It’s time once again for my weekly wrap up of what I’ve read and watched this week. This week was heavy on TV and very light on movies.
Movies – I did not watch a movie this week. I returned several movies to the library unwatched. It was not a time issue. It was not a lack of desire to watch a movie. It was mainly my family not really caring about the movies I had. It will be easier for me to watch movies no one else cares about after Sunday when I have hours alone every day.
TV – We finished watching Crisis on Infinite Earths. We both liked it a lot. I’m looking forward to seeing how the events alter the course of shows moving forward. We finally watched the first few episodes of Deputy. It stars Stephen Dorff as a long time deputy who becomes acting sheriff of Los Angeles County when the sheriff dies. I liked it a lot more than I expected. Dorff is great in the role and Bex Taylor-Klaus is really good as the young deputy assigned as his security. We watched the first episode of Outmatched last night. It is a sitcom about parents of three gifted kids and one not gifted kid. I watched because my daughter wanted to try it and because I will give any show with Maggie Lawson a shot. My daughter really liked it. I think it was mediocre at best and probably won’t last. I will still watch with my daughter until the cancelation comes.
Books – I finished two books this week:
American Royals by Katharine McGee – A YA book set in an America where George Washington accepts the crown and we have American royalty. It is set in current times and revolves around the three kids of the current king of America. Princess Beatrice is next in line for the crown. The first woman who will be allowed to take the throne after a change in the law. Her younger siblings, twins Jefferson and Samantha deal with life as the “extras.” It’s generally about their romances which, as my daughter told me, is to be expected when you read a teen romance. It was a little long and slow if you aren’t a big romance reader, but I did like the characters enough to maybe read the next one.
Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore – A friend got a copy of an ARC of this book and sent it to me. Chris is one of my favorite authors so getting an early copy of the book was very exciting for me This is the third book featuring Pocket the Fool of Dogsnogging. This one is his tribute to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It has fairies, goblins, magic and heinous fuckery most foul. I loved it. I liked it more than the previous two Pocket books. If you haven’t read Moore, go out and get one of his books now.
On Deck – I just started reading Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds. We plan to watch Joker tonight. We still have a lot of TV to watch. The DVR is closing in on 80% full again and with my daughter heading back to school, it is our last chance to catch up on the shows we watch together. First on the list to watch when it’s just me and my wife is the Station 19/Grey’s crossover.
I finally have the time to write something again just in time for my Friday wrap up of what I’ve read and watched this week.
Movies – Even with multiple movies from the library all I ended up watching was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It was my second time watching it. I went to see it at the theater back when I was still finding time on my Fridays off to go to a movie. This time I watched it with my family because my son was home and wanted to see it. They complained it was too long. The didn’t care about DiCaprio’s character’s story at all. They liked the Brad Pitt part and had a lot of interest in the Manson stuff. They asked me a lot of questions about the Manson family. I know way too much about the Manson family. As it was leading up to the final act they asked so many questions that I had to pause the movie to tell them that I didn’t want to spoil the movie but they should know it wasn’t an exact retelling of the events so they should stop asking me questions about the real-life events. Maybe I should stop watching movies I like with my family.
TV – The two main things we watched this week were Jeopardy GOATS and Crisis on Infinite Earths. I enjoyed the Jeopardy tournament and wish we had more episodes. I haven’t watched a regular Jeopardy episode this week. I wonder if it will be underwhelming after this tournament. We still have two more episodes of Crisis to go. So far I think they’ve done a good job with it. We’ve enjoyed all of the cameos and surprise appearances. I’m looking forward to hopefully finishing it this weekend. We also watched the first episode of The Outsider last night. I’m a big Stephen King fan and I liked the book. So far I think they’ve done a good job with it. My son did not read the book and also liked it.
Books – I only managed to finish one book this week – A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi. It is a collection of his Christmas themed stories he’s written over the years. I don’t think there was a bad one in the bunch. It was a nice, quick, enjoyable read even though I read it after the holidays.
On Deck – I’m reading America Royals by Katharine McGee. I like the concept of an America where Washington became king. I wasn’t expecting it to be mostly a romance. It is taking me a while and will likely put me behind my reading goal early. I still have too many movies at home. My main goal is to watch Joker this weekend. We will hopefully finish Crisis this week and I will watch the Grey’s Station 19 crossover as soon as possible after it airs.
I guess if I’m going to get back to posting regularly I should get back to doing my regular weekly posts. Or decide if I still think they are posts I want to continue. So, here is my week in reading and watching:
Movies – I made the mistake of activating all of my holds at the library on the day we returned and got way too many movies at once. So far I’ve only watched one and am watching another as I type this. I watched the Downton Abbey movie with my daughter. She loved the show and was really happy to have the movie. I had watched an episode here and there when I got home and she was watching it. I enjoyed the shows I watched but didn’t feel the need to watch all of them. I thought the movie was good. M daughter enjoyed it and was happy to get one more chance to watch her favorite characters. I’m watching It 2 right now. I will say more next week after I’m done, but I will say that while I think the adult casting was well done they are not as good as the kid versions.
TV – There have been more new TV than normal for this time of year. The big TV event in our house has been the Jeopardy All-Time Greats tournament. My daughter and I love Jeopardy and are enjoying watching three of our favorites compete. We eventually think we want Ken to win, but we would like to see a win from each before it is done. We watched the first episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. It is about a woman who starts to hear other people’s thoughts via songs they sing to her. We enjoyed it and were disappointed to discover that the rest of the episodes won’t air until mid-February. We also watched the first two episodes of the Party of Five reboot on Freeform. In this version, the kids are left alone due to the deportation, not the death, of their parents. It has a great cast and drew us in immediately. Even my wife immediately voted to watch the second episode when Jeopardy was over. She generally is not all in on family dramas.
Books – I’ve finished three books so far this year:
The Philosophy of Deadpool – A graphic novel of life advice from Deadpool. Short and easy but not as good as I hoped.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – This was this month’s mystery book club read at work. It was not really a mystery. There was a plot twist, but not a mystery. If you go into it not expecting it to be a mystery it is a decent book. I do agree with the review that said not to think about it too much or it will stop making sense.
Genesis by Robin Cook – I read this one because my wife had it out from the library and it was in the house when I finished the book I got for Christmas and had not been back to the library to get more books. This once again kind of featured the two ME’s who are his regular characters, but a new character was featured for the majority of the book. I hated the new character and, thus, did not really like the book all that much. I also figure out who the killer was pretty early. I would recommend skipping this one.
On Deck – I am in the middle of reading A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi. We still have multiple movies to watch. I’m hoping to re-watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with my family this weekend. I also have Hustlers and Ad Astra and not a lot of time. I still want to watch the new show Deputy that started last week but I can’t get anyone else to pick it when we are watching TV. I will watch the first episode of the Outsider after it airs Sunday night.
Last week I wrote about my failings in reading and viewing. I’ve done much better this week. It helped that my wife worked late a lot this week and worked some more when she was home. I had a lot of alone time to fill.
Movies – I still only watched one movie this week. It was Toy Story 4 and I watched it alone because my wife and son did not want to watch it and my daughter saw it in the theater(and wasn’t home anyway). I thought three had a perfect ending and I’m annoyed that they decided to do another. It was unnecessary, but it was still good. I enjoyed the new toys in this one. The voice cast is still excellent. The story was a lot of the same. The ending was not as good as three but maybe, finally a real ending.
TV – I finished the latest season of 13 Reasons Why. This is another one that had the possibility of a good ending with a scene at the end of the last season but added a cliffhanger to set up a third. This season had a scene at the end that also would have been a good ending, but they’ve already announced a 4th and final season, so there were also scenes setting up story for that. This last season was good. I liked how they told the story. I liked how they added some depth to the villains without excusing what they did. I have no idea how they will end this story, but as I told my daughter, I’m invested in the lives of these fictional kids and want to see ho it ends.
Books – I finished two books this week.
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Kileen – This was one of my assignment books for the teen literature conference. It tells the story of a Jewish girl who is orphaned when her mom dies running from the Nazis. She ends up working with a spy and infiltrating a Nazi girl’s school to try to get invited to a Nazi scientist’s house to sabotage a bomb he is making. It was a decent book. I might have liked it better if t was not homework. I did feel like the girl became a master spy a little too quick.
Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley – Another teen book, but one I read because I wanted to. The story is told by Nathan as he is being deposed in the case of his being stabbed by his friend. We go back to when they met and see the events of what led to the stabbing through Nathan’s eyes. It is the first book in a while I liked so much that I didn’t want to put it down. There were plot points that surprised me. That’s unusual. I would highly recommend.
On Deck – I still have the new Lion King on DVD. I also have Midsommar and a Korean movie my coworkers handed me. I will have to watch those alone. Jack Ryan’s new season starts today on Prime. I have a feeling I will be watching a lot of that. It is also college basketball season so I several hours of my TV time each week will be watching games. I have another assignment book for work, The Favorite Sister b Jessica Knoll. It is definitely I wouldn’t read if it wasn’t for book club.
I recently wrote about how I first made contact with Christopher Moore and how that led to me making online friends and having lunch with the author guy the last time he was in town for a signing. He is not the only author I randomly contacted via email. Here is another story.
After Chris emailed me back I decided I would try again when I saw another author’s email address in a book. The lucky winner this time was Lisa Scottoline. I had read and enjoyed her books so I wrote to her and told her that. She replied. I can’t remember all of the contents of our correspondence, but I do remember some exchanges about writing and growing to like an unlikeable character. She also helped me book an author visit for my library. I had contacted her before about a possible event. She was not available, but game me the email address for the person who id her bookings and told me to contact them if I ever needed an author. I did and they booked Phillip Margolin to come to my branch.
I had still never met her in person and saw that she was going to be in the area on a day I was free. I decided to go, but it meant skipping dinner to drive. I listened to her talk and then got in line to get my book signed When I got to the front of the line I told her my name and she realized I was the guy she knew from email. She then got out of her seat and hugged me. She also gave me a box of Tasty Cakes she had brought for show and tell when she found out I had skipped dinner to be there.
The only contact I’ve had recently was to tell her we were reading her book for book club at work and that I appreciated that she had discussion questions on her website. She told me to give the members a hug from her for reading her book and I replied that I would rather go with a firm handshake. I’m not sure she remembered me from before.
I’ve met other authors. I talk to a few on Twitter sometimes. None of them have felt as personal as my interactions with Chris and Lisa.
I spent my Saturday off in Baltimore for Books for the Beast, a teen literature conference. I’ve been facilitating book discussions at Beast for years. They must be desperate for people to work the conference if they keep inviting me back. I’m the least exciting facilitator in the history of facilitators. I’m glad they do, though, because I love the event.
I started the day with free breakfast and coffee and seeing friends I don’t see all the time. Breakfast was followed by the first keynote speaker, Elizabeth Acevedo. If you have not read The Poet X do it now. I would recommend the audio. She reads it and it is phenomenal. She was a great speaker and it was a great way to start the day.
Then came the one group I was assigned to facilitate. We had five books to read and we should have a mix of teens and adults in the group discussion. Apparently, my teens opted to go to other groups with friends as I had none. That was disappointing as I love hearing the teen perspective and didn’t really need more time talking to librarians. I’m a very laid back facilitator. My one rule is don’t trash the book before the discussion begins. Other than that, I want it to be a conversation and I only step in if someone goes off-topic too much or dominates the conversation. I think it was a successful group if I barely need to talk. This was a successful group. I sometimes wonder, though, if people prefer the facilitators who ask a lot of questions and guide the discussion more. That’s what I had in the session I attended in the afternoon. I guess they don’t get complaints about me if they keep asking me back. Or they are desperate. It’s a toss-up. The group was followed by lunch outside with friends and then another discussion group.
The afternoon discussion group was followed by another speaker. This one was Alex London. He is a local guy who went to high school across the street from where we had the conference. He was very funny and I enjoyed his talk. I’ve never read any of his books, but after hearing him speak I feel like I would enjoy them. They then gave us a snack and sent us on our way home.
It is always a good day. A day of authors and books and seeing friends I from the library world. I wish it wasn’t only every other year.
This is the time when I usually post my week in movies, books, and TV. Last week was a good week. I actually finished two books and had a movie to talk about. This week I’ve got a whole lot of nothing.
I had no new movies from the library. I didn’t watch any of the random movies we have on the DVR. I didn’t watch any of the movies available on Netflix, Amazon or HBO. I didn’t even scan the TV listings and stop on a random old movie that happened to be airing.
I did not finish the book I started last week. It’s not a bad book, but I think it is suffering from being “homework”. I’m a facilitator at Books for the Beast, a teen literature conference, tomorrow and Orphan Monster Spy is the last book I need to read before the discussion. I find myself doing everything but reading the book. I’m like a kid avoiding homework. I have the audio now so I am listening on 1.5 speed on my drive to and from work. That should get me to almost the end before tomorrow.
I have watched a lot of TV but nothing really of note. My daughter was home this weekend so I caught up on The Good Place and watched some episodes of other shows we watch together We finally watched last season’s finale of The Flash. I’m going to be way behind on watching the crossover this year. Otherwise, I’ve been trying to keep my DVR from filling up by watching the handful of shows I watch alone. My wife has worked late all this week so I ran out of those and watched a few episodes of 13 Reasons Why. I probably could have used that time to read.
I do have Toy Story 4 and The Lion King on DVD so I will have movies to talk about next week. I need to find a fun book to read after my homework reading is over tomorrow. I hope to watch Watchmen sometime this weekend.
I went to my Facebook page and requested ideas for a blog post. One suggestion was to write about Christopher Moore. So, here is the tragic(for him) story of how Christopher Moore ended up my Facebook friend.
A long time ago I read a book called Practical Demonkeeping by the aforementioned Christopher Moore. I could lie and say that the book stuck with me and that started my love of the books, but I won’t. I apparently forgot I read it because a few years later I was working at the library here in Maryland, stumbled upon the book and thought it sounded good. I checked it and started reading it. I thought it seemed familiar at first but it took about half the book before I realized I had read it before and had liked it.
Flash forward a few years and I pick up a book by the same author called Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story. I really liked the book and noticed when I looked at the author page he had his email address listed. I decided to write him a note to tell him I enjoyed the book. I wasn’t expecting an answer, but I got one. I have no idea how or why I ever emailed him again, but I do know we exchanged a couple of emails before I ever met him in person. I eventually went to a signing he did in Baltimore. At the signing, he asked if any of us were people he had talked to via email. I raised my hand, he actually remembered me and then I was very awkward when I actually talked to him one on one.
Apparently, I was not the only weird person who had started emailing him. There were so many of us that he set up a bulletin board on his website so we could talk amongst ourselves and also to him. This coincided with me working alone, so the board was a place I used to have people to talk to on my breaks at work. Eventually, there was another Chris Moore signing in the area. I picked up one of the strangers in Catonsville and we drove down to northern Virginia together for the signing. Several others from the board were there/ It became a regular thing for a group of us to meet for dinner before a signing. Chris started saving seats for us at some of the venues. He gave us all Fool hats at one of them.
The last signing I was able to attend was in Baltimore. I was lucky to be friends with people who had a much closer friendship with Chris and they had made plans to meet him for lunch and I got to tag along. We had a nice lunch and then drove up to the signing. As far as I know, he has not come back to the area. I’m not sure if these two things are related.
So, from a random email to an author I am now friends with him on Facebook, have had lunch with him and have made friends with other people via our love for his books. NOt a bad outcome for a simple thing like an email.
I did a little better reading this week. It helped that I decided to take Saturday to just relax and recharge and spent some time reading on my deck. My daughter is coming home for the weekend today so I likely will watch a lot of TV and not really read at all.
Movies – I only rewatched the latest Spiderman this week. It was the only movie I got from the library last week. My wife and son had not yet watched it. I still enjoyed it the second time. Marvel has done a good job with the character. I’m glad they have him for at least one more movie.
TV – I always watch a lot of TV during the regular network season. It’s hard to decide what to talk about I watch so much. There was the series finale of Ballers on HBO on Sunday. I watched it and I enjoyed the show, but not so much that the end of the series seemed like a big deal to me. We had our first cancelation of the new season this week. Sunnyside was canceled after three episodes. I had planned to try it. I had recorded it, but I thought my daughter might want to watch so I was waiting for her. No need now. I got a little space back on my DVR. I watched Grey’s Anatomy last night. I like the new storyline with Karev and Weber at Pac North more than the main hospital storyline. I would watch a whole show set with them and the bad hospital.
Books – I finished two books this week.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland – A YA book set after the Civil War where the end of the war brought zombies. The main character is from KY but is sent to a Baltimore school to train to fight zombies. African Americans are trained to fight to act as attendants to protect the wealthy white people. I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to reading the inevitable sequel.
A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais – The latest in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series. I love this series. Cole and Pike are great characters. In this one Pike rescues a bank teller when he witnesses her being kidnapped Soon, the kidnappers are found dead and she is missing again. Pike and Cole investigate to find and save her. It would make a good movie.
On Deck – I have no movies from the library this week. Toy Story 4 will be available on Monday at the library, but I have to time my check out to have it when the kids can watch. I’m looking forward to the HBO version of Watchmen premiering on Sunday. I was already interested before I read the positive review in the Washington Post this morning. I need to read Orphan Monster Spy before next Saturday but can’t start until I retrieve it from work tomorrow.
I’ve not done any better with my reading this week. There’s just too much TV to watch and no book that is pulling me in enough to make me want to read instead of watching all of the new shows. I’m going to be way below my goal for the year.
Movies – We watched two movies last week: John Wick 3 and Dark Phoenix. I liked the first two John Wick movies so I knew I was likely to enjoy the third. I don’t really like the X-Men movies so I knew I was unlikely to enjoy Dark Phoenix. I was correct in both cases. Was it a self-fulfilling prophecy? Maybe. Was Dark Phoenix just a bad movie? Probably. Was John Wick violent but enjoyable? Yes. So, watch John Wick 3 and skip Dark Phoenix unless you are one of those weirdos that like the X-Men movies.
TV – I watched the Braves choke again in the postseason. I hate reruns. I’m still enjoying the new show Emergence, but I don’t see how it ould be anything more than a 13 episode mini-series. The mystery surrounding the events of the show does not seem to be one that can last more than that and I don’t see where they can take it in a season 2 that makes sense. I’ve watched another episode of The Unicorn and I still think there is potential for a good show in there if they will stop leaning so hard on the thin premise of the main character not knowing how to navigate dating. They need to take a lesson from Cougar Town and move to make it an ensemble comedy about life and not episode after episode of awkward dates. I still think Prodigal Son is the best of the new shows.
Books – I finished The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. It is a mystery where Horowitz makes himself a character as the Watson to a detective named Hawthorne’s Sherlock. I liked the fact that it was a true mystery and that I didn’t know who the killer was until the reveal. That is rare. I didn’t like Horowitz as a narrator. I thought there was too much about all he has done to the point that it felt like I was reading his resume in parts. There was an unnecessary scene where he meets with Peter Jackson and Spielberg that thought was too name droppy. I think he made Hawthorne too unlikeable. A lot of promise for a series wasted. The real critics loved it.
On Deck – I have the new Spiderman on DVD. I’ve seen it, but my wife has not. We will definitely watch it at some point this weekend. I’m reading Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. It is a YA novel about zombies in 1800’s post Civil War America. My daughter is coming home next weekend so we will probably watch the new Nancy Drew show while she is here. I have a lot of new TV that I’m waiting to watch with her.