My Top 10 Summer Movies

On Friday, Erin from the blog Still Life, with Cracker Crumbs… shared her top 10 summer movies. It got me thinking about what mine would be. I also looked at two articles, one from Town and Country Magazine and Pure Wow, to trigger some ideas.

I share two with Erin with Stand By Me and The Parent Trap, sort of, except it’s the 1998 version with Lindsay Lohan. My other eight are, in alphabetical order:

  • 500 Days of Summer
  • Breaking Away
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • Do The Right Thing
  • Field of Dreams
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Moonrise Kingdom

My wife Kim shares five with me, Do The Right Thing, Field of Dreams, Moonrise Kingdom, and Stand By Me. Her other five are: Jaws, A League of Their Own Own, Mystic Pizza, Rear Window, and…one other to be determined, that I’ll add here later. She didn’t want to be pressured into a decision.

Instead of sharing the trailers from all of them, I think I’ll just share one of my favorite parts of Do The Right Thing, which probably is my favorite summer movie:

How about you? What are some of your favorite movies set during the summer?

Contemplating Four Thousand Weeks, the book, and hopeful, but not guaranteed, reality

One of my plans for last weekend, the weekend of my birthday, was to read Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. While I didn’t finish it then, I did finish it Tuesday. And it probably will be the best book I read this year, because it’s hitting at just the right time, not only with my birthday, but also with changes at work. It was, and is, the perfect time for me to contemplate mortality and how I’m living, will live (including work), the years (months, weeks, days, and hours) remaining that I have (hopefully).

Since I have been a little scatterbrained this week, and I don’t think I can muster a cohesive post about exactly why this book struck me like it did, I’m just going to share a few of my favorite passages, starting with this one:

We fill our minds with busyness and distraction to numb ourselves emotionally. (“We labour at our daily work more ardently and thoughtlessly than is necessary to sustain our life,” wrote Nietzsche, “because to us it is even more necessary not to have leisure to stop and think. Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.”) Or we plan compulsively, because the alternative is to confront how little control over the future we really have.

If you’ve followed this blog and my meandering thoughts here, you know that I like to plan ahead, especially for the time I (or both Kim and I) have off from work. I think Burkeman captures almost exactly why I do that.


…meaningful productivity often comes not from hurrying things up but from letting them take the time they take, surrendering to what in German has been called Eigenzeit, or the time inherent to a process itself.

As within the last couple of months I’ve been given new responsibilities at work, I’m finding this (letting things take the time they take) to be so relevant. In my job as the cataloger at our library, I can’t rush the process of labeling books, audiobooks, and DVDs and finding, copying, and sometimes creating, records. It just takes the time it takes.


Ironically, the union leaders and labor reformers who campaigned for more time off, eventually securing the eight-hour workday and the two-day weekend, helped entrench this instrumental attitude toward leisure, according to which it could be justified only on the grounds of something other than pure enjoyment. They argued that workers would use any additional free time they might be given to improve themselves, through education and cultural pursuits—that they’d use it, in other words, for more than just relaxing. But there is something heartbreaking about the nineteenth-century Massachusetts textile workers who told one survey researcher what they actually longed to do with more free time: To “look around to see what is going on.” They yearned for true leisure, not a different kind of productivity. They wanted what the maverick Marxist Paul Lafargue would later call, in the title of his best-known pamphlet, The Right To Be Lazy. We have inherited from all this a deeply bizarre idea ofit means to spend your time off “well”—and, conversely, what counts as wasting it. In this view of time, anything that doesn’t create some form of value for the future is, by definition, mere idleness. Rest is permissible, but only for the purposes of recuperation for work, or perhaps for some other form of self-improvement. It becomes difficult to enjoy a moment of rest for itself alone, without regard for any potential future benefit because rest that has no instrumental value feels wasteful.

Ironically as I was reading this book , I felt I was doing just that, resting for a form of self-improvement, not “wasting” my time. However, it also is why I had planned fun time for last weekend, just being idle, which I think I accomplished, but as if it were a thing to check off like in a to-do list, which Burkeman also discusses:

Defenders of modern capitalism enjoy pointing out that despite how things might feel, we actually have more leisure time than we did in previous decades—an average of about five hours per day for men, and only slightly less for women. But perhaps one reason we don’t experience life that way is that leisure no longer feels very leisurely. Instead, it too often feels like another item n the to-do list.


Burkeman connects what social psychologists call “idleness aversion” to what German sociologist Max Weber coined as the “Protestant work ethic” which he believe stemmed from the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. The doctrine is “that every human since before they were born, had been preselected to a member of the elect, and therefore entitled to spend eternity in heaven with God after death or else as one of the damned, and thus guaranteed to spend it in hell.” Idleness then became/becomes anxiety-inducing, to be avoided at all costs – not just because, as Burkeman writes – it might be a vice that leads to damnation if overindulged, but might be evidence of a worse truth: that you already were damned.

We flatter ourselves that we’ve outgrown such superstitions today. And yet there remains, in our discomfort with anything that feels too much like wasting time, a yearning for something not all that dissimilar from eternal salvation. As long as you’re filling every hour of the day with some form of striving, you get to carry on believing that all this striving is leading you somewhere—to an imagined future state of perfection, a heavenly realm in which everything runs smoothly, your limited time causes you no pain, and you’re free of the guilty sense that there’s more you need to be doing in order to justify your existence.

I think I’ve felt that even with what I call ‘My Own Personal Sabbath’, where “almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone.” And maybe I feel, or have felt, like I have to justify it to you by sharing exactly it is what I am doing with my time off.


So as Eve on the Headspace meditation app signs off: “I’ll leave it there and I look forward to seeing you back here soon.”

(Birthday) Party like it’s 1999

Earlier in the week, I talked about my serious plans for my birthday, which is today and I’m celebrating with a four-day weekend. In that post, I said I’d talk about my fun plans for my birthday later in the week. This is that post.

The main two events that we have planned are tomorrow night, starting with the premiere of Episode 5 of Season 13 of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Doctor Mordrid. That will be followed by the airing on PBS of Prince’s live concert from The Purple Rain Tour at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. from March 1985:

I also have a YouTube playlist of a few hours of DJs spinning dance tunes on the turntables and mixing boards. I’ve already started listening to that. I have another playlist of music to wind down the party or the after party.

Other than that, we’ll see, as they say, where the spirit takes me.

Like paper in fire

Who’s to say the way

A man should spend his days?

Do you let them smolder

Like paper in fire?

John Mellencamp in “Paper in Fire” from the album The Lonesome Jubilee

I’m not sure if it’s related or not, although probably it is, but as I turn 53 later this week, I’ve had the above lyrics going through my head. In the song, Mellencamp recounts the stories of two people and generations and how they let their lives smolder like paper in fire. The obvious question seemingly Mellencamp is asking himself and us is will we do the same with our lives? The obvious answer is, or on the surface should be, no.

Of course, as we go about our day to day lives, sometimes/often we lose sight of that. We let our lives smolder right along without thinking about it. For me, as I turn 53 on Thursday and will be taking a four-day weekend until Monday, I want to think about it…at least, some.

I have a book that I have been waiting to read, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. I also have saved a podcast called On Being with an interview with him by Krista Tippett. I want to get to both this weekend, which to some of you, I’m sure, might not sound the most uplifting way to spend one’s birthday: thinking about mortality.

However, as I’ve been reading the Stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus over the last couple of years, I notice that they use mortality as an impetus for life. What are we living for? Just to smolder like paper in fire, and look back when we’re older with regrets? Or to live our life fully with intention, with forethought, not hindsight about what could have been?

I’d like to choose that latter option myself and maybe this week, amidst my other reading and planned relaxation, I can contemplate how I can do that, some of which I already have started with meditation, journaling, and therapy. That doesn’t mean mean that I don’t have “fun” planned too this weekend (because I do), but I still want to incorporate this book and these thoughts into my weekend.

I’ll write more on the fun later in the week…well, later in the week, but for now, I’ll leave you with the song: