Gone ‘Til November

Earlier this week, my wife invited me to a news blackout on Election Day, and I accepted. To help in that endeavor, I also am taking vacation days on Monday and Tuesday that week. And now since I already have voted, and I don’t need or want to hear anything more on the election, I have decided to extend the news blackout backwards to start tomorrow. Along with that, I’m signing off here on the blog and on Instagram for the rest of the month until after the election.

So what will I be doing if I’m not thinking about the election or the news?

On the literary front, I have choices with plenty of books I already own on Kindle from which to choose and a few books I’ve checked out from the library, including Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden and the third, fourth and fifth books in the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.

On the cinematic front, I am thinking about a rewatch of the sixth season of Schitt’s Creek and continuing to watch the best episodes of Cold Case on The Roku Channel before the show expires at the end of the month. I miss Drunk History, but I’ll drown my sorrows with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax movies.

On the musical front, I am hoping that Lana Del Rey drops her new album Chemtrails over the Country Club before the end of the month and if not, I’ll continue to listen to Taylor Swift’s latest album folklore over and over again as I pretty much have been doing since it was released in late July.

I also will be continuing an online six-week introductory course for Christian Meditation that is being hosted by a group in Houston, Texas and to which I was invited by Deb Nance of the blog, Readerbuzz, and host of the weekly Sunday Salon. The group is part of The World Community for Christian Meditation. I admit that on the night of the election, I will be skipping as (my wife and) I will be “meditating” over a big bottle of wine or other alcohol-based libation.

…after the election (when hopefully we won’t have to move to Celine’s country).

Pushing Forward Back September/October 2020

Read

  • The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
  • The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald
  • Cadillac Beach by Tim Dorsey
  • Last Bus To Woodstock by Colin Dexter

Watched

  • Endeavour, Series 3 and Series 4
  • Eureka, part of Season 3
  • Mystery Road, Series One
  • The Song Remains The Same
  • The Train (1964)

Listened To

  • Gold Record by Bill Callahan
  • Comma by Sam Prekop
  • Shore by Fleet Foxes
  • Untitled (Rise) by Sault
  • Whole New Mess by Angel Olsen

Highlights of the Past Month

  • In bold in the lists above are my picks of the month as must-read, must-watch and must-listen-to, with the corresponding photos above each category. In the music category, it was close with Angel Olsen’s and Fleet Foxes’ new albums also more than worth a listen.
  • On a personal level, the big highlight of the month was the resolution of a dispute between the hospital and our insurance company from my knee surgery last year for a bill for $11,000. The short version is that after several months, we now owe nothing.
  • Other highlights included getting a light therapy lamp to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder, getting a meditation app called Insight Timer to help me be more mindful at work and at home, and getting rid of an old air conditioner and loveseat. Unfortunately in the case of the latter, while moving the loveseat out of the house, I dropped it on one of my barefoot toes (I know, really smart), which looks pretty gnarly. I’m going to see my primary on Friday to see if she thinks I need to get an X-ray.

Ahead to October

However, it’s not all bad or potentially bad for me for the month of October. I’m beginning the month continuing to read The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens and Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, both of which I started this past weekend and both of which I’m enjoying. My wife and I also are looking forward to rewatching Season 6 of Schitt’s Creek, which drops Oct. 7 on Netflix. Of course, as I am writing this, I remember that we already own the sixth season on Prime because we couldn’t wait for it to come out on Netflix and bought it earlier this year so we actually can watch it again whenever. We also are awaiting the release of the new album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club, by Lana Del Rey that originally was supposed to drop in September, but hopefully will drop this coming month.

On a personal note, hopefully, thanks to the light therapy, I will be able to wake up earlier to journal, to walk and…well…just to be awake before going to work.

I’ll leave you with a taste of Lana with Matt Maeson:

How was your month of September? 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 most looking forward to in October? Share in the comments.

Update, Friday, Oct. 2: My doctor said the top part of my toe was broken, even without having me getting an X-ray. She taped it together with the nearest toe and told me to take Tylenol or ibuprofen for the swelling and pain. She estimated it could take up to 12 weeks to heal. But that I might still be feeling pain in it for up to six months. If it looks bad after a couple of weeks, she said that I could call and she’d prescribe an antibiotic if infected.

Further update, Saturday, Oct. 3: After a little research, I ordered some toe wraps and a special shoe for the broken toe (middle toe on the left foot) on Amazon, all for under $50. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try to see if they help with the healing and, in the case of the shoe, keeping in mind while walking around the house to watch that I don’t bang into anything else with the broken toe.

My Own Personal Sabbath #17

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I turn off my phone and its notifications. What follows is what I read, watched, listened to, or did this past Sunday.

Yesterday reading-wise I never really latched onto anything. I abandoned three books and then even when I finally found a book to end the day with, I’m not sure if I’ll finish it or not. First, the books I abandoned were:

  • The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes
  • Devotions: Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
  • From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell.

The book I ended the day with was Misterioso by Arne Dahl, the first in the Swedish crime writer’s Intercrime series.

It also wasn’t that any of the books were “bad,” but that they just didn’t work for me, at least at this time:

  • The book by Hughes was written in 1963 and recently republished as part of the New York Review of Books Classics series. I saw where it was going and decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to read right now.
  • Last year, I borrowed Mary Oliver’s collection of her own poetry over 50 years from the Free Library of Philadelphia, then purchased it this year when I knew I’d want to take more time with it. Since buying it, I have been slowly making my way through it, usually reading some each Sunday. The book is arranged from her later books to her earlier books and I’m about halfway through. I think I like her later works better as I believe in the beginning, she comes across as too didactic. I’ll probably return to the book at some time, but for now, I’m putting it aside.
  • I thought I might like to try Rendell’s Chief Inspector Rexford mystery series, but I have a few noir classics that I have on hold and rather would get to first. So for now, this series is being put on the back burner.

I had better luck later in the day with choosing a couple of movies from Starz to which I have a discounted subscription until Friday: Field of Dreams and The Man from Snowy River, the former which is one of my all-time favorite movies. I then thought about watching Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, but then saw an American Experience episode about the notorious pair of outlaws that was short and watched that instead since it already was 10:30 p.m. The episode was fascinating (among the things that I learned were that Butch Cassidy was not his real name and The Sundance Kid was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania) and I highly recommend it if you have Prime Video, which is where I watched it.

Next Sunday I’ll be in the middle of a three-day weekend, but my wife is working all weekend so no special plans. I’m not sure what I’ll be reading or watching or listening to doing yet, but you’ll hear about in the next installment of…My Own Personal Sabbath.

Sabbath #11

For the last 11 Sundays, I have been taking a break from my phone: calls, texts, and news for my own personal Sabbath. I have had varying degrees of success, but for most of the Sundays, I have kept to my initial intention to unplug for the day.

It all began with putting my cellphone in a desk drawer and has evolved into shutting off all notifications on the phone, only listening to music or audiobooks on it. I switched from a Kindle Fire, on which I still was tempted to look at notifications even though I had them shut off, to an older Kindle with no bells and whistles.

  • His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Every Living Thing by James Herriot
  • Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey
  • The Rat That Began To Gnaw The Rope by C.W. Grafton (yes, father of Sue Grafton, but an accomplished writer on his own).

I also have watched three Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies, Creed 2, Rocketman (a rewatch), and The Princess Bride (also a rewatch, multiple times). I have listened to a best of 2020 playlist that I created on a free trial of Tidal, Sleepy Hollow on XPN from Philadelphia, and Guido’s Lounge Cafe on Mixcloud.

Today, the plan is to read Smallbone Deceased: A London Mystery by Michael Gilbert, a part of the British Library Crime Classics series. This follows my reading last week of the C.W. Grafton book that is part of the Library of Congress Crime Classics series.

This past week, I also decided to continue my subscription to Audible, even though I am an intermittent audiobook listener. However, I enjoy the free offerings they have too for members. For example, my wife and I both enjoyed listening to a Dr. Katz series, which started as a cartoon. I also have been listening to the Sherlock Holmes short stories and have a few other books already on audio for whenever I get to them. So I might listen to something later, but probably something short.

I’m not sure what I’ll watch yet, but I did purchase a streaming copy of Bowfinger and while this isn’t where I intended to leave off, I will, with one of my favorite scenes from the movie: