Sourcelight I

Using winter break to clear out some old blog entries that I started but never finished.

Netflix, the DVD rental-by-mail outfit, offers a movie recommender. I used it for about a year before it went into a software update that took forever. During that time, I subscribed to Netflix for four months before deciding that I couldn't afford the service. Maybe I'll try again in the future.

Netflix had a couple of interesting quirks that were new to me. First, there recommendations were ranked so that the top of the list would be the discs where my prediction was most positively variant than the average prediction. So, a film that was rated very poorly by the average population, but moderately well by my aesthetic neighbors, a movie such as Firehouse, would end up at the top of my recommendations list.

The other interesting thing about the Netflix recommender was its rating scale. On a 1-5 star scale, three was slightly positive, and two stars was the neutral rating. I think a zero-rating was also possible, but this allowed for more granularity in positive ratings then negative ratings.

The Netflix recommender was out-of-commission a great deal of the time. I'm pretty sure that they have made significant changes to the recommendation engine, but, to be honest, they also made it nearly impossible for non-subscribers to reach the rating system not long after I bailed on Netflix. But interestingly enough, Blockbuster had also installed a ratings system.


Theme I: The Fat Lady

In the lst 18 months, I had the odd sensation of watching my BMI creep down from the "obese" classification to "overweight." I'm not entirely sure how this happened, though it probably has something to do with being happier about what I'm doing with my life, combined with the fact that I no longer work within 25 feet of vending machines.

During that span, I also read three novels about three women who are overweight.

  • Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
  • Too Much Temptation by Lori Foster
  • Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Now, the knock on romances featuring the zaftig is that they usually feature weight loss as a positive experience, a sign that the woman has turned the corner and made the right decisions in their lives. Not so with these three.

Good in Bed is not so much of a typical romance. It features Cannie, an entertainment reporter working for a Philadelphia newspaper. Cannie is big, but she doesn't let it bother her until she experiences a semi-self-inflicted crisis of confidence. Even though Cannie seeks to lose weight as a balm to her relationship woes, it doesn't happen, and her life starts pulling together. When the drop in pounds finally happens, it is portrayed as unhealthy, the result of emotional shock.

Too Much Temptation plays much more like the typical romance novel. Grace doesn't let her weight alter her own self-image as a person, but, like Cannie, she assumes that it will handicap her own mating prospects. When some handsome rogue takes an interest in her, she doesn't lose a thing except for her inhibitions.

Finally, Bet Me is probably the most fun of these. Minerva is overweight, and has a mother who does not fail to remind her of the fact. As Calvin falls for her, he feeds her Krispy Kremes and chicken marsala. Take that, Mom. This is the book I recommend of the three, if simply because Crusie is the best of these three authors at banging out hilarious dialog.

I think I've reached the point where any further weight loss is going to require some actual work on my part, and it would probably be a good thing. But, in other ways, I've already got my happy ending.