Thursday, November 29, 2018

media update: November

(Posting this early for reasons that will become clear by the end of the bulleted list.)

Good lord, what a stressful fucking month.  In general chronological order, here's what happened in November:

  • I had to have some fillings replaced, and my (now ex-)dentist ripped a huge gouge in my face with the retractor.
  • I signed up for Covered California since I'll be losing my health coverage effective tomorrow (see the final item on this list o' shit) and COBRA costs almost $700/month, and that's without vision or dental.  There were several snags and I'm STILL trying to get this shit sorted out.  I wish I had just done COBRA; the extra cost might have been worth saving myself all this fucking tsuris.
  • I was turning left on a green arrow when someone ran a red light at high speed and I came within a red pubic hair of T-boning them.  I managed to drive the rest of the way home without incident and, upon getting out of my car, puked everywhere.
  • My doctor was concerned that I might be prediabetic and/or have thyroid issues.  Fortunately, blood work proved that neither one was the case; my fatigue and hair loss are most likely due to stress.  GEE WHAT COULD I POSSIBLY BE STRESSED ABOUT
  • The mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill happened less than three miles from home.  Obviously mass shootings are a goddamn nightmare and so rampant in the US that I've almost become numb to them, but having one literally so close to home and watching the live footage unfold and listening to helicopters and sirens all night, knowing what was happening, was really heartbreaking.
  • The very next night, G and I were evacuated due to the California wildfires.  (I already wrote an entry about this, so I won't repeat myself.)
  • Also due to the wildfires, my favorite library was closed for almost 3 weeks.  They didn't suffer any structural damage, but they were smoky and needed to be deodorized and cleaned.  As you can imagine, losing access to my library SUCKED.  I didn't even have any backup options as the OTHER two libraries I could have gone were closed for the same amount of time and for the same reason!  This, along with all the other garbage I had to deal with, plus Red Dead Redemption 2 marathons, is why this media update is considerably lighter than usual.  Next month's media update is probably going to be massive because...
  • ...tomorrow is my last day working for the Cube Farm after 19 years of faithful, albeit occasionally grudging, service.  We were told about five years ago that they would be closing most of their locations across the country, including ours.  It seemed like a long ways away until it wasn't.  Although it was far from my dream job, and it certainly gave me a lot of headaches, I was pretty well paid and the benefits were great.  I'm devastated at losing my job, but I am trying to remain hopeful that something better awaits me down the line.  

Anyway, because tomorrow is my last day and I'm going to be a complete fucking wreck, I'm posting this early.  Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; double asterisks are reserved for the creme de la creme.  As always, your mileage may vary.


1. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas:  This is the final volume in the Throne of Glass series, so I can't properly review it lest I spoil its predecessors.  I'll just say that if you thought Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King had about fifty million endings...

2. Elevation by Stephen King:  Scott Carey has a very strange problem: he's losing weight for no apparent reason, and the scale shows the same number whether he's completely naked or holding dumbbells.  Scott doesn't show any physical changes, and he feels fine, but when the weight keeps dropping, he has to make some hard choices.

Side note: this isn't even 200 pages, but the hardcover costs $20 and the ebook is $8, so I highly recommend getting it at your local library instead. 

3. Alice Isn't Dead by Joseph Fink:  When Keisha's wife Alice disappeared, she thought Alice was dead until she started to see Alice in the background of news reports from all across America.  Keisha takes a job as a cross-country trucker in hopes of finding Alice, but she finds something very sinister instead.

4. Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu:  After Luli ages out of the Chinese orphanage where she's spent most of her life, her old friend Yun offers to help her get a job.  But Yun gets pregnant by a man who kidnaps women and sells them to men desperate for wives, and Luli tries to help her.

5. Girls of Paper and Fire* by Natasha Ngan:  In a world populated by demons and half-animal, half-human creatures, Lei is of the Paper caste, or fully human.  She is taken from her home and given to the Demon King to serve in his harem.  She falls in love with Wren, a fellow concubine, and together they begin to plan a better life not just for themselves, but for their country.  Good world-building and some lovely descriptions, and I liked the fact that it has a lesbian (or bi/pansexual; Lei never defines herself so I ain't doing it for her) protagonist.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  104


1.  Heavy by Kiese Laymon:  In this memoir, the author talks about his complicated relationships with his mother, food, and growing up African-American in the US.

2. Maid by Stephanie Land:  A memoir of the author's struggle to survive as a single mother making less than $10/hour working as a housecleaner.

Side note: if this sounds interesting to you, you'll have to wait until next year to read it as it won't be published until January.  I found an advanced reader's copy on the donation table at the evacuation shelter.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  27


1. Yokai Rental Shop vol. 4 (final volume) by Shin Mashiba

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  43 volumes of manga and 15 graphic novels


1. A Star Is Born*:  An alcoholic musician (Bradley Cooper) falls in love with a young singer (Lady Gaga), but her skyrocketing fame sends him into a spiral.  Terrific music and excellent performances.

Side note: I saw this in a mostly empty theater (it was a Thursday afternoon and it had been out for over a month by then) and, when I saw that my assigned seat was directly in front of someone else, I gave him a smile and then moved one seat over so I wouldn't block his view, figuring I'd take my own seat back if I needed to.  So how does this fucker repay my courtesy?  BY LETTING HIS GODDAMN CELL PHONE RING EVERY HALF-HOUR, INCLUDING DURING THE FINALE.  EAT A DONG, JERK.

2. Instant Family:  Pete and Ellie (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) decide to take in three foster children, but it turns out to be far more challenging than they expected.

Look, this is not the kind of movie I would have ever chosen to watch on my own, but Paramount Pictures generously moved their premiere to the Red Cross shelter where G and I were staying during the wildfires, and you know what?  I enjoyed it!  It was predictable and certainly not a must-see, but it had some really funny/touching moments and it took our minds off things for 2 hours.

3. Skyscraper:  Security expert Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) must rescue his family from the world's tallest building.  Dumb and predictable, but entertaining.

4. Crazy Rich Asians*:  Rachel's boyfriend Nick invites her to his best friend's wedding in Singapore, but he's been hiding something from her: his family is insanely rich, and she'll have to win over his chilly mother.  Very cute, and Henry Golding (as Nick) is unbelievably charming.

5. Ant-Man and the Wasp*:  Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is on house arrest after the events of Captain America: Civil War, but when he's asked to help Hope Van Dyne (aka The Wasp) track down her missing mother, he puts on his Ant-Man suit and gets to work.  Lots of fun.

2018 TOTAL SO FAR:  97