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It’s that time of the month again!  Yep, time to discuss all the books, movies, music and shows that kept my brain entertained and engaged. There are still a few days to go in April, but it’s felt like a long enough month (though not March long) that I should have plenty to talk about, especially as we had to quarantine for two weeks. But, surprise! I didn’t read or watch as much TV as I’d expected I might. You’d think being stuck at home for fourteen days would have added significantly to my Monthly Mental Munchies, but alas. I spent a great deal of that time on other projects and distractions, and feel no loss for it. C’est la vie!

Books & Stories: I started the month with War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi, a hardcover book I picked up from Curious Iguana back in January. War GirlsYou know, back when we could actually walk into stores… I’ve been craving more sci-fi in my YA diet, and I constantly strive to add more books by marginalized writers to my TBR pile, so this was a perfect purchase. Onyebuchi does a good job instilling a tone of general restlessness and wariness that is prevalent in communities plagued by war. I never felt a sense of ease for the characters, constantly worried what might happen next to disrupt their furtive moments of joy and peace. Last week, I moved on to Janitors by Tyler Whitesides. I picked up this urban fantasy middle grade book at one of our little local libraries last fall. I thoroughly enjoyed the imaginative world Whitesides creates of magical janitors who work to rid elementary schools of the creatures that sap children of their interest and ability to learn. I haven’t decided what to pick up next, but my TBR shelf is two piles deep, so choice is certainly not an issue.

Movies & Shows: Early in the month, we decided to rewatch all of the Indiana Jones movies as a way to pass the time during lockdown. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my favorite childhood movies—I saw it at the theater during its original run. tales from the loopI’ve never cared for the Temple of Doom and didn’t feel like watching Last Crusade, so we skipped on ahead to the fourth in the series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as I’ve never seen it. Wow. What a disappointment. I didn’t care for LeBouf’s character, and Karen Allen was disappointing. I’ve always adored her in the original, and she’s excellent in John Carpenter’s Starman. It’s like she’s forgotten how to act, though to be fair, it might have been the awful script. And don’t even get me started on that Tarzan scene. Much like the rest of America, I also fell into the Tiger King trap. Double wow. Yes, it was wildly entertaining, but in a salacious train wreck sort of way. To sanitize my brain from watching that Netflix horribleness, we turned to Tales from the Loop on Amazon Prime. SO MUCH BETTER. It’s a beautiful, understated, and melancholy study of the quandaries of human relationships as explored through the mechanics of subtle science fiction. I highly recommend this series. I’m also continuing Outlander, which finishes the season in early May.

Music & Audio: I listened to my usual Pandora channels this month, including Jesper Kyd, 90s Alternative, and my Thumbprint channel.  My husband also has a temporary subscription to Sirius XM (free through May 15!) so we’ve been listening to a myriad of stations there, including Club XMU (Channel 35) New Indie Rock. This channel, which included the funk-chill melodies of “Color My Life” by Chicano Batman, was the perfect choice for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Last week, someone on Twitter asked followers to name songs that made them happy and hopeful when they hear them. This made me instantly think of Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream.”

Something about the driving beat, the energetic guitar riff, and the whimsical lyrics…it’s like a jolt of endorphins when I hear it. And the video remains one of the most memorable of the prime MTV decade.

How about you? Did you succumb to Tiger King pressure, too?  Tell me what you watched, read, and listened to in the comments below!