Whither Original Geek Jobs?

When I was grow­ing up, I always dreamt of work­ing at a record store. Whether I was in Kutz­town, NYC or Philly, I’d always drop off an appli­ca­tion and say a prayer for a few hours a week at a cool shop, most­ly to sub­si­dize my record habit.

Now those gigs, along with sim­i­lar ones at book and movie rental shops, are dis­ap­pear­ing. What’s a geeky kid to do for those jobs we take on sum­mer break, or those we take after, say, get­ting out of grad school?

Sure, you can always sign on at a temp staffing firm, but where’s the fun in that? I know plen­ty of peo­ple who’d soon­er take a job that paid less at a cool shop. What those gigs don’t have in pay, they make up in pres­tige. How can one do under­em­ploy­ment in style these days?

How to Improve Netflix

Yes­ter­day I down­grad­ed our Net­flix account from three DVDs at a time to two. Have I got­ten so much as an email ask­ing me why? Nope! Net­flix may be the most suc­cess­ful com­pa­ny I use that does­n’t seem to care about cater­ing to their sub­scriber base. What makes me say that? Since I signed up, I can’t think of a sin­gle fea­ture they’ve man­aged to improve. You might say, “But they rolled out stream­ing for your pre­cious Xbox,” but even that came with its own set of prob­lems. Net­flix is absolute­ly nowhere when it comes to solv­ing the issues that would make their ser­vice bet­ter with­out the cost­ly expense of new content.

Here’s what I’d like them to fix:

  • Shared queues. This is a great fea­ture that was spared the chop­ping block in the past year. It’s the thing that ensures that Helen and I share our account and that every­one gets their picks. His­tor­i­cal­ly, Helen’s got­ten two discs and I got one; she’d burn through sea­sons of TV while I slogged through art house flicks. It’s pret­ty great, right? It’d be even bet­ter if Net­flix could tell us which titles were on stream­ing for both queues, instead of just select­ing my queue and leav­ing it at that.
  • New releas­es. I get it. This is an embar­rass­ment that Net­flix wants you to for­get by bring­ing you more stream­ing con­tent. I’m not con­vinced. Even if we can’t have new releas­es for 28 days plus how­ev­er long it takes to get them to us, could we at least see what new stuff is out there, even if it’s just to point­less­ly update our queue. Is that so much to ask?
  • Social fea­tures. These were hor­ri­ble when they had them, but they might’ve improved them rather than wip­ing them out out­right. I know social fea­tures aren’t easy to do. It’s hard to know what peo­ple want. But I can’t think of any oth­er online movie ser­vice that peo­ple love more than Net­flix. I’m guess­ing the com­mu­ni­ty could’ve made help­ful sug­ges­tions. It would­n’t have had to involve much work prob­a­bly. At this point they could prob­a­bly get away with some degree of Face­book inte­gra­tion and let that plat­form do the heavy lifting.

Now, I’m thrilled that they’re lever­ag­ing their stream­ing con­tent to the max. Putting that stuff on any screen is great. I’ve heard plen­ty of peo­ple say there’s noth­ing good in the stream­ing library, but that’s just because they’re not real­ly into the art house con­tent. I love it! I can’t wait until I can watch an episode of 30 Rock on my iPhone as I ride the train. I just think that these tweaks will go a long way to improv­ing the ser­vice for the long haul.

So, go ahead and sur­prise me, Netflix!


Very hap­py to final­ly see Incep­tion, my first movie in the the­ater since Char­lie was born. Far cry from the last movie I saw in the the­ater, which was Adven­ture­land, if mem­o­ry serves.

Great, big movie. It’s the sort of stuff that makes you want to shake any­one who tells you art should con­form to the new finan­cial real­i­ties brought to us by pira­cy. I love small movies, but if every­thing were shot on hand­helds I think film art would just die alto­geth­er. What would be left to do? If the world were only filled with ama­teur Cas­savetes, we’d be a pret­ty dour bunch, would­n’t we? I mean, is there even a point to get­ting into the thought puz­zle at the core (?) of the film? I feel like I’m still absorb­ing the movie.

Did any­one see The Pres­tige, Nolan’s stopover flick between Bat­man Returns and The Dark Knight? Guess not, because if they had I think more peo­ple would think of him as the M. Knight Shy­malan you don’t laugh at…yet.

Speak­ing of Shy­malan, the crowd burst into laugh­ter once his name was men­tioned in the trail­er for Dev­il. Dude’s not hit­ting his way out of this slump, unless he intend­ed to be the new Ed Wood.

How Do You Decide to Buy Criterion Collection DVDs?

Great lit­tle post over at Pul­lquote about how to ratio­nal­ize adding even more Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion titles to your per­son­al DVD library. Trust me, I feel this guy’s pain. When I was real­ly a movie hound, espe­cial­ly when I start­ed tak­ing advan­tage of Deep Dis­coun­t’s mas­sive bian­nu­al sales, I would ago­nize over which titles to buy. To wit, I still haven’t pur­chased a copy of Resnais’ Hiroshi­ma Mon Amour because I felt it was too expen­sive for one disc AND that it would sure­ly go out of print when a new print was invari­ably dis­cov­ered. This is the exquis­ite pain that only tru­ly insane observers of the DVD remas­ter mar­ket can feel.

Con­verse­ly, how stu­pid do I feel for hav­ing ever bought Equinox, which I watched exact­ly one time? I think I’d has­ten to add a fol­low-up to Pul­lquote’s post: how many DVDs do you own that sit on a shelf or in a draw­er that are untouched? I con­fess to more than my fair share of these.

I feel sheep­ish even tak­ing part in con­ver­sa­tions like this now. I used to eager­ly await reg­u­lar emails from Cri­te­ri­on about their lat­est titles and then make notes in pri­or­i­ty order about which I’d buy when they went on sale. Now that I’m less bull­ish on buy­ing any sort of phys­i­cal media, they’re hard­ly a blip on my radar. I will admit that I near­ly jumped for joy when I read that they were releas­ing Red Desert, which is pos­si­bly my favorite Anto­nioni movie, even though I always say it’s L’Avven­tu­ra.