Archive for January 8th, 2010

The Captain Gets Consistent on Fridays

I’m feeling quite excited about the idea of consistency this year.  There are so many aspects of my life where this will be useful.  I have lots of ideas in mind, but in the spirit of moderation, I will be rolling them out slowly instead of all at once.

Number one on my agenda is my health.  I have ideas on how to improve my diet, but those will be gradually implemented.  The easiest way for me to improve my health is by becoming more active.  To that end I decided to make only one New Year’s resolution, a sure fire way to increase my activity.  I have decided to not ride elevators this year.  Ever.

Taking the steps instead of riding an elevator is basically free exercise.  It won’t change the outcome of my day at all.  The stairs just sneak in extra activity, much like walking to work did last year.  Since I now must commute to work in an automobile, taking the stairs seems like a good replacement.

Always taking the stairs wouldn’t be a major change to most people.  However, I park two floors underground in my office’s garage, and I work on the 8th floor.  So up and down ten flights of stairs at least once every workday is actually quite a commitment.

I started taking the stairs on Monday and by the end of the week I am definitely feeling the difference in my calves.  While I’m enjoying this for the most part, I’m still undecided on how I feel about these motivational posters:

On every floor and half-floor these are posted.  While I like the fact that my employer is actually encouraging employees to lead more active lifestyles, I think that this is a cheesy way to accomplish that goal.  I get the feeling as the year progresses I will come to loathe these.  But on the other hand, they could be a lot worse…

My other big target for consistency is actually right here at The Captain’s Quarters.  As my long time readers can surely attest, my posting schedule on this blog could be described as sporadic at best.  It’s not from lack of desire, more like lack of time and/or motivation.  So I’ve decided to be much more consistent in updating this blog.

Similar to my health aspirations, I will be gradually implementing my ideas into The Captain’s Quarters.  I’m starting off with what will henceforth be known as the Friday 5.  I’ve decided to post a Top 5 list every Friday for discussion purposes.

This seems like the ideal way for me to consistently update this blog.  It will guarantee I write at least once a week for recreational purposes.  It will feed my lifelong habit of list making.1 It will hopefully provoke some interesting discussions with all of the random people I’ve known throughout the years.  And by posting it on Friday it will hopefully get maximum exposure to my readers, since it seems that everyone turns off their brains at work on Fridays.2

So on this first Friday3 of 2010 I’m going to kick it off with a topic that I’ve seen discussed quite a bit over the last few months.  With the 00’s officially over, the internet has been abuzz with Best of the Decade lists.  I’ve been eager to weigh-in, but I thought I should wait until the decade was actually finished.  So for my first Friday 5 I’m going to rank my favorite films of the decade.  Keep in mind that I don’t necessarily think these were the best five films made, these just happen to be my favorite.

Top 5 Films Of The Past Decade

1.  The Royal Tenenbaums

This was by far my favorite film of the past ten years, and quite possibly my favorite film of all time.  I know that loving Wes Anderson totally makes me a white guy, but I can’t help it.  I love everything about this film:  the script, the score, the actors, the setting, the constant literary references, the narration, etc.  EVERYTHING!  This is the first film where that I felt like I was the only person who “got it.”  It’s funny in the way that I think things should be funny.  The first time I saw it in the theatre in 2001 I was the only one laughing through most of the movie.  All of the films on this list I saw at least twice in the theatre, but this is the only film of the decade I saw three times.  The introduction to this movie is probably the best ever recorded to film.  It’s fitting then that I start out this list with the best introduction credits ever made:

2.  The Fountain

This is easily the most polarizing film on the list. I know many folks who actively dislike it and I understand why.  All of the films on my list tend to have weak, underdeveloped female characters and this one is probably the worst offender.  But the visuals alone put this on my list; they’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  To me this was the most stunning 96 minutes of the decade.  The score, besides being hands-down my favorite, was perfectly integrated into the story and the amazing visuals.  And while many dismissed the plot as too ridiculous or new agey, I thought it was a beautiful reflection on the two most basic elements of existence – life and death.  The climax of this film is the most intense scene of the decade and by far my favorite.

3.  Punch Drunk Love

Let me begin with a caveat.  Of the two films that P.T Anderson directed this decade, I think that 2007’s There Will Be Blood is the better film.  The magnificent screenplay is perfect for Daniel Day Lewis’ unbelievable performance.  However, this is my personal favorite of his and my choice for number three.  What can I say, deep-down I’m a sucker for a quirky yet dark love story.  And they don’t get any quirkier or darker than Punch-Drunk Love.  Anderson managed to focus the script around the only enjoyable parts of Adam Sandler the actor: his childlike, meek behavior and his lightning-fast rage.  This film also features an amazing score and probably my favorite single scene from the decade:

4.  The Dark Knight

Here’s another good example of the difference between best and favorite.  Christopher Nolan’s first film of the decade, 2000’s Memento, is his best film.  The novel backwards-to-forwards construction of the film was a wonder to watch the first time and was even better in subsequent viewings.  But being the nerd that I am, this was my favorite of his films.  I adore dark comic books and Nolan managed to paint Batman pitch black in 2008’s The Dark Knight.  Once again, an amazing script, amazing cast (especially replacing Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal!), amazing score.  And bonus points for the best action sequence of the decade:

5.  Brüno

Of all the films released in the decade, this was definitely the one I was most looking forward to ahead of time.  After Borat I anxiously awaited for three years to see what Sasha Baron Cohen would do with my favorite Austrian fashion reporter.  Once again, there are many other films this past decade that were much better than Brüno.  I almost put Children of Men or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as my last pick.  But I had to include Brüno somewhere!  This film is the perfect combination of what I find funny: gay panic, fake German accents and dick jokes.  It was hard to notice that there wasn’t really a plot to the movie because I was laughing the entire time.  Cohen goes after jokes no matter what the cost and the results pay off big time.  This was the hardest I laughed in the past ten years and that’s enough to include Brüno in the list.  And that’s my Top 5 films of the decade. Brüno, sing us out.


The Captain

1.  I’ve been making lists on scraps of paper since I was quite young.  It helps my thought process work more efficiently.  And ever since I read High Fidelity I’ve been in love with the idea of making Top 5 lists full of trivial, pop-culture material and then debating the content with friends.

2.  I’m looking at you, Facebook.

3.  New Years Day doesn’t count.  It’s officially a hangover day, not a weekday.

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