April Media Journal 2020

During this pandemic, I’ve spent less time than I thought in front of the boob tube. But reading is a challenge. We’ve been painting our house, which has helped to distract. And then some life challenges for a friend of mine have also become a factor. All in All, April was and continues to be, the weirdest month in all of my life.

Books
I don’t know about you, but reading has been tough during this time. I finally finished American Gods. I had to renew it a few times. It’s a long book, but the virus made it longer! I may never finish Bag of Bones, because it’s long and I find myself reading paragraphs over and over and over because my mind drifts. I will probably finish Chelsea Handler’s little, semi-funny memoir in a second sitting. 

Bag of Bones | Stephen King
Still in the first 100 pages, but have probably read 500 pages, because my mind wanders and I have to reread so many pages/paragraphs.

Are you there Vodka, It’s Chelsea | Chelsea Handler
Semi-funny telling of what seems to be an unbelievable life … prison time? I’m just going to finish it to feel like I accomplished at least ONE book reading in a month. 

American Gods | Neil Gaimon
I wouldn’t say I loved this book, but it was distracting enough and okay enough to finish. 

Movies
Much of my movie watching experience has been guided by having a buddy of mine stay with us due to a coronavirus-induced decision by his wife to leave. I’ve seen all of the below over three times a piece. 

My Blue Heaven
“What’s an arugula?” “It’s a vegetable.” No one should go to sleep until they’ve watched this movie at least one time. 

The Jerk
Endlessly funny. Great, great bits. Highly quotable. 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Third viewing. I’m fascinated by this piece of cinema. Soundtrack is nothing short of amazing. I love the performances. Andy McDowell’s daughter is a treat. 

TV
In the weirdest time in modern history, the live shows have to be the most notable achievements of my media diet. 

Righteous Gemstones
A must watch, in my opinion. A great exposé on the possibility that the megachurch is as corrupt and out of control as any crime syndicate. Danny McBride is damn near genius. Fun show! And yes, I know it’s fiction. 

Great News
Surprisingly funny, entertaining show. 

Ozark
Haven’t finished this, but I LOVE Ozark. Ruthie is my dream girlfriend (don’t tell Tina!) and Darlene is my arch nemesis … and they’re just characters in a brilliantly dark show. 

Tiger King
The podcast was good. The show is better. 

The Young Pope
Slow burn. Well done. Liked it better than I thought. The pope’s form of Christianity is something to consider. Loved it by the end. 

SNL
Awesome to see what the virus is doing to TV. The first one they made since lock down was hilarious. 

Seth Myers
Good on Seth for figuring his show out. It’s not great, but it’s watchable. 

John Oliver
I’m not watching every one of Oliver’s episodes, but man, he’s probably got the best production values of all the self produced shows I’ve been watching. Which aren’t many. 

Radio

Winston-Salem NPR, WFDD
Quiet, non-screaming, sobered news is extremely welcome during this time. I’ve seen some moving pictures and my anxiety goes up. In the broken record world of incessant covid-19 news, I’ll take voice over picture + voice any day. 

Public Radio Classical Music | Winston-Salem
Surprisingly nice to put on during this time, especially in the mornings while I’m journaling. 

NOVA.fr
My favorite radio station for music streaming. 

France.info 
The equivalent of French PBS news … And it’s far superior as it’s not in English, it’s more calm, but the international news roundups are incredible and enlightening. 

December/January/February Media Diet

image-025.jpg
Photo by Brenda Ann Kenneally (see more here)

I don’t have time to write about each thing listed below. But I like how other bloggers keep track of their media diets, so I am trying to do it, too. Some links may take you away from this page. Sorry if that happens. Control + Click to avoid it. Come back! (if that happens).

I’m finding that it’s incredibly impossible to keep track of everything. And I know this is three months of notes, but hopefully I won’t rack up as many for March.

Podcasts

Sword and Scale Podcast

There are hundreds of episodes. Tina and I listened to a few on our recent drive from NC to Chicago. Two episodes (numbers 5 and 6) discuss a conspiracy theory far more crazy than Pizzagate about a politician named Larry King (not that Larry King) who ran a little boys sex cult and sex ring, trafficking them for high dollar, mega rich VIPs, including President George HW Bush … I can’t personally find any info to back up the episodes’ claims. But it was fun to listen to. Jaw was on the floor for minutes at a time. (3 out of 5)

The Mysterious Mr. Epstein (4.5 out of 5)

Live and Die in LA  (4 out of 5)

Broken Harts (2.5 out of 5)

Over my Dead Body Seasons 1 and 2 (3.75 out of 5)

Root of Evil  (Holy shit out of 5)

Books

Think Like a Freak by  Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
My expectations of this book were more or less that I would learn how to be more freakishly artistic. But maybe thinking outside the box is much more based on a meticulous plan and incredible research. Not being cocksure about anything is one of the biggest lessons of the book. It also contradicts Scott Adams’ premise below in “Loserthink”. (3 out of 5) 

Dr. Sleep | Stephen King
Danny Torrance grows up, becomes an adult and brings his powers with him. Lots of supernatural, magical fun. New characters … fun read. (4 out of 5)

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America by Scott Adams 

Scott Adams draws Dilbert, of which I’ve never been a fan. Corporate America nauseated me. Working for the man, all I wanted to do was get out. He claims to be smarter and wants to teach all you idiots how to be smart, too. So he burns down anyone who accepts climate change in the first few pages, because — you know — too many scientists back it, and — you know — there’s money to be bankrolled in it.

“On the whole, people prefer confident people,” says Adams.

Also, Trump. And other highfaluting ideas that all you delusional disbelievers in 45 are loserthinkers. (1 out of 5) 

The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities by Darrell L. Bock

This book was written with the intent that if you’re interested in the extra-canonical biblical books … look no further. And Bock means it! LOOK no further. Let him tell you what all those other nasty, lying, secular writers are all wrong about. Elaine Pagels is a lunatic and Bart Ehrman is possessed by the devil. (1.5 out of 5)

Killing Jesus | Bill O’Reilly
In the first pages, O’Reilly claims he’s going to challenge the reader with ideas and facts they’ve never heard before. He’s going come at it with utmost integrity and scholarship, only to go into mythological stories about Jesus’s life. It’s about as scholarly as a coloring book on Dora the Explorer. (1 out of 5)

In the Garden of the Beasts Eric Larsen
Interesting read about the US Ambassador William Dodd during his service in Germany at the rise of Nazism. Fantastic read and dangerously scary how similar the language of their times are when discussing the Nazi’s and their agenda and current events involving borders here in the US and in Europe. (4.25 out of 5)

The Rational Bible: Exodus by Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager, a so-called Jew whose primary audience are evangelical Christians, takes us through the second book of the Old Testament with commentary and explanation. He bangs out tired old arguments against atheists, claims he has had tons of debates with them, and then lies to us about what he thinks they think … and not what they’ve actually said. Because, you know, you either believe in hope of God or that everything came from nothing and therefore hopelessness! You can ONLY have one or the other. Yawn. (-1 out of 5). 

Movies

Where’d You Go, Bernadette 
Former genius architect Bernadette Fox seems to have it all — a beautiful home in Seattle, a successful and loving husband, and a brilliant teenage daughter who’s about to attend boarding school. When Bernadette suddenly disappears without a trace, her concerned family sets off on an exciting adventure to solve the mystery of where she might have gone. (3.75 out of 5)

Cabin in the Woods (second viewing)
What happens if you cross contaminate The Truman Show with a major cross section of a zillion horror movies from the last few decades? Well, it’s Cabin in the Woods. And it’s a pretty fun, twisty, turn-y ride. Jump on! (4.125 out of 5)

Delicatessen movie Jean-Pierre Jeunet
A magical little post-apocalyptic story set in France, in a building inhabited by scaredy cats, especially of its landlord, who is a butcher serving up tenants as meat is needed. (4 out of 5)

Dr. Sleep movie \ Movie very distant than the book … (2.5 out of 5 because it was entertaining enough, but didn’t Kubrick disappoint King enough with his version of the Shining?)

Parasite  movie I might be the only person who wasn’t blown away by this movie. (3 out of 5) I’m sure someone would be mad I called it average. Especially after it won so many goddamn awards. 

TV

Dirty John  (an entertaining 3.75 out of 5)

Killing Eve (season 2) Season 1 is so worth your time. Season 2 if you just want to hang out with Villanelle for a while.

Modern Love  (3.75 out of 5)

Jack Ryan Season 2 Enjoyed season 2 much more than 1. I couldn’t finish season 1, because there were too many contrived moments.

Unbelievable (4 out of 5)

Anima  (5 out of 5)

Michelle Wolf — Joke Show

Billy on the Street (a funny way to spend 20 minutes of your time)

The Politician (3.75 out of 5)

Russian Doll (4.85 out of 5) – easily one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in a LONG time.

Goliath(4 out of 5) enjoyed the third season, and the first). 

The Americans (4.75 out of 5) bingeworthy TV.

Interesting Articles 

This genre of media is my least documented, as there’s just too much readable media out there to properly document. But I may start trying harder.

Today I Learned That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue And It Has Ruined My Day.

Why Bill Barr Is So Dangerous

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

A Portrait of Love and Struggle in Post-Industrial, Small-City America (5 out of 5) Photo at the top of page is from Brenda Ann Kenneally. She has inspired me.

We bought a house in NC, Part Deux!

A few of you watched the first episode of our journey buying an investment property in North Carolina. Here’s part two.

In it, we wrap up our renovations. We hired a contractor to redo both bathrooms and the kitchen, as well as paint throughout.

In my journal from the experience, I wrote about how my parents had become our best friends. We saw them more regularly than any of my friends or my brother or his family. My dad came over often to help with different bigger ticket jobs that I couldn’t possibly do myself. My mom hemmed our curtains and hung wall paper. It was a huge group effort.

The house has been renting on the social media home sharing sites. We’ve had five or more bookings so far and have it booked through Christmas off and on.

It’s a challenge being this far away from the house. But so far it’s been great and seemingly rewarding of an effort.

Enjoy part two. And if you want to skip to before and afters around 6:20.