Binge Watching TV

It all began when my financial advisor asked me what I was doing since my wife died. I told him I watch movies on TV. He asked me if I watch any of the material being produced by the new companies like Amazon, and Netflix. I told him I can get all the movies I can watch without Netflix. That he dropped a bomb on me. You know these companies are now producing their own movies and series TV shows don’t you? “Well, no I didn’t know that, I’ll have to look into it.”

I can’t lose anything so why not try something new and daring. I’m not so old yet that I’m happy watching public TV programs at fixed times of the day. I found a series produced by Showtime called “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” It turned out to be a hilarious comedy about a family in New York. I watched four seasons within a month. I can hardly wait for the next season to begin.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Six months ago A friend suggested I look at a TV program titled Homeland. I did, and I became addicted. We watched episodes together, she in her home, me in mine. Afterwards we texted each other with questions like will “Cary take the bait,” or will “Brodie turn terrorist?”We never could predict what the next moves would be during this complicated story. That is until she watched non-stop to finish the entire series. With modern TV it is easy to watch what you want when you want to watch. Services like xFinity or Amazon Prime Video keep all the seasons of various programs available on their servers. For a nominal subscription price I have been able to see entire seasons of a specific show (like 8-12 episodes) within two evenings. This form to TV viewing is referred to as “binge” watching. I finished eight seasons of Homeland within a couple of months of binge watching several episodes nightly. I couldn’t get enough.

Homeland

After Homeland Another series titled “Billions” came upon the scene, although not very new because it to had four seasons in the can. I chose not to watch it immediately because the main character in Billions was also a main character in Homeland. I felt that I wouldn’t be able to separate them. I watched movies instead. There are some evenings when I will watch two movies before retiring. I love drama, comedy, love stories, adventure stories, and modern westerns. I deplore zombies, terminators, and comic book stories. My movie list now contains 221 films watched. Of those 121 were since my wife Peg died a year ago. I watch a lot of films. So much so that I have set a goal to watch less and write more. It was time to begin “Billions.” Within the first five minutes of this new story I was able to separate actor Damian Lewis from his role in Homeland as a US Marine held hostage by radical Muslim Terrorists for eight years and he new role as Bobby Axelrod the owner of AxeCapital a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. I watched all four and a half seasons and look forward to new episodes as they come online. Then one day while discussing this story with a friend he asked if I was aware that Damian Lewis is an English actor. “Get out,” i exclaimed. Since then I am looking at act biography to learn about the and their careers. Yes, he is Brittish and can speak with a heavy Brittish accent when he wants to. Quite amazing that he can pull off the accent of a New Yorker with ease.

Yellowstone

After “Billions” I found a newer series called “Yellowstone” a story about a rancher in Montana that is at constant war with Indians who want their land back, and real estate developers who want his land to build multi-million dollar estate for the filthy rich. It is a western set in 2020. The scenery alone in this story was enough to hook me into watching Kevin Costner defend his ranch any way he saw fit. The story has mystery, murder, fist fights, chicanery, love, jealousy, and ranch life. I am also waiting for the arrival of new episodes on this one as well. So far there are only three seasons completed.

This afternoon after spending several hours in the garden trimming shrubs and pulling weeds I found myself wanting to know who the actors are in the latest series that I am hooked on called “Heartland.” This story takes place in Alberta, Canada. The scenery is magnificent, and the story revolves around horses. This is the ultimate horse lovers film. The actors in this story must all be experienced equestrians. The story is the longest running TV program in Canada TV history. There are fourteen seasons to watch. The main character is fourteen years old when the story begins. Imagine watching someone grow up on TV in a fictiious story. By the fourteenth season these actors grew up, got married, and had children, and some of them have died. The story has me mesmerized even though I know it is fiction and it is a serial soap opera. I find myself living in this story and I can’t get enough. I want to be one of them, and I find myself digging into the actor’s lives to learn more of them and their families.

Heartland

It is beginning to warm up here in Illinois and when the temperature begins climbing into the nineties along with the humidity I know I will be enjoying watching a series in a darkened cool room.

To Die For

Learning to be single in one’s eighties is really different. Throughout my life I always had some type of support. From birth until college it was my parents, brother and sister. In college it was a room mate. After college it was back to my parents for a short while, then, marriage. That phase lasted forty two years, and I was single again, living alone, then marriage again. The second time it lasted fourteen years, and that brings me up to today, single again. I vowed never to get married again, but never say never. I am determined to stay single.

Life has become a battle between grief and loneliness, but after nine months of it I  can claim I am gaining on the task. To combat loneliness I have developed a daily pattern. Basically, it is get up, make breakfast, clean up, read mail, listen to my radio show, make lunch, go for a long walk, surf the net, work on my art, make supper, cleanup, work on my art some more, watch movies, read, then go to bed. Exciting? Not really, but it takes my mind off my loves and keeps grief away. After seventeen years I still grieve for my first wife Barbara, and now my second wife Peggy, such is life.

I thank God for allowing me to have Xfinity On Demand, and Amazon Prime, both services are keeping me going. I stay away from zombies, terminators, cartoons, satanic, comic characters, and stick with drama. Do you know how many movies are in the genres I just listed? Thousands. I do like action movies involving espionage, and mystery. All of them have to be included with the service, I refuse to spend money on rentals to get recent selections.

Most of the films I watch are family oriented stories. Most of them have plots based on the effect of someone dying. I estimate nine out of ten stories depict the hardship that life brings after a family member dies. Knowing a little bit about life after losing a partner I can attest to the truthfulness of how life gets screwed up. Many stories are about the effect of death on children. I watched one last night called “A Father’s Choice.”  A cowboy falls for a city girl, and they marry. They have two daughters. Their marriage falls apart and the mother raises the girls alone. She meets a man she wants to marry. The happy family to be is returning from a night out at dinner and the movies. As they exit their car and approach the house the new man notices strange things, like the dog is out in the back barking, the front entry light is out, etc. They take two steps toward the door and a man in black jumps out of the dark and begins shooting. He kills the mother on the spot and nearly kills her fiancé, the girls are spared. Think of the impact of this scene on the kids. The rest of the story involves how the kids cope and how their estranged cowboy father learns to be a parent after a long absence. I love this kind of plot, but there are too many off them that rely on death to become a story.

Many of the better films are not produced int he USA, but rather in Canada or Australia. Folks in those countries are not as focused on the weird zombie stories like we are in America. come to think of it, zombie movies are dependent on death also.

I got hooked on a series called Jack Ryan, based on author Tom Clancy’s stories about espionage and intrigue. The remarkable thing about these stories is the unbelievability of the central character to endure enormous punishment and his bullet dodging capability to stay alive while killing untold numbers of bad guys shooting at him with machine guns with single shots from his pistol.

If Hollywood ever decides to quit making this genre I am in trouble.

 

On My Honor

 

theheartsofmen-cover.jpg

My technique for finding good books to read has once again rewarded me. It is simple. Walk into the library, find the recent book shelfs and explore the titles. This time it was the cover art that sucked me in. How could a former scoutmaster like myself resist a book with a Boy Scout on the cover? In fact, this art is not original, I recall this being a Norman Rockwell depiction. Regardless, the story is called The Hearts of Men, by Nickolas Butler.

I have to hand it to Nick, he stayed true to his theme right to the very end, and wrote a story about Scouts and the impact that Scouting has on boys who eventually become men. The story is about friendship that begins in scout camp, and ends at the death-bed.  The lead characters become fathers, and grand fathers whose sons, and grand kids become characters too.

Author Butler also gives us an insight into the effects of the Viet Nam War, and the scars it left on those who fought. It isn’t pretty. My heart felt the pain of the Vets who did make it home to suffer for the remainder of their lives with PTSD, and horrific dreams.

By the end of the story I suffered an attack of dry eye. The outcome being a massive gush of tears flooding from my eyes to compensate for the dryness. I’m sure anyone who reads this story will encounter a similar attack.

The description of scout summer camp could only have been told by a former camper, and the realism of the effects of war also smacks of one who has experienced it. I’m going to be thinking about this story for a long, long time. Within the camp stories there is realistic depiction of men and their relationships with their mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends, lovers, and buddies. The characters are real, and the emotions expressed are definitely true. The description of the scenes etched pictures in the mind, and the dialogue between characters is very believable and real.

Deja Vu

If you read this and think you have read it here before it is because you have. This is one of my favorite pieces of wisdom to impart to my readers. If you receive an email with this post and it describes Regina as a ninety or ninety-three year old, I wish you look as good as Regina does at this age.

This is something we should all read at least once a week!!!!! Make sure you read to the end!!!!!!

> Written by Regina Brett

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> “To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

> 1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

> 2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

> 3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

> 4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

> 5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

> 6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

> 7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

> 8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

> 9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

> 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

> 11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

> 12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

> 13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

> 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

> 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.

> 16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

> 17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

> 18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

> 19.. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

> 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

> 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

> 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

> 23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

> 24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

> 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

> 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

> 27. Always choose life.

> 28. Forgive

> 29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

> 30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

> 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

> 32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

> 33. Believe in miracles.

> 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

> 35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

> 36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

> 37. Your children get only one childhood.

> 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

> 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

> 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

> 41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

> 42. The best is yet to come…

> 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

> 44. Yield.

> 45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

In Memorium

The first day of spring came and went with a whimper. The weather was cool and somewhat grey. It was a good day for me, I finally wrote another chapter of my book British American Colonies. I washed some clothes, and did a few house chores. I am still reeling from the dry wall dust stirred up when Miguel fixed my disaster in the living room. At eleven pm it was time to check out and go to bed. As I always do, I plugged my phone into the charger. The screen lit up and I noticed a message from my son in Texas. I couldn’t go to bed without reading what he had to say. I read it and cried. I’ll share his message with you here:

Today was the first day of Spring as well as Rooke’s last day with us. We took him to the vet about 5pm and put him down. HIs condition, degenerative myelopathy really kicked in this week. He was on daily watch this week, and (we, sic) made the decision to take him today while everyone was home. We were all there except for Abbey, she opted out. He went peacefully with his family right next to him. He’s in a much better place now. Rooke (a.k.a “Rookis”, “Blue”) was the best dog I’ve ever had. His character, mannerisms, temperament and loyalty were truly amazing.

Rooke

Rooke, May 2005-March 20, 2015

 

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When I first met Rook ten years ago he was the cutest little pup one could imagine with floppy ears, a cocked head and a dynamo of energy. Rook grew quickly and became the meanest looking German Shepard I have ever seen. His black color and wide powerful chest gave him an air of intimidation. People stepped aside when Rook walked his Master. Trust me, no one would ever even think about harming a family member when this jet black patrol dog was on duty, and that was 24/7. The only white color he had on his body was the white of his eyes. As you can tell by the photo the white of his eyes were not visible very often. There is no way in hell I would have tested him by entering my son’s house in the dark.

What no one except us knew about Rook was his gentle side. He was a pussy cat with all of us. He loved to walk, and took his master’s for a three to five-mile walk nearly every day. When he wasn’t pulling them along with his chain link leash, he loved to chase a ball and play fetch. His favorite game with me was to bring a rubber toy, and drop it by my feet. Then he stared at that toy until I quickly kicked it from under his nose. Every time I kicked the ball he picked it off  within inches of my toe. It wasn’t until last June that I beat him a couple of times, and made him turn and run, but still he had the damn thing within six feet. He prided himself in not losing the ball, ever. He never tired of the game, and could play non-stop for a day, but I couldn’t.

Rook is the first dog I ever fell in love with. My family has owned and cared for many dogs of many different breeds, but Rook is my all time favorite.

 

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