The August Sprint

My friends Danny & Jason, twins, celebrated their 28th birthday yesterday and I went over to their house for a barbeque and some time in the pool and after I’d talked with everyone about what’s going on in our respective lives, and drank three or four beers, the twins’ mom started asking what I was up to with the Movie Project, how long I’ve been at it and when I expect to be done, and when I told her that I was two years in, with probably three years left to go, she told me, gently as possible, that I do need to start thinking more critically about what I’m gonna do for money. Like, steady money. Benefits. She asked what my work situation was like at the moment and I gave her the idea: two part-time jobs, plenty of free time for the Project. She said, “So why’s it gonna take you two or three years to finish? You could be watching nine or ten movies a week.”

To which I hemmed and hawed and “yeah but yknow…”

She says, “Surely you can find a hundred minutes at some point in the day to watch a movie. Every day. Or you can watch it in halves: an hour before work and an hour after. So that’s a movie a day. Seven a week. And you’ve got three days off? With the days off you can watch two movies. That’s nine in a week. Every now and then you’ll have a little extra time and you can do a third. Let’s round it up, say ten movies a week, you’ve got 730 movies to go…73 weeks. You’d be done by next Christmas.”

Which is true.

I think I mentioned in some of the essays, or maybe just on social media, that I was gonna try to post an essay a day throughout August. This would propel the essay posts forward by about four months. I had the month off from work at the college, I was collecting some extra hours working for the ghostwriter, and my schedule was wide enough open to get it done.

But I didn’t get it done. Partly because I got worn out, which I feel in retrospect is totally unacceptable, but also partly because I had another sprint in mind: I wanted to watch 50 movies off the List before the end of the month. #50in30. That didn’t work out either. I watched 28. Not bad, but still, not where it should have been.

The twins and me, shortly before their mom convinced me I need to be doing way more work than I currently am, and showed me how easily I could do it. 

Part of the issue is definitely that the ladyfriend comes over and we end up talking and distracting each other from work. We have a good time and then she leaves and at some point in the following day I’ll have a moment where I look at how much time I’ve had available to me, how much work is still ahead of me, and I beat myself up for having not worked slavishly over the past 24 hours. Non stop. Start resenting myself for stopping to socialize and have fun — not because I’m averse to having fun or fooling around but because I feel like I’m young, I’ve got time and energy that I won’t have in a few years, and I’m in a situation that’s precarious, to say the least. But whatever. I’m sure that if I did work like fuckall, making no time for friends or fooling around or getting drunk or whatever, I’d finish the Project and grow old and look back and lament that I was so obsessed with work.

Anyway. It’s a digression that happens every day. This uncertainty about how I should be spending my youth: working with monastic concentration day and night or fucking around. Everyone says “it’s about finding a middle ground” but I’m not sure there’s a Goldilocks zone where I’d feel comfortable. It’ll probably be a trend for the rest of my life that I have these manic periods of staggering productivity follows by lulls where I do nothing, sit and drink and talk shit and watch the clouds, eat too much, sleep too much. Maybe that’s indicative of something.


This is just a post to induct the Project into September and to say, without making any promises that I’ll break, that my friends’ mom’s voice is in my head. There’s no excuse to not be watching at least nine movies a week. Maybe ten.

Let’s see.

Regularly scheduled posts, Mondays and Thursdays, will resume going forward.


  • For pity’s sake, man, you’re HUMAN. People who give you a time-management schedule like that always forget to take into account the time spent in actually WRITING your response TO the film, and that can take time too. (My review of CAMILLE took about an hour to write, if you leave out the “how am I going to figure out how to approach this” mulling time – if you INCLUDE that time, then it took about four days.)

    And you also have to do things like go grocery shopping and clean the house and do laundry and stuff like that.

    Pace yourself. Find a balance that will let you do the most that you can without sacrificing LIVING in the process. And screw the people who nit-pick over time and say things like “but if you just avoided peeing that could save you an extra three minutes a day” or something because that’s RIDICULOUS.


    • Well that stuff is definitely true. I’ve been at it for two years and have definitely gone days where there really was no time at all to watch a movie. I’m guessing there’ll be a lot more of those to go.

      I appreciate the reassurance and encouragement! I think the way I’ve tempered her plan is that I’m just looking to hit an average of a movie a day. I can do two on my days off, sometimes three, and so long as that’s the case I won’t feel guilty about missing a couple.

      Where can I read your piece on Camille?


      • Behold! I’m doing my own “watching all the 1001 movies” project, interestingly enough… I’m a little bit behind you, though. And am currently figuring out how to roll it over into another movies-only blog (it started as a side project on the “general yammering” site and has started taking over).

        My current pace is one-every-few-days, largely becuase I’ve been getting everything from the Netflix DVD service (yeah, they still have one).


  • Well……I have an idea. Allow her to pay for 365 movies, now; with the understanding that it pays for 5% of the value of your project, in a three year period. If she is wise, she will make the investment and you will have a year’s worth of movies , pre-paid. Furthermore, you will have earned a lesson on future Net Worth, Just a thought,,,,,my friend.


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