Twenty twenty one. What a year!

We’re successfully into 2021 by a month and change. The last three weeks, I’ve toured the midwest by car for several jobs and we spent about a week in Florida for an interiors project.

Already, the news cycles are flattened out to almost boring. What a relief. That means Biden is quietly destroying America without fanfare.

One of our 2019 projects was published in Traditional Home magazine. It’s on the newsstands now. Go buy it! If you can find a newsstand.

I’ve been meaning to drop media diet posts more often, but haven’t. I’d like to recommend a few things that have inspired me. I’ll rate them 1-10, 10 being the highest. The list might feel long because I haven’t done this in months.

Podcasts:

Smartless (solid 10)
Smartless is the pandemic-born podcast from Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes, three longtime friends who sprung this amazing hour-ish of fun on the world to help pass the days of Covid lockdowns. The show features the three of them and a guest that one man books and the rest do not know about until they are revealed on their zoom call. I’ve listened to almost every episode and some twice. The three of them are very entertaining and their guests are entertaining and interesting. It’s like being a fly on a wall during a dinner with four people I love to hang out with. Sam Harris was recently on the show and it gave me an opportunity to discuss religion with my brother in a way that I’ll cherish for all time.

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (2)
Unlistenable. I listened to 25% of the Fred Armisen episode and O’Brien didn’t give one iota shitstain to letting Fred talk. Fuck O’Brien.

Armchair Expert (2.5)
Dax Shepard’s podcast is a little more entertaining than Conan O’Brien’s, but again, I couldn’t listen because he imposed too much of himself into the conversation. I like it to be a little more lopsided toward the guest.

Revisionist History (8.5)
I only listened to one episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s foray into podcasting. But it was excellent and I’d give it more airtime, for sure. I listened to the episode called “Hallelujah” that follows the creative genius of Leonard Cohen’s song by the same name and how it came from utter agonizing over lyrics and didn’t grow real legs until Jeff Buckley haphazardly found a copy of the song in a friend’s apartment while housesitting. That may seem like a HUGE spoiler, but believe me, it’s NOT. The depth of story telling is worth every minute. I didn’t give it a higher grade because I’m not dying to listen to it as much as Smartless.

TV and Movies

Reversal of Fortune (8)
Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons and Ron Silver. Great story and acting.

Midnight Cowboy (9)
John Voight and Dustin Hoffman in an Academy Award winning film. This movie is a tragic Debbie Downer, but worth every minute. It was given an X rating in 1969. While it shows a few boobs and John Voight’s ass, it likely got the rating for drugs and scenes with homosexuality implied and depictions of LBGQ people that might have shocked its backwoods audience of the period. Maybe even today.

Safe House (7.5)
Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington. The movie felt very Jason Borne like. I enjoyed the action scenes, but sometimes violence at that calibre makes me too squeamish.

Arizona (9)
Danny McBride is hilarious; full stop. Loved this movie and would watch it again.

The Dead Don’t Die (6/7)
Jim Jarmusch movies take a certain mindset and maybe some drugs to get through. I wanted to like it more.

The Undoing (7.5)
Once you stop memorizing over Nicole Kidman’s plastic surgery, it is a fun ride.

Blood Simple (9)
Coen brothers first movie and Frances McDormand’s debut. Watch it.

Wonder Woman 1984 (7.5)
I could watch Gal Gadot flossing her teeth. She’s so gorgeous. There were some really great action scenes, but overall, there were too many times I wanted to shut it off. I stuck with it out of boredom. Glad I finished it.

The Queen’s Gambit (9.5)
Thoroughly enjoyed this, just like almost everyone else with a pulse.

The Little Things (8)
Definitely a good way to spend two hours.

In and Of Itself (9)
Nary a dry eye on my face. Excellent one-man show filmed for a home audience. Creative and enjoyable. Remarkably performed.

Books

Killing Floor (7.5)
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is my go-to for mindless fiction. I enjoy the stories even though I hate them at the same time. Maybe it’s the story telling. It gets to a point that if I read Jack Reacher say how much he likes a diner’s coffee one more time, I wanna stab myself with a rusty knife.

Sleeping Beauties (8)
Stephen King and his OTHER son Owen wrote a book together. I love Stephen King novels more and more and am trying to get through as many of them as possible. I’ve tried reading Joe Hill and can’t find footing.

I don’t think this is a complete list. But it’ll get you started on some ideas for things to consume if you haven’t already. I know I’ve watched many more shows and movies. I rewatched A Time To Kill while I was on the road last week. It’s astonishing how that movie seemed like it was helping overcome racism in America, but the topics and dialogue are more prominent today than they were then. It’s almost as if it was released yesterday. It’s scary. There’s a line about how the KKK never goes away. It waits in the shadows until something or someone enables it to show its ugly head. After the last four years and counting, I had to pause the movie with my mouth agape.

I mentioned Smartless first, because it’s occupying a huge area of my brain’s real estate. I wrote that the Sam Harris episode opened an opportunity to discuss religion with my brother in a way that I have to admit is incredibly difficult for me. Tina and I listened to it together yesterday while on a walk with our dog Josie. Harris is articulate and distinctly clear on the challenges of having a conversation in 21st-century terms or one informed by iron-age thinkers. They discuss the idea that if there are only five main religions, that means that as believers, a person has a 20% chance of being right and must accept that the odds of their religion being correct is 80% wrong. But there are more than five so the odds in a believer’s favor diminish to dismal figures.

The episodes with Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, Neil DeGrasse Tyson were mind-blowing. Even the episodes that I thought I wouldn’t like with Megan Rapinoe and other sports figures were incredibly insightful and inspiring. The banter between the hosts send my head back in loud bellowing laughter.

That’s to say, don’t listen to it. You won’t like it!

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