Transcript: Hollywood's 2024 To-Don't List
Rob Long bemoans our focus on corporate machinations instead of... comedy!
This is Rob Long with Martini Shot for The Ankler.
There's an old joke about a guy who goes to the doctor because his hand hurts when he moves it. "It hurts when I do this," he says to the doctor.
"Then don't do that," the doctor answers.
Which is, when you think about it, excellent advice for a lot of things.
It's traditional, at this time of year, to make plans for the next twelve months, to lock your eyes onto the future. "Never look back," is what some people say as they set New Year's goals and plan for a rich and lucky new year. That's a very smart and emotionally healthy way to prepare for what's to come, which is probably why I don't do it.
I like looking back. I get a certain unhealthy pleasure in totaling up the (many) things I did in the previous 12 months that may have been foolish and which I intend never to do again. Some people have a "To Do" list. What I need is a "To Don't" list. For me, the trick to living well is following the joke doctor's rule: if something hurts, stop doing it.
Aside from a few hilariously stupid things I did in 2023 — like climbing on top of a ladder in my socks to change a light bulb, then slipping at the top and thumping to the floor while hitting each rung with my head — most of my most idiotic feats of the past year are best kept to myself.
And in any case, there’s no point in making a list of things I’m going to do in 2024. Or even not do in 2024. For me, lists in general at the problem. I’m hopeless at list technology. I’m missing the basic mental components.
Spatial awareness, for instance, which researchers tell us, is something that comes in infancy.
You suddenly get the ability to visually estimate what thing fits into another thing and what thing just won't.
We've all seen babies take a block that's too big and try to fit it into the wrong shape on that toy that every baby has, you know, the one that's a house with the shapes cut out of it? And then at a certain point, a light goes off in the baby's head and the toy is done for.
As we get older, according to the research, this ability just gets better and better. Or, is supposed to. But like everything that's supposed to happen naturally to make us smarter and more efficient, this one hasn't —at least for me.
Because spatial awareness — the ability to measure and anticipate things made up of atoms — I’ve got. What I need, though, is time awareness. That’s an abstract thing that I don’t got.
Years and years ago — and I know I'm dating myself — when I was a kid, I saw the James Bond movie Live and Let Die. And I still remember the jolt I felt — I think I was six — when Roger Moore checks the time on his watch. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen: an LED digital watch. He pressed a button on a totally dark watch and it lit up with the time. Digital style. So cool.
All I wanted at that moment was a watch like that. If I had a digital watch, I thought to myself with the logic only a child would use, I will never want anything else again.
So one Christmas, I got one.
And it destroyed me, mentally. Because a digital watch is nearly useless. It tells me what time it is right now. But I don't really need to know what time it is right now. What I need to know is, how much time do I have left?