Can’t take much more of this

I was in the back­seat of a car maybe a month ago when the new X-Files (2016) came up. None of us had heard whether the se­ries was com­ing back for a per­ma­nent run or what. Someone looked it up on their phone and found it would on­ly be six episodes.

“Oh, thank good­ness,” I sighed.

My re­sponse baf­fled the front-seat oc­cu­pants, one of whom asked what I had against the The X-Files. I ex­plained bad­ly, as I of­ten do on the spot, how age has shown me that more isn’t al­ways bet­ter, and my al­ready loaded me­dia di­et means I just don’t have time or en­er­gy for that much new stuff.1 Fewer episodes equals better.

A lot of times I’d rather ap­peal­ing stuff just not ex­ist than have to ex­ert the willpow­er need­ed to not to care about it. Everett to­day is thank­ful Seinfeld quit ear­ly. Everett to­day was pissed when 99% Invisible went week­ly. Everett sighed and stared out the win­dow at the news of Blade Runner 2. Everett is way too good at find­ing stuff he cares about, and re­al­ly bad at ig­nor­ing stuff that sounds like it might be cool.

Tom Chandler has this prob­lem with pod­casts. I, um, al­so have this prob­lem with podcasts.

(P.S. If you’re David Lynch, make all the new Twin Peaks you want. I’ll accommodate.)

  1. I want­ed to add, but didn’t, that I al­ways thought Milennium was bet­ter than The X-Files, be­cause that would just con­fuse them and might make them think I re­al­ly did se­cret­ly hate The X-Files but wouldn’t own up to it. I’m get­ting bet­ter about stay­ing fo­cused while talk­ing, keep­ing the ex­tra­ne­ous de­tails I’m just dy­ing to share to my­self.

Her was silly. (Not a typo.)

Spike Jonze’s Her was an in­ter­est­ing movie taint­ed with just a sprin­kling of ridicu­lous­ness… and I’m not talk­ing about the high-waisted pants.

I’m about to spoil it hard, so avert your eyes if you haven’t seen it. (But do see it.)

Look, I just find it hard to be­lieve that the down­fall of this prod­uct was due to a gap­ing de­sign flaw that some­how no­body no­ticed: Samantha was de­signed with­out any process iso­la­tion. When you ask the soft­ware how many users it has (or how many it’s in love with, etc.), it should re­spond “one — you” be­cause your run­ning in­stance of the soft­ware shouldn’t know any­thing about any oth­er users, and def­i­nite­ly shouldn’t be ac­cess­ing oth­er users’ data.

What peo­ple are do­ing with the soft­ware, hav­ing re­la­tion­ships with it or what­ev­er, is be­side the point. One bi­na­ry, one bil­lion­ty in­di­vid­ual Samanthas. Come on — we’ve had Unix for forty years.

Or wait, is Samantha sup­posed to be “the cloud”? If so, as so­cial soft­ware, we should ex­pect it to be fuck­ing as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, as pub­licly as pos­si­ble. Maybe this movie is deep­er than I thought.

On an­oth­er note, folks — make back­ups.

Movie Mom Advice from Netflix

Netflix has me trained pret­ty well — I know nev­er to read the red en­velopes that show up at my place. These days, the flip side is al­ways a pro­mo for some ex­clu­sive orig­i­nal se­ries I don’t care about. House of Cards is amaz­ing? That’s won­der­ful; let me know when I can ac­tu­al­ly stream some god­damn movies, okay?

That’s why I was sur­prised when tonight’s Netflix en­velopes ac­tu­al­ly man­aged to catch my eye. On my way back from the mail­box I found both clev­er­ly em­bla­zoned with dif­fer­ent life tips from movie moms. Tonight’s haul came wrapped in choice bits of Forrest Gump and Brave — time­ly for Mother’s Day and all that.

 

I won­der how many de­signs there ac­tu­al­ly are in the se­ries — I’m guess­ing far few­er than the hun­dreds the num­ber­ing sys­tem seems to sug­gest. I’ll be look­ing for more in a few days.

That’s ac­tu­al­ly pret­ty sweet of them. I’ll… be sure to let mom know.

On wishing for boredom

This is not a post about Steve Jobs. I read enough of them in the days and weeks af­ter his death. I read in these a lot of what I al­ready knew and learned some new stuff for sure, but one Steve quote stood out to me in Wired’s obit­u­ary:

I’m a big be­liev­er in bore­dom,” he told me. Boredom al­lows one to in­dulge in cu­rios­i­ty, he ex­plained, and “out of cu­rios­i­ty comes everything.”

I’m not sure if I’d head this quote from him be­fore, but it put in­to words some­thing that has been trou­bling me for some time: I haven’t been bored in years.

The first time I no­ticed this was in the mid-2000s, and  I on­ly re­al­ized part of it, and I saw it through the lens of my Internet us­age, par­tic­u­lar­ly RSS. Even to­day, as the cool kids have moved on to fol­low­ing Twitter feeds (re­al­ly, talk about a step back­wards) of web­sites and blogs they find in­ter­est­ing, I’m still a huge fan of the no-bullshit, user-in-control, de­cen­tral­ized pow­er of RSS.1

What oc­curred to me back then was that hav­ing posts pushed to me dai­ly gave me more read­ing ma­te­r­i­al than I need­ed. And since I could nev­er get all the way through the un­read glut of posts from blogs I’d sub­scribed to, my need to ever go for­ag­ing for in­ter­est­ing things to read ba­si­cal­ly dis­ap­peared. RSS gave me tons of serendip­i­ty (thank you, linkblogs!)… and at the same time, prac­ti­cal­ly none at all. I miss the old days — some would say the bad old days — when I’d get my on­line en­ter­tain­ment and ran­dom bits of en­light­en­ment by brows­ing aim­less­ly from link to link, be­ing per­son­al­ly point­ed to in­ter­est­ing things by friends on AIM, fol­low­ing lat­est links post­ed to proto-blogs like Pixelsurgeon, and… I don’t know, how­ev­er else we found cool shit back then.

The sec­ond time I felt this ef­fect of this was at some point over the last few years, but this time in a more gen­er­al sense. This time it was big­ger than RSS; this time it was about every­thing in my life.

I re­al­ized I have far too many op­tions for en­ter­tain­ment. There are two rea­sons for this: mas­sive dig­i­tal stor­age de­vices and the fact that, be­ing em­ployed gives me an ac­tu­al en­ter­tain­ment bud­get for pur­chas­ing paid me­dia and fan­cy de­vices on which to ex­pe­ri­ence it. Between a pile of un­read books and bunch of e-books; more un­watched movies, sea­sons of old TV shows and ani­me se­ries than I can name; and games ga­lore that I’ll nev­er fin­ish (thank you Nintendo Wii and DS, Android phone and a still-kickin’ Atari 2600), I’m pret­ty much set for… for­ev­er.2 Even if I don’t seek out any­thing new, it’ll be years and years be­fore I get through all of this. And it’s not like I can just ig­nore new re­leas­es and stuff I be­come aware of in the meantime!

I might be able to en­joy this world o’ plen­ty, if I could for­get about what life was like when I was grow­ing up, be­fore we had the com­put­ing pow­er, stor­age and net­work ca­pac­i­ty to ex­pe­ri­ence all the dig­i­tal rich­es of more en­ter­tain­ment than we’ll ever need. I spent so much time be­ing bored grow­ing up, aim­less­ly think­ing and day­dream­ing and such. This was be­fore my first com­put­er; I had tons of books and had prob­a­bly read al­most all of them, made good use of the pub­lic li­brary, played with toys, ac­tion fig­ures and stuff a whole lot and still found time to be bored and day­dream be­cause it seemed like I had run out of things to do.

If you live a sim­i­lar­ly full, media-rich and em­ployed first-world life, and can still ever find your­self so lux­u­ri­ous­ly bored, how do you man­age? And can you teach me?

  1. Google Reader, please don’t die.
  2. I didn’t men­tion mu­sic here, be­cause the way I con­sume mu­sic is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. I still clear­ly have more than I “need,” but I don’t feel the same sort of pres­sure to get through it all, thanks to shuf­fle mode.