~~which really means, as y'all know, "What are you reading? And do you love it?" And which also means, this time, what I'm watching (translation: "What are you watching? And do you love it?").
First off, what I've read recently, "recently" being relative here, since the says of zipping through books lickety-split are long gone. They may someday return, of course: it's not that I've gotten too old to read quickly. No, no--that's not it. I hope. Yikes! What if it is? But then I'd never know, since I don't take time to read, so it's pretty much moot, so never mind.
It's that the days of lounging around reading for hours and hours--those aren't even a distant memory. I think there were times in my life when, if I didn't have to get up, get dressed, and go to An Actual Job, when I'd spend large chunks of the day reading. I seem to remember, eons ago, after I'd finished graduate school and had cobbled together a couple of jobs--substituting in the public schools, teaching a couple English classes at the college, working part-time for an independent newspaper, keeping score for high school basketball games--stuff like that--that I had days when I didn't have to be anywhere, and I would lie on the couch and read. Anna Karenina. War and Peace. The Brothers Karamazov. Because somewhere in grad school I'd realized that the problem with specialization--18th and 19th century British lit, for example--was that you miss huge chunks of stuff. Russian literature, for example.
Turns out I didn't miss so much after all. I read it. It was OK. But nothing in there changed my life, and eventually I realized that I wasn't cut out for The Life of the Mind. Oh, sure: my brain loved it in some certain sorts of ways. And I could balance out the lounging-around-on-the-couch part with running, which I was still doing. But the big problem with reading and thinking about reading and thinking about what you've read is that, when it's all over, you don't have anything to show for it. Now, for most readers, this is a total non-issue, but for me? I'm kind of a literal person, kind of a plodder at heart. Kind of the opposite of my mother, who loved to sit and think about things. I like to be productive, and I like having something to show for my day, you know? Like if you came over for a cocktail before dinner and asked what I did today, I would like to have something to show you: "Here. This is what I did. And this. And these over here. And this and this and this and this."
Yeah, I'd kind of like to show you that I re-painted all the walls in the Vatican and did a mural on The Great Wall and re-upholstered all the cabs in New York City, all before noon.
So "recently" is not, like, this week, OK?
OK. A while back I read an article in the Times Sunday magazine about a boy with severe autism and the therapy dog who changed his life. Now, I am the opposite of a kid person, so I don't usually read articles about kids. But therapy dogs, well. I love the ways animals interact with humans, and so I read it. And man, if it didn't make me tear up: it was that well written. Now, a regular person, I'm guessing, who read that piece and loved it would go online and look into therapy dogs and autism and maybe find out if there was a program in their area. Me? I started looking for what else Melissa Fay Green has written.
First was this: Praying for Sheetrock, which won a bunch of awards and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
his one, too, even though it's about--sigh--kids again. Still, reading the excerpt on Amazon.com hooked me. Funny woman, this.
If it's a really, really good book, I'll buy extra copies to give away. That has happened twice, I think.
Then I read The Virgin Suicides, a book I've had on my virtual reading list for years. I think I miss a lot by taking so long to read a book, because I'm sure I didn't understand this book and probably need to go back and read it again right away. Yeah, like that's going to happen. But who were the virgins in this book? Not the girls: Lux was having sex on the roof. And not the boys: some of them had sex with her. So I'm guessing I missed something there, assuming titles mean something. And it seemed to get lost between magical realism, which it wasn't, and a story in dire need of a stronger denouement, which was disappointing. Still, he wrote well, so I enjoyed it enough to check out another one of his books, The Marriage Plot, which I haven't started and probably won't, seeing as how I'm reading one now that will probably take me approximately a year to finish at the rate I read. When you get in bed at 12:45, which is somehow the time I seem to get in bed every night even though I don't have an actual bedtime and so don't ever plan, you don't spend a lot of time reading before you start yawning and figuring it's time to call it a day.
I'm reading 11/22/63, and it's going to take a while.
And I know I've said all this before. And I'm sure I'll say all this again. But at least I won't forget I said it and then expect you to pay for it. (Man, I crack myself up.)
So. Watching. I've Netflixed (I love new verbs) Homicide: Life on the Street, and we're on season 4, I think. Back when The EGE was still teaching, we had actual tv, with multiple cable channels to keep him company while he sat up until 3 or 4 in the morning grading English papers, trying his best to figure out ways to help his 9th graders pass English. Seeing as how a fair number of them didn't even speak English, much less read it or write it, this became an ever-increasing challenge and was one of the reasons he retired when he did. Filling regular English classes with kids who are just marking time until they can legally quit school at 16 and get a job, yet holding the teacher accountable for the failure rate? Kind of a recipe for non-success for everyone involved.
Anyway. I'm not going to rant, I swear. No ranting on a Monday!
So one of the shows he watched in the wee hours was Homicide, and he mentioned it a couple years ago, that he'd liked it and that I probably would, too (no, I was not one of those supportive spouses who would stay up in sympathy night after night), and so I Netflixed it. And it went to the end of the queue, which you know, if you're a Netflixer, can easily run into the hundreds (up to 500) of videos, but it finally reached the front of the line. It's weird to watch pre-cell-phone detective work, isn't it? It's a good show, though, and I'm loving it. It's funny: I'm beading on the Alabama Chanin bolero, and I do that after dinner while we watch, and so whenever I bead on it at any other time, I find myself automatically thinking of the characters, hearing Pembleton's voice in my head.
Here are some of my favorite lines from various characters:
"Quit beating that horse. It's dead. It's dog meat. It's glue." [about obsessing about an old case, not about an actual horse]
"Sometimes you're funny. And then there's now."
[on why men are the way they are] "Maybe it's because we don't sew."
"It was hard on the family, with him bein' nuts and all."
So, yeah, I spend a fair amount of time laughing out loud and scribbling down dialogue. But I'm also getting a ton of Pembleton Beading done on the bolero!
We've also watched all of Lie to Me, which Roz says was pretty accurate in the facial reading department. She and I agree, though, that all the interpersonal drama ruined the show. I would have liked just the detection part--but I always like the science part if they mix in some science drama. Leave out the romance and the silliness and do not--DO NOT--make the women all show either leg or cleavage or Big Hair. Just let them have a cool job and get on with it. We're watching The Good Wife--I Netflixed the first two seasons, and now I'm getting season 3 on amazon.com as the episodes come out. I hate that because the characters begin to run together with, say, Bayliss and Lewis. I forget who goes on which show. I like a show in a bazillion episodes that I can watch, one after another, until it's done. Then I'll forget everything in it, and a couple years later I'll watch them all again. It's just background noise for stitching, really.
OK, now it's your turn. Any other series we should watch? We loved Intelligence, DaVinci's Inquest. Courtroom drama, police procedural, forensic mystery--stuff like that.
And what are you reading? Anything really good?