Write in my world: the planet Aphotic

May 12, 2019

Write in my world: the planet Aphotic

“You seem nervous…first space trip?”

“No, I’ve been to a lot of planets. It’s my first trip to .”

“You’ll be fine…they are very friendly.”

“I’m sighted.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!”

link to my tweet


That was my response to the daily writing prompt from

firdaus parvez @fairdausp

It was part of a series of prompts for “very short stories” (#vss). What happens is that a single word is given each day as a way to inspire people to write a single tweet incorporating it.

I think it’s fun! It doesn’t take me much time (I’ve always been a fast writer), and I like the challenge of making it fit into 280 characters. I do have a tendency to verbosity, and I’ve always enjoyed having rules (I used to manage a gamestore, and games are all about the rules).

I’ve written quite a few of these now, since I was first tuned into the prompts by

Jeffary Joseph at @JeffaryWrites

You can see them here:

Twitter: from:bufocalvin #vss365

A few times, when doing these, I’ve felt like they had the potential to become longer pieces…and this is one of them.

However, I don’t really have the time right now to do it.

Jeffary also suggested the idea behind this post.

He kindly invited me to write a piece from a prompt he had done. He has a group of writers who respond to his prompts:

Gold Star Stories @GSStories

While I thought my 1-pager came out pretty well, I ended up withdrawing it. The group was much more intense than I had anticipated. I didn’t feel like I could commit the time and creative energy necessary to fairly keep up with what they were doing. I typically spend hours a day on my writing, in addition to a full-time “day job”. I have to be pretty selective about any new things I add. It’s fine if it’s casual and I can just write when and how much I want, but that wasn’t this case.

I like the concept behind my tweet, and would like to see it explored more. I thought it would be fun to see if anybody else wants to do it.

The first thing I want to establish is the rights: I always want to get that specifically stated, to get that out of the way.

If you choose to submit something, I will have the right to publish it without compensation to you. You will retain all other rights: you also can publish it elsewhere, and (perhaps) get compensation for it there. That’s about it: I’d like you to link to me and/or The Measured Circle, but I’m not going to require that.

I may not publish everything that’s submitted, and if it has profanity, I will probably mask that: I don’t use profanity in my blogs (or, actually, in real life either). For example, I might use “f@@king” when you spelled it out.

I also might communicate with you if I want to make or suggest some changes. Those likely wouldn’t be substantial, but could be along the lines of proofreading (much more likely than copy editing).

Here’s the set up for the world:

Earthlings commonly travel in space and contact other intelligent species.

One such planet is called Aphotic by Earthers. It earned that name because, to Earth humans, it appeared to be without light…in darkness.

In actuality, there is light: it’s just outside the relatively narrow bandwidths humans can see.

That could easily be remedied with technology, but the Aphotics (the native intelligent species) don’t believe electricity should be harnessed. They treat it as though it is a being, and don’t like to see it exploited. It’s possible non-electric tech could solve it, but they also believe that if a human can’t see in their world, that is a divine decision and shouldn’t be changed.

How does humanity deal with them?

Earthers who are blind are able to navigate well on Aphotic, and they are the traders and cultural ambassadors who go there.

In fact, a sighted person on Aphotic would be at a significant disadvantage and are pitied.

The protagonist in the tweet (the “nervous” one) is a minor government official. They’ve been sent to Aphotic to pick up a human prisoner…someone who the Aphotics say has violated the technology ban.

Why doesn’t the local Earth representative on Aphotic take custody?

That’s who they’ve accused…the current representative.

Why would a sighted person be chosen to go?

The Aphotics have a thing about names, which Earthers have never really understood. If someone from Earth is to go to Aphotic, the locals have a list of potential names read out loud do them. They reject many of them, due to some unpleasantness with the name they perceive.

Our protagonist was the only available person who had an acceptable name.

I’m interested to see (so to speak) what would happen. I’m looking for the perspective of vision being a weakness, as it is in H.G. Wells’ short story

The Country of the Blind

Another thing that intrigues me: why did the representative break the technology ban…or why did the Aphotics lie about it?

What else is happening on Aphotic?

Again, to be clear: I could publish your submission in this blog (or in collections or other writing) without financial compensation to you. I simply make very little from this blog, and really write it for fun and creative exercise (and sometimes, to help other people). You, though, could publish it yourself (and charge for it) or license it to someone else for them to publish, without you compensating me (although I would like a credit), or requiring prior agreement from me.

I don’t know if I’ll get any submissions. ūüôā I can’t tell you how many people will read it if I publish it here…it’s probably not very many (although I value them all). I’ll mention it in my most popular blog

I Love My Kindle

Still, if this sparks something in you, I’d love to see it! Perhaps someday I’ll write something more about Aphotic myself…

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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Why don’t American horror movies make more money internationally?

May 6, 2019

Why don’t American horror movies make more money internationally?

At The Measured Circle, we track the box office regularly. Here’s is our list for 2019:

2019 The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies at IMDb

Movies have to make $40 million in domestic gross (I say “dogro”) to get on the list…there are 19 movies on there at time of writing.

No surprise that the top two movies, in terms of the amount of profit (we calculate profit based on the reported budget vs. dogro) are Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. However, combine their two budgets, and it’s over half a billion dollars.

The third movie, Us, is in one of the genres with the best return on investment. That’s when you look at the¬†percentage of profit, rather than the gross amount of profit. Us is Double Golden (on a reported budget of $20 million)…here is our scale on those awards:

  • Dogro 2X production budget = “Money”
  • Dogro 3X production budget = “Golden”
  • Dogro 30X production budget = “Platinum” (God’s Not Dead prompted the creation of this new award)
  • Dogro less than 50% of production budget= “Underperformer”

Captain Marvel has gotten to the “Money” level (which is a considerable accomplishment for a movie with an over $100m budget), and Avengers: Endgame will get there.

Every year, there are horror movies with small budgets that have a great ROI. They tend to be a flash in the pan…having a great opening weekend, then maybe riding for a week or two more, but that’s the bulk of it.

Recently, I’ve been looking more at the international box office impact. In July of 2017, we added the “Road Winner” award, for movies which make at least two-thirds of their box office with what Box Office Mojo (which is where I get these numbers) calls international.

Success overseas is definitely part of the Marvel story. Endgame’s dogro percentage is only 28.3% (this is all based on the updating I did earlier today), and Captain Marvel is 37.6%.

Four of the 19 movies on the list are Road Winners. More than half of the movies have a dogro percentage under 50%…they make more money internationally than domestically.

Two genres tend not to make much of their money internationally: comedy and horror.

Comedy makes sense to me intuitively. It is often very language-based, making translation or even dubbing a complex proposition. Puns, in particular, are going to be difficult.

The author Scott Calvin (who is my sibling)

Scott Calvin’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile*)

suggested (when I posed the question about horror movies on Twitter) that it could be culturally based. What is scary in one culture might not be scary in another, perhaps due to familiarity with the subject. A car, for example, might be scarier in a society that doesn’t use them regularly (that’s my example, not Scott’s) than it would be for one where they are constantly present.

I’m not sure that’s it, though. Horror movies often take something very familiar and tweak it a bit. There are several American horror movies with cars/trucks as the “monsters” (Christine, The Car, Duel…).

I would also think that a slasher is scary in any culture.

Interestingly, I would say that foreign horror movies have done reasonably well in the USA, my guess would be as well as other genres. In the past decade or two, Japanese horror movies have done quite well here. There is a whole “school” of Italian horror movies called “giallo”. The British studio Hammer has made a definite impression here.

It occurred to me that maybe a movie like Us just isn’t released internationally, but that’s not the case. When I checked, it was released in more than 50 countries, and not dissimilar to Avengers: Endgame.

Humor and horror do have a lot in common. I’ve actually taught people about the use of humor, and I find the best way to understand it is that laughter is a signal that there is apparent danger (it can be social danger), but no real danger.

That’s very tricky even within the same general culture. People make jokes about their own group (using a stereotype, for instance), and it can be seen as funny within that group (because it is clearly seen as not really representing a danger). If someone from outside the group made the same joke to the same group, it might be seen as offensive.

That is similar to what Scott had said, although I think it may be have less to do with familiarity with the threat source than with the language subtlety around it (which would be like humor)…the threat might be imperceptible to someone without a thorough grasp of idiom and shared culture.

I’m just guessing, though. ūüėČ

I still think it’s possible that there is some strategic decision made, perhaps not to spend much on promotion…but that might be based on past experience with low box office returns.

Any ideas? Why do you think American horror movies don’t make much of their money internationally? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

In honor of Tim Curry’s 19 April birthday: a Tim Ten

April 19, 2019

In honor of Tim Curry’s 19 April birthday: a Tim Ten

Tim Curry is one of my favorite actors: I suspect I was one of the few people who saw the Tom Arnold version McHale’s Navy in the theatre first run…and that was to see Tim. I also had the privilege of seeing him perform live in Me and My Girl.

What I thought I’d do this year is pick ten performances…that’s not to say these are necessarily my favorites, and I am deliberately picking some which may be more obscure (but I’ll include some of his better known ones as well).

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Darkness in Legend

This 1985 Ridley Scott fantasy certainly has had some confusion, with different versions and even two entirely different scores. No one, though, has been confused about Tim Curry’s delicious performance as the villain Darkness, who appears as a traditional devil (with big bull-like horns). Truly evil…

2. Dr. Frankenstein in Frankenstein Through the Eyes of the Monster

In a PC computer puzzle game (think something like Myst), the player is the revived Frankenstein’s monster, and in first person, you are exploring the castle…but it is surprisingly emotional, and Tim’s performance as Dr. Frankenstein will chill you to your resurrected bones

3. Billy Flynn on Criminal Minds

It always surprises me how Criminal Minds attracts such a mainstream audience. It depicts the depths of depravity, and in this 2010 2-parter, Tim Curry plays one of the most memorable of those “unsubs”

4. Gaal in Earth 2

This space colonization series was super-hyped and won an Emmy for Special Effects. However, I genuinely believed that Curry deserved an Emmy nomination. Gaal was subtle and mysterious, and was one of biggest arguments for a never-achieved second season…poppet

5. Hosting Saturday Night Live

With musical guest (and fellow Rocky Horror Picture Show alum) Meat Loaf, Tim had great fun! Joe Piscopo brought his Frank Sinatra on to Tim’s Mick Jagger’s special. They trade off singing each other’s songs. Curry also sings a British music hall song, bringing the traditional winking delivery to a song about…zuchinnis?

6. Nigel Thornberry on The Wild Thornberrys

If SNL didn’t convince you that it isn’t always scary with Tim, Nigel Thornberry’s exuberance should do the trick! With close to 100 appearances (90 in the main series, and special and movies), this is probably the part that Tim Curry has played the most on film (and videotape).

7. Dr.Seward on the Dracula audiobook

When I saw that Tim Curry and Alan Cumming were two of the voices on an audiobook of Dracula (a remarkably complex novel which I know well), my mind didn’t immediately go to Tim Curry playing one of the least eccentric parts: Dr. Seward, who runs the asylum where the Count’s helper Renfield is a patient. I suspect that was a conscious choice…it may be the most difficult role to make interesting, but Curry manages it

8. Harley Dune in Wolf Girl

Certainly not his best-known show, this TV movie also features Shawn Ashmore, Grace Jones, and Lesley Anne Warren. The story takes place in a traveling show…and Curry is the proprietor

9. Farley Claymore in The Shadow

Alec Baldwin knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. While not the biggest part in the movie (he’s basically a henchman), Tim Curry has a scene where he goes absolutely nuts when faced with the Shadow’s legendary abilities

10. The Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

In 2016, more than forty years after RHPS was released, Fox did a “live” version with Laverne Cox as Franky. In what is one of the bravest, strongest things I’ve ever seen, Tim Curry portrays the Criminologist. Why so brave? Not only were people going to be thinking about how he was in his immortal starring role (he’s the hero–that’s right, the hero!!) so many decades earlier (arguably, he could have been nominated for an Oscar), this performance was four years after a debilitating stroke. It’s clear that nothing came easy for him for this performance, that even removing his glasses was a challenge. Very people would be willing to put themselves out there like that

There’s your Tim Ten! That’s just a very small portion of this amazing performer’s work. Franky, Pennywise in It, Wadsworth in Clue, Darth Sidious and Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Robert Graves in The Shout…I could go on and on. I also listened to his music most of the day; he can really move me, but also give me energy; his music is unique and diverse. When asked to describe his singing style, I remember him saying, “Loud.” That really fits him…it’s not self-effacing, but self-aware, Sunshine.

Those are ten from me: feel free to add more by commenting on this post.

Happy birthday, Tim! Thank you for all you’ve given to me and the world!

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

If superheroes can be super-strong, why don’t people want them to be super-noble?

April 8, 2019

If superheroes can be super-strong, why don’t people want them to be super-noble?

When the great debate came between DC and Marvel in the Silver Age (roughly 1956 to 1970), I knew which side I was on.

I preferred DC.

That didn’t mean I didn’t read some Marvel comics, I did. However, the divide seemed pretty clear.

The DC heroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman…) weren’t like most people you knew. They didn’t behave like them. They didn’t even live in the same cities. Superman didn’t live in New York, he lived in Metropolis. Batman lived in Gotham City, not…right, New York. ūüėČ Those are two fictionalized versions of the same city. Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and the Doom Patrol live in Midway City, not Chicago.

We didn’t hear about their dating problems, they generally don’t need the money they earned, and they don’t get parking tickets or acne.

Over at Marvel, though, they lived in the real world. Peter Parker (Spider-Man) lived in straight up New York. He had the same problems as you. The same went for the rest of the Marvel characters (for the most part).

The Marvel “true believers” (fans) liked that their characters were realistic.

I liked that mine weren’t.

So, some of you are probably thinking that the Marvel characters weren’t realistic at all: magic users, mutants…being bitten by a radioactive spider likely would just hurt for a bit and then the spider would die. You wouldn’t suddenly have some mythical spider-sense.

The way Marvel characters¬†reacted to these fantastic circumstances, though, seemed more “normal”. They got mad, they got frustrated, they were full of doubts, they acted out…they got it wrong a lot, just like your typical human.

Superman always tried to be good.

In the past decade or so, those “super-noble” heroes have pretty much disappeared from the screen.

All of our heroes seem to be, to a lesser or greater degree, “anti-heroes”. That appears to be what the vast majority of people want. DC has gotten especially dark…for me, DC and Marvel have swapped tones.

I get how it’s easier to relate to characters that are more like you.

However…

People don’t mind that characters have super-strength or super-speed. It’s fun to imagine having those powers.

I don’t see a big difference between that and having fun imagining being super-noble. My fictional heroes (especially Doc Savage, Mr. Spock, and Kwai Chang Caine ((the last from Kung Fu))) all have very strong moral codes. They have elements of their personalities, ways that they behave, that I would like to emulate. Not everything about them, of course, but certain things.

I genuinely believe that I am a better person because I’ve striven to be more like Doc Savage.

I guess that’s why I liked Adam West’s Batman, but wasn’t a big fan of the comic book Batman. Comic book Batman was often driven by what felt like vengeance to me. “Bad people” deserved to be punished, personally, in a way different from the law.

I also wasn’t a big fan of Christian Bale’s Batman. I said I wouldn’t want a ten-year old kid to see The Dark Knight because I didn’t want them to be frightened of¬†Batman¬†for the rest of their lives.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m fine with the existence of torture, muddled morality, heroes. I’m a fan of Elric (who I think would make an excellent streaming TV series), and all of my heroes doubt themselves (they just don’t doubt what is right and wrong).

I simply think there is still room in our cultural landscape for heroes who are exemplars of compassion and self-less motivation.

Have a different opinion? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

That time I outquipped John Belushi on stage…and regretted it years later

March 16, 2019

That time I outquipped John Belushi on stage…and regretted it years later

Back in the day, I was doing community theatre. It was in the early days of Saturday Night Live, and my director was a big fan of John Belushi.

There was a show coming to a local college…as I recall, it was called Stars of Saturday Night Live.

The director asked me if I would bring Belushi a gag gift, knowing that I was comfortable enough to approach a big star like that. It was a coffee can, labeled (unfortunately in hindsight) The John Belushi Memorial Fund.

I hadn’t really watched Saturday Night Live, but I said I’d do it.

People expected that Chevy Chase and Gilda Radner would be there, but it turned out to just be Belushi and one of the writers (that’s how I remember it).

I think people were disappointed by that initially…and Belushi’s performance was not well-received. He yelled at the audience a lot, and one of his bits when heckled was to say, “Do you want to get up here?” He tried to get the audience to sing Let’s Kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas, but it wasn’t happening.

The tone in the audience was ugly.

I had told a security guard that I had the gag gift. Finally, I think he decided it wouldn’t hurt, so he gave it to him (I was standing by the stage at that point). Belushi said to me, “Do you want to get up here?”…and I hopped up on the stage.

I spoke to the audience a bit…I believe Belushi was making funny faces and such behind me.

I finished, and Belushi said, “You’re a real professional, you know?”

I said, “Well,¬†one of us has to be.”

I was kidding, but there was a big “Ooooh!” in the first few rows. I hopped back down.

Belushi went offstage and got a chainsaw. He broke up the lectern (I assume it was a breakaway) and started to saw it up. A piece spun off and stuck in the video screen behind us. I’ve always thought that must have been expensive damage.

As I mentioned, the college offered people refunds, and I heard that many people asked for them.

The newspaper wrote up the show, mentioned my ad lib, referring to me as “One nervy spectator”.

That experience didn’t bother me for myself, but I felt Belushi had been unfair to the audience. I decided I didn’t want to support what he did. I didn’t watch SNL while he was on it.

I ran into a conflict when The Blues Brothers movie came out. I had been at a small event where John Landis and Rick Baker showed Schlock and talked about it. I liked Landis and wanted to support him…and he directed The Blues Brothers.

What I did was wait to see it in a third-run theatre, or thereabouts…I think I paid a dollar amission. I figured the amount that Belushi would get from that would be negligible.

Years later, I regretted how I felt about Belushi then. I realized that his performance may have been affected by substance abuse. I was proud of being snarky (I’m still proud of the line…but not using it in those circumstances), but it would have been better for Belushi to get treatment, not be trolled.

Anyway, this came up today, and I realized I hadn’t told this story online (or at least for sure, not in this blog), so I thought I’d share it.

Why tell it?

More to preserve the history than anything else, I guess. I’m certainly not trying to criticize John Belushi at this point. I’ve watched SNL now, and Belushi did some amazing work. I loved The Blues Brothers as an act. I should mention, I’m a big fan of Dan Aykroyd. That especially goes for the knowledge of and promotion for things that would fall under Bufo’s Weird World. The line on The Coneheads, “Tell them we are from France,” refers back to the 1896-97 Airship flap, where Americans (especially) reported seeing impossible aircraft. Some of them spoke with pilots and passengers…and some said they were from France. Oh, and Ghostbusters? So brilliant!

So, that’s the story of how I outquipped John Belushi…and lived to regret it.

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Oscar reactions and BOPMadness results 2019

February 27, 2019

Oscar reactions and BOPMadness results 2019

AWARDS SPOILER ALERT (although I figure with something like the Oscars, a day gives you enough time to have watched them without spoilers, if you wanted to do that)

Well, this was certainly a different Oscar year…both in the results and in the broadcast!

I follow them closely, and have been doing an Oscar prediction contest (BOPMadness…Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) for decades. We are usually very accurate, and this year, I think we were probably as far off as we’ve ever been.

I think my method is sound…one factor may have been that we had relatively few players. While I haven’t analyzed it, my intuition is that the more players we have, the better we do. I promoted it quite a bit on Twitter, and I’ll plan to do that again next year, but that didn’t get me many guessers.

It also seems like a lot of other people didn’t do as well as usual. This suggests, perhaps, that the Academy has been successful in changing its membership and its attitudes. In particular, they’ve been trying to address the “#OscarsSoWhite” controversy and the winners this year did reflect more ethnic diversity, especially in the Big Six (acting, directing, Best Picture). Still, outside of the gender-defined acting categories, the nominees were overwhelmingly male…

First, I’ll do some reactions to the broadcast and the results generally, then I’ll talk about the BOPMadness results:

  • Not having a host seemed to work…certainly, it felt like things ran more predictably. That’s both good and bad: if you ask me about my memories of Oscar broadcasts, many of them would have to do with the hosts…especially Billy Crystal. The moment of Jack Palance doing one-handed push-ups, and Crystal’s reaction? Classic! However, in recent years, it has sometimes felt like the Oscars were too much about the host, especially with canned comedy bits and stunts
  • That said, I don’t understand how, when everything seemed to be running like clockwork, they¬†still managed to run significantly late!
  • Something that did still feel like stunts? The choice of celebrities who presented. I understand why they wanted to go outside of Hollywood…it shows the broad interest in movies that people might think is fading, over prestige TV and other options. Also, it seems like people are increasingly politicizing Hollywood, and this helps disarm that. I have to say, though, some of the presenters seemed like they¬†felt awkward…
  • Big congratulations go to Black Panther for the first Oscar wins for the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)! While it didn’t win Best Picture, which was what some people wanted, it did get into mainstream categories, especially Costume. It had to defeat period pieces, and what could legitimately be called “costume dramas”…however, geek-friendly nominees have won in this category in recent years (2016: Fantastic Beasts; 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road; 2010: Alice in Wonderland). DC, by the way, did win one in recent years…Suicide Squad won for Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Even bigger congrats to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for its Animated Feature win! It had been winning quite a bit, and this is a win for Marvel, even if not specifically for the MCU
  • Green Book’s win surprised us, and many other people. We had it at 58%, which made it tied for 2nd (with The Favourite)…but we had Roma at a 93% chance
  • Outside of Black Panther and the animated categories, geek-friendly nominees were pretty much shut-out. Even in Visual Effects, the most muggle of the group, First Man, won
  • Trevor Noah probably had the funniest joke of the night (even though you had to understand Xhosa to get it live…I don’t, by the way)
  • I was pretty surprised by people’s reactions to the Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper duet. It took me three tweets, but I said, “If the rest of us find the social embracings of actors and actresses somewhat excessive, we must remember three things. Not only are they trained to show their passions easily, but they are also put under severe emotional strain by the nature of their work, and, in addition, theirs happens to be a particularly insecure occupation. They need all the mutual reassurance they can get.”–Desmond Morris, writing in Intimate Behavior | As a former actor myself, I feel sorry for those who seem to feel that the connection shown by Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga during the Oscars can only happen between romantic (& for some, the implication is sexual or future sexual) partners

Now, in terms of BOPMadness:

  • Big Six: we were 81%
  • The Incredibly Difficult Maven Section: 74%
  • Overall: 76%
  • We predicted the following categories: Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Costume, Makeup & Hairstyling, Score (well, half-way…our top two were a tie), Animated Feature. For contrast, last year we picked all of the Big Six except for Best Picture (where our second choice won)…last year was far more typical
  • Our top winner, “George Monkey”, did really well! 94% on The Big Six, 92% on the Maven section, and 93% overall! KT also did pick Green Book for Best Picture…impressive!
  • As for me…76% on the Big Six, 75% on Maven (I usually do really well there), and 76% Overall. That’s not bad, but not as good as I would have liked

I really appreciate everyone who played! I hope you all play again, and that we have even more people next year!

Now, I do want to talk generally about the Oscars…I’ve had some discussions about it on Twitter.

For me, there is a very big difference between the awards and the broadcast. The awards are for by and for the professionals. Given that, I would like to see more Oscars…especially stunts (SAG does that) and casting. I also think doing one for trailers would make sense…it’s a special art form which can have a giant impact on movies.

The broadcast is an educational and fundraising activity: it’s for the public. That’s why they already pick which Oscars appear on the telecast…they don’t do the scientific/technical ones. Yes, it’s nice that all of the current awardees get to be on TV…but honestly, I would understand if there were some which were removed from the main broadcast. They could also be made available other ways. That’s not to say that I respect those artists any less….but the broadcast needs to be popular.

On the other hand, I think it’s important that the awards themselves not try to become less “arty”. I don’t like the idea at all of having a “popular” movies category. What that would tend to do is keep very popular movies from winning the regular “Best Picture” category…that’s also an argument against the Animated Feature category, but an animated movie is objectively different (even though that seems to be where a lot of the most successful original, non-remake or sequel, work is being done). A movie which is popular is not by definition different from one which is “art house”. Some movies which start out as art house movies later break $100m dogro (domestic gross), which I think we can safely say is popular.

The Oscars have the “lane” of being the prestige insider awards, and they should stay there. They don’t want to compete with MTV and The People’s Choice, and they aren’t awards given by critics or journalists. Figuring out how to make the broadcast of the awards attractive is fine…but don’t do it by changing the nature of the awards.

That’s what I think…feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post!

Well, it was another interesting Oscar year! I’m already starting to contemplate next year… ūüėČ

See you in the movies!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) 2019: our predictions (will be updated with winners)

February 24, 2019

BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) 2019: our predictions (will be updated with winners)

Thank you to everybody who played! I’ve been doing this Oscar prediction contest for decades, and the more people who play, I think the better we do.

First, I’m going to give you our percentage chances, sorted by category. I’m going to follow that with our predictions sorted by likelihood.

Nominee % Winner Got It
Best Picture [Black Panther (Kevin Feige)] 53%
Best Picture [BlacKkKlansman (Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee)] 43%
Best Picture [Bohemian Rhasody (Graham King)] 33%
Best Picture [The Favourite (Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos] 58%
Best Picture [Green Book (Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga)] 58%      X
Best Picture [Roma (Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuaron,)] 93%
Best Picture [A Star Is Born (Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor)] 28%
Best Picture [Vice (Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick)] 43%
Lead Actress [Yalitza Aparicio in Roma] 72%
Lead Actress [Glenn Close in The Wife] 68%
Lead Actress [Olivia Coleman in The Favourite] 64%      X
Lead Actress [Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born] 24%
Lead Actress [Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?] 36%
Lead Actor [Christian Bale in Vice] 56%
Lead Actor [Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born] 48%
Lead Actor [Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate] 52%
Lead Actor [Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody] 44%      X
Lead Actor [Viggo Mortensen in Green Book] 52%
Supporting Actor [Mahershala Ali in Green Book] 64%      X      X
Supporting Actor [Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman] 36%
Supporting Actor [Sam Elliott in A Star Is Born] 48%
Supporting Actor [Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?] 48%
Supporting Actor [Sam Rockwell in Vice] 56%
Supporting Actress [Amy Adams in Vice] 56%
Supporting Actress [Marina de Tavira in Roma] 28%
Supporting Actress [Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk] 72%      X     X
Supporting Actress [Emma Stone in The Favourite] 52%
Supporting Actress [Rachel Weisz in The Favourite] 44%
Directing [Alfonso Cuaron for Roma] 84%       X      X
Directing [Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite] 48%
Directing [Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman] 44%
Directing [Adam McKay for Vice] 36%
Directing [Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War] 40%
Original Screenplay [The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)] 40%
Original Screenplay [First Reformed (Paul Schrader)] 44%
Original Screenplay [Green Book (Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly)] 60%      X
Original Screenplay [Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)] 64%
Original Screenplay [Vice (Adam McKay)] 44%
Adapted Screenplay [The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)] 32%
Adapted Screenplay [BlacKkKlansman (Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee)] 56%      X
Adapted Screenplay [Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty)] 64%
Adapted Screenplay [If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)] 48%
Adapted Screenplay [A Star Is Born (Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters)] 52%
Cinematography [Cold War (Lukasz Zal)] 60%
Cinematography [The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)] 72%
Cinematography [Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)] 40%
Cinematography [Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)] 52%      X
Cinematography [A Star Is Born (Matthew Libatique)] 28%
Film Editing [BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)] 40%
Film Editing [Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman)] 44%       X
Film Editing [The Favourite (Yorgos Mavropsaridis)] 64%
Film Editing [Green Book (Patrick J. Don Vito)] 36%
Film Editing [Vice (Hank Corwin)] 68%
Production Design [Black Panther (Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart)] 56%      X
Production Design [The Favourite (Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton)] 84%
Production Design [First Man (Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas)] 32%
Production Design [Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre, Gordon Sim)] 40%
Production Design [Roma (Eugenio Caballero, Barbara Enriquez)] 40%
Costume [The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres)] 20%
Costume [Black Panther (Ruth E. Carter)] 72%       X      X
Costume [The Favourite (Sandy Powell)] 52%
Costume [Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)] 48%
Costume [Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)] 60%
Makeup and Hairstyling [Border (Göran Lundström, Pamela Goldammer)] 20%
Makeup and Hairstyling [Mary Queen of Scots (Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, Jessica Brooks)] 53%
Makeup and Hairstyling [Vice (Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, Patricia Dehaney)] 73%      X       X
Score [Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson)] 56%       X   X (tie)
Score [BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)] 40%
Score [If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)] 48%
Score [Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)] 52%
Score [Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)] 56%
Song [When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (David Rawlings, Gillian Welch)] 28%
Song [All the Stars from Black Panther (Sounwave, Kendrick Lamar, Anthony Tiffith, SZA)] 68%
Song [The Place Where Lost Things Go from Marry Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman)] 60%
Song [I’ll Fight from RBG (Diane Warren)] 52%
Song [Shallow from A Star Is Born (Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt)] 44%      X
Sound Mixing [Black Panther (Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Peter J. Devlin)] 60%
Sound Mixing [Bohemian Rhapsody (Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin, John Casali)] 36%      X
Sound Mixing [First Man (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Monta√ɬĪo, Ai-Ling Lee, Mary H. Ellis)] 40%
Sound Mixing [Roma (Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan, José Antonio García)] 56%
Sound Mixing [A Star Is Born (Tom Ozanich, Dean A. Zupancic, Jason Ruder, Steven Morrow)] 60%
Sound Editing [Black Panther (Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker)] 32%
Sound Editing [Bohemian Rhapsody (John Warhurst, Nina Hartstone)] 56%      X
Sound Editing [First Man (Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou)] 64%
Sound Editing [A Quiet Place (Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl)] 72%
Sound Editing [Roma (Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay)] 28%
Visual Effects [Avengers: Infinity War (Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, Daniel Sudick)] 40%
Visual Effects [Christopher Robin (Chris Lawrence, Mike Eames, Theo Jones, Chris Corbould)] 44%
Visual Effects [First Man (Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles, J.D. Schwalm)] 56%      X
Visual Effects [Ready Player One (Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler, David Shirk)] 64%
Visual Effects [Solo: A Star Wars Story (Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy)] 48%
Documentary Feature [Free Solo (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes, Shannon Dill)] 48%     X
Documentary Feature [Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim)] 48%
Documentary Feature [Minding the Gap (Bing Liu, Diane Moy Quon)] 44%
Documentary Feature [Of Fathers and Sons (Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert)] 44%
Documentary Feature [RBG (Betsy West, Julie Cohen)] 68%
Documentary Short [Black Sheep (Ed Perkins, Jonathan Chinn)] 56%
Documentary Short [End Game (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman)] 60%
Documentary Short [Lifeboat (Skye Fitzgerald, Bryn Mooser)] 40%
Documentary Short [A Night at the Garden (Marshall Curry)] 52%
Documentary Short [Period. End of Sentence. (Rayka Zehtabchi, Melissa Berton)] 44%      X
Animated Feature [Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, John Walker, Nicole Paradis Grindle)] 48%
Animated Feature [Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson)] 60%
Animated Feature [Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda, Y√ɬĽichir√ɬī Sait√ɬī)] 40%
Animated Feature [Ralph Breaks the Internet (Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Clark Spencer)] 36%
Animated Feature [Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)] 68%      X      X
Animated Short [Animal Behaviour (Alison Snowden, David Fine)] 36%
Animated Short [Bao (Domee Shi, Becky Neiman)] 52%      X
Animated Short [Late Afternoon (Louise Bagnall, Nuria González Blanco)] 64%
Animated Short [One Small Step (Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas)] 40%
Animated Short [Weekends (Trevor Jimenez)] 60%
Live Action Short [Detainment (Vincent Lambe, Darren Mahon)] 56%
Live Action Short [Fauve (Jeremy Comte, Maria Gracia Turgeon)] 48%
Live Action Short [Marguerite (Marianne Farley, Marie-Hélène Panisset)] 68%
Live Action Short [Mother (Rodrigo Sorogoyen, María del Puy Alvarado)] 24%
Live Action Short [Skin (Guy Nattiv, Jaime Ray Newman)] 56%      X
Foreign Language Film [Capernaum (Lebanon)] 32%
Foreign Language Film [Cold War  (Poland)] 64%
Foreign Language Film [Never Look Away (Germany)] 40%
Foreign Language Film [Roma (Mexico)] 60%       X
Foreign Language Film [Shoplifters (Japan)] 56%

Now, here it is, sorted by our likelihood (most likely to least likely):

Nominee %
Best Picture [Roma (Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuaron,)] 93%
Directing [Alfonso Cuaron for Roma] 84%
Production Design [The Favourite (Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton)] 84%
Makeup and Hairstyling [Vice (Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, Patricia Dehaney)] 73%
Lead Actress [Yalitza Aparicio in Roma] 72%
Supporting Actress [Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk] 72%
Cinematography [The Favourite (Robbie Ryan)] 72%
Costume [Black Panther (Ruth E. Carter)] 72%
Sound Editing [A Quiet Place (Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl)] 72%
Lead Actress [Glenn Close in The Wife] 68%
Film Editing [Vice (Hank Corwin)] 68%
Song [All the Stars from Black Panther (Sounwave, Kendrick Lamar, Anthony Tiffith, SZA)] 68%
Documentary Feature [RBG (Betsy West, Julie Cohen)] 68%
Animated Feature [Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)] 68%
Live Action Short [Marguerite (Marianne Farley, Marie-Hélène Panisset)] 68%
Lead Actress [Olivia Coleman in The Favourite] 64%
Supporting Actor [Mahershala Ali in Green Book] 64%
Original Screenplay [Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)] 64%
Adapted Screenplay [Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty)] 64%
Film Editing [The Favourite (Yorgos Mavropsaridis)] 64%
Sound Editing [First Man (Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou)] 64%
Visual Effects [Ready Player One (Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler, David Shirk)] 64%
Animated Short [Late Afternoon (Louise Bagnall, Nuria González Blanco)] 64%
Foreign Language Film [Cold War  (Poland)] 64%
Original Screenplay [Green Book (Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly)] 60%
Cinematography [Cold War (Lukasz Zal)] 60%
Costume [Mary Queen of Scots (Alexandra Byrne)] 60%
Song [The Place Where Lost Things Go from Marry Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman)] 60%
Sound Mixing [Black Panther (Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Peter J. Devlin)] 60%
Sound Mixing [A Star Is Born (Tom Ozanich, Dean A. Zupancic, Jason Ruder, Steven Morrow)] 60%
Documentary Short [End Game (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman)] 60%
Animated Feature [Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson)] 60%
Animated Short [Weekends (Trevor Jimenez)] 60%
Foreign Language Film [Roma (Mexico)] 60%
Best Picture [The Favourite (Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos] 58%
Best Picture [Green Book (Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga)] 58%
Lead Actor [Christian Bale in Vice] 56%
Supporting Actor [Sam Rockwell in Vice] 56%
Supporting Actress [Amy Adams in Vice] 56%
Adapted Screenplay [BlacKkKlansman (Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee)] 56%
Production Design [Black Panther (Hannah Beachler, Jay Hart)] 56%
Score [Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson)] 56%
Score [Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)] 56%
Sound Mixing [Roma (Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan, José Antonio García)] 56%
Sound Editing [Bohemian Rhapsody (John Warhurst, Nina Hartstone)] 56%
Visual Effects [First Man (Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles, J.D. Schwalm)] 56%
Documentary Short [Black Sheep (Ed Perkins, Jonathan Chinn)] 56%
Live Action Short [Detainment (Vincent Lambe, Darren Mahon)] 56%
Live Action Short [Skin (Guy Nattiv, Jaime Ray Newman)] 56%
Foreign Language Film [Shoplifters (Japan)] 56%
Best Picture [Black Panther (Kevin Feige)] 53%
Makeup and Hairstyling [Mary Queen of Scots (Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, Jessica Brooks)] 53%
Lead Actor [Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate] 52%
Lead Actor [Viggo Mortensen in Green Book] 52%
Supporting Actress [Emma Stone in The Favourite] 52%
Adapted Screenplay [A Star Is Born (Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters)] 52%
Cinematography [Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)] 52%
Costume [The Favourite (Sandy Powell)] 52%
Score [Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)] 52%
Song [I’ll Fight from RBG (Diane Warren)] 52%
Documentary Short [A Night at the Garden (Marshall Curry)] 52%
Animated Short [Bao (Domee Shi, Becky Neiman)] 52%
Lead Actor [Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born] 48%
Supporting Actor [Sam Elliott in A Star Is Born] 48%
Supporting Actor [Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?] 48%
Directing [Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite] 48%
Adapted Screenplay [If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)] 48%
Costume [Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)] 48%
Score [If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)] 48%
Visual Effects [Solo: A Star Wars Story (Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy)] 48%
Documentary Feature [Free Solo (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes, Shannon Dill)] 48%
Documentary Feature [Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim)] 48%
Animated Feature [Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, John Walker, Nicole Paradis Grindle)] 48%
Live Action Short [Fauve (Jeremy Comte, Maria Gracia Turgeon)] 48%
Lead Actor [Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody] 44%
Supporting Actress [Rachel Weisz in The Favourite] 44%
Directing [Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman] 44%
Original Screenplay [First Reformed (Paul Schrader)] 44%
Original Screenplay [Vice (Adam McKay)] 44%
Film Editing [Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman)] 44%
Song [Shallow from A Star Is Born (Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt)] 44%
Visual Effects [Christopher Robin (Chris Lawrence, Mike Eames, Theo Jones, Chris Corbould)] 44%
Documentary Feature [Minding the Gap (Bing Liu, Diane Moy Quon)] 44%
Documentary Feature [Of Fathers and Sons (Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert)] 44%
Documentary Short [Period. End of Sentence. (Rayka Zehtabchi, Melissa Berton)] 44%
Best Picture [BlacKkKlansman (Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee)] 43%
Best Picture [Vice (Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick)] 43%
Directing [Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War] 40%
Original Screenplay [The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)] 40%
Cinematography [Never Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)] 40%
Film Editing [BlacKkKlansman (Barry Alexander Brown)] 40%
Production Design [Mary Poppins Returns (John Myhre, Gordon Sim)] 40%
Production Design [Roma (Eugenio Caballero, Barbara Enriquez)] 40%
Score [BlacKkKlansman (Terence Blanchard)] 40%
Sound Mixing [First Man (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Monta√ɬĪo, Ai-Ling Lee, Mary H. Ellis)] 40%
Visual Effects [Avengers: Infinity War (Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, Daniel Sudick)] 40%
Documentary Short [Lifeboat (Skye Fitzgerald, Bryn Mooser)] 40%
Animated Feature [Mirai (Mamoru Hosoda, Y√ɬĽichir√ɬī Sait√ɬī)] 40%
Animated Short [One Small Step (Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas)] 40%
Foreign Language Film [Never Look Away (Germany)] 40%
Lead Actress [Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?] 36%
Supporting Actor [Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman] 36%
Directing [Adam McKay for Vice] 36%
Film Editing [Green Book (Patrick J. Don Vito)] 36%
Sound Mixing [Bohemian Rhapsody (Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin, John Casali)] 36%
Animated Feature [Ralph Breaks the Internet (Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Clark Spencer)] 36%
Animated Short [Animal Behaviour (Alison Snowden, David Fine)] 36%
Best Picture [Bohemian Rhasody (Graham King)] 33%
Adapted Screenplay [The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)] 32%
Production Design [First Man (Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas)] 32%
Sound Editing [Black Panther (Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker)] 32%
Foreign Language Film [Capernaum (Lebanon)] 32%
Best Picture [A Star Is Born (Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor)] 28%
Supporting Actress [Marina de Tavira in Roma] 28%
Cinematography [A Star Is Born (Matthew Libatique)] 28%
Song [When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (David Rawlings, Gillian Welch)] 28%
Sound Editing [Roma (Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay)] 28%
Lead Actress [Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born] 24%
Live Action Short [Mother (Rodrigo Sorogoyen, María del Puy Alvarado)] 24%
Costume [The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Mary Zophres)] 20%
Makeup and Hairstyling [Border (Göran Lundström, Pamela Goldammer)] 20%

I’ll update this with winners!

See you in the movies!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 

Why the scariest show on Netflix is…Marie Kondo

February 23, 2019

Why the scariest show on Netflix is…Marie Kondo

There are a lot things that scare people on Netflix: Poltergeist, The Witch, The Haunting of Hill House, Jaws, American Horror Story…

I can watch (and enjoy) horror movies/TV shows, and have for a very long time.

There’s one show, though, that I can’t bring myself to watch…just thinking about it raises my heart rate and starts the fear sweat stirring.

What is it?

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

I suspect that a lot of other people feel the same way, even if it’s an immensely popular show.

Why this fear?

As a collector, as someone who champions what most people feel is unimportant, the idea of getting rid of things scares me.

I would guess it always has.

Now, I have to be clear…as stated, I haven’t seen the show, so I’m just going on what I know about it through summaries and such.

As I understand it, the basic idea (and I’m sure there are a lot of subtleties to it) is that you go through the items in your house. You pick up an item (say, a book or a piece of clothing), and commune with it in some manner, to see if it “sparks joy”. If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you thank it for what it has contributed to your life, and then remove it from your life, preferably by donating it if it would have value to someone else.

What a bizarre idea! ūüėČ

Clearly, this resonates with people…thrift shops have indicated that they’ve gotten so many items donated by people inspired by the show, and I presume, to a lesser degree, by the book

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) | 4.4 stars out of 5 | 13, 889 reviews at time of writing

that they have had to turn donations away.

Now, on the surface, this makes some sense.

One of the things I do in my day job is help people with time management, and I’m very effective. I once sat with someone for an hour who was routinely leaving work two hours or so late. Within a few weeks, that person was leaving on time.

Part of that is cleaning things up.

Let’s take e-mails.

Suppose you get lots of e-mails, and you either take action on them or delete them…at least, that’s the theory.

However, there are many of them that you read….but then just don’t bother to delete.

You may think having those undeleted e-mails in your inbox doesn’t affect your efficiency, but it does.

You can think of it this way: you have two systems of mental processing.

One of them works very quickly, and you aren’t even aware of it most of the time. It’s constantly assessing everything around you…one of its main functions is to determine threats.

It’s very shallow and judgmental…it makes snap decisions.

If you are about to cross the street, your System One looks at traffic for you. It analyzes whether that traffic is dangerous to you. If it is, you might instinctively jump back on to the curb. You probably couldn’t articulate why, exactly, in many cases…what it was about a car or traffic flow that made you consider it dangerous.

Now, in some cases (relatively few), that system can’t make a decision…it then passes the problem to your “slow” system, which engages your intellect for a thoughtful decision.

Stick your hand in the fire, System One.

See a stranger on the other side of the street, creeping along like Bela Lugosi…System Two. There may be nothing wrong with that person, and it may be prejudice that tripped your initial concern, but you consider it.

When you leave those e-mails in the inbox, you likely don’t engage System Two at all. However, your System One still needs to assess them…every single time. If you have a thousand e-mails, your System One will make that super fast decision that they are unimportant…on all of them.

You aren’t aware of it, but that takes intellectual energy…which makes it harder to deal with the actual important (probably new) e-mails.

So, why wouldn’t the same thing apply to the clothes in your closet and the books on your shelves?

It does.

Absolutely, no question: if you have a bunch of clothes in your closet that have no sentimental value, and that you will never wear again, they are stressing your intellectual systems. It makes perfect sense to get rid of them.

I’m fine with that.

Donating is great: I’m fine with that, too.

What I don’t like is the “sparks joy” test, which could lead to a lot of false positives…identifying things as having no value when they do.

First, it suggests that you will always be exactly the same as you are now. If something doesn’t “spark joy” for you now, it never will. I don’t know about you, but there are things I didn’t need, but years later, they were exactly the solution I needed for something.

Second, it feels selfish…I have a lot of things that I have * don’t have just for me…I have them for the value they’ll have for someone else at some point…even for society at large.

The latter can be a big part of collecting, when you aren’t doing it for just economic reasons (hoping to make a profit).

There are items I’ve kept for decades…I may have some of the few copies of them that exist.

That doesn’t mean they have economic value…that used to be true for a lot of geeky stuff, like science fiction novels, although that has changed some.

I grew up with the belief that some comic books were valuable because people’s parents threw out the vast majority of them. It turned out later that wasn’t exactly the case…there was an intentional campaign against comic books which even led to public burnings, as explained in this excellent book:

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Still, a lot of what I have would be considered ephemera by mainstream society…something that doesn’t have any lasting value.

It’s possible, in some cases, that I have one of the only ones of these items in existence.

I’ll just make something up: let’s say it’s the schedule for a local science fiction convention (maybe 200 attendees) from the 1980s. Most people would just throw it away (or nowadays, recycle it), and that’s fine. Picking it up is not necessarily going to spark joy for me.

If I get rid of it, though, there may no longer be a copy of it in the world.

Your response may be, “So what?” ūüôā

Well, it was a part of our society…undoubtedly, a very small part. It may not have affected anything else in any meaningful way…pop culture doesn’t always follow “The Butterfly Effect” hypothesis, although I suppose it might. Maybe somebody who went to that con became more involved in geeky things, and eventually, contributed to a movie which changed the world.

Maybe not.

Even if it didn’t, objects like that didn’t just grow on a tree. People contributed to it…human-made objects are evidence of people, of their dreams and efforts.

If I just say that this item doesn’t mean anything to me now and therefore should be destroyed…well, as I said above, it feels very self-centered.

Sure, it’s easier to get rid of things, and I know why it feels good short-term. I’ve said in the past, though, that I’ve never regretted keeping something but I have regretted getting rid of something.

That doesn’t mean that I just keep everything! I’m not a hoarder…really, I’m not.

For example, I’ve recently started donating a very large percentage of my library. I started with something like ten thousand paperbooks in my home (I’m a former bookstore manager, for one thing). I recently had major surgery, and that made me rethink what might happen if I died (even though it was a very low risk surgery, it’s a good specific impetus). I got my will in order.

I also thought about all those books.

Why did I have them? I almost always read e-books now.

What I pictured was that, after my death, my offspring would donate the books.

That would be a considerable burden!

I know where I want the books to go. I want them to go to people who will preserve them and make them available, perhaps for sociological study.

It would be ridiculous for my now adult kid to need to deal with ten thousand books!

I’ve started donating them. I’ve been sending boxes to Loren Coleman’s

International Cryptozoology Museum

I trust Loren: I’ve been a reader of Coleman’s books from the beginning, we’ve had some correspondence, and while we don’t really know each, we did have lunch once.

The museum is a non-profit: I can write off the donations. It’s tough to assess the value, and they often won’t assess as being worth much…one good thing: I can write off the shipping costs, which are not insignificant.

If they are duplicates, ICM could sell them, of course, as a way to raise funds….I’m confident, though, that they would make sure some copy of it is preserved.

Couldn’t I sell these books myself?

Sure…we could do that through eBay or Amazon. That’s a lot of work, and there’s no guarantee that the person buying them would try to preserve them or make them legally publicly available. I’d rather donate them.

I’m certainly going to keep some books: my Doc Savage paperbacks, my original Oz books…those are more like family heirlooms. Somebody in the family might want to read them later. I’m toying with the idea of keeping all the floor to ceiling bookshelves, and “facing” the books…putting them with the front cover showing. That might be cool, like art, but I’m not sure yet.

Yes, I get rid of things. Yes, I donate things.

My criterion isn’t simply if they “spark joy” now. My “Kondophobia” has to do with the idea that people would just indiscriminately toss or even donate things. They’ll follow the old saying, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

One important strategy: do separate the “archives” from the current use. If you have a t-shirt from a concert you saw in college, don’t keep it with the t-shirts you wear every day. That’s going to stress your System One. You want to keep it as art? Frame it, hang it on the wall, just like you would a picture.¬† Just preserving it for your kids? Put it in a box or a special closet.

You want me to watch The Exorcist? I’m there. You want me to watch Tidying Up? You’re on your own… ūüėČ

What do you think? Do you think keeping things is ridiculous, a waste of space? Do you think I should sell my books, rather than donating them? Do you want to keep your “collectibles” as a legacy for your descendants? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 

The Oscars are tomorrow! Help us predict the winners

February 23, 2019

The Oscars are tomorrow! Help us predict the winners

For decades, I’ve done an Oscar prediction contest, BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness).

We tend to be very accurate: last year, we scored 94% overall.

Why is that?

It’s the wisdom of crowds, and the method I use for people to make their predictions.

You can still make your predictions, and the more people who do so, the better I think we’ll do. Use this form:

https://t.co/AgRAFC30xe

It should just take you a couple of minutes: you rank every nominee in every category.

You have until noon Pacific time on Sunday, 24 February to complete it. I’ll close the voting then.

That will give me time to put out our predictions before the ceremony.

In case you are wondering, I make my own predictions before I receive anybody else’s, so I’m not unfairly influenced. I also don’t make our predictions publicly available until I close the voting.

While so far, I’ve talked about the group value, individuals certainly do compete as well. We announce winners in The Big Six (the acting categories, Best Picture, and Director), the Incredibly Difficult Maven Section (everything else), and Overall (combining the two). We play for that most valuable of human possessions…Bragging Rights. ūüėČ

You also have the option to have your guesses e-mailed to you, so you can play along.

I’d love it if you play, but even if you don’t, you can see our predictions in this blog on Sunday.

See you in the movies!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 

 

Yay, it’s the Big Game! Here’s what to watch instead… ;)

February 3, 2019

Yay, it’s the Big Game! Here’s what to watch instead… ūüėČ

…or, you know, what to watch tomorrow (and the rest of the month).

Let me be clear first: lots of geeks watch the Superbowl, and no, not just for the movies trailers which will debut. There’s a stereotype that geeks aren’t into sports, and I would say that it used to be legitimate that geeks didn’t¬†participate as much in sports in school (at least decades ago). That’s part of the social stratification of high school…people tend to end up, to some degree, in groups (especially if you consider “misfits” as a group). I would guess that hasn’t really gone away…one of the key initial plot points in Glee (which, okay, debuted almost a decade ago) was the conflict of a “jock” participating in the traditionally non-jock activity of the glee club.

Participating and watching are two different things, though. Some big sports are very geeky, with lots of stats and math. Fantasy football (and other fantasy sports) has certainly increased geek engagement.

The first traditional big sport which I followed closely was football. I argue that it is the most intellectual of the big sports. It’s the only one where they stop frequently to decide what they are going to do. Some people think of it as just big people crashing into each other, but that’s not how it works. Monday morning quarterbacks don’t say, “We lost because they were bigger than us.” ūüôā They say, “They shouldn’t have gone for it on third down!” It’s a criticism of the intellectual part of the game, not the physical part. I’ll entertain an argument for baseball….there are tons of decisions made there.

We’ve also got our own geeky fictional sports (which may crossover into real life): Quidditch; Rollerball; Death Race, to name a few. Additionally, we have fiction about the real world sports: Bugs Bunny playing all the positions on a baseball team…at the same time; the Richard Matheson robot boxer story Steel, which became a Twilight Zone episode and a Hugh Jackman movie; or the android football game in Piers Anthony’s

Blue Adept (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Still, a lot of geeks (and some muggles) may risk social ostracism by not watching the Superbowl. For one thing, the internet will give us summaries very quickly, so it’s possible to nod knowingly at the right times on Monday without watching it in real time. In terms of the ads, they are generally released to YouTube ahead of the game. You can watch them in this

USA Today story

although movie trailers may actually be held back until the game.

I’ve been doing a feature called

Prime Geek

where I would write about geeky movies/TV that were available through Amazon Prime. However, in thinking about it, that’s really an artificial restriction. I doubt there are many people nowadays who limit themselves to streaming Prime Video. Amazon itself has introduced a free with ads service, IMDb FreeDive. I watch pretty much everything on a member of the

Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

…we use a Fire TV Cube in one room, a Fire TV Stick in another (except for shows I watch in Virtual Reality).

Even then, that doesn’t mean it’s just Prime Video…it’s Netflix, Hulu, Tubi (and to a lesser extent, HBO on DirecTV which I get for using AT&T).

So, starting this month, I’m going to focus just on the videos, and then indicate the availability. Prime requires you to be a Prime member. Hulu and Netflix are paid subscription services (you might pay monthly or annually). Tubi and IMDb FreeDive are free with ads (the video will stop periodically for commercials…like old-fashioned TV).

Here are some recommendations (and this is a tiny fraction of what’s available), and the reasons why. This may be my prejudice, but I’m not going to list a TV series where you can’t start from the beginning…Hulu has current seasons of some good shows, but I always like to start at the top. I’m okay if the service doesn’t have the current season of a TV series, though…for me, I can wait for them to release it. I will, however, list movies where you might not be able to see the preceding ones. It’s a lot rarer that somebody will have all the earlier movies in a series (see Marvel, for example). Oh, and I’ll only include things where I’ve watched at least part of it.

Note: videos can leave a service at any time, and this listing was created using USA-based listings.

Supernatural (Netflix) (14 seasons, TV series)

One sentence summary: Two brothers travel around the country “hunting” supernatural creatures

With 300 episodes, you could literally watch an episode every day (taking off weekends) and still be watching it by next year’s Superbowl! The chemistry between the leads (playing brothers) is amazing, there are horror elements (but scarier than gross), good writing, strong supporting characters, and a through line that doesn’t get you stumbling over the mythology. Most episodes are stand-alones. Start at the beginning: it’s good right away.

The 100 (Netflix) (5 seasons, TV series)

One sentence summary: a group of young people return to an abandoned Earth and face hardships

Honestly, better than I thought it was going to be. Yes, it’s a bit soapy (it’s based on a young adult series), but I enjoyed the writing & acting on this one. It’s post-apocalyptic.

Avengers: Infinity War (Netflix) (2018 movie)

One sentence summary: Marvel heroes are brought together to face a big bad (Thanos)

Superhero blockbuster which pulled together a lot of different characters. Yes, it’s a little like one of the early Star Trek movies, where everybody gets a “moment”, but there are some really fun exchanges (I liked the back-and-forth with Thor and Rocket Raccoon). I wouldn’t start here for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you won’t feel like you are done, but I enjoyed it.

Supergirl (Netflix) (3 seasons, TV series)

One sentence summary: Superman’s cousin deals with having powers, but also every day life.

For those of us who grew up with the “Silver Age” of DC, we think of it as fun, rather than the dark, pessimistic world it was in the movies (at least until Wonder Woman). The Flash and this show went back (initially) to that more light-hearted feel. The cast is good, and there’s some workplace comedy elements which work.

Doctor Who (Prime Video) (10 seasons/series, TV series…this is the reboot that started in 2005)

One sentence summary: “Time Lord” and human “companions” have adventures

There’s a reason why the character of Doctor Who has been around for so long! S/he’s unique: an alien who is full of curiosity and fond of humans, but has some deep darkness as well. We all have our favorites, and it’s often our first. For me, mine was Tom Baker…but I really liked Matt Smith in this version. Part of that is the companions (Amy Pond!), but I thought he really captured the doctor’s conscious desire to enjoy life. My favorite episode of Doctor Who altogether is The Girl Who Waited. You can watch this without having watched the early seasons, even though there are some references to old events.

The Walking Dead (Netflix) (8 seasons, TV series)

One sentence summary: after a zombie apocalypse begins, a group of survivors bands together

This one can be gross, and it’s certainly harsh, but (and I’ve had this discussion with people) I think it’s the best cast of characters since the original Star Trek. I don’t think the first season is the best, but I’d start there…this one does have a heavy through story, and it wouldn’t make sense most of the time to see it out of order.

Birdbox (Netflix) (TV movie)

One sentence summary: creatures appear in contemporary society, and if you see them, you try to kill yourself…so being blindfolded is the best defense

I wasn’t crazy about this one, but it’s been very buzzy. It’s certainly dark and arguably creepy. Sandra Bullock stars.

Black Panther (Netflix) (2018 movie)

One sentence summary: superhero from advanced secret society faces challenges from within and without

This has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and is an adventure movie that’s a lot of fun! There is some intersection with the rest of Marvel, but you don’t need to know that to enjoy this. Many strong elements with a lot of attention to detail: this one has broad appeal.


Okay, I”m running out of time for you to make your decision, so here are a bunch more in much shorter versions (and I’ll be looser with what I include):

  • The Addams Family (Hulu)
  • Agent Carter (Hulu)
  • American Horror Story (Hulu)
  • Annihilation (2018 movie)
  • The Animal (2000 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Angel (Hulu)
  • The Angry Red Planet (Prime Video)
  • Archer (Hulu)
  • Arrival (2016 movie) (Hulu)
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1977 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Attack of the Mushroom People (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Avengers (Steed, some pre-Peel) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Babe (1995 movie) (Hulu)
  • Battle Royale (2000 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Battlestar Galactica (reboot) (Hulu)
  • Beetlejuice (Hulu)
  • Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Black Sunday (1960 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Blankman (1994 movie) (Freedive: free with ads)
  • A Boy and His Dog (1975 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Brazil (1985 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Bubba Ho-Tep (2003 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Hulu)
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Carnival of Souls (1962 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Cat Women of the Moon (1953 movie)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005 movie) (Hulu)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1972 movie) (Prime Video)
  • The Color of Magic¬† (Freedive: free with ads)
  • The Dark Crystal (Prime Video)
  • The Dead Zone (TV series) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Death Race 2000 (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Deep Blue Sea (Hulu)
  • Defenders of the Earth (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Destroy All Monsters (1969 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Dinosaurs (Hulu)
  • Dollhouse (Hulu)
  • Dreamscape (1984 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Dresden Files¬† (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Eternal Law (Freedive: free with ads)
  • The Exorcist (Hulu)
  • Field of Dreams (1989 movie) (Hulu)
  • Fireball XL5 (supermarionation) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Firefly (Hulu)
  • Fringe (Freedive: free with ads)
  • Futurama (Hulu)
  • Gammera the Invincible (1966 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Gargoyles (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Ghost Whisperer (Hulu)
  • The Greatest American Hero¬† (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Gumby’s Best Episodes (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Hereditary (2018 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Heroes (Freedive: free with ads)
  • Highlander (movie) (Hulu)
  • Highlander (TV series) (Hulu)
  • Hot Tub Time Machine (2010 movie) (Prime Video)
  • House on Haunted Hill (1959 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Hugo (2011 movie) (Prime Video) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • James Bond: Dr. No (Hulu), From Russia with Love (Hulu), Thunderball (Hulu), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Hulu), Moonraker (Hulu), For You Eyes Only (Hulu), A View to a Kill (Hulu), License to Kill (Hulu), Goldeneye (Hulu) Tomorrow Never Dies (Hulu)
  • Kentucky Fried Movie (1977 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Kick-Ass (2010 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Knightriders (1981 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Last Man on Earth (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Librarians (Hulu)
  • LIfeforce (1985 movie) (Prime Video)
  • The Little Shop of Horrors (1960 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Lost (Hulu)
  • Lost in Space (original) (Hulu)
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2004 movie) (Prime Video)
  • The Lost World (1925 movie)
  • The Manster (1959 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Mars Attacks (1996 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Masters of the Universe (1986 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Medium (Hulu)
  • The Monster Club (Tubi: free with ads)
  • My Favorite Martian (TV series) (Prime Video)
  • My Living Doll (TV series) (Prime Video)
  • The NeverEnding Story (1984 movie) (Hulu)
  • Night of the Comet (1983 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Night of the Creeps (1986 movie)¬† (Freedive: free with ads)
  • One Step Beyond (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Phantom (1996 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Painkiller Jane (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Pokemon (Hulu)
  • Power Rangers (2017 movie)
  • Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017 movie) (Hulu)
  • Puppet Master (1989 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Q: The Winged Serpent (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Quantum Leap (Hulu)¬†(Freedive: free with ads)
  • Reboot (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Riverworld (Freedive: free with ads)
  • Rocketworld X-M (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Roswell (Hulu)
  • Sapphire and Steel (Tubi: free with ads)
  • She Demons (1958 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Sherlock Gnomes (2018 movie) (Hulu)
  • Shrek (Hulu)
  • Silver Bullet (1985 movie)
  • Smallville (Hulu)
  • Spaceballs (1987 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Space Jam (1996 movie) (Hulu)
  • Spider baby (1967 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Spirit (2008 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Star Crash (1979 movie)¬† (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Stargate (1994 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Stargate SG-1 (Hulu)
  • Stargate Atlantis (Hulu)
  • Star Trek (2009 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Star Trek: The Original Series (Hulu)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (Hulu)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Hulu)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (Hulu)
  • Star Trek: Enterprise (Hulu)
  • Star Trek IX: Insurrection (1998 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Stingray (supermarionation) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Supercar (supermarionation)¬† (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Swamp Thing (TV series) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Tank Girl (1995 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Hulu)
  • Thunderbirds (original supermarionation)¬† (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Three Stooges in Orbit (Prime Video)
  • Total Recall (1990 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Timeless (Hulu)
  • Twilight (2008 movie) & sequels (Hulu)
  • Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016 movie) (Prime Video)
  • Warehouse 13 (Freedive: free with ads)
  • Warm Bodies (2013 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • The Weird Al Show (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Werewolf of Washington (1973 movie) (Tubi: free with ads)
  • Wolf (1994 movie) (Freedive FwA)
  • Xena: Warrior Princess (Hulu)
  • The X-Files (Hulu)

Wow! I really got sucked into the vortex on this one! ūüėČ I’m going to have to find a different way to do this, because I would really like to tell you why I put each one on the list. I have seen almost all of them (the exceptions are really recent ones…I think that was it). Feel free to ask my about any of them as to why I put them on this list. Believe it or not, I was pretty selective: there are reasons why I’m glad I saw all of these.

I also know that some things above may be incomplete…I might have left dates off movies and/or not listed all the viewing options.

Anyway, if you’d prefer to watch something besides the big game, I think you have a lot of good choices!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 


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