One Book At A Time

The week began with my attending the funeral of of my aunt Eleanor, who passed away at the age of 87 after being in declining health for several years. While it was naturally sad, it wasn’t unexpected and it was good to see cousins I hadn’t seen in several years.

The library where I work was closed Saturday and Monday for Labor Day and then I added another day to the weekend by taking a vacation day on Tuesday. Monday, I finished mowing the lawn before noon and then chilled “day drinking.”

Monday night, we planned to get together with a neighbor to watch Drunk History, but her plans changed so we postponed until Tuesday night. However, her plans once again changed Tuesday night. We still watched Drunk History Monday night and then on Tuesday, we discovered three new shows on Netflix:

  1. Sisters
  2. Great News
  3. Kim’s Convenience

The first was really good, but we only have watched one episode thus far; the second, okay; the third, really good too. We ended up watching most of the first season Tuesday and finished it on Wednesday night.

The week ended with my college roommate Joe visiting us for a few days. He still is here Sunday morning as I am drafting this and he is going to stay through until Monday night. I only work a few hours on Monday and it’s not until late so that wil “work.” Yesterday we went out for a late lunch.

One Book At A Time

Also this past week, I decided to return all the books I had checked out to the library where I work and the Free Library of Philadelphia, where I mostly get my ebooks. I also cancelled all my holds, mostly from FLP, with many of them having been on for months and not expected for months either. As I have in the past, I decided that I only will check out one book at a time to read or read one book at a time from books I already own in my Kindle library. Of course, as in the past, this usually doesn’t last long, and I already have two books checked out from the library where I work: Depth of Winter, the latest in the Longmire series, by Craig Johnson and Gravesend by William Boyle, which just looked like it might be good. To be honest, I’ll probably bail on the Longmire because I have been disappointed with the last couple, including the last one that ended on a cliffhanger with his daughter getting kidnapped by a “bad guy” that he hadn’t had dealings with for a couple of books. This one, he goes to rescue his daughter. However, I’ll give it a chance, but it’s going to have to grab me right away or else.

I’ll leave you with a trailer to Sisters and an introduction to Kim’s Convenience:

So how was your past week? Reading, watching, listening to anything good?

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?

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?

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.