September 6, 2008

Regretflix, regretstuff.

Netflix rentals that sit there for months. What were you thinking when you ordered them? That you're the kind of person who watches movies like that? But you're not so why did you get yourself into the situation where a little piece of plastic has invaded your house and taunts you for not being the person you think you should be? Or do you like to be reminded of your lofty aspirations... by objects in your house? There are many worse things you might have around than an unwatched copy of "Hotel Rwanda."

Topics for discussion:

1. What rented movies do you have in the house? How are they making you feel? Do you keep misjudging what kind of person you are? Do you want to become that person or do you think you ought to sharpen up your perception of who you are and rent the movies that person likes to watch? Should you feel worse about not being the kind of person who watches "Hotel Rwanda" or worse about being the kind of person who lacks sharp enough self-perception to know you're not the kind of person who watches "Hotel Rwanda"?

2. Would you feel better if you hadn't rented, if you'd bought the film -- I note my instinctive shift to the term "film" -- and put it on a shelf in a nice bookcase, where it would be part of your "library"? The issue of returning it would cease to exist, and you could think of yourself as the kind of person who has that film in his library. It would be more like all those books you've bought. Or do all those books you've bought and not read taunt you? Are you reading on line now all the time and free of regret because you never remember the pages you've clicked away from, the tabs you never went back to, and the links you might have clicked?

3. What else do you have in your house that is preying on your mind like borrowed or purchased movies and books that you haven't watched/read? Clothes in a size you think you might wear again or with an image that never seems like the way you feel today? Sporting and exercise equipment? Music recordings? (You should like jazz and classical, shouldn't you?) Fresh fruits and vegetables that at least have the decency to decay into a form that forces you to oust them from the premises. Dying plants. And then we slide into the category of things that won't let you stop at mere regret if you fail to turn your attention their way. Those pets. The human beings you live with. No, perish the thought. You're not even allowed to think that you regret bringing them into your house. Your regretspace.

CORRECTED TEXT: Indicated by boldface, above.

34 comments:

Peter V. Bella said...

Every spring I go through my "stuff" and start winnowing out all the things I do not use. They go into a pile to be sorted. Some go to the Salvation Army and the rest gets sold via yard sales.

No regrets. Then I look at those empty niches, the space on shelves, the empty table tops, the clean counters, and go, hmmm?

What can I put there?

Dr. Alice said...

Get out of my head, Ann!! I have to plead guilty to almost every single thing on that list, particularly the clothing that doesn't fit and the dying veg in the crisper.

With regards to the book and movie issue, I have solved that by donating the books to the library or thrift store and revamping my Netflix queue, which now contains only trashy lightweight stuff that I know I want to watch. (I highly recommend doing the math and figuring out exactly how much "Hotel Rwanda" is costing you per month. Send it back unwatched!)

I hang clothes to dry on my stationary bike, so at least I'm getting some use out of it.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tex said...

Ah, yes. Books I meant to read, but don’t because I would rather spend time with Althouse and my other daily blogs.

Lovely boxes, baskets and other Container Store goodies that I foolishly bought thinking that I would get to that closet right away. Now, they are just more clutter taking up precious closet space.

Clothing for a lifestyle that exists only in my imagination.

BTW, just this morning I discovered dailylit.com, which brings books right into your inbox in convenient small messages that take less than 5 minutes to read. I’m intrigued.

Palladian said...

"Do you keep misjudging what kind of person you are? Do you want to become that person or do you think you ought to sharpen up your perception of who that person is and rent the movies that person likes to watch?"

He would see faces in movies, on TV, in magazines, and in books. He thought that some of these faces might be right for him. And through the years, by keeping an ideal facial structure fixed in his mind, or somewhere in the back of his mind, that he might, by force of will, cause his face to approach those of his ideal. The change would be very subtle. It might take ten years or so. Gradually his face would change its shape. A more hooked nose. Wider, thinner lips. Beady eyes. A larger forehead.

He imagined that this was an ability he shared with most other people. They had also molded their faced according to some ideal. Maybe they imagined that their new face would better suit their personality. Or maybe they imagined that their personality would be forced to change to fit the new appearance. This is why first impressions are often correct... Although some people might have made mistakes. They may have arrived at an appearance that bears no relationship to them. They may have picked an ideal appearance based on some childish whim, or momentary impulse. Some may have gotten half-way there, and then changed their minds.

He wonders if he too might have made a similar mistake.

joyce said...

Now, won't neflix charge you if they never receive the "rentals" back? Why not just drop them back in the mail?? It is an easy way to clean.

miller said...

I had Netflix for a while, then dropped it. I was frightened at how much I was watching movies.

I like having to go to the store to find a movie - at least I have to make the effort.

Meade said...

"Do you keep misjudging what kind of person you are?"

Yes but, I believe as I age, that my regrets, which result in continual recalibrations, keep bringing my perceptions of myself closer to who I really am. I figure by the time I'm ninety I'll have given away everything except my breachclout, internet connection, and my biodegradable MacBook SuperThin LighterThan Air. Not all that different from the way I came into the world - given everything I really needed - a diaper and a breast.

MadisonMan said...

We don't do netflix -- the library can supply us with any movie needs we have, and we've actually bought movies -- maybe 2 or 3 dozen. Ditto with books -- don't buy, use the library! And there aren't many plants in the house, as we don't have good south-facing windows.

However, I am often taking CSA vegetables to the compost heap. Too many vegetables, too few dinners to serve them at.

Meade said...

Bring me into your regretspace. I promise you won't regret it.

al said...

I've been a Netflix subscriber for 4 years - love it. I've seen lots of things I would have passed over at Blockbuster (Assuming they would have had anything unusual to begin with) just by accepting the recommendations. Great way to watch premium cable offerings like Entourage and Weeds without subscribing. As for not returning movies - 2 weeks is the longest I've had a movie at home and that's usually due to my wife or son not watching something they requested.

Back to the garage sale!

Donald Douglas said...

Well, books are supposed to be bought and shelved ... we just need more bookshelves. Netflix? It is surprising how long those darn discs will sit around, but they're really not as ubiquitous as the step-climber in the office. My wife bought it, so it's not my regret, although I'd like the space back.

William said...

In the stations of the paunch, I keep the trousers that are a size smaller because clearly recent weight gains are a transient phenomenon and will soon be corrected. I have moved from a waist of 32 to 36 . Perhaps bell bottom trousers will someday return but a 32 waist is gone forever. It is with great sadness and infinite delight that I throw away old clothes. They have a nagging presence. They remind me of the former slender self and my lack of self-discipline and the slow havoc that time exacts upon the body.

BJK said...

We've been sitting on a copy of the "No Country for Old Men" blu-ray for almost a month now.

Inherently, I want to see it because it's supposed to be a great movie....but I can never get enthused to see a depressing movie.

Bill Harshaw said...

We watch Netflix movies regularly and almost always timely (so cheap we want to get our money's worth). For books we hit the library (except for the Library of America volumes that are still in plastic).

miller said...

No Country for Old Men is nihilism and violence ^n degree.

I did watch the whole thing, but it was thoroughly depressing.

Even making it a musical wouldn't have saved that thing.

rhhardin said...

There's no reason for a guy to throw anything out. And the dog doesn't mind the clutter.

Hunter McDaniel said...

Netflix LOVES for you to keep discs a long time. No postage cost for them, and in three months you have made back their investment in the disc.

I have been a "conscientious objector" to cable for many years. To make up for what cable offers, I use a combination of the following:
a) regular old broadcast TV (with an antenna) for really big must-see events.
b) Netflix for watching TV "shows" and movies. So what if I'm a year or two behind - I can never catch up anyway.
c) Ann Althouse and others for cable news. She watches them, so I don't have to!

John Lynch said...

heh. I've got The Kite Runner. It sits there while I read all the Patrick O'Brian books.

As for Netflix, it's important to rent for yourself, not for show. The computers and sorters don't care about your taste. Which in my case is a good thing!

I set up a rule for myself that if a Netflix movie doesn't get watched in a week, it goes back. If I don't want to watch it that badly I should get a new one.

I scorn intent compared to actions. You learn far more from what people do, what they actually read and watch, then from what they simply have sitting on a shelf.

rhhardin said...

This is what happens when a woman has a dog.

A guy with a dog concentrates on the essence of dog partnership.

Trooper York said...

Hey John Lynch the Patrick O'brian books are pretty good. But I think they are kind of over rated. If you want rip-roaring sea adventure you should check out Alexander Kent's Bolithio series. His real name is Douglas Reeman and he also writes naval adventures of the WW2 vintage. Nice easy summer reading, not for you pretentious eggheads but great to read on the bus or train. Just sayn'

Meade said...

RH: If that's Canada Thistle I see in that photo, you have a serious problem that, regrettably, will not be solved with just your scythe.

John Lynch said...

Hmm... Alexander Kent... I think I saw my Dad reading those. Will do.

On Patrick O'Brian, they are excellent until the very last few books. They are really pessimistic about marriage and women, though. Whew! The author had issues! Lot's for a feminist literary critic to delve into there, despite the fact that Jane Austen was a big influence.

Trooper York said...

I agree totally about O'Brien. The history of the books is very interesting. I believe that he wrote the earlier ones many years ago and only one or two of them were published. When they were re-issued he started writing more when he was in his 80's or 90's and they suffer in comparison.

If you enjoy military fiction from that era I highly recommend the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell. He writes great easy to read novels about the Napoleonic War. Try to read them in sequence as there are quite a few of them. They were made into a TV series with Sean Bean the Boromir guy from Lord of the Rings but it really didn't do justice to the books. Once again, easy summer reading not for pretentious egghead douche bags. (That means you Frank Rich).

rhhardin said...

A scythe solves anything. Whatever was there is simply gone, whatever it's doing underground.

I could point to my neatly trimmed smooth sumac lawn borders.

I think nevertheless it's tall thistle. The house finches and gold finches like it.

chuck b. said...

We're pretty good at parting ways with unwanted belongings, tho' I do have some books I probably won't get to until retirement (e.g., Gravity's Rainbow).

I don't care if the Netflixes sit around for a week or two. Tho' we recently got a video-on-demand system; Netflix's days may be numbered.

There is one thing I would like to find a good home for: one big plastic bin of old pharmaceuticals and promotional material my grandfather saved from 40 years of his GP practice, including, my favorite, an opium-based rectal pain reliever called Rectodyne; it comes in a tube like toothpaste and you're supposed to squeeze it up your butt. "Rectodyne"! That cracks me up.

But I also love the bright, colorful capsules of narcotics in dainty little samplers obviously packaged and designed with a feminine aesthetic in mind. The actual "dolls" in Valley of the Dolls.

All quite illegal to have without a prescription or DEA license, but interesting I think, and worthy of preservation.

Other things in this collection: probably a hundred slim, promotional volumes with fabulous Netter illustrations. Those must be worth something. A short promotional filmstrip for an antipsychotic that comes with a ViewMaster type thing that shows a live monkey being experimented on. I doubt they make those anymore! And I have a complete orthopedic field surgery kit from WWI (there's a date stamped on it). Now idea where granddad got that.

I just don't know what to do with it all.

John Lynch said...

Wow, this is a good thread. Ok, Bernard Cornwell. Check.

Really deep question posed about regrets, too.

O'Brian's pretty dark on that, since the characters rarely get what they want and when they do, it's not what they thought. It's more about getting by and the unexpected joys of life than a happy ending. That's why the books work. It seems like real life, even to the point that they just... stop when the author died.

George said...

If you think "No Country" was depressing, wait until you see "The Road." Nothing like pushing a shopping cart through the Appalchians while trying to keep cannibals from eating your son.

Netflix is great for far-out art movies that never, ever screen anywhere except big city art houses...Irreversible, Steep, Paprika, Spider, Fur, Roger Dodger, Birth, Idiocracy, Factory Girl, The Center of the World, Solaris, The Saddest Music in the World, Edmond and long-lost stuff like Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People, Love Me or Leave Me, Night Nurse, and Popeye: The Sailor Man 1933-1938. It is what it yam.

John Lynch said...

The Road was a big pile of parental anxiety. It was torture for me to read, and I would put it down and run away whenever the characters had reached a place of temporary safety.

Never reading it again.

Trooper York said...

You see Patrick tried to write a literary version of CSS Foresstors (sic) Horatio Hornblower series. The early books were more action oriented and linear. Without the pretensions to literature. When they praise you in the New York Times Book Review, you start to write to them instead of your core readers. That's why the movie was based on Master and Commander one of the earlier books.

Meade said...

Regret isn't self-pity, it's the belated acceptance of responsibility. - Annie Gottlieb

blake said...

Rentals are bad if you're in a house where the past is shuttled in to the garage (or attic or basement). You'll never see it again.

I do not waste regret on stuff.

Besides, it's not like Hotel Rwanada is a tough watch, though it is sad. No Country isn't tough, either, though if you look at it from the cop/action/mystery/thriller angle you will be disappointed.

blake said...

And then, of course, if you throw everything into the garage or attic or basement, you end up with a sort of archaeology of your life.

There could be regrets there, of course.

rhhardin said...

``It's one of those books, that if you put it down, you can't pick it up again.''