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  • Writer's pictureChris Russell

S4 E4 - The Count of Monte Cristo

Outro S4 E4

Hello my survivor friends. Good to be with you again.

Today is Season 4 Episode 4 and we are moving into autumn here in New England – this show will drop in the middle of September 2023.

It is still raining. We have had storm after storm blowing through, flooding and knocking down trees.

Surprisingly, where I live we have a lot of trees.

Before the arrival of the Europeans in the 1600’s it was mostly old-growth forest. Then all the forest was cleared for farmland. If you were teleported back to 100 years ago you would find mostly farms and fields, sheep and cows, with only the odd single tree here and there.

Then with the industrial revolution, urbanization and the development of the suburbs – most of the farms went into disuse and the trees grew back.

Only to be knocked down now by the storms.


This week I will try my level best to avoid a long, thoughtful essay on the meaning of life, since my expository comments after the last episode were a bit overwrought.


Overwrought is a good old middle English word.

I believe “Overwrought” was originally a past participle tense version of “overwork”. Overwrought is a ‘state of being’ and is therefor either a noun or an adjective, and by modern English grammar rules should not have a tense.

But the earliest influence of English, that is Old English and Middle English were Germanic and the Germanic languages have noun tenses.

Lots of fun vocabulary survived into modern English, but noun tenses for the most part did not.

(We kept two noun tenses, singular vs plural, so dogs versus dog.)

But in the original Germanic languages nouns did all the work. You didn’t have pronouns like I, you, me, you didn’t have male or female, you didn’t have possessives, like Mine or Yours - All of that was built into the noun.

Which is a bit mind blowing.

I suppose if I spoke any Germanic languages I might not find this so weird of a concept.

From what I’ve read, Icelandic is the closest modern language to old English.

According to Acast we have 5 listeners in Iceland. And when they hear this perhaps they will become overwrought.

So next time your out on the Fjord ask them some questions about the language. Did you know less than 400,000 people live on Iceland?

What is Chris Reading?

I’m so glad you asked.

The backstory is: on one of those “what’s your favorite book” posts on Facebook someone was saying how this was their favorite book and the re-read it every year.

(Note to listeners: This is where I will peremptorily apologies for my French pronunciation)

I realized that this was a hole in my literature education. I have read a good portion of the European classics. Most of the Russian novelist, the English and a smattering of French, including Madame Bovary and at least one of the La Comédie humaine series by Honoré de Balzac, but had never read Dumas.

So, as I do, I procured a copy from Thriftbooks and got busy reading it.

The version I got was a 531-page paperback that took me a couple weeks to get through.

Where to start? This book has many layers to it. The writing is good, the storytelling is good, if not a bit convoluted and fantastical.

It is a historical fiction based in the time of the ‘restoration’ of the French Monarchy after Napoleon's failed return from his exile in Alba. And it was contemporary to these events, which means his readers would have fresh memory, living memory, of the events and time period in which the story is set.

I enjoyed the novel, but got a bit lost in all the complex relationships that he weaves into the plot. I lost track of who was who and why I should care. I kept thinking that it would be handy to have a diagram of how all the characters were related. It turns out that I should have googled it because there is such a diagram, and I will put it in this post.

It is a historical novel but it has this element of almost ‘pulp fiction’ to it. On the one hand it has the heady themes of revenge and redemption and forgiveness on the other it has the titillations of illicit affairs, speculation, and murder and so much more that would have made it a shocking page turner in its time.

It’s a bit far-fetched but what good tale isn’t?

It’s not a hard read. It’s not like Tolstoy or Dostoevsky that make you work. It’s more like a Michner novel based in a historical context.

I give it a solid B+ rating.

What is Chris Watching?

Thank you for asking, you are always so interested and concerned about me. I’m grateful.

I have found a channel on my cable called Tubi. It’s all free TV and movies.

But I found they have a whole bunch of apocalyptic and Sci-Fi you can watch, and just, in general, the type of movie that I’m looking for when I down my tools at night and open a cold IPA.

For instance I watched Clerks II the 2006 sequel to Clerks – Kevin Smith’s break out movie that he made with his friends for $27K in 1994. Really good example of why creativity can be more important than investment $$.

Another movie I watched, which I thought was going to be stupid, was Iron Sky from 2012. The premise for this is that in 1945 the Nazis escaped to build a base on the dark side of the moon and now they are ready to come back!

It was a entertaining, well-made movie. They struck the right balance between camp and action. The acting is appropriate. It’s not “the Grapes of Wrath” but it goes well with a couple beers.

Now you might ask, “Chris, but aren’t there commercials?” Yes there are programmatic ads in these movies, but I grew up with commercial TV, so I’m ok with it. They don’t oversaturate the ad load, or back-load it, (i.e. put all the ads at the end when you’re already hooked) - it’s just enough to give you a chance to let the dog out or get another beer.


et me know what your experience is.

Business updates:

Remember that you can get these updates in your email box by going to my website at and subscribing to the blog. It’s free. And you get the handy links to what I’ve just talked about. For instance let’s say you now have a driving passion to learn more about Balzac; there’s a link for that.

You can always buy me a coffee or subscribe on Patreon. It’s always great to give us a review on your podcast app or recommend us to a friend.

We have 412 people in our Facebook group.

I am still working on turning After the Apocalypse into a series of books. My intention is to create from the manuscripts something high-quality and compelling that will stand alone from the podcast. Same story, but unique pieces of content and, more importantly, unique experience for you, the customer.

The manuscript for season one is now in the hands of a structural editor and hopefully we can start to see the fruits of that effort soon!

That’s it for me this week. Don’t’ forget to enjoy your life. A lot of the time I get so caught up in what I’m working on or what I’m planning I forget to ‘smell the roses’.

So don’t become too overwrought, and keep surviving.

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