Tag Archives: Movies

Inbox Zero and Consumption Culture

Inbox Zero and GTD changed how I work. The tips of “Don’t constantly be reading incoming email” and “move email messages out of your inbox” are keys to how I succeed at managing what seems like a deluge of incoming email. It’s changed me, in some ways for the worse. I see inboxes everywhere now.

I’ve got a Netflix Instant queue filled with movies I’m never in the mood to watch. I feel bad that I have hundreds of unread articles in Pocket. I just unsubscribed to The Magazine because I couldn’t keep up to date with new issues. I even quit playing Words With Friends, because it was just another inbox.

That’s just the beginning. My Letterboxd watchlist has just over 400 movies added. My Downcast “Everything” playlist tells me I have 238 unplayed podcast episodes (a little over 100 hours). I just added up some 25 seasons of TV shows I’d like to watch, including Breaking Bad, Supernatural, Sopranos, and many others. The unread shelves in my Goodreads have 168 books. I’ve got a stack of video games that each deserve 40-50 hours of play time. Let’s not even talk about comic books, new music, board games, and Longform articles published online.

For a long time I felt almost crushed under the pressure of not having any time to consume all these things. Really, who has that kind of time? I’d need some 2,500 hours of free time to get through all my lists of unread/unwatched/unconsumed stuff. If I spent 2 hours a day, it would take me almost 3 and a half years.

Then I realized: then it’ll take 3 and a half years. It’s not going anywhere. Some of those movies and TV shows I’ll watch with my wife, some of the movies, books, or podcasts will be things I want to talk about with friends. Some of those books will get made into movies, some of the podcasts episodes will be worth skipping, some of the movies I won’t finish, and some of the video games won’t merit a second playthrough.

When I first got my Xbox 360, the game I played most was this puzzle game Hexic. You just spin these pieces around in the grid shaped game area. It dazzled me and I played for hours. I was the same way with Tetris. And nearly every other video game I can remember, I was constantly replaying it to master a top score or best time. I must have rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy every week of my childhood, and I can’t count the times I’ve seen some of the movies we watched as a family growing up (Romancing the Stone, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure come to mind). I think as a teenager I saw more reruns of Quantum Leap and Saved by the Bell than any single person should.

I think most people are like this. I think most people are daunted by the things they haven’t done/seen and comforted by the things they know best. I think most people would rather eat at the restaurant they know they like then try some place new, or eat at the same entree than try something they may not like. Sometimes its nostaliga that has us watch old movies we love instead of a new one or revisit vacation destinations than visit a new city. It takes a great deal of effort to try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and take a risk.

So I refuse to think of my Watchlists as Inboxes anymore. They are wishlists. They are a pantry. They are a rainy day toy box. No one ever feels pressure to use up all the flour and sugar in their pantry. Just use it as needed, since it’s not perishable. When Christmas is over, no one should ever feel pressured to buy up the rest of their Christmas list. It’s about enjoying what you have, not what you don’t. And some toys you keep stashed, in case kids can’t play outside. So that is my new philosophy. And I feel much better.

If only I could make a decision on what movie to watch next.

Yesterday’s Schedule

8:30 AM: Wake up without an alarm after 9 hours of sleep.

9:30 AM: Breakfast at Panera. Bacon, egg, and cheese Asiago sandwich, half a spinach and bacon soufflé, and a large coffee.

11:15 AM: Avengers in 2D. Large popcorn and a large bottled water.

2:40 PM: Cabin In The Woods in 2D.

5:00 PM: Dinner at Carrabba’s. Veal Marsala, garlic mashed potatoes, sausage and lentil soup, blackberry sangria.

7:10 PM: Avengers in 2D. Chocolate covered pecans we snuck in.

Yep, pretty great day.

I Watched Star Wars at a Young Age

Last week, a friend asked over email how young is too young to introduce his child to Star Wars. It reminded me of my nephews who were reading through Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets with their mom (my sister), but had to stop because the Deathday Party was too scary for them. I didn’t remember it being scary in the slightest. Then I remembered that lots of seemingly benign movies (Neverending Story, Back to the Future Part II, Enemy Mine) gave me nightmares as a kid.

So I made a survey. If you want to take it, go here.

From the responses I’ve already gotten, here are some of the interesting tidbits:

  • There was a general consensus that the right age for the Star Wars trilogy is 5 years old. There was considerable dissent over the Star Wars prequel trilogy, with a common thread of parents waiting a few years to show their kids the prequels.
  • Most people would show their kids the first 2 Harry Potter movies before reading the books. I guess those first 2 movies really are kid friendly.
  • Most people would show their kids the Chronicle of Narnia movies before reading the books.
  • Nearly everyone said they wouldn’t show the James Bond movies to their children until 10 or older. That’s probably smart.

Here are the median ages from all the books and movies in the survey:

Star Wars (movies) episodes IV, V, & VI 5
Star Wars episodes (movies) I, II, & III 9
Harry Potter (book series) 7
Harry Potter (movies) 1 & 2 6
Harry Potter (movies) 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7 part 1 and 2 10
Indiana Jones (movies) 10
Chronicles of Narnia (movies) 5
The Hobbit (book) 9
Chronicles of Narnia (book series) 6
The Lord of the Rings (movies) 9.5
Goonies (movie) 10
James Bond 007 (movies) 10
The Lord of the Rings (book) 10
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory OR Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (movies) 6
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (book) 6.5
The Neverending Story (movie) 6
Anne of Green Gables (miniseries) 6.5
Anne of Green Gables (book) 7
Back To The Future (movies) 10

Star Wars on Blu-ray Announced, but No Thanks.

No thanks. The original films have been touched up and re-edited and spruced up and changed and degraded enough in the special editions that followed that I don’t care to watch them. The prequel trilogy is bad writing, bad acting, & bad storytelling. I don’t think I’ll ever watch Episodes I, II, or III again. Amazon ships sometime in September. Links: Original Trilogy Blu-ray: $45 and Original and Prequel Trilogies: $90. No thanks. I don’t want them.

If you want the original films, get these DVDs: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi. Each has a second disc that contains the untouched original theatrical version in 2.0 stereo audio. For the sake of future generations, you will want to have the original historical documents of the Star Wars.

The Watchmen

I went to the 10pm show of The Watchmen last night with Joel & Herch. A group from work went to a midnight showing (excuse me, 12:01 am showing) on Thursday night/Friday morning, but I didn’t want to be a zombie at work Friday because I had some deadlines to meet. How annoyingly responsible of me…

I left the theater not knowing how to feel (I still don’t). For about an hour after I got home I was trying to recall the last time I watched a movie that made me feel like this. I described it to Herch as the feeling of “vomiting profusely however it leaves a good taste in your mouth”. This morning I put my finger on it: Boogie Nights. I felt the same way after watching Boogie Nights. As soon as the credits roll, you know that you’ve watched a great movie, but you can’t really explain what makes it so good or what would be appealing about it.

“…we sense it’s not interested in a plot so much as with the dilemma of functioning in a world losing hope.” –Roger Ebert

I tentatively highly recommend it, if there is such a thing. The characters are base and gritty, full of passion and malice and (self-)love, but if you can get over some of the objectionable content, in fact you’re going to need to embrace the objectionable content (mostly grisly violence, voyeuristic sex, and male full frontal CGI), then these characters will win you over.

Before the movie, Herch and I ate dinner at a joint in Bellevue called Wildwood Oak Fired Kitchen. Unfathomably good. The calamari appetizer was off the chain and served with a pesto sauce that sets a new standard for me. Herch had a pepper crusted pork roast with spinach and pureed parsnips. I ordered the Paella with Chicken, Sausage, and Mussels. It’s too expensive to eat there often, but it’s so definitely worth the price tag.