Friday Laments

More first world blues…I’m just cryin’ in my coffee.

  1. One problem with the local C-19 vaccination plan: teachers are a high priority. Great! Many agree with this. But, boo, the shots are being administered during school hours. It’s not a dash and do, either.
  2. Our biggest issue in Oregon is as it is elsewhere, just not enough C-19 vaccine to do the job. People are generally accepting and patient, because that’s how it goes for now.
  3. I went for years without a doctor. Then I had trouble in Peckerville and ended up with a urologist. The trials exposed my hypertension, so I ended up with a GP. Each prescribed medications for conditions – BHP and BP – that I’ll probably take for the rest of my life. Less than three years later, both of these medical professionals are gone. They’d moved into the area, it didn’t work out, and they moved away. I liked both and they did a good job, but I’ll need to find someone new when my prescriptions expire this year.
  4. The healthcare insurance front grows more expensive for me. As a veteran and military retiree after twenty years, I had good healthcare insurance via Tri-Care. There were no premiums. That went on for years. Now, starting this year, I must pay $25 per month premiums. Not bad. But, since I’m turning 65, I’m required to get Medicare Parts A and B in order to keep my Tri-Care. A is free; B is about $150 per month. Guess this is all due to that wonderful ‘support the troops’ rhetoric that I often hear. As it so often happened, big promises were made with great patriotic fanfare and furor. Then, when the bill came, everything changed.
  5. I’ve ordered meals online from restaurants three times in the last three months. Each was to give us breaks from what’s in our larder and breaks from cooking. It’s a treat. But each time, they’ve offered a coupon, and then, each time, there’s no place to enter the coupon code when the order is processed. Small matter, but irritating: like a lot of modern life, it seems like a false promise.
  6. What I’m watching: “Baptiste” on PBS via Prime — terrific series; “His Dark Materials” on HBOMax, very strong, good production values and acting, faithful to the trilogy; “Doom Patrol” on HBOMax but it’s falling in our appreciation as the characters become sillier and seem to take forever to come to grip with matters; “All Creatures Great and Small”, a remake of the first series of that name, based on the books, and it’s almost as entertaining and charming as the first go-around. We’re not watching “The Undoing” which just seemed too insipid in too many ways after three episodes; we prefer more dynamic and intelligent characters. Just recommended to us is Portait of A Lady on Fire and Mary Shelley, so they’ve been added to the list. Still working through the last of “Vera” and “The Wire” during late night down time.
  7. Hulu manages to continue to irk me. Their system often seems to think we’ve watched an episode that we haven’t and wants to jump us ahead. It’s happened enough times that I don’t just click and go, but make mental notes: what’s the season, episode number, and title that I’m watching now? What was the last one watched? What’s the summary? Did we see this? No. I saw others experienced this. The fix is the digital equivalent of a hard reboot or a hammer to an appliance: sign out and sign back in. That works most of the time, it’s claimed. Guess I’ll try it. Haven’t done so yet because logging in with a remote is a pain, you know? I’m such a whiner.
  8. Meanwhile, Prime Video, the service previously known as Amazon Prime Video, has the opposite issue, insisting that I haven’t watched an episode when I’ve already watched it.
  9. Got my coffee. Time once again to write like crazy. Meeting Text for the first time today. She’s the late Zipper’s daughter. Looking forward to what she has to say.

Saturday: Four Things

There has to be four things today because it’s the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S., right? 

  1. Best fourth of July celebration for me is the first one with my wife. She wasn’t my wife or girlfriend yet. I was fifteen and she was fourteen, and she was just a girl I’d just met a few days before. Yep, just a smart, long-haired girl who captured my attention from the first time I saw her. Fortunately, I had the same impact on her, she claims. Guess it was fate.
  2. I subscribe to the Hulu service with commercial breaks. I don’t like spending money on streaming services. They’re an indulgence, so I try to minimize the cost. I’m watching two shows on Hulu, “Cardinal” and “Justified” (again), so I don’t think it’s worth paying more for it. They’re like an awkward, gamboling puppy with their commercial breaks, erupting in odd points in a scene (butchering the tension or mood). They usually show two or three commercials, and they usually cut off , and then cutting off the last twelve seconds of the final commercial. If I was that advertiser, I’d be demanding better service. My cynical aspect (which occupies about ninety percent of my mind) suggest Hulu does their breaks deliberately to motivate me to pay a few more dollars a month to avoid commercial breaks.
  3. Watched Hamilton on Disney Plus last night. Had the captions on, and it’s a good thing. It’s a continuous flow of life, song, revelations, and relationships, and worth every damn piece of praise that I’ve read or heard. I recommend it to you so you can witness for yourself.
  4. Gonna be a mellow day in spirit. I’m going for a walk in a little while…after I write. A pair of jets did a flyby to mark the moment when the parade would’ve begun but there are no parades in town, although our friend and state rep did a singleton parade. Pam Marsh wears the Statue of Liberty outfit every year, has for years. The mask is new…so is the Black Lives Matter sign…and the coronavirus on a chain… We’ve watched the town parade from her front year for the past ten years. It’s a potluck where everyone attending brings a food or drink. We’ll miss the parade but Pam is carrying the torch for it (yeah, get it?). We’re fortunate to have such an intelligent, energetic, and concerned person as our friend and rep. Did I mention her sense of humor?Pam July 4

Yeah, got my coffee. Yes, it’s a holiday, and it’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time…

The Watch List

It’s a thin television crop to stream right now. (For me and my wife. It’s always a matter of tastes and preferences, innit?) There’s not much that’s frothy out there. It’s mostly dark drama. Netflix and science fiction have been dominating our streams. This list doesn’t include documentaries and movies.

Watching:

Episodes (final season, Netflix (was originally on Showtime)

Hard Sun (Hulu)

Father Brown (Netflix)

Sneaky Pete (Amazon Prime)

Atlanta (Hulu)

Jessica Jones (Netflix)

The Oath (Crackle) (sorry, I’m a Sean Bean sucker)

Not watching (because we finished them)

Altered Carbon (Netflix)

Frankie and Grace (Netflix)

Imposters (Netflix)

The Detectorists (Acorn, but now offered on Netflix)

The Defenders (Netflix)

Vera (Acorn)

19-2 (Acorn) (The first episode of the second season, involving a school shooting, is one of the best pieces of television fiction I think I’ve ever watched, sharp, gritty, and human.)

QI (Britbox, series N & O, with Sandi)

Upstart Crow (Britbox)

The Brokenwood Mysteries (Acorn)

Inspector George Gently (Acorn)

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Crackle, Netflix)

Tin Star (Amazon Prime)

Not watching (because we fell off the wagon)

Shameless (original UK offering) (Hulu)

This is Us (Hulu)

Longmire (Netflix)

The Walking Dead

Fear the Walking Dead

We’re still awaiting the return of:

Orphan Black

The Expanse

Dark Matter

Travelers

Raised by Wolves

Mr and Mrs Murder

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Game of Thrones

Alpha House

One Mississippi

Into the Badlands

The next Stranger Things

Mozart in the Jungle

If you know any television shows streaming that you want to suggest, I’m always interested. Cheers

 

 

What I’m Watching

Here’s an update to my viewing habits with hopes that others will point me into new directions.

I cut the television cable cord several years ago. With digital indoor antennae, I receive signals from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS. We have a Roku and a ‘smart’ television and subscribe to Acorn TV, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Hulu and Netflix streaming.

It’s easy to binge through a year, a season, or a series. I’m constantly on the hunt for new offerings. I like intelligent police procedurals, good British black humor, and…well, intelligent and interesting shows.

Acorn is often one of my favorite sources. They don’t have a large catalog but they manage to pull in good finds from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. I already raced through ’19-2′, which is an entertaining series but a little uneven. Right now, I’m watching ‘Deep Water’ at the painfully slow pace of one new episode a week, and ‘Raised by Wolves’, restricting myself to one of those per night.

I’m on my last episode. I’m bracing for withdrawal. That series is just too short.

Over on Amazon Prime, I’m finishing up on the excellent ‘The Night Manager’. Based on a John Le Carre novel and staring Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston and Olivia Coleman, it has a terrific supporting cast and is tremendously well written, acted, directed and plotted. High marks all around. I’ve already completed ‘Goliah’. I began ‘Fleabag’ but disliked and dismissed it after one episode. However, a dinner companion the other night told me to persevere because it gets better. We’d been comparing shows and books (I’ve convinced her to attempt Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet again as she gave up reading ‘My Brilliant Friend’) so I’m inclined to trust her. She also recommended ‘Good Girls Revolt’. It’s been added to my Amazon list.

Viewing is pretty shallow on HBO Now. ‘Westworld’ is the main draw…. I watch ‘Tracy Ullmann’ or whatever it’s called and that has some enjoyable skits. Her talents still amaze me.

I returned to Hulu for a reduced price after a few months off of them. Sadly, there’s not much that I see as quality from this consortium of major corporations. I’ve watched Casual’ but the characters remain too self-absorbed and shallow, with thin and slightly recurring issues for it to remain an interesting show. I’m watching ‘The Musketeers’ but it’s popcorn for dinner when you wanted lasagna. Someone recommended ‘Blind Spot’ the other night so I’ll give it a go. I’m a Jeffrey Donovan fan so I’ll also try his new offering when it arrives in December. I’ve also started ‘Aliens’ but it’s not holding my interest. We’ll see.

Netflix continues to pull something out of the bag for me. After ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Grace and Frankie’, and ‘River’, they gave me the final season of ‘The Fall’. I’ve also enjoy ‘Luke Cage’ on there, and to a lessor extent, ‘Dark Matters’. The last perplexes me with its industrialized vision of future travel, where keyboards remain the rage. (Or is it an alternative universe?) ‘iZombie’ was finished as far as the episode list was concerned. It’s suffering some growing pains. ‘Longmire’ has been completed to date and we watch ‘The Crown’, but their offering of Queen Elizabeth II seems so diffident, weak and unsure that we’re taken aback. We also spend much time searching for information about how much of it was true and what’s being dramatized to provide better theater. Now I’m enjoying ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Doctor Foster’  although I find neither unqualified viewing success. ‘Paranoid’ disappoints me because it features so many actors I enjoy (like Leslie Sharp, who was terrific in ‘Happy Valley’) but I’m not overly fond of the characters, especially Nina, who I consider too flaky. Her flakiness is inconsistent and I detest character inconsistency. It’s one thing if they develop as inconsistent and are known to be so but this seems to be used a device to pad the episodes and provide extra tension, basically weak and lazy writing.

And that’s where I stand, on the precipice of a viewing gap. That’s not bad, if that’s the worse matter happening in my personal life, and it is. Besides that, several interesting movies are now out (I’m thinking of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and ‘Arrival’) to go see, and I have several stacks of novels to read.

But if you happen to have something else worth watching, please, please…share.

 

 

 

 

What I’m Watching

We’re in a near television desert. I call it television but I mostly stream my joy. Most of the joy derives from selected television series.

The desert began with Game of Thrones ending. Then we finished off the latest year of The Vikings. The Great British Baking Show helped ease my withdrawal. We’re still waiting for Orphan Black and Grace and Frankie to come back. We’ve watched Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Wolfe’s Hall. Alpha House. Raised by Wolves. Jessica Jones. Stranger Things. Orange is the New Black. The Walking Dead. Fear the Walking Dead. Dead Set. iZombie. Dark Matters. Misfits. Gavin and Stacey. Miranda. We attempted The Man in the High Castle but it left us thinking, meh.

QI provides some diversion. So does stand up – Tig Notaro, Amy Schumer, C.K. Louis. Tig’s show, One Mississippi, is entertaining, but there are few episodes. All the Happy Valley, Cuckoo, Foyle’s War, Longmire, Wallander, The Wire, Doctor Who, River, Scott & Bailey, Nurse Jackie, Last Tango in Hallifax, Ray Donavan, Inspector George Gently, Bletchley Circle, Sharp’s Rifles, Justified, Jack Taylor, Jack Irish, Bosch, Miss Fisher’s Mysteries, and Rake have been consumed, along with multiple TEDs. The Killing and The Top of the Lake were watched yonks ago. While friends love the American version of Shameless and House of Cards, the aged Brit series make the American editions wilt. Watched The Bridge, Fortitude, Crossing Lines, Spiral, In the Line of Duty, Inspector Lewis, all the Holmes, all the Cranford, Downton, Larkrise, and Doc Martin. The Republic of Doyle is okay but not compelling. People recommended The Boss but we disliked it. We tried Flash, Green Arrow, etc, and different other Marvel output, but they did nothing for us.

It’s tough out here in the desert. Hot and dry. The Secret Agent is coming. Boomers. Then There was None, with a terrific cast. We’re hopeful that we’ll be saved. Otherwise, we’ll just need to keep reading.

Which isn’t a problem. There’s never a reading desert, for me. Reading tends to stimulate my writing so I’m not a fast reader, unlike my wife. (It’s amusing to watch her trudge through The Secret Magdalene, because she doesn’t like it, but it’s the book club selection, so….) I’m still turning pages in the second book of the Neapolitan series. Two more books remain after this one. Then a pile of other tomes await.

Television, though? It gets very dry.

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