My roommate (who we shall call A) and I have this concept we call the One Day Internet Expert (Or odie for short, obviously).

We’ve all probably been this. You spend a few hours getting sucked down into a wikipedia spiral or flipping through educational sites and now you know the 20 most important basics (plus random facts) about the history of helicopters or about the methods of tanning leather used in medeival Germany or the genus Hydrochaeris.

It can be fun and fascinating to get dragged into such a knowledge alley and get a tiny glimpse of how interconnected all the pathways are. And then you get to impress your friends with random trivia.

Knowledge is power, but more importantly, knowledge is fun. Knowledge is entertainment. Knowledge is hearty food for your brain to masticate and feel satisfied.

It’s funny to me that people would ever consider that a waste of time, though I understand there’s this urge to be *doing* and in general our culture contrasts learning and doing as two completely different things. It’s like the manmade/nature split or the mind/body split. There’s really no chasm between these two things. Humans are part of nature. The brain is made of flesh. And self-distraction and self-directed learning are both activities that are important to fulfillment and health.

Sometimes I can’t act on these beliefs, myself. When the brain weasels attack, I wind up feeling pretentious for seeking meaning in pop-culture and the pursuit of same. But on my better days I can recognize the utility in it, as well as the entertainment. The brain thrives on making connections and teasing out meanings. It’s a muscle that gets stronger with use.

I used to come up with these mini film-festivals to put on for friends of mine. I’d pick 3 or 4 movies on a theme and folks would come over and watch them and chat about them. I had some centered around a particular actor, but more often, it was a theme like “The Destruction of the Nuclear Family” featuring films with unusual family structures and which addressed the nature of what makes a family, or “The trick is, you have to find the ones without the hoedowns” (hat-tip to Sports Night from which I stole that title) which featured unusual musicals.

I come up with more all the time, though I don’t always have the werewithal to put them on. It takes energy to convince people to show up to your house for 7 solid hours of movies, after all.

Anyway, here are some of the ones I’ve come up with recently:

The “WHAM! Out of nowhere” mini film festival: featuring action films that prominently feature the music of George Michael.
Potential movies include:
– Deadpool
– Keanu
– Atomic Blonde

The “Getting there is delicious” film festival: featuring films where road trips are taken in food trucks.
Potential movies include:
– Chef
– Magic Mike XXL
(This one needs more films, but it’s too good of a theme to let go of.)

The “Skewed Scares” mini fest: movies with horror elements that aren’t horror films:
Potential movies include:
– Warm Bodies
– Fido
– Only Lovers Left Alive

It’s a fun game. Once you come up with a ridiculous thread that connects films, you can start to imagine how they interplay – what themes they have in common, what makes them distinct, the way each of the films in a mini-fest might influence one’s perception of the next, etc.

The fests are the most fun if you can come up with a theme so loose and bizarre it brings together movies that are nothing like one another and then think about how they relate. It’s also just a good excuse to show movies you like, of course. And to make and consume popcorn-based snacks. Not that you need one.