The Minimalism Game

Red Auerbach, Richard Linklater, and Alan Watts: The Minimalism Game Days Four through Six

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So many books, but not easy to choose from them

Books, Movies, Music . . . in order, those are the things that make up the majority of my possessions.  The thought of giving up any item in that holy trinity of categories makes me cringe.  But if I am going to see this game to the end, I need to make a lot of tough choices.

On Day Four I took a long look at my DVDs.  I have Blu-Rays (too new to give-up) and I’ve still held onto some videotapes (I’m saving those for later), but ever since getting my first player in 2000 I have been steadily collecting DVDs.  I still remember the first two I bought, The Big Lebowski and The Matrix (delivered with the player by the long defunct Kozmo.com).

For those of us movie fanatics raised on videotapes, the rise of DVDs was a gift from the gods.  You mean, if you play your favorite films (and scenes) over and over the picture and sound doesn’t turn wonky?  I was all over those Bad Larrys.  In the words of John Laroche (from Adaptation, a film I own), from 2000 – 2013 I collected the shit out of DVDs.  The only reason I stopped was I finally got a Blu-Ray player.

My DVDs have layers of memories attached to them.  You have the film, which most likely I’d seen in the theater, then the day I bought the DVD, and the subsequent viewings through the years (sometimes by yourself, sometimes with friends or family).  There’s so much to analyze and enjoy about movies, then there’s the time of your life when you watched them and all the people with whom you shared the experience (whether watching or discussing).

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Dazed and Confused, one of my favorite films

Selecting four DVDs to oust from my apartment wasn’t easy.  The first go around I only plucked two, and it took another pass to get the others.

  • Dazed & Confused: Richard Linklater is one of my favorite directors, and I’ll never tire of spending time with Wooderson, Slater, Mitch, Darla, Jodi, and the gang.  So how can this be on my list?  Simple, I bought the Criterion Collection version when it first came out, which was almost 10 years ago.  I’ve held onto this old, inferior copy for a decade and it must go.
  • Stone Reader: A really great documentary about one fan’s search for the writer who wrote his favorite novel, but then never published again. It’s a literary Searching for Sugar Man (a terrific film I don’t happen to own).  As much as I enjoyed Stone Reader, I only watched it once and it’s doubtful I will again.
  • Hoosiers: A sports film classic (featuring great performances by Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, and Barbara Hershey) that I first saw in high school. This DVD was released in the infancy of the format, and boasts for its special features a collectible booklet (literally a glossy piece of paper folded in half) and (holy cow!) the original theatrical trailer.  I haven’t watched Hoosiers in years, but if I ever get the hankering for it I’m sure I can find it on cable or streaming somewhere.
  • Saturday Night Live, The Best of Wil Ferrell: Lots of hilarious sketches, but I’m sure I can find all of the material from this 2003 DVD online.

Day Five I went through my CDs.  Since I’ve loaded most of them into iTunes, this is an area of major opportunity for me.  But it’s still hard to get out of that “hard copy” mindset, the what if the Cloud or my hard drive or my back-ups fail.  Then there’s the booklets, and the memories of buying and playing the CDs at different points in my life.  We all know songs have the power to bring you back in time, but so do their visual representations in the form of pieces of round plastic and jewel cases.  Here’s what I selected thus far, and I’m sure more will follow later on in the month.

  • Steel Band Music of the Caribbean: I love Steel Drum music, but no need to keep the jewel case and there isn’t even a booklet.
  • Brett Dennen, Self-Titled: I have no idea who this is or how I got it.
  • Van Halen, The Best of Both Worlds: Lot of classic rock songs on this greatest hits compilation, mostly with David Lee Roth as the front man but several enjoyable tracks from the Sammy Hagar years (cranking up “Why Can’t This Be Love” or “Dreams” with the headphones on will instantly bring me back to high school).  I bought this used at Amoeba Records in San Francisco maybe four or five years ago (so not much emotional attachment), and the booklet is only a few pages.
  • Dale Carnegie & Associates, The Leader in You: Never once listened to this, can’t even remember when I bought it (does one drunk-buy self-help CDs?).
  • Alan Watts, The Way of Zen: I bought this back in 2000 when I was reading a lot about Zen and first starting to mediate.  Alan Watts is considered one of the top Western Experts on Zen, and it’s pretty cool to hear recordings of his talks from the 60s.  It’s been at least a decade since I’ve listened to any of these 3 discs (and just as long as I regularly meditated).  As an aside, I actually went to a meditation class this afternoon and really enjoyed it.  Maybe I’ll put on The Way of Zen on my iTunes later tonight.

 

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I’m sure he’s a fine artist, but how did Brett Dennen end up in my music collection?

Day Six involved an area I initially didn’t want to touch during the Minimalist Game, my bookshelves.  I love my books, so much so when I moved to Hawaii I brought them all (I tried parting with some, but I just couldn’t).  And while I’m not anticipating putting much of a dent in this category of belongings, we’ll see how the month goes.  That being said, I was able to find six books to donate.

  • Secrets of the Jeopardy Champions (1992): When I was in college, I probably wanted to be on Jeopardy more than I wanted to graduate.  This was before the Internet (when dinosaurs ruled the earth), and if my memory serves me they used to host open auditions in various locations around the country.  I bought the book, studied it, and had been watching the game almost daily for years.  My roommates and I used to play against each other, and at the end of the semester the two “losers” had to buy the champion dinner (I think I won and we went to the Newbury Steak House, but maybe that is revisionist history on my part).  I dreamed of getting on Jeopardy, and I even looked up the dates where I could take the test.  But (shameful to admit) I never went through with even trying.  While I’m sure I’ve lost too many IQ points in the subsequent years to get on the show, if I ever get the desire for a comeback I can find other study guides online.
  • Seeing Red, The Red Auerbach Story (1994): I’m a huge Celtics fan, and Red is a legend in Boston and the NBA. I’m sure Dan Shaughnessy’s book is very interesting, but for whatever reason I’ve never read it after almost two decades in my collection.  Maybe it’s some kind of repressed psychological thing.  My Dad took me to Celtics games quite often when I was a kid, and after one of them (or maybe it was before it started) we actually ran into Red at the Garden (this had to have been the early 80s).  I asked him for his autograph, and he said no.
  • L.A. Follies: Design and Other Diversions in a Fractured Metropolis: I lived in Los Angeles for six years and I’m fascinated by the history and evolution of that city. I found Sam Hall Kaplan’s book (published in 1989) in a consignment shop in San Pedro, California in 2010, and thumbing through the pages I knew it was a great historical document.  I enjoyed the first chapter, but then shelved it for good after starting something else.  While I still have a strong affinity for LA and I’m sure I’d enjoy the book, it just doesn’t have any connection to my life here in Hawaii now.
  • The Elements of Screenwriting (1986) & Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters (2002). Elements was the first book I read on film and TV writing way back at Boston University.  While I’m sure there are still usable principles in it, there are plenty other tomes in my collection on the subject.  Ditto for the second book, which I read about half of four years ago.
  • No Go on Jackson Street, by Mike Weiss (1987): It’s an Edgar Award Winning mystery set in San Francisco. I love mysteries and I love San Francisco, but for whatever reason I could not get into it.  I bought the book at Green Apple (one of my all-time favorite bookstores) on Clement Street (not Jackson) about six years ago, and hopefully someone will enjoy reading it soon.

Before I end this post a quick note on the alcohol portion of my month long challenge.   It’s been six days sans booze, which really isn’t much of an accomplishment.  However, this is the first time in years I’ve gone an entire weekend without at least a six pack one beer or a bottle glass of wine.  Turns out there are plenty of things to do in Hawaii while sober . . .

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