Sunday Salon March 4, 2018

Reading: Since finishing The Two Towers, I haven’t been reading that much. I dipped my toes into The Return of the King, but haven’t jumped into it yet.

Watching: Kim and I finished the second half of the first season of The Tick on Amazon Prime this past week. It was good, although I wish there were more now. On my own, I started watching Suits, also on Prime, which Kim and I had started watching before and then stopped after only a few episodes. As I was telling Kim last night in Messenger, I think I remember why we stopped watching: “Realized how much of a commitment and nerve-wracking, wondering when he [one of the main characters] is going to get caught for being a fraud.” The character pretends he graduated from Harvard to get a job as a lawyer. Still, it is good, so far, about six episodes in.

Listening: The latest Nicholas Jaar joint, 2012-2017, under his moniker A.A.L. (Against All Logic) has been spinning on my virtual turntable.

Otherwise: Friday was an unexpected snow day at the library, so I went to Goodwill and got three shirts, a car seat cover, and this glass:

Goodwill Find: $1 after 50 percent off for Snow Day Sale. I'll take it (and did)!

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

All for $11. My father mentioned that the glass might be worth something, although Kim and I both didn’t think so…until a friend said I should look for others on EBay. I did and found a couple of sets of two for $70. He was right, but really I just picked it up because I liked the design. I have no plans to purchase the others, but it is interesting anyway.

This coming week: Kim is going to visit her mother in Delaware from Monday to Thursday, so I’ll be without a car for a few days and I’ll be walking to work. It’s not so bad walking to work, but back from work will be at 8 each night, uphill, and in less than seasonable temperatures, so I’m not looking forward to that. Coworkers, though, might be able to bring me home, but either way, I’ll survive as it is only a mile.

Kim was nice enough to make me little breakfast “cups” (bacon, egg, and cheese made in a cupcake tray) for breakfast and a pot of chili for at least one dinner, if not more than that. I went to the store and got lunch meats, cheeses, wraps, chips, and yogurts for lunches so I should be set for food.

I’d like to say that I will be reading much of the time Kim is away, but to be honest, I probably will just end up mindlessly surfing through whatever is on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

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How was your past week? Read, listen to, watch anything of note? What do you have planned for this coming week?

Pushing Forward Back February/March 2018

Last month began with a couple of highlights the first weekend with our annual tradition of watching the movie Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day on Friday and then going to a Super Bowl party at our neighbors that Sunday. But then the rest of the month didn’t go as planned as we didn’t go to the Wellsboro Winter Celebration mid-month and didn’t get to see Black Panther at the end of the month, both of which we had planned to see and do. I also had an adventure at Walmart one Saturday afternoon as I lost my wallet there. They did find it, complete with everything in it, but it made for a not-so-fun hour.

What I was reading: I finished one book, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, which I had started reading in January. I also recorded my second DNF of the year with Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

What we were watching: On the TV side, we started watching the fourth season of Mozart in the Jungle and the second half of the first season of The Tick, both on Amazon Prime. On the movie side, we also watched Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s Twelve, but couldn’t make it through Ocean’s Thirteen.

What I was listening to: Way Out West by Sonny Rollins.

Pushing Forward

March begins with Kim being away for a few days next week as she visits her mother in Delaware, meaning that I will have to walk to work those days. But I only live about a mile from the library, so it will be fine. Also early in the month, we are having a training day at the library, meaning the library will be closed as we learn about updates to new software. Yes, I know that without patrons, I wouldn’t have a job, but sometimes it is nice to not have them there either.

I’d like to say that Kim and I have big plans for the rest of the month, but that wouldn’t be true. We will be looking forward to new seasons of Jessica Jones and Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix, but that’s about it. As for me, I will be continuing with my reread of The Lord of the Rings, as I will be starting The Return of the King.

How about you? How was your month of February? Any highlights with your reading, TV and/or movie watching, music listening? Any big plans for March?

My Second DNF Of The Year 

Last year I had a lot of DNFs (books that I did-not-finish), but I don’t know exactly how many because I didn’t keep track. This year I’m keeping track on Goodreads, and here on the blog. Last month was my first one for this year: IQ by Joe Ide. This month comes my second one: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Edith Grossman.

I read an abridged version of the book, translated by Walter Starkie, when I was in high school or in college and remember enjoying it, although I don’t remember anything specific about it other than I enjoyed it. So when this new translation came up as a Kindle deal at the end of last year, I picked up this one. Then two weeks ago on Facebook, when I saw that Nancy of the blog Bookfoolery and Ryan of the blog Wordsmithonia were going to read it together. I mentioned to Nancy on Facebook that I might be interested, and then thought I’d probably consider it and not do it. But then when I got an invitation from her to join the Facebook group, called “Tilting at Windmills,”  I went ahead and joined. After all, I figured why did I purchase a copy of the book if I wasn’t planning to read it.

A part of me knew I wasn’t going to make it through this, especially after two sentences that were within one paragraph that went on forever. I even said reading the book was going to be a long haul here on the blog and in the group. Instead of giving up then, I continued on, because I was finding the interplay between Don Quixote and his companion, Sancho Panza, entertaining enough. Then the story turned to other stories, about other characters that seemed to have nothing to do with the story at hand, of Don Quixote and Sancho on their adventures. Again, instead of giving up, I decided to continue on, in hopes that Cervantes would get back to Don Quixote and Sancho, which he did, but then he diverted again. After skimming ahead to see that he was going to do it yet at least once, probably a hundred times for all I know, and the overuse of unending sentences, connected by semicolons, I decided it was time to let this book go.

I have tried at least one other readalong, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and failed. Do I feel bad for failing at two readalongs? Nope. Sometimes books don’t work for me, for one reason or another, or for several reasons, and I’m okay with that. I still have plenty of books from which to choose to read. For now, I’m going back to my reread of The Lord of the Rings, where I’m nearing the end of The Two Towers. I do feel bad for having joined a readalong when I knew I probably shouldn’t, or might not make it through. For that, I apologize to Nancy and Ryan, but for not finishing the book, I make no apologies, not to myself or Miguel. After all, the book was an immediate success when first published and has gone on to be the second most published and translated book in the world. My not reading it is not going to affect that.

Don Quixote Speaks To Me

 

To this the innkeeper replied that he was deceived, for if this was not written in the histories, it was because it had not seemed necessary to the authors to write down something as obvious and necessary as carrying money and clean shirts, and if they had not, this was no reason to think the knights did not carry them; it therefore should be taken as true and beyond dispute that all the knights errant who fill so many books to overflowing carried well-provisioned purses for whatever might befall them; by the same token, they carried shirts and a small chest stocked with unguents to cure the wounds they received, for in the fields and clearings where they engaged in combat and were wounded there was not always someone who could heal them, unless they had for a friend some wise enchanter who instantly came to their aid, bringing through the air, on a cloud, a damsel or a dwarf bearing a flask of water of such great power that, by swallowing a single drop, the knights were so completely healed of their injuries and wounds that it was as if no harm had befallen them. But in the event such was not the case, the knights of yore deemed it proper for their squires to be provisioned with money and other necessities, such as linen bandages and unguents to heal their wounds; and if it happened that these knights had no squire—which was a rare and uncommon thing—they themselves carried everything in saddlebags so finely made they could barely be seen on the haunches of their horse, as if they were something of greater significance, because, except in cases like these, carrying saddlebags was not well-favored by knights errant; for this reason he advised, for he could still give Don Quixote orders as if he were his godson, since that is what he soon would be, that from now on he not ride forth without money and the provisions he had described, and then he would see how useful and necessary they would be when he least expected it.

Only 31 pages into Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, as translated by Edith Grossman, the above two sentences spoke to me earlier this week, and here is what they told me:

This readalong of the 17th century epic you have agreed to do with a few other bloggers is going to be a long haul.

Have passages in a book ever spoken to you? What did they tell you?

Tilting at Windmills

20147233 I have added one more book to my reading since my last post when I said the only book on which I would be focusing this month was The Lord of the Rings, which I am doing a reread of. That additional book is the one pictured at left, Don Quixote (Don Quijote de la Mancha #1-2) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra as translated by Edith Grossman. I read an abridged version of the book, translated by Walter Starkie, when I was in high school or in college and remember enjoying it, although I don’t remember anything specific about it other than I enjoyed it. So when this new translation came up as a Kindle deal at the end of last year, I picked up this one.

Then two weeks ago on Facebook, I saw that Nancy of the blog Bookfoolery and Ryan of the blog Wordsmithonia were going to read it together. I mentioned to Nancy on Facebook that I might be interested, and then thought I’d probably consider it and not do it. But then when I got an invitation from her to join the Facebook group, called “Tilting at Windmills,” earlier this week, I went ahead and joined. After all, I figured why did I purchase a copy of the book if I wasn’t planning to read it.

On her blog, Nancy explains that she has attempted to read the book three times and failed. I’ll be honest that I looked last year at a copy of this translation at our library while shelf-reading and thought, “Nyuh.” So why am I saying “yes” now and to a readalong of all things, which I am notorious for trying in the past and failing? Mainly, since, as I said above, I did purchase a copy of the ebook, I’m thinking that I might as well read it. It’s not just there to sit on my virtual shelf. Plus I guess I figure that split out over several weeks makes the task seem less daunting, that this might be a windmill I indeed can conquer. We shall see.

The reading schedule is as follows:

February 10 – Chapter XXV (p. 204)
February 17 – Chapter XLII (p. 373)
February 24 – Chapter XIV (p. 547)
March 10 – Chapter XL (p. 717)
March 17 – FINISH.

Have you ever read Don Quixote? If not, have you ever had a book that you kept trying to read but just couldn’t get through? For me, it was, and is, The Brothers Karamazov. I really liked Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, but for some reason, I have been unable to conquer his final tome. Maybe someday.

 

Pushing Forward Back January/February 2018

This past month began with a funeral, frozen water pipes, and a dead car battery, but it did get better from there. The funeral was for my aunt, who died at the end of December after being in ill health for several years, and it was good to be able to remember her and grieve together as a family. Eventually borough workers were able to thaw the frozen water pipes and in the meantime we used water via a hose from a neighbor. We got a new car battery and a tire that was going flat was fixed for free at the place where we bought our car.

What I was reading: I didn’t read a lot this month, but did finish three books:

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly
  3. Life on Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith

The last two I finished during the 24 in 48 Readathon last weekend. I also continued with The Two Towers and started Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson on audiobook. The poem that struck me by Smith was this one: “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?” with allusions to Bowie.

What we were watching:  Among the highlights of shows and movies Kim and I watched this past month were The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Narcos, Lilyhammer, Psych, Monk, Man Down, Borderline, and Strictly Ballroom. All are available either on Prime Video or Netflix (or were at the time of this post). My favorite was Narcos, one that Kim had told me I needed to watch but I avoided for the longest time. Now I don’t know why. It was, and is, a really great show.

Here is the first episode of the The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel:

What I was listening to: Most of the time I was listening to a playlist made up of My Top 15 Albums of 2017. As usual, I also was listening to radio shows on Mixcloud, with my favorite track coming from Chris Coco’s Melodica Jan. 22 show:

I’m so naive that I didn’t know the song that was used most prominently in Moulin Rouge was a Nat King Cole song.

Pushing Forward

As for February, the month begins with a couple of highlights this weekend: our annual tradition of watching the movie Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day on Friday and then going to a Super Bowl party at our neighbors. Neither one of us really care about the game, but both of us will be pulling for the Eagles: me because I hate the Patriots and as a Pennsylvanian, I still like the Eagles; for Kim, because she grew up near Philly.

Then mid-month is Wellsboro Winter Celebration 2018, with the highlight for us being the chili cook-off. It is an event to which we look forward every year.

So far, we don’t have anything planned for the end of the month but I’m sure we’ll figure out something.

On the reading front, I’ll be continuing to read The Two Towers; TV and movies, we’re looking forward to Black Panther; and musically, I don’t really know.

How about you? How was your month of January? Any highlights with your reading, TV and/or movie watching, music listening? Any big plans for February?
 

#24in48: The Postgame

This past weekend, Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28, I  participated in the 24 in 48 Readathon . On Friday, I told you about my preparation, “The Pregame,” for this weekend’s event; Saturday and Sunday, I told you about the event itself, “The Game,” with updates over the two days; and today, I’m giving you my reflections on the weekend, “The Postgame.”

The Postgame

If you are seeing this in a feed, you might not be able to see the embed above from Instagram, but what it said in the caption was that “I finished two, started two. I’ll take it.” It also shows that I read for 6 hours and 45 minutes over the two days, nowhere near the goal of 24 hours.

I started with a possibility of seven books:

  1. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Big Book of The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett, edited by Richard Layman and Julie M. Rivett
  3. The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen
  4. Life On Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
  5. Never Get Angry Again: The Foolproof Way to Stay Calm and in Control in Any Conversation of Situation by David J. Lieberman, Ph. D
  6. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  7. The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly

I continued reading The Two Towers, finished Life on Mars and The Last Kashmiri Rose, both of which were good, and started Astrophysics for People in a Hurry on audiobook, which also was good even though I fell asleep while listening to it. I bailed on The Big Book of The Continental Op after seeing that the print was too small. Ironically, this isn’t the first time I’ve done that, only noticing that the print was too small after picking up a book for a readathon. Maybe next time I’ll look before checking out the book. I don’t know why I checked out Bruen’s book, because I’ve fallen out of love with the Jack Taylor series a few books back. That one will be going back to the library unread. The anger book, I might get to at another time.

Why didn’t I read for 24 hours? Looking back at both days, it was mainly one thing: friends. On Saturday, my neighbor Mike, whom I usually see only on weekends, invited me over to his “ManCave,” his garage that includes a large screen TV and projection screen. We ended up watching Baby Driver, which I have seen (and loved) and he had not. Then on Sunday, I remembered I was going to call my college roommate Joe for his birthday, which was on Friday, and also to check up on him because he has been going through a trying separation from his wife. He and I ended up talking up for two hours, which is not unusual for us since we only take every few months.

I also didn’t read as much because I ended up taking a couple of naps. While my job isn’t high pressure, working part-time at a small town library, I do get worried over little things and sometimes larger things, especially during the week. On the weekend, I try to let them go and also catch up mentally and physically from the lack of rest I have earlier in the week from thinking too much about work. It also is hard for me to unwind and read during the week, so usually I do most of my reading on the weekend when often I have larger stretches of time to devote to books, and not be thinking about work or trying to keep the thoughts at bay (which I usually do some when playing Solitaire and listening to music at night). I’m not one of those people that can sit down and read five to 10 minutes at a time, so all that said almost seven hours of reading in one- to two-hour blocks is more than good for me.

Do I regret not reading for 24 hours? Nope. I still had a good weekend: spending time with friends, resting, and reading. Like I said, I’ll take it.

How was this past weekend for you? Did you do any reading? If so, anything good? Or even over the last month, read anything good? Share in the comments.

#24in48: The Game

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Today, Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28, I am joining the 24 in 48 Readathon (click on button at right to be taken to the site to learn more about the event). Yesterday, I told you about my preparation, “The Pregame,” for this weekend’s event; today and Sunday, I’ll tell you about the event itself, “The Game,” with updates over the two days; and on Monday, I’ll give you my reflections on the weekend, “The Postgame.”

The Game

Saturday

10:06 a.m.: First book done after a couple of missteps:

  1. I try The Big Book of The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett, but the print is too small. The print is small in the one I finally did pick, Life on Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith, but at least it is short. I also learn by reading the blurbs on the back of the book why the book is on the new shelf. The book was republished in honor of Smith being named the Poet Laureate of the United States last year.
  2. After starting to read, only three minutes in, I smell at poop. Our older cat, Seamus, occasionally poops on the floor and he did so this morning. I go clean it up.

The book, though, was very good: no poop.

1351044410:35 a.m.: I begin on my second book, which I already had started reading before the readathon: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien.

12:45 p.m. or thereabouts: I stop the stopwatch app on my phone at 2 hours and 15 minutes and six-tenths of a second. I am on my way to Isengard. I am not sure when I will get there as my neighbor Mike has invited me over to his “ManCave” for a little bit. I will try to extricate myself as politely as I can, probably within an hour. I think it is more than safe to say I will not be keeping to my original schedule and it is highly doubtful that I will be making 24 hours of reading within the allotted 48 hours, but I still hope to get some good reading in.

4:45 p.m.: I’m home after watching movie Baby Driver with Mike, and next will be having dinner with Kim. So yeah, about that game plan yesterday…er, not gonna happen, but plan to do some more reading tonight after Kim goes to work. And there is always tomorrow.

6:45 p.m.:  I pick up where I left off and read The Two Towers for a little bit. I am now with Frodo and Sam…and soon to be Gollum. When I stop the stopwatch, it reads 3 hours and 45 minutes. I reset my goal for 6 hours a day and 12 hours for the entire event.

8:25 p.m.: I take a nap.

12567027A little after 10 p.m.: I continue reading another book I already had started before the readathon, The Last Kashmiri Rose, the first in a series about Detective Joe Sandilands, by Barbara Cleverly. I also enjoy sea salt caramel gelato and am joined by Seamus on my lap as I sit in the recliner, which has been my place for today’s reading and will be again tomorrow.

Sunday

12:56 a.m.: I finish The Last Kashmiri Rose, which while not great was good enough for me to finish and want to pick up the next in the series sometime. After I am done, I try to look around for another book on The Free Library of Philadelphia Overdrive website, but the site seems to be down. Maybe they are doing maintenance, I will try tomorrow.

10:15 a.m. or thereabouts: I decide to switch it up and listen to an audiobook, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson as narrated by DeGrasse Tyson himself. I enjoy the book until I fall asleep in the recliner and go take a nap about 11:15 a.m.

2 p.m.: I get up and plan on reading but then remember that I was supposed to call my college roommate to wish him a happy belated birthday (his birthday was Friday). I end up talking to him for about two hours.

4 p.m.: I think that my readathon is over as I really don’t want to go back to listening to DeGrasse Tyson on astrophysics tonight or continuing with The Two Towers, I think I’d rather watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

So here is how long I read for:

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I’ll give you my full report in tomorrow’s post: “#24in48: The Postgame,” including how many books I read, which was my favorite, etc.

#24in48: The Pregame

24in48 The Pregame Tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28, I am joining the 24 in 48 Readathon (click on button at right to be taken to the site),” in which “beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning and running through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night, participants read for 24 hours out of that 48-hour period. You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, four hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six four-hour sessions with four hour breaks in between, whatever you’d like.”

Today, I’ll be telling you about my preparation, “The Pregame,” for this weekend’s event; tomorrow and Sunday, about the event itself, “The Game,” with updates over the two days; and on Monday, reflections on the weekend, “The Postgame.”

The Pregame

The Books: Like the shirt above says, “I read what I want,” so these are just among many books from which I might select:

  1. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Big Book of The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett, edited by Richard Layman and Julie M. Rivett
  3. The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen
  4. Life On Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
  5. Never Get Angry Again: The Foolproof Way to Stay Calm and in Control in Any Conversation of Situation by David J. Lieberman, Ph. D
  6. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  7. The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly

32191710I am rereading The Lord of the Rings this year and already finished The Fellowship of The Ring so next up is The Two Towers. I might get to starting The Return of the King in this readathon, but I doubt it. Last year I read Red Harvest and The Dain Curse, two novels about The Continental Op, a detective created by Dashiell Hammett and recently I saw this book, which collects all 28 stories about The Op and the two novels, on the “new” bookshelf at our library. That’s where I also got the next three books that are listed, although the Smith collection of poetry is from 2011, but it’s new to our library. I purchased the deGrasse Tyson book as a Kindle deal and the Cleverly book is the first of a series about a British detective in India named Joe Sandilands that a friend of mine, who lived in an apartment building we lived in for many years when we lived in suburban Philadelphia, recommended to me. I might add others from another list of ebooks that I discussed a few weeks ago to the list of possibilities, but we’ll see.

The Snacks: Tonight after work I stopped at the grocery store and the wine and spirits shoppe to stock up on snacks for tomorrow and Sunday: wine, cheese, crackers, nacho chips, and salted caramel gelato. The wine will be used sparingly as I don’t want to be asleep the whole time, which leads me to…

The Game Plan: I plan to schedule both days the same:

Midnight to 8 p.m.: Sleep
8 a.m. to 9 a.m.: Breakfast with my wife Kim
9 a.m. to noon: Read
Noon to 1 p.m.: Lunch
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Read
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Dinner with Kim
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Time with Kim before she goes to work
7 p.m. to midnight: Read

I should explain that my wife works midnight shift so she will be asleep most of the time that I am reading in the morning and afternoon and then on both nights, she has to be to work at 7:45 p.m. for 12-hour shifts that end the following mornings – lest you think that I am completely abandoning her.

So are you participating in this weekend’s readathon? If so, what is your plan of attack? What does your stack look like? Snacks? If not, are you doing any reading this weekend? If so, what are you reading? If not, whatchya up to anyway? 🙂

Signed up for #24in48 again

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This coming Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28, I am joining the 24 in 48 Readathon (click on button at left to be taken to the site). “…this is the basic gist: beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, participants read for 24 hours out of that 48-hour period. You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, four hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six four-hour sessions with four hour breaks in between, whatever you’d like.” I don’t think I’ve ever actually made 24 hours, but it’s a goal anyway.

I haven’t read anything since my first DNF of the year, but I am hoping to continue my reread of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I already finished the first one, The Fellowship of the Ring, earlier this month and am just starting the second one, The Two Towers, which is my favorite of the trilogy. Beyond that, if I’m lucky, I’ll start The Return of the King during the readathon. I have no other books that I plan to read during the readathon, although I do have plenty of choices on my Kindle, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

As for this weekend, yesterday I worked at the library and today I’m going to my parents, where I’ll be helping them sort and discard “stuff” that belonged to my recently deceased aunt. My sister and brother-in-law already have begun (a large part of) the process, I’m just going to do my (small) part, including taking some clothes to Goodwill when I come home on Monday. My wife Kim would be going, but she worked a 12-hour-shift from 8 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m this morning and then will work another 12-hour shift tonight, from 8 p.m. tonight to 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. So while I might be checking comments on my phone later tonight, then again I might not, but I’ll do my best to respond to your comments sometime this week.

So how is your January going? Reading anything good? Listening to, watching anything good? If you’re participating in the 24 in 48 Readathon, let me know where I can follow you: on your blog, Instagram, or Twitter. I’ll be here and on Instagram.