Monday, September 14, 2020

Still Here

Lots of reading this week. So many friends complain they have lost their focus for reading, but for me, it's the opposite. I find a serenity while reading that few other things afford me. Anne Tyler (The Redhead) writes books where the stakes are not too high and thus her characters' issues are tolerable. In this one, Micah just doesn't know how to get himself a girlfriend. I can handle that. She is very good at setting out an ordinary man's life. Perhaps a bit too good because her characters from book to book are much alike. 

Finished The Teagirl of Hummingbird Lane and was seduced enough by the tea she grew to order some. Hugely expensive for a few ounces of tea and it will probably taste like dirt but seduction is a strange thing. 

Also listening to Ann Patchett read her essays. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. She is a terrific essayist. Even when her subject is prosaic, her thought never are.

The book about The Office  was huge fun for me. I do think it was the best comedy of the 2000s. Especially once they figured out what to do with Michael Scott.

Watching the Morses. I am skipping the ones listed as "the worst" on a list I found. I find them very strong in atmosphere and character compared to a lot of the current crop

 Borgen, however, gives it a run for the money. Very smart. Luckily I can watched it dubbed, and very well dubbed, or I would have trouble following Danish politics.

Watching the Albert Brooks movies on Criterion, which don't hold up as well as I expected although they are good enough to kill 95 minutes. Defending Your Life was better than I remembered and Lost in America, not as good.

The strange but fun Charlie Kaufman movie, I Am Thinking of Ending Things, really occupied online chatter this week. Luckily Slate, among other, explained it to me. 

I have lost my cleaner/driver/gardener for a while. Her daughter went into cardiac failure having a baby. This apparently can happen. What a shock it must be. So my help is in Canada till things resolve.

Am I safe taking Uber or Lyft? Not sure. More worried about them not showing up than anything.


Jeff Meyerson said...

I have also found that I'm reading more lately, after a few months where my health issues and the world were making that hard. And it has been mysteries and short stories, mostly. Carl Hiassen's SQUEEZE ME does have his version of Trump and Melania as supporting characters, but it is well worth reading anyway. One of his rich, elderly superfans in Palm Beach is swallowed by a giant python so set things off.

We started watching (or re-watching) Chadwick Boesman's movies after his death, starting when ABC broadcast the uncut BLACK PANTHER. This week it was GET ON UP (James Brown) and (Thurgood) MARSHALL, both of which were quite good. I was impressed with his James Brown. He did all the dancing, some of the singing. It is not linear, jumps around in time, but is not hard to follow. He led quite a fascinating life. I can't say how accurate the events of MARSHALL were, but he and Josh Gad did an excellent job working together.

I guess what you heard about COASTAL ELITES was correct. I'd still recommend watching the first section, as Bette Midler is a hoot. Yes, it is "preaching to the choir" but the acting is mostly good, though some of the stories were a bore to get through, especially the "I went to prep school with Ivanka" section.

We finished season two of SRUGIM last night. AWAY is watchable, other than every scene with the teenage daughter, which is unbearable. Watching THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (series two) and DEADWIND (Finland; series two) and SHETLAND (series five) and PROFESSOR T. (Belgium; on PBS) and our Saturday night British night - MORSE (much better after than one episode), JONATHAN CREEK, and now started the original UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS.

Things remain mostly sane here, with New York testing heavily and remaining under 1% positive for over a month. We ate our for the first three times since March this week, all of them in restaurants with outdoor gardens off the street in the back. Otherwise, it is the same.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'm completely with you, Patti, about reading. It offers such a welcome break from the world, doesn't it? I like that very much.

George said...

I'm with you, Jeff, and Margot. Reading provides an oasis of calm and delight in these troubled times. I'm also listening to more music each day.

Diane read THE REDHEAD BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD and liked it. She's an Anne Tyler fan and has read many of her books. Diane finished reading the latest Louise Penny novel and loved it.

Fall is in the air in Western New York. The nighttime low temperature tonight will be in the 40s. Stay safe!

Jeff Meyerson said...

We watched BORGEN in the original Danish with subtitles, which we generally prefer.

It has been cool enough to turn off the air conditioners and open the windows lately.

Thursday is Jackie's birthday.

Rick Robinson said...

No reading, or not much. One short story in 3 days. Can't think about anything but fires and smoke, and have had a nasty headache for days now. We have watched a little of the Tour de France, but it comes on at 3:30 am so we only catch the last hour. Not watching any other sports, or TV except hours of local news about fire and smoke.

I just want this fire/smoke/Covid/election/hurricane/ crap to go away.

Jerry House said...

Yum...dirt tea!

Best wishes for the new mother with a heart condition. Jessie faced something similar with her first baby.

With September 11, this has been a week for reflection. Then I got mad about Trump and his destructive antics, so I stopped reflecting.

Sally is supposed to -- maybe -- miss us, although I heard ten minutes ago that she is taking a track toward us. I'm more concerned about Deb, her family, and those in Louisiana.

Watched YOUNG WALLANDER. Very impressive, but I hope the next season helps explain how the older Wallander came to be. Still watching old VERAs and SHETLANDs. Enjoyed Randy Rainbow's latest swipe at Trump.

Read the new Ray Bradbury collection, highly recommended. Also read Joe Lansdale's latest, MORE BETTER DEALS, and will start his JANE GOES NORTH and HAP AND LEONARD: OF MICE AND MINESTRONE this week. I also read a number of SF stories from the 60s and 70s, mainly from ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION. Read a couple of THE SHADOW NOVELS from the 40s. Started the new Jesse Stone mystery, written this time by Mike Lupica; I think Reed Farrel Coleman did a better job with Robert B. Parker's character. Yes, sometimes you can do a lot of reading during a pandemic.

Heavy waves at the beach with the approach of Sally. Beautiful, but no dolphins in sight. At least the giraffes at the zoo are still there.

Have a fantastic week, Patti, although I know you will be thinking about the safety of friends on the West Coast and on the Gulf. Natural disasters are the pits.

Jerry House said...

Jeff, wishing Jackie a very happy birthday!

Rick, stay safe! Maybe if you asked the smoke politely...

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Been reading a lot the last few days. My eyesight in rather inconsistent so when it's good I try to cram as much reading in as possible. Just had another eye injection today so my vision is pretty screwed up for today. Reread a lot of short stories this week. Mainly Samuel Delaney and Alfred Bester. Just started No Room At the Morgue, a private eye novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette.
Watched a few good movies this week. I'm Thinking of Ending Things and Clockwise. Clockwise is one of my favorite comedies. Written by Michael Frayn it stars John Cleese as a headmaster who is fixated on being punctual and whose day goes off the rails.
Recorded Masterpiece theater last night and will probably watch it today. It's Van der Valk, a character created by Nicholas Freeling.
Watched the Detroit Lions blow a good lead by giving up three touchdowns in the last quarter than comeback in the final seconds to have a touchdown pass dropped .

Jeff Meyerson said...

Steve, I read that Manchette (as well as FATALE) last week.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Gee, Rick. I really feel for you. It must be just too much to deal with. Get out the wine or pot or something.
Sorry about the eyes, Steve. Hope your doctor figures it out. I think I saw that Cleese movie years ago. And thanks for mentioning Van Der Valk. We lived in Amsterdam in 1997 and I will look forward to seeing it again.
Hurricanes, fires, how much we are all dealing with. Be safe.
Wish Jackie a happy birthday. I wish I could celebrate it with her.
The Lions lost, how about the Bills?

Jeff Meyerson said...

The Bills won. They beat the Jets.

Gerard Saylor said...

I've been reading slightly more with an ebook version of Derek Raymond's I WAS DORA SUAREZ. I finished the audio of THE WHITES by Richard Price. WHITES was a very good novel with excellent narration.

I finally watched the final season of X-FILES and thought it had some great episodes. I enjoyed the weak episodes as well. I've been watching the first season of COUNTERPART on Prime starring JK Simmons COUNTERPART is a mix of SciFi and espionage and has been quite entertaining.

We had a week of rain which broke for good yesterday. At a Scout meeting we only had 6 Scouts show up but played football with a Nerf ball. I was awful but still had fun and got some different exercise for once.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I enjoyed COUNTERPART too.

TracyK said...

We had two three day weekends in a row. Labor Day weekend and then Glen took the next Friday off. I don't know what is wrong with him, I have to force him to take vacation days. I know it isn't much different when you can't go much of anywhere, but having him relaxed and not so stressed about work is good for both of us.

We have had the smoke from fires but minimal compared to Rick's problems. I hope Portland's situation improves.

I do seem to be reading less this month but I enjoy what I read.

Jeff Meyerson said...

We loved series one of COUNTERPART, but the second series was a major disappointment.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I never saw the second season so I am left with admiration for the first.
Seems to be going both ways, Tracy. Some reading more, some less.

David Cranmer said...

I'm with you that my reading habit has not only remained but has increased steadily though mostly poetry, non-fiction, and historical novels.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am also reading a lot more non-fiction than I normally do although it is not high quality stuff.

Todd Mason said...

DEFENDING YOUR LIFE goes for some easy jokes and schtick, but it's a charming and well-turned film, isn't it?

Glad you're liking BORGEN. Haven't ever tried it dubbed...but am very glad there will now be a fourth season. I'm pretty sure my cheerleading for it when I was at TV GUIDE had nothing much to do with it eventually getting the Peabody Award, but I doubt it hurt (the little leftist cable/satellite/early streaming channel Link TV, now a subsidiary of KCET in LA and rather watered down for broadcast, imported it to the US ahead of any other English-speaking country, unless we count Denmark!, getting to see it). Seeing the star in the cast of a season of WESTWORLD was one of the few highlights of that overblown, if mostly well-cast, series.