watched The Night is Short, Walk on Girl last night 🎥 (HBOMax recently added some good anime features). it was great: funny, sweet, and very weird
Saturday’s beer: Lagunitas Brewing’s Willetized Coffee Stout (2020)
I thought this would be good when I picked it up, and it’s even better than expected. just excellent. 🍺
finished Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner 📚 I don’t read much memoir, but really enjoyed this! as a member of the tech industry, it was fun & interesting to read this wryly observed outsider’s view. I nodded a lot while reading this; recommended.
we don’t see this every day in central Texas
Saturday beer: The Bruery’s Partridge in a Pear Tree
tasty, solid quad. here’s to the new year 🍺
Like many, I’ve long wanted to read more. Even my love of browsing bookstores was getting cramped by the guilty knowledge that I had more books waiting patiently on shelves at home than I would ever get to. But now, at the end of this year, I feel I can claim victory. I did it: I read more.
One boost was the daily reading habit I started last year, which has been great. I set a fifteen minute timer, and don’t allow myself to read that particular book outside the daily dose. This keeps me from cheating and going longer, which I think helps me keep the habit: I know it’s only ever “just” 15 minutes, and done. By a quick review of my Goodreads list, I got through some seventeen books this way in 2020. (Granted, some of those were the shortest and fastest reads – comics and graphic novels. No apologies.)
Being locked down due to the pandemic probably didn’t hurt the amount I was able to sit and read, although switching to full-time remote work did cut down on commute audiobook time.
Book clubs definitely helped. The computer book club I ran (until I stepped down in October) prompted me to get through five books, and the Tournament of Books’ virtual Camp ToB was a fun way to go through six really enjoyable reads that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. I struggle with book clubs sometimes, resenting the obligation of having to read something, but it’s fun in small doses (and the ToB online community is a surprisingly good one).
I had also set an ambitious Goodreads reading goal for this year: 50 books. And I made it! As mentioned, some of those were quickies, but some were not, e.g., Emma (476 pages), Madame Bovary (411), The Paying Guests (564), and that’s not even getting into those computer books, like Coders at Work (632).
But I’ve decided that the numbers of books, and their page-counts don’t matter. Is this because I participated in a writers’ novel swap group, and so read several full-length novels without even getting credit for them in my Goodreads count? Yes.
Errr, no. No, that’s not it, really. As I said to start, I’ve wanted to read more, and to my own surprise, I’m actually doing it. I enjoy it, and I’m actually prioritizing doing it, and it’s happening. Having a quantifiable goal in Goodreads, and a tracking app that makes a satisfying ding! when I read each day, and following along with a book club, those are all things that helped me build the habit of reading back into my life. I’ll continue with those practices as far as they’re still fun, but the reading is the thing.
P.S. Gretchen Rubin has announced regular, daily reading as her “Happier” podcast’s 2021 goal. Last year they encouraged listeners to walk 20 minutes in ’20; this year their suggestion is to read for 21 minutes in ’21. See her blog post for details, hints, and tips. Maybe I’ll up my daily timer…
read: Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. though written 40 years ago, long before the internet, let alone social networks, this short book is profound and eye-opening. took me a while to get into it, but well worth it 📚
this, from a social epidemiologist predicting post-pandemic life, is what I’ve been thinking, too. maybe streaming services won’t kill movie theaters, after all
This future, Christakis predicts, will not come until society has had time to distribute the vaccine… But the vision he lays out for 2024 and beyond is one filled with experiences pined for in isolation: packed stadiums, crowded nightclubs and flourishing arts.
slowly making my way through Postman’s amazing Amusing Ourselves to Death. On the bombardment of isolated “news” stories from around the world:
You may get a sense of what this means by asking yourself another series of questions: What steps do you plan to take to reduce the conflict in the Middle East? Or the rates of inflation, crime, and unemployment? What are your plans for preserving the environment or reducing the risk of nuclear war? What do you plan to do about NATO… the CIA…? I shall take liberty of answering for you: You plan to do nothing about them.
You may, of course, cast a ballot for someone who claims to have some plans, as well as the power to act. But this you can do only once every two or four years by giving one hour of your time, hardly a satisfying means of expressing the broad range of opinions you hold. Voting, we might even say, is the next to last refuge of the politically impotent.
The last refuge, of course, is giving your opinion to a pollster, who will get a version of it through a desiccated question, and then submerge it in a Niagara of similar opinions, and convert them into – what else? – another piece of news. Thus, we have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.
holiday movie-time continues: 🎥 watched Serendipity last night (not my favorite but my wife loves it; gotta like Cusack, too), and Netflix’s Klaus tonight, which was really nice. a very different Schwartzman character than we’ve been watching in Fargo S4 😆
Saturday beer: Buffalo Bayou Brewing’s Feliz Navidad
The ancho chile isn’t a flavor I’d want all the time, but it’s good tonight 🍺
the whole family watched Die Hard tonight, a first for all of us. well written, funny, and clever. verdict: yep, it’s a Christmas movie 🎥
finished Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, by Art Spiegelman 📚
presenting the uncontested winner of Best Original Holiday Song of 2020 (emphasis on “2020”): It’s Christmas and I F*cking Miss You by Charly Bliss & PUP 🎵
a live script read of Elf with all the main stars, and it raises money for the Georgia senate race, too? Sold! (today, 12/13 at 3PM CT)
[updated with fixed link]
finished Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard today 📚 what a staggering work. lyrically written, much of it more like poetry than prose, her view of nature probing its ruthless violence as much as its unbelievable beauty. I’ll be rereading this for sure. maybe annually
watched Beastie Boys Story tonight 🎥 it was uniquely done, the narration by Diamond & Horovitz performed in front of a live audience, with video clips projected behind them. we were big fans at the time of the first two albums; there’s a lot of music I need to catch up on
our movies this weekend were two old classics, though from very different eras and styles. last night: Pulp Fiction (1994), tonight: Vertigo (1958) 🎥
Tonight’s Saturday beer is Goose Island Beer Co.’s Bourbon County Special #4 Stout (2020)
First bottle from this year’s Bourbon County haul, it is silky smooth and just delish-delosh (a perfect phrase we learned from GBBS) 🍺
watched the new Shane MacGowan movie Crock of Gold. I don’t know the Pogues’ music as well as my wife, though I may have to change that. movie was uniquely done for a rockstar biopic: hard to watch and tragic at times, but fascinating 🎥
I struggled with some of the Microblogvember prompts, but I made it (I think). it was a fun exercise, and I’m hoping to continue posting more regularly even when there’s not a little game to reinforce the habit
we go for morning walks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. but the forecast says 36°, so I won’t be a pedestrian tomorrow
the last 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle we’ll do for a while
I’ve reached a kind of normal with wearing a mask in stores. it’s regular enough that I don’t forget it anymore, but still awkward (and regularly steams up my glasses). shopping is even less fun than ever, guess I’m glad we can do it at all
Saturday night beer: Brazos Valley Brewing’s Slippin’ Into Darkness
tonight’s movie: Stuber. not bad for an action-comedy. the leads were both pretty good, Kumail Nanjiani especially is always fun to watch 🎥
we faced a serious dilemma earlier, but we solved it by just ordering two pizzas
watched Murder on the Orient Express (2017). nobody but David Suchet will ever be the real Poirot, but the cast was star-studded (Rey! Queen Elizabeth!) and it was fun (and I didn’t know whodunnit) 🎥
it’s too easy to adjust to a long, sleeping-in weekend. grateful for many things, including tomorrow still only being Friday
this last workday before the holiday was marred by some hosting issues (surprise! the cloud has outages, too!), but it was beautiful if only because there were no meetings to call into