Your Favorite Movie Is Not What You Think

12 04 2010

I always expect there to come a day when I’ll look around my apartment–maybe by then a house–and all the shit I’ve accumulated since I’ve been old enough to start accumulating shit will have been responsibly disposed of. So, for example, I will have thrown out my old campaign signs and stuffed moose and local band 7 inches. I assume Future Ramsin, who pays his bills on time and in fact sets aside a specific day of the month to do so, will make a big boy decision to throw away the cardboard and construction paper coffin with “R.I.P. G.O.P.” written on it from my 2006 election return watch party.

I can’t wait for that day, because until then I will continue to waste hours of precious, rapidly expiring life doing things like trying to find my Billy Ripken error card, seeing if I can finally beat the “on the satellite” level of Goldeneye for N64, and comparing the “student survey” results of my 7th and 8th grade yearbooks.

Hey, so I came across a section of my 7th grade yearbook that included the results of “survey” taken each grade level. It asked questions like, “Favorite song”, “favorite band”, “favorite actor”, “favorite teacher catchphrase” and “favorite movie.” Here’s a couple facts it revealed: in 1994, 7th graders’ favorite musical act was Mariah Carey, and girl 7th graders were more reliable survey respondents than 7th grade boys.

But a pang of guilt I felt after rolling my eyes in playful shame at the choice of The Bodyguard as “our” favorite movie stayed with me long enough to get me thinking: “Who’re you, Troy Dyer? What would a ‘good’ answer to that question be?”

Pop culture is the most reliable social currency, for all debts public and private. And like money, it’s a signifier of your place in the social order. Your favorite comedy is There’s Something About Mary or The Hangover or Wet Hot American Summer? Each of these answers sends a signal: “I’m this general sort of person.” When you answer that question, are you supposed to pick a movie that demonstrates what kind of movie you like? Your favorite movie to watch? Or the movie you never turn off, if it’s on?

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2010, the year in books

7 04 2010

I’m going to try to keep a running tally of the books I’ve read this year. The idea is to help me see my progress and what I need to be reading more of (or less of). Since nobody reads this thing, believe me, it’s not an exercise in vanity. For the random person who comes across the site, though, if you know of any good follow up reading for these books, drop it in the comments. I do admit to skipping chapters in some of these books where the subject matter isn’t of interest; so the finished books are “substantially” finished. Asterisks are re-reads:


George Orwell, Why I Write*

Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden

Gary Rivlin, Fire on the Prairie

James Simon, What Kind of Nation

Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution

In Process

Jack London, The Iron Heel

E.J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism Since 1780

David Harvey, Limits to Capital

Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah*

Virginie Despentes, King Kong Theory

Just Started

Spencer Wells, The Journey of Man

Cass Sunstein (Ed.), Behavioral Law and Economics

George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying*