Movies 2021

I've watched 49 movies so far in 2021.

Title (Year of Release) - Date Watched (ツ) = Re-watch

  1. Arrival (2016) - 01/01 (ツ)
  2. For Your Eyes Only (1981) - 01/07 (ツ)
  3. Jojo Rabbit (2019) - 01/18
  4. Goldfinger (1965) - 01/22 (ツ)
  5. From Russia With Love (1964) - 01/31 (ツ)
  6. Ford v. Ferrari (2020) - 02/06
  7. Whiplash (2014) - 02/09
  8. A Serious Man (2009) - 02/13 (ツ)
  9. Licence to Kill (1989) - 02/16 (ツ)
  10. Hotel Mumbai (2019) - 02/20
  11. Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) - 02/21
  12. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) - 02/28 (ツ)
  13. Coming 2 America (2021) - 03/07
  14. I Love You, Man (2009) - 03/13 (ツ)
  15. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) - 03/14
  16. Sound of Metal (2020) - 03/16
  17. Action U.S.A. (1989) - 03/23
  18. Under the Skin (2013) - 04/01
  19. Pieces (1982) - 05/22
  20. The Big Lebowski (1998) - 06/09 (ツ)
  21. The Tough Ones (1976) - 06/25
  22. Good on Paper (2021) - 07/04
  23. Tenet (2020) - 07/04
  24. In the Heights (2021) - 07/07
  25. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021) - 07/09
  26. Thief (1981) - 07/13
  27. Fear Street: 1994 (2021) - 07/19
  28. Fear Street: 1978 (2021) - 07/19
  29. Fear Street: 1666 (2021) - 07/19
  30. Clue (1985) - 07/24
  31. Gunpowder Milkshake (2021) - 07/26
  32. Champagne & Bullets (1993) - 07/29
  33. True Stories (1986) - 08/15
  34. Misha and the Wolves (2021) - 08/19
  35. Shiva Baby (2021) - 09/13
  36. Midnight in Paris (2011) - 09/13 (ツ)
  37. Les Misérables (2012) - 09/14 (ツ)
  38. Killing Them Softly (2012) - 09/15
  39. Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) - 09/16
  40. Casino Royale (2006) - 09/28 (ツ)
  41. Friday the 13th (1980) - 09/29 (ツ)
  42. Malignant (2021) - 10/03
  43. Quantum of Solace (2008) - 10/04 (ツ)
  44. Skyfall (2012) - 10/07 (ツ)
  45. Beetlejuice (1988) - 10/08 (ツ)
  46. Zodiac (2007) - 10/10 (ツ)
  47. Friday the 13th Part II (1981) - 10/12
  48. Spectre (2015) - 10/14 (ツ)
  49. No Time To Die (2021) - 10/16

Signal

A few years ago, and not necessarily out of the blue, I became increasingly more aware of how advertisers track us online, how companies use and sell our personal data, and how governments make use of this information as well. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I kinda went off the deep end with it and quickly approached tinfoil hat territory. I’ve since been able to reel it back quite a bit, but there are still quite a few things that stuck with me that I continue to practice and make use of today.

With that said, I should admit that I am far from being an expert really on any topic, and when it comes to privacy and security, one absolutely should do their own research to see if what I do, use, or recommend is even legitimate (though all I’m practicing/preaching are just pretty good general-use actions that would behoove anyone to consider or implement for themselves).

Now, I don’t want to get too into the Edward Snowden revelations, but let’s briefly touch on what he leaked: The U.S. government actively spies on us, and it does so with the help of most-if-not-all telecom companies and, to a potentially lesser degree, hardware and software manufacturers.

There are plenty of arguments both for and against Snowden’s whistleblowing, and for and against the government’s actions, and I’m not here to tell you which side of any argument you should be on (Ed’s a hero and should be treated as such and the government is bad and evil), but regardless of where you land, Ed’s widely-used and most quotable quote should ring at least a little true for you and/or yours:

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

— Edward Snowden, from basically any interview he’s ever done, or even his memoir, Permanent Record, available now wherever you get your books.

I agree fully with his sentiment here, but to peel that back just a few more words to where I said “true for you and/or yours,” the “yours” part is where I really want to draw focus. You might not personally have any reason to hide anything from anyone or any body (government, corporation, advertisers), but that doesn’t mean that the people you interact with (friends, loved ones, co-workers, dealers, bookies) don’t. Once you care about and take actions to protect your own privacy, however, you inadvertently start to care about and take actions to protect the privacy of others. It’s not a bad cycle to be in, and it’s almost never been easier, which is why I use and recommend Signal.

If you’re an iPhone user who only ever texts other iPhone users, you likely do not have to give privacy too much of a thought. Apple has its own messaging platform built into its devices called iMessage. iMessage is end-to-end (e2e) encrypted when texting other iPhone/iPad/Mac users (it’s why you have blue messaging bubbles with those folks). The encrypting of a message end-to-end means that, when you send or receive a text from someone via blue-bubble iMessage, the only two people who can (theoretically) read it are the sender and its recipient. When texting a non-Apple user, iMessage sends a normal, non-encrypted, government-readable text (green bubble). For some, wanting to avoid seeing this green color alone is what keeps them devoted to the Apple ecosystem. Outside of the general device lock-in that this can create (meaning someone only buys a new iPhone every year or three because it’s what they know/like), it’s also slightly hostile toward non-Apple users. For a company that claims it’s as privacy-focused as it is — CEO Tim Cook even stated that “Privacy is a fundamental human right.”1 — it’s done little to remedy this lack of privacy for non-Apple users.

Enter Signal. Signal is a messaging app not unlike iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or countless others, but what makes Signal special is that it e2e encrypts its messages by default. In fact, you can’t disable it. This means that, similar to iMessage, the only people who can read the messages sent between Signal users are the senders and recipients. The app has a few other niceties built-in, too — e2e encrypted voice and video calls, stickers packs, and reactions — but the best part, in my opinion, is that Signal is multi-platform. If you have an iPad, an Android phone, a Mac at home, and a Windows PC at work, and Signal is installed on each device, your messages will conveniently be synced across all platforms.

While this is the best part for me, an iPad user with an Android phone, for others, it might be the price: Free. There’s nothing to sign-up for either, because Signal uses your existing cell or VoIP (Google Voice, MySudo, etc…) number to log you onto its servers for easy breezy beautiful e2e encrypted messaging.

This really should be a no-brainer for Android phone users for a couple of reasons:

  1. Between Google, the carriers (I’m lookin at you, Verizon), the hardware manufacturers (I’m looking at you, Samsung), and various social platform messaging apps (Facebook, WhatsApp [owned by Facebook], others), there are like 30 different apps for texting someone, but if they offer e2e encryption at all, it’s not on by default.
  2. Because the platform works the way that it does, an Android user can set Signal as their default messaging app for all their general texting needs and, if one texts another Signal user (regardless of the device that person uses), the message is e2e encrypted without having to do anything else.

(That said, messages sent to or received by non-Signal users remain normal, non-encrypted, government-readable texts [think green bubbles from iMessage]. A conundrum perhaps, but not if more people start using Signal, whatever their device.)

Since iPhone users cannot currently set a different messaging app to be the default, it means iPhoners will have to use different apps for different sets of people. This might be a slight nuisance for them, but it’s one that comes with myriad benefits for others.

The last thing worth mentioning is that Signal messages work off of a data connection. This means that high quality images and GIFs, as well as documents, can be sent between users (e2e encrypted as well). Or, if you’re in a hospital with no cellular reception, but free WiFi, you can still message the people you love or whatever.

I can’t recommend the use of Signal enough, but like I said, you don’t have to take my word for it…

You don't have to take my word for it.

EU Commission to staff: Switch to Signal messaging app – Politico, 02/20/2020

Ditch All Those Other Messaging Apps: Here’s Why You Should Use Signal – Wired, 11/05/2017

11 tips for protecting your privacy and digital security in the age of Trump – Freedom of the Press Foundation, 01/30/2017

And just for fun: Signal Messenger receives $50 million from WhatsApp co-founder – Engadget, 02/22/2018

TV 2021

I've watched many seasons of 30 shows so far in 2021.

  1. Midnight Diner - S1
  2. His Dark Materials - S2
  3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - S1-4
  4. The History of Comedy - S1, 2
  5. The Great - S1
  6. Selena + Chef - S1
  7. Search Party - S1-4
  8. Escape to the Château - S1-4
  9. Blown Away - S1, 2
  10. Waffles + Mochi
  11. Mare of Easttown
  12. Hacks - S1
  13. Detroiters - S1, 2
  14. Kim's Convenience - S5
  15. We Are Lady Parts - S1
  16. Rutherford Falls - S1
  17. Making It - S3
  18. Girls 5eva - S1
  19. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson - S2
  20. Tattoo Redo - S1
  21. The Great Pottery Throw Down - S1-4
  22. The White Lotus - S1
  23. Nine Perfect Strangers
  24. Ted Lasso - S1
  25. The Chair
  26. Mapleworth Murders
  27. Bo Burnham's Inside
  28. The Great British Baking Show - S9
  29. Midnight Mass
  30. Squid Game

Books 2021

I've read eight books so far in 2021.

Author/Publisher - Title (Year of Release) - Date Completed

  1. The Jewish Publication Society – The Torah: The Five Books of Moses (1999) – 01/03
  2. Anita Diamant - Living a Jewish Life (2009) - 02/01
  3. Rabbi Daniel B. Syme - The Jewish Home: A Guide for Jewish Living (2017) - 02/14
  4. Martha Wells - Network Effect (2020) - 03/14
  5. CCAR Press - Honoring Tradition, Embracing Modernity: A Reader for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Introduction to Judaism Course (2017) - 05/26
  6. Abraham Joshua Heschel - The Sabbath (1975) - 07/19
  7. Rabbi Kari H. Tuling - Thinking About God (2020) - 08/29
  8. Victor Hugo - Les Misérables (1862)

TV 2020

I watched many seasons of 22 shows in 2020.

  1. Broadchurch - S1-3
  2. High Seas - S2
  3. The Repair Shop - S1-3
  4. Living with Yourself
  5. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson - S1
  6. Columbo S1-3
  7. Unorthodox
  8. The Nanny - S1
  9. Schitt’s Creek - S6
  10. Married at First Sight S9
  11. Fleabag S1, 2
  12. Community - S1-6
  13. I Know This Much is True
  14. Somebody Feed Phil - S3, 4
  15. The Stranger
  16. Kim's Convenience - S3, 4
  17. Unsolved Mysteries (2020) - S1
  18. Indian Matchmaking - S1
  19. The Umbrella Academy - S1, 2
  20. The Haunting of Bly Manor
  21. The Queen's Gambit
  22. Fargo - S4

Movies 2020

I watched 42 movies in 2020.

Title (Year of Release) - Date Watched

  1. Little Women (1994) - 01/01
  2. Little Women (2019) - 01/04
  3. 1917 (2019) - 01/11
  4. Parasite (2019) - 01/19
  5. You Were Never Really Here (2018) - 01/20
  6. Good Time (2017) - 01/25
  7. Honey Boy (2019) - 02/08
  8. Oscar Shorts (2019) - 02/15
  9. The Secret Garden (1993) - 04/25
  10. The Founder (2016) - 04/30
  11. The Raid: Redemption (2011) - 04/30
  12. Midsommar: Director's Cut (2019) - 05/09
  13. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) - 05/12
  14. The Raid 2 (2014) - 05/17
  15. Dogtooth (2009) - 05/27
  16. Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood (2019) - 05/28
  17. Hollywood Cop (1987) - 05/30
  18. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) - 06/03
  19. Stan & Ollie (2018) - 06/03
  20. Beyond the Visible - Hilma af Klint (2019) - 06/09
  21. Zero Dark Thirty (2012) - 06/11
  22. Shirley (2020) - 06/20
  23. The Lodge (2019) - 06/22
  24. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2019) - 08/09
  25. The Trip to Greece (2020) - 09/04
  26. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) - 09/05
  27. American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020) - 10/01
  28. Enola Holmes (2020) - 10/03
  29. The Gentlemen (2020) - 10/04
  30. Moneyball (2011) - 10/15
  31. Super 8 (2011) - 10/18
  32. The Booksellers (2020) - 10/18
  33. Rebecca (2020) - 10/25
  34. Gravity (2013) - 11/04
  35. The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020) - 11/25
  36. Modern Romance (1981) - 11/25
  37. Can't Hardly Wait (1998) - 12/06
  38. Uncle Frank (2020) - 12/10
  39. Mank (2020) - 12/12
  40. The Christmas Chronicles 2 (2020) - 12/24
  41. Happiest Season (2020) - 12/24
  42. The Family Stone (2005) - 12/31

Games 2020

I more or less completed one game in 2020.

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

Books 2020

I read 15 books in 2020.

  1. Frank Herbert - Dune (1965)
  2. Charlie Mackesy - The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (2019)
  3. Malcolm Gladwell - Blink (2006)
  4. Malcolm Gladwell - David and Goliath (2013)
  5. Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers (2008)
  6. Becky Chambers - The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014)
  7. Malcolm Gladwell - Talking to Strangers (2019)
  8. Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point (2000)
  9. Marcus Aurelius - Meditations (180)
  10. Simon Winchester - The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (1998)
  11. Malcolm Gladwell - What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures (2009)
  12. Ted Chiang - Stories of Your Life and Others (2002)
  13. Iain Reid - I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2016)
  14. Alex Trebek - The Answer is... (2020)
  15. Robin DiAngelo - White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (2018)

Ending Things

What a wonderfully exhausting journey I went on.

I watched the latest Charlie Kaufman film, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, a while back. Like the films that have, so far, meant the most to me in my life, I couldn’t stop thinking about it days afterward. It left me in this weird space feeling alone, and to process it in a way that I haven’t had to process things for a while. Part of it is because I’ve ended things before, and another part of it because I’ve also thought of ending things.

The movie starts with a woman being picked up by her boyfriend. They’re about to take their first long car ride together to go have dinner at his parent’s place on the farm where he grew up. It will be her first time meeting his folks since they started dating six or seven weeks earlier and, as it turns out, she’s thinking of ending things with him. A lot of her inner-monologue is narrated throughout the film, so we’re constantly made aware of her thoughts about things — him, their relationship, whatever else — but outside of what he says out loud, never so much his; such is the one-sided nature of just about any human relationship, intimate or otherwise.

Outside of her head, they have conversations that suggest that they’re mostly open enough with one another and are able to discuss just about anything, but that they’re also still learning about each other. They each take interest in what the other has to say and crack wise. Some jabs land, others raise questions, and her inner-voice is always walking us through why she’s thinking of ending things. Her reasons are sound, so far as I’ve come to experience myself.

Everything devolves pretty quickly once they get to dinner. Her name changes multiple times. What she does for a living changes, too. His parents age and disappear and reappear back in present day. She experiences other things that defy reality, or aren’t how he wanted them to go or would want to remember them being had they happened at all. Experiences are only as good as they are remembered to be and memories are fickle. They change over time, or can be slightly tainted by how others might have experienced or remembered them, or by whether or not they are affected by the shoulda woulda couldas. Such are the thoughts of a man who thought of ending things, who has ended things.

And so I was left thinking about how I’ve ended things before — relationships (friendships or greater), ideas (big or small), opportunities (in education or profession) — and this naturally spiraled out-of-control and into regrets (I’ve had a few) (but then again, too few to mention). It also made me think about all of the times I’ve thought of ending things — in high school, in college, in my 20’s, in my 30’s… The movie felt so true to my thoughts and experiences; I felt both validated and exposed in ways that I found comforting and disturbing. I told a friend that it was as though the movie was speaking in tongues that, for better or worse, only I could understand. I’m Thinking of Ending Things messed me up and it took a few days to recover.

Then, a couple weeks later, I went and read the book on which the movie is based. What a delight to learn that the movie stays fairly true to the source material! Did this make me go through and process everything all over again? Absolutely. Was it a bad idea? If I didn’t enjoy it so much, I’d say maybe, but it took another few days to pull myself out of that fog again, and with those fogs so close together like that…I was a mess.

I liked (loved?) both the movie and the book and I don’t think that one is better than the other. The book might do a little bit better job of making this abstract connection that the thoughts of ending a relationship and the thoughts of ending one’s life can be a similarly exhausting experience and will leave behind only questions for those left in its wake. But then I think the movie does a better job of presenting both the horror of the last things going through someone’s mind who’s resolute in ending things and the comfort and peace that only they would find in doing so.

I feel like, when I first started writing this (October 13, 2020; it’s now November 28, 2020), I had more to say, or at least wanted to convey, but the moment’s passed. It’s time to finally finish what I’ve started; I’m thinking of ending this.

TV 2019

I watched many seasons of 25 shows in 2019.

# Show Season(s)
1. Travelers 1-3
2. The Good Place 3, 4
3. Somebody Feed Phil 2
4. Black-ish 5
5. True Detective 3
6. Stand Up and Away! with Brian Regan
7. Russian Doll 1
8. Schitt's Creek 1-5
9. Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner
10. The Office (U.K.) 1
11. Catastrophe 4
12. Lorena
13. I'll Have What Phil's Having
14. Killing Eve 1, 2
15. Veep 7
16. Santa Clarity Diet 3
17. The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling
18. Barry 1, 2
19. The Handmaid's Tale 3
20. Dark 2
21. The Twilight Zone (2019) 1
22. GLOW 3
23. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel 1, 2
24. The Great British Bake Off 10
25. Castle Rock 2

Music 2019

I listened to more than eight albums for the first time in 2019, but these are the ones I kept track of...

# Artist Album Year
1. Deerhunter Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? 2019
2. Weezer Weezer (Teal Album) 2019
3. Turtlenecked Springtime in Hell EP 2018
4. Khruangbin Con Todo El Mundo 2018
5. Rodney Dangerfield No Respect 1980
6. Ladytron Ladytron 2019
7. The Lemonheads Varshons 2 2019
8. Broken Social Scene Let's Try the After (Vol. 1) EP 2019

...and then I gave up.

Fin

Movies 2019

I watched 23 movies in 2019.

# Movie Year Viewed
1. Too Funny to Fail: The Life & Death of the Dana Carvey Show 2017 01/24
2. Can You Ever Forgive Me? 2018 01/28
3. Snowden 2016 02/02
4. Destination Wedding 2018 02/02
5. Glass 2019 02/03
6. Oscar Nominated Shorts 2019 2018 02/10
7. Rebecca 1940 03/09
8. Abducted in Plain Sight 2017 03/12
9. Anastasia 1997 03/13
10. My Cousin Rachel 2017 03/15
11. Pyaasa 1957 04/07
12. A Futile and Stupid Gesture 2018 04/13
13. Vice 2018 04/14
14. Deadwood 2019 06/16
15. Yesterday 2019 06/30
16. Bad Times at the El Royale 2018 07/05
17. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami 2017 07/16
18. Midsommar 2019 07/17
19. The Farewell 2019 08/12
20. Always Be My Maybe 2019 09/14
21. Late Night 2019 09/15
22. Happy Death Day 2 U 2019 11/07
23. The Irishman 2019 12/29

Games 2019

I more or less completed 11 games in 2019.

  1. Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
  2. Gato Roboto (Switch)
  3. Nine Parchments (Switch)
  4. Overcooked (Switch)
  5. Celeste (Switch)
  6. The Jackbox Party Pack (Switch)
  7. Crypt of the NecroDancer (Switch)
  8. Cuphead (Switch)
  9. Mutant Mudds (Switch)
  10. Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
  11. Asphalt 9: Legends (Switch)

Books 2019

I read 29 books in 2019.

  1. Jeff VanderMeer - Acceptance (2014)
  2. Paul Tremblay - The Cabin at the End of the World (2018)
  3. Lee Israel - Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2008)
  4. William Gibson - Neuromancer (1984)
  5. John Grisham - The Whistler (2016)
  6. William Gibson - Count Zero (1986)
  7. William Gibson - Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)
  8. Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon (1999)
  9. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‘s Stone (1997)
  10. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
  11. Various Writers - McSweeny's Issue 54: The End of Privacy (2018)
  12. Andy Weir - The Martian (2014)
  13. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  14. Tim Chiang - Exhalation (2019)
  15. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
  16. Arkady Martine - A Memory Called Empire (2019)
  17. Martha Wells - All Systems Red (2017)
  18. Martha Wells - Artificial Condition (2018)
  19. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
  20. Michael Pollan - How to Change Your Mind (2018)
  21. Michael Diamond, Adam Horowitz - Beastie Boys Book (2018)
  22. Jonathan Ames - You Were Never Really Here (2013)
  23. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
  24. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2005)
  25. Edward Snowden - Permanent Record (2019)
  26. Rainbow Rowell - Pumpkinheads(2019)
  27. Martha Wells - Rogue Protocol (2018)
  28. Martha Wells - Exit Steategy (2018)
  29. William Gibson - The Peripheral (2014)

My Favorite Song About a Sailor

In the commentary track for the Coen Bros.' movie The Man Who Wasn't There, Billy Bob Thornton states (jokingly?) that the Coens wanted him for the role of Ed Crane (main character) and that the brothers pitched the film to him as a story about a barber who wants to become a dry cleaner. There is so much more to it than that, but a reductionist could make the case that that about sums it up.

Similarly, the song "My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist" by The Decemberists is so much more than what I'm about to praise it for being, but it joys me to crown it as my favorite song about a sailor who wants to become a baker.

(I also appreciate its ghostly callback to another song of theirs, "Shanty for the Arethusa.")

Please enjoy both if you never have, or rediscover them if it's been a while since last you've heard them.

My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist
Apple Music
Spotify
YouTube

Shanty for the Arethusa (maybe listen to this one first?)
Apple Music
Spotify
YouTube

Fin

TV 2018

I watched many seasons of 21 shows in 2018.

  1. The West Wing S2
  2. Black Mirror S4
  3. The Good Place S2
  4. Black-ish S1-4
  5. The Alienist S1
  6. Mr. Robot S1
  7. The Americans S6
  8. Santa Clarita Diet S2
  9. Dark S1
  10. Evil Genius
  11. The Chalet
  12. The Handmaid’s Tale S2
  13. Sharp Objects
  14. GLOW S2
  15. Casual S4
  16. The Haunting of Hill House
  17. Castle Rock S1
  18. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina S1
  19. The Final Table
  20. Salt Fat Acid Heat
  21. Somebody Feed Phil S1