My 2017 Movie Watching

Well, another year had wrapped up, and it’s time to take a look at my movie-viewing. In 2016, I made some goals regarding movie watching, and the results were largely underwhelming. So, in 2017, I tried again.

Here’s the complete list of every movie I saw for the first time in 2017.

The first thing to notice is that there’s a grand total of 186 movies on the list. This is an average of more than one every other day. This is probably a record for me, even outdoing my teenage years, and is certainly better than 2016, when I saw merely 55. In fact, I am certain I watched over 200 films this year, but I did not include movies that I had already seen before. For one thing, Owen and I watched the first three Harry Potter films together (but I’d seen them before). We also watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and E.T. together, and my younger kids frequently rewatched movies at random times…so a lot of rewatches this year, too.

Beside simply tracking the movies I saw, I also made a goal of seeing at least one film from each decade since the 1910s, and seeing at least one film with a title from each letter of the alphabet.

In both cases, I succeed. I saw 2 movies from the 1910s, in fact, include L’Inferno, which now holds the record for the oldest full-length film I’ve seen (it’s from 1911). The year from which I saw the most movies was 2016, which makes sense since it is the most recent completed year. The youngest movie I’ve seen, incidentally, is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I also saw at least one film beginning with each letter of the alphabet. I saw a single movie beginning with the letter X: X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I saw at least two movies beginning with the other 25 letters. The most represented letter was, of course, S. I saw 22 movies with titles beginning with the letter S. The longest holdout was N. I didn’t see a movie starting with an N until October 1st, when I finished watching Night Train to Munich. I also saw four movies with titles that begin with numbers.

My pacing was pretty even, though I went nine full days without watching a single movie from May 15th-May 23rd. But, come on, I had my youngest kid’s birthday, a final paper due in college, and my own college graduation to think about during that time. At the other extreme, from October 6th-12th, I saw one movie each day all seven days, which was the longest such streak. The months in which I saw the most movies were January and October (20 each), both narrowly surpassing July’s total of 19. The month in which I saw the least number of movies was May, with only 8. Second lowest was September, with 10.

I saw six movies at the theater, watched one for school, and saw six while riding in an airplane. I also watched movies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Florida.

My least favorite movie I saw was Carnosaur. The second-worst was Beetlejuice. Only slightly better than these two pieces of garbage was Ghost in the Shell.

Here are the five best movies I saw this year:

5. Blood Diamond

4. The Purple Rose of Cairo

3. Cinderella Man

2. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

  1. The Prestige



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6 Years in Our Home

As of this week, we’ve lived in our home for 6 years. As I’ve done semi-annually since we moved in, I will hereby provide an update on improvements we made to our home in the past six months.

By the way, if you’re interested, here’s the blog post detailing what we did during the six months prior to these most recent six months.

-Replaced the thread-bare too-short piece of yarn hanging from the light with a proper pull chain.

-Replaced beige outlet with white one.
We have some beige outlets in the house, which were installed by the previous homeowner. Beige is a terrible color for outlets since it just makes them look dusty. I replaced most of them with white outlets, but every once in a while, I find one I had neglected to replace. This outlet was hidden behind some furniture, so I don’t see it too often.

-Removed intercom and patched up wall.
Yeah, that stupid intercom messed up about fifteen places around our house. Though I removed the intercom from Owen’s room, the kitchen, and the front door, I never got around to removing the one in our room. Here’s the progress I made:

Intercom 1
Here’s the ugly, useless intercom.

Intercom 2
Here, I’ve removed the screws holding it in place.

Intercom 3
Here, I’ve removed the wiring and thus the entire intercom is now gone.

Intercom 4
Here, I’ve patched up the hole. Yes, it’s very ugly. Stay tuned for my continued progress in assimilating this eyesore of the wall to the rest of the wall.

-Installed exhaust fan.
Yay for us! Can you believe we lived over five-and-a-half years in our house without having a fan in our bathroom?
Here’s the accompanying switch that my brother-in-law skillfully helped me install:

-Replaced beige outlet with white one.

-Removed handrail from shower.
Well, one of the handrails, at least. There are two horizontal bars that I like having in the shower, as they are great places to keep shampoo bottles and face cloths. But there was one vertical bar that just got in the way:
It’s gone now.

-Removed wood planks from ceiling.
Not sure why, but there were about a dozen ugly planks of wood nailed to the rafters in our spare room near the fuse box. Each one was about three inches wide and three feet long. I removed them in preparation for having a proper ceiling one day. They gave me lots of splinters. And they were very dusty, so I had to wear safety glasses while removing them.

-Removed security system motion detector from above the back door light fixture.
It was useless. And ugly.

-Trimmed back hose spigot and installed sleeker piping.
The pipe connecting our hose spigot to the house used to be 10 inches long. This was probably to accommodate the side-opening that allowed for the plumbing for the sprinkler system. I removed the sprinkler system years ago, but the valve for the sprinkler system just sat there, turned off, doing nothing. So I cut the pipe so that it now only sticks out from the house by four inches. In doing so, I also removed the side opening. So now it’s both shorter and sleeker.


-Installed hose winder.
Oh yeah, the main reason for doing the work on the hose spigot was so that I could fit this:








-Chimney shortened, tuck-pointed, and top grate reinstalled.
I didn’t do this; I paid someone else to. Actually, to this day, I’ve still never been on the roof of our house. The contractor I hired removed four rows of bricks, which weren’t even cemented in anymore, and thus brought the height of the chimney closer to code.

022 023 024 025 026





















-Caulked small hole near back door.
Not sure why, but there has always been this small hole just below the doorbell. I caulked it closed.

-Stained lattice work on north side of deck.

-Added bracket to hold up electrical wire piping.
-Replaced broken siding on east side of garage with new pieces.
Actually, they weren’t “new” pieces; they were pieces that had never been used, just sitting up in the rafters.
-Installed sheets of chipboard into rafters for storage.
-Removed keyhole from center of garage.
This keyhole, which presumably used to open one of the garage doors, served no purpose. I removed it. I’ll patch up the hole later.
Garage key1626

-Installed keypad for garage door entry.
-Replaced broken siding on south side of garage.
One small piece was broken. I used one of the broken pieces I had removed from the east side (above), and cut it down to size, being careful to only use the in-tact portion.
Here is the keypad itself:

And here it is with the flap closed:

-Replaced outlet on west wall.
It wasn’t working. And it was beige.

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The Hamline Review: Part III

And now here’s a listing of my favorite and least favorite courses while at Hamline. I was just going to write about two courses (the best and the worst), but then I realized that there are a few different criteria for those two poles. So, instead of awarding any course a “Best” or a “Worst,” I’m gonna provide a few categories.

There are really four things to take into consideration: the course which presented the most enjoyable information, the course that afforded me the most enjoyable time in class, the class that was the easiest for me to ace, and the course in which I ended up with the highest grade. …And their opposites.

Most Enjoyable Information
The most enjoyable information was in my Horror Film course, which I took in the fall of 2014. Though I’m a big film buff, I’d often shied away from horror films. I’ve been interested in them, but always kind of nervous (scared?) to watch them. This course gave me some great exposure to a lot of great horror films, and the books were very interesting, too.

Most Enjoyable Time in Class
This had to be the Reform Movements course I took for my minor in History (Fall 2016). The students were a varied bunch, but we sat in a square, facing each other, and different students had to lead the class each day, so we got to know each other well. The camaraderie was better than in other courses, and I even made friends with one student, with whom I later roomed with during our time at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in April of this year.

Easiest Course
During the summer of 2012, I interned as an associate editor for Freethought House, thus fulfilling the degree requirement of being an intern. I was already volunteering with Freethought House anyway, so nothing really change for me that summer except for two in-person meetings with my advisor and three brief questionnaires I had to fax in. Piece of cake.

Highest Grade
If my best class is the one in which I obtained the highest grade, then my best class was Music in the World’s Cultures, which I took in the summer of 2016. I accrued 995 of the course’s 1,000 points, but I also participated in the course’s extra credit assignment, which garnered me another 99 points. All told, I score 109% in the class.

Least Enjoyable Information
…But that one music class also came with the least enjoyable information. Hardly any of the information was even interesting; it was a lot of “well, there’s no good way to sum up all the music of central Asia in just one class period, so we won’t even try. Just know it’s really diverse. Here’s an example of one piece of their music, which is sure to not give you a good sampling. Now take this quiz which asks excruciatingly exacting questions about what you just learned, even though some of it has nothing to do with music.”
Here’s a sample question from the class: Which central Asian country lies between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea?
A) Armenia
B) Iran
C) Tajikistan
D) Turkmenistan
Give up? The correct answer is:
E) Since this isn’t a geography class, who cares?

Least Enjoyable Time in Class
My least favorite time in class was Women in Literature, which I took in the summer of 2011. The professor was great, and the information was interesting, but the class was squeezed into one month (instead of the normal three), so it was intense! Also, I had hand, foot, and mouth disease and sat in the class shivering with a fever on a couple occasions. I even showed up for the first class about 15 minutes late, since I was driving there but then turned around and went home when Jennifer told me Owen’s fever was spiking. Once I got home, I told Jennifer I either had to go to class or go and drop the class (either way, I had to get to campus pronto!), so that made for a crappy start. That June was very hot and humid, too, so the classroom was terribly uncomfortable. Night classes were always the hardest, anyway.

Hardest Course
Senior Seminar, which I just completed last month, was the hardest course. Even before the first day of class, I had to read 250 pages out of a novel in preparation, and the coursework never let up. I had to give two presentations and turn in, among other things, a 20+ page research paper.

Lowest Grade
Unfortunately, every instructor did not keep an exact point tally of grades. For example, in the Reform Movements course, the professor simply said she was grading us on attendance, participation, and on our final paper and presentation. I had perfect attendance in that class, so I assume I got 100% on that, but she never gave me any grade information on the presentation. Did I get 100%? Or 90%? Or something lower? I have no clue. I know I got an A in the class, but that could mean anything above a 93%. And, actually, I got an A in every class, even though I know I didn’t get a perfect 100% in every class, I don’t know which one came out on the bottom. If I had to guess, I’d say I probably “only” got a 95% in Textual Studies and Criticism (Spring 2010), since I got an A- on a couple papers.

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The Hamline Review: Part II

And now here’s an overview of my homework. Specifically, it’s just half of my homework: I’m not listing all of the work I produced – the papers I wrote, the tests I took, or the online ‘discussions’ I was involved in. Instead, I’m only going to list the half I consumed.

First, the books. Here’s every book assigned in my classes, along with notes, where applicable:

#ClassBook TitleAuthorNotes
1American History 1607-1860American Slavery, American FreedomMorgan, Edmund S.
2American History 1607-1860Letters from an American FarmerSt. John De Crevecoeur, J. HectorOnly assigned to read the Introduction and chapters 2,3,4,5,9, and 12
3American History 1607-1860American Revolution: A History, theWood, Gordon S.
4American History 1607-1860Andrew Jackson and His Indian WarsRemini, Robert V.
5American History 1607-1860American Reformers, 1815-1860Walters, Ronald G.
6American History 1607-1860Lincoln at GettysburgWills, Gary
8Textual Studies and CriticismThomas and BeulahDove, RitaDespite being <100 pages, I didn't finish this one. I don't really like poetry. Still got an A- on the paper, though.
7Textual Studies and CriticismAlmost an EveningCoen, Ethan
9Textual Studies and CriticismRaisin in the Sun, aHansberry, Lorraine
10Textual Studies and CriticismLovely Bones, theSebold, Alice
11Textual Studies and CriticismBest American Short Stories of 2009, thecompilation
12American Literatures (to 1860)Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vol. A, thecompilationDidn't have to read the whole thing, but big chunks
13American Literatures (to 1860)Narrative of the Life of Frederick DouglassDouglass, FrederickI read this years earlier, and decided to reread it for class
14American Literatures (to 1860)Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vol. B, thecompilationSee Volume A's note, above
15American Literatures (to 1860)Bartleby, the ScrivenerMelville, Herman
16Women and LiteraturePride and PrejudiceAusten, JaneOf the books I completed reading, this was my least favorite.
17Women and LiteratureWuthering HeightsBrontë, Emily
18Women and LiteratureBrokeback MountainProulx, AnnaAt 56 pages, this is the shortest book on this list.
19Introduction to US HistoryPivotal DecadesCooper, Jr., John Milton
20Introduction to US HistoryGrand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974Patterson, James T.At 830 pages, this is the longest book on the list that I read in its entirety
21Introduction to US HistoryRestless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. GorePatterson, James T.
22Literary and Cultural TheoryTheory Toolbox, theNealon, Jeffrey / Searles Giroux, Susan
23Literary and Cultural TheoryAdventures of Huckleberry Finn, theTwain, MarkI read this years earlier, and didn't reread it for class
24Literary and Cultural TheoryPiano Lesson, theWilson, August
25Literary and Cultural TheoryDiving Into the WreckRich, Adrienne
26Introduction to African American StudiesMaking of African America, theBerlin, Ira
27Introduction to African American StudiesMercy, aMorrison, Toni
28Introduction to African American StudiesTwelve Years a SlaveNorthup, Solomon
29Introduction to African American StudiesWomen, Race, and ClassDavis, Angela Y.
30Introduction to African American StudiesBrothers and KeepersWideman, John Edgar
31Introduction to African American StudiesFrom Black Power to Hip HopCollins, PatriciaI decided not to finish this one.
32Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theDead Until DarkHarris, CharlaineOnly assigned chapters 1 and 2, but I read the whole thing.
33Cults in AmericaRevivalism, Social Conscience, and Community in the Burned-Over DistrictAltschuler, Glenn C. / Saltzgaber, Jan M.
34Cults in AmericaSeventh-Day Adventists and the Civil Rights MovementLondon, Samuel G.
35Cults in AmericaHow the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven's GateWessinger, Catherine
36Cults in AmericaWhy Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in AmericaTabor, James D. / Gallagher, Eugene V.
37History of Jehovah's WitnessesJehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious MovementHolden, Andrew
38History of Jehovah's WitnessesCaptives of a ConceptCameron, Don
39Horror FilmHorrorCherry, Bridgid
40Horror FilmPretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop CultureNewitz, Annalee
41Censorship in FilmsWages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film, 1928-1942, theJacobs, Lea
42Censorship in FilmsHollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle over Censorship Saved the Modern Film IndustryLewis, Jon
43Censorship in FilmsHas Hollywood Lost Its Mind?: A Parent's Guide to Movie RatingsHicks, Chris
44Censorship in FilmsNaked Truth: Why Hollywood Doesn't Make X-Rated Movies, theSandler, Kevin S.
45Historical MethodsReturn of Martin Guerre, theDavis, Natalie Zemon
46Historical MethodsUnredeemed Captive: A Family Story From Early America, theDemos, John
47Historical MethodsManual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and DissertationsTurabian, KateOnly had to read chapters 1,9-14
48Historical MethodsPursuit of History, theTosh, John
49World LiteraturesHome and the World, theTagore, Rabindranath
50World LiteraturesCracking IndiaSidhwa, Bapsi
51World LiteraturesAnil's GhostOndaatje, Michael
52World LiteraturesRed AzaleaMin, Anchee
53World LiteraturesArtist of the Floating World, anIshiguro, Kazuo
54World LiteraturesObasanKogawa, Joy
55World LiteraturesPostman (Il Postino), theSkarmeta, AntonioThis technically wasn't assigned, but my group had to divide up the work of presenting about the film Il Postino, and I opted to compare it with the novel.
56Reform Movements in American HistoryAmerican Reformers, 1815-1860Walters, Ronald G.I had to read this before (see #5), so I didn't reread it for this class.
57Reform Movements in American HistoryAmerican Heroine: The Life and Legend of Jane AddamsDavis, Allen F.I didn't finish this one.
58Reform Movements in American HistoryFranklin D. Roosevelt and the New DealLeuchtenburg, William E.
59Reform Movements in American HistoryMad Among Us: A History of the Care of America's Mentally Ill, theGrob, Gerald N.
60Reform Movements in American HistoryAge of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s, theFarber, David
61Senior SeminarBlind Assassin, theAtwood, Margaret
62Senior SeminarSecret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry PotterBérubé, MichaelOnly had to read chapters 1 and 2.
63Senior SeminarForms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, NetworkLevine, Caroline
64Senior SeminarCrying of Lot 49, thePynchon, Thomas
65Senior SeminarOsama: A NovelTidhar, LavieI didn't finish this one.
66Senior SeminarTales of the Metric SystemCoovadia, ImraanI didn't finish this one.

As you can see, I didn’t read everything that was assigned. But I read most of the books and, even those I didn’t finish, I still read large swaths of them. Every class assigned critical essays, articles, or short stories, too, and I usually read those. All together, my readings represented around 15,000 pages.

And here are the films – including a couple TV miniseries – that I was assigned to watch for class:

#ClassMovie TitleMovie Release YearNotes
1Textual Studies and CriticismLimbo1999
2Textual Studies and CriticismLovely Bones, the2009
3Textual Studies and CriticismRaisin in the Sun, a1961
4Textual Studies and CriticismRaisin in the Sun, a2008
5Women and LiteratureBridget Jones's Diary2001Already seen; watched it again.
6Women and LiteraturePiano, the1993
7Women and LiteratureBrokeback Mountain2005
8Literary and Cultural TheoryPiano Lesson, the1995
9Introduction to African-American StudiesDaughters of the Dust1991
10Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theNosferatu1922
11Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theBeloved1998
12Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theNight of the Hunter, the1955Already seen; watched it again.
13Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theEve's Bayou1997
14Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theDeliverance1972Already seen; watched it again.
15Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theNight of the Living Dead1968
16Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theSugar Hill1974
17Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theTexas Chainsaw Massacre, the1974
18Night the Hogs Ate Willie, thePumpkinhead1988
19Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theNear Dark1987
20Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theSilence of the Lambs, the1991Already seen; watched it again.
21Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theWild at Heart1990
22Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theDoe Boy, the2001
23Night the Hogs Ate Willie, theBeast of the Southern Wild2012Already seen; didn't watch it again
24Cults in AmericaJonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple2006
25Cults in AmericaAmerican Experience: God in America (parts 1-6), the2010This was a PBS miniseries, so technically not a movie, but still pretty long.
26Horror FilmSafe Haven2006Short film - still counts
27Horror FilmHaunting, the1963
28Horror FilmShining, the1980
29Horror FilmBlair Witch Project, the1999
30Horror FilmHalloween1978
31Horror FilmZodiac2007
32Horror FilmWoman, the2011
33Horror FilmThing, the1951
34Horror FilmThing, the1982Already seen; watched it again
35Horror FilmGanja and Hess1973
36Horror FilmWhite Zombie1932
37Horror FilmDawn of the Dead1978
38Horror FilmAmerican Zombie2007
39Horror FilmCabin in the Woods, the2012
40Horror FilmLåt den Rätte Komma In (Let the Right One In)2008
41Horror FilmThere Will Be Blood2007Already seen; didn't watch it again.
42Horror FilmTwelve Years a Slave2013Already seen; didn't watch it again
43Censorship in FilmsThis Film is Not Yet Rated2006Already seen; didn't watch it again.
44Historical MethodsRetour de Martin Guerre, le (The Return of Martin Guerre)1982
45World LiteraturesGhare-Baire (The Home and the World)1984
46World LiteraturesIn the Time of the Butterflies2001
47World LiteraturesDiarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)2004
48World LiteraturesPostino, Il1994Already seen; watched it again.
49Senior SeminarAfter Hours1985
50Senior SeminarMagnolia1999Already seen; watched it again.
51Senior SeminarWhen the Levees Broke2006TV miniseries, still counts.
52Senior SeminarFast, Cheap, and Out of Control1997

A few were viewed in class, there was one I saw at the theater (The Lovely Bones), two of them I had to show up on campus at special times to watch an out-of-class viewing, and the rest I watched at home. Of the four films on the list here that were assigned and that I had seen before, but that I didn’t watch again, two of them I had seen so recently that I felt I didn’t need to take time out for a second viewing (Twelve Years a Slave and This Film is Not Yet Rated), and two I didn’t like enough to want to sit through again (There Will be Blood and Beasts of the Southern Wild).

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The Hamline Review: Part 1

So now that the old college career is officially in the can, I am going to give an overview of the three biggest factors in my education: money, homework, and classes.

First, money: How much did it cost to get a Bachelor’s Degree from Hamline University?

I was a transfer student. Specifically, I attended Century College from 2000-2002, where I earned an Associate’s Degree. So when I walked into class at Hamline on that first day in September 2009, I was, essentially, already half done. I was more or less a Junior. Thus, the numbers that follow are really only half the story.

Back in 2009, Hamline charged $869.71 per credit. Since I was in a four-credit class, the bill for the class alone was $3,478.85. But as a new student, there were additional fees, such as the cost of transferring in my credits and other filing fees. These totaled over $250. Also, since my employer would be reimbursing me for the course, I delayed payment until the end of the semester, though this generated a monthly fee of around $15 a month. And once I finally did pay, there was an additional “convenience” fee that cost me around $40.

Most classes also required the purchase of books. As an English major/History minor, I was lucky to be involved in two disciplines with relatively cheap books. The most any class cost me for books was $116.95. In fact, the books for my first class at Hamline, which was a History class, only cost me $32.95. In contrast, the books for one Chemistry class back at Century were over $240…and that was nearly a decade earlier.

All told, that first course at Hamline cost $3,860.95. My employer paid for the tuition and the books, so I was only on the hook for the fees and interest. I thus received a check from my employer for $3,511.80, and I paid $349.15 out-of-pocket.

That was almost the most I ever paid for a class. Subsequent classes were less pricey. They did not have all those “new student” fees. I also took a couple summer courses, which didn’t accrue as much interest (since they were shorter), and were only half the cost of fall/winter/spring courses. When I could, I paid for the courses using my savings account, which didn’t extort a “convenience” fee. And for ten of my eighteen courses, I was able to use Federal and/or State grants. All of this reduced my costs. For example, a summer course I took in 2014 only cost me $45.61 total.

But Hamline increased the cost of their credits every single year I was there. What cost $869.71 in 2009, was up to $1,040.00 by 2012, and $1,190.00 by 2016. Generous as my employer was, they only reimburse up to $8,000 per year – a benefit that did not increased a single cent during my eight years of using it. Thus, during my last three years at Hamline, my costs exceeded the reimbursement cap. I was able to mitigate these increasing costs for a while, thanks to government grants, but those decreased every year.

By my final school year, my last two courses were $4,760 each. The first one was, of course, reimbursed, but the one was not, leaving $1,664.48 (including interest and books). A government grant brought my total down to $373.48, making it the most expensive class I took while at Hamline. It’s a good thing I finished when I did: a class this fall would have cost me over $4,100 out-of-pocket.

All told, the 69 credits I accrued at Hamline cost $65,394.85.  Then there were $1,034.80 for books and $1,728.83 for interest and various fees. This brought the grand total to $68,158.48. The Federal and Minnesota governments footed the bill to the tune of $12,424.00. My employer reimbursed me $53,676.74, meaning that my total cost was $2,057.74, an average of $29.82 per credit, or $257.22 for every year I attended.

Not a bad price, really. Especially in America.

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