Ebony And Ivory

The great Alexei Sayle once had a routine that went along the lines of: ” I heard this bloke on the radio the other day going on about how we could all live together in perfect racial harmony on piano keyboards. Well, I’m telling you, pianos aren’t going to solve nothing, no way, no how”

That’s as might be, but late last year a piano was involved in something pretty darn special. Flash back about seven years: For reasons I neither remember nor understand, my then wife and I bought a keyboard at Costco as a Christmas present for the kids. It came loaded with tunes that they could play by simply following along with the book, and I considered it a waste of money, to be honest. The kids and their mum both had some fun with it, and it stayed at that.

However, as my daughter’s interest in all things creative grew, she took up playing the guitar, and began paying more than passing interest in the keyboard, apparently just playing along and following the instructions. She seemed to be doing pretty well, when as luck would have it, the son of the woman who made her spare land available for a community P-Patch (allotment) turned out to be a genius, who later on was accepted into Julliard at 17. My daughter took lessons from him on an informal basis, but eventually he was no longer an option, so her mother signed her up for lessons with a local teacher.

Just before Christmas we were informed that the pupils would be giving a recital for the benefit of the parents, so on the appointed night, I hurried to the teacher’s home and took a seat in the studio. The kids in my daughters’ group ranged from about five to thirteen years old, and as you can imagine, all parents waited with bated breath for their own child to perform. I, of course, was no different, and I have to say that heavily biased as I am, she gave a wonderful performance, playing 5 short pieces. I don’t have the sheet available, but they were not easy pieces, and as she had made the effort to dress for the occasion, my daughter looked every inch the professional musician. As we were departing, her teacher commented on how well she had performed, despite being extremely nervous – apparently one of her legs was shaking almost uncontrollably with nerves during the entire performance. I hadn’t realised this, as my daughter is one of the most confident and self – assured people I know. Of course, I congratulated my daughter profusely, as I found her playing to be flawless, but as I say, I’m not exactly the most unbiased of listeners.

The kicker came when her teacher said that she would like her to perform again, two days later at another of the recital sessions. At this later performance I was seated so I could see her hands and was amazed at the level of dexterity and professionalism she showed. I know this is a dreadfully overused cliche, but her fingers just danced across the keyboard, and I have to admit choking up with pride that she could play with such flourish and elan.

Just to push things even further, a couple of weeks later my ex and I received an email from her teacher saying that she would like my daughter to take an exam from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto some time in May. Bloody hell! This is the institution attended by Oscar Peterson and Glenn Gould!

Lest you think I’m getting ahead of myself, this exam is a test of both ability and progress, and in no way means that she is headed north of the border for schooling, but if she’s good enough to take one of their exams, her teacher must think very highly of her indeed. I honestly don’t know what to make of it all. I’ve always known that she is highly talented and extremely creative, but where the hell she gets it from is beyond me, I mean, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, even if I use both hands. One thing of which I am certain, though is that whatever path she takes, she’s always going to go straight to the top. I’m also certain that I’ll never hear her repeat one of Eric Morecambes’ more famous catchphrases, used when performing one of his musical pieces: “I am playing all the right notes. Just not necessarily in the right order.”


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Filed under child rearing, family, Live music, Music

On Repeat

My love of music is well known, see multiple previous posts, but one kind of music just bugs the crap out of me – Christmas music. It is almost exclusively garbage, full of banality, cliche and triteness. Of course, there’s no avoiding it at this time of year, but at least once you leave the store you don’t have to deal with it until you walk into the next one. Nice to have the choice. Imagine having to listen to it for eight hours straight. This  is what my life has been like since the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. There’s no avoiding it and it is driving me crazy.

For the first two weeks I was subjected to an endless stream of garbage spewed out by a never-ending stream of third-rate session singers. Do you know just how many versions of  ‘Frosty The Snowman” there are? No? about a dozen by my reckoning, and all of them, with the exception of the Cocteau Twins version are dreadful. Imagine listening to each of them about four times each every day. Add in “Jingle Bells” “Winter Wonderland”, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” “Let It Snow” and every other bloody Christmas song you can imagine and you have some idea of the kind of audio hell my life has been.

DTKIC? is by far the worst, especially as one of the singers is doing what I’m going to say is his best to sound like Bono. It’s bad enough when Bono tries to sound like Bono, but I’ve heard better Bono impressions on a Friday night in Dublin after the pubs shut. I won’t even go into the fact that Africa has more Christians than any other continent, so yeah, I guess they do fucking know it’s Christmas. Imagine if Rachid Taha, Abdel Aziz El Mubarak, Cheb Khaled,  and other great African singers got together to record a benefit song for Europeans called “Do They Know It’s Ramadan?” I can just imagine the lyrics – “Feeeeed the woooorld, but only between sunset and sunrise”.

But the worst thing of all is that so many of these so-called singers try to rework the songs by slowing them down by about 75%. Have you ever heard an eight minute version of “Jingle Bells” which sounds like the singer has been told to count backwards from ten by the anaesthesiologist. A truly terrible example is the version of “Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree” I had to endure about four times a day. Before I moved over here, I associated the tune “Tannenbaum” with “The Red Flag”, and I can tell you, the Russian Revolution took less time than it took to listen to this song. And then of course, there’s the Vince Guaraldi version from the rarely seen animated classic “It’s the peasants and workers revolution, Charlie Brown”.

Lest you think I’m some kind of Grinch, I’m not,  ( See “Fuck Christmas’ to  be proven otherwise)although the thoroughly twee and sickening version of “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” which misses the point of the song entirely and turns it into a semi-comic joshing is enough to make me decamp to the top of Mount Crumpit. I own two Christmas L.P.s – “It’s A Holiday Soul Party” by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, which is just fantastic because, well… it’s Miss Sharon Jones. She does some well-known tunes, but my favourite has to be “There Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects”. Nuff sed. The other is “Christmas Songs” by Bad Religion, in which they just storm through carols and Christmas favourites at full pace, driven along by a drummer who doesn’t pause for breath.

I only heard my all time favourite Christmas song once, and that was because it was playing on a customers’ car radio as I tied a tree onto the roof. I’m talking of course, about “A Fairytale Of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl. Of course there’s no way the store would play it, presumably because they don’t want complaints from parents who’ve just had their five year old ask “Mum, what’s a cheap, lousy faggot?” Also absent has been Siouxsie And The Banshees’ “Israel”, a classic, and well worth an airing, in my opinion. Last week wasn’t too bad  by comparison, as the Tannoy was playing original recordings, but you know that there’s no hope  for a song when even Mister Tony Bennett can’t save it.

Add to  this  the fact that we have had a Salvation Army bell-ringer camped outside for the whole time. It is a torture beyond compare. Send half a dozen of those guys to work at Guantanamo Bay and I guarantee that every inmate will confess to everything from the murder of Julius Caesar onward. It has been doing my head in, having to listen to the constant ringing, and I mean constant, except for the ringers’ breaks and lunch. I can tell you that if we had a longer cable for the electric chainsaw, the parking lot would have been filled  with T. V. camera teams. The absolute nadir was last Thursday when we were joined by some carol singers. These guys could actually sing, they sounded fantastic, but the bell ringer kept going, and the store was pumping out its usual programme, and to have all three of these competing sounds going at once was just too much to take. Every man has his breaking point,  and I reckon mine was less than a minute away when the carolers departed.

The thing is that due to tingling in my right hand brought about by loading and dragging all those trees I wake up about three or four times a night, and I can’t get back to sleep due to the discomfort and the fact that the songs from work are burned into my brain and have left a multitude of ear worms to torment me. Usually ear worms can be driven out by thinking of a song you like, but I just can’t get any songs I like to stick.

One thing of note has been that a lot of the songs have “Holidays” in the title instead of Christmas, as in “Home For The Holidays”, a song which to the best of my knowledge, along with a number of others, predates the start of Fox News’ bullshit narrative about the non-existent “War on Christmas”. FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY.  I’d like you to do something for me: turn towards New York and yell at the top of your lungs “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!”. Again, “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!!”. Once more “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!!!”.  There, don’t you feel better? I certainly do. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling just screaming the fucking words.

Merry/happy whatever holiday you celebrate.

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Filed under Christmas, employment, Music

A Forest.

It’s been a tumultuous few months here at the new Singledad Towers. I picked up a job at a real estate office, but was told just a couple of months in that I “wasn’t a good fit” for the job, whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean. This left me scrambling for some way to pay the rent, and for no other reason than I found it, I applied for a seasonal job at my local supermarket selling Christmas trees. I got an invitation to an interview which went well and returned home to find a voicemail on my phone. Could I come back in for a drug screening? The interviewers had called me pretty much as soon as the door closed and had hoped to catch me before I left the store, but seeing as I saw no point in bringing my phone with me, the call was waiting for me at home, so I did an about face and returned immediately.

The popular image of drug screening involves peeing into a cup, but hold on. Now it involves holding a sponge against the side of your mouth for a couple of minutes and then placing said swab in a tube. Phew! If you are anything like me, then Shankly help you. No, seriously, peeing in public is not my thing, nor yours, I hope. This happened because they offered me the job.  My sweetie and I had a Thanksgiving trip planned, and so the Tuesday after the holiday I reported for work, went through the initiation period and started the next day. To be clear, I’m the only person working trees 8/5, with other staff being assigned to the post on a daily basis, which means I’m the only constant. Yeah, the new guy is the only person who’s always there. Actually, many people at the store have worked in trees over the years, so it’s not as if no one has ever done the job before. I’m outside for eight hours a day in the PNW winter, which can be a bit nippy at times, but the donning of my patented Bronko Nagurski  long underwear meant that I was proofed against the morning and evening chills, and truth be told, I was often sweating due to the exertions involved.

We receive trees by the truckload which are dumped in the parking lot and then have to be sorted by size and species into a coherent stack. Imagine dragging 250+ trees ranging from five to nine feet tall into organised piles and then moving them over to the sales area. Then imagine helping customers by carrying their tree to the place where we give he trunk a fresh cut and then loading it onto their vehicle. A lot of people have trucks, which makes life easy, but imagine lifting a nine foot tree onto the roof of a Suburban and then tying it down. It takes a while, and involves quite a bit of effort, especially if you are a fat, lazy, unfit bastard like me. Imagine doing that 30 times a day as well as sweeping up loose needles and branches, dragging over fresh stock to fill the gaps and answering a multitude of questions.  To say that I was knackered by the end of the day is an understatement. I know how unfit I am, and this has driven it home to me. My legs and arms ache by the end of the day and only the  prospect of a very hot bath with lots of lavender Epsom Salts and a very large vodka and tonic at the end of the day have kept me going.

The above bitchfest notwithstanding, I’ve really enjoyed myself. My coworkers are all great people who have made me feel very welcome and part of the team. The store has a lot of  long term employees, and I can see why: we are treated very well, get an employee discount and are treated as human beings with feelings. How many companies nowadays do that?  The customers have all been very friendly and understanding, and I’ve had quite a few enjoyable chats with people as I’ve tied trees onto the roofs of their cars.  I admit that I wake up in the night due to the numbness in my right hand, and that I ache all over, but to be honest, being outside all day has been good for me. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a team that actually cares and meet some truly nice people.

I really hope this turns into a permanent thing. the store manager told me one lunchtime that he wants to chat with me about what happens “after trees”, which sounds promising, as does the fact that my department manager has been sounding me out about which departments in which I would like to work. Fingers crossed.

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Filed under Christmas, personal relationships

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

My financial situation needs no reprise, so let me start by saying that toward the end of August I was faced with something of a dilemma. My then current situation was bordering on the untenable, in that I had funds enough for September’s rent, but no more, and with no job on the horizon, despite countless applications and targeted cover letters I needed to make a decision. The details are for a future post ( See “Back On The Chain Gang”), but I secured a job in the nick of time and set about finding somewhere to live within my means. Opportunities were limited, and to cut a long story short, I ruled out a place in a complex not too far away on the basis that it would be a near run thing to make the rent every month. I also ruled out a place within a ten minute walk of my then current home on the basis that it was dark, half-buried and lacked a washer and dryer. I would have to drag my laundry to and from a shed in the next building to use coin-op machines and hope that they were available. Foxtrot Tango Sierra.

I found a place online that my sweetie also found, and set up an appointment. I’d pretty much made up my mind before seeing the unit, but as it was only five square feet smaller than where I was living, had an extra powder room downstairs and two parking spots within 75 feet of the door, I was pretty much sold before I stepped inside. The leasing agent was obviously desperate, and when I said I could move in in two days and had no pets,  she was so pleased I was surprised (and not a little disappointed) that she didn’t blow me on the spot. At $700 a month less than my current place, it was a no brainer.

I started moving my stuff in on the Saturday, as I’d already started boxing up books, etc. and was able to make three or four runs a day in the car. Of course, like last time ( See “The Boxer”), I chose to move in the middle of a heatwave. I spent the best part (worst part, surely?) of two weeks schlepping boxes, small appliances and furniture to my car in order to move them to my new place. Needless to say, I was pounding down pints of water at every opportunity, and yet it seemed to do me little good. It is easy to lose enthusiasm when you develop a sweat rash around your waist, and being coated in a layer of evapourating water becomes the norm. It’s a rather unpleasant experience to bend over in order to pick up a box and feel rivulets of sweat stream down your cheeks and off the end of your nose. Nevertheless, I managed to move all but the largest pieces of furniture unaided, and considered myself fortunate not to have suffered any permanent injuries.

I had lived in my old place for three years, and hardly anyone had given me the time of day, but miracle of miracles, once I started my beast of burden impression, every Chatty Kathy within range began asking “Oooh, are you moving?” Fuck off. Seriously, just fuck off. I started out pretty well organised, but by the end I was simply throwing things in boxes or directly into the back of the car. This was in part due to the distance involved, but also my desire to just GTF out of Dodge as soon as humanly possible.

It’s now been a few weeks since I moved in. I hung my art, the T.V. is on the wall thanks to the sterling assistance of my son and I’ve already had  more interaction with my  new neighbours than I had with my old ones in three years. The place was built in the Seventies, and it shows, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with my move. I’m beginning to settle into a routine, and the kids and my sweetie like the place . For the minute though, lacking sufficient bookshelf space, I had to  improvise, laying the banker boxes on their sides, setting them in their lids and stacking them three deep to provide impromptu shelving. My sweetie bemoaned their college dorm room appearance, but as I explained to her, being able to see my books brings me comfort in the same way that being able to see her books brings her comfort. It has made me realise though, that I need long, low bookcases rather than the tall, standard type to make best use of the space under the breakfast bar and also leave as much wall space as possible available for art.

In the weeks since I moved in I have experimented  with placement, cupboard organisation and making the best use of every cubic inch of space. You see, much as I moaned about my last place, it had more cupboard space in the kitchen than I needed, whereas my new place is woefully deficient in that department. The fridge is much smaller as well, making it an issue when I go shopping. In fact, I don’t so much walk into the kitchen as put it on, it being a galley, and in fact, narrower than most hallways. Mind you, it sure as hell beats living in the car.

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Left To My Own Devices

During my regular morning perusal of Theguardian.com I came across a rather depressing story. I know there have been many of late, but this  had nothing to do with the daily flood of diarrohea from SCROTUS. On the technology page I read that Apple has stopped making the iPod Nano and Shuffle, the last two stand – alone MP3  players in their catalogue. I am sure that this item didn’t create even the tiniest blip on the personal radars of most people, but it took the edge off my day for a number of reasons.

I should point out that I understand why Apple did this: they want the iPhone to be all things to all people, and want everyone to rely on their little block of plastic, glass and silicon for everything.  From an economic perspective it makes sense, as simplifying product lines improves efficiency and simplifies the supply chain, but it left me feeling cold. Let me explain:

I’m an alien. I was born on the planet analogue and for many years lived a conventional life among humans, blending in ( apart from the Aspergers) and getting by. I had a very large vinyl collection, and it gave me great comfort. to quote the band Cornershop, “Everyone needs a bosom for a pillow, mine’s on the 45”, even though it occupied more of my bedroom than I did. I ignored CDs until it was too late,and managed to survive the 90’s by pretty much ignoring contemporary music. My life changed when my then Father In Law bought me a third generation iPod after my then wife asked him what version would be best for my commute.  I was faced with the opportunity to put more  music in my shirt pocket than I could put in my bedroom, and I embraced it without question. I was stunned, don’t get me wrong, but the ability to hold 30 days of non stop music in my hand was more than I could believe.

In my youth I owned a Walkman. Every Saturday I would have to decide which four tapes  I  would put into the pockets of my Italian army combat jacket  before I took the train into Liverpool to spend my money on music. It was not a simple task: : picking the wrong tape meant I would be stuck listening to something for which  I wasn’t in the mood, and let’s face it, that really stinks. The iPod gave me the opportunity to change my mind and to create playlists longer than half a dozen compilation tapes. Lest you think I put my past behind me, think again. I have two large boxes stuffed with C 90 tapes stored in the closet and three, yes, count ’em, three functioning Walkmen, as well as two boom boxes.  My first iPod had a duff battery, but the second one lasted well, especially after my son replaced the corrupt hard drive that after almost 10 years finally gave up the ghost. I also bought one of the last generation models, as 160 GB should keep me going for some time, and when I bought it, I regarded my 80 GB model as beyond repair. I also have  a couple of shuffles, a 1GB and a newer 2GB model which I used to use exclusively for podcasts on my commute. I could clip the iPod to the headphone cord, and if wearing earbuds, it took up almost no space in whatever bag or Eastern European military map case I happened to be using that day.

It seems to me that the life cycles of electronic devices are getting shorter. We have become as accustomed to the concept of this year’s iPhone model as we have to the idea of this year’s new car model. A practice, I hasten to point out, which began in the 1920’s once sales began to level off. I mean, do we really need a new model phone every year? I’m still using a Galaxy 3, and it serves me darn well. In fact, I don’t even use all the functions, so in some respects, it is more than I need.

Phone batteries have a crappy lifespan, and the fact that I get a weeks’ worth of normal use out of  my iPod between charges is something I appreciate. I also appreciate the fact that it is a single function device, and therefore is subject to the inverse law of “The less there is to go wrong, the less there is to go wrong” I now have four devices that should last me a good 20 years between them, and I wonder how many of you can say the same things about your new iPhone? Do you know anyone who still uses a first generation iPhone? No, you don’t.

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m in the mood to listen to some original recordings of Caruso, but I just can’t find the right wax cylinder.

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Filed under Electronics, lifestyle, Music

Science Fiction Double Feature

This post is going to be fairly long, so you may want to find a comfortable chair.

Even from an early age, my daughter has  had tastes beyond her years, and films are no exception. She has a particular interest in science fiction films not normally seen in a 12 year old girl. I suppose to some extent this derives from her interest in the Harry Potter novels. When she was about six, her reading ability improved exponentially and she tore through the series in double quick time, which, of course, led to an interest in the films. I’m sure all parents will be familiar with this phenomenon, and anything that encourages kids to read is fine by me. Her interest in more intense material didn’t take long to manifest, however. Not long after this, she was looking through my DVDs and asked in all seriousness: “Dad, can I watch “Alien”?”. Noooooooo! was my instantaneous response, as you would expect. When she and her brother first met my sweetie at the EMP to view the Lego exhibit ( See “We Are Going To Be Friends”), I had to forcibly prevent her from entering the exhibit of horror film props as the notice made clear that it was unsuitable for young children.

Fast forward a few years. In an attempt to find something worth watching, I had asked members of the “Monster Talk” Facebook page for recommendations of horror/monster films that were either well worth watching, or so dreadful they deserved to be seen. I was able to find some of the titles, although some were not worth the effort. A case in point being the truly awful “Super Inframan“. Apparently the first major Chinese movie filmed entirely in Hong Kong, it deserves to be buried forever. It isn’t even good enough for the “So bad it’s good” category, and has production values so low it makes the work of Sid and Marty Kroft look like “Lord of the Rings”. I mention this cowpat of a film because my daughter asked me what was the worst film I’d ever seen, and despite explaining the plot to her, she insisted on watching it, and nothing I said could dissuade her. She lasted all of 20 minutes, before agreeing with my assessment and suggesting we turn off the DVD player.

This led to a discussion about Sci Fi in general, and films worth watching in particular. We watched “Rogue” together, a pale imitation of “Jaws” with a giant crocodile instead of a shark, and absolutely no tension and then moved on from monsters to traditional Sci Fi. As you no doubt can guess, I’m a fan of “Star Wars”, and we watched the original trilogy together, which she thoroughly enjoyed, although this meant she wanted to see the truly dreadful prequels, and I have no shame in admitting that I fell asleep during “The Phantom Menace”, although this did mean that she wanted to see the originals again as well as “The Force Awakens” a second time, her mother having bought the disc. Of course, we went to the cinema to see “Rogue One”, and she enjoyed it, although it could have been a much better film.

I ran out of suitable films for her to watch, and had already confirmed that her mother didn’t want her to see “Alien” when I said to her “Do you want to see “Alien”?”. I know, I know, but she’s an eminently sensible kid, and had explained that films don’t scare her, because she is “outside” of the action, unlike a book where she is drawn in by the narrative and experiences the story first hand. To be honest, the film is a lot less gory than I remembered, and she already knew of the “Chestburster” scene, so she wasn’t shocked by it. Naturally, we watched the first two sequels, but didn’t bother with the third as it is nothing more than a patchwork made up of elements of the first three. I was impressed by the way she handled the films, and asked a number of insightful questions throughout. She’s an expert at picking out errors, inconsistencies  and plot holes, so watching a film with her is a lot more fun than it would be with most kids her age.

I wasn’t sure how she’d handle “Arrival”, but she really enjoyed it, despite it being devoid of the usual Sci Fi elements. It raised a lot of interesting questions, and the production values and alien design really helped. I then suggested we watch “The Day The Earth Stood Still” in order to compare attitudes in the films to the arrival of aliens. I gave her a hint to keep an eye open to the parallel to a more famous story, but I had to explain it to her at the end: Klaatu’s arrival is heralded as a star in the east, he arrives with a message of peace to all men, he takes the name Carpenter, he has followers, he’s betrayed, he’s killed by soldiers and then rises from the dead and ascends into the heavens. She didn’t exactly give herself a dope slap for missing the comparison, but it all fell into place for her when I pointed it out.

The idea of first contact really appeals to her, so tomorrow we will be watching “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, as yet another take on the subject. I don’t know why she has such a strong fascination for Sci Fi, but I do appreciate the opportunity it gives us to spend time together, and I have enough films to keep our weekend sessions going for quite some time. She’s as sharp as a needle, and I want to do all I can to encourage her interest and curiosity, and films give ample opportunity for that. I do have my limits, though. It will be  a cold day in hell before I let her watch John Carpenters’ “The Thing”.

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Entertain Me

Now that I have a lot more spare time on my hands than I’d like, I have had to find ways of occupying my attention. For someone who claims to be an avid reader, of late I have had very little motivation to open a book. Technically, I have two books on the go at the moment, one being the complete fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, and one on the history of the Celts. For some reason, I just don’t have the patience to sit down in a quiet room and read. I suppose I should get back into the habit while I still own some books, but who knows if I ever will.

I have been spending more time than is good for me playing video games, though. Even this attraction is beginning to pall, however. As you can imagine, new games are not in my budget, so I have been replaying those I already own. I have been a big “Call Of Duty” fan ever since  I had the opportunity to play the “United Offensive” expansion pack nearly 13 years ago.  Much as I love blowing stuff up, sniping and shooting fascists in the back as they run away, the games all blur into each other after a while, as there are a limited number of situations available, and one mad dash through a city or the countryside in an armed vehicle with a bunch of enemies in hot pursuit is very much like any other, be it in 1944 Normandy, modern day Russia or some post –  collapse nearish future.

This leaves television and films, and this is where I have to expend some actual effort. I don’t miss having television service, not for a minute, as the vacuity of most television makes even the biggest of super-massive black holes seem small and insignificant. when I do find something worth watching I tend to burn through it in very short order: A  case in point would be season two of “The Expanse”. I watched the first season on disc borrowed from the library, but as season two isn’t out yet, I looked online for a streamed version. I burned through the entire season in three days.  I know this is not much to those of you for whom binge watching is a fact of life, but in all probability you follow many shows, perhaps even on a one episode per week basis and have enough in your queue to keep you occupied. I don’t and now have to wait 12 months for the next season. Presuming of course, that I have a roof over my head and a screen on which to watch it.

Netflix has never appealed to me, as even $8 a month isn’t worth it to me, especially as there are plenty of free options. My sweetie subscribes, but she doesn’t watch all that much, and she tends to request films that don’t interest me at all. Of course, streaming has it’s drawbacks, and this manifested itself recently. My daughter is a big sci fi / horror fan ( the subject of a future post), and as she has inquired about my H.P. Lovecraft interest, I suggested we watch “The Whisperer In Darkness”, a film produced by the HPL Historical Society and made in the style of a 1930’s movie. I spent quite a while trying to find a feed that didn’t require me to subscribe and didn’t try and get me to download malware under some spurious context, but eventually one was found and we sat down to watch. Alas, it was not that simple. The feed was so slow that we watched the first 20 minutes in 10 second bursts with five second pauses in between. Even pausing the feed did no good, so I searched again and eventually found a feed that didn’t pause. Yay.

DVDs are my other, if somewhat limited choice. The county’s last DVD rental store shut down a couple of months ago, although I never used it, so make of that what you will. The library has a good selection, but it’s difficult to get the timing right. My sweetie and I watched all five seasons of “The Wire” on discs borrowed from the library, but the wait time for various seasons meant interruptions to our viewing, although it’s so great a show it was worth it. My own collection is also something of a problem, in that 90% of the films I burnt onto disc from the DVR in my married days were ones I’d already seen,  so I have little new content. I own quite a few movies and series, and recently  re-watched “Band Of Brothers” over the course of a week, so it will be a couple of years before I watch it again.

I dug out “The Prisoner”and am only three episodes away from the end, but I’m having difficulty in motivating myself to finish the set. The show hasn’t aged well, despite its’ cult status. I hate to write that last sentence, but it’s true. I haven’t watched the show since my ex bought me the complete box set for Christmas before my son was born, and it may well be another 16 years before I watch it again, if at all. To be honest, the show hasn’t stood the test of time. At times it borders on high camp and pastiche, the production values don’t hold up despite it’s high budget for the time, and the final episode is so pointless and full of dross as to define explanation.

The English football season is still two months off, so I don’t even have that to look forward to on Saturday mornings. I realise that all of the above can be categorised under “First world problems”, but once I’ve finished my work, my job searches and any chores I am motivated to undertake I still find myself with too much time on my hands. Does anyone have the complete run of The Simpsons on DVD they could lend me? It’s going to be a long summer.



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Filed under boredom, Reading, Television, Video games