Drop Everything And Watch

Apparently I can only write in list form these days, so here’s another one! While there are countless other candidates, here are ten movies woven deeply into my DNA (not to mention my marriage), any of which I’ll watch at the drop of a hat:

Back To The Future

The Big Lebowski

Batman

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

UHF

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Glengarry Glen Ross

Office Space

Better Off Dead

One Crazy Summer

Always In My Ears

Other than documentary films, podcasts are probably my favorite media form. Given my absurd daily commute, I listen to all sorts of shows, most of them released weekly or on a sporadic schedule.

That said, there are a few daily shows that I’ve found good enough to become a standard part of my weekday routine…

The Daily: The gold standard, despite the fact that I can no longer say “Hmm!” without my wife making a Michael Barbaro joke

Post Reports: A relatively new afternoon counterpart to The Daily that’s getting better and better

Business Wars Daily: Quick little five-minute episodes, often about rivalries, companies or trends that are completely new to me

Retropod: Another series with super-short episodes focused on little-known stories or moments in history

Holding It Together

About a year ago, I wrote a piece about turning down the volume on social media to help reduce anger and anxiety. As an updated companion, here are some other strategies I’ve found effective to help (at least try to) hold anxiety of any form at bay. Note that this doesn’t cover equally valid additional solutions like therapy, medication and prayer.

Meditation: I briefly mentioned this in the earlier post, but I’ve found that ten minutes a day (in my case using Headspace) has had a noticeable effect on me over time.

iOS Screen Time: Setting certain apps to “go dark” in the evenings (or on weekends) works well. You’re still able to access them in a pinch, but the simple act of throwing up an extra hurdle works surprisingly well.

Email Snoozing: Using a client like Spark (or even Outlook on iOS) to shuttle emails out of your face until you’re ready to deal with them gives you back an important element of control. I couldn’t function at work with snoozing.

ASMR: This stuff is so weird, but it really, really works for me (in my case, it’s audio vs. video). Putting a track on during a big anxiety spike will calm me down within minutes. I’ve always told my wife that I find it incredibly soothing to watch an expert bring real, focused attention to their work, and now I understand why.

Kindle (E Ink): Long-form reading without any distractions is fantastic, and I’m not going to carry a bulky printed book around like an animal.

Unfollowing: I tend to rage-deactivate Facebook (and have considered the same with Instagram as well) fairly often, but my current strategy is to just accept that a large segment of people are (be it due to pride or disinterest) unwilling to seek out information outside of their cultural/political/religious bubbles, and aren’t going to change until everything comes to a head. Until that point, I unfollow (while still remaining friends) like it’s going out of style. As an added bonus, this helps me avoid the endless sea of MLM pitches.

Documentaries: I find comfort in perspective. Whether it’s historical pieces that spotlight other bleak times in our past that we’ve made it through, or dark true crime stories that make you appreciate everything we take for granted, good stories are a powerful tonic.

Media Diary (January 2019)

Some things I’ve enjoyed lately, in no particular order, and not necessarily only recent stuff:

They Shall Not Grow Old (Movie): Absolutely amazing to see this footage come to life

The Mystery of The Exploding Teeth (Book): Still reading this, but it’s tremendously entertaining

Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (TV): I had no idea what a media event this was at the time

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (Podcast): Unsurprisingly great

Fyre and Fyre Fraud (Movies): I could watch ten more of these

Corporate (TV): My wife can’t get past some of the acting, but I’m enjoying the spiral into ever-deeper darkness

Bag Man (Podcast): I had no idea how deep things went with Spiro Agnew

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (TV? Movie? Game?): Interesting experiment, and my version ended in tragedy, as I’d expect from good ol’ Black Mirror

Vice (Movie): Pretty entertaining (and horrifying), but also felt uneven

Outside the Bubble: On the Road with Alexandra Pelosi (TV): Enjoyed each of the various segments, despite weeping for America

Monster: The Zodiac Killer (Podcast): As with the Bundy documentary, I learned all sorts of crazy details

God Knows Where I Am (Movie): What a sad, sad story

True Detective (TV): Only one episode in on this new season, but I’m along for the ride

Retropod (Podcast): Super short, fascinating segments that I’ve added to my morning rotation

Fahrenheit 11/9 (Movie): Infuriating, obvs

Three Wives, One Husband (TV): I’m never one to turn down a polygamy doc

Halloween (Movie): Pretty good, though don’t tell my mother-in-law I supported a Jamie Lee project

The Innocent Man (TV): Another very interesting, very sad tale

Bird Box (Movie): It was fine, and I was able to resist driving while blindfolded