Showing posts from 2023

Netflix & Chill #104: Air

Does anyone remember the film Late Night starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling? It showed up on Amazon Prime and I remember sitting down, watching it, and generally liking the movie, but it didn't really leave much of a lasting impression on me. The cast was excellent, the writing good, and everything worked to create an entertaining experience that I promptly forgot about as soon as it was over. That's kind of the same way I feel about Air . Don't get me wrong, a movie topic, it makes sense. The advent of Air Jordan changed the shoe business forever and launched a cultural juggernaut-- one could argue that things like the Magic/Bird rivalry and the rise of Michael Jordan and Air Jordans are really what put the E in ESPN and if you're super into sports history and love Air Jordans and are genuinely curious about where they came from, Air will tick all over those boxes. The cast is excellent. The performances are good. I genuinely liked a movie where everything worke

50 Before 50: The Starting Point

Because a list of 40 wasn't ambitious enough, I'm adding 10 more! I broke it out by categories this time, just to make it a bit easier for me to handle, and some of them need some metrics developed to actually make them worthwhile and real goals, but for now, this is what I'm starting with. I'll post progress and any changes made on a yearly basis and we'll see how we do from there. So, without further ado: 50 Before 50 Self Improvement 1. Run a 5K 2. Ride the whole week of RAGBRAI 3. Lose 50 lbs and keep it off 4. Hike up a mountain (like a proper, 14er type of mountain, not Everest or anything crazy though.) 5. Learn how to manage money and save 6. Get back into Tai Chi 7. If the kiddos stick with it and I can make it work with my schedule, maybe Taekwondo? 8. Get more intentional with what I eat. I'm a lazy eater and make poor choices. 9. Make exercise (of some kind, any kind!) an integrated habit of my routine. 10. Get better at self-care or at least recogni

40 Before 40: The Final Results

The Final Results are in: I got seventeen out of forty things accomplished on this list, which puts me at a winning percentage of 42.5%, so I came tantalizingly close to getting half of it accomplished.  Some things left undone are being folded into the next list and some of them are there for the taking, I just need to knuckle under and do them.  Onto the next list! ~~~ 1. Publish my novel. 2. Get another tattoo 3. Finish all 4,532 pages and 12 volumes of Winston Churchill's 'The Second World War.' 4. Run a 5k 5. Visit Every State in The Lower 48 (Slightly more achievable before I turn 40 then all 50, but I still want to get to all 50.) 6. Lose 50 lbs and keep the weight off.  7. Pay off every single dime of my student loans. 8. Publish two more novels 9. Get the front deck replaced/ get the patio area in the back done the way we want it. 10. Go on a cruise/solo trip with the Missus 11. I would like COVID to be over. Like to the point you can get a yearly shot if you want

Bookshot #169: The Far Side of The World

I went to the library a couple of weeks ago, not really intending to check out books, but somehow ended up with three books I had not planned on reading- one of which was Patrick O'Brian's The Far Side Of The World . This might be hard to believe, but I had never actually read any of the Aubrey-Maturin series and it had been years since I had seen the movie, but after a conversation with a co-worker lead me down the rabbit hole, I watched the movie. Then, that day in the library, I decided to check out the book to see what the book was like. Granted, the movie wasn't a straight adaptation of the book- elements were pulled from three other novels and the time period was tweaked-- instead of 1812 and an American whaling ship, the movie takes place in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars- little did I know but that would be just the first and most basic difference between the book and the movie. The book is wild, y'all. I mean, don't get me wrong, I could write a whole pos

Squawk Box: The Terminal List/Secret Invasion

The Terminal List: I know that this show is based on a series of books by Jack Carr and I have not read any of them. (I haven't read any of the Jack Reacher books either) so given that, I feel a little reluctant to judge The Terminal List too harshly. For all I know, it could be decent to the good adaptation of the books that's pretty faithful to the source material but again, I haven't read 'em so my initial impression of the show was, "Man, this has a lot of Jack Reacher vibes to it." And I think that judgment is somewhat unfair-- for a start, the main character, Lt. Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt) of the Navy SEALs comes across as just that- a Navy Seal. There's no- and again, I hesitate to use this word because I haven't read any of the books- savant-like behavior. This isn't, 'what if Sherlock Holmes was an MP with a dark past'-- no, Lt. Commander Reece goes on a mission, it goes, very, very badly, and in the aftermath, he figures

Netflix & Chill #103: Bama Rush

Anyone who has been connected to the internet has probably seen the video. The open door, the many- headed blonde hydra of faces all clapping and chanting something-- you know the one. With the rise of TikTok for the young people, the annual fall ritual of Rush went viral again, specifically at the University of Alabama, and director Rachel Fleit set out to explore it in the documentary Bama Rush . She follows four young women- two already at the University of Alabama and heading into their sophomore year and two incoming freshmen, all of whom want to 'rush' and attempt to join a sorority.  Look, I'll just get this out of the way now: I don't get the appeal of this. I've never understood the appeal of this- even when I was in college, it just didn't appeal to me at all. It's occurred to me over the years that maybe my brain is wired correctly because I just am not really all that social of a creature and I know for sure that I'm not a 'joiner.' I

Begun, The Book Bans Have

Well, it's begun. Urbandale, thanks to a vaguely written law and in an overenthusiastic display of censorship aimed at avoiding litigation has removed up to around 400 books from its school library. What's especially troubling about this is that no one at the school apparently ran this by the school board, which is really shady- but in striking a blow for quality education in the state of Iowa, many of the titles are included on the high school AP reading list, so well done.  When I was growing up, the Scholastic Book Fair was the highlight of the school year. We were all zealots for Book It and jonesing to get that free, personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut, but today's kids are as every parent knows by now, obsessed with screens. The Medium Spawn is doing okay-- he's pretty fixated on Dog Man right now, so we've got to work on expanding his tastes a bit, but he actually likes books. The Younger Spawn is a fan of Captain Underpants and Wee, Younger, and Medium all ins

Bookshot #168: Oathbringer

I will be honest here: I don't know if I'll ever go back to Mistborn Era Two. That's nothing against Mistborn- the first two books were excellent, but the third one that resolved the trilogy turned out to be merely good, in my opinion. I haven't touched Elantris or any of Sanderson's other work and I'm honestly not sure I ever will because The Stormlight Archive is on an entirely different level from anything else from Sanderson I've ever encountered. Oathbringer , the third book in the series (the fourth volume, Rhythm of War is already out and I think a fifth is expected in 2024 - tentatively titled Knights of Wind and Truth ) is probably my favorite thus far. The first two volumes had this tendency to elongate in the middle (we spend far too much time with Kaladin and his various issues in the first couple of books and he spends a decent amount of time wallowing in self-pity before getting his shit together in a very satisfying way which carries throug

Squawk Box: Winning Time/The Bear Season 2

Once again, TikTok annoyed me so much with clip after clip after clip of a show that I finally sat down and watched it. Before that, I had no real interest in watching Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty , because honestly, I'll watch basketball, but it's never really been my primary sport. Growing up, one couldn't escape Michael Jordan and The Bulls and I remember Magic Johnson having to retire from playing due to contracting HIV, but outside of that, the NBA didn't really have that much of a hold on me. I knew all the names (Sean Kemp, Charles Barkley, Dikembe Mutumbo, etc) I can't say that I watched that many of the games.  (I'm also convinced that the NBA used to be better back then, in the way that older, crusty types always are- but I still hold to the notion that they should bring back the Super Sonics, damn it.) The first season of  Winning Time focuses on the 1979-1980 NBA season, where new owner Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) takes control of the

10 for 2023: Second Quarter Update

I'm a bit past the deadline for this update because this is landing in the middle of July instead of the start, but as promised, here's the Second Quarter Update on my Goals for 2023.  I feel pretty good about 5-6 of these, so I'm feeling like 50% is a pretty decent accomplishment, but it could go as high as 7 or even 8 if I get my act together, which would be a very productive year indeed!  Anyway, here's the update: 1. Big Writing Goal for the Year: Get Book 4 into the draft format by the end of the year. I'm currently working my way through Chapter 5 and I'm sitting at 25,744 words. It's been challenging so far: I'm sticking to a single POV for the first time in a book, I'm writing well outside my usual genre preferences so far, and writing consistently and well is hard, y'all. But enough is enough-- time to light this candle and git 'er done. Update:  Okay, so the good news is that I'm sitting at 43,826 words. There's not really b

What Happened Last Night In Des Moines

I've been trying to keep politics off the main feed, because with two degrees in Political Science, sometimes my nerd brain runs amuck and I find myself talking about it way too much. So, most of it (if you're interested) is over on Minds , where I'm trying to become more intentional and more focused with my writing about politics. I don't know how successful it's been so far, but I'm trying. However, we've got to talk about what happened last night in Des Moines . I know, I know, right at the outset: politics, religion, and abortion are three things that always lead to sane, sensible, and civil discourse in our society. I'm also a dude talking about abortion and when dudes talk about abortion we have this unfortunate tendency to talk out of our own assholes, so I'm going to do my utmost to avoid doing that. Obviously, I've never been faced with that choice as a woman. Obviously, I have no idea how agonizing that can be for women in those situati

Bookshot #167: The Stone Sky

The Broken Earth Trilogy is brought to an incredible conclusion with the final volume of the trilogy, The Stone Sky . Picking up where the events of the last book, The Obelisk Gate left off, the former inhabitants of Castrima-under are moving north, after their battle/invasion from rival comm Rennanis compromises the geode they were using to power and live in the city, making it uninhabitable. Essun, who falls into a coma at the end of The Obelisk Gate (from using it to save the people, but not the comm itself of Castrima) finally awakes to find that her arm has turned to stone. She realizes that she is destined to suffer Alabaster's fate and be turned to stone and ingested by a stone eater for purposes unknown. (We get some hints that maybe, perhaps, both Alabaster and she will be reborn as stone eaters, a fact confirmed at the end of the book.) She can't risk using more orogeny/magic because it will turn her to stone faster and she has a mission to accomplish. The moon is

Squawk Box: Marvelous Mrs. Maisel/Succession

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel comes to a close with its fifth season and while I'm sure that Amy Sherman-Palladino probably has a lot more left in her creative tank and is, as far as I know in good health and not in danger of shuffling off this mortal coil anytime soon, one hopes, I'm going to go ahead and shoot my shot: I think this might be her masterpiece. It might be her magnum opus. She might do something else to eclipse it, of course, but right now, this is her brass ring. I don't know if she's always wanted to do a period piece, but given the fact her production company is called Dorothy Parker Drank Here and her dialogue from Gilmore Girls to the lamentably short-lived Bunheads is chock full of pop culture references that go back decades- hell, pretty much all the way to Proust, if not before, you have to think that it was percolating somewhere for her and with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel , she hit it out of the park. At the close of the previous season, Midge (Rac