Time Off, Books, and the Vast Wasteland that is TV

Well, my recuperation time is up and I’m to head off to work tomorrow. I can honestly say, Thank God! Staying at home, although I kept busy with 3 little kids for 15 years doing just that, is not something I want to do anymore. It’s not that I can’t amuse myself endlessly with the Internet, books, and TV. It’s just that after all of that runs its course, then what? Get fat cooking your own food all day? I must say that while I was home I did see some very interesting movies and am reading some engrossing books.

The first book I haven’t finished yet, but find very interesting in light of the war in Iraq and the supposed parallels to Vietnam, is Nelson DeMille’s Word of Honor. Word of Honor Even if you are bored with parts of the book you know could have been eliminated to shorten reading time, DeMille’s writing keeps you going. While he writes similar male and female characters, he provides so many details about their lives and interactions with others that you cannot help but identify with them somehow. Plus, he has a killer dry wit that I find refreshing in the modern novel. Most novelists attempt humor and merely come out self-serving. DeMille’s humor is real and pretty funny. When I find an author I like, I usually read everything he or she’s written. DeMille is one of those authors.

KoontzAnother book I’ve started and find I cannot put down is Dean Koontz’ Forever Odd. A good friend of mine brought it over on Saturday and said I should read it. It’s the second book of a series about a man name Odd Thomas who sees dead people right after a crime occurs. Now I’m a sucker for these kinds of plots because I love ghost stories. I tried to read Koontz when he was popular in the 80s but could not get into some of his novels. When I started reading this book, however, I was hooked instantly. The character is instantly endearing and Koontz writing style has vastly improved over the years if this is the result,

“Perhaps I see the dead affected by the weather of this world, and see them touched by light and shadow, and find them as warm as the living, not because this is the way they are but because this is the way I want them to be. Perhaps by this device, I mean to deny the power of death.

My supernatural gift might reside not in my mind but instead in my heart. This heart is an artist that paints over what profoundly disturbs it, leaving on the canvas a less dark, less sharp version of the truth (8).”

Many other passages were just as effective in suspending my disbelief for the elements of the story and sucking me into the protagonists world immediately. Thanks J. for the gift of the read. I’ll have it back to you soon!

But after reading my eyeballs out, what’s left but to surf the channels on our satellite TV, finding nothing but diet commercials, ab machines, and endless infomercials trying to sell you useless gadgets. If it weren’t for the Independent Film Channel, one could go crazy! After that, Turner Classic Movies is my next safe bet. We’ve also subscribe to Netflix to give their little franchise a look-see. This has kept us steadily supplied with movie material, from Superman Returns to The Descent, (both pretty decent films, I might add) we’ve been romping through movie-land like kids at Disneyland. The Day the Earth Stood Still

But really, the best movies I’ve seen since being home? There’s nothing better than 50s alien movies on Turner Classic Movies. I sat all day on New Year’s Day watching these movies back to back. Fascinating politically, cheesy cinematically, but compelling nonetheless. My favorite? The Day the Earth Stood Still which was one I had never seen before. Army of Darkness fans will want to see this movie for the origin of the phrase, “Klaatu verata nicto.” Learn something new every day!

Another movie we saw was a small, low budget vampire tale named Habit. It’s a compelling, gritty tale about an alcoholic who cuts himself compulsively. He meets a new girlfriend with freakish habits of her own and the result is a kind of symbiotic relationship that redefines the the word “addiction.” The star also produced, wrote, and directed, using no doubt all of his friends’ apartments and houses as backdrops, but it’s a pretty successful vampire tale in my opinion, one without the surrounding objectification of the vampire that modern tales try to infuse into the myth. I love discovering independent films this way. No hype, no hyper-sensationalizing of a blockbuster movie. Just pure thoughtful entertainment.

But the opposite of thoughtful entertainment is what passes for television shows on TV. One show that you cannot look away from, like a bad car accident, is Real Housewives of Real HousewivesOrange County which is set to begin it’s 2nd season this week. Let me say that these women are neither “real” nor are they “housewives” as far as I’m concerned. The only one who is a true “housewife” Jo, isn’t even married and even she just now got a job. Botox and breasts reign supreme in this show. Oh, and don’t forget spoiled children. If you are looking for any deep thoughts, forget it. You can catch this show on Bravo. It just makes you realize that the rich, truly ARE different in every sense of the word!

While at home all day, one can’t help watching the news on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC while sliding through the channels numerous times. The story of the week of course is finding those two missing boys in Missouri. Stories like these are hopeful and uplifting. But it makes you wonder, what is wrong with human beings that they think they can play with people’s lives like that? What monsters of men are we breeding that killing wives and children or using them as sexual playthings means nothing to them? I will bet hundreds of dollars that these men were from abusive, hyper-religious, and smotheringly patriarchal households where mothers were physically or mentally absent or were abusers themselves. I also believe that most of these abusers believe in God and they honestly believe God sanctions their actions. Where else could these monsters come from? Anyway, I hope the perp spends his life behind bars.

As for going back to work, I’m looking forward to it. I’m tired of TV news, which doesn’t really “report” anything, especially when it comes to politics; it’s all propaganda anyway. Those people talk wayyyyyy too much. Although, I can’t seem to concentrate as much on reading after a long day at the office, I’m going to try to make more time to do so. There’s nothing like a good book, except maybe 50s sci fi. 🙂