For me, 2018 was the year of television. I sort of picked up where I left off last year with knocking out Breaking Bad. I have been critical of television as a medium in the past and still am. I’d rank TV distantly behind books, music, and movies as a form of entertainment and certainly as an art form. But, for whatever reason, I found myself watching a lot of it this year. I started out watching The Terror and Season 11 of The X-Files. As always, one thing led to another and I spent many hours taking in programming mostly on my iPad.
Recently, I watched the Netflix original series, Maniac. I enjoy these 10-episode type seasons. It is fairly easy to make it through them as long as the show justifies the effort. Maniac defies simple description, I've never seen anything quite like it on TV before. You just have to try it for yourself.
I re-watched the excellent first season of True Detective. That is my fourth time to watch it and it still holds up very well. I watched 70-75 random episodes of Family Guy, wading into the animated genre for the first time since I was much younger. That show never failed to make me laugh, often hysterically. All I can say about Family Guy is that nothing and no one is sacred. The show rips into every aspect of popular culture with often biting satire. I will be watching more of it in 2019.
Other TV shows included re-watching the first four seasons and the beginning of season 5 of The X-Files. I started that in anticipation of season 11 and just kept knocking out episodes after the season ended. This is still one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I plan to continue on with it all the way through season 9 as domestic time allows.
The Office is another show that I have heard people talk about a lot. I had only watched a couple of random episodes throughout the past few years. It would be on someone else’s TV as I was visiting their house or whatnot. I have now plowed through five seasons of the show and am over halfway through Season 6. This is a very quirky show with a lot of off-beat characters and themes. Often very funny. I can see why so many people consider it a staple of contemporary television culture.
Not all my viewing lasted until completion. I gave the hit series Westworld a try and couldn’t make it through the first five episodes. I simply didn’t care about any of the mysteries or the characters in that show. I also tried watching Dexter and made through a couple of seasons before I grew tired of its rather predictable formula.
Just a few days ago I watched Netflix's Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock. I have always enjoyed Bullock's acting, she is a wonderful talent. Somewhat to me surprise this film is a huge hit with apparently more than 45 million viewers to date. I found Bird Box to be intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying. There were too many plot conveniences, typical of many TV movies. Also the abstract presentation of the monstrous psychological threat did not effectively sell the personal danger to me. It made several scenes seem to be over-acted. It is not a bad TV film, but it ended up being a bit too common to generate any enthusiasm for me as a viewer.
I also watched a lot of movies as well. I blogged about The Shining and American Beauty but I watched several films without comment. My choices were, once again, rather random and all over the place. John Carpenter’s The Thing is a terrific horror film from 1982. I saw it originally in theaters and have seen it several times since but not in many years. It didn’t hold up as well in my latest viewing. I’d give the special effects a 9 (they are indescribably horrific and grotesque, incredible considering there was no CGI back then, you just have to see them for yourself) and the dystopian narrative a 7. The way the story is told seemed rather clunky and has not aged well, however. I’d give the directing and acting only a 6 with the movie being a 7 when everything is averaged out. Other films watched but not reviewed were all over the place in terms of quality included (rating in parenthesis): The Matrix (9), The Godfather (10). The Godfather: Part 2 (10 - the greatest movie sequel ever made), Lars and the Real Girl (6), 40-Year-Old Virgin (6), Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (6), and The Wizard of Oz (9).
I did not see a single new film in a movie theater in 2018.
What else? I fine-tuned my exercise routine a bit more, adding slightly more weight to my barbell while also tacking on another 1.5 miles to my usual run. I discovered that 3 miles was not enough for me to experience “runner’s high” while closer to 5 works much better in that regard. My belief is that, at 59, I need to be challenging myself more and trying to build up some additional muscle mass. In ten years that will likely be impossible for me so it’s “use it or lose it” for me right now. Diet and supplements continue to be a significant part of my health regimen. I was not sick a single day in 2018 and have now gone well over 15 years without anything more than a slight cold. Something must be working in my favor.
The stock market and the so-called “Trump economy” deserve some mention. We experienced the worst Christmas Eve for stocks ever. My three critical technical indicators, RSI, MACD, and Slow Stochastics, showed the Dow and the Dow Transports both in the “oversold” category. Then, two days later, we had the largest single-day advance in stock market history. While 2017 was a year of consistently skyrocketing stock prices and great economic data, 2018 was a mixed-bag, largely due to Federal Reserve policy, growing consumer debt, and Trump’s erratic behavior as president. Stocks ended lower than when the year began after violent swings up and down.
Are stocks cheap enough to buy? Are conditions ripe to sell and avoid what many see as the coming bear market? No one knows. My bet is that these ridiculous gyrations are the market at debate with itself, being the leading indicator that is it. The Dow is telling us that the economy will likely cool in 2019 - interest rates will likely continue to rise, the enormous amount of consumer debt will likely slow spending, the Trump tariffs and Trump’s personal instability will likely continue to create unnecessary confusion. This is not a bear market – yet. But it was the worst December since 1931. I will likely exit many positions with the next rally up. I could be wrong, of course. But I tend to play things conservatively. I retain significant positions in gold and silver.
The Georgia Bulldogs had a great season but came up a little short against Alabama, as blogged about previously this month. The interesting thing is that their 35-28 loss to Alabama is that Georgia only dropped from #4 to #5. In terms of playing for the national championship they might as well have dropped out of the Top 25 altogether. Being #5 means very little. Except in this case the college playoff selection committee could see Georgia’s outstanding quality and only dropped them one place for the loss. That might be small consolation but it nevertheless reflects the strength of the program under Kirby Smart. Georgia plays #15 Texas in the Sugar Bowl tomorrow night. I expect a big win.
Musically I spent most of my time in 2018 listening to classical music, as always. But I also went through phases for The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd (these three are my favorite rock bands). I discovered Kendrick Lamar as well in 2018 (he performed at halftime of the College National Championship back in January). Then Childish Gambino came out with a great music video, “This is America.” So I became better acquainted with hip-hop music this past year. Other than the two previous artists I found Eminem and Notorious B.I.G. to be well-worth listening to. I’m obviously playing catch-up with this genre and will continue to explore it in the new year.
Flipboard update: I now have 3,856 followers, up about 800 since this time last year. My most popular magazines are – Notice Magazine, Sex and Intimacy, Brain and Psyche, Notice: Space, Notice: South China Sea, and Notice: Art. My Eros magazine has grown faster than any of these and will likely hit the 1-million page flip milestone early next year. There definitely seems to be a niche for it out there in Flipboard-land. I started a new magazine recently dealing specifically with The Khoshoggi Murder – this is a topic I intend to continue watching closely in 2019 as I feel the global reaction to it has yet to fully play itself out. You can see my profile and check out all my mags here.
My Nietzsche blog is essentially finished after ten years of research. I will continue to tweak it and update it as new information becomes known to me. I will also use that blog as a space for reviewing Nietzsche-related books that I read throughout the year. I already reviewed a couple of books here, here, and here. I just finished a new Nietzsche biography, I am Dynamite!, and will incorporate pieces of it into past blog posts as time allows.
New year’s resolutions include: read Proust’s novel, stand more while working (sitting all day is horrible for my back), develop greater personal gratitude (an important component of psychological health), and make an art trip to New York City some time in the first half of the year.
Here’s to 2019. It should be an interesting year, but aren't they all?
Late Note: The Georgia Bulldogs played one of the worst first quarters I have ever had the torture of grimacing through and lost to Texas 28-21 in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day. The game wasn't even as close as the score might imply. We executed poorly and basically put ourselves out of the game right off the bat. A very disappointing close to the season.
Nietzsche's Notebooks: Part Two
1 month ago