them loose outside anyway, right?

Oh but then again if you limit it to certain beaches then that would be like creating boob internment camps right?  Never again, man. Never again.

And finally, I consider myself a philosopher.  During my many years of Shaolin training, my master used to ask me, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, does it make a sound?”

That’s a question designed to train the mind to tackle complexity.  Very hard to answer.

Similarly, if boobs are hanging out, but men don’t stare at them because they don’t want to get arrested for First Degree Boob Staring, then were the boobs ever out to begin with?

I don’t know 3.5 readers. ‘Tis a question for the ages.

Women, if you’re celebrating this day, enjoy.

Men, don’t stare. It’s a trap.


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Movie Review – Don’t Breathe (2016)

Crime doesn’t pay, kids.

No joke.  An old ass man might literally chase you around his house for two hours if you try to steal his pay.

BQB here with a review of the horror thriller, Don’t Breathe.

Its ok 3.5 readers.  You can breathe.  But the SPOILERS might leave you breathless.

God I’m such a hack.

Rocky, Alex and Money (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto, respectively) are a trio of teenage house robbers.

Their latest target is an elderly blind man, a war veteran rumored to have a ton of cash stashed in his house.

Seems like an easy enough job but…nope…for a blind man this guy sure has some deadly ass skills and the kids end up taking on a lot more than they bargained for.

I can’t tell you much more than that or else I risk blowing the whole movie for you.

In some ways, its a standard horror movie. A lot of “Oh no! Don’t go in there!” and so on.

But, there is some originality in that the baddie is blind.  There’s a lot of skulking about the dark, scenes shot in night vision as the kids move inches away from their opponent without him realizing and so on.

Jane Levy might be the breakout star here.  She looks and sounds a lot like 1990s in her prime Reese Witherspoon, at least in my opinion anyway.

Stephen lang is scary as shit as “the blind man.”  Lang often plays military men, the two that come to mind being the roles he played in Avatar and Terra Nova.

PRO:  Some scary moments, shocks, surprises.

CON:  More brutality on screen than I’d like to see.  I prefer on-screen violence to be cartoonish and unlikely, rather than to see people being pummeled (which sadly, happens too often in real life.)

Oh, and uh…there was one part where it sort of jumps the shark. I don’t want to give it away but I found myself blurting out, “Oh come on!”

Add me to the list of worst moviegoers. I’m a spontaneous blurter.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy

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BQB’s Favorite YouTubers – QPark

Hey 3.5 readers.

I don’t think this guy has a lot of heat on him yet compared to the other YouTubers I’ve been talking about, but he deserves some.

Very short videos that deliver maximum funny punch for the masses with short attention spans, perfect for tweeting out, sharing on Facebook or what have you.

For example, “When You Look Up Your Symptoms Online.”

Yup.  I’ve been known to suffer a mild affliction only to look it up online and become convinced I have Ebola too.  Good one, QPark.

But what if someone invades your personal space?

Or worse, what if a dude completely violates years of firmly established dude law and uses the urinal directly next to you when there are many other urinals available?

Or how about when someone asks you how your diet is going and you lie and tell them its going great even when you’ve been shoving all kinds of junk food down your pie hole?

It took me a second to figure out what he was doing with the powder and the credit card until I finally realized he was snorting Kool Aid mix as if it were cocaine.  Sigh.  We’ve all chased that fruity flavored dragon before, haven’t we 3.5 readers?

Plus, the juxtaposition of the song from 2000’s Requiem for a Dream (a Darren Aronofsky directed film about drug addiction) with a scene of QPark injecting himself with chocolate sauce tells me this guy knows his pop culture.

Finally, out of all of QPark’s vids, this last one is the one that left me in tears.

Have you ever pooped in a public toilet, had the water splash your butt, and then have that little alarm go off in your head where you start to worry about all the germs that just touched your butt?

I have.  I can’t say that I’ve ever asked a friend to put on goggles and go at my butt with a blowtorch, but public toilet water splashes are still a concern that the media never talks about.

Thanks for raising awareness, QPark.

Keep an eye on this dude, 3.5 readers. He’s going places.

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