My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 9/6/19

After a full day of cleaning on Saturday, I was able to just relax for the rest of my three day weekend. You would think that would equal more finished books. You would be wrong. There is an explanation for that, though, that will come in the book section.

Movies – I did not watch a new movie this week. I had one new movie from the library that will go back unwatched today. Instead, the movies we watched were old movies we had seen before that were on TV over the holiday weekend. We watched White House Down – the superior people taking over the White House movie. I don’t get why Olympus Has Fallen got two sequels instead of this one. I still really like it. My wife watched the new version of Total Recall while I read and half paid attention. We watched Doc Hollywood. It was a nice pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I like new movies, but sometimes it’s fun to relax with an older movie you enjoy.

TV – We finished season one of Jack Ryan on Amazon. It was very good and I can’t wait for season two in November. I’m staying current on the shows I’m recording from TV in an effort to keep my DVR in shape to record all of the new shows that are less than a month away. Yes, I still have cable. I will always have cable. I love TV too much to not have the new network shows in real-time. I also have Netflix and Amazon and will probably try to convince my wife that we also need Disney Plus. If we get the package I’ve read about that might also add Hulu as well. I may never read a book again.

Books – I did finish one book this week. It was one of the Tor novellas, but it counts. It was The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle. It is a revisiting of Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook from the viewpoint of a black man. It won the  2016 Shirley Jackson Award for best novella and was a finalist for various other awards. Needless to say, it was very good and I would recommend it. It is also less than 200 pages which is refreshing in the days of the 400 and over page books. I actually read quite a bit over the week but didn’t finish another book. I started reading Chaos, a book about the Manson murders where the author tries to prove Bugliosi’s “race war” motive in Helter Skelter is wrong. I got halfway through that and then focused on reading the book for the mystery book club at work. That book is The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah. It is a new Hercule Poirot mystery. Do we really need someone else writing these? It is not my favorite. So, the switching books has slowed me down in finishing even though I spent a lot of time reading this week. Now I have another book I need to finish for my personal book club next Saturday. Too many assigned readings!

On Deck – We will watch The Sun is Also a Star and Godzilla King of Monsters with the kids this weekend. I also have The Last Black Man in San Francisco I will try to watch at some point. We will likely finish the last season of Flash while my daughter is at home. I need to watch more Mr Mercedes before it is due back to the library. I will continue reading the two books mentioned above.


What Have I Achieved?

A friend sent me a Creativity Jumpstart notebook a while back. I have not used it as much as I should. I get stuck a lot and it is very useful in helping me find something to write. Today’s post is brought to you by life lately and the following tweet she included in the notebook:


I can relate to that tweet completely, but, unfortunately, for a good portion of my achieving things, I didn’t have Netflix to get me through. I survived and even before Netflix TV was a big part of my life.

Mine has been a life of thinking that I would be happier if I could just achieve a certain thing.

Going to college was going to make me happier. I was still an awkward social outcast in college.

Graduating and getting a job was going to make me happier. My first job out of grad school was a contract job with no benefits and a terrible boss.

Getting a real job away from that boss was going to make me happier. I ended up back in jail.

Getting out of jail was going to make me happier It took 19 years, but I got out of jail. I was then in a weird, invisible position where no one respected me and I was still the jail guy.

Getting a transfer or a promotion to get an actual title was going to make me happier. What I got was that a title means nothing and I might be more invisible and less respected than I was when I was the jail guy.

I’ve spent years working toward some mythical place that was going to make me happy. I’m still not happy. I’m not happy because my focus on being happy was too career focused. My career was never going to be the source of my happiness.  I’ve been reaching for happiness where happiness was not to be found. I will never move up in my career if I stay who I am and I refuse to be someone else. At least that is what people tell me.

So, if you need me, I will be in front of my TV watching Netflix and dreading leaving the house in the morning.


People Say The Dumbest Things


Yesterday someone actually said this sentence to me:

“It’s probably better that your parents died young since they are in a better place now”

Who could possibly think that is an appropriate thing to say? Who could possibly think a person would be happy that their dad died when they were in high school and theor mom died just a few years ago? How does someone not only let those words come out of their mouth, but also not regret it and apologize once they’ve realized how terrible it was? I’m pretty sure they don’t even think it was a bad thing to say.  How to I now deal with this person on a daily basis?

Other recent dumb things I’ve been told:

“It must be nice to have had easy kids to raise and to never have to worry about anything”

Related, just months after my mom had died: “It must be nice to have a nice, easy life with no problems”

Those two courtesy of the fact that I don’t talk about my personal life a lot. Therefore, it must be easy and problem-free because otherwise wouldn’t I talk about it all the time?

“Everyone goes to therapy these days. It used to be people would just suck it up and deal with it.”

Actually saying out loud to me that you feel discriminated against for being asked to give money for a gift for “that type of wedding”. Just quietly decline to contribute and leave your bias to yourself.

I’m sure there are others and I might add them as they come to me.

Other, non-me related things:

Apparently, some people have not received the news that it is bad form to ask someone if they are pregnant when there is a chance that they are not, in fact, pregnant.

A Catholic school in Nashville banned Harry Potter books because they “risk conjuring evil spirits” if read aloud,

I could do a multi-page post of stupid things politicians say.

Have people always not thought before they speak or is this something new?


Actors I Will Always Watch

I’m watching The Righteous Gemstones. This is the first episode with Walton Goggins. It made me think about what actors will always get me to watch a show or a movie. So, here’s a list.

  1. Walton Goggins – This is a relatively new one for me, but I’ve loved him n everything he’s done. I will watch The Unicorn this fall only because he is the start. The premise of the show with any other actor would probably make it a skip for me.
  2. Timothy Olyphant – I loved Justified. Olyphant and Goggins were really good in it. Like Goggins, Olyphant is also very good at comedy. I’m looking forward to his next project.
  3. Gary Cole – I watched Fam last year because of Gary Cole. The rest of the show was pretty terrible, but I watched because his scenes were so funny. I never watched Black-ish. I did watch some of Grown-ish. I will likely watch Mixed-ish this fall in part because of Cole’s involvement.
  4. Mark Paul Gosselaar – This one isn’t so much about the actor as much as it is his talent in picking good projects. It’s at the point now where if I see he is in a show I assume it will be pretty good. The was a recast and he is now the dad in Mixed-ish. With him and Gary Cole involved, it is a must-watch for me.
  5. Emma Stone – I know some people find her annoying, but I really like her and will watch what looks like a bad movie if she is in it. My favorite is still Easy A.
  6. Amber Stevens West – I watched another bad comedy last year hoping it would get better because I liked the stars. She was one of them. I will watch her next show no matter what it is. Hopefully, it will be better.
  7. Damon Wayans, Jr – He was the other star of the above show. I watched because I love the two of them. I enjoyed them on the show, but the writing was terrible. I wanted it to get better, but it didn’t. What a waste of talent.

I’m sure there are more, but that’s who I can think of right now. I left off a lot of major stars like The Rock, Keaunu and the like because it’s not exactly a revelation that someone would watch stuff because of them. Do you have people you watch no matter what?

What’s Good in Tater Town 9/1/19

Wow. I can’t believe I just typed a September date. The year is winding down. Here’s hoping it’s a good end of the year in Tater Town. On to this week. Do you think I took notes? Of course, I didn’t.

  1. We had nice, cool weather to start the week. I almost needed a jacket to sit outside at lunch on Monday.
  2. Random free drink from Panera meant a relaxing morning with a latte, bagel, and book before work.
  3. Retirement party for my former boss meant a trip to my old branch Thursday.
  4. Retirement party meant spending the afternoon with friends I don’t see a lot anymore.
  5. I took leave after the party and got home earlier than normal.
  6. Kentucky won their first football game of the season.
  7. The Braves have maintained their lead in the division.
  8. Book club last night meant more time with friends.

That’s all for this week. There might have been more, but it was overshadowed by work stuff. I really need to take notes.

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 8/30/19

I’m back on track a little with my reading. An audiobook on my 2-hour drive on Thursday helped with that some. My TV viewing has been adversely affected by my new sleep pattern of going to bed early because my dog won’t sleep past 5am.

Movies – We watched The Predator. It is a new sequel to Schwarzenegger’s movie from the 80’s. We enjoyed it. It’s not going to win any awards, but it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. I think sometimes the critics forget that it’s OK for a movie to just be a fun distraction. I don’t need an award-winning movie al the time.  My wife never wants to watch award winners. She finds them boring. The loves dumb action movies, so The Predator was perfect for her.

TV – We started watching the Jack Ryan series on Amazon this week. I was a big fan of the first few books in the series so I’m always interested to see how the new adaptations work.  I’m enjoying it so far. I think Krasinski is good as Jack Ryan and I like Wendell Pierce in everything he does. We will keep watching. I watched the first episode of the newest seasons of Mr. Mercedes and Dear White People yesterday. I’m looking forward to watching more. Only a few weeks until the new TV season. I also need to clear some space on my DVR soon.

Books – I finished two books this week.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – It is weird and could be hard to follow when I was listening instead of reading, but I really liked it. It’s hard to give a basic premise, but I will try. There was a man who might be a god who adopted some kids and taught each of them a specific skill(healing, language, fighting, etc) with a rule that no one was to study outside of their catalog. We start with the “dad” missing and possibly dead. Add a plumber/thief who might have a connection to the “family” and a legendary soldier/now Homeland Security agent and you get a weird, but an enjoyable mystery.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe – I agree with a friend who rated it on Goodreads with 5 stars for the message, three stars for their enjoyment of it. I’m glad the book exists. I’m glad I read it. I didn’t think the writing was that good.

On Deck – I have Little waiting for me at the library and now that I know my daughter will come home next weekend I will also get my copy of The Sun is Also a Star to watch with her. I’m sure we will watch more episodes of Jack Ryan and I will watch more Mr. Mercedes and Dear White People. I’m in the middle of The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavelle and then I will read Chaos, a book about the Manson murders.

Be Vigilant, But Be Better

There have been more reports of cars being broken into in my neighborhood recently. There was a reported sexual assault in my neighborhood recently. Obviously, people are concerned and there was a post on Next Door about what the community can do to help. There were some obvious answers:

Lock your doors: car and house.

Don’t leave valuables in the car.

Be out and about more in the neighborhood at various times so there is less time when the thefts can happen.

Be aware of what is happening around you.

Call the police about suspicious activity.

The last one is a good idea if used properly. Unfortunately, this is not the case. One person already commented that their neighbor called the cops on them for sitting in front of their own house in a friend’s car. I posted a rant before about a post on Next Door where a woman said she called the police on a guy for basically walking while black. I see post after post where people are calling the police because someone is walking around the neighborhood selling something or putting flyers on doors. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, “suspicious activity” means being outside while not white. We’ve all seen the videos of white people calling the cops on lemonade stands, barbecues, etc. Can we really trust the community to call the police only when necessary? I know I don’t.

Be vigilant, but be better. Stop using the police to rid the neighborhood of people “not like you”

Drifting Away From Family

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s farm. Many of my cousins also spent a lot of time at the farm. We also would travel to Virginia to visit my aunt and her family. They would also travel to Kentucky to see my grandmother. There are many pictures of me and my siblings with my two cousins from Virginia. They were a big part of my childhood as were some of my other cousins. My grandmother died when I was in 6th grade. My dad died when I was a senior in high school. After this, I saw the cousins less and less.

I moved away to college and then after college moved to Cincinnati for a couple of years. At this point, I didn’t see any of my cousins at all. When I was at home I spent the time with my mom and my siblings. After two years in Cincy, my wife was transferred to DC. I had a job interview in DC a day before we were to move into our temporary housing. So, after my interview, I spent the night at my aunt’s house just south of DC in Virginia. We did a little better for a while going to visit them off and on. It was easy because our temporary housing was also in Virginia. Eventually, our house in Maryland was done and then my aunt moved further south. The visits took a little more time, but we still tried to go down occasionally. I can’t remember when it was that the visits stopped. I know that my cousins were both married and had kids, but all of our kids were still pretty young. It’s easy to let a busy life give you an excuse to stop visiting.

Fast forward a few years – I get the news that my aunt has died. I travel down to the funeral and see my cousins and their kids for the first time in several years. Not long after that my uncle died and I was back again for a funeral. I think this one was the one where I spent the night instead of driving back and forth. We were honest with each other. She didn’t do online stuff and I hate making phone calls. Odds were we would not keep in touch. We were correct. I was eventually friends with each cousin’s kids on Facebook so I knew a little about their lives, but we never saw each other in person.

Fast forward 9 years – I wake up early to go to a work event and look at Facebook. My cousin’s daughter has posted that her little brother was shot to death tat night. He was 18. So, last week I was back down south for another funeral. I had not seen anyone there for 9 years. We only seem to see each other when bad things happen. The same goes for both sides of my family. The only time I see any family members besides my siblings is at a funeral. We’ve become that family. I don’t think anyone meant for it to happen. It just did. I would like to say that things will change, but it likely won’t. I don’t foresee anyone ever coming to visit me. I don’t foresee anyone wanting or expecting me to come to visit them. We will see each other the next time something bad happens. Sad, but true.

Random Thoughts on Random Things

Still struggling to write anything coherent. Some would say I’ve been struggling with that since I started this blog eleven years ago. Let’s see what random thoughts come out as I keep going today.

  • Andrew Luck retired this week. He was 29 years old and had suffered multiple injuries and decided it was time to quit the game of football. Fans are mad. Sports people, looking at you Gottlieb, have terrible takes. As I wrote in this post you’ve gotta do what’s best for you and your family and that is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how much money Luck makes or how close the season is, he did what was best for him and that is the right thing to do.
  • TMZ posted audio of a phone call that is allegedly DeMarcus Cousins telling the mother of his child that he will put a bullet in her head. Kentucky fans immediately started commenting on the posts making excuses for him. There is no excuse for doing this. I don’t care who you are, how much money you make, or where you played sports this is not OK and there is no excuse for it. Be better.
  • Be careful being someone who is where they are supposed to be and does what you are supposed to do. People like to take advantage of that and will use that as an excuse to not be there and not do things. Also, no one will appreciate what you do and eventually you will feel like you are killing yourself for nothing. Take care of yourself and take a day here and there when you need it. If the place falls apart while you are gone maybe people will finally realize how good you are(probably not).
  • Joe Walsh is challenging Trump in the primaries. Everyone, including democrats, jumped in immediately to talk about how he is just as bad as Trump. You might be right, but no one is asking you to vote for him if he beats Trump. We do need Republicans, regardless of who they are, to challenge him. He needs to spend time before the general election defending his actions. A challenged opponent can be a weakened opponent.
  • I’ve written a lot about bad drivers. I’ve noticed a new trend lately of people going to the opposite extreme from aggressive driving to very slow and hesitant driving. That isn’t any better. Can’t people just try driving in a way that is safe and normal?
  • According to Goodreads, I’m 9 books behind schedule on my challenge to read 100 books this year. Also according to Goodreads, I have a good shot of reading more pages this year even though I will read fewer books. I think Goodreads needs to add a “pages read” challenge along with a number of books challenge. I’ve read a lot of long books this year.
  • I’ve started creating social media posts for my work once a week. I’m enjoying it. I like it a lot more than other things I do for work. Maybe I will get good enough at it that they let me do it full time.

I guess I will stop there. I think I need to stop worrying about single topic posts and just save up some if these smaller thoughts(the kind I normally have) for posts like this.

Too Monday to Write

I had decided to write something this morning about the reaction to Andrew Luck’s retirement. I have thoughts about that. I just can’t get motivated to actually put them into a coherent post.

I have some thoughts about the reaction to Joe Walsh entering the Republican primary. Again, no motivation to put them into a coherent post.

I have to go to work this morning. I have no motivation to get off the couch and do that either, but mot going to work is not an option, so I will have to get over that.

I’ve been up since 5:30am. I read the paper. I watched two half-hour TV shows. I ate breakfast. I did a little bit of exercise. I took a shower. I should be ready to go. I’m not.

I think it is just a reaction to the time of the year. My daughter is back in school. Days are getting shorter. Summer is basically over. I think no matter how old I get and how little summer ending really changes my life it will still be a down time for me. I think after years of being on school and then having kids in school that end of summer feeling is just ingrained in you and will never go away.

It also doesn’t help that I’m aware of the fact that no one cares if I post or not. It’s not like more than 20 people will read what I write. It’s hard to get motivated to do something that no one cares about. Same goes for work. I could quit today and it wouldn’t matter to anyone. It would probably make a lot of people happy. I’m just a replaceable cog in a machine. I’m not sure cogs are every really motivated. They just work until they wear down and then they are replaced and thrown away.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better morning.