The Four-Day Memorial Day Weekend Post 2

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. – This is exactly what I said last Memorial Day Weekend and what I am saying again this Memorial Day Weekend, hence the 2.

Speaking of reading, I plan on reading one book a day, each the start of a different series either that I’ve been wanting to read or that I’ve recently discovered. I’ll mention each one on the day that I plan on reading it.

Friday night

Tonight, the plan is simple: eat burgers, drink booze, listen to music, and watch whatever the hell tickles our fancy. Kim won’t be drinking because she has to work tonight at midnight, but she will be eating burgers, listening to music and watching whatever the hell tickles our fancy.

Two minutes later: We’re watching Season 2 of Riverdale on Netflix. We really enjoyed Season 1 and are hoping the second season is just as good.


Update: We watched only the first episode of the second season. We didn’t stop because it wasn’t good, but because we were listening to music.


No. 1 on the agenda is reading. The first book up is A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes, the first of the Harlem Cycle. I’ve heard of Chester Himes mainly because of Luke Cage and thought I’d give him a try.

My sister told me that I need to see Paddington 2, because it’s “for all ages,” so I borrowed it from the library, and even though I don’t know if I need to see it, I’m going to watch the first one, which is available on Netflix. I’ll be watching on my own because Kim said she isn’t interested in watching, plus she’ll be sleeping as she has a 12-hour shift Saturday into Sunday and then Sunday into Monday.


Again, and this is going to be a theme here, No. 1 on the agenda is reading. The second book is The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari, the first in the Jessica Balzano & Kevin Byrne series. To be honest, I never had heard of these, but it is set in Philadelphia and I picked it up on ebook via the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The other “big event” for the day is the annual fly-in breakfast at our local airport, which I’ll be going to with our neighbors, Mike and Kathy. Kim might go along, depending on how her Saturday night at work goes (she’s a 911 dispatcher, so some nights are rough and she doesn’t want to go anywhere but to bed).

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.

I also might watch the Coca-Cola 600, a rare night race, with Mike — in his “ManCave” – a garage complete with classic car and big screen TV that is behind their house.


Yep. Reading again. The third book is Still Life, the first in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, by Louise Penny. This one, I have had on hold for—ever at FLP, but this past week, I found a copy in our library bookstore, so I picked it up. I have no idea why this is so popular (the hold at FLP is several months long), but I guess I’m going to find out.

In the afternoon, we are going to a picnic at our neighbors. Kim’s making deviled eggs and we’re bringing potato chips. Of course, there should be burgers and hot dogs too.

We were looking forward the fifth season of Arrested Development, but after recent…well…developments, we’ve decided…



Hmmm. I guess, reading will be at the top of the agenda. Shocker! The final book of the weekend is one I think I’ve tried before but didn’t finish for some reason, Death at La Fenice, the first Commissario Brunetti mystery, by Donna Leon.

Watching? I don’t know yet, but with Kim off, maybe it will be something we both want to watch.

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

What We’re Watching Wednesday | Documentaries

Each Wednesday I share what my wife Kim and I are watching in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, though, it’s Kim who is sharing…only what she is watching by herself: documentaries.

I am that person. The one who tries to get you to watch a documentary.
When we first got cable, I discovered my love for watching the obscure stories, little independent documentaries about unfamiliar subjects. I have always liked to learn about people whose life experience was vastly different from my own.

And I love a well told story, slowly unfolded. They affect me. I try to spread my enthusiasm and I can tell straightaway if I have chosen my audience correctly. If you are not one whose eyes glaze over as someone bangs on about social issues, history, or the best restaurant in Berlin, read on.

All three of these series are available on Netflix.

Chef’s Table

You may think you are utterly disinterested in cooking, or assume this series bears some resemblance to the cooking competition shows that fill the offerings on Netflix and elsewhere. If you will indulge me, watch one episode. Watch Season 3, Episode 1. And tell me if you aren’t hooked. Then go back to the beginning.

Each episode of Chef’s Table stands alone and tells the story of one chef, what inspires them, how they got started, what they serve in their restaurants. Whether cooking is your thing or not, their stories are fascinating. Part biography, part travel show, a feast for the eyes and the soul. The chefs themselves are at times holy, other times profane, deeply connected to the food they serve, deeply connected to the places they live, and their life experiences are the flavors they bring to the plate. I have learned so much that inspires my own cooking and that confirms my suspicion that if I worked in a professional kitchen I would hide in the bathroom and cry a lot.

Wild Wild Country

We have seen and enjoyed a couple of Mark and Jay Duplass’ films, most notably Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) and The Skeleton Twins (2014) but their documentaries are another thing entirely and I hope they produce more.

Wild Wild Country concerns the establishment of Rajneeshpuram, a commune of followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh established in Wasco County, Oregon in the early 80s. In the first episode, one of the interviewees notes that if you wrote a book with all of the elements of this story in it, it would be dismissed as “too ridiculous.” Indeed, the rise and fall of this community and all the things that happened are a strange, fascinating tale. I found myself looking up articles and interviews seeking answers to the questions I was left with.

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist

Many of us remember the footage on the news of pizza delivery man Brian Wells, handcuffed and seated on the ground in front of a state police cruiser with a bomb around his neck that would later take his life, having robbed the PNC Bank on Peach Street in Erie. The Pizza Bomber, they called him. I must admit once it rotated out of the news cycle I forgot about it. I live in Pennsylvania but at the time we were about as far from Erie as we could be while still being in the same state. I was not aware that the investigation, and the mystery, took years to solve. In some ways, this short documentary reminded me of the first (and still, most affecting and compelling) podcast I ever listened to, S-Town.

Have you seen any of these? What did you think? If not, do you like documentaries? Any ones you can recommend?

A blog post about reading – finally!

If there is one thing that I have learned in all my years of blogging, it is this:

It’s hard to write a blog post about reading when you haven’t been reading.

That is part of the reason why you didn’t see a Sunday Salon post last Sunday from me. I also went to visit my mother for Mother’s Day. Now this past week, I finally read something, so I can write a Sunday Salon post.

18799734The book I read, yesterday, was Pago Pago Tango by John Enright. It is the first in a series called the Jungle Beat Mysteries, featuring a police officer named Apelu Soifua, in American Samoa. I picked it up for free from Prime Reading, and while it was fairly good, I don’t think I’ll be rushing to buy the others in the series. What made it good was Enright’s knowledge of Samoan culture since he lived there for 26 years. The mystery wasn’t great, but I still would like to read more in the series…eventually.

To be fair, I have been reading, but this is the first book I have finished this month. I DNF-ed three others: Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama, Dove Season by Johnny Shaw, and The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty. I checked out the first and third on ebooks from libraries and tried the second for free via Prime Reading.

With Six Four, I got bogged down with Yokoyama’s focus on the bureaucracy within Japanese police departments. With Dove Season, the story didn’t develop quick enough for my tastes, and with The Echo Killing, I couldn’t get past the premise of a small-town newspaper having extra staff to assign to one story. I worked for weekly newspapers for more than 15 years and I know that staffing is always being cut, even at larger dailies, with usually one person ending up doing several jobs so I just didn’t find that aspect of the story believable.

Altogether this year I have DNF-Ed five books, with the other two being Don Quixote and IQ by Joe Ide. On the flip side, I have finished 11 books, including The Lord of The Rings trilogy. I won’t lie; I am finding it hard to find what I want to read, plus I allow myself to get distracted by shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I am hoping June is a better month for reading for me.

How is your year in reading going? Reading anything good this year so far? From this past month?

What We’re Watching Wednesday | Trailers

Each Wednesday I share what my wife Kim and I are watching in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, it’s not really either…yet as we’re watching trailers for upcoming movies.

These are a few trailers for upcoming movies that look like they could be good.

The first one is the one we really want to see: Spike Lee and Jordan Peele. We’re there. However, we also love Adam Driver, best known for his Riley as Kylo Ren in the new Star Wars movies, but whom we loved in Logan Lucky in a very un-Kylo Ren-like performance.

The second is one that I think looks good, but we’ll see. The third is Melissa Mccarthy in a rare dramatic performance. We have seen her do drama in St. Vincent and she was excellent. This new one looks promising.

What are you watching this week? Any trailers for upcoming movies you’re excited to see?

What We’re Watching Wednesday | Shows set in Scotland

Each Wednesday I share what my wife Kim and I are watching in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, it’s shows set in Scotland.

I think it was last year that the BBC show Shetland premiered on Netflix. Kim and I slowly have been making our way through the series, and we’re now on Series 3, where the action definitely has picked up with guest stars Ciarán Hinds and James Cosmo, both of whom were in Game of Thrones. It’s not that the first two series were bad, but it feels like this one has stepped up the series’ game.

The next show, David and Olivia? Naked in Scotland, is on Amazon Prime. We saw a trailer for this and thought we definitely needed to watch this, so we did. We weren’t disappointed in the show itself, but unfortunately it’s only three episodes long. We almost wonder if the two creators, who also star in the show, aren’t hoping to sell the show to a larger network at some point. We sure hope someone picks it up, because it was, and is, really good. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a trailer for this show, but if you have Amazon Prime, definitely give it a try.

So how about you? Watching any good TV this past week? Movies you’d recommend?

My Library Checkout for April 2018


Have you been using your library over the past month? What did you read? What didn’t you read? What are you waiting on? These were the questions of a meme called Library Checkout, originally started by Shannon of River City Reading, continued first by Charleen of the blog It’s a Portable Magic, and now by Rebecca Foster of the blog Bookish Beck. I’m joining in for this past month of April.


  1. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
  3. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
  4. Tangerine by Christine Mangan Friends by Carl Dennis
  5. Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
  6. Colosseum by Katie Ford

The best of the lot was All Creatures Great and Small and Tangerine also was really good.

Returned Unread

  1. Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
  2. Sending Christmas Cards to Huck & Hamlet by Joseph Mills
  3. Unknown Friends by Carl Dennis
  4. Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

I had four all of my list for last month’s Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, but I just never made it to them and I don’t know if I ever will, although maybe with the two books of poetry listed in the middle because they’re short.

Currently Out

  1. The Sinner by Petra Hammesfehr
  2. Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

To be honest, I forgot I had these checked out from the Free Library of Philadelphia on ebook and I’ll see now if I get to them.

On Hold

  1. Inspector Maigret Omnibus, Volume 1: Pietr the Latvian; The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien; The Carter of ‘La Providence’; The Grand Banks Cafe by Georges Simenon
  2. The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman
  3. Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers: A retirement and aging roadmap for single adults and childless adults by Sarah Geber
  4. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
  5. Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda

All five are on hold at FLP too, with the latter two being on hold the longest, the Locke since March and the Pochoda since February! Both must be really good, I’m thinking, so I’ll wait them out.

In other non-bookish related news, I continued our What We’re Watching Wednesday this past week and started a new feature Friday Finds for music.

What did you check out from the library this past month, put on hold, return unread, did not finish? Share in the comments.

Friday Finds | DJ Koze & Jon Hopkins

Each Friday I’ll share what I find myself listening to. It might be new. It might be old. This week it’s new, with two of my favorite electronic musicians releasing new albums today: DJ Koze, the moniker of German producer Stefan Kozalla, with Knock Knock, and Jon Hopkins, a British producer and musician, with Singularity.

Here’s a song from each:

So what is on your virtual turntable to start this weekend?

Pushing Forward Back April/May 2018

Back at April

The month began with snow and ended with snow. At least, in both cases, it wasn’t an accumulating snow, but by this time, I’m usually mowing the lawn (not that I’m complaining, mind you). The month also had other highlights, for example, beginning with my wife Kim’s birthday and then ending this past Saturday with Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. I started two new features here on the blog: What We’re Watching Wednesday and Saturday Snapshots. I read six books for the month, with the best being All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. Our favorite movie this month was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and our favorite TV show, Santa Clarita Diet.

On constant play on my phone was this:

Forward to May

I’m looking forward to warmer weather in May, which is supposed to start later this week, as early as tomorrow, getting up into the high 70s (Fahrenheit), and a four-day Memorial Day Weekend to end the month as I added on a vacation day to the end of the weekend. In the middle of the month, I plan on visiting my mother for Mother’s Day. As for books, I’m looking forward to continuing reading James Herriot’s works, with All Things Bright and Beautiful up next, and then All Things Wise and Wonderful. On Netflix, we have second seasons of Dear White People and Riverdale to look forward to and for movies, we both are looking forward to Deadpool 2. I haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War but hopefully will this coming weekend (Kim’s not interested). On the music front, I’m looking forward to new albums by DJ Koze and Beach House, a song from the latter which I’ll include to wrap up the post:

So how was your month of April? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you looking forward to in May? Share in the comments.