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2015 in Movies: some data

Last year I saw a total of 82 movies that I can remember, a fact which I consider both impressive and unimpressive; impressive because it’s more than I would have guessed, unimpressive because I have friends like Sara who have been known to see on the order of 400 movies any given calendar year.

My three favorite movies I saw in theatrical release in 2015 were:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road 3D
  3. It Follows

Yeah, I’m putting Mad Max on there twice. It was that good. This completely unbiased piece pretty much sums up how I feel about it.

Still, the neurotic in me thought it would be a good idea to compile some other stats I was curious about. First, I wanted to know the breakdown of movies seen in a theater vs. other formats:

Maybe TV isn't a legit category anymore

I want to say there were probably a few more movies I saw on a plane – 2015 was a record year for travel in the continental states – but I just can’t remember. Shoulda kept better records.

The Nitehawk is the cinephile’s dream of a movie theater across the street from where I live, so I was curious what percentage of movies I saw there:
Everyone should go to the Nitehawk more
myself included

Next, I wanted to know how many movies I watched were repeat viewings (movies I was seeing for the second time or more). This percentage was higher than I expected, so I also wondered how many bucket list movies I was able to cross off in 2015; I’ll (arbitrarily) define a bucket list movie as a critically/culturally acclaimed movie that I’ve wanted to see for a while and was not released in the current year.
Whose thumb really matters these days?

I’ll need to put some more thought into what I think the ideal percentage of rewatched movies is, but I think I can increase my bucket list percentage.

Finally, I have a hypothesis that as time goes on I should theoretically get better at picking movies I’ll enjoy, so I also tallied how many movies of the ones I hadn’t seen before that I would give a thumbs up to:
Whose thumb actually matters these days?

This is fairly imprecise but at least it’ll provide some directional indication of how much of my overall time spent watching movies is enjoyable. I’ll revisit if I can find a better way to measure this.

Books I read in 2015: some data

Not counting the reams of comics I was consuming for the first half of the year I read a total of 24 books in 2015. Data for prior years is incomplete but I would guess this approaches a personal record; it’s a decent benchmark but I think I can do better.

Still, I thought it would be interesting to crunch the numbers from a few different perspectives. Firstly I feel like I’ve been reading more books than ever electronically, so I was curious about the ratio of different format types in which I read these books. Here’s how it broke out:

2015 book formats
Actually pretty balanced between paper and eBook; I read more physical books than I remembered. Also my lifelong inability to make it through entire audio books continues.

Next, I was sure I read more fiction than nonfiction but I was curious in what percentages. I thought it’d be appropriate to distinguish novels from short story collections as well.
2015 book types

Turns out I was again surprisingly balanced.

Lastly I started noticing that most of my favorite short story writers are female, so I thought I’d just check what percentage of books I read were written by women versus men.
2015 all authors

Not quite as high as I’d thought, though limiting the set to just fiction authors brings us closer to 50%.
2015 fiction authors

Hello I’m here

It’s been nearly a year since I discovered the Forty Days of Dating project and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve still only read up to Day 21. In my defense I kinda don’t want to get to the end too soon; it’s a fascinating experiment made even more beautiful by the presentation, and a good reminder that Life needs to be not only a series of Emersonian experiments but a series of finished projects as well.

2013 in Review

Time is becoming downright relentless. One minute you’re compiling your list of favorite things from 2012, polishing it off, thinking it might even look fashionably forward to release the thing a few weeks after 2013 has begun and before you know it suddenly it’s 2014. That’s right, kids, that best of 2012 post never got published.

So to nip this thing in the bud of 2014 I present to you my favorite things from 2013 (that I’ve remembered in the past 48 hours):

Literally everything about Spike Jonze’s Her, Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha, Amy Adams in anything, anything put out by Annapurna Pictures, the lighting and music of Inside Llewyn Davis, those first two long takes that open Before Midnight, “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake, “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend, “Tennis Court” by Lorde, “This Charming Man” by the Smiths, the entire Lightning album by Matt and Kim, Readability, the redesigned New York Times app, Vine, Tweetbot, Clash of Clans, the Walking Dead video game, Arkham Origins for iOS, Comics, Venmo, Heyday, the worlds of comics, writing, alt lit and gifs as seen through Tumblr, Rap Genius, my iPad Air, my third Nike Fuelband, “Hawkeye”, anything written by Matt Fraction or illustrated by David Aja, “Understanding Comics”, “New York Four” and “New York Five”, “Day Tripper”, “Saga”, “Batman Incorporated”, “The Walking Dead”, “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, “Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson, “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson, getting to read the New Yorker on my commute, the Breaking Bad Insider podcast, the Monday B.S. Report podcast with Cousin Sal, the comiXologist, War Rocket Ajax, Talking Comics, Welcome to Night Vale, Drive to Work with Mark Rosewater, the Blackhawks championship, the unstoppable tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, Josh McCown, any running play against the Bears defense that resulted in a gain of less than 5 yards, Atlantic City with the OMGPop crew, clubbing with the Entourage crew, launching a mobile game from the NY studio, indie movies with Jenny, visiting Stephen on the set of his Happy Baby movie, Tokyo robot girls with Honmun and Felicia, Shakespeare in the Park’s production of “The Comedy of Errors”, the weekend of debauchery in New Orleans with the San Francisco bachelor party crew, road tripping on the west coast with Kishan, the circle boat tour with Angie, Robby and Nadia’s wedding in New York with Kate, Seeyew and Katie’s wedding in Madison, chicken sandwiches with Chad at Corner Bistro, Tom & Jerry’s with the NY office crew, the unanticipated but much welcome migration of Bay Area writer friends to New York, any gathering involving said writer friends, Duff’s Bar with Anthony, Ryan and Nate, the Stanford-Oregon game at SNAP bar, Chad and Emily’s pumpkin party, any drinking and/or eating session with Tom and Doris, Magic nights with Tom and Thebao, the weather at Lincoln Financial Stadium during the Bears’ epic loss to the Eagles, walking the streets of Chicago with Sara and Kishan, any event at Housing Works Bookstore, any random encounter with a celebrity, any form of ramen, any form of bagel, chicken and rice from the Halal Guys, La Colombe coffee, Shamas Deli, “Day of the Doctor” with Anthony, “Girls” and “The Newsroom” with Angie, the entire buildup leading to and throughout the last 8 episodes of “Breaking Bad”, the ridiculously good cliffhanger for the “To’hajiilee” episode of “Breaking Bad”, the “Ozymandias” episode of “Breaking Bad”, the pop culture explosion of “Breaking Bad”, anything having to do with anything about “Breaking Bad”.

Let’s do this, 2014.

The last 13 New Yorker stories, blurbed

No, I haven’t stopped reading them, dear reader. I just got behind. And while every week is still hit or miss there’ve been enough enjoyable moments to make me believe this a worthwhile exercise. What I don’t want this to come across as is some form of judgment on each writer (though I suppose that may be impossible), think of these more as notes on what worked and didn’t work for me personally while encountering each of these stories.

“Victory” by Yu Hua (August 26, 2013 issue) — A cheating husband always presents a potentially interesting scenario. Unfortunately I found the language (translated from the Chinese) too cold and distant to foster much empathy.

“The Colonel’s Daughter” by Robert Coover (September 2, 2013 issue) — A group of revolutionaries gathers to plot a coup. Loved the tone and atmosphere of this piece, as the characters size each other up like suspects in a game of Clue.

“The Heron” by Dorthe Nors (September 8, 2013 issue) — I actually appreciate when authors have the conviction to make their short stories short. Unfortunately this one, about a narrator’s thoughts at a park, just didn’t have enough meat on the bone to stay with me.

“By Fire” by Tahar Ben Jelloun (September 16, 2013 issue) — An interesting portrait of the life of an Arab street seller that takes a sudden political turn. For me the ending felt a little too jarring and pointed, not quite earned.

“Bad Dreams” by Tessa Hadley (September 23, 2013 issue) — A young child has a bad dream in which she finds the details of one of her favorite books have changed. The premise seemed a bit indulgent to me, but the consequences of the dream and what it foreshadows for the parents felt like the hint of a great story to be.

“The Breeze” by Joshua Ferris (September 30, 2013 issue) — A New York couple plays out several hypothetical date-night scenarios as they live through modern relationship ennui. This story frustrated me. A great premise, great setups that cause you to reflect on your own life and relationships, exceptionally confusing execution.

“I’m the Meat, You’re the Knife” by Paul Theroux (October 7, 2013 issue) — A grown man goes back to visit the bedside of a dying childhood teacher. I really appreciated the oblique angle in which this story approaches its subject matter, showing that there are never easy answers (or straightforward consequences) to childhood horrors.

“Katania” by Lara Vapnyar (October 14, 2013 issue) — Two girls growing up in Soviet Russia compare dolls and dollhouses, and by extension their lives. Vapnyar does a great job of putting you in the shoes (and shoebox dollhouses) of these girls; the ending just didn’t work for me though, and seems to completely undercut the realism that comes before it.

“The Bear Came Over the Mountain” by Alice Munro (October 21, 2013 issue) — This reprint (first published December 27, 1999) felt more like a valedictory lap for both The New Yorker and Munro immediately following her Nobel prize. It’s probably unfair to even evaluate this story along with the others shown here because it’s so damn good; within the first page it was clear that Munro simply writes on a different level.

“Samsa in Love” by Haruki Murakami (October 28, 2013 issue) — A cockroach awakens to find he is now Gregor Samsa. I count myself a huge Murakami fan, but even this (his first New Yorker story in a while) felt too Murakami-esque with not enough wrinkles to imply any kind of interesting growth. At what point should a writer be concerned about becoming a parody of himself?

“Weight Watchers” by Thomas McGuane (November 4, 2013 issue) — A construction worker helps his dad lose weight in order to reunite with his mom. This was one of my favorite stories from this group; its sheer joy of language shines through in the narrator’s colorful diction and idioms, and there’s a loopy world-weariness that seems honest and hard-won. I really need to read more from McGuane.

“Benji” by Chinelo Okparanta (November 11, 2013 issue) — A lonely rich man becomes involved with a married woman. I enjoyed the sly trickery this piece is constructed on; the existential question it ends with is food for thought as well.

“Find the Bad Guy” by Jeffrey Eugenides (November 18, 2013 issue) — A man approaches his old house and family, including his wife who has a restraining order against him. This was an incredibly fun read, with a main character who is the most unreliable of unreliable narrators but charms you anyway with his wit, hysterical voice and the exciting possibility that anything can happen in the next paragraph. I loved every minute.