The Last Moments of Summer: how I’m spending my time before resuming real life

Once August begins, the dread of the finality of summer starts to really set in. Though my classes don’t begin until August 25, I’m spending the weeks leading up to that date starting my new position as a graduate assistant and attending a new grad student orientation. It’s starting to sink in that I’m reaching another new milestone in my life: grad school. It’s scary and exciting, but before reality sets in, I’m trying to cram as much entertainment into my final minutes of summer as possible. Here’s what I’ve been/will be up to while I’m still swimming in free time.

TV — I’m completely thrilled (and quite sad) to announce that, as of Saturday night, I’ve completed all eleven seasons of “Cheers”! I started 2014 with season four, but that still rang in at just over 200 episodes, so I’m quite proud of myself. The obvious transition would be to watch “Frasier” next, but my plan is to wait until 2015 to begin that endeavor. Completing two major projects in the TV canon (“Seinfeld” and “Cheers”) is more than I ever really expected of this summer, so I’m fine to move onto smaller projects.

Most of my other TV projects are just keeping up with shows that are currently airing. As far as that list goes, I’m only really keeping up with three summer shows: “True Blood” (only three episodes left!), “Masters of Sex,” and “Drunk History.” If you aren’t watching “Drunk History,” take my word for it and set 30 minutes aside to watch an episode on Comedy Central or check out their videos on YouTube. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

I’m also quite interested in two shows that are about to premiere: “Outlander” and “The Knick.”  I watched the pilot of “Outlander” this morning, and I was very entertained, so I will certainly be tuning in as the series progresses. If you’re interested, Starz is offering the pilot episode for free on YouTube, so go check it out. I’m hoping that these two will keep me entertained in the lull between summer TV and fall premiere dates.

On that same note, I just today started watching season one of “The Fall” on Netflix. I’d read about the show a long time ago, but at a friend’s recommendation, I decided to give it ago today, and I’m totally hooked. At this time last year I watched “Top of the Lake,” and “The Fall” has a very similar air about it; the story centers on a series of murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland. There’s not much mystery, as viewers are aware of the killer’s identity right from the beginning, but there’s certainly enough intrigue to keep you hooked. The show starts Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan and a handful of people you’ll recognize from “Game of Thrones.” And there are great Irish accents! What’s not to like?

Movies — In lieu of beginning a new TV project, I’ve decided to work on my movie-watching, particularly because I’d like to be as close as possible to my goal of seeing 125 new (to me) movies this year. I’ve been quite busy on this front; I’ve crossed off three more movies from the AFI Top 100 List — The Godfather, American Graffiti, and The Godfather Part II — so I’m halfway to my goal of watching 10 films from that list this year.

The only recent film I’ve seen in theaters was Begin Again, which was a surprisingly delightful movie that I’d definitely recommend. It’s got a great end-of-summer vibe as well, which just adds to the joys of watching it in August. We also rented the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself via On Demand, and it was as sweet, sad, funny portrayal of the man who changed the way the American public relates to film. If you’re a documentary fan or film buff, this is a must-see.

All my other viewings have been Netflix or Redbox offerings. Unfortunately, there have been several that I’ve not been too thrilled with, but as far as I’m concerned, the chance to clear one title from my Netflix list is more than worth it. Some of my favorites have been the heartbreaking 2012 documentary Bully, the star-studded 90s teen comedy Can’t Hardly Wait, and the quirky The Grand Budapest HotelWes Anderson’s newest feature. I’m hoping to watch at least one movie in the coming weeks, so hopefully I’ll happen upon a few more cinematic gems before my quest is finished.

Books — In an attempt to alleviate what I expect will be a very trying semester, I’ve decided to get a bit ahead on some of my reading assignments. My first project has been Richard Powers’s The Gold Bug Variations, a 1991 novel that plays on the title of an Edgar Allan Poe short story and Bach Goldberg Variations. The blurb on the back of the book sounded promising enough, but I’m finding it a bit difficult to keep myself motivated to read. Much like The Marriage Plot, this book is full of information on scientific endeavors that do not interest me in the least. It’s quite frustrating to think I’m reading a novel and then be faced with the task of wading through pages and pages of scientific jargon that means absolutely nothing to me (needless to say, I’ve been skimming on occasion). I’m experiencing a lot of stops and starts with the book; every time I think the story is getting more interesting, I’m again in the middle of a lot of genetics gibberish. Hooray. It should also be noted that the book is about 640 pages long, so this is quite a trying project for me. Let’s just hope I can maintain my strength and continue to power through.

Basically, this is my life for the next week or so before I’m slowly forced to let go of the majority of my free time. But until that moment comes, I’m looking forward to appreciating every last ounce of my time and spending it doing something entertaining.

Cheers!

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