Media week... month... day?: quarantine edition #2 (and non-media)

Still haven't read more than a couple pages of my book. Every time I pick it up, I do enjoy it, but somehow reading isn't happening now.

Happily I'm doing much much better with shows! (Small blessings?)

I'm on season 2 of Castlevania, but I'm really, really not enjoying it. It feels like a whole different show than season 1. I haven't closed the tab yet, which means I haven't given up on it, but I pretty much hated the first two eps of the season, which isn't a good sign for me to continue. I heard season 3 is better, but not sure if I'll make it that far.

The Amazing Stories remake is very very hit and miss. The first ep was horrible, the second better, the third worse, and this week's was pretty darned good. Since it's only an hour a week, I guess it's worth sticking with, but it's nothing like the original series was. (Or maybe my memories of it are colored by me having been a kid when I saw it...)

Based on a Stephen King story, The Outsider is not really my cup of tea and isn't hooking me at all. A small town murder mystery with a heaping helping of supernatural. Not sure why, but the story just doesn't interest me at all. Wow, I've only watched three eps of it, feels like I've spent 20 hours watching. Not a good sign! The season is only 10 eps, but I think I'll likely drop it (again, I already dropped it once).

I've been watching to rewatch one of my favorite series, but I couldn't decide which. I narrowed it down to West Wing or Battlestar Galactica. I thought maybe West Wing would make me even more grumpy over idiot Trump, so I went with Battlestar Galactica. Holy cow, it's so so so good. Everything about it! The acting, the character, the music is amazing, and the camera work is like no other show. I watched eight eps in a couple days. I only wish I didn't remember the story so well, I know all the twists and what happened in each ep.

Major Crimes is another rewatch, by chance with the same star as in BSG. Mary McDonnell. Surprisingly, she plays almost the same character in both: A very intelligent, very kind woman who takes no shit from anyone. In both shows she's tossed into a position of leadership in a new area to her, and she learns the ropes and quickly becomes a good leader. I love her to death.

And lastly, a slow rewatch of Community. Talk about a show with humor and heart!

I wish I could spend this time watching new stuff, but I can't find any show I want to marathon. Luckily I'm enjoying these three rewatches.


And in the non-media end of my life: I'm very very VERY much enjoying working from home. I have to be better about not going out though. I went almost two weeks without going out (except once to drop off masks and gloves I had to a hospital), but now suddenly I want to go out for any reason. I went out and bought a sandwich today. My apartment is full of food, I have no need to go out!

Luckily I have a lot of toilet paper (by chance I had gone to Costco right before all this started, so I have a 30 roll pack I haven't even opened yet), but still just reading about it makes me want to go buy more. (Which I know is exactly why the "shortage" is happening -- there isn't one, everyone is just buying it up because they think there is one...)

We have an all hands (video) meeting at work tomorrow. Hopefully it will just be to touch base with everyone and to extend us working from home. I'm in California, so it's pretty bad here.

Stay safe and healthy, all!

Media week in review: quarantine edition

Having been working from home for the last week, you'd think I had made better progress with reading, but nope. I love reading, love books, love stories... I'm just so bad at making time for it. (How did this even happen?)

What I'm currently reading

Same book I've been reading for the last five weeks! At least I got like 8% read in the last week? (Oh god, that's only a few pages...) Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. I really like the story, I just never read anymore. How? Why? It's just so much easier to turn off my brain and play stupid phone games.

What I'm currently watching

Okay, this one I actually did better on. I watched the whole season of Netflix's Cheer. I thought that would be the kind of show that only I liked, but apparently it's popular as heck. Ellen had the crew on her show! It follows a junior college cheer team. It was such an interesting look at a life I knew nothing about! And the "characters" (people) were so great. Sadly it was only 6 episodes long.

I watched the first two eps of The Letter for the King, a YA fantasy series. It was sort of like a YA version of GoT/Witcher/whatever fantasy series. Just so generic and so very washed out. Like there were a few sword fights, but even when the other guy died from being stabbed, there was not a single drop of blood on him, the ground, the weapons... Maybe kids would enjoy it, but it was just too generic for me. List touchstones in any fantasy show, and they got all checked off here in the most boring ways.

Community continues to delight. On season 2 now.

I started watching Castlevania, since I saw lots of posts about it here and elsewhere. I'm only two eps in, but I think I'll stick with it.

Also slowly watching Picard, The Outsider, and Major Crimes.

Gave up on: Man in the High Castle (last saw season 2, ep 6) and The First (ep 2). Maybe I'll get back to them one day.

My focus is even more shot than usual though. I blame watching too much news and daily press conferences with the worst president in the history of the planet.

What I'm currently playing

Working from home, I'm pretty much living on my MMO (FFXIV). I'm online so much I've completely run out of things to do.

I really wish I could play the new Animal Crossing, but I don't have a Switch and can't buy one just for it. If I was getting the $1,000 everyone else is getting, I might splurge, but since I'm not I have to skip. :/

I suppose I should put some time into that genetics game I bought, maybe if I get the hang of it, I'll have more fun with it.

Media week-- er, month? in review

Man I fell off the planet, didn't I? I haven't made one of these posts because I have nothing to write about. Signing up for broadcast TV was kind of a mistake, at least when it comes to watching other stuff. And reading. And anything else.

What I'm currently reading

Oh god, it's been a month since I finished my last book, and I'm only halfway through my current book. It's a good book, I'm enjoying it, it's just that most days I have time to read only a couple pages. At the most. (What happened to my reading life?!)

Edit: I should note that I'm reading a metric ton of Animorphs fanfic. I'm working my way through the whole Animorphs tag on AO3. Thousands of fics! I'm not reading every single one, but I am trying most of them. It boggles me how much outstanding free writing there is out there!

What I'm currently watching

Erm. Random crap on broadcast TV? Almost nothing else. Like 6 eps of Community (loving it), and one ep of Clone Wars. Seriously, nothing else in the last month.

I did try Lock and Key, but it didn't hook me and I gave up after two eps.

What I'm currently playing

How are these stupid Candy Crush games so addictive? I finally, finally gave up the one I was hooked on... but then I played a different one and now all my pre-sleep time goes to it. Bye bye reading.

It's not totally the game's fault though. I stay up later and later watching random broadcast TV, and so only have a few minutes before I sleep, and so a few minutes of playing a game seems better than a few minutes of reading.

I need to get my priorities back in order!

Book #2 of 2020: The Institute

The Institute by Stephen King
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Before I start my review: Wow that cover is odd. On my Kindle, covers are maybe a quarter inch high and in black and white, so I basically don't see them at all. This cover is pretty and kind of cool, but I guess it's supposed to be symbolic of the story more than accurately representing it. It's just odd.

The Institute's story can be summed up with a question: When is it worth physically and emotionally torturning children? Before you say "Never!", really think about the question. Is it worth torturing one child if it saves the lives of 1,000 other children? 10,000? Would it be worth it to torture one child to save the entire world? [Spoiler]This isn't to say I think they were right to do it. I believe, as the reader was supposed to, that the math was flawed and it was all unnecessary. But it's still an interesting question, if it were true. End spoiler.

The plot followed a young boy, Luke, who had very minor psychic powers (could rattle empty plates, maybe make the pages of an open book turn). He was kidnapped, his parents murdered, so he could be shipped off to a complex hidden in the Maine woods. There he and other kids like them were "used up" -- their powers used until there was nothing left of their minds. Oh and they tortured the kids and did experiments on them to try to make their psychic powers stronger.

I loved this story because the horror was so realistic. No monsters under the bed, all the monsters were the people. The characters themselves often compared their situation to the Nazi experiments, and I found that comparison true as well.

The ending was kind of weak for me, but man the journey to get there was wild. I read this book so fast, so much time out of my day to read. I completely loved it.

One other minor negative: Amazon reviews mentioned how political (anti-Trump) the characters were, and as much as I wish the man would vanish from the face of the Earth, I kind of agree. The political stuff, and the many real world current references (like TV shows airing right now) kind of knocked me out of the story a little.

Media week in review

What I'm currently reading

The Institute by Stephen King. Holy cow, this is so good. I can't put it down, I read it every time I can snag a moment (including at work). Even though, like all of his books, it's super long, I'm nearly done with it.

Last week I wrote about it "Only (small) downside is that my Kindle tells me this book is going to take me hours longer to read than most do. I'd say "There goes my book count for the year!", but it's already down the tube." So it's funny that I'm going to finish it in about a week.

What I'm currently watching

So many shows...

I started Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet, a comedy about a team working on the world's most popular MMO game. It should be such a perfect show for me, but I dislike it. It's not in any way funny (I watched the first two eps, and only had one moment of mild amusement), and the characters are just flat stereotypes. Instead of being a show gamers can enjoy, it's rather insulting. Not sure if I'm going to give it another ep before giving up, but I suspect not. (Edit: Reddit said it got better in ep 3, and it did a little, but I'm not sure if enough to stick with it.)

I watched one ep of Star Trek: Picard. Good acting, good production, okay story. Really odd to see Vulcans with a French accent. I'm not at all hooked, but I'll keep watching.

Other shows: I sort of started rewatching Major Crimes (I had loved it so much the first time I saw it), but I'm only one ep in in a week. Community: Basically same thing. On ep 8, haven't watched it since last weekend. The Mandalorian: Same thing. Two eps left to go, haven't watched it since last weekend.

Going to start watching: The Outsider based on Stephen King's book. Because I need more shows to watch...

Haven't touched in weeks: The First and Man in the High Castle. Starting to wonder if I'll ever get back to them. Man in the High Castle is interesting, but it doesn't make me feel good about watching it, so I think my brain is kind of just shying away from returning to it.

Dropped shows: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I loved the first two seasons, but this third one just isn't doing it for me. It's silly and I don't like any of the characters.
Book with cat: hugging book

Book #1 of 2020: Mulan's Secret Plan

Disney Before the Story: Mulan's Secret Plan by Tessa Roehl
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Years ago a YA author told me that the only difference between good YA and adult fiction is the length of the story. Again and again, I find that to be the case. This book is intended for 5-8 year old kids, but know what? I completely enjoyed it.

Set before the movie takes place, it tells the story of Mulan finally getting to go to school. (Girls in China didn't attend school in this period.) Unfortunately "school" is just classes with the village matchmaker, so they can learn skills to take care of their husbands...

There was actually a plot element that completely surprised me, which so rarely happens in books.

While this book had two things I didn't like, the author can't be faulted for either:
1) It was way too short! It took me just over an hour to read. (But since it was for such young readers, it makes sense it was short.)
2) I'm getting more and more depressed at reading stories about women being second class citizens. Yeah, for a long time girls couldn't go to school at all, but it's still depressing as hell to read about that. Not at all the book's or the author's fault, it just made me really sad.

Those two issues aside, this was a really good book. The writing was great, the inside illustrations really made the story shine. Recommended for adult or child readers.

Media week in review

What I'm currently reading

I actually finished a book! And I'm reading one that I'm pretty sure I'll finish as well! Wonder of wonders.

I need to post the review for the one I finished, but what I'm currently reading is The Institute, by Stephen King. Every time I read something by him, I always say I should read more stuff by him... then I never do. Going into this book completely blind, I had thought it was a collection of short stories, so I was so confused when "the first one" ended. Turns out, that was just the prologue, haha.

He's such a good writer. His characters have such life, such distinct voices. The settings do as well.

Only (small) downside is that my Kindle tells me this book is going to take me hours longer to read than most do. I'd say "There goes my book count for the year!", but it's already down the tube.

What I'm currently watching

I just finished watching the last ep of The Good Place, and holy crap. I spent more than an hour sobbing my eyes out. [Spoilers for the final ep]I don't even know what to write about it. It was horrible and wonderful and everyone died, but that was kind of a good thing for them, but it was awful for me.

I didn't really understand why love wasn't enough to keep them there. Even if you're bored, if you love the person you're with, that's not enough? Maybe I don't have a good grasp on what its like to live forever, haha.

Anyway, wonderful series, horrible (in a good way) ending. End Spoiler.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is kinda not working for me this season. I don't know if it's me or the show. Seems kind of... silly? this season. Which, okay, a show that features the literal devil and demons and such is kind of silly, but I enjoyed the first two seasons. I'm going to give it another ep or two before I drop it.

Because I just don't have enough to watch /s, I started a rewatch of Community and The Mandalorian. It's been so long since I last watched Community, it's like a new show. I love it so much! The first time I watched The Mandalorian, I multitasked through a lot of it, so this time I'm trying not to do that. Both are well worth watching again.

I watched a bunch of Clone Wars, and now I'm in the third season. It's been a slow start (I don't have the Star Wars background to appreciate the political stuff), but the second season ended so well, there's no question of me sticking with the show.

There's one thing I really appreciate about the Star Wars fandom: It might just be the fandom with the most info online. Whenever I don't understand something or if I wonder about something, the answer is so easily found. I'm so used to new or less popular fandoms, where most stuff is just fan theory.
Book with cat: Litterbox

2020 book: Infinity Son

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Was this a fantasy book? Was it superheroes? Was it just generic modern kids YA book? I couldn't tell you. I read almost a quarter of the book (23%) and for a book about a world where some people randomly get superpowers, it was just so dull.

It didn't help that I strongly disliked the two main characters. Brothers. One was obsessed with social media (I swear early on in the book it said it was set in the future, yet the main character talked endlessly about Instagram and YouTube). The other was a quiet, awkward gay boy. Even after reading a quarter of the book, I couldn't tell you more about him than that.

I love this author loved one of this author's books so much, but every single other book he's written, including this one, just did not work for me. Maybe that one book was a fluke...

If not for who the author was, I would have stopped reading a lot sooner. There was zero world building and both main characters were flat and unpleasant.

Currently reading: Disney Before the Story: Mulan's Secret Plan. How sad is it that this is the first book I've enjoyed all year, and it's for ages 5-8?

Partial book credits:
Point reached in this book: 23%
Previous abandoned book total: 117%
New total: 140% (one book)

Media week in review

What I'm currently reading

This has been the worst year so far for books. Not only am I DNF'ing them all, I'm not even reading much. (Those two things might be related...)

Last week I started Infinity Son by Adam Silvera, and I'm not even a quarter of the way into it. I'm really not liking it at all. One of the two main characters is obsessed over Instagram/YouTube followers. It's the one and only thing he cares about in his life, it's the only thing he talks about. It's so unpleasant to read. (It's a YA book, I suspect younger readers might like that aspect of the character.)

I'm going to stick it out a little longer and see if my opinion changes since I'm just getting to the meat of the plot.

I try to read 50 books a year, and at the rate I'm going, I doubt I'll hit half that.

I never mention fanfic in these posts, but I'm doing a hundred times better with fanfic stories than books. There's so so so much good Animorphs fanfic out there. So many good authors, so many interesting takes on things.

What I'm currently watching

Where did my time go this week? I got almost nothing watched this week, too.

I spent most of today watching season two of Lost in Space. It's a really good show, but it took me more than three weeks to rewatch the first season and watch the new second season, I was just ready for it to be over with.

Apparently there's a new season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina out. I'm going to start that next.

I think I watched maybe two Clone Wars eps. They're only about 20 minutes long each, so not sure why I didn't get more done. (Where did my time go this week?)

What I'm currently playing

Hey look, something actually to go into the Games section! In addition to the usual MMO, Jurassic World Alive, and silly phone games, I actually bought games. I haven't bought a game in six years (since I bought the MMO).

A game I was following, Niche, sent me an email that it was part of a $1 bundle, along with two other games.

Three games for a dollar? Even though I'm being careful with my money, I couldn't pass that up. Once I got to the site, I saw that the suggested amount to pay was $10, but you could pay up to $50... Since the email said outright that it was $1, I paid that.

Niche is a "genetics" game. You breed little animals and try to survive, seeing if you can make a string, successful, wacky animal. I only had time to play it a half-hour in the whole week I owned it.

The other two games it came with were MagiCat and Evergarden. Based on names alone, I thought I'd love both games. Once I saw the details though (both are just puzzle games), I haven't even installed them. Evergarden especially sounds like such a great game, something about making a garden, growing things, watering them...


Is the bold text annoying or does it help you skim and see what you want to read? If it annoys folks, I'll stop doing it.