What I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week

 . . . before falling asleep on the couch with a shoulder full of drool. 


Moone Boy

Hilarious, delightful, insane, a teensy bit blasphemous maybe. Martin is the youngest child of a slightly terrible Irish family in the 80’s, and he and his imaginary friend, played by Chris O’Dowd, get into various ridiculous scrapes. I like Chris O’Dowd, but the imaginary friend bit is actually the weakest part of the show, I think.

The show is very Irish, so they get more digs in against the Church than we’re used to seeing, and though it’s not mean-spirited, I think they cross the line sometimes (crucifix gags, Eucharist gags). Some of the less edgy religion jokes are so funny, though, and I just love how the family clearly all love each other but kind of can’t stand each other. It’s just a very sweet, silly show that goes in some unexpected directions. A real gem. 

Here’s a clip that includes the theme song, and one of my favorite bits, where all the dads form a social group to commiserate about how awful their kids are

“Connor and Jonner Bonner, get back here!” The kid who plays the main character is so good, and so is his weird friend. Looking forward to seeing him in other things. 

We have been watching it on Amazon Prime. I believe it’s also on Hulu.


Mr. Inbetween

Ehh. We gave it several episodes, and I just didn’t care for it. This Australian show follows a single dad who makes his living as a hitman while caring for his disabled brother. It was billed as a dark comedy, and maybe I just brought the wrong expectations to it, but it just wasn’t landing right with me. I can’t actually remember what I didn’t like about it, which makes this less of a review and more of a request: Should I keep watching? Does it get more appealing after the first 3-4 episodes, or are they a fair representation of what the show is like? 

Here’s the trailer:


Better Call Saul

We’re halfway through season 5 (I think), and while I’m still consistently impressed with this show, I’m not enjoying this season as much as previous seasons. I still think it’s one of the best-crafted shows on TV — best casting, best characters, best dialogue, smartest, funniest, saddest, most realistic relationships, you name it — but some of the past seasons were just delightful, and this season feels more workmanlike, like they have a list of things they need to accomplish before the end of the season, and it’s just not as much fun. Anyway, still a better show than Breaking Bad, and that is freaking saying something. 

Here’s the Season 5 trailer:



I’m super bored with the books I’m reading on my own, but we have some good read-alouds going:

Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren (author of Pippi Longstocking). The book is not illustrated, by the cover design of the edition we got is by the wonderful Trina Schart Hyman, who apparently got Corrie to model for her.

Very funny, very exciting, and really makes you long for adventure in the natural world. Ronia is the only child of a robber chieftain, a strong, happy, wild person, born on the night of a terrible storm, when harpies swarmed through the air and a giant bolt of lightning cleft the ancient fortress in half. Ronia has just discovered that another child, the son of a rival robber chieftain, has moved into the other side, which is separated from their living quarters by a bottomless chasm — and that the two robbers were friends as children.

It’s a very smooth, natural translation. Here’s a sample of the text, so you can see how fluid it is for reading aloud:

I’ve noted before that Lindgren is one of the few authors who is able to pull of characters who are both interesting and kind; no easy feat. The chapters are relatively short and satisfying. Has some spooky magical peril that might be too much for very sensitive kids.

We watched part of the Studio Ghibli animated series but eventually lost interest, I think partially because it actually followed the book too carefully, which made the pacing odd for screen. 


Saints Around the World

We’ve been reading a chapter a night after family prayers.These are mostly saints we’ve never heard of, including lots of saints from relatively recent times, and from countries that we don’t know a lot about.

The stories can be read in just a few minutes, and Hunter-Kilmer does a good job of highlighting a single theme in a way that rings true but makes you want to learn more about that saint’s life.  The illustrations are bright and dignified, but are a little odd to my eyes — they make the saints all look sort of like children, but not quite — but they seem to appeal to my kids, and the illustrator has gone to a lot of trouble to include accurate details that add to your understanding of the history.

I wish we had had this book when the kids were searching around for saints to pick for confirmation names, but in any case, it’s a great daily reminder of the neverending variety there is in the universal call to holiness, and about the universality of the Church. Highly recommended.

The tone and reading level is aimed at maybe grade 3, but the material is more than interesting enough to capture the attention of all ages; and although it doesn’t go into gory detail, it doesn’t sugarcoat the facts of martyrdom or persecution. 


I also read the first big chunk of Tolkein’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the kids

and stopped right after the knight’s head got chopped off, in hopes that they would be so captivated, they’d clamor for more. They did not. Oh well. 

Still haven’t seen the movie. I will admit that it’s been many years since I’ve read the book myself, and I feel like I remember the main points, but I wanted to be able to argue with smart people about it, so I wanted to brush up on it first. The upshot of this strategy is that I have neither re-read the book nor watched the movie, and now I’m too tired to do anything but fall asleep on the couch at night. Good one, Sim. 



Nothing. I don’t know. I need something new. I have discovered that there is one public radio show that I will absolutely not listen to no matter how desperate I am for diversion, and that show is On The Media. I’d rather be alone with my thoughts, if you can imagine such a thing. 

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9 thoughts on “What I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week”

  1. I know this is an old post but in case anybody looking for recommendations stumbles across it, I want to mention “Only Murders in the Building.” It’s on Hulu and it’s definitely going to win some Emmys. The show is a funny murder mystery with so many layers to it. It’s a little too show biz-y for my husband so I’m making it my mission to talk up the show so there’ll be more people with whom I can discuss whodunnit theories.

  2. Ronia Robber’s Daughter is definitely awesome. I had the fortune to miss that one as a child and read it on my own as an adult (well, the first part is something of a misfortune), but still. As also for “Jim Button” by Michael Ende and for “The Adventures of Strong Vanya” by Otfried Preußler. (Guess my nationality… er, too easy.) Both very great books. But I digress.

    I particularly love the short contains-all sermon by Ronia’s father Mattis to his daughter:

    “So, Ronia had leave now to roam freely wherever she wanted. But before, Mattis made her know the one or the other thing.
    ‘Be aware of the wild drudes and the grey gnomes and the Borka robbers’, said he. ‘And how do I know what the wild drudes, the grey gnomes and the Borka robbers are?’ asked Ronia. ‘Y’ll see’, answered Mattis. ‘Well, fine’, said Ronia.
    ‘And then be aware not to get lost in the woods’, said Mattis. ‘And if I do get lost in the woods?’ asked Ronia. ‘Y’ look for the right path’, answered Mattis. ‘Well, fine’, said Ronia.
    ‘And then be aware not to tumble into the stream’, said Mattis. ‘And if I do tumble into the stream?’ asked Ronia. ‘Y’ swim’, answered Mattis. ‘Well, fine’, said Ronia.
    ‘And then be aware not to fall into the hell-mouth’, said Mattis. ‘And if I do fall into the hell-mouth?’ asked Ronia. ‘Then you won’ do a thing any-more’, answered Mattis. ‘Well, fine’, said Ronia. ‘So I won’t fall into the hell-mouth, then. Anything else?’
    ‘Oh yes there is’, said Mattis. ‘But you will realize that on your own, bit by bit. Go now.'”

  3. I bought Meg’s book for my kids this summer too, and we all love it! It’s great to see so many saints we haven’t heard of before, but I also like her take on some more familiar saints. Her depiction of St. Jerome not as a person who was able to overcome his one besetting sin but as someone who kept struggling and failing over and over and over really resonated with me; people don’t become saints because they’re perfect and don’t need to repent, they become saints by failing and repenting again and again and again.

    I’ve been watching The Morning Show this week — #metoo hits a morning broadcast, takes down a ton of people in the network. The characters are pretty well drawn and acted, but it’s almost too realistic and depressing for me. It stands in stark contrast to Ted Lasso, which my husband and I have been watching together. I am not a fan of Jason Sudeikis and held off watching it for a long time mainly because of that, but I love this show so much. Very unrealistic in major ways but so human and good in other ways.

    I’ve just gotten into podcasts (also very behind that trend), and I’ve been listening to The Remnant and Advisory Opinions, both connected to The Dispatch (right-leaning, conservative, but absolutely not Trumpy and not really Republican). It refreshes my brain to listen to real, adult, interesting conversations.

  4. On the Media is really subtly screed-y now, which is a shame because media criticism is really needed now. I lunge for the off button whenever I hear it come on.

  5. We’ve been watching Doc Martin, which is available on Prime if you subscribe to Acorn. I wasn’t sure my husband would like it as much as I did–I’m a sucker for British TV–but we’re both hooked, as is one of our teenagers. It’s like the British House, M.D., but the doctor isn’t a completely miserable human being who hires hookers and does drugs. He’s just a very wounded person, trying to make his way in the world and find connections with people, who often baffle him. And it’s set in beautiful Cornwall.

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