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What I’m Watching/Reading 2021

As of October 2011, I created an index of books I reviewed here. I will continue to list books I am currently reading here, but I will not attempt to write capsule reviews or even to link to them. For that you should check the index of books I reviewed. Movie Reviews will continue to be listed and annotated as before. See also my 2020 reading list,  my 2019 reading list2018 reading list,  2017 reading list,  2016 Reading/Watching List, my 2014 Reading/Watching List, my 2013 Reading/Watching List2012 Reading/Watching List, 2011 Reading/Watching List,  2010 Reading/Watching List2009 Reading/Watching List2008 Reading/Watching List , 2007 Reading/Watching List my previous Sept 2004 to Oct 2005 reading list or my Nov 2005 to Nov 2006 Reading List , so definitely check that out as well. See also my Best of 2006 for a scoop about favorites. See also Writers who have Changed Me. A few remarks. I’m reading several books at a time, and to be honest, sometimes I don’t read all of them depending on the content or my interest. Usually however, it’s been a matter of attention span and what other projects I’ve been doing. Also, you might want to check my favorite novels, and my Amazon.com wishlist. Also here’s an annotated photo of my bookshelf Also, I haven’t read most of these books, but I’ve been setting up Amazon lists of classic Texas novels (100 novels and counting). You also might enjoy reading my Amazon list of Unforgettable Forgettable Novels. Also see my Best of 2017 list. I’ve also started adding my book inventory to librarything.com. At the bottom of this page you will find a list of movies I’ve been watching.

Starting in late 2018 I started writing a weekly Robert’s Roundup column of ebook deals. This actually gives you a better idea of what I’ve been reading.

Reading

  1. Levee by Paul Otremba. Poems by a Houston poet who died young.
  2. Various things by Clay Reynolds. Sandhill County Lines, Tentmaker,
  3. Seinfeld. Is this Something?
  4. Arguments for Stillness by Erik Campbell. Poetry collection by single unknown poet.
  5. Pre-Rafaelites in Love by Gay Daly
  6. No word of farewell: Selected poems 1970-2000 by R.S. Gwynn
  7. Selena with Love by Chris Perez
  8. Calculated Risk by Gerd Gigerenzer
  9. Beatles: All these Years Vol 1 Tune In by Mark Lewisohn. I’m getting into the Beatles again in preparation for the Peter Jackson documentary.
  10. Safe Delivery by Jim Sanderson
  11. Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon
  12. Journey to the End of the Night by Celine (Finally!)
  13. Persistence of Memory and Other Stories by Jan Maher
  14. Gentle Degenerates by Marco Vassi. For my Vassi critical bio. (This one is somewhat middling).
  15. Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque
  16. Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku. Kaku has written a lot of popular science books. I’ll be reading more of these.
  17. Hyberbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.
  18. Arguments for Stillness by Erick Campbell. Have I already raved about this guy’s poetry yet?
  19. Theory of Literature by Rene Wellek.
  20. Apropos of Literature by Woody Allen. Really funny memoir!
  21. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel
  22. Art of Aging by Sherwin Newland.
  23. New Frontiers by Ben Bova.
  24. Various books by Clay Reynolds: Sandhill County Lines, Tentmaker, Of Snakes and Sex and Playing in the Rain. All are good, but the essay collection (Of Snakes and Sex and Playing in the Rain) is wonderful.
  25. Beverly Clearly books — revisiting.
  26. You’re on an Airplane by Parker Posey (audiobook, just fun).
  27. Lentil Cookbook
  28. 2 Books on Sexual Desire and Feminism by Katherine Angel: Unmastered: A Book on Desire and Tomorrow Sex will be good. Both are interesting and philosophical. The second title is an intellectual history of how consent and sexual desire has evolved over the last few decades. Quite excellent.
  29. Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg. I am really liking this “urban sci fi” novel. Highly recommended!
  30. Thurber Carnival by James Thurber. (A random buy. I’d read about half these pieces before, but am enjoying rereading).
  31. Courtesans and Fishcakes: Consuming Passions of Classical Athens by James Davidson.
  32. Love Lyrics: by Amaru, Bhartrhari and Bilhana, Clay Sanskrit edition, rereading.
  33. Making Love: An Erotic Odyssey by Richard Rhodes.
  34. Dust and the Dark Places Part 1 by Andrew D. Gracey.
  35. Alien Body (from the Phane Series).
  36. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  37. Trailer behind the Garage by Todd H. Davis
  38. Dust and Dark Places (Book 1) by Andrew D. Dacey. Traditional fast-moving Western which I reviewed for a book review service.
  39. Untehered by Sini Nikovic.
  40. Incomplete Dog Book by Dean Scott.
  41. Editors on Editing. Anthology of editors about editing.
  42. Company of Writers by Hilma Wolitzer.
  43. Memoir by Norm MacDonald
  44. From Afar by Frank Scozzari
  45. Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.
  46. Fables of Failure by Gregory R. Marshall. Strange, decadent dystopian tale. Well written, but dense, and there are several cruel and sadistic scenes which I found offputting. Apart from that, I thought “so what” several times.

Watching

  1. Elizabeth is Missing, starring Glenda Jackson
  2. Angel (rewatching, sort of)
  3. Bob Newhart show. Season 6
  4. Upload. Outstanding sci fi comedy about being uploaded to a videogame after your death. Wow, what happens if your loved one forgets to pay the bill to the videogame service? That’s a lot of existential fright!
  5. Syriana. Incomprehensible
  6. Call My Agent. Netflix French celebrity comedy.
  7. Community (binge-watching a second time)
  8. Love, a Netflix TV series, By Paul Rust and Judd Apatow, outstanding performances by Gilian Jacobs. Awkward dramedy with lots of funny moments.
  9. White Tiger. Great adaptation of a novel.
  10. One Night in Miami
  11. Newhart Season 1
  12. Aretha: Genius. Mediocre music bio pic. Yes, the show had a lot of incidents, so I guess it justified the series.
  13. Supernova. British film about a gay couple, one of whom is a writer with incipient dementia.
  14. Babylon 5. Revisiting.
  15. Atlantic Crossing. Excellent multipart PBS series about the royal couple of Norway during WW2 and how they escape to USA.
  16. World on Fire. Another excellent multipart PBS series about a British spy who falls in love with a Polish beauty, gets separated from her during the Nazi invasion and then ends up taking her son back to England. These historical WW2 sagas seem to be something that PBS/Masterpiece excels at.
  17. Midsomar.
  18. The Aristocrats, doc about how comedians tell a dirty joke. Pointless about 20 minutes.
  19. Annihilation, sci fi film starring N Portman.
  20. Brian Regan. On the Rocks. Comedy show.
  21. Rick and Morty, started.
  22. Rental with Allison Brie. Mediocre horror film with interesting ordinary premise and fantastic acting.
  23. Stowaway. thoughtful and suspenseful sci fi drama/adventure about a Mars-bound space mission gone awry. Top-quality acting and script, fairly realistic action (although the movie’s premise seems slightly implausible). Still, this recent Netflix-produced film is much more focused and interesting than the overlong Netflix mission to Mars series,
  24. Minari. Really excellent American immigrant. Script writer said that he wanted to produce an adaptation of Willa Cather’s MY ANTONIA — but ended up doing something even more interesting. (MY ANTONIA is one of my favorites).
  25. Ted Lasso. Mediocre wish-fulfillment comedy about American coach whose good-naturedness leads to sports victories.
  26. Morning show. Mediocre drama about behind the scenes of a morning show (the Today show) in the middle of a Me Too Scandal… So many things are wrong here — most importantly the notion that morning shows actually matter, but also secret conspiracies about executive cover-ups are everywhere.
  27. Undone. An amazing drama animated series taking place in San Antonio. Despite the surreal elements, this story is firmly grounded in reality; it’s about a Mexican-American woman who’s manic depressive and still feels empty after her father’s disappearance.
  28. Goliath (Season 1). I watched Season 3 with my mom a few years ago and liked it a bit. Also, for Season 1, I liked the ragtag bunch of characters. But the legal plots were ludicrous and sinister. So much about this series is interesting; too bad, they don’t have any ideas for decent stories .
  29. Newhart (Season 2)
  30. Comedy specials by Whitney Cummings, Jen Kirkman. These people are confessional comedy, really funny and light-hearted, but both have sharp wits. Shockingly, amazingly, Cummings goes on a 30 minute riff on sex robots — and then brings one onstage — in her likeness!
  31. Kim’s Convenience. Last season.
  32. Superstore, earlier seasons.
  33. Columbo, random episodes. The stories aren’t great, but I just love the actors and the settings from 70s California.
  34. Margin Call. A good friend called this better than “Big Short,” but it’s not even close. Big Short is sharper, more ironic .
  35. Brooklyn 99. Hilarious sitcom with outstanding comedy acting.
  36. First Cow directed by Kelly Reichardt
  37. Deep Impact. Allegedly more science-friendly asteroid hitting the earth film. Actually the science part was really good, but the personal stories weren’t that interesting.
  38. News of the World. Outstanding Western starring Tom Hanks.
  39. Manifest. Mysterious TV series with supernatural overtones. I like the premise and a little bit about the characters, but the individual episodes seem maudlin. Compare to Robert Sawyer’s Flash Forward (and TV adaptation). , which was really brilliant and well-defined. Stopped watching.
  40. Tomorrow War.
  41. Lucky, 2017 film about a crotchety old Westerner (starring Harry Dean Stanton) who has to make peace with a meager lonely existence. This is actually funny upbeat — albeit a slow film.
  42. Kicking and Scratching. Noah Baumbach movie from 1995.
  43. Casablanca (again).
  44. Hangover and Hangover 2. Great premise and acting. Hangover 2 was nowhere near as perfect as 1, but I think most viewers would be fine with seeing a variant clone of the first.
  45. Living Single (TV Sitcom from the 1990s).
  46. Five Rooms, Australian middle-aged dramedy.
  47. Come From Away. Apple TV + Really one of the most entertaining theatrical experiences I’ve seen on tv.
  48. The Father.
  49. Rick and Morty.
  50. Worth, biopic about lawyer who has to negotiate settlement with 9/11 survivors
  51. Coda
  52. Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal biopic.
  53. Lou Grant Season 1. Refreshing. Dated but still good characters and tension.
  54. Fourteen. Outstanding indie film directed by Dan Sallitt. This one is a can’t miss.
  55. Newhart Season 3. Outstanding.
  56. Mad Forest, play by Caryl Churchill. Minor but still interesting depiction of 1989 Romanian revolution as told by several common people. Play was very fragmented, but came together powerfully in the second act. Familiar terrain to me, given my E. European background.
  57. His House. Somali-British psychological horror film. I don’t think it had any real political message, and if you accept that, it’s an effective horror film.
  58. Dune. Yawnfest.
  59. Fourteen. directed by Dan Sallitt. Best film I’ve seen this year. About a friendship of two women over time. Great subtle story and acting.
  60. God Committee directed by Austin Stark
  61. Happy Endings. Tv show.
  62. Two additional side stories to Babylon 5. Very interesting.
  63. Get Back. Peter Jackson film series. Jackson creates a great story frame — the beatles have to produce an album in 14 days and then sing a live concert the next day. We start with the rough cuts and see how each individual song is developing. The suspense is: will they make it time? What will the final version sound like? Also, no voiceovers whatsoever, just occasional annotations to explain obscure references — and photo stills. Great and seamless editing; lots of busy movements and actually fast cuts too. The first 15 minutes is a montage of the Beatles between 1960-1967, providing enough info to set up. Given that Jackson also did the excellent THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD, you could say that one could probably make great movies just with found footage.
  64. Attica directed by Stanley Nelson (2021).
  65. Wanda Vision
  66. Mandelorian — more
  67. Adams family values
  68. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  69. Middletown by Will Eno (play). Light-hearted tale of random people in a small town.
  70. Dead Zone: Anthrax. Season 2. Resembles a police procedural, but there are real-life twists!
  71. Our Friend. Indie character-driven film about the death of a writer’s friend and how his male buddy (and platonic friend) helps them out. Recommended!
  72. Two and a Half Men — select episodes. I watched the transition between Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kurchner. The subjects and humor are pretty vulgar and tiresome; it seems to be just laugh about Alan Harper, which is not really fair and realistic.
  73. Rescue, documentary about rescue of Thai boys from caves.