How we're spending our leisure time.
Everyone has a bit of quiet downtime once in a while. Whether you're sitting quietly at home or trying to relax on a plane or just giving your busy mind and hands a break, it's important to relax.
A good way to do that is to read a book, listen to some music or watch a movie or show. See what's caught our attention for the week of September 23.
It's been a week full of heavy news and difficult decisions, so at the end of the day, I prefer to sit down and take my mind off things.
I watched The Big Sick a couple of days ago and found it to be extremely well-written, funny, and charming; most of the reviews were spot on. Being based on the real-life relationship of comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon (it was written by the pair. Gordon's role is played in the movie by Zoe Kazan), the dialogue was natural and tinged with affection. But the actual stars, in my opinion, were the parents of the two leads, played Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter, all of whom added a sense of gravity and purpose to the wandering protagonist.
It's a great film overall, but it's better if you view it in light of its relationship to traditional comedy movies, and how it both reinforces and upends the conventions of the genre. And Zoe Kazan is the best.
Next week is going to be a bit of a bear, and when things get rough at work, I start digging out my Play Movies collection to help keep my spirits high amid stress and SNAFUs. Seeing how fall is finally here and Halloween is around the corner, I've been re-enjoying Book of Life, a beautifully-told love story with bandits, gods, and a whole lot of dead people. The voice cast is excellent, featuring Diego Luna, Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Hector Elizondo, Danny Trejo, and Gabriel Iglesias as comic sidekick and mariachi Pepe. The art style is unique as well as uniquely tied into the film's frame narrative, and everyone gets a turn at the humor that keeps a story about the dead from getting lifeless.
It's also a Texan movie with a great final lesson for us all: Anyone can die. These kids, they will have the courage to live.
The Blu-ray is ten bucks at Amazon (five bucks cheaper than Google Play) and lets you pick which store you want your digital copy in (thank you, Fox). So pick it up and watch the original Day of the Dead animated film before Coco comes along this November.
With all of the Xbox 360-era Halo games now available on Xbox One, it's going to be hard to find me doing anything else besides playing Halo 3 multiplayer again. When I first installed the game on my Xbox One, there were only 325 players online, but I was able to find a game quickly enough. Unlike the Halo: Master Chief Collection, these are the original versions of each game, running at 720P/30 frames per second. Having said that, I stopped caring about the lower graphics about ten seconds into my first game.
As for other media, I began watching Jessica Jones on Netflix. I was hesitant to watch the series after not really feeling Daredevil, but I like it well enough so far. I also watched season four of Bojack Horseman, which was excellent. Netflix also has a new series called Atypical which was mildly intriguing. Finally, I started reading Silver Screen Fiend, Patton Oswalt's memoir.
I finally returned home after two weeks of frenetic activity, so I'll be looking to catch up on all the things I've missed. That includes watching The Daily Show, EPL highlights on Match of the Day, and finishing off the third season of Vikings.
I'm also heading to the movies to see It. The book scared the hell out of me as a kid, and I'm hoping the movie will similarly deliver. On the reading front, I'm about to finish off One Minute to Midnight, a thrilling account of how close the world came to nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
This week I've been moving between a few new books, as well as some new, and new-to-me series from Netflix. Since autumn has been slowly arriving, it's horror season for me, which means awesome and terrifying movies and books.
Since I'm one of those people who prefers reading a book before watching a movie adaptation, I've finally picked up Stephen King's IT, as well as Wastelands 2, an anthology of apocalyptic short fiction. Both of them are fantastic, even if I am currently sleeping with the lights on.
When to comes to watching, I tend to catch most of my shows through Netflix. This week I caught the mockumentary series American Vandal, which is a brilliant skewering of the documentary genre that Netflix recently reinvigorated. I also finally caught the Korean horror film Train to Busan, which is easily the best zombie movie that I've seen this year.
So since Bader already recommended The Big Sick, which was easily my favorite movie of the summer, I'll have to recommend one of my favorite shows that's about to return for its improbable fourth season.
Nathan For You follows comedian/"business expert" Nathan Fielder as he helps small business owners by offering his expertise in the form of unique marketing and promotional ideas that are so far outside-the-box you can no longer see the box.
Framed as a reality show for helping struggling small businesses, Nathan wrangles real people into his absurd schemes, and has amassed a collection of recurring "characters" that keep popping up in episodes. The show really seems to play with the idea that people will go along with practically anything for a chance to be on a TV show, and he's done some really brilliant stuff like creating a parody coffee shop and fabricating a fake workout regimen designed to help a moving business get free employees. Fielder has the best deadpan delivery you've ever seen, and sometimes the cringe levels can be too much to handle — but I can't get enough of it.
If you live in the U.S., you should be able to watch full episodes or at the very least clips from the first few seasons on Comedy Central's website. Season 4 premieres on September 28.
I finally found time to start watching Amazon's The Man In the High Castle series. I know I'm behind by about a year, but the novel with the same name from Philip K. Dick the show is based on is one of my favorites. I even have a hardback copy; too bad the series is nothing like the novel so far, but they never are.
In the reading department, I put aside my fiction for the week in favor of something educational and hopefully useful in my day-to-day. I grabbed a copy of Action Bronson's F*ck, That's Delicious
I'm horrendous when it comes to cooking indoors. My wife works an odd evening shift which gets her home around 3am, so I am in charge of dinner four days a week. A meatloaf so bad that I didn't even eat it was the last straw. I'm practicing for the winter, because barbecuing ribs in the snow at midnight sucks. What better way to practice than with recipes from Action Bronson?
What are YOU reading, watching, or listening to this week? Let us know in the comments!
Update, September 23, 2017: This is an occasional series where we tell you what we're into, so check back often!