My Week in Books, Movies and Television

Here it is. My new weekly report on what I am reading and watching. Try to contain your excitement.

Books – My reading pace slowed down significantly this week. I finished American Heart by Laura Moriarty(discussed in last week’s post) and read Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. I never read the original novel and it’s hard for me to go back and read older books I missed  because I have a steady stream of new books coming to me from the library. It was nice to have the graphic novel version arrive so I could finally read it It is very good.

Movies – We watched American Assassin. I have never read any of the books, so I can’t speak to how it compared. It was a good action movie. Dylan O’Brien seemed a surprising choice for the lead role, but he did a good job. I think his star will continue to rise and he will be our next big movie star. Of course, I once thought the same of Shia LaBeouf, so my judgment is suspect. It was one action movie my daughter willingly watched with us because she loves O’Brien. If you like action movies you should watch it.

Television – Another week of watching a lot of shows on the DVR. Nothing outstanding to report. I’m still, three episodes in, trying to decide if I like Bill Hader’s show Barry on HBO. I like the premise(hit man decides he wants to become an actor) and it has a good cast, but I’m still not sold on it. I recorded the HBO documentary on Elvis, but I want to wait and watch it when I can force my family to watch and understand why I like him so much. We are getting close to the network upfronts and the announcements of next season’s TV schedule. I will have full reports then. Two shows appear to be headed to cancellation. Both Living Biblically and Taken have been pulled from the schedule. Both are mediocre and likely won’t be missed by many.

Hopefully, I will have a report on Noir by Chris Moore in next week’s post. I need to read more this week.

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My Week In Books, TV and Movies

Since my last attemt at a weekly post didn’t work, I decided to try something new.  My new weekly Friday post will be about what I have consumed media-wise over the week.  We will see how long it takes for me to stop following through on this one.

Reading – I am reading American Heart by Laura Moriarty. I decided to read it after I read about the controversy surrounding the book. Kirkus gave it a starred review and then took it back after complaints. People are apparently upset that the story is what they consider an offensive white savior narrative. The basic story is that in a world where Muslims are being sent to detention camps a 15 year old white girl has to overcome her prejudices to help a Musim woman escape. I’m about halfway through and my main complaint is that the story is too slow. I don’t have a problem with people not wanting to read the book. I do have a problem with people giving it bad reviews on Goodreads without reading it. I also have a problem with Kirkus changing their review based on complaints, especially since they say the reviewer who gave it the starred review was Muslim. I see the issue with a white savior narrative, but I also see why a white woman would likely tell the story through the eyes of a white woman.

Movies – I watched Wonder with my daughter on my day off on Tuesday. I never read the book, but I knew the general story. A kid with facial differences goes to school for the first time after being homeschooled and deals with bullies and making friends. It was a good movie, for the most part. I liked that they told the story from the perspective of a few different characters. I didn’t think they needed to tack on to the end that the school gave him an award at the end of the year. Wasn’t it enough of a feel good story that he made friends and was able to make friends and overcome the initial bullying? Did anyone else who watched it feel like it was the school saying “look at us. we gave an award to the kid who is different. Aren’t we special”? Or is that just because I watch and love Speechless where they routinely bash schools and organizations who do that sort of thing?

Television: I watch way too much to talk about it all. I will say that I am really enjoying Alex, Inc, but I think you have to be a big Zach Braff fan to like it. I started watching Station 19(the Greys’s Anatomy firefighter spinoff) and like it a lot more than I was expecting. I am a fan of Grey’s though, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m also watching Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. It is Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in a sitcom where Barrymore plays a realtor who is now undead and has to eat people with Olyphant as her husband. It is very good and it’s fun to see Olyphant play a totally different character than his Justified tough guy.

Other media news:  I finally made the decision to change from the physical delivery of the Washington Post to a digital subscription with Sunday delivery only. I can still read the entire print version of the paper on my iPad, get my coupons, crossword and Sunday comics delivered and save several hundred dollars a year. I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner.

I Don’t Know What to Write

I planned to post today since I took the day off and have plenty of time to sit and write post. I opened my laptop and then sat here for a while trying to decide what I wanted to write and never could settle on an idea. I considered writing about the movies and new TV shows I’ve watched recently, but I’m terrible at reviews so I didn’t really know what I would write about them. I will leave a list at the end of the post if anyone cares.

I considered writing a post based on the lyrics a Patent Pending song where they say they’ve got no f#$%ks left to give and how sometimes I wish I could really say I have none left to give and my problem is I care too much about things that don’t matter. I have a f#$%k surplus, but I could never get it quite right.

I considered a post about the Roseanne reboot and the question of someone’s personal beliefs and how it affects your ability to enjoy their work, but I’ve written about that before. Or the question of should the network reconsider the show because of her beliefs(I say no, let the viewers decide). But once again didn’t feel like I could do it right.

My last real post was the one from my trip to Philadelphia, so the obvious answer is that I should quit my job and become a travel blogger. I will propose that to my wife tonight. I’m sure that will go over well.

As promised, the list of stuff I’ve watched/am watching:

Movies – Black Panther and Ready Player One – both very good.

Nw TV Shows – For the People, Rise, Alex Inc, Splitting Up Together, Roseanne, The Resident, Good Girls, Deception

I really like Good Girls, The Resident, For the People and Alex Inc. The rest are OK, but I wouldn’t be sad if the others went away.

Santa Problems

rudolph

 

I saw this picture on Twitter this morning and started thinking about some other issues with Santa.

In addition to the above, Santa was also very rude to the elves in Rudolph. He really didn’t come across as a nice person at all in the majority of the show.

In Santa Claus is Comin to Town he is a much nicer person, but spends the entire time breaking the local laws. I also find it disturbing that a man comes to town, seduces the local teacher and uses her to convince the kids to leave their doors unlocked at night so he can sneak in to their houses. His best friends are a confused penguin and a reformed evil wizard.

In Year Without a Santa Claus he is depressed and quits his job because no one respects the work he does. I can relate to this one more than the rest. His wife has to enlist the aid of the feuding sons of Mother Nature to save Christmas. I bet Santa took all the credit himself.

In the songs he sees me when I’m sleeping. That’s just creepy. I need a restraining order.

He only works one day a year and still we are expected to tip him with cookies and milk.

I’m not sure Santa is a good person.

 

Christmas Viewing Musts

There are certain shows and movies that I try to watch every year during the Christmas season. Today’s post in the month of Tater is just a list of these in order of importance:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Elf

It’s a Wonderful Life

Miracle on 34th Street

A Christmas Story(I will also try to watch the live one this year as well)

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Home Alone

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I guess that’s it. I actually already watched Elf and Christmas Vacation last night and Santa Claus is Coming to Town is on tonight.  I don’t really care about Frosty, the Grinch or Charlie Brown. I’m sure they are all pretty high on other people’s lists.  I do consider Die Hard a Christmas movie, but I would watch that any time of the year, so it is not on this list. I will also watch other random Christmas shows if they are on, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed out if I don’t watch them.

Feel free to argue with my list and call me stupid in the comments.

Every Story Has an End

Day 16 of the month of Tater and I’m sure based on the title you’re thinking “Oh no. Another one of his sappy ‘feelings’ posts about death or change or something”  Good news, fake reader! You’re wrong! This is about actual stories in books, TV and movies.

I watched the series finale of Vice Principals this week. It was only on for two seasons and Danny McBride says that this was always the plan. He had a story. He told the story. The story is over. I like that. Every story has an end and it is better if the creator of that story writes the end(unless your name is George RR Martin). Too many times, a story is not allowed to end naturally. It goes on way past the natural end or it is ended early due to ratings issues.

Under the Dome was a good Stephen King book that would have been a good TV mini-series. Unfortunately, the ratings meant the network kept asking for more, so the story dragged on and on way past the natural end. The Mist, on the other hand, was a TV series that I worried would suffer the same fate, but instead, was canceled after one season mid-story. I would rather a TV show have two very good seasons and then end than go on indefinitely, even after there are decent stories to tell. Unfortunately, it is a business and driven by money, not story.

The same happens at the movies. Some movie franchises end before the story is over because of poor earnings. Some franchises(I’m looking at you, Transformers) go on way too long. Sometimes, the franchise tells the story in full but does something stupid like split a book in to two movies when one would suffice(cough, Twilight) in order to wring some more money out of the fans. Again, a creative industry driven by money, not creativity.

Alas, the same happens with books. Usually, with books it is the problem of a series going on too long. I’m not sure I need another Stephanie Plum or Alex Cross adventure, though I admit I am part of the problem because I keep reading them.  If you can keep the stories fresh, a long series is fine. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Connelly’s Bosch series and Crais’ Elvis Cole/Joe Pike are some examples of that. The worst offenders in the “stop already” book series are the “the author keeps writing after they are dead” series. I get the desire to finish a book if the author was close to done upon their death, but that’s about it. We don’t need more Vince Flynn books if they aren’t written by Vince Flynn. Terry Pratchett had the right idea when he directed “whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all” to stop people from writing “Pratchett novels” after he was gone. More authors should go this route.

Every story has to end. Please let them end naturally.

 

My Favorite Movie Of Each Year I’ve Been Alive

I saw a post on Patton Oswalt’s Facebook about this. His was a joke, but I decided to do mine. I am taking time at lunch when I should be reading to compile the list, thus falling further behind in my reading goal. Also – I am just googling movies of each year. I might miss something.

1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1970 Patton

1971 Dirty Harry

1972 The Godfather

1973 Papillon

1974  Blazing Saddles

1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

1976 Rocky

1977 Star Wars

1978 Grease

1979 Warriors

1980 Airplane

1981 Stripes

1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High

1983 Outsiders

1984 Beverly Hills Cop

1985 Better Off Dead

1986 Top Gun

1987 Raising Arizona

1988 Heathers

1989 Dead Poets Society

1990 Edward Scissorhands

1991 Cape Fear

1992 My Cousin Vinny

1993 This one was tough – Tombstone edges out Groundhog Day

1994 Pulp Fiction

1995 Toy Story

1996 Scream

1997 Grosse Point Blank

1998 Waterboy

1999 Office Space

2000 Remember the Titans

2001 Shrek

2002 28 Days Later

2003 Elf

2004 Shaun of the Dead

2005 Hitch(based on the movies listed, this year in movies sucked)

2006 The Departed

2007 The Mist

2008 Gran Torino

2009 Zombieland

2010 Easy A

2011 Crazy Stupid Love

2012 Avengers

2013 The Internship

2014 Guardians of the Galaxy

2015 The Martian

2016 A lot of movies left unseen – Deadpool so far

Now, these aren’t necessarily the best movies. Just the ones I like the best. Some just based on which one I watch every time it is on TV.