Chain letter

A cautionary tale about what can happen if you start trading cards with unsavory characters you’ve met on the internet…

One week later…

Serves me right for making the suggestion. Although it is appropriate to send him to Princeton. I’ll have to find someone in Texas to mail this to next.

Oh, and Mark also sent me a bunch of 1979 Topps Giants cards. I didn’t photograph those since I suspect they were mainly an excuse to send me this ghastly piece of cardboard. But old Giants cards are always welcome!


Because I’ve sort of had to provide a ranked list of Pixar films in the past. In the style of the Star Wars list now that I’m caught up on all but The Good Dinosaur.

Edited in December 2016 to reflect having watched Finding Dory and Good Dinosaur as well as rewatching and reevaluating Finding Nemo in the wake of Finding Dory.

Edited in November 2017 to reflect having watched Cars 3 and Coco.

Edited in February 2018 to reflect having watched Coco en español.

Edited in June 2018 to reflect having watched Incredibles 2.

Edited in March 2020 to reflect having watched Toy Story 4.

Edited in April 2020 to reflect having watched Cars 2 and Onward.

Coco (en español)
The Incredibles
Finding Dory
Incredibles 2

Toy Story 2
Finding Nemo
Cars 3
Inside Out
Toy Story 3
Toy Story
Toy Story 4

Monsters Inc.
A Bugs Life

Monsters University
Cars 2
Good Dinosaur

Yeah, I suspect that I rank Cars way higher than most people do. But I do have a special relationship with that movie.

Star Wars Rankings

Just a quick follow up to yesterday’s huge post. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to list my rankings/ratings for the six Star Wars films both before and after my recent rewatch.

Note: these are using the San Francisco Chronicle’s Little Man rating system. While this is sadly no longer in use, it’s what I grew up with and find still makes the most sense. Ebert’s writeup on it is wonderful.


Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi
Revenge of the Sith

A New Hope
The Phantom Menace

Attack of the Clones


Empire Strikes Back
Revenge of the Sith
Return of the Jedi

A New Hope
Attack of the Clones

The Phantom Menace

It’s worth noting that nothing bumped down the ratings after the rewatch. While I harp on Phantom Menace a lot it has enough good stuff going on in it to be watchable.

Cutting my losses

I’m not a big TV watcher. I tend to pick shows carefully (usually at the recommendation of friends) and watch them on DVD (or streaming) at least a few season after the fact. Part of this is because I’ve much preferred watching movies. But the main reason is that watching a TV show is a major time commitment that I’m really hesitant to embrace. So I usually have very high bars for what I choose to watch. And I’m extremely fast on pulling the trigger when it comes to bailing from a show.

This is something that’s come up a lot on twitter when discussing TV shows. Compared to a lot of my contacts, I appear to give up on things much more quickly than a lot of people. Even when bingewatching. Just because I have access to the DVDs doesn’t mean I finish the show. Heck, sometimes I don’t even finish the season.

So at the request of a number of my twitter contacts, here’s a quick rundown of when, and why, I gave up on some shows. It’s not a complete list of everything I’ve watched, these are just the ones I’ve ended up in discussions about and had to explain why I bailed. This isn’t a critique of these shows either as I’m inherently unqualified to critique these due to bailing early.

Sopranos—Season 3

I’m one of those viewers who found the Meadow’s college trip to be the high point of the series. This episode is what got me to watch season 2 but as the show became more and more about the mob stuff and the banality of it all I started to drift away. I’m not sure I made it through season 3 actually. I can watch people do their jobs. But have a hard time with stupidity and a lot of the mob stuff started to get increasingly stupid to me.

CSI—Season 4

I stuck with CSI (only the Las Vegas edition) a lot longer than I expected. This was brain candy which I enjoyed watching for a few years. I eventually got tired of the fact that it was only ever about murders. And after watching The Wire season 1, CSI just seemed like a joke.

Lost—Season 1

Lost is a show that I made a conscious decision to drop because I didn’t trust the network format to treat it correctly. Season 1 felt like a full-season Monsters are Coming to Maple Street. I loved the mystery and open endedness of it all; I just didn’t expect or trust the show to be able to hold on to that. Either the mystery would get pushed out past the point of credibility. Or the answers would suck. Or the show would get cancelled at a lousy point. So I picked my exit point.

Heroes—Season 1

Holy crap. I should have bailed sooner. I like origin stories—even with the current rebootitis trend going around*—but I hate stupidity. Hate it. And this show got intolerably stupid in the second half. The only reason I finished the season was because I was watching this with friends and we ended up hatewatching it together instead.

*I will always find something enjoyable in watching someone discover what they are good at. I also tire at the way that no one—well, besides Brad Bird—seems to be able to write superhero movies or shows which deal with aging or growing out of the superhero thing.

Veronica Mars—Season 1

Another show like Lost which I stopped watching because I didn’t trust the way the network would handle it and found the existing ending to be just fine. In this case, the season one story arc was just too good. Even if season 2 was good, I didn’t think it was needed and instead risked straining the credibility of the world they’d created. How fucked up could that high school be?

Dexter—Season 1

I got tired mid-season but wanted to see the conclusion. The show gimmick had potential but never measured up to it. In hindsight, it’s hard to make a show about characters who are so emotionally damaged they don’t seem capable of growth. Also, I had problems with the idea of so many competing serial killers being active in the same location.

Mad Men—Mid-Season 1

I couldn’t figure out what this show wanted to be. It appeared to glorify a time period without addressing the underlying race issues. It also has similar character issues as Dexter. And it tapdanced around critiquing mass culture plus its smart moments felt more like accidents. There were also too many moments which reminded me that the show wasn’t on HBO and, quite frankly, it could have used some of that edge.

I may come back to Mad Men though. I’m still skeptical but if it really does manage to make something of a central character’s lack of growth I might be interested to see if they really pull it off.

How I Met Your Mother—Mid-season 3

I bailed when Ted became a certifiable asshole. Any show whose main character becomes that awful isn’t worth sticking with.

True Blood—Season 2

This show is technically on probation. I was fully prepared to bail mid-season with Godric’s death. Only the Sam storyline is keeping any interest right now. Still, I haven’t watched any of this for a few years now. Nor do I really feel like watching again. Unlike the better HBO shows, there’s a bit of “fuck yeah we’re on HBO” in this show. When it’s good, the writing is crisp and smart. But it tends toward pulp and losing a handle on the writing a little too much for me.


Because sometimes it’s better to have fun about something stupid than to let it get to you.


Because I often zig when trending hashtag games zag,* I chose to run with this tag in the direction of things I’m noticing when I reread books for my kids. This is possibly one of the toughest parts of being a parent since it involves destroying a lot of the fond memories you had as a kid. And it involves setting your own kids up for some of the same harsh experiences.

*My six-word film plots comes to mind here as well.

Despite my critiques above, I’m reading all these to my kids still. Even Babar. Many of the books I’m actually fine with and am just being extreme with the hashtag. Green Eggs and Ham for example is obviously a lesson on not refusing food just because you’ve never tried it before. And The Monster at the End of the Book is an introduction to dramatic irony as an example of when it is actually okay to tease someone.

But yeah. Some of the others need some extra involvement to be palatable. Maybe not right now. But filed away for future reference in explaining how the world works and how a lot of those much-loved books are examples of things we’ve become more knowledgeable about now.