Snow Day & Valentine’s Day Plans

Today, I have an unexpected day off work, because the library where I work is closed due to snow (we’re getting now as I write this) and freezing rain and ice (expected later). I also took a vacation day on Thursday for Valentine’s Day so I could spend the day with my wife who also is off until she goes to work later that night (11:45 for a midnight shift Friday morning). With Valentine’s Day, we already had plans, starting on Wednesday night, but now I “have to” have plans for today too. Sigh. 😉

So…”what are those plans for both days?” you may ask or maybe you don’t ask, but I’m going to answer anyway.

Today is a little more amorphous than tomorrow night into Thursday since it was unexpected. For me, it might be continuing to read White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. It might not. It might end up me just staring at my navel. For my wife, it is writing letters as part of International Correspondence Writing Month, which Kim is doing as part of a Facebook group for Goulet pens. Later today, we’re also having tacos, but that already was planned for (natch) Taco Tuesday.

The plans for Valentine’s Day Eve and Valentine’s Day are more crafted than today’s plans, starting with a Letterkenny marathon, “nibblies,” and booze, specifically gin and whatever juice we choose to mix with it. You might ask or might not, but I’m going to answer the question anyway: “What is Letterkenny?” It’s this (incredibly crude at times, NSFW) Canadian TV show on CraveTV (and Hulu). So watch this clip at your own risk:

Then on Valentine’s Day proper, we’re going to be slightly more subdued with a trio of movies: the 1996 version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from Baz Luhrmann, the 1992 movie Orlando with Tilda Swinton and Billy Zane, and the 1987 classic Moonstruck, one of my wife’s favorite movies. I’ll leave you with the trailer for Orlando since that’s probably the one you haven’t heard of, but for some reason, we recently were reminded of it and decided we needed to see it again:

Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day? Any special traditions you have? Share in the comments.

The First Sunday Salon of the Year

Reading: Nothing yet, but I have selected what will be my first book of the year.

Watching: The highlight of this past week was a rewatch of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so much of which I had forgotten.

Listening. Nothing new. I’m still listening to my top 25 albums of 2018

Blogging: A lot:

Celebrating: My dad’s 75th birthday (yesterday). We went to lunch at a place near where he lives. He had cheesesteak macaroni and cheese and I had a maple bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and cinnamon honey. The food was amazing; the company was good too. 😉

How was your first week of 2019? Read, watch, listen to anything good?

Pushing Forward Back December 2018/January 2019

A look back at 2018 and a lot of Christmas.

I wasn’t going to do this post this month because of all the other posts I’m doing this time of year (best books, TV/movies, music of 2018 posts, plus two scheduled posts for tomorrow. But after reading Amanda’s December review post, I decided why not? So here goes:

Back at December

December came in like a lion and did go out like a lamb, as I predicted. It began with my working at the library during the annual Christmas event in our town, Dickens of a Christmas, where we had a book sale over two days. Not a lot of patrons came in, but a lot of out-of-towners, which wasn’t fun (apologies to the tourists). The next few weeks were uneventful as I thought too, with a staff Christmas luncheon the Friday before the second weekend. The highlight of the following week was a follow-up doctor appointment about my sleep apnea and my using a CPAP machine, with all my numbers still looking great: down from 87 events per hour to an average of 2 events per hour.

The month ended, again as planned, with a long series of days where I was on vacation and included my wife Kim and I visiting my parents (and sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and niece) on Christmas Day. Tonight, we’ll be going to the neighbors for a New Year’s Eve party, but will be back around 10 since they usually go to bed around that time. We’ll stay up to ring the new year in and then tomorrow I’ll be posting my first book of the year and my goals for 2019, the year I turn 50.

Since I already did my wrap for books, TV/movies, and music for the year, I’m going to keep it short on what I read, watched and listened to this past month. I don’t really have a choice with what I read since I read NOTHING this month. We discovered a couple of new shows: on Netflix, on our own, Derry Girls, which was really good, but sadly only one season; on Amazon Prime, thanks to my brother-in-law and sister, Corner Gas, which we have to watch together now. I gave a second chance to an album I dismissed earlier in the year, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys after seeing it on a lot of year-end best-of lists and now love it. Jeff Tweedy also came out with an new album, WARM, which we only have started listening to, but already love too.

Forward to January 2019

January begins…well, tomorrow, with a day off with my wife. No concrete plans, other than day drinking and binge-watching. Then this Saturday, weather permitting, I’m taking my father, who lives about an hour and half away out to lunch for his 75th birthday.

The month ends with the 24in48 Readathon and I have several books from which to choose already. On the TV series/movie front, we’re looking forward to watching more Corner Gas and as for music, I’m not anticipating any new releases. We’ll see what comes along…as we will with the rest of the month and the year.

We knew we’d love this right from the start.

So how was your month of December? 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 January? Share in the comments.

#AMonthofFaves 2018: Favorite TV series and movies

Again today, I’m joining hosts  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge for their annual #AMonthofFaves blog event – “a fun way to recap the year that was” with “every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out” and  a link-up on all their blogs. Today’s topic is 
 “On The Screen”.

Favorite TV series

These are some of my favorites, with some overlaps with my wife, but not all:

  • Aggretsuko
  • Alone Together
  • CSI
  • Father Ted
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries
  • Kim’s Convenience
  • The Kominisky Method
  • Letterkenny
  • Miranda
  • Mozart in the Jungle (Season 4)
  • Psiconautas
  • Vicious

These are, or were, available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. The highlights for me were the two Canadian shows: Kim’s Convenience and Letterkenny. If you’re offended by language, skip Letterkenny. But if you’re not and like quirky and offbeat, then watch. Unfortunately, if you’re in America, only the first two seasons are available (so far) on Hulu. 
Also quirky and offbeat are Alone Together and  Psiconautas. The most joyous of all of them is Miranda and both Kim and I loved all of the episodes.

Favorite movies

These are our favorite movies from this year in alphabetical order:

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Black Panther
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • Deadpool 2
  • Eighth Grade
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Love, Simon
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout
  • Paddington 2
  • A Star is Born
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The ones I enjoyed watching the most were Deadpool 2 and Paddington 2, two movies on the opposite end of the spectrum, highlighted by this exchange on Twitter:

The ones, though, that I think were the most important were BlacKkKlansman and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the latter of which my wife and I cried through most of. The former solidified my love of the actor Adam Driver, whom I loved in Logan Lucky, and introduced us to a new love of John David Washington, Denzel Washington’s son, a formidable actor on his own.

What were your favorite TV series and movies that you watched this year?

Pushing Forward Back September/October 2018

Back at September

Pushing Forward Back September October (1)

The month began, as planned, with a four-day weekend, but not as originally planned was a funeral with my aunt Eleanor passing away at the end of August 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 at the funeral on Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. Monday, I finished mowing the lawn before noon and then chilled “day drinking,” concluding with watching Drunk History with Kim, which has become somewhat of a Monday night tradition.

The first week of September ended with my college roommate Joe visiting us for a few days. As for the rest of the month, I worked two Saturdays this month and had one Friday off and a couple of days one week with shorter hours. I had planned to use that one Friday to go to the Corning Museum of Glass, fitting my goal of one day trip a month as outlined in my 25 before 50 post earlier this year. However, that didn’t happen.

I finished two books this past month: The Late Show by Michael Connelly and Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, both of which were good. Highlights on the TV and movie front were Kim’s Convenience and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, both on Netflix.

The month ends today with Kim and I going over to our neighbors for pizza. Earlier in the day, I’ll be watching NASCAR with my neighbor Mike and another neighbor Fred, and then later Kim and Mike’s wife, Kathy, will join us as we’re getting pizza for dinner. So the month will end with friends just as it began with family.

Forward to October

The first weekend in October is another long weekend for me as I took a vacation day off for Columbus Day, not because I am a fan of Christopher Columbus, but because I had a vacation day to use. In fact, I’m more in agreement with this image that my wife has on a shirt she wears often on Columbus Day:

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On that Monday, Kim and I invited our neighbor over for a Drunk History binge-watch/drinkalong. We attempted to have one last month but her plans changed a few times, but she has off that Monday afternoon and evening. We are caught up with Drunk History on Hulu so I think we’re going to pick out a few of our favorite episodes to binge-watch to introduce our neighbor to the show.

On the reading front, I’ll be participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday, Oct. 20. I don’t know what I’ll be reading yet, but I will keep you posted. On the TV front, I know I’m looking forward to the third season of Daredevil on Netflix.

So 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 looking forward to in October? Share in the comments.

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.

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Late lunch with a friend… And my wife @dispatcher12

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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?

Pushing Forward Back August/September 2018

Back at August

Pushing Forward Back August September 2018

The month began and ended on high notes, but in between were two major low notes: the death of a relative and the death of a library. On August 11, a relative with whom our family has had a complicated past (without going into details) passed away. Pretty much for the rest of the month, we struggled with our grieving, as the Kübler-Ross model was stuck in anger for a good part of the grieving process, which still isn’t done. Then on August 14, the library in my hometown (where I grew up, not where I live and work now) died as it was washed away by flash flooding. In this case, however, our grieving was short-lived as on August 21 a fundraiser was started to rebuild the library at another location in town.

On to the other high notes:

  1. Kim and I started the month by going to concert on Aug. 3 that was part of this year’s Endless Mountain Music Festival series in the next town. The highlight was violinist Asi Matathias performing Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7, Op. 92.”
  2. That weekend ended with my going to visit my mother, who was celebrating her 74th birthday.
  3. Kim and I continued a tradition of watching (and drinking to) the show Drunk History on Monday nights, which basically are her Friday nights, as her work week ends and she has a few days off in the middle of the week.

On the reading front, I only finished one book: The Cruelest Month, the third Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for reading this month. The best movie we watched this past month was Deadpool 2, which (maybe not) surprisingly was just as good as the first. Musically, I thought there were a few highlights including new albums by Tirzah, Mitski, Helena Hauff, and Foxing, all of whom I discovered or was introduced to by Pitchfork.

Forward to September

I started the summer with a four-day weekend for Memorial Day Weekend and now I end the summer with another four-day weekend, Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S. I tacked on a vacation day to the three days I already have off and with Kim’s schedule the way it is, she is off Monday (works from midnight to 8 a.m. but is off the rest of the day) and Tuesday. We’re not going anywhere with the only thing planned an extended Drunk History marathon since I don’t have to go into work on Tuesday.

As for the rest of the month, I work two Saturdays this month, which normally would mean I have off two Fridays (a combination of our director not wanting us to work six days in a row and something to do with the number of hours per week we work). However, because of other people being away and not having anyone to fill in that one Friday, I only have one Friday off and have a couple of days in one week with shorter hours. All to say, I do have one Friday off, so the day trip I had planned to go to the Corning Museum of Glass last month, which didn’t happen, might now happen this month.

On the reading front, I have the next Gamache book already checked out from the library ready to go and a few other books on hold that might come in. Movies and music? I really haven’t looked ahead. I think I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is coming to Netflix later in the month, so that ought to be good. Of course, I’ll keep you updated on the rest of September as it happens here and on Instagram.

Update, Aug. 31: My aunt Eleanor, my father’s sister, passed away on Wednesday. She was 87. She had been in declining health for several years. Her funeral is Sunday and I plan on attending.

So how was your month of August? 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 September? Share in the comments.

In Limbo

Fishing in Limbo
“Fishing in Limbo” by Andrew Imanaka via Flickr.

This ⬆️is basically where I am as I end this past week and start a new week:

  • I’m still reading The Cruelest Month, the third Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny.
  • I’m not watching much of anything beyond the original CSI  on Hulu.
  • I’m still listening to Father John Misty’s latest album (came out in June), God’s Favorite Customer, over and over, and now I’m getting my wife hooked.
  • I’m not doing much of anything because the weather while not super hot or hot at all compared to southern California or Texas standards where a few of you readers are from, it has been incredibly humid. Last night, the humidity was 97 percent, even though the temperature was in the high 60s (Fahrenheit). Oddly, or maybe not so much, it felt horrible.

Add on to that, we learned last night of the death of a relative with whom sadly our family had a complicated past (I’ll just leave it at that, not trying to be vague here, but it’s really…well…too complicated to explain). So today, I’ll try to continue to read The Cruelest Month, although I’ll be honest that I doubt I’ll be able to focus much and probably just will listen to some music, play Solitaire, and watch CSI reruns.

So what have you been/are you reading, watching, listening to, and/or doing this past week/today?

Of cruelty and floods

Each week here on The Sunday Salon, I take a look back and/or ahead at what I’m reading, what I’m watching and/or what we’re watching, what I’m listening to, and what I’m doing and/or what we’re doing.

What I’m reading

As I type up this draft, I’m in the middle of The Cruelest Month, the third book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, by Louise Penny and am enjoying it thus far. As per my 25 Before I Turn 50, I want to read 10 nonfiction books. To that end, I have one nonfiction book per month planned until the end of the year:

  • August: Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
  • September: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • October: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • November: We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • December: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie.

That will leave five more nonfiction books for January through May 2019.

What we’re watching

We just finished the first season of the FXX series (on Hulu) You’re The Worst. We’ve seen characters like this before in such series as Catastrophe and Difficult People, but unlike in those shows, where we wearied of the bitterness of the people involved, in this one, at least so far in the first season, we haven’t. At the center also is a love story, even if it is at times a messy and complicated one, especially since the two main characters, Jimmy and Gretchen are such awful people. However, you still are pulling for them somehow, because in their own weird (horrible) way, they’re sweet together.

What I’m Listening To

What I’m/We’re Doing

Over the last couple of weeks, Kim and I both have been going to concerts with a local musical festival, some together, some separately with other people. In addition to a few free concerts, we have been lucky enough to score free tickets from generous people in the community. The festival is called the Endless Mountain Music Festival and features world-class musicians over two weeks.

Today, as you’re reading this, I’ll be visiting my mother, who celebrated her 74th birthday on Friday. My sister and I are joining her for church and then going to her house where we’re having cheesesteaks from a local general store (the owners are originally from Philadelphia).

Later this week, I had planned on lunch and a movie. However, I probably will be foregoing that as I will be putting my money elsewhere, to help my hometown library (where I grew up, not where I live and not the library where I work) which experienced losses Friday no thanks to a flash flood.

So what are you reading, watching, listening to, doing this past week and the week to come? Any highlights?

Pushing Forward Back July/August 2018

Pushing Forward Back JulyAugust 2018Back at July

As planned, the month began on a high, with three days off for both Kim and me. Kim had her normal three days off: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I took vacation days for Tuesday and Thursday, having Wednesday already off as a holiday for The Fourth of July. As I recall, we didn’t go anywhere or do much of anything, but it was still good to have the time off.  The second week, we went out to a new rib joint in town, owned by a friend of ours, and it was great. We also watched Love, Simon, which also was great. The highlight of the third week was getting the complete series of Homicide: Life on the Street and starting a landscaping project on a driveway we share with a neighbor. This past week, Kim and I were able to go to an Endless Mountain Music Festival concert at Mansfield University and it was very good. I also was able to continue the landscaping project and get it mostly done.

On the reading front, I had a great month as I read 12 books, thanks to back-to-back readathons the last two weekends of the month: the 24in48 Readathon and Dewey’s Summer Reverse Readathon. Altogether, I have read 27 books for this year.

The dozen books this month were:

  1. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  2. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by by Ta-Nehisi Coates (writer), Brian Stelfreeze (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer), Manny Mederos (designer), Rian Hughes (logo designer), Jack Kirby (writer, artist), and Laura Martin
  3. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  5. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
  6. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  7. Queenpin: A Novel by Megan Abbott
  8. Rebound by Kwame Alexander
  9. Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  10. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  11. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  12. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)

All were good, but the best ones were Behold the Dreamers, The Hate U Give, The Poet X, and Queenpin.

Musically, three albums in particular grabbed me: Sundays by San Francisco musician Hannah van Loon, who performs as Tanukichan; Third by guitarist Nathan Salsburg; and Wild Pink’s Yolk in the Fur, with the latter being the one I was playing the most on the virtual turntable.

Forward to August

This month begins with a visit to my mother the first weekend for her birthday (it’s this Friday, but we’ll celebrate it on Sunday). I have the second Friday off as I work that Saturday at the library (has to do with the number of hours I work per pay period, they give me a day off before I work my one Saturday a month). I don’t know what we’re doing yet, but Kim and I probably will go on a day trip, maybe to the Corning Museum of Glass, maybe to Finger Lakes wine country. We’ll see what the day brings.

So how was your month of July? 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 August? Share in the comments.

In case you missed it, yesterday I posted my thoughts on “The State of The Blog 2018,” in which I also decided I’m only going to post once a week here.