Whining commences in 16 days

I’m generally the sort of pessimist who, when he sees that a glass is half full, not only does he argue that it’s also half empty but it’s well on its way to being totally empty—and then what? What am I going to do with an empty glass? Despair: All is lost.

When I was in grade school I looked forward to enjoying what, in June, appeared to be a limitless stretch of fun along with periods of idleness and relaxation. (That memory is enhanced quite a bit, neglecting to mention that the days were frequently marred by my mom screeching, “You’re not going anywhere, Buster, until you’ve…” whatever—vacuumed the pool, painted the patio, trimmed the bushes, weeded the yard or whatever else popped into her head as a way of killing joy.)

Then came the first day of August whereupon I slipped from joy into a sense of dread: The new school year was upon me, with only a month’s buffer between heaven and hell.

And, lest it momentarily slip my mind that the end was near, along came a spate of back-to-school advertisements on radio and in the newspaper.

Nowadays, August has taken on a new role in causing me to spiral into depression, and that’s the fact that Christmas is just around the corner.

My wife has issued a stern edict that I’m not allowed to whine about Christmas until after our wedding anniversary, which is in 16 days, so this doesn’t count as whining yet, it’s merely a simple statement of fact. But stay tuned for whining and for some nostalgic reminiscences about COVID Christmas 2020, when I waltzed around the house singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” like some sort of depraved maniac.

What’s hot in Hollywood

The latest movie theme in Hollywood, according to how I spend my weekend’s screen time, is “How Things Came to Be.” Recent entries in the field have included Nike and Michael Jordan (“Air”), how the US got ahold of the Tetris video game (“Tetris”), the roller-coaster ride that was the HQ Trivia app (“Glitch—The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia”) and the invention of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (“Flamin’ Hot”).

In many ways, whether these movies or series are worth watching depends on how you feel about the topic. For instance, I don’t care about the genesis of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, so I bailed pretty quickly on the Hulu/Disney+ movie—I maybe gave it 20 minutes. Same with “Glitch,” which was shaping up to be a squabble between a couple of suddenly rich nerds (or is it geeks? I get them mixed up).

“Air,” was a movie I enjoyed because it was a compelling story featuring a great cast that included Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker and Viola Davis. So, on further consideration, maybe the acting plays a big role, too, because I happily sat through the film even while not overly caring about Nike footwear.

I fear that other How Things Came to Be docu-style movies are in the offing. Perhaps “Paddles Up, Paddles Down: The Story of Pong,” or “Operation—the Milton Bradley Game that Altered the Course of Modern Medicine.”

Will they be worth watching? Depends on who’s in them.

Reasons to stay alive in August

Hijack,” which has been an excellent series starring Idris Elba, drops its seventh and final episode tonight on Apple TV+; and as that one fades to black, the third and final series of the highly enjoyable “Reservation Dogs” kicks off Thursday on Hulu, while Sunday HBO/Max brings us to the tip-off of the second season of the amusing and exciting “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” which, even if Magic Johnson and Jerry West didn’t much care for it, it’s perhaps even better than the real-life saga because of whatever bits of fiction push it along at its fast-break pace.

Readin’ corner

Lotta false starts for me as I toss book after book from my Kindle into the ether, but I finally got a foothold with “The Exhibitionist,” by British author Charlotte Mendelson.

It’s a sometimes funny look at a dysfunctional family headed by the father, Ray, and his wife Lucia, both artists though he’s in a fall from fame as a painter while her career is a sculptor is in ascendancy, which she tries to soften or even sabotage lest it provoke the rage of her maniacally self-obsessed husband.

Their three children (one a son by a different father) are similarly maladjusted as their lives spin a bit placidly around the parents even as they try to escape that orbit. Lucia is, despite the powerful character of Ray, the star of the book and, though I haven’t finished reading, I’m hopeful she’ll emerge on the bright side of things. I’m gonna stick with it until the end.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.