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 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 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.

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.

My Week in Books, Movies and TV 8/23/19

It’s time again for my recap of what I’ve read and watched this week. I’m sure everyone is extremely excited.

Movies – I have three movies for the week. The first was a rewatch of Endgame since my wife and son had not seen it yet. It was still good. I’m sad that Spiderman will no longer be a part of the MCU. We also watched The Mule. I’m impressed that Eastwood is still acting and directing. I liked the movie. I think I could be a drug mule. I’m an old white man with a spotless driving record. Where do I apply? I watched Long Shot alone because my family tends to not care about the comedies. I’m a Seth Rogen fan, so I was predisposed to like it. I think a lot of people will be surprised at how good it is. Rogen plays a journalist who knew the Secretary of State when they were kids. She hires him as a speechwriter They fall in love. Charlize Theron and Rogen have great chemistry and the relationship is believable. It was a fun movie.

TV – I watched the first episode of The Righteous Gemstones. It stars John Goodman, Danny McBride, and Adam Devine as father and sons televangelists. John Goodman is good as always. Danny McBride plays Danny McBride. Adam Devine is great as the younger brother. Edi Patterson is funny as the sister who feels left out. I think it would have been better as just a comedy about the family, but they threw in a blackmail storyline that seems like it will be the main story for the season. That’s a little disappointing. I do like the cast enough to keep watching and Walton Goggins shows up soon.

Books – I didn’t finish a book this week. I was listening to a book on part of my 4 hours of driving yesterday but did not realize it had not completely downloaded until t stopped playing. I was driving so I couldn’t fix that. I also forgot to take a bok with me to read during the time I had to kill before it was time to go to the funeral home. So, it was an all-around fail day for me and reading. I’m way behind in my reading this year.

On Deck – I have Tolkien on DVD, but I don’t think anyone else wants to watch it. I will probably start the new season of 13 Reasons Why this week. I still need to watch the latest seasons of Luther and Dear White People. I will have a lot of time alone now that my daughter is going back to college. I should use that to catch up on my reading as I’m way behind this year, but I’m sure I will use that time to watch TV instead.