#24in48: High Hopes

readathon1When I last left you, I had signed up for the 24in48 Readathon, which started yesterday and ends today. I had high hopes. I even had one book that had been on hold for months that I believed would be available by this weekend: Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.

It became available that next week. However, I read about a hundred pages and decided that I had gotten the gist so I returned it. I then was left with a vacuum that I only filled this week with the following books on my Kindle:

  1. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
  2. The Dark Water by Parker Bilal
  3. The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. McDonald
  4. Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman
  5. The League of Frightened Men by Nero Wolfe
  6. The Rubber Band by Nero Wolfe

I also got two more, in print from the library:

  1. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
  2. The Infidel Stain by M.J Carter

And one other ebook that only was available in a pub format, Ratking by Michael Dibdin, that I downloaded to my phone.

So with all those choices, how have I been doing?

Well…

Ahem….

I’m….

Um, yeah…

At zero.

I got sidetracked by an Icelandic murder mystery, Trapped, now available on Amazon Prime, and originally on BBC 4. But hey, it does have subtitles so I have been reading and still will be if when I watch more later today.

Unfortunately, much of my morning has been taken up by writing this blog post (thanks to a laptop with outdated software –  Vista – which is extremely slow and missing letters on the keyboard) and not unfortunately, but fortunately this afternoon, my wife is in a couple of radio plays with a local theater troupe that I will be going to see (and hear).

ManofbronzebamaThe actors stand in front of microphones and recite the lines, just as they would in “Radio Days.” Altogether, there are 33 episodes, from old shows like The Shadow to a few locally directed and written originals, and run this weekend and next weekend. I went to the first night, Friday, too and enjoyed the episodes then, especially The Shadow and Doc Savage, the latter of which I read some in novel form as a teenager.

So all that to say, it is unlikely that I’ll be moving that rubber tree plant (the readathon) today. At least, though, I have plenty of choices for my next read, which hopefully I’ll start later this week, maybe even as early as tomorrow.

How about you? Are you participating in this weekend’s readathon? If so, how are you doing? Best book? If not, reading anything good? Listening to anything good? Watching anything good? Let me (and the rest of my readers) know in the comments.

Signed up for # 24in48 

readathon1I haven’t read a book yet this month, but I did sign up for the 24in48 Readathon, coming up in a couple of weeks, July 22 and 23. So there is hope for my reading yet.

Perhaps helping the cause is yesterday a book that has been on my hold list since April finally became available for me: Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but since this year I haven’t read a lot period, there is hope here too. The book arrives on the heels of a local onslaught of heroin overdoses because of a “bad batch” within recent weeks. Aside: my wife wrote a blog post on the subject, from her perspective as a 911 dispatcher that is well worth the read.

Not helping the cause is Netflix binge-watching, from ongoing shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds, both of which dropped their most recent seasons earlier than expected, to new shows to us, such as a French crime drama Witnesses. That one had been in and out of my queue for months, but then yesterday on a whim, I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed the first episode so much that I watched it again with my wife so she could watch with me.

Also not helping my reading is my usual genre of crime fiction isn’t holding my attention for some reason. I’m not sure why, except maybe I’m choosing different series that just aren’t as well written or engaging as some of the more established writers and series I often read. However, like with my Netflix watching, I always want to discover things new to me. It’s just that a few of the Netflix finds have been better than my book finds.

Here’s hoping that the upcoming readathon will spur my reading on…

So reading anything good? Watching anything good? Listening to anything good? Share in the comments.

Pushing Forward Back: June/July 2017

48June was the month of 48 as I turned 48 on June 9. I celebrated with burgers, fries, and booze on the day of, with a drinkalong movie the next night (Hunt for The Wilderpeople) with a group of friends online, and then with three special blog posts throughout the rest of the month:

  1. My 48 Favorite Books For The 48 Years Of My Life
  2. My 48 Favorite Movies For The 48 Years Of My Life
  3. My 48 Favorite Albums For The 48 Years Of My Life

As for the rest of the month, the breakdown is as follows:

  • I read two books: Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbø  and Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane, with both being good, if not great. That brings me to 25 books read for the year, which puts me on target to read 50 for the year, which has been about my average for the last few years.
  • Kim and I watched a few new shows, with the highlights being the first seasons of Santa Clarita Diet and GLOW, both on Netflix. The documentary on GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) also was very good. Mostly on my own, I watched a show from the Ukraine called The Sniffer, which while it sounds ridiculous, a detective who sniffs out clues, is actually surprisingly good and not without a sense of humor either.
  • I listened to a lot of new music during the month of June as usual, with two albums especially catching my ear: the self-titled debut of Colter Wall, a Canadian country musician, and Dust by Laurel Halo, an American-born, Berlin-based musician. I haven’t listened to Halo’s album too much yet, but so far, what I have heard, I have loved.

The highlight of the month was meeting Richard Petty:

The lowlight of the month was the limited rerelease of a classic:

Tonight's beverage of choice. Thanks @therelentlessreader for reminding us of this.

A post shared by Bryan G. Robinson (@stillunfinished) on

Thanks, Jenn, for letting me know of this, but unfortunately, it just gave me heartburn and wasn’t as tasty as I remembered.

Forward to July

This coming month starts off with a bang, with a four-day Fourth of July Weekend as the library is closed Tuesday and I took a vacation day Monday (Kim is off Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as well). Starting tonight, every other day will involve grilling:

  1. Tonight, with steak wrapped in bacon on our own grill from a box of Omaha Steaks we got from our landlord for finding a tenant in another one of his properties in our town.
  2. Sunday, with burgers and chicken at my parent’s.
  3. Tuesday, with burgers and hot dogs with our neighbors Mike and Kathy with members of their family and other neighbors.

On Saturday night, I plan on catching some, if not all, of the Coke Zero 400, the first part probably with Mike and the second part probably by myself as Mike goes to bed early and probably won’t make it until the end. Also later Saturday night, Kim and I will be joining our usual drinkalong gang for this week’s movie: Addams Family Values. On Monday night, after getting back from my parents, we are going to watch the 300th episode of NCIS on Netflix. We probably will celebrate with club sandwiches as Kim seems to remember that is what Gibbs orders when he goes to the diner.

Reading? Hmmm. Maybe Saturday during the day and Tuesday if I’m lucky. And no, I don’t know what I’ll be reading if I do. I’ll find something on Overdrive probably from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Expected highlights from the rest of the month include having a new schedule at the library that gives me one less night to work, thanks to a new coworker, and a series of radio plays that my wife is in the last two weekends of the month. My sister mentioned that her husband’s vacation is in mid-July too so they might come over to visit with their two children, my nephew and niece.

How was your month of June? Favorite book read, movie/TV show/series watched, album listened to? What was the highlight for you? What are you looking forward to in July?

My 48 Favorite Albums For The 48 Years Of My Life

48

In celebration of my 48th birthday earlier this month, I am doing three special posts: one on my 48 favorite books for the 48 years of my life, which published this past Sunday; then, my 48 favorite movies, this past Wednesday; and my 48 favorite albums, here today.

I compiled this list roughly from elementary school to high school to college to the present. I tried to think of the albums that I’ve listened to a lot, either on the school bus when I was a kid or in the car (whichever one I or we had at the time). When I was a teen, I went through a phase of Christian rock, which is represented, as well as metal. Much of the latter part of the list can be attributed to finding music via Pitchfork. As much as possible, I also tried not to include collections, but had to include a few that were too important not to exclude.

  1. Kenny Rogers – 20 Greatest Hits
  2. Elvis Presley – His Hand in Mine
  3. Styx – Paradise Theater
  4. Michael Jackson – Thriller
  5. Prince – Purple Rain
  6. RUN-DMC – Raising Hell
  7. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
  8. Petra – More Power to Ya
  9. Mylon Lefevre & Broken Heart – Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing
  10. Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
  11. Tonio K – Romeo Unchained
  12. The Call – Reconciled
  13. The Beatles – The White Album
  14. U2 – The Joshua Tree
  15. R.E.M. – Green
  16. Vinnie Moore – Mind’s Eye
  17. Joe Satriani – Surfing with the Alien
  18. Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime
  19. Metallica – …And Justice For All
  20. Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog
  21. Soundgarden – Superunknown
  22. Pearl Jam – No Code
  23. King’s X – Dogman
  24. Lone Justice – Shelter
  25. Dwight Yoakam – This Time
  26. John Mellencamp – The Lonesome Jubilee
  27. Larry Norman – Something New Under The Son
  28. Etta James – The Essential Etta James
  29. Donna Summer – On The Radio – Greatest Hits
  30. Blind Willie Johnson – The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
  31. Grateful Dead – American Beauty
  32. Pink Floyd – The Wall
  33. Terence Trent D’Arby – Symphony or Damn
  34. Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet
  35. Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
  36. Johnny Cash – American Recordings
  37. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
  38. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
  39. Burial – Rival Dealer
  40. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
  41. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything
  42. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
  43. Kanye West – Yeezus
  44. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
  45. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
  46. Beyoncé – Lemonade
  47. Beach House – Bloom
  48. Max Richter – Sleep

And here is one song from each album, minus one: Beyoncé’s Lemonade, which isn’t available on Spotify.

If you had a list of favorite albums for the number of years for every year of your life, what would be some of those you’d have to include? Any crossovers?

My 48 Favorite Movies For The 48 Years Of My Life

48

In celebration of my 48th birthday earlier this month, I am doing three special posts: first, one on my 48 favorite books for the 48 years of my life, which published this past Sunday; then, today, my 48 favorite movies; and this Friday, my 48 favorite albums.

For this list, I broke it down, roughly by decade or every 12 years of my life. I did not always have a movie for every year, as sometimes I had two for another year instead. Unfortunately, this did leave out a lot of favorites from before I was born, including Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, and Touch of Evil, just to name a few. The ones in bold are my favorite for those 12 years and those in bold and with an asterisk are underrated classics.

1969-1980

  1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  2. The Wild Bunch
  3. Fiddler on the Roof
  4. The Sting
  5. The Godfather, Part II
  6. The Conversation*
  7. Rocky
  8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  9. Smokey and the Bandit
  10. Apocalypse Now
  11. Breaking Away*
  12. The Empire Strikes Back

1981-1992

  1. Raiders of the Last Ark
  2. Blade Runner
  3. Amadeus
  4. The Breakfast Club
  5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  6. The Princess Bride
  7. Broadcast News
  8. Die Hard
  9. Do The Right Thing*
  10. Dead Poets Society
  11. Goodfellas
  12. The Natural

1993- 2004

  1. Schindler’s List
  2. Groundhog Day
  3. Forrest Gump
  4. Clueless
  5. As Good as it Gets
  6. Saving Private Ryan
  7. Run Lola Run*
  8. The Matrix
  9. Office Space
  10. Almost Famous
  11. Gladiator
  12. Kill Bill 1 & 2

2005-2017

  1. Little Miss Sunshine
  2. Lars and the Real Girl*
  3. Deadpool
  4. Winter’s Bone*
  5. Up in the Air
  6. Inception
  7. Django Unchained
  8. Boyhood
  9. Spotlight
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy
  11. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  12. Moonrise Kingdom

If you had a list of favorite movies for the number of years for every year of your life, what would be some of those you’d have to include? Any crossovers?

My 48 Favorite Books For The 48 Years Of My Life

48

In celebration of my 48th birthday earlier this month, I am doing three special posts: first, this one on my 48 favorite books for the 48 years of my life; then, this Wednesday, my 48 favorite movies; and this Friday, my 48 favorite albums.

For today’s list, I decided to try to go from childhood to the present and to try not to include trilogies or series, with a few notable exceptions in both cases. For example, I included two comic book collections and tacked on one at the end because it was the end of a series and also a good place to end. Many are from high school and college reading lists and classes, such as the Knowles, Milton, Faulker, and O’Connor, with the last two being for a course on both of them. Others are the start of series that I love, many at the beginning and a few in the middle. I want to give a special shout-out to The Bloom County collections, which helped me through mandatory chapel at Messiah College in the late 80s and early 90s. Thank you, Berke Breathed.

  1. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins  by Dr. Seuss
  2. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  3.  In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  4. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  5. Stuart Little by E.B. White
  6. Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
  7. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  10. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  11. Lord of the Flies by William Goulding
  12. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  13. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  14. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  15. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  16. Dune by Frank Herbert
  17. Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saaverda (abridged, translated, and edited by Walter Starkie)
  18. The Stand by Stephen King
  19. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  20. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  21. The River Why by David James Duncan
  22. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  23. Paradise Regained by John Milton
  24. The Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell
  25. Harvest Poems: 1910-1960 by Carl Sandburg
  26. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  27. Selected Poems of William Carlos Williams by William Carlos Williams
  28. All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver
  29. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor
  30. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  31. Truman by David McCullough
  32. Modern Man in Search of a Soul by C.G. Jung
  33. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  34. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  35. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  36. Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  37. To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee
  38. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  39. Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry
  40. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  41. Being Mortal by Atul Gawende
  42. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterston
  43. Bloom County: Volumes 1 through 5 by Berke Breathed
  44. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
  45. White Butterfly by Walter Mosley
  46. Dogstar Rising by Parker Bilal
  47. Memory by Donald E. Westlake
  48. Curtain by Agatha Christie

If you had a list of favorites for every year of your life, what would be some of those you’d have to include? Any crossovers?

The Sunday Salon – The Birthday Edition

48

Yep, on Friday, I turned 48. In celebration of that, I’m going to be doing a few special posts this month:

  • June 18: Books: 48 favorites for the 48 years of my life
  • June 21: Movies: 48 favorites for the 48 years of my life
  • June 23: Music: 48 favorites for the 48 years of my life

I haven’t decided for music, if it will be albums or artists or maybe a combination. I’m not sure yet.

Then I will end the month with my regular features of book, movie, and album of the month along with Library Checkout sponsored by Charleen Lynnette at It’s A Portable Magic:

  • June 25: Book of the Month
  • June 26: Library Checkout
  • June 28: Movie of the Month
  • June 30: Album of the Month

As for reading, I am still reading Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbo, even though I said at the end of last month, that I was (almost) finished with it. The beginning of this month has been hectic with getting ready for a book sale at work (at the library), which is running this week, but I’m hoping to finish the short book today and already have another one lined up. The next one is Tooth and Nail, the third in the Inspector Rebus series, by Ian Rankin, even though I abandoned the second one. I’m hoping it gets better; fingers crossed.

We’ve been watching a lot of different things, nothing in particular this week. Kim did finish our series on favorite Netflix and Amazon shows this past Wednesday with her favorite Amazon show. Musically, also nothing in particular is capturing my interest, but I’m hoping to get some listening in this morning and afternoon.

In life, this past week, other than getting ready for the book sale, I was able to celebrate my birthday Friday night and last night. First, on Friday night, we had burgers and fries for dinner, and coffee ice cream for dessert, then last night I celebrated with a birthday drinkalong with friends. A drinkalong is when a group of friends online watch a movie and have rules for certain things that happen in it to which they drink. My choice of movie was Hunt for the Wilderpeople and mostly it was a fun one. My rules were a little too much, with half a bottle of tequila gone, but I didn’t wake up with a hangover, so that was good.

How was your past week? In reading? In television or movie watching? Music listening? In life, in general?

Kim’s favorite Amazon show

Bryan & Kim's FaVThe plan was every Wednesday in May, my wife Kim and I would do a post as part of a series on our favorite Netflix and Amazon Prime TV shows. The first week I picked my favorite Netflix shows; four weeks ago, Kim, her favorite Netflix shows; three weeks ago, our favorite Netflix shows, the ones we watch together; two weeks ago, my favorite Amazon Prime shows, and then last week was to be the finish with her favorite Amazon Prime shows. However, that didn’t happen with I guess the four-day holiday weekend throwing us off schedule, so here we are with…

Kim’s Favorite Amazon Show: Transparent

I must admit I was equally intrigued by and apprehensive about what this show would be. I’ve been a fan of Jeffrey Tambor since childhood, from Jeffrey Brookes III on the Ropers to George “There’s always money in the banana stand” Bluth. But I couldn’t picture him as Maura Pfefferman, a transwoman who decides that it is not too late to live her truth.

Tambor is funny, heartbreaking, and incredible. The character is not caricature and far from perfect: Maura has blind spots to navigate like everyone else in the family. And everyone else, it seems, has an equally complex journey to their authentic selves. Maura’s revelation causes each of them to reexamine their own identities and make some significant changes. Raw, funny, sad, and beautiful, this show is worth your time.

Tell us some of your favorite TV shows wherever you watch them, whether Amazon, Netflix, or other sources? What are some of your favorites? 

My Library Checkout — May 2017

librarycheckout2Have you been using your library over the past month? What did you read? What didn’t you read? What are you waiting on? The linky goes up the last Monday of every month, and will stay open through the 15th, so click the button at left to go to Charleen’s post for this month to add your Library Checkout post to the linky there.

Read

  1. Double Whammy, the first in the Skink series, by Carl Hiaasen
  2. Blood on Snow, the first in the Blood on Snow series, by Jo Nesbø
  3. Midnight Sun, the second in that same series, also by Nesbø, which I should finish today or tomorrow and will count for May.

I was planning to read more Hiaasen and also fellow Floridian Tim Dorsey, but then decided I just couldn’t do it as you can see below. As for the Nesbø books, I decided to re-try them after a patron said they were really good. I like Nesbø, but these didn’t grab me when they first came out.

Since I haven’t finished Midnight Sun as of this draft, out of the three, I’ll say that my favorite of the three was Blood on Snow. I also enjoyed Nesbø’s short stand-alone novel Headhunters and the movie on which it was based.

DNF’d

  1. The Stingray Shuffle, the fifth in the Serge Storm series, by Tim Dorsey
  2. Hide & Seek, the second in the Inspector Rebus series, by Ian Rankin
  3. The Gingerbread House, the first in the Hammarby series, by Carin Gerhardsen

Returned unread

  1. The League of Frightened Men, the second in the Nero Wolfe series, by Rex Stout
  2. Native Tongue, the second in the Skink series, by Carl Hiaasen
  3. The Thirst, the 11th in the Harry Hole series, by Jo Nesbø
  4. The Inner Life of Cats : The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee

Yes, I like Nesbø, as noted above, but I’m having a hard time focusing right now and the promise of multiple stories in the synopses I’ve seen didn’t appeal to me this month. I’m sure I’ll read it eventually, but just not in the near future. I skimmed the cat book, but was lukewarm about it and the second Nero Wolfe, I just wasn’t in the mood for at the moment.

Currently Out

Nada except for Midnight Sun, if I haven’t finished it by the time you read this.

On Hold

  1. Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
  2. The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett, as recommended by Tasha of Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books.

What did you check out from the library this past month, put on hold, return unread, did not finish? Click on the button above to go to Charleen’s post to add your own post, or comment there — and here, if you’d like.

The Four-Day Memorial Day Weekend Post

So instead of doing several posts today, tomorrow, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I’m incorporating all into one post. It will be kind of like a readathon post, with updates throughout the weekend. I will start with the plans, and then update with the reality.

Friday night

The plan is burgers and binge-watching the last four episodes of Riverdale with Kim.

Update: Burgers, eaten; two episodes of Riverdale down.

Saturday

My wife works midnight shift so I want to read in the morning and early afternoon while she’s asleep, mow the lawn in the late afternoon (I don’t really “want to” do that, but I have to), and then start a Bloodline binge-watch in the evening with Kim.

  • Update Saturday night: Tried reading, abandoned two books, finally settled on a third: Blood on Snow by  Jo Nesbø, which hopefully will stick, did mow the lawn, now watching Bloodline

Sunday

The plan once again is reading in the morning and early afternoon, and then binge-watching more Bloodline with Kim in the late afternoon. In the evening, I might watch some of the Coca-Cola 600 with our neighbor Mike. However, I might only be able to see the beginning with him since he goes to bed early. I plan on drafting a post for Library Checkout, a monthly meme the last Monday of each month where we talk about what we have checked out from the library, and then publishing it on Monday.

Update: Read a little, finished Blood on Snow, watched Coca-Cola 600 until rain delay, binge-watched more Bloodline with Kim, drafted post which as of now Monday is live.

Monday

Reading is again on the agenda as well as binge-watching with Kim, maybe the last few episodes of Bosch, Season 3. Also we have been invited to a picnic at our neighbor Mike and Kathy’s: steak and hot dogs, in the afternoon.

Tuesday

Reading, yep, most likely, but other than that, I’m wide open for anything, but Kim also is off from work.

So I’ll keep you posted throughout the weekend.

How about you? Do you have any time off this weekend? What are you planning to do this weekend?