Category Archives: Links

Post-Snowmageddon 2016

Some wrap up on the storm!  Last week this time, we were in the tail end of the blizzard.  There are various names for it – Snowpocalypse, Snowmaggedon, etc. I went with Snowmaggedon simply because it was a lot; I did not call it “Jonah” just because I was not giving in to the Weather Channel’s ridiculous naming conventions of winter storms (no, Weather Channel, these storms aren’t like hurricanes).

Of course, because the blizzard happened on a Saturday, it wasn’t a snow day that disrupted the workday. And, I had predicted no snow accumulation at all, a few days before the storm; I was shocked that, by 11am Saturday, 1/23/16, the thing was a blizzard and was going to be less than two feet.  It wasn’t like I did math or anything, of course…

Anyway, I generally thought that the city did a decent job – the travel ban more or less got people off the streets; the MTA didn’t totally go overboard, even though removing bus and removing subways from exterior lines were measures that left everybody but Manhattan (well, more or less) without travel anyway.  More specifically, however, on Facebook, I did gripe  about how the street corners/crosswalks were in awful shape by Sunday evening, 1/24/16, and questioned who was responsible for that, since clearly no one anything.

On the Monday after the blizzard, 1/25/16, Gothamist had a good post on the problem at street corners/crosswalks. I agree that this is a yearly problem, but I ended up not e-mailing my city councilman about it, since the melting happened so fast by Tuesday, 1/26/16 (hitting more than 40 degrees, short of 50 degrees, Fahrenheit can do that easily).  NY Times says that the job of clearing snow to the corners belongs to the property owners adjacent to that sidewalk, but I think that enforcement – in the form of hefty fines – is clearly not happening. Someday we have to figure this out in a better way, if only to ensure public safety. Sigh.

Also, the perennial question appeared to be who will the city leave behind/forget in the process of plowing.  Given that this was a historic blizzard, I was curious, and lo and behold, it looked like Queens, the biggest borough, made the stink about how their neighborhoods didn’t get plowed (Staten Island came awfully lose, when I was watching the news late that Sunday night). I’m not going to belittle how Queens got buried, but considering how every mayor since John Lindsay has tried so hard to save Queens from snow, I do wonder why we haven’t figured out how to do better by now with Queens.

Bob Hardt over at NY1’s Inside City Hall’s blog, raised the point in his post about the plowing that, the city did a decent job and unfortunately, someone is going to be the last plowed, but the city ought to review and revise the plowing plan.

Then, the NY TImes covered how the city had a new plowing plan and that it clearly didn’t do that great a job for Queens. Apparently, after the December 2010 – day after Christmas mess which stranded a lot of us in south Brooklyn and the rest of the outerboroughs – Sanitation modified the usual plowing of primary, secondary, and tertiary streets, and used a so-called two level process, critical and sector. I thought the NY Times article was interesting for explaining the process, but didn’t quite fully explain what happened.

Frankly, I had no idea that Sanitation wasn’t doing their usual primary, secondary, and tertiary plowing during the blizzard. Then again, it sounds like a lot of finger pointing going on, so the city and the media might actually want to thoroughly investigate what happened and what might be a better system, so we don’t ended up leaving people buried and stranded again.

My theory – which is hardly based on any real scientific research on my part, of course – is that we’ll have more weird, wacky storms with the climate instability.  We might want to learn to adapt somehow, but it sure is going to cost us…

Anyway, if we’re lucky, we might not see more snow for awhile yet? And, the snow was a generally better distraction compared to a lot of other bad news in the world.

A Review of Reading/Literary Highlights 2015

As a follow up to the 2014 analysis, here’s the analysis of 2015.  At a total of 43 books, the count in the year 2015 was the least I’ve read since I started keeping track of my reading since 2009, a year in which I had started my count late and so I couldn’t say what was the total that year).  The list for 2015 is this post.  The breakdowns for the 2015 reading are as follows:

7 non-fiction; 34 fiction; 2 poetry; 14 ebooks; 1 history/literary criticism; 1 memoirs; 4 literary fiction books; 2 romance novels; 17 comics/graphic novels; 1 anthology; 5 mystery/suspense/thriller books; 2 in the category of meditation/psychology/medicine/self-help/lifestyle type books; 6 approximately children books (not counting the comics/graphic novels); and 1 career development book.

I did a check, out of curiosity, to see the gender and/or racial/ethnic breakdowns of the authors.  About 6 were women writers/co-writers (not counting any in Manhattan Noir 2).  I was terrible with people of color as writers/co-writers; possibly two or three, not counting those behind the comics/graphic novels.  The reality is that I was haphazard with my reading; I’d have to be more conscious and active in deciding what I read and who I read, to have a more diverse reading.  Will I do that in 2016?  That remains to be seen; I haven’t made such a specific or concrete resolution.

I tackled some heavier reading with Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book was for my book club meeting this year, actually).  Austen’s Mansfield Park was very much not my favorite; it took forever to read and wasn’t that much intriguing.  I couldn’t get into Woolf’s The Years; the idea of taking in the moment is always a good idea, but I couldn’t “get” it – it wasn’t about a story and that made it harder for me to swallow.

I really binged for a period in reading ebooks for awhile there.  As usual, thanks to the public libraries, Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library, for much of the books and ebooks.  As usual, by November, I didn’t do reading because of NaNoWriMo.

In 2015, I still didn’t finish Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass or Linda Greenhouse’s Becoming Justice Blackman.  I still didn’t get to reading Umberto Eco’s In the Name of the Rose or Shakespeare’s King Lear.  Due to work, I didn’t get to go to much book club meetings.  I read a lot of my issues of bar association magazines, since I was behind, but I’m behind on reading everything (forget watching television; my watching television in 2015 was also pathetic).  2015 was strangely disappointing, honestly.

Books purchases were mostly from the independent bookstores (thanks, Strand; Housing Works; and McNally Jackson).  Online book purchases were still from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Literary notable things in 2015: Brooklyn Book Festival!  MoCCA Arts Festival (comics and graphic novels galore).  And, I completed (well, for NaNoWriMo purposes “completed”) yet another NaNoWriMo project.  I had checked out the Ernest Hemingway exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum; very impressive.  The exhibit motivated me to read a Hemingway book, and I liked reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast at the end of the year.

Hopefully I will have a better year of reading in 2016.

(cross-posted at sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com)

Some TV Highlights of 2015

A little belated, but here it is.   As usual, my personal TV Highlights of 2015 is not really a best/worst list and, as noted in previous years, it doesn’t help that I’ve really cut back on tv viewing (shocking, I know). I still don’t have Showtime, HBO, or Cinemax (so, no “Homeland,” “Game of Thrones,” or “The Knick”), and I have not pursued the streaming trend (so, still no “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” and also no “The Man in the High Castle,” “Marvel’s Daredevil,” or “Marvel’s Jessica Jones”).  But, I managed to catch some “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” via a friend.  So maybe I’m not totally hopeless?

Yet, I’m not still on the “Downton Abbey” bandwagon (still shocking). Moreover, I’m behind on loads of stuff – missed “The Americans” or “Key and Peele”; blew off watching the last season of “Community” and “Justified”; and much other fascinating stuff that I couldn’t fit because of various reasons (primarily: life, or what passes for it, and 2015 was not a very good year for me, personally). And I didn’t even get to watch all the superhero shows out there on regular tv, forget the streaming stuff.

Regarding other items that didn’t make my list: I watched some of the 2nd season of “Broadchurch” on BBC America, but not very consistently and it felt disappointing for me (or perhaps that was the point: that this kind of situation that Inspector Hardy and Sgt. Miller investigate can never be fully resolved?). I was also an inconsistent viewer of “The Walking Dead” and I could only take so much of suffering that the show portrays (or, specifically, how much more can poor Glenn, played by Steve Yuen, can take).

The one episode return of BBC’s “Sherlock” aired on PBS on New Year’s Day 2016, so I’m not including it here. I might just have to do a separate blog post about it soon. Note that it re-airs on PBS (Channel 13/WNET in the NY Metro area) on Jan. 10, 2016, and on the PBS website.

In no particular order:

  1. Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

The adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog and all their friends – and the mini-series about Marceline the Vampire Queen – all of it weird, wacky, and heart-breaking. This is a kids show? (check out the AV Club‘s coverage of it; some deep analytical stuff).

  1. Elementary (CBS)

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson dealt with a tumultuous season back in the 1st half of 2015, and they came back in November 2015 at a weird base level of emotion: at least, with the arrival of Sherlock’s dad, Morland Holmes, I’m left wondering what the hell will happen (and why the writers still don’t push more from the other cast members of Aidan Quinn as Gregson and Jon Michael Hill as Bell).

Moreover, did Sherlock and Moreland totally forgot about Mycroft? They act like he doesn’t exist, which bothers me, because as weird and meandering as his storyline was, I still thought that he and Sherlock had a story (as opposed to the terribly uncomfortable off-screen romance/affair that Mycroft had with Joan). Plus, Morland would turn into the candidate for close to worst dad if he managed to screw both his sons up like this. Anyway, John Noble as Morland Holmes has been intriguing – but it often felt like he’s channeling Walternate, Walter Bishop from the dark alternate universe of “Fringe,” who was a bad father for a large number of reasons.

  1. Dancing with the Stars (ABC)

Fun watching the pros, who are turning into real stars, dancing. I can’t say that I cared for a lot of the “stars” (some of whom I still don’t know how they should be considered stars), but it’s still fun television. Val Chmerkovskiy still got my interest, I have to say…

  1. The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)

Farewell to David Letterman in 2015.

  1. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Welcome (to broadcast network late night tv) to Stephen Colbert. I’m not a Colbert fan to begin with, but he’s okay. Jon Batiste and the Stay Human band are loads of fun and talent.

  1. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart/Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

Farewell to Jon Stewart in 2015. Sniff. Welcome to Trevor Noah. Same show, new host, less righteousness (without Jon Stewart, I doubt righteousness can quite be there). But, Noah aims to make a laugh, and I laugh. I can’t hate or fault the show for that.

  1. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (Comedy Central)

Larry Wilmore aims for the righteousness, with a laugh.  I like that Wilmore and the show have heart.

  1. Masterpiece (specifically: Grantchester, Wolf Hall, Downton Abbey, and Arthur and George) (PBS)

Grantchester brought the return of actor Robson Green to PBS (he’s aged okay, but not quite as cute as his old Reckless days, when he was the philandering doctor), as the police inspector, interacting with the vicar played by James Norton. Norton’s clearly the handsome charmer this time, but the two had a good buddy/bromance vibe. Decent series.

Wolf Hall – wow. Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell – subtle and watchable. And, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII – he seemed quite capable playing creepy as ever.

I managed to catch Downton Abbey this past season, even if I’m not on the bandwagon.

Arthur and George – a curious way to explore Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and life in turn of the century England. After more or less watching the series, I might make a better tackle at the original book (which I didn’t finish because I was lazy).

  1. Doctor Who (BBC/BBC America)

Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor – he’s great. Strange season (mostly two-parters, leading to the emotionally tumultuous farewell to Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman). But: Peter Capaldi!

  1. Better Call Saul (AMC)

The fate of Saul Goodman – or how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman, the lawyer who intertwined with a certain chemistry teacher’s meth situation.

  1. Mad Men series finale (AMC)

Farewell to Don Draper and associates. I never quite got on the Mad Men bandwagon, but that series finale was worthy viewing.

  1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Funny, weird, and kind of heartbreaking. I’m putting it as a highlight even though I didn’t watch all of it yet, simply because it was that something as television (I could see why no network aired it; it’s a weird sitcom).

  1. Galavant (ABC)

Galavant is a medieval fairytale, musical comedy. I liked it and I’m glad that it’s back for this year!

  1. Agent Carter (ABC)

An original Agent of SHIELD, Peggy Carter dealt with the post-World War II world – and she was a lot of fun to watch.

  1. NY Mets taking it to the World Series… even though we lost…

 

Honorable mentions:

The Wiz (NBC)

The Late, Late Show with James Corden (CBS) (lots of watchable moments in 2015)

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) (lots of watchable moments in 2015)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (still terrific from what I was able to watch on YouTube).

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having (PBS) (Phil Rosenthal, most known for co-creating “Everyone Loves Raymond,” on eating adventurously).

Nova (PBS) (especially the episodes for “Making of North America” (the continent not enough people really think of in so far as it came to be); and “Chasing Pluto” (the incredible photos from the space craft New Horizons, the science story of 2015!)).

American Experience (PBS) (the episodes on Walt Disney were engrossing and fascinating).

First Peoples (PBS) (fascinating look at the evolution of early homo sapiens, and how they became the aboriginal peoples on each continent).

I’m probably forgetting other notable stuff of 2015, but I never promise to be comprehensive!