My Week in Movies, Books, And TV 11/1/19

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.

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Another Author Story

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.

My Saturday of Books

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.

My Week in Failing at Reading and Watching

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.

My Long History of Stalking Christopher Moore

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.

 

My Week in Movies, Books and TV 10/18/19

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.

 

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 10/11/19

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.

My Week in Books, Movies and TV 10/4/19

It will be hard to condense the TV I’ve watched this week into one paragraph. I’ve spent a lot of time watching new episodes when I should have been reading my book for work. I will see what I decide to do when I get there.

Movies – We watched two movies this week. I watched Booksmart with my daughter and really enjoyed it. It was a good cast and was very funny. I especially liked Billie Lourd as Gigi and I’ve been a fan of Kaitlyn Dever since her days on Justified and Last Man Standing. She’s going to be a star. I also watched The Dead Don’t Die. It had a very good cast I like zombie movies. This movie bored me. Nothing happened and the cast was wasted. I would not recommend it. Very disappointing.

TV – With the new YV season going and a lack of desire to do much else, I’ve watched a lot of TV this week. I finally watched the last two episodes of Fear the Walking Dead. At one point I thought this was starting to be better than the original show. I liked the cast and the story was moving in interesting directions. Then they decided to move one of the most boring Walking Dead characters over to Fear and the show become all about boring Morgan. All of the interesting people are now either dead or in the background while we goe boring Morgan monologues on helping people.  The ending of the season left his fate up in the air. I hope he’s dead so the show can focus back on the people who made me want to watch the show in the first place. Otherwise, I might have to give it up.

Books – I finished the Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. I was reading this for my book club at work. Maybe the “homework” feel to it made me less inclined to read. Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was the translation. I just know it took me forever to read it. I did end up liking the book and I will probably end up reading the sequels. I just need to match my mood with the books so I’m in the right frame of mind to read hard science fiction.

On Deck – We have John Wick 3, Triple Threat, Alita: Battle Angel and Dark Phoenix on DVD. I doubt we will get to all of them. I know we will definitely watch John Wick. TV shows will take a backseat to baseball until the Braves lose(which may be Sunday) so my DVR will start to fill up at an alarming pace.  I will find time to watch The Walking Dead. I think the whisperers storyline will get the show back on track. I still have homework books to read, The first up is The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. I’m halfway through now and have mixed feelings so far.

 

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 9/20/19

I had a pretty good reading groove going and then this week I hit a book that made me lose my will to read. Normally, I would quit reading it, but it is for work so I have to plug away with it. Maybe I will take a break, read something else, and then come back to it. This was my last week of summer TV. Next week I will have a lot more to say about TV. So much that most of you will stop reading my posts.

Movies – We watched two movies this week. The first was Godzilla: King of Monsters. A lot of the plot, as pointed out by my son, seemed a bit confused, but are you watching this movie for plot? No, you are not. You are watching this movie to see monsters fighting. In that regard, it did not disappoint. There was some good monster fighting. I’m looking forward to Godzilla vs Kong next year. We also watched the live-action Aladin. I’m not sure why we needed this movie. It was OK. I didn’t hate it. I liked Will Smith as Genie. It was not a terrible way to spend two hours.

TV – There is really nothing of note to write about here. We are still a few days away from the start of the new network TV season. That means this is the week a lot of summer shows are ending. I didn’t really get hooked on any summer shows this year. That’s been good for space on my DVR. I don’t have to worry about clearing it for the new shows. The shows I am watching are the type of shows I have on while I am writing, reading, or browsing through my social media. I should probably go sit on my deck instead.

Books – I only finished one book this week. I finished it early and thought I would finish at least one more. I was wrong. I read And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness. It was basically a short version of Moby Dick where the whales are the hunters and they are after a mythical human named Toby Wick. It was odd but well written(or should I say whale written?). Only 150 or so pages with pictures.

On Deck – I have Booksmart and MIB: International on DVD. The series finale of Suits is on this week. I still love the show and I’m glad they brought Patrick Adams back for the last two episodes. Another show to add to my list of shows I watched almost live from the first to the last episode. There is a lot of other TV on deck next week. New shows I’m most looking forward to – Prodigal Son, All Rise, Perfect Harmony, and The Unicorn. I will try to make myself finish Life L1k3 by Jay Kristoff and then move on to other assigned reading.

My Week in Books, Movies and TV 9/13/19

It’s been an off week for me. This is my first original post since Sunday. I never could get any words out when I had time to post. It feels like I had an odd schedule this week but my hours were the same as any other week. I did finish several books, so I obviously had time this week. It just felt like I didn’t.

Movies – We watched The Sun is Also a Star. I read the book and liked the book. The movie wasn’t terrible, but, like most adaptations, I feel like I would have liked it more if I had not read the book. We started Godzilla, King of Monsters when both kids were home, but then realized we didn’t really have time to finish if the kids were going to leave when they wanted to leave so we stopped.

TV – I watched a lot of sports on TV this week. Kentucky football. Ravens football. Braves baseball. Other random football games. I think that’s why I read more. It’s easy to read during the random games and still know what is happening in the game. I watched the first two episodes of the new season of 13 Reasons Why. When my daughter judged me for this I told her that I was invested in these kids lives now and had to see how it turned out. It’s true. I like the characters and I am invested in their stories now. I just need more time to watch all of the stuff I want to watch. When is someone going to pay me to stay at home and watch TV?

Books – I finished three books this week:

Murder of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah – a Hercule Poirot book. It was OK. I found it too slow and never really was invested in the mystery. I didn’t read a lot of Agatha Christie. Maybe Poirot fans would like the book. I don’t know.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg – A collection of fictional(obviously) texts and calls from famous literary characters. It was OK. Some were really good. Some so-so. I listened and the audio was well done, but sometimes my yelling at other cars distracted me from listening.

Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill – O’Neill was hired to write an article for Premiere magazine and became obsessed with the case. The article never happened. Many years later the book did. The Manson stuff was interesting and brought up a lot of unanswered questions. The CIA stuff was not so interesting and it was a stretch trying to tie it to Manson. In the end, he had no new answers at all. Only read it if you are as interested in Manson as I am.

On Deck – We will try again with Godzilla. I have Rocketman on DVD so we might watch that. We are now working our way through the latest season of Agents of SHEILD. I need to start reading the teen books for Books for the Beast next month. I guess the facilitator of the discussion should actually read the books. I’m starting with And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness.