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All’s Right With the Universe Once More: ‘The Expanse’ Is (Probably) Coming Back

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Amazon is swooping in to revive the show after Syfy’s cancellation, bringing relief to a devastated fan base and furthering the company’s mission of finding the next ‘Game of Thrones’

A good measure of a TV series is how you feel when that series gets canceled. For example, when Syfy announced earlier this month that it wouldn’t move forward with The Expanse following its third season, my entire life was derailed. I was quite literally getting texts from friends that started with, “Hey man, sorry to hear about The Expanse,” as if a loved one just passed away. There were questions I just couldn’t answer: Why this is this happening? What’s even the point of Peak TV if the best sci-fi show since Battlestar Galactica gets an early ax? Should we just end television as a medium forever? My point is: The Expanse is a great show.

And thankfully, it’s not dead yet. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon and the show’s production company, Alcon Entertainment, are finalizing a deal to bring The Expanse back for a fourth season on Amazon’s streaming platform, which already owns the North American streaming rights to the series (Netflix owns The Expanse’s global rights, which is probably one of many things being sorted out in negotiation).

This potential move is, for starters, extremely dope, and enough to make me pull back the curtains in my apartment and consider living life again. It’s also apparently something Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been clamoring for for years. The Reporter notes that Bezos was “livid” when Syfy first acquired the series, and smartly points out that making this new deal would fall in line with Bezos’s vision of finding the “next Game of Thrones” for his streamer.

The forthcoming Lord of the Rings series is Amazon’s flashiest new IP, and the one that’s bringing the most hype, but The Expanse shares a lot more of Thrones’ DNA than you might expect. Based on the book series of the same name from James S.A. Corey (a pen name for writers Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham ), The Expanse dovetails narrative threads from across the solar system that slowly start coming together; there are moments when someone from Earth finally runs into characters from a stolen Martian spaceship, and it packs the same wallop as Tyrion Lannister bumping into Daenerys Targaryen. There’s also a mysterious biological substance called the protomolecule that could potentially wipe out all of humanity—the show’s equivalent to the White Walkers. I could keep going, but I’ll just say this: Abraham  has collaborated with George R.R. Martin and clearly took some lessons from the author in regard to world-building and subversive narrative twists.

Still, the question would remain: Can The Expanse ever come close to the popularity of Game of Thrones? The underlying numbers at Syfy weren’t too promising: The show hit around a half-million viewers per episode, which likely spelled its demise on the network, along with an agreement with Alcon that placed a greater emphasis on first-run linear rights—meaning there was a greater emphasis on live-viewing, which is an increasingly archaic way to profit off a show. The Expanse’s live viewership numbers don’t account for DVR plays or the number of people who’ve binged the earlier seasons on Amazon—or, if you live overseas, on Netflix. Amazon and Netflix keep their metrics close to the vest, but the fact that Amazon is even considering acquiring The Expanse suggests it’s seen enough interest from subscribers to warrant a fourth season.

However, even if the numbers aren’t overwhelmingly high, fans of The Expanse are nothing if not really passionate about the series. In the week-plus since the cancellation was first announced, fans created a Change.org petition for Netflix or Amazon to pick up the show (yeah, of course I signed it); the likes of George R.R. Martin, Wil Wheaton, Patton Oswalt, an actual astronaut, and Paul Krugman voiced their support; and, most impressively, the most ardent fans raised enough money to fly a #SaveTheExpanse banner over Amazon HQ in Santa Monica, California.

The Expanse even got an uptick in viewers in the first episode to air following the cancellation news, with #SaveTheExpanse trending on Twitter last Wednesday evening. The whole enterprise lent The Expanse its own miniature news cycle; last week was probably the most the show has been discussed online since it premiered in 2015. All of it may seem like noise, but there’s a fact at the heart of it: The Expanse is a great, special sci-fi series. When the hoopla around it begins to dissipate—i.e., whenever the news of Amazon reviving the series becomes capital-O Official—it still deserves to be part of the zeitgeist. A show that deals with tribalism and international (er, interplanetary) relations, features a supernatural metaphor for nuclear armageddon, and champions onscreen diversity without ever making a big deal about it never should’ve been on the brink of cancellation. If Jeff Bezos and Amazon do pick up The Expanse—and so help me God, they better—they wouldn’t just be getting the next Game of Thrones. They’d be getting something better.

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maise
54 days ago
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great show
Jersey City
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Sandwich of the Week: This mind-blowing beef, bacon and cantaloupe hero

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Sandwich of the Week is For The Win’s celebration of sandwiches. If you have a sandwich you’d like to recommend, please direct it to the author’s Facebook page.

Maybe I’m doing a better job scouting sandwiches or maybe it’s just a run of good luck, but I’m on one hell of a hot streak lately. I suspect that my ongoing fitness kick is, perhaps ironically, driving me to find better sandwiches and enjoy them more: I’m trying to make every sandwich count, and since the sandwiches now normally follow some form of workout, I’m usually eating them while very hungry.

The sandwich

The P.H.O. 2017 from Sunny and Annie’s Deli on the corner of 6th St. and Avenue B in Manhattan.

The construction

There was no way I was going to remember everything on here, so I took a photo of the menu.

(USA TODAY Sports)

Up until the point I ordered, I planned to get it with pork, but the guy asked, “chicken cutlet or beef?” After a moment of sheer panic, I elected not to follow up about the availability of pork and just stammer out, “beef!” Maybe they were out of pork, maybe no one ever orders pork, or maybe the guy mistook me for a man who does not want pork. It all worked out.

Important background information

Like Sal, Kris and Charlie’s before it, Sunny and Annie’s is a place that has long been on my radar that I have entirely missed until now. But to be fair, I suspect there are people who live within a couple of the blocks of the place, love great sandwiches, and also miss out entirely just for not being vigilant in their online sandwich searching. Sunny and Annie’s looks like every other corner grocery in New York City, and it sells beer and canned food and blunts and sketchy libido pills just like all those places do. But unlike most of those places, this one apparently employs a sandwich mastermind — maybe several sandwich masterminds.

I happened to choose the P.H.O. 2017 for my first foray at Sunny and Annie’s, but the deli case is covered with handwritten signs advertising a vast array of wildly conceived sandwiches with such a massive variety of ingredients that it’s almost impossible to believe they really have all that stuff back there. There’s also a framed, fading photo of Seth Rogen, in sunglasses, posing with three store employees.

What it looks like

(USA TODAY Sports)

How it tastes

Holy [expletive]. [Expletive] [expletive]! For [expletive’s] [expletive], [expletive].

This sandwich tastes like no sandwich I’ve ever had before, but also, somehow, like every great sandwich I’ve ever had. It’s spicy, sweet, salty, juicy, pungent, earthy, meaty, toasty, crunchy, crispy, creamy, chewy, and a bunch of other descriptors I can’t remember now. It is all of the flavors and all of the textures, all at once, in glorious, mind-blowing harmony. It tastes like someone summoned all the angels from heaven and crammed them into sub roll with some hoisin sauce.

On other sandwiches with this many ingredients, they might all blend together to form one unified flavor — and that’s not a bad thing. But this sandwich presents more of a “Yanny/Laurel” effect, wherein a discerning eater might recognize the taste of any individual ingredient he is thinking about at the time of the bite.

Can I taste the cilantro? Oh, yeah, now that I think of it, this thing has a strong hint of cilantro’s unmistakable bite.

OK, but what about the jalapenos? Yes, some of that heat and some of that crunch is coming from the jalapenos, for sure.

But surely the mozzarella cheese gets lost in here! No, wait — I taste that too, the milky flavor, the delicate creaminess.

It’s all there. All of it. It literally took one bite of this sandwich before I was considering whether it was the best I have ever eaten in New York City. Do you know how many sandwiches I’ve eaten in New York City? Are you kidding? I’m reluctant to crown this the best sandwich in this borough based on only one experience, but I’m confident it’s right there near the top. It’s just so freaking good.

Also, it turns out cantaloupe is a fully inspired and genuinely excellent topping. Again, I’ve eaten so many damn sandwiches, and I’ve never before had a sandwich with cantaloupe on it. Heck, I don’t even really like cantaloupe on its own. But the cantaloupe here is just a touch underripe, which both prevents it from being so sweet and so juicy as to overpower the sandwich and adds a hint of texture and tartness to the thing. The cantaloupe, here, is fulfilling the role normally assigned to — but rarely fulfilled by — sliced tomato inside a sandwich. It’s sweet, it’s moist, it offers a subtle hint of pleasant fruity flavor, but it’s not gooey or mealy like too many lousy, out-of-season tomatoes foisted upon my lunches.

The roll is fresh and good, but no match whatsoever for everything stuffed inside it. This sandwich is a mess, but absolutely worth the extra laundry burden it necessitates. Also, they provide a bunch of napkins in the bag, which might be useful if you’re willing to take time away from the sandwich to wipe your hands.

The limiting factor here, for some, might be that it’s extremely spicy. I like spicy foods and often wind up adding hot sauce to foods advertised for their spiciness, but this was around the upper limits of the spice level I can bear before it transitions from pleasant to painful.

What it costs

$10.99, but it’s a big sandwich. I finished the first half knowing it was plenty for a meal and that I should probably save the second half for later. Then I decided I needed to make sure the sandwich was really as good as I thought it was and should take at least a bite or two from the second half, and then, next thing I knew, the second half was gone.

Hall of Fame?

Inner circle. Inner-inner circle, even. The sample size here is one, but it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had in my entire life.







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maise
58 days ago
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Sounds good
Jersey City
maiseltov
58 days ago
Used to go to that deli
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Peloton opening West Village studio dedicated to treadmills

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Peloton is opening a new production studio in Greenwich Village that will be devoted to its new treadmills. The fitness company already live-streams spin classes from its studio at 140 W. 23rd St. to thousands of exercise buffs across America. Enthusiasts can follow along at home on their own equipment using a built-in tablet or...

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maise
88 days ago
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Jersey City
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Shuttered East Village Cheese Shop Is Starting to Smell

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Plus, the big business of viral food — and more intel

East Village Cheese Shop is starting to rot

Mysteriously closed now for two weeks, with no word as to why and the phone number out of service, East Village Cheese Shop is starting to stink. The storefront at 80 East Seventh Street, between First and Second Avenues, has had its power shut off while being shuttered, which is leading to a potent odor of rotting cheese seeping into nearby businesses, like East Village Hats next door. According to EV Grieve, the landlord is aware of the situation but concerned about legally being able to enter the storefront — but there’s still no word on why this is happening.

Is Out East over?

Another curious closure case is Out East: The Long Island-inspired Lower East Side restaurant has reportedly been shuttered the last two nights, despite social media inviting people in. It hasn’t been the easiest eight months for the restaurant, with at least two head chef shuffles already occurring. Eater has reached out to the restaurant for more information.

New York magazine and Bloomberg weigh in on the best food of 2017

As the year quickly comes to a close, food writers everywhere are reflecting on what they ate in 2017. From New York magazine critic Adam Platt comes his best new restaurants, which include The Grill, Ato, Hanoi House, and Ugly Baby. As for Bloomberg’s Kate Krader, she kvelled over food from Atla, The Pool, Uchu, Sunday in Brooklyn, Madame Vo, and more.

The big business of viral food

No one will be surprised to discover that restaurants are striving to create food solely for Instagram these days — but it’s a bit shocking to see just how much of a business has been created around that. In a big story over on Eater.com, data reporter Vince Dixon writes, “Many former pastry chefs, photographers, and (sometimes) students and part-timers have managed to crack the code of viral, attracting clients willing to pay to become the next Instagram hit.” Check out the full story here, which cites NY restaurants like Juniper Bar and Union Fare, and watch below for a look at if Instagrammable food equals good food:

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maise
206 days ago
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Love East Village Cheese - that really stinks
Jersey City
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Netflix has optioned John Scalzi’s military science fiction novel Old Man’s War

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After years of teases and dead ends, we might yet get an adaptation of John Scalzi’s 2006 military science fiction novel Old Man’s War. Deadline reports that Netflix has optioned the book to develop as a film, with Scalzi coming on board as an executive producer.

Scalzi’s fans have been down this path before, though. Paramount Pictures previously optioned the novel and its sequels in 2011, with Wolfgang Petersen attached to direct. The Syfy Channel began developing the series in 2014. Both projects petered out. Still, Scalzi tells The Verge he’s optimistic about the project, pointing to Netflix’s recent track record with genre stories like Stranger Things and the recent Stephen King adaptation 1922, plus Altered Carbon, which is on the...

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maise
220 days ago
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this is a good idea...very fun book that should make a good netflix movie.
Jersey City
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Soda With Bitters

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Image: Farther Along via Flickr

Last winter, I embarked on my first Drynuary with a mix of shock and self-righteousness. I was thirty-fucking-five years old and I seriously, SERIOUSLY, couldn’t remember going an entire month without drinking. By Day 5, my husband told me, I started reminding him of the straight-edge kids from high school. But, I was really onto something. Wasn’t it crazy that we configured our lives around the consumption of alcohol, the same way that we configured our living rooms around television sets? Wasn’t it odd that we were always a little inebriated around friends and coworkers? How could we tell who we really were if we spent so much time in an altered state? He suggested I listen to some Youth of Today and opened a beer.

Even though I wasn’t drinking, I was determined to keep up with my social obligations, which meant I often found myself in bars, explaining to people that I had sworn off booze for the month. Around Day 12, I found myself in that particular circle of hell known as Hotbird on a Friday night. It was here that my friend Nadja introduced me to her coping mechanism for her own Drynuary: seltzer with a dash of bitters.(Bitters are also, 44.7 percent alcohol, so a dash is either technically disqualifying for the “dry” part of Drynuary, or a symbolic way of partaking without partaking. It’s between you and your Oprah.) The idea was, she explained, was to, more or less, fool yourself by ordering a signature cocktail, which conferred a sense of agency, rather than a sense of deprivation. It was quirky, it was refreshing, and it was delicious.

The classic bitters in most bars are Angostura bitters, which have a delightful and convoluted history, assembled here entirely from this Wikipedia entry. Its ingredients are “water, 44.7% ethanol, gentian, herbs and spices.” Gentian is a beautiful blue flower. The “spices” are a secret proprietary blend. A German doctor working in Venezuela came up with the recipe and started making them in a town called Angostura, which means ‘narrow’ in Spanish. The name of the town is a reference to the narrowing of the Orinoco River, which is home to the Amazon river dolphin and the giant river otter. There’s also a plant in South America called Angostura trifoliata, which is used in other bitters recipes, but not, ironically, in Angostura bitters. The label is strangely oversized because of a miscommunication among the doctor’s sons who took over the business after his death.

Despite these Amazonian origins, Angostura bitters taste, to my immigrant mouth, distincly American. The aromatics echo baking—cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, licorice—an herbaceous concentrate of pie with a bit of sweetness. In a glass of seltzer, the bitters add a lovely garnet tinge, and a perfumey detour from the sharp fizz of the carbonation. You can sip it, thinking of otters and Amazonian rivers and lose yourself in a veritable jungle, while your drunk friends yammer on about the latest sexual harassment revelations.

As a former bartender, my first experience with bitters involved mixing ill-proportioned Manhattans and Old Fashioned at a shitty bar on Lower East Side. Who ordered cocktails at a sports bar anyway? And what was I doing there? Mostly I used bitters as a hiccup remedy: a slice of lemon, a sprinkle of sugar, and a dash of bitters worked like a charm on countless tipsy patrons.

Now, ordering seltzer and bitters I was forced to confront the same inexpert service that I’d provided to my customers. Some bartenders interpretted my request for a dash of bitters with a “more is more” approach and delivered seltzers mixed with a shot of bitters. Although, maybe, they were extending me a strange professional courtesy, since a shot of bitters is a popular version of the “bartender’s handshake,” a sort of ritual shared by the drink-slinging community. But every once in a while, it was as it should be. The bartender would fill a glass with seltzer, set it on the bar, and in front of my eyes, dispense, with a flick of the wrist, the perfect dash. And then the crimson would swirl among the bubbles, like a puff of smoke.

For the rest of the month, and in the year since, I’ve ordered dozens of seltzers with bitters. Some time after I wrapped up Dryanury, I embarked on another month-long exercise in self-torture: the Whole 30. (Yes, I know, technically bitters aren’t compliant, I don’t care.) A few months later, I had another extended episode of insomnia and stopped drinking to try and fix the problem.

The first seltzer and bitters of a dry month feels like a secret oath. I promise that I won’t drink for a month. I promise to be better to myself. I promise to be generous to others. (I promise to invent better essay endings than this classic three-beat bullshit.) And, the bitters filter through the seltzer, while hiss of the carbonation whisper, “I’ll be there for you.” And, then Bon Jovi starts to sing.

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maise
236 days ago
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Jersey City
sgiglio
236 days ago
are you supporting seltzers with bitters or condemning as a seltzer aficionado
maise
236 days ago
need to try this before i decide...sounds kind of good.
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