Category Archives: Entertainment

Escape

I’ve been filling my time lately with books and videos. I’ve been either reading or listening to books or podcasts about books. I’ve been watching whatever will take me away from the thoughts in my head.

Reading

Other than current book group books, I’ve decided to read books I own: hard copies, e-books or audio books or books I can borrow from the library. I’m starting with the book group list of books that Diana sent out a few months ago. I’ve gone through the list and highlighted what I read (or remembered reading).

I began with A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. This book was one I was pretty sure I would not finish. Our book group met to discuss it in September of 2017 and I’d not gotten very far in it. It took place during the Chechen wars and I could not handle the background. I don’t think I even noticed how beautifully it was written because of the atrocities that were described. I tried to read it again, a few years ago, but ended around the same place I stopped the first time. I finally decided I was going to read/listen to it or make the decision it would never be for me. I am glad I did because it turned out to be one of the most beautiful, haunting, sad books I have ever read. I’ve recommended it quite a lot since I finished reading it last month.

The next book I read was our current book group read, Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I liked it, but I really like books about friendships between young and old. The young man in this book was 17 and the older woman was 92. The book was light and pure escapism. It was about fitting in and the kindness of strangers. Just what I needed.

Then I moved onto another book I had trouble getting into: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. The book group met to discuss this in February of 2009. I don’t remember if I went to that meeting or not. I did want to read it but I remember feeling it was too heavy to read at the time. I’ve since picked it up a couple of times, but never long enough to get into it. I finally finished it last week — reading some via my KIndle and listening to some via the library’s Libby app. My thoughts are that if the whole book was as good as the last quarter I may have finished it long ago. I reviewed it on Goodreads.

I finished Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah yesterday. I would not have read this had I not seen the Netflix series based on it and if the series had not ended on a cliffhanger or three. I was compelled to finish it, but it left a bad taste in my mouth once I read the author’s note at the end. I felt like a fool spending my time reading this and having my emotions played with when it was basically a public service announcement. I reviewed it on Goodreads which includes a hidden spoiler.

Yesterday I went back to the bookgroup list and started The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This book was a book group read before I joined the group, I believe. I am not sure I like it, but I am going to give it a couple more days.

Watching

Dean and I are watching the remake of All Creatures Great and Small on PBS. It’s good. I expected to feel nostalgic for the actors from the original series, but the actors in this remake are quite good. It was a little jarring to see Mrs. Hall played by someone young and attractive. And I admit that I missed Peter Davison as Tristan at first, but I might like Callum Woodhouse even better.

I binge watched Emily in Paris over a couple of nights. Fun, funny, escapism.

I also binge watched Bridgerton and Firefly Lane. Loved Bridgerton and thought Firefly Lane was good, except that it ended with several loose ties.

I need something to watch now. Any ideas?

Back when we had to choose

Last Tuesday evening I updated my Facebook status: Glee or Lost

I was debating which program to watch that night, if any, knowing that I could watch both the next day on Hulu or ABC or whatever station Glee is on.

One of the responses, from Sandy — a mutual friend of Frances Lide, was DVR.

That got me thinking. There were times, in my life when I actually had to choose what program to watch because there was no DVR or Hulu or Tivo or VCR or On Demand programming. If you missed an episode of a program you could only hope a friend could explain the entire show to you or else you’d have to wait for reruns.

Of course, back when I was a kid growing up outside Chicago, we only had a few stations to choose from: 2  (CBS), 5 (NBC), 7 (ABC), 9 (WGN),  and 11 (WTTW — Public TV). It was not often that there were two programs I wanted to watch on at the same time. The only time I can think of where there were two programs on television that I wanted to watch was when I was in the third grade and Lost in Space and Batman were on at the same time. I probably would have watched both, had they been on at different times (or if we could have taped it), but I chose Lost in Space*.

We only had one television when I was a kid and my brother was far enough behind me in age that we rarely clashed over what to watch on television. I only recall one time that I wanted to watch a television program (Woody Woodpecker) when my parents wanted to watch something else which ended with me in tears and quite possibly a throwing a temper tantrum**. When my cousin, Bob, lived with us, we argued, once — that I recall anyway, about the TV. It was a Sunday night and I wanted to watch Masterpiece Theatre and he wanted to watch something else***. That too, probably ended with me in tears and throwing a temper tantrum.

I wonder if we all watched television together peacefully, or if we found other things to do when others were watching what they wanted to watch. I wonder how it was for larger families. Who got to choose what to watch? Did television stations compete like they do now? Did they pit family members against each other over what to watch? Were people less obsessive about television programs? Were the programs less addictive?

What do you remember about the days before the ability to record television programs? Who chose what to watch in your family? How did you choose?

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*My third-grade class was divided into the Lost in Spacers and the Batmanites. We Lost in Spacers made up a rhyme about Batman that we thought was hilarious at the time, but I can only remember the not hilarious part of it now:

“Batman and Robin
Batman and Robin
Something something something something
That’s what Batman and Robin are!

**It turned out that Woody Woodpecker was not on that night and my temper tantrum was wasted.
***I think I won because 1. The only television I watched at the time was on Sunday evenings when I watched Masterpiece Theatre and Monty Python & 2. Bob didn’t want to be in the same room with a crazy cousin who threw temper tantrums at age 19.