My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 4/2/21

I can’t believe it is April already. This year is flying by. One more weekend of basketball and then the only sports I will watch will be when the Braves are actually on TV. Here’s my week in reading and watching.

Movies – I did not watch a new movie this week. Between watching basketball and being sleepy because I stayed up late watching basketball a movie was not in the picture. I did watch Happy Gilmore Wednesday afternoon because I was tired and didn’t want to think.

TV – Basketball was on all day Saturday and Sunday and then Monday and Tuesday night. That took most of my TV time this week. We did finally watch the first two episodes of Falcon and the Winter Soldier last Friday. I love the Marvel movies and Bucky is one of my favorite characters. Not surprisingly, I really liked the show, I wish there was going to be more than six episodes. We tried the new CBS comedy The United States of Al last night. It was fine. It has potential, but could also get old fast if they don’t expand past the premise(a former marine arranges for his Afghani translator to move to the US and live with him). I will give it a couple more episodes to see where they are taking it. The cast is pleasant. I didn’t watch as much of The Fosters as I would have because the new Hulu update does not work on the Fire Stick and they don’t seem to have the ability to fix it. I watched on my iPad some, but would have watched more if using the TV. I watched the Braves opening day game yesterday.

Books – I finished two books this week.

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman – Ash is a high school football player living a good life. God friends, popularity and a chance at a football scholarship. In the first game of the new season after a hard hit on the quarterback he feels weird and then realizes the world has changed. It starts small. Stop signs are now blue. The next game the hit changes things a little more. As each hit changes the world and Ash more Ash begins to see things through different eyes. Can he figure out how to get his world back? My daughter read this one first and immediately said I should read it. It is very good. Suspenseful, interesting way to show how your view of the world change when you see it through someone else’s eyes. Highly recommend.

Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman – A would be bank robber flees and takes a group of people hostage at an apartment open house. A father/son duo of police officers investigate as the bank robber has disappeared after the hostages are released. The story goes back and forth between the investigation, the events during the hostage situation, and things in the past that connect some of the characters. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I liked it nearly as much as the people who recommended I read it, I think Bachman has voice that appeals to some more than others. I am on the outer edge of those to whom it appeals. I would recommend it, but I can’t say for sure that you will like it.

On Deck – We plan to watch Kong vs Godzilla tonight. I have the season premiere of Manifest to watch today. The new shows Home Economics and Rebel start next week. They both look promising, but I think my daughter wants me to wait for her to watch the first one. I still want to try the new Mighty Ducks show, but my wife says she might want to watch it so I have to wait for her. I am reading The Project by Courtney Summers.

Tater’s March 2021 in Books

It is April 1. That means two things – people on the Internet crying about April Fools Day and my review of the books I read last month.

  1. Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang – I love Yang’s work and this one is just as good as his other books. Yang taught at Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland. The basketball team has gone to the state championship game multiple times and lost. In 2015 they had their best shot yet of winning. Yang decides to travel with the team and write a graphic novel about the season. I am a big basketball fan, so I was pretty sure I was going to love it and I did. I think people who aren’t basketball fans will also enjoy it. He tells the story of the team, but also includes a lot of historical details about the game.

2. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry – Set in the late 80’s, we follow a field hockey team in Danvers, Massachusetts who discover that the witchcraft of their ancestors might be the key to a winning season. They have never had a winning record until they start to sign onto a pact at summer camp. Suddenly, they start winning on the field and off. We follow them through their senior season and finish with a reunion 30 years later. It took me a bit to read the book. I liked it, but it isn’t one you can breeze through. I enjoyed the story and it was well written. I was happy to have the reunion at the end to see what happened to each girl after high school. I can see why it was on an award list.

3. Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh – This is a collection of comedic, autobiographical, and illustrated essays. It has stories from her childhood, stories about her pets, and other parts of her life. It was OK, but by the end I was reading to finish more than I was reading for enjoyment. It all started to sound the same. It was a quick read, though.

4. Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth – There were two different stories here. 1902 at The Brookhants School for Girls where two girls have died and current day where they are making a movie about Brookhants and the possible curse/haunting. I feel like there was potential for a good book here. I enjoyed the current day story more than the 1902 story. I usually am OK with flipping back and forth between time periods, but this one always took me out of the story when there was a switch. It was too long. The author seemed to think she was more clever than she really was. It was disjointed and the story switched at terrible times. I think she was going for cliffhanger anticipation with some of the cuts, but I just found it annoying.

5. Smoke by Joe Ide – this is the 5th book in the IQ series. IQ has left the city to escape a gang that wants him dead. He settles in a small town in the hope of leaving all the bad that comes with his detective work. That is short lived when a young man who has escaped from a psychiatric facility breaks into his house and says a serial killer is coming to town. There are also side stories in the city with regular characters Dodson, Deronda and Grace, In this case I think I enjoyed their stories more than the main one. I love this series and all of the characters. I think it would make a good TV show. I recommend starting with the first book, IQ.

6. The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – Linus Baker works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is sent to investigate a house where six highly classified, possibly dangerous magical youth live. He learns there is more to the children and the man who runs the house than can be learned in a file. This is a great book about prejudice, belonging and finding your place in the world. I highly recommend it.

7. Game Changer by Neal Shusterman – Ash is a high school football player living a good life. God friends, popularity and a chance at a football scholarship. In the first game of the new season after a hard hit on the quarterback he feels weird and then realizes the world has changed. It starts small. Stop signs are now blue. The next game the hit changes things a little more. As each hit changes the world and Ash more Ash begins to see things through different eyes. Can he figure out how to get his world back? My daughter read this one first and immediately said I should read it. It is very good. Suspenseful, interesting way to show how your view of the world change when you see it through someone else’s eyes. Highly recommend.

8. Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman – A would be bank robber flees and takes a group of people hostage at an apartment open house. A father/son duo of police officers investigate as the bank robber has disappeared after the hostages are released. The story goes back and forth between the investigation, the events during the hostage situation, and things in the past that connect some of the characters. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I liked it nearly as much as the people who recommended I read it, I think Bachman has voice that appeals to some more than others. I am on the outer edge of those to whom it appeals. I would recommend it, but I can’t say for sure that you will like it.

I started and gave up on Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler. It got great reviews. It just didn’t click with me.

My Day With Batman

These pictures popped up in my memories today so instead of a wordy post I will do an almost wordless Wednesday.

Six years ago, the library was doing a photo shoot for the quarterly magazine of happenings. Batman was going to be on the cover. He drove to the library in the Batmobile. It was my job to stand watch over the Batmobile while Batman was doing the photo shoot. It was a good day at work.

Sadly, later that year, the Route 29 Batman was hit and killed while pulled over in the side of the road with car trouble.

On Comparative Suffering

Yesterday, my therapist gave me a list of ways you can deal with distressing emotions until they pass. I was on board for al of them but one. Luckily, my therapist agreed. This way was comparison. There were two different types of comparison.

One is to compare it to a time when you were in more distress and realize how things are not as bad right now. We discussed there that if you aren’t careful you could make yourself more depressed by then dwelling on something really bad from the past. It is tricky to find a more distressing time to compare without stressing yourself out more. Still, I could see the value. My worst day now is much better than my worst day when I worked with a toxic person. It is good to remember that.

The second one is the one that we both agreed is no good. That statement was “realize how resilient you are by thinking of someone who is coping less well than you are.” I told her that I was not on board with that one because I’ve had way too many times that people have minimized my suffering because “other people have it worse” I even wrote about it in this post from 2014. People love to jump in when someone talks about their struggle to tell them how it could be much worse and that other people’s struggles are bigger. Maybe it helps some people to always think that way. It’s fine if you think that way about your own life. If you can count your blessing and feel better about things by thinking other people have it worse, that’s great. The problem is a lot of those people also feel the need to spread that “wisdom” on to other people.

“Why are you upset that your wife missed your son’s prom pictures because her train was stopped? Don’t you realize it is much worse for the person the train hit” Yes. I’m not fucking stupid or insensitive. I realize that being hit by a train is much worse than most things. It doesn’t mean that my wife isn’t still sad about prom and that I’m irritated that there is no procedure to get people off the train when this happens. This, by the way, is the interaction that led to the 2014 post.

“You shouldn’t complain about the inmates being annoying. You don’t know what they’ve been through in life” You are right. I don’t. I do know that they were being loud and obnoxious and made my day worse. I did know I got to go home at night and they didn’t. Guess what? It was still annoying.

Stop minimizing other people’s bad days by talking about someone else’s worse day.

Count your blessings, yes, but don’t minimize that sometimes you need to accept and deal with your suffering.

The flip side of this can be that you compare your suffering and rate your suffering as worse than everyone else’s. Everyone else’s life is great and yours sucks. Why bother trying? You give up. You withdraw. You become bitter about your life. You minimize the suffering of everyone else because it can’t be as bad as yours. It’s not a good place to be.

Comparative suffering is not a game we should be playing.

On Shaming

Krispy Kreme recently announced they would give a free donut every day for the rest of the year to anyone who showed they have been vaccinated. A friend tagged me on a post on Facebook to let me know because I love donuts. I sent it to my brother and sister who have been vaccinated. I thought it was a cool promotion. Others did not. I still see articles every day where people are very angry about this because donuts can make you fat and fat people are terrible and shouldn’t exist. See Dr. Wen below.

We want to shame Krispy Kreme, a donut place, for trying to get people to eat donuts. We want to shame people who would go eat donuts, especially if they qualified for the vaccine because of their weight.

Shaming is nothing new, but it seems to be really en vogue now.

We shame others for not isolating as much as we are. Early on people on Twitter were calling anyone who didn’t do things exactly as they did “grandma killers” I unfollowed an actor on Twitter because he did this every day. Every single person he came across who he judged to be deficient in their Covid protocols were “grandma killers” and pretty much everyone but him was deficient.

We shame others for isolating instead of just living their life. They are called sheep who blindly follow the government and don’t think for themselves.

The government tries to use shame and judging to get people to follow their rules. If we were better people and did the right thing everything would be fine. They’ve done everything right and the only reason cases are up is because we aren’t good enough.

I’ve seen instances of people posting about their vaccine on Facebook only to be barraged with questions about how they qualified for the vaccine. Most with the implication that they didn’t think they should have been able to get vaccinated so they obviously cheated. We are out there yelling for everyone to get the shot, but then we question people when they get the shot because we assume they did something wrong to get their shot. This is why even though I share every random thought in my head I will not post my vaccination on social media.

There was a letter to one of the advice columns in the paper today where someone complained that friends of theirs “cheated” to get vaccinated as teachers. They do teach, but online only at the moment so she thought they should be ashamed of themselves for getting vaccinated. She was also eligible like them, but she was a “good person” who was saving that shot for someone who needed it more. The sad thing – the advice person agreed with her and said they used a “loophole” and it were being deceptive and unethical. I don’t know their exact situation. All I know is that even if I think it is dumb for a certain group to be eligible, I think everyone in that group should jump at the chance to be vaccinated. We aren’t doing anyone any good of we shame people about the vaccine enough that we slow down the process of getting everyone vaccinated.

Shaming is nothing new. I write this post, You Are the Biggest Loser, in 2014 after everyone had opinions about a woman who won The Biggest Loser. The news was full of doctors who had an opinion about her losing so much weight and how it was unhealthy. So, we have Dr. Wen saying giving people donuts is bad because fat people are bad but also doctors saying losing too much weight is bad. You can’t win.

Judging and shaming is always bad. I think it is worse when we add it on top of the stress and anxiety of a pandemic.

Washington Post Best Detective Bracket

This was a fun activity from my morning paper. I filled out my brackets. I did not know every detective in the brackets so some I chose blindly. My championship came down to Sherlock vs IQ since Bosch went against Sherlock in the final four.

Fill out your bracket and let me know your winner in the comments.

www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/interactive/2021/best-detective-bracket/

What’s Good in Tater Town 3/28/21

This was one of those weeks where by Wednesday I had lost track of the days and had to keep reminding myself the next day was Thursday and I had something to do. Was there good in the confusion? Let’s see,

  1. Dinner with my son Sunday night.
  2. More basketball on TV.
  3. A break from basketball midweek meant real sleep to get ready for more basketball.
  4. I found a game to keep me occupied when I don’t feel like reading,
  5. Warm weather most of the week.
  6. Warm weather meant time reading on my front porch.
  7. Two free donuts this week.
  8. Actually all my donuts are still free thanks to my going away gift from my friends at the library.
  9. I didn’t seriously hurt myself when I fell down the stairs.
  10. My dog’s dental procedure went well.

That’s all I can think of for the week. Nothing too exciting happened.

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 3/26/21

I had two options today – write a short, quick recap before I have to leave at 8 to drop the dog at the vet or write after I return from the vet and the grocery store. I opted for the quick one now. Luckily, I don’t have a lot to report on this week since a lot of it was filled with basketball.

Movies – I did not watch a movie this week. All of the times I would have watched a movie were filled with basketball.

TV– Thursday through Monday were filled with basketball. Basketball started at noon and ended around midnight. I watched all the way through. After basketball was over we watched a few of our stored shows. I needed a new show to watch alone. I chose The Fosters because I heard good things about it and I hear the spin off Good Trouble is also good. I am a few episodes in and enjoy it so far. The general plot – a couple is raising the one mom’s biological son and the twins they adopted. They take in a foster kid who was just released from juvie. They also end up taking in her little brother. The show deals with the drama within the family, at high school and with family issues with the moms and their parents. The only problem I have with it is that the new Hulu update sucks and it keeps buffering.

Books – I finished two books this week

Smoke by Joe Ide – this is the 5th book in the IQ series. IQ has left the city to escape a gang that wants him dead. He settles in a small town in the hope of leaving all the bad that comes with his detective work. That is short lived when a young man who has escaped from a psychiatric facility breaks into his house and say a serial killer is coming to town. There are also side stories in the city with regular characters Dodson, Deronda and Grace, In this case I think I enjoyed their stores ore than the main one. I love this series and all of the characters. I think it would make a good TV show. I recommend starting with the first book, IQ.

The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – Linus Baker works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is sent to investigate a house where six highly classified, possibly dangerous magical youth live. He learns there is more to the children and the man who runs the house than can be learned in a file. This is a great book about prejudice, belonging and finding your place in the world. I highly recommend it.

On Deck – We will probably watch Godzilla vs Kong this week. More basketball starts tomorrow. I will watch more of The Fosters. Manifest comes back this week. I have not yet decided what I plan to read next.

When Stairs Attack

The villain of the story

My wife went to the office yesterday afternoon. I took that opportunity to vacuum the house since I didn’t need to worry about the noise. I put in my ear buds and sang loudly while I was doing it. Everything was good until the end. I vacuumed the stairs with the cord plugged in at the top. When I was done, I left the vacuum at the bottom of the stairs and went up to unplug it. On my way back down, I slipped and fell down four or five stairs and landed on top of the vacuum. I was generally OK. My shoulder hurt immediately after, but there was no lingering pain. I didn’t realize I had hurt my ankle until I took the dog for a walk after the rain ended. My ankle was hurting after and still hurts this morning. This. as my brother and niece reminded me on Facebook, was not my first incident with carpeted stairs. Carpeted stairs are my nemesis.

Before the main story, I will say that stairs in general seem be be an issue for me. I take them too fast every time and if I go too fast I stumble. Usually it is just a stumble and then I right myself. A lot of times I’m tripping up the stairs. I’m writing this like it happens all the time. It doesn’t happen all the time, but probably more than it does to people who don’t feel the need to sprint every set of stairs they encounter. It isn’t a new thing. I recall one occasion as a teen when I was going down to the basement to feed my dog, slipped and ended up at the bottom of the stairs covered in we dog food. I do have a habit of falling at the worst times. The worst of these involve my daughter.

We were at my in-laws house for Christmas when my daughter was a toddler. They have a steep set of carpeted stairs. At the bottom of the stairs is a grandfather clock. My daughter had recently learned to climb stairs. While we were there she climbed those stairs. I was worried about her coming back down because she was only wearing socks and the carpet is slick. I had visions of her falling and hitting her head on the clock. I ran up the stairs and picked her up to carry her back down. As I turned I slipped and fell down the stairs while holding her. I was able to turn myself to protect her head and kept my hand around her head to prevent a head injury. I hit the bottom and we thought everything was OK. It seemed I had taken the brunt of the fall and she was OK. It seemed that way until she tried to sand up and couldn’t put weight on one of her legs. We took her to the ER and it was confirmed that her leg was broken. It seems while I was protecting her head her leg went under me and turned in a bad way. We were questioned by the doctor to make sure there was no child abuse, they put her in a cast and we continued the vacation. We have tons of Christmas photos of he with her cast. I don’t think I will ever reach a point where that is forgotten.

The moral of the story – don’t be like me. Walk slowly on stairs. Maybe use the railing. Consider not carpeting stairs. Will I learn that lesson? Probably not.

More Vaccine Ranting

Georgia just announced that anyone above the age of 16 will be eligible to get the vaccine starting tomorrow. My social media is full of friends and family being vaccinated in Kentucky. Meanwhile, here in Maryland, the “big” move forward for us was that starting yesterday people over the age of 60 are eligible. This coming Tuesday people of any age with underlying health conditions are finally eligible. Then it opens to 55 plus before finally, just in time for Biden’s May 1 deadline, late April everyone is available. We are moving a snail’s pace while also being told 70% of the people in the first phase have received a shot.

We are perilously close to more and more vaccines sitting on a shelf(I’ve read but not confirmed that Maryland already has 500,000 unused doses). We have a preregistration system here so there is no way to know if our mass vax sites have open appointments that aren’t filled because they can’t find the “right” people. I assume it’s possible since there was hand wringing in the Post today about people from other states and the “unqualified” getting spots when the called and got canceled slots. Would we rather those slots go unfilled? Isn’t the goal to vaccinate as many people as possible as fast as possible? Are we so worried about following the rules that we would rather vaccinate no one than vaccinate someone that the great Larry Hogan has not declared eligible? This is what happens when the government is in charge and the person in charge is addicted to power and TV. Nothing gets done so Hogan can avoid bad press. With the slow process he can brag about how he’s “protecting the vulnerable” and I’m sure in a few weeks suddenly release the 500,000 or more stored doses while claiming he had to fight the feds for them and now he’s a hero. Kind of like his big, fake photo op with the tests he bought from Korea that didn’t work.

Also, we are months into the vaccination process and his big announcement yesterday is that we are just now opening a mass vax site in our most populous county. My county will get one in mid-April. Another part of the process that has inched along.

It’s embarrassing that we are behind Mississippi in the process. Mississippi! Along with many other states. I could probably move back home to Kentucky, establish residency, and be eligible faster than I will be in Maryland.

Hogan is vey obviously already running for president. He takes every opportunity to go on TV an brag about how great he is. He has stopped governing Maryland and puts us all at risk of disease while he inches along in the process and no one on the media has called him out on it. Why isn’t he being held accountable? Where are the questions about the pace and the unused shots?

The timeline has reduced my anxiety about the vaccine. At least I know when I am eligible. Now I’m just mad that he is so bad at coordinating the process and seems to be getting a free pass from the media.