Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 1673 - Summer television

I have a lot of paper lying (laying?) around the house, with half-finished thoughts scrawled on them.  I would write on here more often if I actually started those thoughts on the computer versus actual paper.  And even now I have a number of unfinished thoughts.  I want to write about books and TV shows.  Not movies, though, because I haven't really watched a bunch recently.  And there's nothing that I am jonesing to see.  I want to see Finding Dory, Independence Day, and Now You See Me 2, but I'm having a hard time motivating myself to go to the theater.  I'm sure they'll all be fine, and maybe even better than that, but I want something that's going to transport me and fill me with awe that sometimes only a summer blockbuster can do.  And, amazingly, Tarzan seems like it might do that.  Each new trailer makes it look better than the previous one.  But until that comes out, there's TV.

I've been watching BrainDead on Monday nights starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Tony Shalhoub.  It's such a breath of fresh air (for me) to watch a show that's as canny about politics as it is about alien ants taking over all of Washington infecting people by crawling into their brains.  Sometimes it doesn't work out and a head might explode.  CBS was promoting it more as a comedy than anything else, and while it does make me smile, I find it more of a sly science fiction series that's instilling the right amount of dread and hopelessness that a show like this needs in order to remain compelling.  I have no idea how (or if) the good guys are going to win, but I can't wait to see what they're going to do next.

I also finished Friday Night Lights Season One.  Yeah, yeah - for all those of you who have already watched it, you know how good it is.  I'm finally jumping on the bandwagon.  For those of you who haven't watched it, you probably should.  It's pretty great.  I've got season two sitting here from the library, and I feel that once I start, then I might be incommunicado for the following week.  It's both intimidating and exciting.

Finally, there was the ScyFy show The Expanse that came out last year.  The first season was 10 episodes long, and that seems like the perfect length.  Apparently it's based off a series of books and season one is based off book one.  It's a compelling story because it follows three different factions (Earth, Mars, and the Belt) and people from each of them as they get tangled in a conspiracy and end up on a collision course.  The season finale is a great episode that gives us all the pieces that we need in order to know what the conspiracy actually is, as well bringing the main characters together.  Space opera at it's finest, because it has some great spaceships, but its real strengths are its characters.  Flawed and broken people who are just trying to do the right thing.

As for books, I've been on a tear recently.  I'm in the two books at a time mode that I haven't been in a while.  It feels great.  Currently I'm reading Transparent by Natalie Whipple (a dollar store buy) and Neil Gaiman's American Gods.  And comics - so many comics.  It feels great.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day 1666 - Father's Day and the scariest book I've ever read

I am absolutely dying here, as I (like I presume most Clevelanders) am watching the NBA Finals.  It might be the quickest way to incite a heart attack.  So I've decided to distract myself a little.

I was talking with my buddy Kevin yesterday about what it means to be a dad today vs 30 years ago.  He's a dad to three kids,and we talked about how you connect with your kids and how much time you get to spend with them.  And I thought about my dad.  His influence is all over everything I do (and like).  He taught me how to play baseball (and I loved it and was good at it).  He taught me the history of the sport.  He bought me baseball cards (lots and lots of baseball cards).  And Star Wars cards and King Kong cards.  He took me to baseball card shows and even let me set up my own table at some of them.  It was great earning my own money selling off stuff that I didn't need.  He even coached my 5th grade basketball team, even though I was pretty terrible at the sport.  And today, he's helping me with my Amazing Spider-Man collection (in return, I get him coverless Batman and Superman stories from the 50's and 60's because he likes the stories). 

But one of the coolest things he's done is get me books that I politely ask for during birthdays or Christmas.  One year I asked for Edward Levy's Came a Spider.  I first read this during my senior year of college.  I was at the Athens' library and I saw the title and picked it up off the shelf.  I had read James Patterson's Along Came a Spider within the last year, and I'm sure that's why I picked it up.  Came a Spider was about a big tarantula-type spider that attacks a young boy, injects its eggs into him, and then they burst out of him and attack a suburban L.A. town.  For someone who grew up on movies like Them!, Tarantula, and The Deadly Mantis, this was right up my alley. 

One sitting.

I read the whole thing in one sitting in my dorm room that day.  As I started, my legs were out and it was light out.  By the time I finished the book, it was dark and my legs were curled up under me, and I was probably in the smallest possible human ball as I could be in.  My heart was racing, and I knew I had experienced something special.  It's probably tied with my experiences of reading Stephen King's The Stand and Gordon Koman's I Want to go Home.  Since it was a library book, it had to go back (although the thought did cross my mind to tell the library I "lost" it).  So, years later, I asked my dad to get a copy for me for Christmas.  It took a couple sittings to get through that time, but I still loved the book.  I started it again this afternoon, and if it weren't for this game, I'd be reading it right now (although maybe not, since Game of Thrones is on).  But every time I pick up the book, I will always thank my dad for getting it for me.

Happy Father's Day, Pop!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Day 1658 - Money, money, money (but more of a lack thereof)

Remember that ALS ice bucket challenge from a few years ago?  Well, I get to do that for the next few days as apparently my hot water is not working at all.  I went to clean the kitty litter this morning, and as I walked towards the box, my foot went "goosh"onto the little rug I have near there.  My hot water tank was leaking from the top, which meant that I had to change the fittings on the hot water tank, not the tank itself (thankfully).  Three hours and some jury-rigging later the leaking has stopped, but now the hot water isn't working.  Honestly, while it sucks, I'd rather have that than the excess water.  I have a  plumber coming Wednesday to see if we can get all this straightened out.  I just hope it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg.

But all that just really caps the last couple of weeks of money suckage.  A few weeks ago I got a speeding ticket.  It was on a residential road, and it was from a state trooper.  Nope.  Not getting out of that one.  I sent in my 200 bucks, but apparently it arrived a day late, because I discovered a new type of fear (and a new experience) - that of having a warrant being served out for my arrest.  Thankfully that only lasted one day, but it's still disconcerting getting that notice in the mail. 

I feel like the worst movie fan in the world, because I've barely been to the theater to see anything.  I still haven't seen X-Men, and I feel like, no matter how bad it might be (and at least we know it's not going to be Superman vs Batman bad) it's a movie I really need to see in the theater.  And previous to the last few months, I might have gone on a non-discount day, but now there's very little chance of that.

The silver lining in all of this are a few things - I've been watching Friday Night Lights Season One and it's as good as everyone says it was.  I've been reading more comics than I have in a while (so much good stuff out there).  And I've actually gotten more sleep than I have in a while.  It's not a lot, but I'll take it.

It's weird.  I can really get down on myself sometimes, and with circumstances like these it would be easy to do that now.  But I'm doing okay.  Sure things could be better (when can they not?), but I guess I'll be okay.