Curious Rat

Turner Classic Movies Turns 20 →

Noel Murray:

One big reason why I stay devoted to Turner Classic Movies is that while other cable channels have abandoned their original missions in the chase for fleetingly popular original programming, TCM has dug deeper into what it means to be a “classic movie channel.” The programmers haven’t coasted on nostalgia, catering exclusively to the kind of older viewers who smugly say, “Boy, they don’t make ’em like they used to.” Instead, TCM has reached out to cinephiles, with annual salutes to the Telluride Film Festival, and past programs devoted to the output of Studio Ghibli, and the world cinema classics featured in Mark Cousins’ cine-essay The Story Of Film: An Odyssey. Operating like one of the best-funded repertory houses in the world, TCM spends each month running series dedicated to certain actors or directors—or even to certain themes, such as the series TCM ran a few years back on the evolving representations of homosexuality in cinema.

TCM is one of the main reasons I still pay for cable. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, and some of the greatest movies ever made to keep me company on weekend afternoons. TCM may not be a huge moneymaker and it may not bring in the viewer numbers of a network like AMC, but it’s exposing audiences to cinematic history and amazing films they might not have ever seen before.

Turner Classic Movies truly is worth every penny.

New on Tech.pinions: 'Home Automation: At the Intersection of HD DVD and Blu Ray' →

My latest piece for Tech.pinions is up and it discusses the fascinating world of home automation. This industry is the first thing to get me interested in anything technology-related in a quite a while, so I’m excited to see how it progresses over the next few years.

Build Your Own LEGO Ghostbusters HQ →

If you’d rather not wait for an official LEGO version of the famous firehouse, the designer behind the LEGO CUUSOO campaign has made his instructions and parts list available for free. Donations accepted.

Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology →

A new book by Barrie Tullett that comes out in May. Reminds me of Keira Rathbone’s work.

♦ Learn New Things

I’m not what one would call a “handyman”. When it comes to burst pipes or broken appliances, I typically call a professional, pay a few hundred bucks, and spiral into a depressive state of self-loathing at my inability to fix even the simplest of problems.

Over the last several weeks, however, I’ve made it a point to teach myself a few things to both avoid these expenses and to boost my knowledge in basic home maintenance. So far, I’ve:

  • Disassembled the dryer, cleaned the air vent of lint, and re-assembled it
  • Re-grouted fallen bathroom wall tiles

When I set the tiles in place and restarted my dryer without it rattling all over the basement, I felt a rush of elation. It was invigorating to say, “I did that (and didn’t blow up the house)!” As a result, I’ve decided my next project will be re-wiring the two-prong outlets throughout the house to be three-pronged, as I’m sick of trying to hunt down one of the many gray adapters that seem to go missing every day.

These aren’t big projects and I’m probably making a bigger deal out of them than others might, but they’re reminders of how important it is to always be learning. I’d love to get back into coding, as I have an idea for a very niche iPad app that would probably only benefit a handful of people (me included), but it’s something no one else is going to think to build. It’s one of my bucket list items for when I have the time. I tried building an app years ago, but I didn’t devote enough time to it and I didn’t quite grasp the concepts in the books I read. I’m hoping to rectify that over the next few years.

The same thing happened when I tried to learn Ruby. I got to a certain point and just stopped. Other priorities, a lack of motivation, and a constant nagging voice screaming, “Just stop! You’re no good! Do something else!” grounded me before I had a chance to fly. Oddly enough, that nagging voice was also present while I wrote my first two novels and it pushed me to finish them. It’s funny what happens when you stop listening to the negative and progress blindly towards your goal chanting, “It’s okay if this sucks. It’s okay if this sucks…” It happened when I taught myself bass and it’s happening again now.

So, I’m teaching myself new things little by little and I’m having fun. I’m keeping myself busy. It’s exciting when it goes right and enlightening when it goes wrong. I just hope the house is still standing when things do go wrong.