It’s the offseason! Anything goes (when it comes to content, and most likely otherwise)!
I thought we’d do a weekly bit on what we’re consuming. Food, books, video, TV, sport, entertainment, games, outdoors, whatever you are doing to keep yourselves active, mentally or physically.
Video Game: No Man’s Sky.
I purchased No Man’s Sky because it was 50% off on a sale on PlayStation Store. I remember that when it was released, they promised way more than they delivered. Everyone was angry and disappointed.
I put about 40 hours into that game in a week. I like it. It goes on forever. It’s challenging, interesting, but when I saw the time, I gave my PS4 controllers to my wife and told her to hide them.
The Atomic Sea, by Jack Conner. I liked it a lot. It was a unique world, unique universe that the characters were interested in. But then book one finished with a cliffhanger without resolving any storylines. I hate it when authors do this. At some point, I’ll probably go on to read the next book, but there are plenty of other cheesy sci-fi series to examine.
I read the The Nephilim Protocol (The Solomon Code Book 1) by JD Kloosterman which I enjoyed. Good pace, decent characters, plot is fast-paced. Nice escapism. Also, Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather which was good until the end. The end was.... well, it was terrible. I can imagine a lot of people were okay with it. I was not.
I recently signed up for Kindle Unlimited, so I have access to crap tons of books. You’re only going to hear about the books I’ve actually read. There are a lot of them I start and don’t bother with after maybe the first 10 pages. I like that Kindle unlimited gives you that option. The reason I abandon a book after the first 10 pages - I don’t latch on to a character I care about.
At some point I’d like to try writing fiction.
Demon Slayer which is a anime on Netflix. I’m also watching a Korean series called Sisyphus. I enjoy anime because you’re not going to get the same stuff you’re going to get from American TV series. Animes can be downright bizarre.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which I thought was very well done.
Jupiter’s legacy. I see that they’re not going to have a second season, which is fine. I couldn’t really identify with any of the characters in that series. They were generic, created as tropes with nothing further added. The dude who played Jupiter lived by a code of not killing anyone and when you heard about the code, which you did repeatedly, it was tedious. It was as if Jupiter was bored with it himself. It was as if he constantly serving up 99 cent pasta with store-bought generic marinara sauce and expected everyone to be impressed. Had he channeled just some of Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon on-the-edge-of-psycho-dude, he might have saved the series.
Loki: This was wonderfully done. The casting is excellent. I’m not going to ruin anything by saying anything further.
Television: The Friends Reunion on HBO Max was entertaining as nostalgic. It wasn’t great but it reminded me of what if felt like to have appointment television when I was growing up. You would eat dinner or leave to go to your friends house to get there in time for the new episode.
While I am aware that these things are shot in a television studio it really felt like they were in their own apartments. So the opening shot is each actor/actress walking into the studio. I got to see what it actually looked like from the studio audience. That was pretty cool.
I watched the first three seasons of Game of Thrones when they would put it out on Blu-Ray or DVD. I stopped watching it because it was trash in my opinion. Nothing was ACTUALLY HAPPENING but they threw in enough nudity and sex scenes to keep people engaged I guess? I asked some people if they took out all the nudity and every sex scene if they would have kept watching during the first three seasons. Some said yes. Some said no.
So as seasons 4-8 were being aired I had to stay away from social media the best I could so I wouldn’t hear what actually ended up happening. I didn’t want any spoilers.
Which begs the question...why would I not want any spoilers for a show I thought was trash? BECAUSE I WANTED TO KNOW IF THE WHITE HAIRED QUEEN WAS GOING TO BURN EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND!
So I binge watched the remaining five seasons this past month and I ended up really enjoying it. Jon Snow, Arya and Tormund Giantsbane might be some of my favorite characters ever on television. Cersei might be my least favorite.
Movies: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. I really like the first Conjuring movie. The second one was...eh. This third one was better than the second though it felt extremely confused and disjointed. I watched it right after Nebraska lost to Arkansas. I was home alone that night. My wife won’t watch horror films and of course my kids aren’t going to watch it either.
With that said, I think horror films are generally not good. Though I can enjoy them knowing that they are not likely going to win any Oscars. Some are so bad that I love them (Freddy vs. Jason).
Books: Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. I really liked his first book and I am on Rule 12. So I’m almost finished.
Music: Chris Stapleton. I’m in the search of “new” music. By “new” I mean new to me. I’ve heard of Chris Stapleton for a long time but I’ve never really dug into his music. I did the same with Mumford and Sons. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been listening to Stapleton a lot as we are outside with the kids.
Games: I finished it over a month ago but I have fallen in love with Kentucky Route Zero. It’s a mixture of David Lynch, Southern Gothic, and the decline of rural America. It is more of a novel than a game. Absolutely beautiful piece of work. I am not a big gamer so the fact that I finished it is something of a rarity. I just need to go back and replay it to see everything I missed.
Television: I have been going through the West Wing off and on for a few years. Never watched it when it was popular. I was in politics and government back then and friends told me that I would pull my hair out watching it. They were not wrong but I can’t help but enjoy the writing and casting. So, helps me ignore the plot decisions. Also, reminds me of how much things have changed in DC over the past few decades along with the fact that we need to bring back pleated pants for men.
I have also seen the first episode of Loki. So far, it looks great and might be odd enough to be worthwhile. I thought Wandavision was going to be weird but was kind of disappointed with it. Hopefully they can pull it off with Loki.
Podcast: The Tully Show. Michael Tully is a veteran of SiriusXM and hosts his own podcast now going over comedy, music, and any other types of entertainment that comes up. Check out the ones with Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath. Their knowledge of pop culture music history is endlessly entertaining.
Reading: I started with reading the Golfers Journal this past winter and have been enjoying the stories in it. It is not your typical golf periodical which is nice. One doesn’t necessarily need top ten putter lists every year. More often than not, a good piece of golf history from some random course in Idaho will do the trick.
Music: Deafheaven has a new album coming out, so that’s pretty sweet.
- Love, Victor - Season two of the Love, Simon television spin-off dropped last Friday (June 11) on Hulu. A long flight delay allowed me to binge the entire series in one go on my iPad, most of it in the gate area at RSW. The show was initially slated for Disney+ before the cowardly executives somehow concluded it was too “adult” for the platform and relegated it to Hulu. That allowed the second season to be far more open in its more “adult” plot points compared to the debut season. Season two is a welcome change to LGBT character development as most movies and shows just focus on coming out. The second season goes beyond that and really explores the struggle of trying to rediscover who you are as a person after suppressing such a big part of you, and dealing with friends and family who struggle, or even fail, to accept your authentic self. There are just so many moments in this show I can easily see myself as Victor in my own life that really make it special to watch. I love this show and desperately wish teenage and closeted Kevin could have had a tv show like this when I was struggling with accepting myself and then trying to find myself after I finally came out and could be honest with myself and others about who I am as a person instead of the made up “Kevin” I pretended to be for so much of my life. After binging it all in one go on the delayed flight home, now I am re-watching it more slowly with my husband. (Sorry for the novel write-up on this series, but just reflects how much I really enjoy and appreciate this series)
- Big Shot - This Disney+ show is not really great, but kind of fun. Mostly I enjoy laughing at the plot of a Wisconsin basketball head coach winning not just one, but multiple national titles in Madison. HAHAHAHAHA, Yeah... right...
- Loki - Watched episode one over last weekend and episode two earlier this week. It looks like a good emerging series I look forward to.
- Firing Point - I started this book last fall and got about a chapter in before I let life get in the way. I am trying to get back through it again now that I am getting farther behind in the Jack Ryan series.
- The Big Roads - This is an interesting read into the history of America’s highway network. From the very beginning when “roads” in America were just mud pits at best to the early experiments of road surfaces, initial highway networks at the state and national level, creation of state and national DOTs, and finally the interstate highway. I have a couple of these books I am trying to get through and this is the current one. Love or hate cars and highways, they created a staggering improvement in quality of life compared to what existed before while revolutionizing the economy and standard of living. Learning what life and commerce was like before them and how they changed the landscape really puts things into perspective in my opinion.
TV: Two current series I’m watching are Lego Masters and Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Lego Masters is your typical reality/game show, but I have a huge Lego addiction, so I am obligated to watch it. The art that people come up with from just a pile of bricks is amazing, and they do it in the fly with no preconceived notion of what the build topic will be that week. If you just watch the last 5-10 minutes to see the creations these people come up with, it’s pretty cool. I have no ability to dream up things like those guys I just buy the boxed sets and put them together.
If Lego is my first addiction, Star Wars is my second. Disney+ just keeps releasing more and more Star Wars content and I am trying my best to get through it all! If you have only watched the movies and haven’t watched the cartoons, get Disney+ and get to watching! They aren’t made “for kids”, they just make them as cartoons because they had so many stories they wanted to tell, and the budget to make the amount of characters and ships to get these things made would have been astronomical (pun intended). The Bad Batch basically follows a misfit group of clones that defected from the “empire” just after The Clone Wars (the best of the cartoon series) or Episode III of the movies.
Sports: EURO, EURO, EURO!!!! Most of my down time this month is taken up by watching the European Football Championships! I LOVE soccer, but don’t get into club teams at all. I’ve tried watching it a few times, and just can’t find anything to really care about. But man, since first watching the World Cup as an excuse to stay up late when I was little, I have loved watching the nations compete against each other. (My dad would let me stay up late on occasion, to watch a sporting event, so I became big fans of Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga basketball, Oregon football, Anaheim/LA Angels baseball.)
I prefer watching Euro to the World Cup nowadays, because the flopping in the South/Central American game is just entirely too much for me. I have no favorite going into each tournament, I just kinda pick a couple to cheer for after the first round. Last time it was the underdog Iceland and perennial power Germany. So far I’ve liked watching Ukraine, despite the boneheaded play of their keeper, and England, who I generally root for just because their fans are such dicks to them when they lose. Call me a big softy.
And Ian Darke is maybe the greatest announcer of any sport out there right now. I’d listen to him talk about how the grass on the pitch is growing between games if they put that up on ESPN+.
Movies: Since Oscar season is over, I try to get my wife to watch some older movies she’s never seen with me, since her household didn’t really let her watch much outside of the old Disney animated movies because it would be to risqué. This last week was “Twister”! She gave it 4 Zs as she was asleep 20 minutes in. But don’t listen to her, it’s a fantastic movie if you haven’t seen it, and is on HBO Max currently.
Entertainment: Is this where I bring up Legos again? I take some online surveys while I’m sitting at home watching TV and use the money I get from those to buy some more Lego. This last week was a Lego Jeep Rubicon. It was pretty boring compared to the other cars I’ve built, but it was a lot cheaper ($40) than them ($120-250), so it’s fairly understandable.
TV: Halt and Catch Fire. It is a show about an 80’s startup and has been fun to watch. The ranchhands don’t understand it though. Of course, they never had the pleasure of hearing the sound of a modem connecting and the anticipation that came with wondering if you had any new email.
Outdoors: My garden is way too big. I complain about that, but make it bigger every year. I’m growing seven different kinds of beans and six different kinds of cucumbers. I might have a problem. A couple years ago, Ranchdude gave me an electric chainsaw. That has been the best anniversary gift ever, hands-down. I spend lots of time fighting the scourge of cedar and mulberry trees. That is a never-ending job.
Podcasts: I’m a science geek, so my podcast feed includes stuff like Radiolab, The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week, SciFriday, and the TED Radio Hour. I also like good stories, so 99% Invisible, Freakonomics and The Moth are high on my playlist too.
Beer: I just tried Empyrean’s Pitched Blue Black and Blueberry Ale. I’m not a big fan of fruity beers because they are often sweet, but this one was enjoyable. My old standby remains Zipline’s Copper Alt, which is harder for me to find now that our local mini mart doesn’t carry it anymore. I’m not into IPAs - too much hops for me and I’m not sure how long it will take to develop a taste for the sour beers that are becoming popular, but I’m not trying too hard on those. If I ever get spare time (LOLOLOLOL!) I might try brewing some of my own. I’ll probably be just as bad at that as I am at making homemade wine (it’s really bad).
TV: My family is catching up on this season of The Masked Singer. It’s kind of corny, but I find it enjoyable and this season I’ve been able to guess quite a few of the singers.
I am also watching Virgin River. I am undecided on this show. I’ve watched probably 5 episodes, but I am not sure if I will finish it. I like it, but it’s also pretty predictable.
Sports: I’m just patiently, or not so patiently waiting for the Olympics. Swimming, gymnastics, and track and field are the best!
Podcast: I really enjoy The Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman. They always dive into the lives of their guests and I have learned some interesting things. I also like how they aren’t afraid to address mental health topics.
Books: Last month I finished The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It was a good book that definitely gave me a different perspective of the how certain parts of our criminal justice system works. It did take me quite awhile to finish though, nonfiction isn’t usually my thing.
More recently, I finished The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher and The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. Both of these books were really quick reads for me. I love trying to figure out what is happening before the author reveals it. I frequently wrong, but both books were page turners for me.
I plan on starting I Found You by Lisa Jewell next.
Games: I downloaded Homescapes for my son and then ended up liking it more than he does. Basically, it’s your standard game in which you switch pictures to match up groups of three. In each level you have a certain number of pictures you need to get rid of. Then you earn starts from the levels and you get to redo this mansion estate with those stars. It’s ridiculous that I am still playing it, but here I am.