My Week in Books, TV, and Movies 8/21/20

This was the last week where my viewing was based on what I watch with my daughter. We move her into her apartment near campus today. Next week starts my sad times of once again watching a lot of TV alone.

Movies – I watched two movies this week. The first was Invincible, which I watched alone on my furlough day. I had seen it before, but I needed what Disney Plus calls an “inspirational sports movie” so I picked this one to watch again. I still liked it a lot but Remember the Titans still stands as my favorite of that genre. We also watched Bad Boys For Life. We both really liked the first two movies and were excited to watch this one. If you liked the first two or you are a fan of action movies/buddy comedies you will enjoy this one. For a good portion of the movie I thought they were setting it up to be the end of the series, but then they left it open for another one at the end. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Soon maybe I will write about the funny miscalculation involved in the time we watched the first one when it was in theaters.

TV – As I mentioned above, this was the last week that our TV viewing was driven by our daughter. We finished the season of Survivor we were watching. It was sad when we realized this week that we didn’t have time to consider watching another season. We caught up on Yellowstone, but now she will be gone when the season finale airs. We watched some episodes of Killer Camp. It is a British reality where the contestants think it is a summer camp theme and are surprised to find out it is a mystery game and one of them is a killer. They have to figure out who the killer is before they are all dead. They compete in challenges along the way for cash and immunity from death. We enjoyed it, but didn’t have time to finish. We also watched more of The Next Step. That will also be put on hold for a while.

Books – I read one book this week – The Bursar’s Wife by EG Rodford. I ran out of library books, so I browsed the books on my bookshelf at home for ARCS and other random books I have collected and never read. This was the winner. The author is a pseudonym for an award winning author. I looked then up hoping their real name was revealed somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. It is the first book in a planned series about private detective George Kocharyan. He gets by mostly on cheating spouses cases. We are introduced to him as he is telling a man that he has proof his wife is meeting strange men for sex n a car park. He is divorced and starting to consider dating again. He has one woman who works for him part time and he occasionally uses her son to help when he needs someone younger for a case. He is hired by the bursar’s wife to follow her daughter. We discover that George’s dad worked at the college and he never goes near there. The woman from the first case is murdered and soon it seems the two cases might be linked. It was noting award winning, but I liked it. I would read more in the series, but unfortunately there is only one more and I can’t find it anywhere. I guess sales were not great.

On deck – I fell asleep while my wife and daughter were watching Little Women. I might try to finish it one morning this weekend while my wife is still asleep. I also have The Invisible Man on DVD. TV will now be catching up on the TV my wife and I watch alone. We have quite a bit saved up since there have been three of us in the house since March. I will need to find some stuff to watch alone while I’m up in the morning an my wife is still sleeping or when I get home from work and she still works for an hour or two. I do have the first episode of Lovecraft Country to watch. I am reading The Third Twin by CJ Omololu. It was another book I found on the shelves at home. I think it belongs to my daughter.

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A Sense of Belonging

I was watching Invincible Friday afternoon because my mood lately has been a prime mood for what Disney Plus classifies as an inspirational sports movie. Invincible is the story of Vince Papale, a bartender from south Philly who goes to open tryouts for the Eagles and makes the team. A lot of the movis is about how much south Philly needed him and the Eagles during a time when factory workers were striking and out of a job. The depiction of south Philly and the camaraderie there reminded me of a couple of TV shows I have watched.

Back when Justified was on TV I found myself watching the scenes in eastern Kentucky with longing. The scenes that gave me the sense f longing were generally the ones of the large, extended families being together on the family land. These families were generally criminals. I assumed that the longing was more for the state of Kentucky and not a longing to be part of a criminal family.

That assumption fell apart when I watched Shameless and felt the same thing. Shameless is about a family who lives on the South Side of Chicago. They have a lit of problems and have no problem with breaking the law to get what they want. Did my sense of longing actually mean I wanted to be in a family of criminals? It did not.

What these three have in common is the portrayal of a sense of community and belonging. This sense of community and belonging survived economic turmoil and criminal enterprise. The characters lacked financial stability and, in some cases, morals, but they had a place where they belonged. They had family and friends who stood by them in the tough times. They had a circle of support. They had community.

My longing didn’t come from a desire to be a criminal, it came from a desire for community. The suburban sprawl where I lie can make community hard, especially when you are not a people person. I wirte recently about how I had a yearning for home. I have no family here besides my wife and kids. I can be out and about in my area and never see one person I know. I don’t really know my neighbors. I spend the majority of my time at home with whoever is living in the house at the time. I want the sense of community you can find in some small towns and neighborhoods. It is harder to find here.

I know there are things I could do to change this. I had a sense of community for a while at my old church. I worked with the youth group and felt a connection to them, their families and the other youth workers. Things changed and I changed churches and have not made the effort to really feel like I belong there. I could change that. I felt a sense of community during some youth sports and dance. Those are gone now that the kids are adults.

I am impressed with the fact that these shows did such a good job with a sense of place and belonging that it made me want to live there.

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My Week in Books, TV and Movies 8/14/20

I almost didn’t have a book finished this week. I read the last page last night. I also almost forgot what movie I watched this week. I really need to start taking notes. Here is my recap.

Movies: We watched one movie this week(that I can remember) – Jumanji: The Next Level. I really liked the first movie and was looking forward to this one. It didn’t disappoint. It was fun watching The Rock channel Danny Devito an Kevin Hart channel Danny Glover. It was fun to once again watch Jack Black play someone who is disappointed to be Jack Black. I liked that they changed the game so that they had to adapt and figure it out again. If you liked the first movie you will definitely like this one. If you didn’t, you likely won’t care what I thought of the movie.

TV: Once again, nothing groundbreaking in this area. We watched all of our regular stuff. The season finale of Stargirl was this week. It was as good as expected. We love the show and can’t wait for season 2. We still watch multiple episodes of The Next Step every night. We are in season 4 and at a point where half of the regular cast has moved on and the dance group has a lot of new dancers. I’m not sure if if I will like it as much now. We have switched back to old Survivor for my evening viewing with my daughter. We are watching the season that introduced us to Tyson, Coach, JT and Fishbach. It’s a good one.

Books: I finished one book this week: Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse. It is the sequel to Trail of Lightning. The series is a post-apocalyptic story that takes place in Dinetah(formerly the Navajo reservation) after most of the rest of the world has flooded. In this one Maggie is asked to help when Kai and Caleb Goodacre have gone off with a mysterious cult. I loved the first book. I liked this one, but not quite as much. I found myself putting it down often with no urge to pick it up again. I think it was a combination of the story and my frame of mind. I would say if you read Trail of Lightning and like it, read this one as well.

On Deck: I hope to watch Bad Boys for Life, but that would require convincing my daughter to watch it or convincing my wife to watch it with me in the morning. Neither is likely. I am off for the next three days. I hope to find some random old movies to watch while I try to do as little as possible and try not to think about how much I hate my job. We need to watch whatever we have for my daughter to watch on TV before she moves to her apartment next week. Not that DVR space will be an issue. We still have a lot of hours of TV to catch up on that she doesn’t watch and nothing new will be on for a while. I am currently reading The Bursar’s Wife by EG Rodford.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 8/7/20

I can’t believe it is already August. Seems odd to type that date. Here is my weekly recap of what I’ve read and watched this week.

Movies – We watched two movies this week. One was 1917. It is the story of two soldiers who are sent across enemy lines in WWI to deliver a message that will stop 1600 men from walking into a deadly trap. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had read some good reviews when it first came out but didn’t remember much about it. I thought it would be too slow for my wife. There was war action, but also a lot of time just walking. I think she might have liked it more than me. It was very tense and stressful. I would recommend it.

The other was the Disney original movie Upside Down Magic. I read and slept a little during it. What I saw looked OK. The actors were good. The story was good for a Disney movie. I’m sure the target audience enjoyed it.

TV – I have nothing groundbreaking to report on the TV front. My normal TV schedule these days looks like this:

If I wake up early on a non-work day I watch an episode of Shameless.

Watch an episode of The Gldbergs while eating lunch on work days.

After clocking out – watch old Amazing Race episodes with my daughter until Jeopardy. Watch Jeopardy

Watch The Next Step until I start to fall asleep and then doze on the couch while my daughter watches Criminal Minds.

That schedule will continue until she moves to her apartment in a couple of weeks.

Luckily, we have episodes of shows from last TV season still recorded so once she does move out we have some TV to watch. That’s good considering I don’t foresee any new shows coming this fall.

Books – I finished one book this week. It was Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith. It is a YA romance book. Louise is a high school kid starting her senior year. She is taking a class that means she is on the staff of the school newspaper. She has just broken up with her boyfriend who is the most popular athlete in the school. She meets a new boy in the newspaper class who has just moved to the area. Her little brother is a freshman who tries out for the school play, The Wizard of Oz.  He wins the part of the Tin Man, but there is controversy. A powerful parent group is upset that white actors did not get the parts traditionally played by white actors. Dorothy is black. The Tin Man is native. Louise is involved both personally and as part of the newspaper covering the story. I thought it was very good and would highly recommend it.

On Deck – I hope to watch the new Jumanji movie this weekend. TV will likely be more of the above. I’m reading Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse.

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Our Odd Love of a Canadian Teen Dance Drama

One night while watching TV our daughter mentioned a show she watches with her college roommate called The Next Step. It is a Candian show about a dance studio and its dancers. It was clear that she mentioned it because she wanted us to watch it with her, so we decided to give it a try. We now watch several episodes every night and are almost finished with season 2.

It isn’t the type of show you would expect all three of us to enjoy. My wife and I are obviously not in the demographic they are targeting. I pretty much love most TV, so I’m not a surprise. My wife, however, is. I did not expect her to be the one to want to watch this show every night. There are some nights when I would be OK watching a different show and she’s the one to suggest we go ahead and watch The Next Step. I wish I could tell you why we love it so much, but it is unexplainable.

The first season revolves around the studio preparing to compete in a regional dance competition in hopes of qualifying for nationals. The main drama of the season revolves around a new girl who shows up for auditions and makes A troupe even though she is new to the studio. The dance captain, who is not very nice, plots to get her out of the studio. There are also some romance plots, including a love triangle involving the new girl and the captain liking the same boy. There is an “evil” dance studio that is their main competition in regionals.

There are dance battles for various reasons. There are weird little interview segments where the dancers talk about what is happening in the show. There is no explanation of who they are talking to or why. They have a dance studio owner and a choreographer, but it seems like the dancers pretty much do whatever they want. We enjoy the fact that they never actually say they are in Canada, but it is obvious when they show money or generally when they talk.

I can’t say I am particularly invested in any of the storylines, but I still enjoy watching the show. Each episode is less than 30 minutes, so we can watch several every night. I guess the real test of how much we really enjoy the show vs enjoying the time with our daughter will come when she goes back to college in a couple of weeks. I’m going to guess that we will pause and only watch it when she is home but I could be wrong.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 7/17/20

Here we are once again at the time of the week when I recap what I read and watched since the last post. Is it just me or did this week seem to take forever?

Movies – We watched the new Andy Samberg movie Palm Springs on Hulu. It’s not the type of movie my wife would generally agree to watch, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the one TV comedy she likes so she was willing to watch a Samberg movie.  The movie takes place at a wedding in Palm Springs. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that it is a Groundhog Day type plot. The wedding day is lived over and over. It is a comedy, but there is more to it than just cheap laughs. We all really liked it, even my wife who would usually not watch this type of movie. I’m pretty sure that is the only movie we watched. I might have watched pieces of old movies here and there, but this is the only one I remember actively watching.

TV – Nothing groundbreaking on the TV side. We watched our regular shows I’ve listed before. This was the week of the Snowpiercer season finale. I really enjoyed the show and I’m glad there will be a second season. The first season ends with a game-changing cliffhanger. It sounds like they finished filming season two and just have editing work to do so we might get a second season faster than we will get new episodes of other shows. We finished season 5 of Amazing Race and started season 9. This is finally the season my daughter wanted – a season where the team she likes wins. I finally settled on The Goldbergs as a show I can watch when I am alone. It’s funny and short and something I can watch without too much focus.

Books – I finished reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. The basic plot – it is set in the ’80s and ’90s. A woman joins a book club to make friends around the same time a man moves into his aunt’s house across the street. Strange things start to happen that she believes are connected to the man. She has trouble convincing anyone that he is not who they think he is. The book spans around a decade. It was an easy read and I enjoyed it. I would recommend his book Horrorstor if you are going to read one of his books. This one was good, but Horrorstor is so much better.

On Deck – I’m reading the new Hunger Games book The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I need to figure out which books I plan to take when we finally escape our home bubble for our vacation bubble. Movies and TV will be hit or miss as we just watch our regular shows and random movies. There is nothing groundbreaking on the horizon.

I will likely not have a recap next week as I plan to go radio silent and shut myself off from the world starting Tuesday.


My Week in Books, TV, and Movies 7/10/20

Here, once again, is my weekly recap of what I read and watched since last week’s post. I never remember to take notes, so it is a memory exercise for me.

Movies – The big movie for us this week was Hamilton on Disney Plus. We were lucky enough to see the play in person on Broadway, but the original cast was already gone at that point. It was nice to be able to see it with them in the roles. It is still very good, but I don’t think I will be one of the people who will watch it over and over again. I had a three day weekend last week so I had plenty of time to find random movies to watch alone. I watched part of There’s Something About Mary since it was on, I was bored, and I had not watched it since the first time years ago. I watched Friday Night Lights. I think I had watched it before but remembered nothing about it. I was surprised to see two of the actors from the TV show in the movie. I never realized there was carryover. I think that is all of note. At least it is all I can remember.

TV – We watched episodes of our regular shows: Stargirl, Snowpiercer, Yellowstone. I watched more old Amazing Race with my daughter. She wanted a season where she would like the eventual winners. I couldn’t guarantee that so I looked up lists of what people considered the best season, thought the winners there were decent and we started season 5. It is a fun season. We started and almost finished Love, Victor, the spinoff of Love, Simon It was OK. It is only 30-minute shows so it is easy to binge. We watched the first three episodes of Next Step on Hulu last night because my daughter has watched it and really liked it and thought we would. It is a Canadian show about a dance studio. It was better than I expected. We watched a couple of episodes of Warrior Nun on Netflix. We do plan to watch more.

Books – I finished Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells. It is a YA fantasy book. It has dragons and prophecies. The basic plot: when her girlfriend is taken by the Aurati on their visit to town, Meren plots to infiltrate the dragon fortress, steal a dragon, and rescue her girlfriend. I enjoyed it but was disappointed as I always am when it ended without an ending and I have to wait for book two to finish the story.

On Deck – There are three new movies streaming that I want to watch. Andy Samberg has a new movie, Palm Springs,  on Hulu with a Groundhog Day type plot. He has been stuck living the same day over and over. It takes place at a wedding. On one of those days, the maid of honor gets stuck in the loop with him. I like Samberg and the premise sounds promising. Charlie Theron’s Old Guard is on Netflix today. It is an adaptation of a graphic novel. Theron plays a member of a team of immortal mercenaries who are suddenly exposed and must fight to feel their identities secret. My wife will like that one. The new Tom Hanks WWII movie Greyhound is on Apple TV. I’m still in my one-year free preview, so we will be able to watch it. We will watch more of our normal TV. I still need to find a show I will watch alone when I am awake for hours while my family is still asleep. I am reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 7/3/20

Here we are at the end of another week. This time it is the first day of my three day weekend. I can spend the day reading and watching TV so I will have new stuff to post about next week. Here is my recap of the last week:

Movies – We watched two new streaming movies this week. Netflix released Will Ferrell’s new movie Eurovision: Story of Fire Saga. Ferrell plays a man from Iceland who has been obsessed with competing in Eurovision since he saw Abba perform on it when he was a kid. Rachel Macadams plays his friend and singing partner. Circumstances give them the chance to actually go to Scotland to compete in the competition even though their audition was not very good. All three of us enjoyed it. My wife says she would have liked it more had it been anyone but Ferrell. She does not like him at all. We also watched My Spy on Prime. It stars Dave Bautista as a CIA agent who is demoted after an incident and is assigned to surveil a single mom and her daughter because they are related by her late husband to the bad guy they are tracking. The daughter discovers the cameras and blackmails Bautista into getting involved in their lives. It was a cute family movie. We all really enjoyed it. I also watched Doctor Sleep while I was off on Wednesday. I don’t really remember the book enough to say if it was a good adaptation, but I did enjoy the movie.

TV – We watched all of our regular shows: Stargirl, Snowpiercer, Yellowstone, Perry Mason. We finally finished Community. We watched come of The Floor is Lava when we didn’t want to get involved in a scripted show. We finished the Rob and Amber season of Amazing Race. I started rewatching Skins after struggling to find a show to watch alone. I only watched the first three seasons the first time, so I thought I would start again and watch the entire thing. My daughter finished rewatching Zach and Cody on Disney and has started a rewatch of Wizards of Waverly Place.

Books – I finally finished reading Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh. I have had this ARC for a couple of years. I finally looked through my collection of ARCs and decided to read it. It is about a young woman who is dealing with the grief of both of her parents committing suicide who then gets a card implying they it was not suicide. She goes to the police and a retired detective who is working as a civilian front desk person decides to investigate. It was not a terrible book. There were some interesting twists and I did finish. I am still in the mode of not knowing if the issue is the book or my state of mind. It might have been a little of both.

On Deck – The big thing on tap is watching the Hamilton movie. We were lucky enough to see the show on Broadway, but I’m excited to see the original cast perform. Also, we like it enough we will probably watch it multiple times. I’m not getting DVDs from the library again. I have Richard Jewell and Queen and Slim. We might watch one of them. Midway is on HBO tomorrow so that is an option. TV will likely be watching the new episodes of the shows listed above. I am reading Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 6/26/20

This week we continued our trend toward watching movies rather than TV shows when we are all done for the day. I wrote about the old movies we watched in this post so I won’t include them in this post. I find that when I am alone I struggle to find something that holds my attention. Here’s the week:

Movies – In addition to the movies in the post linked above we watched two newer movies that I can recall, both on Disney Plus. They were Onward and Stargirl. When my family said they wanted to watch Onward, I expected to spend that time reading or playing a game on my iPad. I was not excited about the movie. It turned out that I spent more time watching the movie and less time doing other things. It was much better than I was expecting. The voice cast was very good. It was funny and had a good story. I don’t know why I was surprised. I had heard good things about it. Last night we watched Stargirl. It was my pick because I loved the book. I don’t think my family liked it much. It had a good cast and was a good adaptation. It was much slower and more dramatic than my family is used to watching. I do think it could have been a little shorter, but I did like it.

TV – Since we have been in movie mode, we have not started any new TV shows. We did watch the new episode of Star Girl. We watched the season premiere of Yellowstone. We all still really like it. I lied above about new shows. We did watch the first episode of Perry Mason on HBO. It was good, but I’m not really sure why the character needed to be pre-lawyer Perry Mason. We will probably watch more. My daughter and I finished watching Survivor season 2 and then decided to finally watch the final season of Community instead of starting another Survivor. I struggled to find a show to watch when everyone else is still asleep. I don’t want anything too serious, but I’m also not sure I want a sitcom. I will try again tomorrow morning when I have several hours of non-work time awake when they are asleep.

Books – I did not finish a book this week. I still sometimes go through phases of not being able to focus on a book. It’s just easier to do crosswords and watch TV. It might be the book as well. Probably a combination.

On Deck –  We will likely watch some sort of older movie this week. My wife just went through all the Disney Plus movies and added a bunch to the watchlist, so I assume I have some Disney type movies in my future. The Will Ferrell Eurovision movie is on Netflix now and Dave Bautista’s My Spy is on Prime so we might watch one of those. We still have the latest episode of Snowpiercer to watch and we will have new episodes of Yellowstone, Star Girl, and Perry Mason. We will probably finish Community this week. My daughter will probably finish her rewatch of Zach and Cody and has said she will move on to Hannah Montana. I will hopefully finish reading Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh this weekend and will then browse my shelves at home to find something new.

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My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 6/12/20

We are at the end of another week. I’m hours away from two days of sweet freedom. Last weekend I was able to spend a lot of time relaxing. This weekend I will spend a lot of time cleaning the house. I prefer my TV weekends. Next week’s review will have less TV than this week.

Movies – I can’t recall watching a movie this week. We all have TV shows we are watching either together or apart. This means that when it is time for us to watch something we are typically going to TV shows and not movies. I did have the TV on Pitch Perfect at one point on Sunday and then my daughter came n the room and wanted to watch something else. Even with all of the streaming options, we tend to watch more movies when I am regularly getting new DVDs from the library.

Television – I watched a lot of TV this week. I started watching the last season of 13 Reasons Why last Friday morning before work and finished it Sunday morning. I know a lot of people didn’t like the show, but I got really invested in the lives of the characters and wanted to see how it all ended. It wasn’t the best season of the show and there was a death at the end that probably wasn’t needed, but I thought that they did a decent job of wrapping up the story. We also finished the first season of The Mandalorian. We were a bit behind on this one. I can see why everyone was talking about it. I wasn’t too sure about it after the first couple of episodes, but as it went on I liked it more and more and can’t wait for another season. I finally started watching the latest season of On My Block. The 30-minute episodes are perfect for my 30-minute lunch break. We finished watching season one of Survivor and have moved on to season 2. We still think it’s weird that Jeff didn’t narrate the challenges in the first few seasons.

Books – I spent the week trying to finish The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins for book club at work. I failed, but I read enough to lead the discussion. Turns out only one person who showed up had finished the book. Everyone else struggled as much as I did. It was a very long book and it took forever for it to get to the point. I still added it to my book count since it took so much of my reading time.

On Deck – I don’t know if we will watch a movie this week. I guess it depends on our mood tonight and Sunday night. We will have to find a new show for all of us to watch. Everything on the DVR is stuff I watch with my daughter or stuff I watch with my wife but nothing we all watch. I will watch more On My Block. We will watch more old Survivor. We will have new episodes of Stargirl and Snowpiercer. I will finally finish reading Deathless Divide after putting it aside over and over for books for work.

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