Be Honest With Me

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I want everyone to be honest for a second and tell me. Because I don’t really get it.

1)      Doesn’t wine taste bad? I mean, isn’t it AWFUL? Am I really the only one who thinks this? What would you rather have: a milk shake or a glass of wine? Now, I get it, you want to get buzzed or drunk. Or you want to get the girl you are with drunk. I get it. Been there, done that. So you drink wine. But several things:

  1. The actual taste is bad.
  2. You can’t sleep because of the sugar
  3. And then you feel bad in the morning (because, after all, alcohol is a depressant). You might even go to work, sort of sluggish, maybe a headache, and you think, “Oh man, I drank too much last night.”

But just be honest for a second: taste test – wine or vanilla milk shake. Which makes you happier?

2)      Be honest: Do you really remember anything that happened in school? I’m not going to go on an anti-college rant here. I’ve done that enough. And I’m sure there are people out there who learned a lot in college. But seriously, I’m really trying hard to think what I learned in my classes (not counting what I learned outside the class, which is more or less what most 18-22 year olds learn whether they go to college or not). I learned that the “==” sign means equals in computers. I learned that people need 9 hours of sleep although later research might’ve changed that to 7-8. I learned the words “supply”and”demand” although I’ve never correctly used them after that. I’m 44 and I graduated college when I was 21 so maybe its reasonable that I forget a lot. But I remember what I learned when I was six (cursive writing, Greek gods, how to spell my last name) more than I learned in 4 years of college. Quick, without looking it up, when was Charlemagne born?

3)      Children. Are kids that great? Like, I have two kids. And I love then.But they were HARD when they were growing up and I don’t think I even did 10% of the real work. Now they make me laugh but it’s still hard. Would I willingly be friends with an 8 year old? Not really. Would you?

Do I see myself in their poetically twinkling eyes? Not really. I hope they like me when they are older for all the shit I do for them now.

4)      News.  Is the news that interesting? Ok: Obama, Romney, some celebrity with big breasts, Greece worries (still), a horrible crime with a head decapitated and nobody can identify the body, and sports scores. Was it that great to take up 20 minutes of your life? Wouldn’t you rather read a funny book or watch a funny movie? Perhaps the only news that’s mildly interesting are the porn mags like People magazine. But ok, its titillating but much better to find it in real life.

5)      Theater.  I love a 90 minute funny movie. That’s about my limit. And it has to be hilarious. I need to be laughing. Or crying. Like “oh, the horror!” On occasion, I don’t mind good music in a movie, and I don’t mind quasi-religious things like “The Force” in Star Wars. For instance, the roller-skating scene in “Xanadu” is acceptable to me. I’m not smoking crack here. I realize that this is a matter of personal taste. (But click on the above link for the best three minutes of your day).

But do you really like theater? I just took my kids to a play. “Guys  and Dolls”. THREE HOURS! With an intermission in the middle. Is it that great they had to see it for three hours?

By the way: If you want a movie recommendation: Here are my top ten. I mix them up in genres so if you don’t like some genres you can skip those:

  1. Schindler’s List
  2. Lawrence of Arabia
  3. The Godfather
  4. Superbad
  5. After Hours
  6. A Night On Earth
  7. Blade Runner
  8. The Conversation
  9. Slumdog Millionaire
  10. The Blues Brothers
  11. Groundhog Day (I threw this in as #11).

(Schindler’s List)

Oh, and for a #12. American Pop.

And the list can keep going. Please add to this list in the comments. Would you really rather see a play than any of these? ANY.  How can anyone even do a play about Schindler’s List? And for that matter, is any play going to be better than the  tv series “Arrested Development”?

6. Voting. Have you honestly ever voted for anyone on more than a local level that made your life better. Did Bill Clinton make life better? He was impeached and sticking cigars up interns vaginas while Osama Bin Laden was planning our future. And W was no better, killing tens of thousands in two or three or ten unnecessary wars. Who have you voted for that made a difference (above the micro-level, where believe it or not, if they made your life better then you are probably corrupt).

7. Meditation. “Oh, I calm my mind when I meditate”. Shut up. Forget about everyone else for a second. Do you really feel better, calmer, or wiser, because you meditate? Don’t answer if you are a Tibetan Lama. I’m not saying all meditation is bad. But the kind where you sit in the lotus position for 30 minutes and try to think of “no-mind”. i.e. “American meditation”. Does that really help you deal with life? Be honest. That’s 30 minutes you do every day. You could be watching cartoons instead. That will clear your mind. Stop bullshitting yourself. If you meditate then call people names on internet message boards then meditation did not help you.

8. Money. This is a tricky question. More money is definitely better. Or is it. I have a sample size of 44. (44 years old). My happiest year was 1995. I had no money at all. I didn’t even have a girlfriend for most of the year. I lived in forgotten outpost of NYC called Astoria. I played chess and backgammon and drank coffee every night with funny people. I watched movies for free every weekend at the Museum of the Moving Image. I wrote my phone number down on two dollar bills to waitress and strippers but nobody ever called. I was very happy all the time. Then I started to be an entrepreneur. Then I wasn’t happy anymore. It just took four years from then to be suicidal. So much for money.  Be honest: what was your happiest year ever?

(What was Osama doing then?)

9. Vacations.  Was it really that great to see the ruins of Rome? Does the steak in Argentina (14 hour plane ride) really taste that much better than the steak in the best restaurants in NYC (or Iowa, or wherever you are from)? Are the gardens in London really better than the garden outside your house that you lovingly made yourself? To do a vacation you had to deal with paperwork, getting to a plane, waiting for a plane, riding  a plane for most of a day, checking into a hotel, and then DOING STUFF and spending money. Best vacation I ever took: 1996 I took a “staycation” in NYC. It was great. I explored empty neighborhoods (everyone was at work) and they were beautiful. I bought used comics in cheap stores I didn’t know existed. Even better than a staycation is a nocation (took one last week). Just staying home and reading and watching movies and maybe writing. Ahh, pleasure.

10. Great literature. Read out loud “The Canturbury Tales”, or Shakespeare. Or, heck, even “Moby Dick”. Can you really read that crap? It may have been good then but I doubt it. It’s mostly because of a lack of choices that people read stuff like that. Why doesn’t a single school ever teach about contemporary literature. Or, for that matter, why don’t they teach good television, which is far better than Shakespeare, which was the only choice for that day and age. Or good comic books. Get the series of graphic stories, “Tangents” for real  literature.

11. The Food Pyramid. I have to throw this in there because my kid is IMing me about it right now (I don’t have conversations anymore, just iMs). She’s home sick so is missing a discussion about the  merits of the food pyramid. Are you serious?  The food pyramid is completely fixed by whichever food group industry pays the most to lobbyists. So why does my kid have to learn about it? Because her school gets money depending on how high the average test score is in the standardized tests that the government makes. In other words, the school doesn’t want her to eat better, but to become a brainwashed servant of the industries that spend the most money on lobbyists that, in turn, control the government.

By the way, this is not conspiracy theory. This is REALITY. This is how it works. I see it, know it, live it, breathe it, in my daily investing activities.

So my question is: (following the format of the other categories): have you ever once used the food pyramid to decide your food choices of the day?

(the news)

So I just solved a lot of problems for people who have information overload: don’t waste time meditating, worrying about politics, reading the news, drinking wine (or eating the dinner that supposedly goes with the right wine), going on vacations, reading Shakespeare or some other BS book that is “literature”, worrying about exactly what you eat (portion control is the #1 thing to think about), going on vacations (you will save years of your life), worrying about promotions (spend less instead of getting an extra $200/month so you can slave to some fluorescent boss). I’ve just given you at least 10-15 years of your life back.

Over the weekend someone asked me about how to avoid procrastination.

I will leave this with the most important honest question of all:

Procrastination. What does that word really mean? It means you are doing something you like to do because you don’t want to do something you don’t like to do.

Hmmm, that sounds pretty good to me!

But….but….what if you have to do the other thing. The thing you are avoiding. DON’T YOU HAVE TO?

When a baby touches an oven it pulls its finger back and says “OW!” It learns not to do it again. Physical suffering is a great teacher. The same thing happens with emotional or mental suffering. We say “OW!” but we forget to learn not to do it again. Procrastination is a way of telling us what is causing us emotional and mental suffering.

If you feel yourself procrastinating, shift directions a little bit. You don’t have to go 180 degrees on us. Go 10 degrees off-course at first. Think of things in a slightly different way. Then go 20 degrees. Try it on. See how it feels.

Every day: declutter your brain, your emotions, the spirit of energy you had as a kid, just declutter. Throw stuff out. Get back to the honesty. Come back to the real world. I don’t want to see you reading the Canterbury Tales on the subway. Every day there’s a new person telling me about someone my age, give or take ten years, who dies from stress. Stress == information overload == cluttering the mind. Means not believing the BS that is handed down through generations to you. Don’t kill yourself just to satisfy the restrictions and boundaries your parents, peers, friends, lovers, government, and commercials have put on you.

Please, I also ask you to help me – where else are the lies? Where else do we put on heavy metal armor just so we can drown in the swimming pool. Tell me. And if you want to add to the movie list, please do so. The more fun movies I watch, the better life is.

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  • http://kiddynamitesworld.com Kid Dynamite

    I think you need to drink better wine, James.  A big hitter like you can afford to step it up a bit.

     

  • Tim Melvin

    It doesnt even have to be expensive wine. I can point you to many great wines at a decent price. For the record I Hate milkshakes

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Fair enough, to you and Kid D below. I just love a good milkshake in a Greek diner. It’s the best taste in the world. I never “got it” with wine but i appreciate your honesty here.

      • Brendan

        Late night diner – my go to move is order a large chocolate milkshake, all others realize wisdom of the order when it arrives. I don’t drink milkshakes for health reasons now… but they taste better than every alcohol including beverage in the world. Except the ones that are basically milkshakes + alcohol, which I consider a push anyways.

      • Anonymous

        Well, as a Greek, we never ever drink milkshakes.  

        We sometimes drink milk, but mostly as kids. 

        And we certainly don’t have milkshakes in our restaurants.

        (Of course Greek diners are another matter –they are Greek owned but serve mostly American food. Heck, lots of the best of “classic american diners” are Greek owned, from Lou Mitchels in Chicago, to the Arcade in Memphis, to  Mike’s Chili Parlor in Seattle, to Nick’s in Albuquerque where Route 66 crosses Route 66 (original and revised route) + too many in NE US. Including Leopold’s which makes one of the best (they say) ice creams in the US in Savannah, GA.  Yeah, I know my “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Apparently we owned the diner industry back in the day).

  • Zac H

    Hi James, thanks for the post.  I have been silently reading your posts and forwarding them to friends for some time now.  Just wanted to thank you.

    As for this one, I have been preaching declutter to my girlfriend for months now….mind, body, and stuff.  She has trouble getting rid of anything.  Advice?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes. Declutter yourself of trying to declutter her.

      • Andrew

        I did that with my spouse and now I have a much happier marriage.  It’s good advice. I wish I had figured it out sooner.  I think I was in year 12 or 13 of marriage before I got it. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WHS2ZAF6FOLBIWBGMWGKJRWWP4 Priscilla

    I would have to add “Stripes” to your movie list. As a teen when I first saw it I almost joined the Army but of course knew better than that. Thanks for an enjoyable read…life is too short for b.s. and I think you covered just about all of it!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Stripes was a classic. Thanks for adding to the list. 

      • Robert

         I would add Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to the list. I was on the ground and rolling during a couple of scenes. Oh yes, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie, if there ever was a movie that will keep you cracking up throughout…I mean wow.

        • Dave Winter

           Not sure why, but I will sit through the entire movie “Liar Liar” just to witness the scene in the boardroom when Jim Carrey’s character is brutally honest about everyone in the room, but when he takes that guy’s tupet off and sticks it to the wall I wind up in tears EVERY TIME.

  • http://twitter.com/collinferry Collin Ferry

    I have tasted good wine, though I agree most tastes like vinegar, and a milkshake probably always wins. It’s true I don’t watch the news and have decided to stop voting. Great literature isn’t that great (I was an English major) and I’ve yet to get anything from traditional meditation. The food pyramid is a hoax, I love movies and graphic novels (for the record, I’ve an English 101 course teach Watchmen), and I don’t want to have kids. So yeah, I think you’ve got most of this right, honestly!

    For a lot of people it’s a question of “Do you want to be happy, or do you want people to think you are happy?” Or, perhaps asked better, “Do you want to be happy or do you want to make other people jealous?” Something like that anyway.

    For movies, I really like the Darjeeling Limited. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ahh, I will definitely check out Darjeeing LImited. Others have recommended it. And yes! , I should’ve put “Watchment” instead of  “Tangents”. Watchment is probably the best graphic novel ever. 

      • Brendan

        I thought “bottle rocket” was the best of the wes anderson movies, followed by rushmore. Royal Tennenbaums was also good, the life aquatic didn’t do it for me, couldn’t get through the whole Darjeeing…

  • Robin Heinen

    I can’t answer many of your questions (for example, I don’t have kids). For the other ones, maybe, silence is the best answer to confirm your thoughts in this blog… I think you fully hit the spot with this blog! Great one.

    About movies: I think ‘Kickass’ truly kicked ass… It made me laugh. It is probably the weirdest story ever. But it is funny.

    I do not agree with you on the London gardens… I am a gardening freak and I think I created some very nice gardens and I think I can work miracles with roses. Nothing beats the rose gardens, like Regent’s Park. Even Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are great, not to mention Kew… 

    Great post as always James. Classic!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Good point. If you are REALLY INTO gardens then a vacation to London might be the pleasure of a lifetime. Like, I can see going on a trip through Europe playing in chess tournaments. So maybe ONE vacation is good. But not the typical, lets go to a beach for the heck of it, vacation

      • Robin Heinen

        I agree, I think the world has a trillion beautiful places to see. Visiting one beautiful place too many times would be a waste of time. Go and see the other places. For me, London is relatively cheap to visit, therefore a good spot to take a few days off. The hectic chaos in big cities like London are great for a vacation, I think. I am probably among the 1 percent of people who doesn’t have to hurry when I’m there. Best feeling in the world. Last January I took my girlfriend to the Canary Islands. I would never return to that same Island… so I get your point ;). Beaches are overrated anyway!

        • Robin Heinen

          Oh, and I recently watched ‘Horrible Bosses’, it was both terrible and funny at the same time. It fits your blogs on corporate jobs perfectly ;). I really like Kevin Spacey. ‘American Beauty’ is less funny, not even meant to be fun, but I think it’s one of the best movies ever made.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chad-Williams/37616303 Chad Williams

    Nice list, but I DO like genuinely like wine.  Just being honest :-D

  • Murali

    James,

    Interesting post. I look forward to your post about the top-ten books that you have read, or books that you think have changed your perspective on life.

    The only thing that I remember from school is that I do not remember anything.

     

  • Robin Heinen

    I like most milkshakes and hate most wines. I do like a red wine ( a good one) at the dinner table. You should watch Jim Jefferies’ show “I swear to God” for a funny explanation about wine/alcohol. He made me laugh as well!

  • http://www.chiffonadeofparsley.com/ Louisa

    1) I don’t understand why anyone drinks any form of alcohol except to get drunk.  It tastes awful
    2)I never went to college, so, nope, I don’t remember anything.
    3)I think so.  I’ve been involved with kids(volunteering, working in classrooms, etc) for 10+ years(I’m 25) and I still love them and am dying to have my own
    4)The news is boring, and also pretty much consists of stuff that has no actual relevance to my life.  It may piss me off, but I can’t do anything about it, so why be bored and pissed if I can’t actually do anything?
    5)Oh hell yes.  I’ve seen a bunch of shows and loved them, but earlier this month I went to see Les Miserables(which I have loved since I was 9…) and it was the best experience of my life.  But the Blue Brothers needs to be higher on your list.  And consider Galaxy Quest and Troop Beverly Hills, both masterpieces of the incredibly stupid on purpose movie.
    6) I’ve only voted for one non local person, Obama, but he was seriously disappointing, so I’ll just stay home now.
    7)Meditation sucks, yoga is awesome.
    8)I can’t compare, I’ve never had money.  I imagine not having to worry about bills would make me happier, but having to do things that caused lots of stress would make me much unhappier, so it’s probably not worth the trade off.
    9) I don’t like traveling.  I’d much rather sleep in my own bed every night.
    10) I hate Moby Dick with a passion.  I love Jane Austen. 
    11) I tried to eat by the food pyramid one of the dozens of times I was trying to lose weight.  It was one of the least effective methods(Final solution?  Lap Band surgery 4 years ago has me down 200lbs)

    Well, sometimes you really do have to do the thing you don’t want to.  For example, last week I had to go to the dentist for a cracked filling.  And then I had to go to the pharmacy the next day to pick up an antibiotic for the infection. But if I hadn’t done those things, it would only have gotten worse, and I would still have had to go to the dentist and the pharmacy, I would just have suffered more pain.

  • Lubi166

    You should drink Famous Grouse. You don’t need so much of it, and nobody understands unless you let them take a sip.

  • Sillychickalicia

    Maybe not a milkshake, but a smoothie with rum in it…don’t do news.  My 2 years of majoring in  literature did teach me how to write better and read between the lines or at least make 10 pages of bullshit sound good. I prefer to close my eyes and listen to throat singing instead of cartoons unless I’m watching Chilly Willy (as my son said when Chilly Willy was stealing furs, Chilly Willy needs a J O B).  I was raised privileged and entitled and had to unlearn all the dysfunction of having all my material wants met, but affection with held as a child when I became an adult and though I have never needed for money, I have never wanted for it, either. Honestly, your honesty makes good sense, except the part about wine… 

  • Nfamous365

    Additions to your movie list:  “The Hangover” the first one “Bridesmaids” and episodes of “Weeds”. (You can stream them on Netflix) All guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Ahh, forgot about “The Hangover”. That was a pure classic.

  • Anonymous

    If you didn’t care for Guys and Dolls and don’t like wine, I’m not sure there is much hope left for you.  Just being honest.

  • Sebi

    Meditation for me is about declutter my mind and destress me. My inner fealings should be stable to run my life. With meditation I hope I can achieve it.

  • http://www.pointsandfigures.com pointsnfigures

    point by point-I love being honest and when people are honest with me.
    1.  Wine tastes great.  Match it with food.  When it matches nicely great things happen.
    2.  I remember a lot from school. Had a huge debate over motivational theory with a prof.  Hackman-Oldham theory-I debated Oldham.  He was right.
    3.  Kids are challenging, and awesome
    4.  News sux.  Thank goodness for the internet
    5.  Agree on movies-older ones were shorter.  Double Indemnity is a great flick once you get over the 1940 language.  Theater can be great.  Chicago has some great theater.  But most of it is self serving, preachy and I hate it.
    6.   I vote.  It’s a civic duty. Our republic doesn’t work without it.  I vote for pols that will make govt as small as possible so I don’t have to worry about it.  Too bad there aren’t a lot of them around.
    7.  How the fuck am I supposed to meditate in a city.  I always fall asleep when someone tells me to meditate
    8.  Money.  Not having it sux after you had it.
    9.  Vacations, yes, it was great seeing Rome.  It was awesome celebrating Christmas Eve in Singapore.  It was cool going to Bali and attending a HIndu religious service.  You can’t experience everything on the internet.
    10.  Great literature makes you think if you read it right.  Especially the classics.
    11.  The Food Pyramid is really a contest to show which lobbying group did the best.

    I am procrastinating right now.  Have to get to it.  Bye.

  • daddontsk8

    Hey, James. Would it be alright to meditate on the concepts of this post?

  • http://twitter.com/Adam_8020 Adam

    The movie ‘Quiz Show’ is amazing – both moving and funny. 
    ‘Remains of the Day’ and ‘Unbreakable’ are nearly as good.

  • http://healthycriticism.com/ Nick

    Cool post. Some thoughts:

    1. Wine: it’s not for everyone, but you have to know how to buy. If you don’t like acidic or bitter qualities in what you drink, you’ll never like wine. If you do, though, you need to eschew cheap stuff and learn the regions and producers that make excellent, reasonably priced wines.

    2. Movies: I would add Goodfellas, Chinatown, Apocalypse Now, Office Space, and the Social Network to your list.

    3. Literature: Not so fast. Hemingway and Henry Miller are still great, and I love classics like Anna Karenina and Dickens’ hilarious Pickwick Papers.

    4. Re:school, have you ever read John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education? It’s available free on his website.

    • Robin Heinen

      Office Space, watched it last Saturday, hilarious!

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Office Space! I’m going to have to Youtube right now some of the songs from that. It was excellent. 

        • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/why-you-need-f-you-money/ Jlcollinsnh

          damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

  • Diana

    I would add Stand by Me (1986) to your movie list. 

    • kevin faul

      And Shawshank Redemption

  • Dyish

    Movies:
    American Grafitti (There is so much going on there funny, serious, coming of age)
    Rocky (only the first one)
    Love your Blues Brothers and Godfather selections
    North by Northwest
    Anything with Bogart in it

    TV
    Modern Family

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Got “North by Northwest” on my ipad as of last week. Maybe I will watch it today!

      And yes to American Graffiti although, I never saw it. I read the novelization as a kid. And was thinking about including “Rocky” also. Great movie.

  • Mike

    Coffe tastes like shit.  Everyone has preferences.  Also, very hard to drink 15 vanilla milkshakes!  Thanks for the great work!

    • Skywire

      One of the major constituents of coffee does in fact taste like shit. In combination with the rest, it’s subtle but detectable. Tomorrow morning you’ll wish you hadn’t read this.

      • fire

        I hope I’ve forgotten this by tomorrow morning, or I’ll be trying too hard to see if you’re right.

  • http://twitter.com/ALSITRADER Igor Marinkovic

    James come to South Africa to test wines that are tasting better than milk shake 

    • http://www.facebook.com/stefanjacobs123 Stefan Jacobs

      Even if it’s not for the wine, you must come to South Africa anyway… Not on vacation though – for something else. Maybe, maybe…so I can pitch you my idea? Wine is great as well!

    • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/why-you-need-f-you-money/ Jlcollinsnh

      you guys must keep the good ones at home.  :)

      from my favorite wine blog:  
      http://vinoexpressions.com/2012/03/14/burnt-rubber/

  • http://www.facebook.com/bensandcastle Ben Sand

    Theatre is great when I’m seeing my friends and it’s a comedy or something musical. I have a lot of performer friends and I enjoy seeing their shows, or sometimes being on stage with them.

    Wine is good with cheese, but only for the flavour and I don’t enjoy the effects of alcohol so I only have a little bit if I’m feeling indulgent.

    Big thumbs up for the staycation/nocation!

    Done some years in childcare. Kids are fun. I glad I don’t have any full time though. Maybe one day.

  • Orbspiders

    Wine is mostly awful tasting, makes it so that I can’t sleep at night, and colors my lips purple. I also agree with most of the rest of the article. 

    Two counts that I have to firmly disagree with are meditation and great literature. Both of these things help to show me different perspectives, and I find it very useful to step back and look at reality from different vantage points. 

  • http://www.parmcharm.com karen parmelee

    So there’s that, huh? I actually *enjoy* wine, with the right setting, or food, or company – I savor and enjoy it. There’s a time and place for milkshake too. Side by side – out of context – I can’t offer my opinion. As for films, I like movies with people talking. “Big Chill” ranks up there pretty high for that.

  • Altuch

    When are you going to write about a speculative stock that you like ..been a long time!

  • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng

    Good morning James!

    I just got myself a 108$ ticket for a misplaced car registration sticker. What a great fucking way to start Monday!

    A glass of wine would be nice for me now. Some Argentinian steak to go with that would be even better. Or maybe I just need to meditate more.

    • http://www.PriscillaPWood.com/ Priscilla P. Wood

      I hate getting tickets :(

  • http://twitter.com/scrobTV SCROB TV

    Hi James, I also think wine tastes awful. For about a week I believed these claims that it’s healthy, which turned out to be as bogus as everything else surrounding it. I forced myself to drink it but couldn’t finish a single glass neither white nor red.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=734104183 Robert Torres

    James, try the dry wines, less sugar. But most people don’t like the dry wines. I prefer scotch now, not whiskey, but whisky, without the E. But you know, I can’t tell much difference between the two, except the labels.

    The only president who really effected my life was George HW Bush, because in 1992, I was in the military and he made huge personnel cuts in the services. I got out after ten years.

    Favorite movies? Dr. Strangelove. I can watch it over and over. 

    As far as school goes,…I mostly remember Catholic School,…why? Because it was hell. You live in constant fear, are told you are a dirty rotten human being, not worthy of some supernatural being, and the uniform just makes you another kid in a shirt.

  • Ccfaille

    Love your honesty, as always. But we have very different tastes.  Which, of course, is cool.

    Example: wine can be great. You’ve probably been trying the sweeter stuff, which can be terrible.

    Try to drier wines.  (And, yes, “dry” is a strange term to use for what is obviously a liquid.  But that’s the term.)

  • http://444express.blogspot.com/ the444

    Let’s see.  1. I don’t like wine.  Beer can be good if it’s high-quality (Murphy’s Red Ale or Smithwicks.)  I dislike the wine-snob trend, by the way.  Every housewife in America thinks its cool to brag about how much wine they slosh at every opportunity.   Think:  Snoboma, pictured here:  http://go.bloomberg.com/political-economy/2012-03-15/secret-white-house-wine-no-longer-secret/

    2. Very little.  Tying in with 1, though: My friends and I bought an actual jug of Rhine wine and drank it in my car (parked!  No driving after this debacle) and then walked into our children’s literature class where we all did presentations in front of the class with bellies full of jug wine.  I remember that!

    3. It’s fun when they are grown (or nearly-grown, that’s all I can speak for.)  Kids (when they’re your own) 14+ are really fun.

    I’m going to skip the ones I don’t have strong opinions about.

    5. I saw “Urinetown” last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    8.  My happiest times don’t have anything to do with money.  That doesn’t mean I don’t strive to get money, though, because I need it and it’ll make me feel better to have a lot more… hey, you used a lot of fours in a row there.

    10.  I like “The Mayor of Casterbridge” although it’s not considered great literature.  Better is the BBC multi-hour production from the early 80s.

    11.  I don’t think any sane person structures their food intake based on any chart. 

  • boo

    If you saw Guys and Dolls and didn’t like it, you probably just don’t like musicals (most straight men I know don’t). I think Guys and Dolls is one of the top 5 musicals of all time–catchy songs, great characters, fun dialogue–and even a terrible high school production can’t totally ruin it.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Sure, but does it come 1/10 as close as “Superbad” to perfection?

      • boo

        Although I like a lot of Judd Apatow’s stuff, I don’t think Superbad is that funny (possibly because I’m a woman? Superbad has a pretty guy-centric perspective).

        Have you seen “Step Brothers”? I think it came out at a time when people were sick of Will Ferrell, so it didn’t do that well, but it’s very funny.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

           Yes, almost included “Step Brothers” on my list.

          • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

            Did you see 21 Jump Street? If you loved Superbad, you’d love 21 Jump Street.

          • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

             Yes. very funny.

      • Prosper_synergy

        I always thought ‘Knocked up’ was funnier than Superbad. You should check out the deleted scenes from Knocked up as well.
         To the list I’d add: ‘Adaptation’ and ‘The prestige’.
        On another note, since you love Louis CK and Jimmy Norton, you should def’ly check out Bill Burr. He’s absolutely hilarious!

  • Mra

    You didn’t “graduate college” when you were 21.  You graduated from college when you were 21.  Or you can say your college graduated you.  But you can’t graduate a college.  You don’t have the authority to issue that diploma.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I do.

    • http://444express.blogspot.com/ the444

      They make special combs and shampoos for that sort of thing, you know.

    • http://Www.brookefarmer.com/ Brooke Farmer

      Graduate:

      Verb

      [with obj.] informal: receive an academic degree from- “she graduated college in 1970”

      Just saying. James’ use of the word here was perfectly acceptable.

      • A grammar fan

        Here’s what the American Heritage Dictionary says in a usage note:
        The Usage Panel feels quite differently about the use of graduate to mean “to receive a degree from,” as in She graduated Yale in 1998. Seventy-seven percent object to this usage.To be fair, Merriam-Webster disagrees, and shows how language evolves over time, placing James on the leading edge of usage, perhaps:In the 19th century… the intransitive was condemned. The intransitive prevailed nonetheless, and today it is the sense likely to be prescribed and the newer transitive sense (1b) the one condemned. All three are standard. The intransitive is currently the most common, the new transitive the least common.

  • Ron

    Great post! I’d like to pass along a vacation idea. Throw a sleeping bag, tent and a bag of groceries (donuts, peanut butter, crackers) in the back of your car/truck. Pick a direction and start driving. Get off the highway as soon as possible. Any two lane road will do. You’ll discover more about your country, and countrymen in three days than an entire library of history books can teach you. And you’ll relax.  

  • Bob

    Hi James, that was indeed the best three minutes of my day. I’ve always been a huge ELO fan, so it doesn’t get much better than that. Olivia Newton John always seems so ethereal in that video.

    Here are a few funny movies:
    The Producers – I like both versions, but I lean towards the original as I love Gene Wilder.
    Leningrad Cowboys Go America – Finnish movie, somewhat black humour.
    Rear Window – not a comedy, but I just love this movie.

  • Menz

    Alien ~ Prometheus  or  I don’t know why but I liked Howard’s End by Merchant Ivory.

  • Guest

    You make me laugh!

    The thing about money and your best year ever is…your best year ever was 1995, so you were about 27.

    I think the connection to happiness there is not money, or lack, but your youth.

    It’s easy to love life and be broke if you are young. Of course your best years are when you are young — less responsibility, more health, more good looks, more energy, fewer aches and pains, more life ahead of you, more possibility.

    You can sleep on the floor and feel great the next day. You can travel the world on the cheap and eat crap and sleep in an airport chair and flirt with the flight attendant and feel totally alive and young and free.

    Money = material comfort = dulls the pain of getting older. You don’t want to be broke and old.

    • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

      Money = material comfort = dulls the pain of getting older.
      You don’t want to be broke and old.

      ___________________________________

      The average person spends their middle-age trimming down their activities so that when they arrive at the golden years they do very little beyond the few things they absolutely MUST do.   Earning money with the intent of buying material comfort in order to dull the pain of getting older virtually guarantees a retirement spent staring at a television.  Might as well be dead.

      Those who are broke in old age must get up every day and try.  They must function.  They must be productive.

      I hope to sleep on the floor or in an airport chair in some far flung place on my 65th birthday.  I hope to have no choice but to earn a living and be ALIVE for as long as my heart is beating. 

       

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HUVRYW3KH6ZRHQBCPLBOB25RR4 Cyndy

    Hi James,
    I’m still learning the value of honesty, loved this post, and the one last week about depression. 

    Movies:
    The Big Lebowski
    Dumb and Dumber – I love the scooter scene, good laughs. 

  • http://twitter.com/dougbj Doug Judy

    Some valuable rewards can come from sacrifice and hard work. If one is too lazy to put in the effort, it’s easiest just to say there’s no value in it. 

    Meditation, school, literature, children and even vacations may require extreme effort. The life expanding personal results thereof are definitely not for the lazy.

  • Andrew

    1.  I will take some wines over a vanilla milkshake.  But chocolate trumps all.
    2. Yes, I learned lots of stuff in school.  Sorry.3.  Yeah, I think my kids are pretty great.  Sorry again.
    4.  I’m with you.  I wish my wife were not obsessed with watching political news.  
    5.  For me, there’s Les Mis, and then there’s everything else.  For movies, I nominate “Lost in Translation”6.  Never seen a better description of the Clinton presidency than this. W was worse, but your description of him not nearly as pithy or amusing.7.  Never tried meditation, probably never will.  
    8. I don’t know what my happiest year was, but I don’t think it would have been less happy with more money.
    9. When I was in my 20’s, yes it really was that great to be in foreign lands seeing famous things.  I don’t know why.   I look back on all the photos I excitedly took in my backpacking days, and almost all of them look like boring postcards.  The most interesting ones are of people, not sights.  But I did love the experience of traveling, navigating unfamiliar territory, meeting people who live very different lives.  Sometimes there was an edge of fear, depending on where I went, but that was part of the fun and excitement.  I didn’t have all those hassles you describe because I was traveling on a shoestring.  I did have other hassles of cheap travel, but they seemed fun Now, in my 40’s, I don’t get the same thrill. But I still would love to be sitting in Paris with a cup of good coffee and a fresh croissant au chocolat.

    10.  I liked “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, and, thanks to a really good teacher “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.  Maybe there is a teacher somewhere who could have helped me enjoy “Moby Dick” or Shakespeare.  I don’t think so.

    11.  Not really worth talking about, is it?

    12.  I recently figured out for myself the same thing you are saying about procrastination.  So I quit my job at the end of December and am now spending time doing things I don’t want to put off rather than things I do.  I don’t know how that’s going to lead to making a living, but I think it might somehow.

  • Anonymous

    Defending your life with Albert brooks and Meryl Streep is smart funny you can watch with your kids

  • cs2010

    I hope you never start meditating.  If you did, you wouldn’t be writing these kinds of posts.  All of your resentment would fade away… and I need your material.

  • Kate

    i vote milkshake, if taken out of context.  But i will say a GOOD wine with the cliche cheese and fruit?  delicious! 

    i agree with most of the rest, i avoid the news and watch funny tv/movies.  but i also love some of the ‘literature’ i had to read.  college i actually remember more than i did in high school, i specifically remember stuff from my logic philosophy class on argument structures and truth tables.  and my statistics class.  and a couple of business classes, so maybe it wasn’t a total waste or me (small school, small classes, i think it makes a big difference).

    As for shows – what about Avenue Q?  it seems to meet all your movie criteria yet i think it would be much more entertaining in a live show than as a movie…

    i also love weird movies.  “Being John Malkovich” is one of the weirder movies  that i love! it’s funny too. in a weird way!

  • Michelle

    1) The first time I ever tried wine I coughed and choked.  People just told me I needed to build my tolerance.  I have never understood the purpose of working hard to like  a drink that wasn’t even healthy for you anyways.

    2) Recent college graduate, and I haven’t remembered anything I learned in my last quarter.  But it’s okay because people now think I am cultured and sophisticated.

    3) I’m only 22, but I think I agree with you.

    4) Agreed.  It makes me laugh whenever somebody blames their problems on external factors waaay out of their reach.

    5) Going to have to disagree here.  I love seeing plays and musicals.  My personal favorites are Les Misérables and Avenue Q, which sounds more raw and raunchy live.

    My movie recommendations: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

    6) Agreed.

    7) Agreed.

    8) I’m 22 and a recent college graduate.  Going to have to say I love money right now.

    9) Disagree.  I think it’s fun to be adventurous and curious.  It means I don’t have to be at home, I can get away from the people I dislike, and I learn new things and gain new experiences I never would have gotten anywhere else.

    10) Agreed.  People have yet to convince me why literature like Heart of Darkness is still relevant and great, while contemporary literature gets the shaft because it is contemporary.

    11) Personally, I always loved the food pyramid because it was the perfect way to convince myself that I could eat all the carbs I wanted since they were at the bottom of the pyramid.

    ————-

    And yeah… I am procrastinating right now.  Figures

    • Anonymous

      “””The first time I ever tried wine I coughed and choked.  People just told me I needed to build my tolerance.  I have never understood the purpose of working hard to like  a drink that wasn’t even healthy for you anyways.”””
      Actually, on the health scale, few drinks are healthier than wine. Antioxidants, stuff good for your heart, avoiding colds, etc. Except if you go on an become and alcoholic with it.

      As for the purpose of working hard towards something you don’t initially like: depending on the something, they key to unlock huge benefits from a lot of stuff is to work hard towards them. From exercise to math. 

      In the end, you might find the whole endeavor worthless. But getting to the core of something and finding it worthless is not the same as saying that anything that needs hard work to get to the core of is worthless.

      There are many things one could enjoy tremendously or benefit from greatly, that he wont ever meet, unless he works very hard towards them with no initial reward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sirio11 David Cossío-Ruiz

    Some really great movies (in alphabetic order):

    Amadeus (1984)
    Amelie (2001)
    American Beauty (1999)
    Brazil (1985)
    Dances with Wolves (1990)
    Dead Poets Society (1989)
    Network (1976)
    Pan’s Laberynth (2006)
    The Godfather: Part II (1974)
    The Lives of Others (2006)
    The Hours (2002)
    The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

    • Andrew

      Awesome list, David.  However, have you seen Dead Poet’s in the last 20 yrs?  I remembered it being great but watched it again recently and I thought it did not age well at all.  

      So many more people should have seen The Lives of Others.

      Another one you might like is The Secret In Their Eyes.  From Argentina.

  • Kevin

    Wine: without a doubt I would pick a dry red wine over a milk-shake any day of the week.  I enjoy the taste and it does taste good.  Even if wine didn’t have alcohol, I would drink it.  In fact, I drink less of it than I otherwise would because of the alcohol.

    Voting: I vote because it amuses me.  I rarely find that it changes anything so I vote in a way that causes me to giggle.

    Meditation: There are so many forms of meditation.  Sitting around thinking of “no-mind” is just the stereotypical form.  There are walking meditations, sitting ones, standing ones, etc.  I am not a daily practitioner but I do practice when I am stressed or otherwise feeling “off.”  It can help tremendously to refocus and recenter me.  If it’s not for you, that’s great too.  I’ve never been forced into an all-night meditation session by some crazy person.

     

  • Anonymous

    Great post! While I agree with most of your points I have a couple I honestly disagree with.
    I love travel! Most of the lasting, positive memories I have come from travel. Spending time with people you love and seeing the natural beauty of our planet. I also get a little thrill seeing and standing in places of historic significance (I’m a bit of a history nut).
    I also really, really enjoy classic literature. Melville’s Moby Dick was a great read for me. Just experiencing such an alien and antiquated way of life for a while was fantastic. Charles Dickens is another excellent author. Dostoyevsky too! I never read these books in school. I DO enjoy my contemporary literature just as much though.

  • FGS

    Do you mean all wine or just plunk, James? I admit I love your writing and find your honesty refreshing, as an iconoclast, you’re the best, but I must confess to full enjoyment in the reading of classics too: The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, Don Quijote, Fortunata y Jacinta, Platero y yo, Le petit prince, Vol de nuit, El buscon, Pantaleon y las visitadoras, even Historia de la conquista, and so many others; truly, more enjoyable than Christine, Cujo, and Misery or The Road & The Hunger Games…But I did enjoy I Was Blind But Now I See, though and I love your blogs.  

  • Traveler

    Are you differentiating between vacations and travel?  I believe travel exposes people to different cultures and allows for a broader scope of reference and more understanding on a global level.

  • http://twitter.com/NoahLampert NoahLampert

    Meditation isn’t BS. I get the sentiment, but the long-term positive effects of meditation are just now beginning to be proven by neuroscientists. Investigate a little more on that one.

    • http://profiles.google.com/raveeshbhalla90 Raveesh Bhalla

      Like he said, does it help YOU? Some people meditate for the sake of meditating, which doesn’t help. They believe it’s some kind of magical exercise which will boost their brain’g function. But fact is, you have to do it right, and doing it right involves not focussing on results. And that kind of people are in a minority right now.

      • Aaa5

        I guess that kind of people are meditating somewhere in Tibet or Japan as we speak. Not spending their time reading James’ blog. Meditation and buddhism/hinduism are two sides of the same coin. If you bother to meditate, you most likely follow other guidelines. I have learned that my meditation improves a lot when I don’t talk to people, have discussions, watch movies, listen to songs, etc. The more you put stuff in your head, the harder it is to get rid of them (which is what meditation is about… to some extent). 

        • http://profiles.google.com/raveeshbhalla90 Raveesh Bhalla

          I disagree. I meditate, and I’m here on James’ blog because I feel that what I read here often adds to my personal self.

          Meditation isn’t about putting less stuff in your head, because that means you are denying yourself knowledge and ideas. Meditation is a great to clear your neuron pathways, so that when the time comes, your brain can take what knowledge you have, and make you react at a quicker path.

  • Capo Regime

    Well I think James if you tone down the solipsism you post would be more convincing and less churlish.  i.e.

    1.) The truth is you do not like wine.  That is not the same as wine tastes bad (like say battery acid or rotted orange juice.  Millions and millions of people have liked and loved wine for thousands of years.  You don’t like it fine, not the same as some universal truth.  

    2.) The classics are amazing and well that is why they are classics.  So you want the books to read more like Dan Brown or your stuff, well to bad.  Its a matter of taste and culture I suppose.  I love the classics and so have millions of people for hundreds of years–thousands of years if you add Homer.  You don;t like em fine, just say I don;t like em and thats that.

    There are billions of people who do not like wine, meat, fish, art, computers, thousands who despise you and your philistinism and so and that does not make wine, meat, fish, are and so forth bad or stupid, just some people do not like em

    Nobody will be reading you in 100 (or 20) years bud.  I like you but you aint no Shakespear or even David Foster Wallace,,,,

    Like your work but this is…not to my liking and you come off as an asshole.

  • http://twitter.com/karlaVigilante Karla E. Vigil

    Too funny!

  • http://twitter.com/karlaVigilante Karla E. Vigil

    City of God
    Napolean Dynamite
    Corrina Corrina

    • Derek Scruggs

      +100 for City of God
      Also, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Memento yet

      • James Altucher

        Almost brought in Memento. Great movie.

  • Rod Freeman

    I once heard someone say that when it comes to taste (wine, coffee, cigars etc) the most honest evaluation of the true taste was when you tasted it as a little kid.

    Little kids are usually more honest with that kind of thing.Has anyone here ever met anyone who told them they tasted wine or drank black coffee at age seven and loved the taste?

    There is something about stuff that poisons us that animals and little kids grasp immediately and they want to spit it out. Only sophisticated adult humans will trumpet bad tastes as refinement.

    That being said, I do enjoy wine. I’m just starting to wonder why.

    • LB

      Good point. I only see one hole in your logic: YooHoo. Something about that vile substance seems to target the child’s palate exclusively. 

    • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/why-you-need-f-you-money/ Jlcollinsnh

      you could also add spicy food to your list.

      my theory is that as children our taste buds are at full potency.  as we age their sensitivity declines resulting in the need for stronger flavors for the impact we crave.

      • http://wynand.freeshell.org winterstream

        I liked spicy food even as a kid; I remember eating Hot English Mustard when I was 5 and loved it.

    • http://wynand.freeshell.org winterstream

      The most honest evaluation of true taste is what you think right now. I love coffee and wine and beer. It doesn’t matter to me that there might have been a time when I didn’t like these things.

    • guest

      I’m pretty sure taste buds actually do change throughout life, hence bitter flavors taste better to adults.  Wine had been around a pretty long time. We’ve enjoyed since we lived in caves.  And, within the context of a primitive lifestyle, I’m sure wine was one of the better things those cavemen ingested. 

      Today, a prevalence of sweeteners, makes our palate intolerant to bitter and subdued flavors. ( Why do we often say the black licorice is for old people? ) 

      I agree with James that a milkshake is second to none.  But, I think we need to fight our inclination for more sugar.  The answer for Americans cannot be “have another milkshake.”  Maybe we should cut sugar out instead, and patiently learn to enjoy complex flavors instead.

      • Runner Girl

         Sugar is wonderful.  It adds pleasure to life.  It makes everything taste better.  It’s bad reputation is unwarranted. I let my children (now ages 25, 28, and 31) eat sugar at will as they grew up; they’re all thin and fit (they all work out, ride their bicycles to work, run, etc – but sadly, no longer eat that much sugar anymore, actually).  I, though, ingest sugar every way I can get it every day.  I drink  a couple of Mexican Cokes a day (they’re made with cane sugar, not corn syrup) and I eat chocolate every day – milk chocolate, not that bitter 82% dark stuff (which is the choice source of sugar and chocolate my children choose when they do eat sweets).  I put four teaspoons of sugar in my coffee, and I drink two or three cups of coffee a day.  I eat whole fat yogurt every day for breakfast, the Greek yogurt sweetened with honey.  I love to bake, and eat the cakes and brownies I bake.  I am 51 years old. My height is 5’7 and I weight 130 lbs, despite the extremely high amount of sugar in my diet. However, in addition to including (what to some may seem) an excess of sugar in my regular diet,  I run 50-60 miles a week and run races every chance I get (from 5k to marathon distance).  I run an average 7.45 pace for shorter races; an average 8:48 pace for longer races.  I work out with a trainer weekly to keep up my fast pace – which keeps up my heart rate.  Many people who eat a diet rich in sugar are over-weight, but they are also sedentary.  The sugar is not the cause of their weight problems; their lack of activity is the cause.  And one can’t just be active; one has to be active enough to regularly boost one’s heart rate; then the pounds stay off no matter what one eats.  We need to quit blaming such the innocent substance sugar for the evils that come from other sources.

  • http://www.PriscillaPWood.com/ Priscilla P. Wood

    Wine is not for everyone and it can take a long time to develop the taste for it. I enjoy some red wine every now and then but it took years to get to this point. Same process with sushi.

    Movies: Overall, I don’t find American humor appealing but “Elections” with Reese Witherspoon was a good one, I think she was about 19 or so, an old funny witty movie.

    Meditation: I hate meditating, it’s the most difficult thing I ever tried in my life. However, I find that when I meditate things don’t bother me as much or at least I don’t feel the urge to change circumstances, no need to control or manipulate people around me to accommodate them to my tiny world. This, as a result, brings happiness. So hate it in the moment – enjoy it long term.

    Money: Today is one of those days when I think one million bucks in the bank will make my life easier. Altucher, I want you to be happy, if you don’t want the money sitting in your account right now, no worries, please transfer it to mine. I accept Paypal, Visa and Master Card.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/PTOVBQYX3YIDR354KBWKYB4DXI Mary W

      What exactly is the point of taking out tine to develop a taste for something? I totally don’t get that, if you don’t like it why force it? I hate when people say you have to develop a palette for something. Its the most ridiculous thing ever. All that means is you are going to try to force yourself to like something until you semi like it to fit in. 

      • http://www.PriscillaPWood.com/ Priscilla P. Wood

        We’re all different. Some people give up after the first try, others keep on trying. I used to hate broccoli, but I have developed a taste for it. I’m glad I did.

  • P150

    Honesty? You got it! 

    I don’t care much for movies like the Godfather (or Scarface). I can watch them, but there isn’t anything for me to relate (other than maybe having been to Italy a few times). So I prefer different types of movies. Haven’t put much thought into this, but the first ones that come to my mind are: 
    — A Good Year (2006)
    — Ali (2001)
    — Into the Wild (2007)
    — Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
    — The Last Samurai (2003) [only the Japanese scenes)
    — What If (2010)
    … and a few others. 

    Now speaking of meditation. If you don’t feel calmer, you are doing it wrong. Sorry mate, but that’s the truth. Meditation has really changed my life. I’m taking things slower, I don’t get upset very easily anymore, I find myself meditating (that is, not thinking) while doing simple things (cooking, cleaning, driving a car), etc. But I have chose to live a relatively lonely life. Work doesn’t require any interaction with people (plus, I work from home). And I meditate at least 30 minutes per day. You; however, have always been talking about some 2-minute thing. I don’t really think a proper 30+ minute meditation can be compared to your 2-min practice. They are entirely different things, so you can’t expect to get same results. Similarly, if you are doing a different thing, you shouldn’t be talking down the original technique.

    Actually, I have been pondering over this philosophical idea for years – we, people, really dislike 99.999% of the things we do. I mean, you say you like to drink a vanilla milkshake. But do you really? You like to taste it, but do you actually enjoy sucking the straw and getting the milkshake into your mouth? And swallowing it – is that something you like as an activity? So 99.9% of it all is nonsense. Only 0.01% is the thing you really enjoy (e.g. this feeling inside your head that arises from tasting vanilla milkshake). If you follow me. 

  • Aebellerman

    James,

    I’ve been reading your blog for about 3 months now. First time comment. I just want to say that I personally agree with and experience almost everything you enumerate above. Why can’t we just be true to who we are??? It feels so much better than putting on airs to satisfy other peoples standards!

    It was a pleasure to read, thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=775274358 Eyttan Marom

    traveling=vacation?
    i love traveling, and spending one month in Brazil worth it. new colture, people, experiencing new things, new food. another mindset. 
    how was your time in India? :)

  • http://twitter.com/jessseeker jessseeker

    Okay, I shall settle a few of these for you: Wine tastes vile. Children rule. You are holidaying with the wrong people. Believe it or not – Shakespeare is underrated. As for school – I’ll have you know, I vividly recall making a pooper-scooper! 
    http://jessseeker.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/10-things-i-wish-they-had-taught-me-in-school/

    My work here is done. You’re welcome!  

  • Steveg

    James, next time you are in the SF area, I’ll change your mind about wine.

  • Henning

    Great list! My addition: Museums. I never get why looking at old stuff behind glass should be fun or enlightening.

  • http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/why-you-need-f-you-money/ Jlcollinsnh

    OK, I’ll take a crack a a few:

    1) Wine v. Milkshake.  Love ’em both.  thank god I don’t have to choose.

    3) My daughter turns 20 next week.  I never wanted kids.  She’s been the greatest blessing in my life.  No lie.  The other week we were talking about the times I’d been mad at her.  All three of them.  Each, by my count, were my fault.  I won the kid lottery and, if I could choose any lottery to win, that’s the one.

    4)  Except for the crowds and cramped seats, I’ve like most theatrical performances.  But it’s been a lot of years since I’ve been to one, so I guess I didn’t like them that much.  Or maybe it’s that I live in New Hampshire.

    9) The problem with travel is most people do it wrong.  Here’s how to do it right: 

    http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/travels-with-esperando-un-camino/

    10)  You’re wrong about Shakespeare.  Everything you need to know about the human condition is in his plays.  The language takes a bit of effort to get accustom to, but it is worth it.  Of course, I’m an English major so you need to expect this from me.

    Story goes a woman was exiting the theater after seeing her first WS play.  Asked how she liked it, she said:
    “It was pretty good, but I don’t get why this guy is so famous.  All he’s done is string a bunch of famous quotes together.”

  • James Hitt

    Have you yet seen Bubba Ho-tep?

    I can’t recommended this movie enough. Bruce Campbell plays Elvis in the present day–yes, Elvis, still alive and in a run-down retirement home. With the help of his friend, JFK–who is black and also in the retirement home, played by Ossie Davis–Elvis discovers that the souls of the tenants are being sucked by a mummy risen from his tomb, which was lost in transport from a museum many years prior in a river near the old-folks home. Hoping to redeem what he sees as his squandered life, Elvis intends to stop Bubba Ho-tep with JFK’s help.

    The premise is so unbelievably ridiculous that it could have either been bad (i.e. incredibly stupid), or good, i.e. surprisingly moving and thoughtful, and not to mention hilarious. We know how ridiculous it is (hence the funniness), but they play it as though they believe it (hence the seriousness).

  • Dohickey

    thanks for the “Xanadu” link.  It really was the best 3 minutes I’ve spent today.

  • Caligula

    Wine is quite enjoyable. Much better than a shake for my taste.

    Theater is almost always a waste of time. Actresses are excellent. We make tradeoffs.

    Where is fancy bred? Or in the heart… you can safely ignore most of the classics. Having some knowledge of these things may have social benefit in some circles. But mainly you see these books on the shelf with the spine conspicously fresh.

    Children might be the most overrated thing ever. Maybe a certain type of woman needs an identity and plunking out a kid is an easy shot. Maybe some fellow thinks being percieved as family man will have business benefits. But the day to day experience is hardly worth it.

    A fine movie list. I’d add
    First Blood
    The Sting

    Money is probably a good thing. If collecting it is the only thing a person has in their life then that might be a problem.

  • kevin faul

    hey J.

    I personally love mediation. it’s like rest for my mind. I do it every night before bed. I don’t expect it to make me a perfect person, but I find myself better for it: more relaxed before sleep and more refreshed the next morning. 

    it’s like anything: you want to run a race, be an expert in your ‘field’ or a better writer? you have to DO it whatever IT is to prepare.

    kind of like you talk about here:
    http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/11/how-to-be-the-best-at-anything-you-want-to-do/ 

    same with meditation. but I don’t force meditation ‘rules’.

    I find that sometimes I want to meditate for 30 minutes and other times I just do it for 10 breaths (where I just try to clear my head and breathe 10 breaths in a row. sometimes it’s hard.)

    I do agree though: over-expecting mystical results from meditation, or anything, is unrealistic and delusional.

    so try my method, or not. everyone has their own personal ‘recipe’ that works. finding the right recipe is what’s important. mix and match until you find what you like and don’t feel ‘stuck’.

    just saw ‘Wanderlust’. probably not top 10, but I’d go see it again for  another long laugh.

    cheers.

  • Anonymous

    Caddyshack is one of the funniest movies ever made especially if you are a mid 40s male American. The Verdict with Paul Newman is also good.

    CLOTHES and the fashion industry are/is a scam/lie. Parachute pants were once the rage, as was Flannel more recently. They try to sell “Clothes make the man” as wisdom. Bullshit, a person’s character and kindness “make the man.”. An asshole in a nice suit is still an asshole.

    Grammar is also a lie, as is spelling. If u no wut I mean, understand the meaning, the rest is just being picky.

    • Anonymous

      *Grammar is also a lie, as is spelling. If u no wut I mean, understand the meaning, the rest is just being picky.*

      Unfortunately, if we tried to decipher phrases written poorly and “u no wot I mean” writing all day, we would have been around 100 years behind in progress.

      Spelling (and syntax) are not arbitrary inventions (it’s difficult to be both arbitrary and universal all around the globe, in every culture for the last 3000+ years).  We even have difficulty understanding each other even when we DO use the proper syntax, imagine how more difficult it will be if we also have to parse bad spelling and ambiguous syntax.

      • Anonymous

        If you understand it it serves it’s purpose. All this that/which, who/whom stuff and spelling things like colonel, eight, and slough is nonsensical, particularly when so much communication now occurs via media that encourage speed over minute detail. I didn’t say no syntax at all, just the grammar/spelling nazi stuff is a foolish waste of effort and proves nothing, least of all intelligence.

  • Ted Scarborough

    Forrest Gump, or did I miss it?

  • Anonymous

    1. Wine – Bordeaux’s and Cabernet Sauvignon are meant to drink a glass or two with your food. If you want something sweet like a milkshake drink a Sauternes or Late Harvest Riesling. Even those taste better if you have a little food like cheese or something in your mouth. The fats from the food coat your mouth and that interplay with the wine can be quite magical.
    2. You are right about school. I remember throwing spitwads more than anything I learned. Or, smoking before class in HS. Or, fighting to stay awake in college.
    3. Children – I can honestly say I enjoyed my children and being around others their age until they were about 12 or 13. By the time they were 17 I could not wait until they went off to college.
    4. News – i like to waste time reading about sports. Economics can be interesting sometimes. The rest is just propaganda.
    5. Theatre. I remember enjoying Wicked and Miss Saigon and falling asleep in Phantom of the Opera. It is not worth big $$ and lots of time. I still think Caddyshack is one of the funniest movies of all time – Bill Murray was a genius in this one – i knew golf course maintenance guys then and he hit the nail on his portrayal.
    6. Voting ???????? You are mostly right. Still think we should vote though.
    7. Meditation. You cannot do it and expect instant gratification. It is like exercise. You know weight lifting will not make you look different tomorrow or even in a month. But, 6 months to a year later is a different story. Try walking or Tai Chi if sitting cross-legged makes you feel uncomfortable or silly. Just as effective.
    8. Money – my happiest year was leaving Florida (a ghastly place) and heading west ending up in CA. I had enough money to travel in a VW beetle and camp but was only about $2K from being penniless. Yet, that was a great summer!
    9. Ski vacations rock! And, river rafting vacations. And, bicycle touring vacations. you get the picture……..
    10. I have enjoyed some classic lit like Dickens but lots of it is boring. The main problem is that good stories are not supposed to be read by you – you are supposed to listen to them being read by a great reader. Try audio books. Human beings are wired to hear stories – think about it.
    11. Food – eat whole food only… eggs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, meat and a little cheese. Forget frickin’ grains and legumes. They are terrible for you.

     

  • http://therole.wordpress.com/ Richard

    I adore wine. I think the issue is, because we know it is made from grapes, people expect it to taste like grape-juice. If it does…it’s terrible.

    I remember a ton of what happened to me in school. Being tortured in school tends to stick with you. 

    I prefer good theatre to great movies. Theatre is so organic, and it is never the same twice. To be fair…I’m an actor. So I am incredibly biased. 

  • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng

    This reminds me of the Pulp Fiction. 

    “Did you just order a 5 dollar shake?”
    “You don’t put bourton in it or anything?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Syarzhuk Sergey Kazachenko

    My take on voting is that if I don’t vote, I lose the right to complain about those at power. So I do, always choosing the best candidate regardless of electability. That gives me, in my eyes, the right to say “That crap Obama is doing? Don’t blame me, I voted for Ralph Nader”. 

  • CF

    One of your best posts ever, probably because I agree with almost everything you say here:
    1) milkshake tastes better, but doesn’t get you drunk :)
    2) I remember a lot from one class – Brain & Behavior – none of which I use at work, but lots of which are good conversation starters (or continuers…).  Otherwise, I agree
    3) I have 3 children – they’re a pain in my *ss, but I love them anyhow
    4) Hate the news – avoid it all costs
    5) Love movies, HATE the theater (I always fall asleep; it’s hot and cramped and show tunes are really cheesy…).  How about FIGHTCLUB?? One of the best ever.
    6) True on voting, but I do it anyhow…must be the guilt from my parents
    7) Best meditation for me is shooting hoops – clears my mind like nothing else
    8) Best year was 1995 – I was poor.  Recent years have been most stressful because of a job (that pays well, but sucks out my soul; I actually sent you an email about it last week), but other parts of life are pretty good – just not sure it’s worth the tradeoff.
    9) Here’s one I disagree on – took a trip to the Rockies a couple years ago – the mountains were incredible…so worth it.  Same with Hawaii – so for me, it must be more about the scenery
    10) I like to read, but agree that some of the great literature is hard to get through
    11) Food pyramid is complete bullshit.  I recently started to eat Paleo (which you probably disagree with) and feel 100X better than before

    thanks again – this post is like a manifesto for me!

    CF

    • Natalie

      1. alcoholic milkshakes, anyone?

      • Anonymous

        I’ll take three and use an old copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as a coaster.

  • Paul M

    1. Wine v. Milkshake: never have more than 8 oz of either and you will be just fine.
    2. I knew a lot of facts before I got to school, and I still do now.  School neither helped nor hurt that.
    3. Kids are great.  No, I would not want to be friends with an 8 year old, no one would.  In your own kids’ case though, you are never their friend, you are their DAD.  Big, big difference.  Anyone who says they are friends with their kids is screwing their kids up.  Be their parent, not their friend.
    4. News is largely worthless. I get all I need to know in less than 10 min per day.
    5. Theater: tell me a story worth hearing and you will have my attention. 90 min or 180 min, doesn’t matter.  If the story sucks, 90 min is too long.  If the story kills, I will be sad when it’s over.
    6. Voting: our government matters.  I want a say.
    7. The closest I come to meditating is when I run.  I always feel better afterwards.
    8. My happiness has increased with my net worth, but I know at some point that will end.  The law of diminishing utility will kick in at some point (and I am looking forward to that).
    9. I wouldn’t walk across the street to see any of the stuff you mentioned.  Going to Hawaii makes me happy so I do that, regardless of what I do when I get there (usually run & bike).
    10. I have no comprehension of great literature.
    11. The food pyramid was debunked years ago.  I don’t know anyone who takes it seriously.

    • Anonymous

      like your point about being the Dad and agree 100%.  I enjoyed my kids when they were 8. We had lots of fun within boundaries. My brain could just switch to kid mode sometimes and everything was innocent and playful.

  • http://twitter.com/VeehCirra Veeh Cirra

    Why do I suddenly not feel guilty about procrastinating? Deep down, if we really want to do something…we always make the time for it…always.

  • Jay

    Well, you asked for it:

    1. Yeah, I like it. I like the raw tastes of different things. Sugar is just one of those things and it is already in a lot of other things. I like tea, scotch and even espresso without anything else added just so I can taste the pure essence of what it is.

    2. Very little. I realized I was forgetting everything a long time ago. So the really important stuff I put into extremely concise “practical guides” which I keep and refer to often. Some of them I’ve internalized to the point where I dont need to reference them. But really, as the cliche goes, school is about learning how to think.

    3. I dont have kids. Don’t have to deal with them. My impression at this point is that they are something that you can openly devote yourself to. Everyone needs a bit of that in their life.

    4. I love and hate the news. But because it is a large part of my chosen profession you learn to accept it for what it is. Largely, a game.

    5. I pretend to like it. 

    6. You’re dead right about the presidential election. However, your fixation on the office of the presidency is misplaced. Most of the problems and the potential for solutions originate within congress. Voting can matter there.

    7. I like the “no mind” practice. If you can do it you know you’re okay. If not, you’re probably too stressed out and you’ll end up making mistakes. Similarly effective is sleeping.

    8. Lack of money can prohibit you from doing what you want to. But you can also run the risk of relying on the spending of it as a generator of happiness. That a really big pit I want to avoid falling into.

    9. Vacations are a symptom of falling into the money = happiness pit. The best vacations provide contrast to your everyday life. Live in the city? Visit a farm. Constantly going places and seeing people? Find somewhere to be alone and don’t leave.

    10. Yeah… kinda hard to admit this one. Times where I really enjoyed a literary “classic” are few and far between. 

    11. The food pyramid is irrelevant. No one references it. Most people who go through a “fitness” phase and come out the other end as a normal person say similar things. The best diet is the one you can keep. Do frequent and rigorous exercise, but don’t get injured. Treat yourself with respect.

  • Christine

    my life as a dog… beautiful little movie…

  • http://www.therawness.com/ T. AKA Ricky Raw

    Re: Meditation –

    The average people who go to gyms or who practice Ashtanga Yoga in any given class don’t look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, aren’t very flexible and aren’t especially stronger than the average person. Does that mean that the act of exercise or yoga is a sham?  Or does it mean that exercise and yoga aren’t shams, but rather most people just aren’t doing it correctly or consistently enough?

    We’ve all seen people who are long-term gymrats and get zero practical results. Blaming the act of exercise for that is silly. Similarly, people who meditate yet act like dicks and attack people in online comments section aren’t evidence that the practice of meditation doesn’t work. They could just be people who miss the point of the practice and go through the motions of meditation just to find a new way to be snobby and say they’re better than other people.

  • Ted Scarborough

    Forrest Gump?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Connor/100000284561197 Peter Connor

    Last of the Mohicans!   Moneyball, Friends of Eddy Coyle.

  • Dj_sleuth

    1.Milkshakes make my stomach ache, wine is proof god loves us and wants us to be happy
    2.School is slavery for children, I remember the times I felt free as a child
    3.Adults hate children because children will outlive them and  they are envious of this
    4.Theater is great because it is actually happening in real life before you, sitting in  front of screens is for lard asses with no imagination
    5.Voting is stupid and evil. It’s how cowards rob their neighbors
    6.The kind of meditation you describe is a pompous fraud, try praying and forgiving.
    7.Money is great. wasting it is depressing
    8.Same thing for vacations. I love “nocations” too
    9.People who don’t/can’t understand great literature in general are stupid and lazy as well as boring.
    10.I fully agree with you on The food pyramid. I would add that the slow food movement is an annoying trend. There is almost nothing more pathetic than a group of grown men salivating over a plate of miniature hamburgers. the 100 mile diet didn’t work out so well for Ethiopians.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      DJ, thanks for the honesty! And to everyone else here answering these items.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Connor/100000284561197 Peter Connor

    I haven’t watched “news” in 5 years, complete BS even when it’s not just happytalk.
    Another lie–more “stuff” makes you happier, maybe you covered that already– you only buy all this junk because you have been brainwashed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Connor/100000284561197 Peter Connor

    Paleolithic diet is terrific–tastes better, more primal, less fattening.  You are dead right on the food pyramid, and just about every other piece of guidance or advice put out by our very corrupt and arrogant government.

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    Movies: these are ones that’ll shift one’s thinking:
    – The Matrix (first one)
    – Fight Club
    – Revolver (by Guy Ritchie).  Now, this one is violent like all his movies, so be warned.  But, it gets close to what is the nature of the mind, who is the ultimate enemy, what is the ultimate con and mixes it with chess.  Most of movie, you’ll be going, what was Kamal talking about, then at the end, you’ll get it, and go aaaaah.  But not for everyone.  

    For fun:
    – Anything by Will Ferrell.  Anchorman is pure genius.  
    – Anything by creators of South Park.  They’re my heroes.
    – Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

  • Bsquared

    To the smug, self-satisfied, “free to be you and me” James A, on the subject of voting for President – if you had any connection with the military, you would know:  Ask a member of the military or their family whether a vote for President means anything to them personally. You think Al Gore would have sent our men and women to die in Iraq? Absolutely not. You think John McCain wouldn’t have already bombed Iran, and probably 2 other middle eastern countries (Libya and Syria come to mind)? How many members of the military would respond to your smug comment about voting for president making zero difference with a loud “Hell yes whoever is president means something to me personally!” Go outside the confines of your secluded NY area, James. It will open your eyes – perhaps you are blind, and if you look at the world from a different perspective, you might see.      

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

      Please read my many other articles on this topic before assuming my smugness. You are a brave guy and I hope all the soldiers come home as soon as possible.

    • Anonymous

      Sure they might have–the political pressure to “do something” would be just as great for them as it was for Bush.  

      South Park got it right.  The Presidential election is a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

      I’d argue that those who sign up for the military–knowing that they have to take orders from the President, are the ones who are blind.  I hope they open their eyes before its too late.

    • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

       If America brought back the draft, you’d see the civilians paying attention AND voting.

  • http://peachin.blogspot.com peachin

    Movies:
    Il Postino (italian)
    To Kill A Mockingbird
    The Big Lebowski
    Dean Spanley (An english slow building – every word counts)
    Moonstruck
    Unforgiven – Clint Eastwood’s best
    Lord of the Rings Trilogy
    Women in Love

    In Greenpoint, Brooklyn –  Dandelion Wine – Thursday night free wine tasting, ask for Lily
    Yes as I get older a Vanilla Milkshake is the best flavor – a prior chocolate man

    the Theater – Opera (Opera? Wah?) yes La Boheme – a masterpiece

    Shakespeare – the best way is DVD with closed caption – and the best actors
    Read, listen and watch – the best way to do Shakespeare. 
    Hamlet – Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie
    Macbeth – Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench
    Taming of the Shrew – Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (them? Absolutely!)

    do you think the Cigar was used with a lubricant – Was it lit – and could she smoke it that way?

    James Thanks for being there and in my in box every day….  

  • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

    1. I like wine when I feel like drinking wine then it’s the perfect drink. I rarely,okay never,drink milkshakes anymore. I like my ice cream neat.
    2. I remember a lot from school, however some of it was traumatizing.
    3. I love my children. I would die for them. They bring a joy to my life I could never imagine without them.  Many times I even ponder adopting a child who needs a home.
    4. News;  I watch local for the first ten minutes only. Before it starts we try to guess the top three stories.
    5.I like musicals if I like the story and the music. I think theater is a treat.
    6.I always vote. The supreme court is a good reason to vote if you are a minority or a second class gender.
    7. Never succeeded at meditation, but sometimes I like to pretend I am floating about without paying any attention to the people around me. It’s trippy not to be influenced.
    8. Money is a tool. When I need it it’s good to have.
    9. I love a good vacation.
    10. I fall asleep when I read. I have started one million books.
    11. The food pyramid is bull sh*t. As is the idea of pushing cows’ milk as a great source of calcium.  You get better calcium from dark leafy greens.

    Procrastination, when I procrastinate I always leave enough time to get the task completed even if have to stay up late or work extra hard.  Either way I know I will get it done.  So is that procrastination, or just being more focused under pressure?

  • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

    Buffalo ’66

    An odd little film, worth the watch.

    • Ben

      Haha love Buffalo ’66. 
      “Have you ever heard of a luxury car. I only drive luxury cars.”Today I watched “Capricorn One.” It had a crazy premise and had funny bits like Elliot Gould supposedly going 90 + mph down the streets of Houston. 

  • Jon May

         James,
          Are you asking your readers to say whether they like or value the things you don’t or to admit that they are not always honest about their likes and dislikes? While no one is honest 100% of the time (although I understand that is a goal you are reaching for)  you may be surprised by how much others really enjoy or appreciate things you don’t.     It is true that I have on occasion told a host how much I enjoyed their wine, fibbing all the way. But there have also been occasions where I have actually enjoyed a glass of wine.      I would have liked to have slept more than three hours through the first three and one half years of my son’s existence, but I can honestly say that the time I spent with my three children as they grew up was the most enjoyable and fun and rewarding experience of my life. Frankly, I rather spend time with most four year olds than a lot of adults I know.      If your limit is 90 minutes, then you missed most of the endings for most of the movies you recommend. I would also say that you haven’s seen enough theater or have gone to the wrong shows.      Finally an observation about college. It’s not for everyone and a lot of young people don’t take advantage of their time there, but it’s really not about facts and figures. Because of college I write better, I think more critically, I know how to learn the things I need to know for my personal and professional life, and while I may not remember all the details about the civil war I remember falling in love with history while listening to  Prof. Bell Wiley teach his last class on the Civil War at Emory.        And that’s the honest truth.Jon May

  • Guest

    Parenting.  Is all your micromanagement and coercion really helping?  Children are a product of the CULTURE in which they are raised.  Mommy and daddy are merely extensions of that culture. 

    School.  “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

    Money.  I’ve more or less created a life where I don’t give any consideration to money.  It’s like any other convenience:  it makes my life comfortable and it’s there when I need it.  Other than that, I give no consideration to it. 

    Movies.  The Man From Earth (2007).  “What if a man from the upper paleolithic survived until the present day?” 

  • Rafael

    People here are discussing more about wine vs. milkshake than the whole scope…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.tietz Jeremy Tietz

    It’s true, wine does taste bad, and so does beer and liquor.  It took me 28 years, well, more like 11 years to figure that out.  Being drunk at 17 is way more fun than it is at 28, I think people keep drinking after they turn 25 just because they don’t want to let go of the first time they had a drink.  Procrastination is a good way to get other stuff done.  I don’t think I’ve ever purposely read any of the so called great literary works unless it happened to be assigned to me. 
    Maybe I’m reading too much by obscure people but you should’ve added that the money we use in this country isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, so what’s the point of having it?  Seriously, there’s no gold in the Federal Reserve to exchange for your dollar even if the practice hadn’t long since been abolished.  You might as well hoard a pile of post-it-notes with $1 written on it, that’s how valuable a dollar is right now.  I never really went to college, I wanted to for awhile, and since the government has me covered I’ll go now, but the few classes I took in college I don’t actually remember much, nor do I remember much from high school for that matter. 
    To be honest I think we should stop worrying about what other people do and focus on ourselves and our own families, all too often in this world we pursue things to have a better life but all we wind up doing is polishing a turd.  Take it as it is, it’s too short this life we have to keep up someone else.

    • Anonymous

      I think wine and liquor are much better than pot or other drugs.  But for me, one glass with a meal is all I need.

      You are so right about worrying about other people.  I am amazed by the things people will do just to fit in or because they think they have to–things like buy a big house, lease an imported car, etc, etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davman David Parker

    A boy and his dog, best movie ever! Lol

  • Pmac2015

    Pets – How many people really love their dogs/cats? Does fixing them and trapping them in your house all day equal love?
    Vodka/Scotch – Pure poison mixed with other crap mixed with water? Throw in some fancy marketing and it turns to a premium drink? 
    Casinos – How is it a fun night out to hang out with low lifes and addicts and just give all your money away?
    Clubs – Spend $20-$50 to get in so you can spend another $100 getting drunk so that you can ruin your next day. 

    Best Movie = Barney’s Version

  • Anonymous

    Watch “Black Sheep”…not the Chris Farley movie (which is also excellent), but the one about mutant sheep…it’s funny as hell.

    Can I add Radiohead and Jazz to this list?

  • http://twitter.com/WheresMrTeddy Mr. Teddy

    Why is a restaurant the standard for first dates?  Going to a place where your mouth is constantly filled while simultaneously trying to engage in conversation is ridiculous and awkward.

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

       Yeah, good point. Even worse is a movie for a first date.

      • Guest

        Yes – I never understood dinner and a movie.  I remember the Italian custom – go for coffee or hot chocolate – easier to talk, and not stressful at all.

        1) Don’t really drink wine – maybe once every six months.  It DOES taste bad.  Been drinking bodybuilders’ shakes recently, but they aren’t much good.  Not crazy about shakes.
        2) School was such a waste of time, if you mean the formal stuff.  Informal stuff meant more than anything, though hard to apply sometimes.  I find the hardest thing to learn to be perfect self-control, and also sleeping well.
        3) Children are one of life’s great gifts, but I’m not in that camp that says parents should sacrifice just about everything for their children.  Plenty, but not eerything.

        • Guest

          More to the point, I think women shouldn’t always give up their careers.  Now that, James, is a can of worms that would make a good topic.

  • groneg

    Godfather II over the orig. Hands down. Well not hands down; maybe by a hair

  • byron

    great stuff, as always.
    haven’t read all the posts, so maybe somebody else already added:
    American Beauty
    given the themes here, I don’t see how it can’t be on the list

  • Crusader79

    I love the food pyramid. We tinkered with it for decades, making it more and more perfect, as Americans themselves became fatter and fatter…:-)

  • http://jameshamlett.com/ James Hamlett

     Meditation does help if it is done right.  Meditation is a way of life.  It does not immediately make your life perfect but it does steadily improve your inner being and responses to life’s everyday challenges.  It sometimes helps if your are taught by someone who is experienced in the art.  It would be no different if it was yoga or martial arts. Instruction always helps.  It has helped my life.   

  • zzen321

    Lawrence of Arabia and Blade Runner are a couple of the greatest films ever.
    A couple of my favourites are Yojimbo and Seppuku. Memories of Murder was a recent one that I liked.

  • Cp

     Add Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to the movie list.

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

       I almost did add that one but wasn’t sure if it would still seem as good if I watch it now. I’ll have to check it out again.

      • http://www.unmappedcountry.blogspot.com/ Hope

        Holds up pretty well–my 13 yo daughter just saw it and loves it. even sketched a portrait of Matthew Broderick.

  • http://planetoplano.blogspot.com/ Leonardo

    Well, wine is supposed to be drunk with food. If you do that, even a store-bought sandwich will taste very good. For some reason, in this country, wines is drunk before dinner or by itself; (which is also the reason why we tend to drink much stronger wines.)
    I think the fact that in the U.S. people have short lunch breaks, sometimes at their work-desks, took the wine out of the meal equation which is where it belongs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=736703194 Fred Treser

    I agree – wine tastes crap unless it tastes like lemonade so I’d rather just stick with lemonade and milk shakes 

  • PC

    James, good to see you really throwing down on this post with just the right balance of insight and irreverence.  Your honesty is appreciated as always.  Anyway, here goes:
    1)  I’m going to have to say wine.  Love em both, wine &milkshakes but i really do like bitter flavors like coffee and broccoli rabe.
    2)  I left college a better writer than when I entered, but that may have happed anyway; without it.
    3) love my kids, what a blessing.  I am watching them grow up and it is wonderful but sometimes being a parent is so hard that I cant stand it.
    4)  the news is what it is, its a business.  I rarely watch it.
    5) I enjoy small live venues but rarely go – my fav movies are:

    House of games(1986) – Joe Montegia
    Joe (1970) –  Peter Boyle
    far and away (1992) – Tom Cruise

    6,7) i vote and find gardening to be meditative. 
    8)  i worry frequently about money.  money=grind

    9) i am going italy – Naples and the Amalfi coast next month for one week, a wedding, no kids.  I love italian food & culture.  James, I get what you’re saying we don’t need these vacations, cruises ect.  Im happy to work in the yard and drink good coffee too.
    10)  Liturature = Cliff notes.  I agree fine liturature sucks or, in truth, i dont have the attention span to comment here, 
    11) food pyramid reminds me of those 50’s movies they showed us as kids in the 70’s.
    ps:great post

  • Simon from Oz

    I have drunk wines that tasted like liquid sex. And I’ve tasted (spat, not swallowed) wines that tasted like … being orally raped by a baboon perhaps. 

    I assume you just never tried a good wine and had too many that smelled of the baboon’s sweaty ‘nads.   Definitely try some good Australia wines. Chilean and South African wines are great too.  Perhaps it’s just the Californian stuff you can’t stomach?

    Of course, we each have our personal tastes, I can’t get why people enjoy beer.  I don’t hate it, I just can’t “get” the attraction.

    For me, the word “milkshake” makes my stomach turn. Perhaps I’m lactose intolerant?  Wine wins over milkshake, but I think milkshake wins over beer, especially if it has a lot of chocolate ice-cream in the milkshake, and if it’s personally shaken by a gorgeous bar girl. Do they have “milk bars” where you live?  I think that’s a quintessentially Australian term.

    Loving your blog,
    Simon

  • achilles3

    I like wine. 
    School was fun b/c of what I got to do outside of class. Like golf for free.
    Kids cry too much. Especially my 1 year old.
    Theater is to me what yoga is to you. Guys and Dolls sucks. Doesn’t mean all theater does.
    Voting gets me out of work/home stuff. Can’t wait till it’s all on the internet like American Idol.
    Meditation is sleeping right?
    Money. OK I need $65,000-$75-000 tops. I make 2/3 that. I smile a lot.
    Vacations mean I get to meet new people. Stop looking and start talking.
    Great Lit is GREAT! Dostoevsky forever!
    Food Pyramid…hahahahahahahahahahahhaha. Biggest lie of my childhood.

    achilles3 

  • Darrin S

    If you don’ mind subtitles, I recommend the hilarious French movie Amélie.
    Audrey Tautou…Hubbahubba…

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

       I agree. I also like the movie where she plays Coco Chanel

  • http://www.unmappedcountry.blogspot.com/ Hope

    “Blast from the Past” is my movie recommendation. I missed it when it came out because I was immersed in my first child’s first year of life. It’s funny, James! Christopher Walken, Sissy Spacek, Alicia Silverstone, Brendan Frasier before he failed. 

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

       Wow, I am DEFINITELY going to have to check it out.

      • http://twitter.com/GHSTinthMCHNE Maximilian

        Got me looking up other movies from 1999:

        1. Dogma
        2. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
        3. The Big Kahuna
        4. Analyze This
        5. Bowfinger

        • VIVIDHKOTHARI

          Analyze This is awesome. Never get bored from it…no matter how many time I see it. Robert De Niro is GREAT.

  • Caromusa

    I get the idea and agree… But I have to confess I live in Argentina (don’t eat steak though) and one of the happiest days of my life was when I visited the Roman Forum. Just a matter of taste, I think.
    Another lie for your list: love, the way the media and movies and songs try to present it. The idea of love = suffering or love = accepting anything from the other person. That’s not love, that’s pretty sick if you ask me.

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

       Agreed. And , btw, I do think Argentina would be a great place to LIVE. As opposed to just spending a few days there. Whenever I go there, we rent an apartment and stay for a couple of weeks and really try and immerse. I read an article recently by Doug Casey where he said something very interesting, “Argentina is a great place for a foreigner to move to and for a native Argentinian to move away from.”

      • Caromusa

        Never heard that before, so true!
        Just keep in mind that Buenos Aires is a huge city and very different from the rest of the country… (I live in a medium sized city). I like other places more, like the Iguazu falls, the Northwest and west with all the mountains, the south with beautiful lakes like Switzerland…

  • http://www.unmappedcountry.blogspot.com/ Hope

    Ookay , will answer more completely, in case you care:
    1. would drink  milkshakes over wine but am lactose intolerant. do like wine sometimes, but often takes bad.
    2.yes, and anyway i think learning from others around you is perfectly valid excuse for college, so even if i didn’t remember it would have been worth it
    3. kids are great AND hard, like the best pursuits
    4. i never watch the news. it is unbearable and stupid.
    5. i enjoy the whole procedure of going to the theater, but movies are easier and often more fun.
    6. coming to a new awareness of needing to pay attention to local candidates.
    7. meditation isn’t going to cure you or change you, but it’s valuable to develop awareness. and does make me calmer.
    8. money. yeah. complicated.
    9. planning to get new passports this year. haven’t been able to afford a vacation in years.
    10. because i’m a writer. and hells to the yes, Moby Dick is awesome and so is lots of other great literature. as well as police procedurals. 
    11. agree on food pyramid. evidence mounting in favor of chocolate is only thing i pay attention to. 

    best,

  • Permaquid

    It was the Moby Dick reference that got my attention. 

    Wine and milkshakes? So I guess you also prefer say a Macca’s burger and fries to an aged rib-eye or whatever other carefully prepared meal?  I doubt it. A milkshake is fast food. Wine is slow food. They are not comparable. I would not even drink a milkshake. Even my kids always liked good-quality wine, especially, say Billecarte-Salmon.
    So, no, I don’t believe you. Your kids will like you when you are older because you like them now. Not because of whatever you DO for them now. You must know that. So I don’t believe you on that one either.I read Moby Dick for the first time about two years ago. I’m not an English major. I found it in a second-hand bookstore on Cape Cod, which was appropriate. There is a passage in the middle of the book that describes the ship racing through the raging storm, and the Ahab on the deck with the corpse of the whale, and the murderous whalers boiling blubber in flaming boilers. The ending is like a huge crescendo of everything that has gone before, all the black-hearted Ahab’s longing for revenge condensing into a black hole that sucks everything into itself and leaves nothing except the featureless ocean and stillness. It’s simply incredible to read it with a fresh mind, never having studied it. And the same goes for Dickens and loads of other great authors. There are questions of taste but I don’t believe your generality.I remember my school years quite well. I remember eating lunch in the playground when I was 6, the smell of the grass,, the flights of butterflies, the revolting smell of the flour-based glue, Mrs Clutterbuck when I was 5, escaping repeatedly to walk home alone, loads of things. I don’t remember much before I was four. As far as I know, everyone is kind of similar to me on this. Loads of people have friends from primary school and when they talk they often talk about what happened back then. So – are you really being serious?I went to a performance of As You Like It the other evening. In the round. It’s not even my favorite Shakespeare – too much about love, not enough drama. However – there was even a fight scene – in a small theatre, in the round. Not something fake projected on a big flat panel 20-30 meters away. These guys were really throwing each other through the air. The dialog is quick, subtle, funny, wry, and slapstick all in about three minutes. This is the play the “seven ages of man” come from. So what are you on about? And, I like movies as well. Have you ever seen “As it is in heaven”, a Swedish movie about a choir director? It left me speechless for a half hour.Money? You seem to be saying WTF? It might be money doesn’t make you happy? This is scarcely news. I think this one just scraped into this list of fake facts to fill it out a bit.So, James, what’s really going on here?

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

      I should mention I’m not saying ALL literature is bad. I read every day. Mostly contemporary literature which I think is vastly ignored by the educational system and is vastly better than stuff like Shakespeare. I say that in the article.

      As far as plays go. For me, personally, show me a play and I’ll show you a better movie.

      I’ll check out “As it is in heaven”

      In terms of education, you don’t mention one thing you learned in school – proving my point that at the very least, the educational system wasn’t highest on your list of priorities at that age.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “what’s really going on here”. Its right in my article. 

  • http://kymira.blogspot.com/ Chimera Swa

    What! No ‘Casablanca’?? I’m disappointed :) 

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

       Well, this is a top 10 list but I would certainly put that on either top 20 or top 30.

  • http://twitter.com/yitzi Yitz Jacob

    Is this a lie? 

        “The only things you will truly appreciate are those things that challenged you and you overcame.”    (ie. the inverse of “easy come, easy go.”)

    less important:

    1. Good wine smells amazing.. and usually the first sip is awesome.. the rest of it i could definitely pass on. But if I had to choose, vanilla milkshake is definitely the way to go.
    2. All of school (especially highschool) is a large black hole in my memory. (without the aid of drugs)

    3. Children are amazing.. There’s nothing I appreciate more. I have two (almost 3yrs and almost 5yrs) though the responsibility scares me whenever I think of it. I hope I will be able to handle teenagers with grace and ease..  

    The rest of the stuff on your list interests me less.. which leads me to my next point:

    I absolutely loved your definition of procrastination.. the question becomes: What does it say about your ideal way to live life? Is it: 

    a. Always take the path of least resistance.

    or b. The only things worth fighting for are things you are highly passionate about.

    ?

    Because it seems that when you hit “Writer’s block” you power through it, because you really like writing. So even if writer’s block causes you to procrastinate, you should stick with writing because ultimately you like it. Which leads back to my question about the aphorism above.

    genuinely interested in your answer.

    yitz..

    • http://twitter.com/jaltucher James Altucher

       When I have writer’s block it’s often because something is on my mind I have to work through and also it might be because I legitimately have nothing to write about.

      The best thing I should do is stop and maybe read for the day. Instead I often try to write through the writer’s block. Consequently I have over 80 posts in my Drafts folder. The other day i was looking through them to see which one I could post (since I had writer’s block that day and wanted to post something) and I realized just about 0 of the posts in my Drafts folder were good enough to post. So either I chalk up that time to “practicing” or I should’ve not forced myself and I should’ve done some other activity like reading.

  • Ben

    Love this post, was laughing during most of it.  

    My movie adds:Half Baked
    Dumb & Dumber
    Anchorman
    Almost Heroes (Chris Farley’s last movie, really great)

  • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

    “Where else do we put on heavy metal armor just so we can drown in the swimming pool?”

    Family get-togethers, with a family that doesn’t have anything to do with each other except on major holidays. This family isn’t even religious, so Easter and Christmas are based on societal pressure alone, and Thanksgiving is just brutally awkward and miserable.

  • Dan

    I don’t understand dirty martinis. I mean you are drinking vodka/gin mixed with glorified salt water. I pour these all night long and especially don’t understand it from a monetary standpoint. Why pay the same price for me to dilute your cocktail? All you are doing is paying the same price for less alcohol, that you would for straight booze. Has it ever occurred to you pretentious geniuses to order the olive juice on the side? By the way, don’t get me started on stuffed olives…nothing screams pretensions more than having blue or anchovy olives floating around in an extra dirty martini that you just paid $20 for. YOU ARE THAT GUY/GIRL.

  • Laura G.

    #5= Superman, Bridesmaids, Old School, Goonies, Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, and almost any Muppets movie.

    #11- Spot on! If it weren’t so ridiculous it would be sad. Money talks… maybe this could be the title of your next post.

    • Laura G.

      Oh, yeah… some wines are delish! Manischewitz is tasty and reminds me of happy times. Definitely like to get my drink on with some M. Still, maybe not better than an egg cream or a Vietnamese coffee.

  • Nor Cal Guest

    Yes – Wine tastes terrible!  Finally the truth is revealed!  I have been challenging this for years with my fellow wine-lover friends.  Our friendly debates usually end with their eyes rolling and telling me “I just don’t get it”.  I’ve tried to like wine but the awful taste prevents me from liking it.  I even stick my nose in the glass to smell it like everyone else does.  Guess what, it smells bad too!  And to top it off, it is very expensive.  So, the value proposition of wine is this:  bad taste at high cost.  Is wine the 2nd ultimate human con-game, after gambling?  When you need to relax, go for a 2 hour bike ride instead – you’ll feel better and it’s free.  I like that value proposition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ari.m.eden Ari M. Eden

    Agree with pretty much all your points, James, as I usually do.  My mom sometimes reminds me of my reaction to the Grand Canyon.  When I was about 11 or so I exclaimed “it’s a giant hole in the ground, let’s go”, after nearly killing myself in a small plane to boot for the thrill of seeing it by air, rides I believe have been outlawed since.

    As for another big lie, I think the whole notion of political correctness has gone way too far.  Everyone is so guarded that you often feel like you can’t speak your mind anymore, especially in formal settings.  This has led to an artificial phoniness among society where you have to watch every step and talk like an innocent child for fear of offending or upsetting anyone.  In my opinion this has dumbed down much discourse, especially evident among media outlets for example, because everyone knows that behind closed doors nobody talks in such a cookie cutter way.  Yet, it is accepted by the masses and rarely questioned.

    As for some great films, love Goodfellas, Casino, Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, A Fish Called Wanda, and Trading Places just to name a few.

  • Jerzy

    1) Bad wine tastes bad. Obviously, you have never tasted a good one because you wouldn’t ask such a stupid question.
    7) Meditation. How about your yoga rants? Stop bullshitting and torturing yourself, you fraud.
    8) More money is freedom. You know that. But it is only good for people who know how to use it. You obviously never learnt.
    9) Vacation. You are right. Organizing and preparing it is a lot of work and time consuming. But it is one of the few pleasures in life when you can get away from the rat race and visit some interesting places and meet interesting people. Yes, the steak is much better in Argentina, you knucklehead. Your best “vacation” was in NYC?! You are hopeless.

  • mgmarino

    A little known classic =
    The Last Detail (1973). “Badass” Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and “Mule”
    Mulhall (Otis Young) are assigned to escort young sailor Meadows (Randy
    Quaid, who beat out John Travolta for the part) from their Virginia base
    to a New England military prison, where Meadows will serve an
    eight-year sentence for attempting to swipe the commander’s wife’s polio
    donation can.

  • Bleegy

    Here goes: 1)      Kinda.  Didn’t like wine at first, now it’s okay.2)      I had trouble keeping my stomach happy in school – not enough protein.  Not enough protein = bad sleep = unhappy bleegy3)      Gurgle4)      See below5)      Usually looks flakey, but i keep an open mind; not sure what the xanadu thing was for6)      Blech7) Mute8) Could definitely use some.  No credit, barely work, feel like no skills, frustration, haiku even.  9) Nice, but who can really afford a trip these days?10) Only if it is really great.  I prefer to be in action, rather than reading about someone else’s actions.  Great lit can mean a lot, but I think personal action comes first.  Our society probably leans the opposite way.11) Gurgle.Procrastination?  Recently I was really stressed and played video games to de-stress.  My girlfriend thought I was trying to tease her.  I pitied her and stopped after I’d de-stressed.  Clear, open communication can be so precious.   Where else are the lies?  Heavy armor in the pool?  Hurting for pals.  Small town, not much going on.  Time, something practical to read (your stuff goes a long way), not feeling really stymied.  I once heard that in either 1st or 2nd Wolld War, French army was paralyzed b/c it wanted to know everything and be control freaks, and British were appalled.  Just like #4, news.  In my case, it feels bad all over.  Feel kinda paranoid, with the Bernank, PLA, other nasties all over the place.  In my small town, I keep running into real creeps, and I don’t scare so easy.  How about an article on the meaning of friendship, nice topic, that.Thx for the blog, cheers

  • Guest

    1) Good wine is one of life’s pleasures.
    2) B.S. in Engineering, yes, I remembered plenty of it.
    3) Kids, can’t live with em, can’t live…
    4) Overrated
    5) Not for me
    6) Source of fighting
    7) Weird
    8) pretty well set.
    9) I’d like to visit a mission in Africa
    10) Great Gatsby and Dickens – Moby Dick (and Steinbeck) were bad.
    11) Meh.

  • http://berislav.lopac.net Berislav Lopac

    1. Some wines are too sour for me, but a few taste so delicious that they become dangerous.
    2. I remember a rabbit.
    3. I’m divorced, the sons are with their mom, and that suits me perfectly. But I’ve declined a couple job offers to stay close to them, as I don’t know if I could bear not seeing them for too long…
    4. I’ve stopped watching TV (even owning one) and reading papers, and only news I get lately are from Twitter and Hacker News. Occasionally I run into a news broadcast on the radio in my car, and more often then not I get irritated.
    5.I love a good opera, and plays can be engaging, especially well-done comedy acts which are a specialty where I live.
    6. The ones I vote for usually don’t win the elections where I live, so I guess no. :)
    7. I wish I could meditate. I’m to nervous for that.
    8. I’d say that my happiest yea(s) were when I had enough money that I didn’t have to care about it. I wasn’t rich, but my mind was free to follow any creative idea it fancied, and I didn’t have to worry whether it will make money or not.
    9. No idea, since it must be a cultural thing. Vacations where I live are vastly a different affair than in the US.
    10. The best literature is the one which inspires you to think, and which gives you food for thoughts long after you’ve read it. My favourite book is “Lord of the Rings”, and has been for the past 25+ years, and this morning while shaving I had a thought about it which made me learn something new, both about it and the world.
    11. No. Not ever. For me, a food pyramid is something that involves the prey at the bottom and the raptors at the top.

  • kumar vivek

    “It’s like the exact definition of “Loser” right there.” – LOL

  • http://twitter.com/kateestivill Kate Estivill

    Enjoyed this so much, start to finish. And agree with most of it – “if you meditate then call people names on internet message boards then meditation did not help you” made me laugh. So true. 
    Have to disagree with the wine though… love the taste and have been trying to find a non-alcoholic one so I don’t have the morning after headache. 
    As for procrastinating, 100% behind you, when I find that I’ve been postponing a task I think about why. It’s either mind-numbingly boring (like visa paperwork) or it causes me emotional stress. In which case, find a way not to do it! Someone somewhere will do it a lot happier. 

  • Nick

    I love the way you have clearly articulated thoughts I have had about so many things in one post, i.e. do we really enjoy: wine, theatre, school, literature?

    Not sure I agree with you on children though.  There is something awesome about the innocence, trust and love of a child, but you have to be prepared to give wholeheartedly to earn this.

  • cindy

    Thank you for #3, too many people are not willing to admit that their kids suck 90% of their time, money and energy. I love my kids, but they are hard. Being a parent is even harder when your own life and finances are in the toilet. There is nothing harder in the world than not having enough money for diapers or milk….let alone rent and utilities.  Kids are expensive and demanding. They are also sweet, loving little people and it is a joy to watch them grow. All parents know the joy their kids bring them, but not enough are willing to admit how difficult and exhausting parenting can be.

    Great funny movie- Mouse Hunt….marketed as kid movie, but I saw it on plane and could not stop laughing….much to the dismay of the people around me. It is mine and my daughters favorite movie to watch together.

    Not a kid friendly movie-Get Him To The Greek….silly and raunchy LOVE IT;)

    • QuietJim

       improvise

  • scott thomas

    “Go 10 degrees off course at first.”  That is a great quote. Intuitively, it makes sense. But can you please give a real life example of how you would shift your course 10, 20 degrees? Thanks.

  • http://softengi.com/ outsourcing to ukraine

    A good blog with exciting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for keeping this site.

  • http://www.TeenDreamCenter.com/ Tresaca

    A couple of my favorite movies:

    1. The Mission with Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons2. Donnie Brasco with Johnny Depp and Al Pacino
    and as a child I was fascinated with the movie: The Never Ending Story

    James, you have built an awesome community and
    I enjoyed reading the comments to this post.

  • http://twitter.com/TL_Hastings Tyler Hastings

    Great post as always. However, you are slightly off base about meditation. My step dad is a psychologist so I hear a lot about this stuff. Scientists have done studies that show that a mere 8 weeks of mediation is actually able to change the physical composition of the brain, and make the meditator less stressful, less reactive and more empathetic. They also did fMRI’s of long time meditators and these same parts of their brain were very large and well developed compared to a non meditator.

    Of course it can be hard to stick with and inconsistency will not produce results. Furthermore, if one is meditating with the express goal of seeking enlightenment, he/she is probably approaching it wrong. It’s the type of thing that yields results over time.

    Anyways, great post; LOL at the section on literature. I remember you wrote about living in the Astoria in the past, those were some great stories.

  • http://www.hobodrifter.com/ HoboDrifter

    I’m gonna be honest for a sec.  But only a sec.

    I just read your post, then continued to scroll through every comment looking for something that would spark some badass idea for me to leave here…I failed.That’s when I decided to meditate about it.  30 minutes later, still a blank slate.  So I cracked open a bottle of wine and began reminiscing about my college days.  Only I couldn’t remember much.  The kid in the hotel room next to mine was being so damn loud I decided to turn on the news.  Nothing new there; all a bunch of bullshit about the upcoming presidential election and and how much they all love the theater.  It really made me realize how little my vote actually matters; democracy my ass.  Then some financial genius appears and starts telling me how horrible the U.S. economy is.  That made me realize that I don’t have any money to go on that vacation my girlfriend was planning.  I guess that’s a blessing in disguise because all she ever does on our trips is mope around the hotel room reading her classic literature and ordering every item off the food pyramid from room service.  Maybe that’s why she weighs right around a deuce.Then something hit me, right in the middle of my procrastination…Decluttering works.  And I’m not just talking about throwing away the useless shit inside of your house, throw away the shit inside inside your head – especially all the shenanigans about age.I spent my Wednesday doing cartwheels and front handsprings in the park.  I’m 27.My dad runs 4-5 miles a day 5 days a week.  He’s 58.You’re right James…”Don’t kill yourself just to satisfy the restrictions and boundaries your parents, peers, friends, lovers, government, and commercials have put on you.”

    • QuietJim

       Do kill yourself

  • Spitfireatme

    I liked your ending.

  • http://twitter.com/TL_Hastings Tyler Hastings

    Best movie I have ever seen is ‘Once Upon a Time in America’

  • http://iradar666.blogspot.com/ iRadar

    James, an excellent blog like so many you write.  Been following for a little while and I think it’s helped give me a bit of different outlook on life.  Wanted to post my first comment as you give so much to respond to:

    1) I really enjoy the taste of some wines, but hate the taste of others therefore I think it must taste good!  A milkshake would make me feel unhappy because I don’t think it’s healthy… if you’d compared to a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice then maybe.  In the UK at least there is a large market for cocktails many of which allow the drinker to have something sweeter and still get that buzz.

    2) I love your views on college, I have a degree which I’m proud of – but I always wanted to be an accountant (sounds boring but I enjoy it!) so I was always going to study, plus when I went to college I didn’t have to rack up anywhere near as much debt as students do now (£9k approximately – and that was for a loan so I had the money up front, fees were £1k for 3 years).  I can say that I remember very little from those days, even though I only graduated 5 years ago!  I do however remember a lot of my subsequent accountancy study but that’s because I use it every day!  Any economics student can tell you though that education is just a signal that you use to show that you are capable.
    3) Not a kids person!4) I wish I didn’t get sucked into the news as much as I do… very little of it really matters.

    5) You talk about this as if it is mutually exclusive, going to a theatre doesn’t prevent you seeing a film at a different time, or catching up on “Arrested Development” the next day.  I’ve been to the theatre on a few occasions and every time thoroughly enjoyed myself – maybe you just need to pick better shows.  My favourite was an adaptation of “Trainspotting”. Film wise my favourite is “Repo! The Genetic Opera”, doubt it’ll end up on your list though!

    6) I’m a bit too political, I know you’re right and I realise that I don’t make too much of a difference, but I’d rather use my voice whenever possible than ignore issues even if they don’t effect me.7) I don’t see the point in meditation to be honest, I have better uses for 30 minutes, even if others think I waste them.8)  Happiest year ever I’d probably say 2008.  My first full year of work, I had more money than I was used to, had made good friends and was able to do all the things I wanted.  Each year though I do my best to make the current year my happiest.  Money helps open doors, I like not having to really think about the cost when it comes to doing things.  I think you’re confusing correlation with causation, just because you were poor when you were happiest doesn’t mean you were happiest because you were poor, I’d say it was more because of the youth, the freedom and the endless possibilities open to you.9) Can you honestly say you didn’t enjoy being in India?  I love to travel and don’t do enough of it as far as I’m concerned.  There’s a big world out there and I want to see as much of it as I can.  If you don’t then how do you know that where you are is where you want to be?  I like your staycation but that happens every weekend!10) Agreed, Shakespeare may have helped create the language we have but he can’t still be relevant?  

    11) I had to look it up… we were never taught it, yet I manage to eat fairly healthily I think!
    Anyway, please keep up the excellent blogging!

  • The David

    Item 1: go to France to drink wine; you will find out about a thing that you clearly don’t know

  • Kristian Kanya

    What About Bob?!  — such a funny movie, with Bill Murray.  I also watched The Truman Show again last weekend.  Maybe not top ten, but it has to be one of my favorites.

  • 4selfgovernment

    Lagaan, Once upon a time in India;  Grass (1924 documentary about Persians Moving their herds to new pasture); Freeway; Idiocracy; Vitus.
    You won’t be disapointed.

  • silverliberty

    I love the old spy spoof movies like Matt Helm with Dean Martin.  I also love Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyk in Ball of Fire.
    Quark – star wars spoof
    To Kill a Mocking Bird
    Chariots of Fire
    Hoosiers
    High Noon
    Mr Deeds Goes to Town – Gary Cooper

    As one can tell, I am a big Gary Cooper fan. 

  • mind_imminst

    I like sweet wines, they are kind-of similar to milkshakes in palatability. I make my own berry wines which I find fun and rewarding. If you want to combine alcohol and milkshakes, go with a mild rum – a pretty decent combo.

    One of my favorite older movies for mindless fun and action – Big Trouble in Little China.

  • Matt

    I’d “like” it but I started to declutter by getting rid of Facebook. Honestly the best decluttering move I’ve made recently.

     

  • Rickv404

    Movies suck. They are for young people, for the most part, that find some fascination about them. For me, make believe just doesn’t cut it anymore. I agree about the news.It’s an overrated industry that thrives on negativity and gives way too much coverage to politicians. And all alcohol tastes bad. But people don’t consume it for that. They consume it for its narcotic effect.

  • Fred

    I consider reading your blog to be a form of procrastination.

  • Sjpsjp1971

    Bravo! Movies: Millers Crossing;LA Confidential;The Thing(Re-make with Kurt Russell – all the elements of a great horror movie) You want to laugh for 90 minutes? Spies Like Us, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. My wife made me watch Hereafter recently and I liked it. It’s always a pleasant surprise when you come across a good movie that acclaim missed (my wife is batting about .800 with movies she makes me watch).

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.maull Mike Maull

    Slingblade & Blazing Saddles..those gotta make the list…

  • Guest

    Great post.  It takes a great deal of unplugging to remember our true personal preferences and pleasures.  How often we are steered by advertising and societal messages.  Future generations will look askance at the messages of today, just as we laugh when we see the old propaganda movies and advertisements from the past. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LMMKT56PISTSNEJEAFBQLAPGE4 mark

    Has writing a bitch fest blog post really made you happier? You say I waste time meditating, I think you owe me $5.00 for the time I wasted reading your whining. And as to kids they should be your own children not kids fathered by another man and your now wife.

  • Mary

    I agree about the pyramid and that’s about it. My daughter memorized Much Ado About Nothing at age 8, because she loved it, and “got it” for the most part. It gave my husband and me a greater appreciation for Shakespeare. Live or in a movie, it’s fabulous. I have been reading all the classic literature for the last 30 years. It is much better when you don’t have to read it for school.

    I’m happy my children turned out to be functional wonderful adults, but I do miss those childhood years. It was hard, but I loved it. Today’s parents make it about 10 times harder than it needs to be.

    I LOVE wine,but I can’t drink it much any more, sad, same for coffee, which smells better than it tastes, but I LOVE it too.

    Yes on the de-clutter. I love hitting unsubscribe and spam. Modern life is tooooo complicated.

    If children learned to read and write, and math, they would be better off being otherwise unschooled, and left to study what they wish. . They would learn so much more if they chose the subject of choice and dived in the way they dive into their sand box. Public school is worse than glorified babysitting. It is indoctrination by highly-compensated, often mediocre bureaucrats. Sad

    Bully for you if you feel like you are being honest, and that turns your crank. I was expected more; I wanted to learn something, be enlighted. Your article was a waste of time. And I guess writing this is too.

    Great Movies:

    Salaam Bombay
    Children of Heaven

  • Butch

    Please SEE: “Valdez Is Coming”.  A sleeper from Burt Lancaster.    

  • Dragonrose3672

    You may have never had the right kind of wine for you. I hated wine too – I first tasted champagne when I was in my early twenties and I hated it, and I still do. Same goes for chardonnay, merlot, the lot. I find that French wines, in general, suck. HOWEVER. I one day discovered at the Olive Garden a sweet Italian wine that I actually and actively liked. It was called lambrusco. After that I tried other Italian wines and generally they’re much sweeter and more palatable to me. Especially moscato, which is the Italian version of champagne.

  • jonnyreb

    Movies:

    Fata Morgana
    Even Dwarfs Started Small
    The Young Girls of Rochefort
    Almost all of Eric Rohmer’s movies
    Olympia
    Too Beautiful for You
    The Bad Sleep Well
    The Shanghai Gesture
    Limelight
    The General
    Payback
    How Much Do You Love Me?
    The Decline of the American Empire
    Hearts of Darkness
    Apocalypse Now
    In the Realm of the Senses
    The Girl Can’t Help It
    Trouble in Paradise

       I had to respond because I consider many of the movies listed to be either inferior or outright trash. I did enjoy The Godfather and Blade Runner, however. I’m sure there are several more I could list, but I can’t think of them right now. Generally, I prefer Hollywood classics and foreign movies, but there are exceptions.
     

  • Dave Winter

    James, this type of refreshing honesty, even though there’s some butthurt responders here, is the type of thing I’m trying to surround myself with. Like you, I’m at the cusp of middle-age, and like many middle-aged people, took a MAJOR turn in philosophy, politics, relationships, etc. and replaced it with getting to know myself, instead of the man my parents and my former pastor wanted me to be. And it is one heck of a ride. I agree with all but one thing you wrote (#2 – I have three college degrees and glean from them daily), but seriously – who dares say this type of stuff anymore??? THANK YOU.

    PS – I actually spent about 2 hours during some psychotherapy sessions (divorce…) wrestling with the very same thing you said about kids. I *LOVE* mine, but do I *LIKE* them? It’s not the same question. Moreover, if I were to do it all again, I probably wouldn’t have had them. And I raise mine to be very open and honest to themselves about who they are, and already I can see them appreciating that. So thanks again for stating what our culture will forever brand as “taboo.”

    • QuietJim

       why am i not shocked you be divorced?

  • Ringo

    Sorry, I have to take exception to your wine comment. First of all, what wine are you talking about? Alsatian Gewurtztraminer (usually delicious)? Bordeaux (certainly more of an aquired taste, but well worth the effort)? It’s a huge, sweeping generalization to pan all wine from everywhere as not tasting good. 

    Just because you suffer from the American Coca-Cola palate (eg: your preference for a vanilla milk shake over a glass of ‘wine’), doesn’t make your question about wine a rhetorical one. As for your three points:

    The actual taste is bad.- Wine can be the most complicated beverage on the planet. exactly which ‘taste’ is bad? Stay off the sugar. You can’t sleep because of the sugar- But you sleep like a baby with a vanilla milkshake in your stomach? >95% of wine is vinified dry. And then you feel bad in the morning (because, after all, alcohol is a depressant).  That goes for any alcoholic beverage.  Wine is best when accompanied with food, and can offer astounding gastronomic experiences when paired correctly with the dish. Drinking wine with your meal also mitigates the negative effects of alcohol. You might even go to work, sort of sluggish, maybe a headache, and you think, “Oh man, I drank too much last night.”

    • http://twitter.com/laural Laural Hill

       Oh yes to Gewurtztraminer.

  • Tom

    As I was reading your column, I agreed,I suppose,with a few things but I also thought this guy is a real JERK, your cynisism is pretty annoying. And I thought to myself perhaps you should commit suicide as you refer to it when you talked about being an entrepreneur.
    I actually grew up in Astoria or to be more precise the Woodside projects, and as a kid ( I’m 51 now) I used to shoe shine in every bar up Broadway from 49 th. street to the EL. and then back down 30th ave and hit all those bars. Back in those days there was a bar on almost every corner on Broadway, I guess that was back in the days when we weren’t such Pussies and men smoked in bars( Fuck Bloomberg!) and to say Astoria is some kind of forgotten part of NYC is bullshit people in Astoria and Queens in general are the heart and soul of the city
    Anyway I digressed a bit, You talk about wasting time with this or that yet you post this tripe I’ve read a bit of your stuff on Lew’s site and I think some of what I’ve read is such crap and I think why am I reading this oppiniated moron and I stop reading. This article I read all the way through hence my diatribe.
    I like to go to Lew’s site but some of the stuff on it is a bit wacky and I think who are these people and what have they done except bitch and complain about what this one and that one is doing and not doing but what the F#€% are You doing.
    In closing, I guess I’m just sick of all the Bullshit from all you Motherfuckers!

    • Abram

       Next time I see a shoe shiner, I’ll know he’s a badass mispeller who wants to beat some pussies!  Thanks for the warning!

    • http://snobbyrobot.com/ Erik Urtz

      Go and get your shine box!!

  • Piraterecluse

    3 teenagers bickering so Xanadu 3 minute break was awesome.

    I would add “Joe vs. the Volcano” and “Grosse Point Blank” to the list of movies.

  • TO

    Oh yeah! Jeremiah Johnson, (not funny but good). And to one of the posters I think we are a Republic not a Democracy.

  • Churchofthefisherman

    I have been divorced twice, and lost as much money as you, James.

    The bottom line is, we have too much junk.  Too much clutter.  Too many different things to think about.  Too many responsibilities (almost all of which we take on ourselves without needing to).

    1) Live simply.  Strange, since I did this, live is a million times better. And the money just keeps piling up.  I don’t really know what I am going to do with it now.  Give it away I suppose.  

    2) Throw crap away.  If you just can bear to, move a few times.  Maybe 3-4 times in a year.  You’ll lose all the junk you don’t need.

    3) Own nothing.  Maybe some clothes.  Don’t collect stuff. Think about how cool the new piece of junk is going to be 10 days after you get it.  Namely, not.  

    4) Rent.  Don’t buy.  You are going to die broke anyway.  It’s cheaper that way.

    5) Leave knowledge, laughter, and wisdom to your children.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=623390924 David Burns

    I just started drinking wine. It tastes great. On the opposite end, I stopped drinking milkshakes. Now I can’t even stomach them.  Wines do have sugar, but if you shop carefully, you’ll find many that are very low in sugar.  Milkshakes also have sugar – tons of it.

    I remember many things that happened in school, but not much in the classroom. I agree college is a waste.

    Literature. Re-read Charles Dickens. It’s amazing. That doesn’t mean modern literature sucks or all classic literature is wonderful. It means Dickens is wonderful. And that’s all it means.

    The Food Pyramid is a joke.

  • Rextrains

    Two movies to add; “It’s a Gift” and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze”,both starring W.C. Fields  fifty years or more ahead of their time.  There are also many paralells between the Obama Administration and “Duck Soup”.

  • ngage

    Screw the milk shake – you get far more sugar and calories derived from pasteurized (dead) milk. Go with the wine instead for a healthy doze of resveratrol (antioxidant).  The trick is to NOT drink too much wine before you go to bed so one wouldn’t get heart palpitations and hyperglycemia.
    Ask any French or Italian or Spaniard, or Georgian (I mean Georgia as a country not the State of Georgia) about their stance on wine. These aforementioned cultures have the most people that drink wine all their lives and get to live to 100 years of age and beyond.
    So yes, Viva la Vino! (No need to get drunk though!)

  • Mikeyvest

    Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks

  • http://ajauntylife-rulingpart.blogspot.com/ Rulingpart

    1. Wine: When I was twelve I’d have said a milkshake. Wine is probably something I learned to like, much like coffee or some of my relatives. But yes, wine, no question.

    2. School: Solid point. I don’t remember much.
    3. Children: Yeah, kids are work, but so is showering. The benefits outweigh the
    consequences. My parents take absolute delight in their grandchildren, and I
    hope to do that some day. Also you are genetically programmed to love your kids.
    Brain chemistry guarantees that raising children will be a profound experience.
    Finally I know some childless people and they alternate between wishing they’d
    had children and trying to convince themselves that they’re better off.
    4. Theater: I’ve been stuck in some three hour plays. I like being with a crowd of real
    humans watching other real humans play act, though. Makes me feel a part of
    things. Watching Cinemax doesn’t impart the same sense of belonging. It DOES
    impart a desire to eat Doritos, though.5. Voting: I actually have this same thought every time I vote.

    6. News: Yeah… “This is news?” That’s often what I think when watching it. I feel like a responsible citizen should watch or read news, probably read, but watching is easier. Still, this is news? Good point.
    7. Meditation:  did for awhile. I went to a Buddhist temple and meditated with them because the
    social pressure to last the whole hour kept me at it. It’s hard. Watching TV is
    easy, so I do WAY more of that. But yes, when I do it, I feel better, calmer and
    wiser. There’s scientific evidence to show that it changes brain function.

    8. Money/Best Year: Birth of my children, truly. What was my most carefree year? The year I got the biggest thrills and the most sheer pleasure out of life? Senior year of high school. I had an income of $200 a month and could blow it on anything, Mom and Dad fed and clothed me and pretty much let me do whatever I wanted (they told me I was a grown up now), classes were easy… but I was being subsidized by my parents. Loads of freedom, very little responsibility, and living off of somebody else’s money… but it was still money.

    9. Vacations: Ireland… it was a titanic pain in the ass to get there, but when I sit back under a tree I think of a valley in Ireland. Completely worth the trouble.

    10. Literature: I used to agree, but the older I get the more I find that great literature amazes me. When I was 18 and forced to read Hemmingway I thought it was dull beyond words. Now I’m running through the guy’s canon. Moby Dick is amazing. Chaucer is… OK, I haven’t read Chaucer since college. Sometimes culture doesn’t fail us; we fail culture. I have a feeling that I’m like that with Chaucer. I won’t read Shakespeare but I love to see it performed.

    11. Food Pyramid: I totally ignore it. Spot on. What am I, a Communist?

  • http://ajauntylife-rulingpart.blogspot.com/ Rulingpart

    1. Wine: When I was twelve I’d have said a milkshake. Wine is probably something I learned to like, much like coffee or some of my relatives. But yes, wine, no question.

    2. School: Solid point. I don’t remember much.
    3. Children: Yeah, kids are work, but so is showering. The benefits outweigh the
    consequences. My parents take absolute delight in their grandchildren, and I
    hope to do that some day. Also you are genetically programmed to love your kids.
    Brain chemistry guarantees that raising children will be a profound experience.
    Finally I know some childless people and they alternate between wishing they’d
    had children and trying to convince themselves that they’re better off.
    4. Theater: I’ve been stuck in some three hour plays. I like being with a crowd of real
    humans watching other real humans play act, though. Makes me feel a part of
    things. Watching Cinemax doesn’t impart the same sense of belonging. It DOES
    impart a desire to eat Doritos, though.5. Voting: I actually have this same thought every time I vote.

    6. News: Yeah… “This is news?” That’s often what I think when watching it. I feel like a responsible citizen should watch or read news, probably read, but watching is easier. Still, this is news? Good point.
    7. Meditation:  did for awhile. I went to a Buddhist temple and meditated with them because the
    social pressure to last the whole hour kept me at it. It’s hard. Watching TV is
    easy, so I do WAY more of that. But yes, when I do it, I feel better, calmer and
    wiser. There’s scientific evidence to show that it changes brain function.

    8. Money/Best Year: Birth of my children, truly. What was my most carefree year? The year I got the biggest thrills and the most sheer pleasure out of life? Senior year of high school. I had an income of $200 a month and could blow it on anything, Mom and Dad fed and clothed me and pretty much let me do whatever I wanted (they told me I was a grown up now), classes were easy… but I was being subsidized by my parents. Loads of freedom, very little responsibility, and living off of somebody else’s money… but it was still money.

    9. Vacations: Ireland… it was a titanic pain in the ass to get there, but when I sit back under a tree I think of a valley in Ireland. Completely worth the trouble.

    10. Literature: I used to agree, but the older I get the more I find that great literature amazes me. When I was 18 and forced to read Hemmingway I thought it was dull beyond words. Now I’m running through the guy’s canon. Moby Dick is amazing. Chaucer is… OK, I haven’t read Chaucer since college. Sometimes culture doesn’t fail us; we fail culture. I have a feeling that I’m like that with Chaucer. I won’t read Shakespeare but I love to see it performed.

    11. Food Pyramid: I totally ignore it. Spot on. What am I, a Communist?

  • http://ajauntylife-rulingpart.blogspot.com/ Rulingpart

    1. Wine: When I was twelve I’d have said a milkshake. Wine is probably something I learned to like, much like coffee or some of my relatives. But yes, wine, no question.

    2. School: Solid point. I don’t remember much.
    3. Children: Yeah, kids are work, but so is showering. The benefits outweigh the
    consequences. My parents take absolute delight in their grandchildren, and I
    hope to do that some day. Also you are genetically programmed to love your kids.
    Brain chemistry guarantees that raising children will be a profound experience.
    Finally I know some childless people and they alternate between wishing they’d
    had children and trying to convince themselves that they’re better off.
    4. Theater: I’ve been stuck in some three hour plays. I like being with a crowd of real
    humans watching other real humans play act, though. Makes me feel a part of
    things. Watching Cinemax doesn’t impart the same sense of belonging. It DOES
    impart a desire to eat Doritos, though.5. Voting: I actually have this same thought every time I vote.

    6. News: Yeah… “This is news?” That’s often what I think when watching it. I feel like a responsible citizen should watch or read news, probably read, but watching is easier. Still, this is news? Good point.
    7. Meditation:  did for awhile. I went to a Buddhist temple and meditated with them because the
    social pressure to last the whole hour kept me at it. It’s hard. Watching TV is
    easy, so I do WAY more of that. But yes, when I do it, I feel better, calmer and
    wiser. There’s scientific evidence to show that it changes brain function.

    8. Money/Best Year: Birth of my children, truly. What was my most carefree year? The year I got the biggest thrills and the most sheer pleasure out of life? Senior year of high school. I had an income of $200 a month and could blow it on anything, Mom and Dad fed and clothed me and pretty much let me do whatever I wanted (they told me I was a grown up now), classes were easy… but I was being subsidized by my parents. Loads of freedom, very little responsibility, and living off of somebody else’s money… but it was still money.

    9. Vacations: Ireland… it was a titanic pain in the ass to get there, but when I sit back under a tree I think of a valley in Ireland. Completely worth the trouble.

    10. Literature: I used to agree, but the older I get the more I find that great literature amazes me. When I was 18 and forced to read Hemmingway I thought it was dull beyond words. Now I’m running through the guy’s canon. Moby Dick is amazing. Chaucer is… OK, I haven’t read Chaucer since college. Sometimes culture doesn’t fail us; we fail culture. I have a feeling that I’m like that with Chaucer. I won’t read Shakespeare but I love to see it performed.

    11. Food Pyramid: I totally ignore it. Spot on. What am I, a Communist?

  • something

    What was the points of this post? Why are you even writing for LR ?
    Can I have my 5 minutes back please ?

  • samcarmx

    1) I agree, I dislike wine and in fact anything with alcohol in it. I also dislike the so-called “buzz.” I like feeling normal and clear-headed and don’t need alcohol to feel relaxed. As for milkshakes, I gave up on sugar a long time ago. Not good for you at all. Try good food instead. But that’s just me. If you like beer and wine, that’s up to you. I love good coffee.

    2)  I always disliked school classes. My mother taught me how to read before I entered school. I learned how to write in school, and a few other basic elements of an education.  On the whole, the most important things I have learned I owe to my own studies. 

    3) I think the society generally and children in particular are victims of the incredibly crass and vulgarizing mass media. A gifted young person who is not arrogant and who, as well as being intelligent, has a good and beautiful character, is a joy.

    4) Mass media news is a “weapon of mass distraction.” Death to the soul. If history in the making interests you, read intelligent people and their analyses.

    5) I don’t attend the theatre, but I love to read Shakespeare. If good Shakespeare theatre were available where I am, then yes, I would go gladly.

    Some movies:

    To Kill a Mockingbird
    A Man for all Seasons
    Chariots of Fire
    Lord of the Rings
    Gladiator
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    The Bridge on the River Kwai
    Forrest Gump
    Silence of the Lambs
    Dances with Wolves
    Dersu Uzala
    Casablanca
    The Magnificent Seven
    Seven Samurai
    All the President’s Men
    Black Orpheus
    Gandhi
    Driving Miss Daisy
    Paper Moon
    Z
    Pink Panther and Pink Panther Returns
    The Fugitive
    Blood and Sand
    The Bourne Ultimatum
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    The Shawshank Redemption
    Sayonara
    Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli)
    The Patriot
    Gone with the Wind
    Braveheart
    The Red Violin
    Fiddler on the Roof
    Hamlet–Laurence Olivier
    The Last of the Mohicans
    The Last Emperor
    The Passion of Joan of Arc
    The Lion in Winter
    The Mission
    Zorba the Greek
    Shane
    Yanco
    Rashomon
    Citizen Kane
    The Seventh Seal
    The Apu Trilogy
    Empire of the Sun
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    The Hunt for Red October
    Entrapment
    Dr. Strangelove
    Die Hard
    Indochine
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Romancing the Stone
    Divorce, Italian Style
    The Inlaw
    Mutiny on the Bounty
    Brother Sun and Sister Moon
    It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

    6. I have no respect for politicians. Basically, corporate shills and scoundrels; very few exceptions.

    7. Well, these are stressful times. People do what they can.

    8. Money. You need enough given your circumstances. Peace and beauty tend to cost money nowadays.

    9. Vacations–most vacations seem to be about getting away from cold and gray weather. But sitting at a pool downing margaritas is not a very intelligent way to regenerate yourself.

    10. I disagree. There is such a thing as great literature and cultural and mental refinement.

    11. The Food Pyramid. The food pyramid is bad biology. There are very intelligent and accomplished people writing on this topic, and you can learn a lot. At the same time, the essential can be reduced to a couple of paragraphs of do’s and don’ts.

  • Tonyb17

    I only watched the whole Xanadu movie because i was hoping to get Rick Rolled.

  • Prov6

    All you need to learn in school is to read, write, long division, long multiplication, decimals and fractions.  Everything else you can get from the internet.

  • Tjlmullen

    Yes, wine tastes horrible.  Cheap wine.  Decent wine?  Check out:
    http://vinoexpressions.com/2010/11/30/chiles-gravity-castle/ As for money, you’re right.  I earned $125 a month in Peace Corps in Malawi and those were the richest days of my life. As for vacations go, it’s not the taste of the steak, it’s not the difference in plants in the gardens of London – it’s the shift in thought processes.  Want to have decent wine, different geography, and get blown away just by watching people interact? Sit at a cafe in Slovenia for an afternoon.

  • citizen49a

    You are an idiot. But you’re right about the food pyramid and associated commentary. Big deal. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while.

  • Abram

    You know James, I used to really not like you.  I would see links to your posts on LewRockwell.com and I would click on them time and time again just so I could say, “Who does this jerk think he is, going on all crazy-like about this and that, being so vicious and mean all the time?”  But I kept clicking and reading.  And even while I was mentally sneering at you, I would find something to chuckle at or agree with — every time.

    I like you quite a lot now.  The thing that initially repelled me is now the thing that I admire you the most for: your all-encompassing candor.  Most blog-writers, self-help gurus, whatever, they just criticize the external (and the most superficial aspects of it at that), while making sure to pay homage to the conceits of the day.  But man, you truly dig into it, the outer as well as the *INNER*.  It’s real stuff!  From a real guy!  Deep down, most people think kind of like you do.   

    I guess I just want to say, your stuff is the kind of thing that really helps people: ruthless all-pervading honesty leavened with open-mindedness.  Although, I have read some Shakespeare plays that were pretty cool, even though I prefer several decades-old SF & F.  A lot of that archaic stuff is pretty neat, it just takes a lot of time to crack — and most of us don’t have oodles of time just laying around.

    Movie Recommendations!

    House (1977, Nobuhiko Obayashi — F’d up psychedelic mile-a-minute Japanese horror-comedy about a carnivorous house, not to be confused with the inferior but still entertaining American horror film)

    Gandahar (1988, Rene LaLoux — Weirdo French cartoon movie about a time-traveling robots and gigantic lonely brains and matriarchal biotech weirdness)

    Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989 Hayao Miyazaki — Beautiful Japanese cartoon movie about a little witch-girl out on her own.  Heart-warming and awesome in a simple, laid-back kinda way)

    Lord of Illusions (1995, Clive Barker — Crazy mixture of dark mysticism and mystery, with a potbellied zombie wizard who was “born to murder the world”)

       

  • Chuckrebel

    “Breaking Away” a coming of age flick about four boys in Bloomington. Done by a foreigner.

  • Kfaye

     The Big Lewboski was a hoot

  • nowistoday

    One of the most honest articles ever written.

  • Iamtrevort

    Movies –  Anchorman. Wedding Crashers. Slapshot. Shawshank Redemption. No Country For Old Men. 

  • Cornellsteve

    Rancho Deluxe with Jeff Bridges

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.mullen1 Tom Mullen

    Your movie list has to include Apocalypse  Now. That’s my number one. “Every day that Charlie squatted in the bush, he got stronger.”

  • ChrisDixon2012

    I’m reminded of that brilliant line from Peep Show — Jez is drinking wine and thinks to himself, “Obviously it’s not really delicious like hot chocolate or coke, but for wine, it’s brilliant …”

    I’m not a conoisseur, but I find my experience of a wine is influenced far more by whether I have drunk it often recently than by any other factor. No wine remains interesting to me after being drunk 2 or 3 days in a row. And often times, any old cheap wine seems to become fascinating simply becuase the taste is new and unusual.

    Much like movies, possibly. Those revisited after forgotten for years are often great simply because you’ve forgotten how good they are.

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Ironweed, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Swingers, Alien, Amadeus, Donnie Darko, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea,  Days of Wine and Roses, The Apartment, King of Comedy, Coneheads  …

  • Jtgradishar

    Oh my God this was an awful article. Let’s forget about this bowel movement and get back to some more interesting things.

  • JustMe

    Funny/ Fun movies
    ———————————
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    Airplane 1 and 2
    Borat
    Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
    Dumb and Dumber
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    Rushmore

    Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

    The Princess Bride

    Romantic films
    ———————-
    Before Sunrise (Must see)
    Before Sunset (The sequel)

    Inspiring
    ————————————
    The Shawshank Redemption
    Cast Away

     

  • AntiSlice

    What if I truly enjoy the Canterbury Tales?  Or theater?  Or… the taste of wine?

    I also think your complaints about voting are civically irresponsible, mostly because in my opinion you shouldn’t be allowed to complain about what your elected officials are doing in office if you didn’t vote (against or for them, doesn’t matter).

  • QuietJim

    1. while you can’t be friends with your kids you can be friends with grandchildren from about age 7 to puberty. worth the effort.
    2. OK movie list. Would add a few, Network comes to mind. Everything you need to know about life is in “The Hustler”
    3. Vacations have been the high points of my life. Prolly a sad thing.
    4. You can learn things from literature. Like work though.
    5. I would rather see “Jersey Boys” than any of the movies on your list xcept “The Godfather”

  • Julian

    James u should def. check out paleo diet if u haven’t already

  • Johnnyreb92

    Why was my comment removed?????

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewpcompton Andrew Compton

    No Quentin Tarantino? Try True Romance.  And because you’d like it and add it to next years list Confidence by James Foley.

  • Justplaneb

    Snatch, L.A. Story, Grosse Pointe Blank

  • Jdbrown371

     1)      Doesn’t wine taste bad?   Some wine tastes bad.  Finding a good wine means paying more but you don’t have to pay a fortune to find a good bottle.  Decent is usually $25 on up but I’ve found good wine for $17.  Single malt scotch is good like Dalmore (sp?) or Glenfidditch (sp?) but avoid stomach churning garbage like Jamesson or any highly advertised whiskey.  A decent whiskey, like a drinkable wine costs a little money.
         Be honest: Do you really remember anything that happened in school? I remember being bored to death.
         Children.   I have energy for my two children only.  All my excess good will toward young people was destroyed after 14 years of teaching.
    4)      News.  Is the news that interesting? NO!  NO! NO!
    5)      Theater.  Seeing a play at the Ogunquit Playhouse with my kids is a lot of fun.  We see about four shows per year.  
    But do you really like theater? Yes.
    Regarding movies I will only say I waited years for my wife to finally watch LOTR.  She watches parts 1 and 2 with me after almost a decade of prodding.  I’m very open minded about her movies and I’m always pleasantly surprised by her choices.  Now if only she’d watch Godfather I and II with me…
    Voting. Even if the told you the truth all the time and some of them really do, mainstream politicians are almost always harmful.
    7. Meditation.  Anyone who can go to a Quaker meeting and leave upset or angry is probably insane.  
    8. Money. My happiest days coincided with peace of mind and doing what I really wanted to do.  Money was only part of the peace of mind, but a very necessary one.

    9. Vacations.  I really haven’t travelled anywhere yet.  Sad but true and I’m 41.  
    10. Great literature.  I read Emerson.  Most of my reading is confined to piano sheet music and books about number theory.  
    11. The Food Pyramid.   True dat!  It’s also used to justify crappy school lunch programs.
    Procrastination. What does that word really mean? It means you are doing something you like to do because you don’t want to do something you don’t like to do.  This is completely true.  Work is a blessing not a curse iff your heart is in it.

  • Guest

    George Carlin: You Are All Diseased, 1999

  • soyroberto

    Nice article, altough I do like wine (red), with cheese and food, I do like to travel and hey the other day I went to a mediation session that was just awesome, I agree that most of this things are so oversold that they might seem like total crap and bullshit. I love wine for the taste with food and for the effect, I’m not going to lye that I like getting happy with it. As for travel , for me is awesome, yes, having to go through immigration is total crap. Eating garbage on the airplane is more than sick, but at the end being able to see cool things, being in front on the Eiffel tower for my 25 birthday was worthed, and travel doesn’t have to be abroad, travel to the nearest town, taste the food, meet the people, I like that. As for news and TV in general, more than agree, that’s crap in your head bumped at your will. And men, the procrastination quote is the best! Money, yeah I like it, better to have it to do what I want than not. But again I agree that we’re sick about money and its uses, getting rich seems like a mantra and if not, you’re a loser. 

  • Vividh

    I will just take “vacations” out of your post to give my views, because that’s the one I disagree on.

    It depends if you are talking about vacations or travelling, because both are different. Vacations usually mean that you are running away/escaping your busy life for some time, always knowing that you have to come back. But travelling is just travelling. People travel, I travel, just for the sake of travelling. It is one of the most freeing and growing activities you can do. Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically. Mentally. Give it a try!

  • mjohnson121

    The Man Who Knew Too Little is a fun Bill Murray movie about a guy who thinks he is participating in “live” theatre when in fact he is embroiled in a spy plot (kind of an update on the Peter Sellers movie Being There). Another really great movie is a romantic comedy titled The Tao of Steve. Totally worth checking out both of those.

  • http://www.mjsielerjr.com/ Michael J. Sieler Jr.

    Best definition of procrastination. Saving that in my “Quotes” file. Thanks.

  • http://peachin.blogspot.com/ peachin

    A vanilla milk shake is like premature ejaculation… you feel good for 30 SECONDS, then the sugar takes over and drops you on the floor. great wine (not just wine) takes you and your partner on a joy ride that could last hours… not all wines give hangovers….

  • Bill

    Freakin brilliant

  • Wheel

    Totally agree about wine being awful. I would rather have a strawberry milkshake instead of vanilla, but otherwise totally agree.
    Would I want to be the best friend of an 8 year old? Dunno. I am the best friend of a hyperactive 2 year old granddaughter. Love it! :)