Today is the 22nd of January and of 2016. I woke up this morning to a bitter cold Friday, to the prospect of working through most of the weekend. Not the best way to start your day. A huge project I’ve been involved with for many many moons is finally rolling out. So while I’m stressed beyond belief, I’m excited to finally be able to put this project in the completed bin come Monday morning. Then it’s on to the next “Big Thing,” er, project.
Stressful work-life aside, January wasn’t a complete loss for leisure. I’ve read a space opera that I liked, listened to an audiobook for a book club that was interesting, read my first graphic novel for another book club and read an ebook novella (click here to see what I’ve read so far this year). I’m currently reading the sequel to the space opera I mentioned above and have almost finished it.
I binge watched the first half of the third season of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which turned out better than I thought possible. The second season was a bit of a disappointment. My favorite episode out of that batch was the one entitled “4,722 hours.”
I gave up on the History channel re-airing their short mini-series “Sons of Liberty” so I checked it out from my local library one Saturday. I volunteer for a couple of hours each Saturday afternoon and one of my tasks is to reshelve the DVDs. The mini-series was interesting and less soap operish than the series “Turn.”
Terry and I also continued watching the Netflix original series “Marco Polo” which our daughter had introduced us to when we visited her in Seattle last August. We’d watched the first two episodes last summer but watched five more episodes in the last week. We’ve got three more to go after which we will watch the recently released movie “One Hundred Eyes” billed as the “Christmas” special for 2015. Watching this series makes me think the Chinese could teach the Romans a thing or two about corruption and intrigue. Oh, and torture. Although, to be honest, the Venetians (as evidenced by Marco’s father and uncle) aren’t shining examples of integrity or familial loyalty. Greed appears to be Venetians only love or the pursuit of profit, whichever comes first.
I almost overdosed on Chinese history though. After watching a couple of Marco Polo episodes, Terry suggested we watch a Jackie Chan movie called “Little Big Soldier” which takes place during the Warring States period of China. “An old foot soldier (Chan) and a young high-ranking general from a rival state (Wang) become the only survivors of a ruthless battle. The soldier decides to capture the general and bring him back to his own state in hopes for a reward in return.” I found it difficult to follow this movie because it was not dubbed in English so I had to pay close attention to the subtitles, which often moved too fast to grab more than half the words in the sentence. Jackie must have drank a lot of coffee to speak his lines so fast.
I also squeezed in a couple of Netflix BluRays. The first, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I had neglected to see in theaters when it was released last summer. The critics’ reviews hadn’t been very favorable so I skipped it and opted to catch it later. I rather liked the film. Oddly, I’ve never watched (that I can remember because it premiered ten days before I was born in 1964) any of the original televisions series that starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum (now of NCIS fame). Regardless, I liked the film and thought it a great trip down ‘memory lane’ for the old 60s spy genre. I ketp the BluRay a few days so my father could watch it. He of all of use was most likely to have watched the original series. He called me back a day after viewing the movie to tell me he’d watched it twice back-to-back. Glad he enjoyed it at least as much as I did, if not more.
The other BluRay was called “Mr. Holmes” and Terry just rolled his eyes at me. We’d just watched the return of Masterpiece Mystery!‘s Sherlock with “The Abominable Bride” episode a few days before. Terry grew even more disgusted with me when I checked out from the library the PBS miniseries Arthur & George, based on the real-life Great Wyrley Outrages contemporaneous to and involving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Speaking of PBS, I noticed this month that the PBS app for Android now works with Chromecast. Since the final season of Downton Abbey started this month, I eagerly installed that app so I could watch those episodes in glorious 1080p (instead of the 1080i I disappointingly receive via my DiSH Network subscription). It’s a good thing I had that app installed because I forgot to set the DVR to record episode three last weekend and used the app to watch it Monday evening. I’m really warming up to Lady Edith this season. The wedding between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes was the highlight of the third episode but somewhat of a disappointment or anti-climatic for me.
So finally, as we come down to the last week of January, I’m kicking my British drama habit and obsession with all things Holmes to start a new (well new to me) series called Manhattan, which premiered originally on WGN back during the summer of 2014. I rarely watch anything on WGN so I only heard about this series after the fact through my various science fiction newsfeeds. And my interest was piqued after I read, last fall, the intriguing non-fiction book by Denise Kiernan entitled Girls of Atomic City, The: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II. I placed the BluRays in my Netflix queue quite awhile ago and started receiving them this week. I watched the first two episodes last night and must confess that I was impressed.
Not sure I’ll get to watch any more episodes this weekend, what with working most of it and all. But you never know. I’ve also got to squeeze in volunteering at the library and attending the first meeting of 2016 for the Astronomical Society of Kansas City Saturday night. Join me at UMKC’s Royall Hall if you’d like to hear “Reflections on Hubble’s 25th Anniversary: The Past, Present and Future U.S. Astronomy” by Dr. Daniel McIntosh.