Tuesday, January 26, 2010

THAT IS THE SOUND OF A THOUSAND TERRIBLE THINGS HEADED THIS WAY: During the weekend in the comments, Lou W. introduced us to the unit of measurement known as a "PM" -- "to measure the delta between level of anticipation and amount of suckitude," wherein 1.0 PM measures the degree of disappointment which the release of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace presented upon its release in 1999.

Lou suggested that Prince's "fight song" for the Vikings represented 400 millPM (or, 0.4 PM, depending on which abbreviations you prefer). I think Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" is at least at 0.6-0.7 PM, and Snakes on a Plane was closer to a 0.3 PM. (On the scale, 0.0 PM reflects a cultural work that exactly met expectations -- I Love You, Man perhaps -- with anything exceeding expectations like The Dark Knight going into negative territory.)

I've got nothing else this morning; let's fill out the scale.


  1. Carmichael Harold9:41 AM

    The final Matrix movie was, to me, about a 0.8 (as it both sucked and somehow retroactively destroyed my enjoyment of the earlier movies).   Veronica Mars season 2 would rate around a 0.6 (though that may have more to do with my sky-high expectations rather than the actual quality of the season).  The largest PM I can think of off the top of my head, though, is probably the Eric Lindros-era Flyers, closely followed by the 2002 NFC Championship Game, which would both be at a 1.0.

  2. There's no reason why 1.0 PM should be the limit on this scale; I can see an argument for that last game at the Vet being at 1.1 PM or higher, but then we're blurring the line between this and Simmons' Degrees of Losing scale.

  3. sconstant10:03 AM

    The fakey Beatles "Free As A Bird"  .3 PM

    I don't understand how this works when you're expecting or even rooting for something to suck.  I think Jay Leno's 10 PM show sucked about 1/10th of a PM more than I expected it to, so is that + or - 100mPMs?

  4. Sequels and movies based on books are probably the easiest examples for me to come up with, because they almost never live up to my expectations.  For example, "Back to the Future Part III" is probably over 0.5 since I was so excited for it.  Any John Grisham movie other than "The Firm" will also be close to 1.0 or over. 

    One negative off the top of my head -- I took my wife to a Rod Stewart concert 3 years ago tomorrow as an early Valentine's present with almost no expectations.  I had a ton of fun, probable -0.5 right there.

  5. It's based on a ratio of actual achievement compared to positive expectation; if your expectation was that it would suck and it just sucked a little more, then I think it's 100 mPMs.

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  7. The Pathetic Earthling10:18 AM

    I am, with this, reminded of one particular date in college that was in the 750-850 mPM range.

  8. calliekl10:20 AM

    CH- I would say both the second and the third Matrices were terrible. Huge amounts of disappointment for the movies themselves, plus a cheapening of the first movie.

  9. Dillard10:27 AM

    The Chevy Chase Show : .5PM
    Batman Returns : .2PM
    Joey : .75PM

    Given that HBO's "Band of Brothers" was probably -1.0PM I'm really hoping that "The Pacific" doesn't venture into positive territory, although I'm probably setting myself up for it.

  10. Meghan10:37 AM

    From the previews, I completely thought that The Hangover would be just awful and a complete financial bust.  After having finally seen it (and been wary that it wouldn't live up to the hype), I'm moving into negative territory from my initial expectation.  That was a funny movie.  I would also put The Time Traveler's Wife into the negative since I expected it would be wretched but it wasn't so bad.

    I'm going against the grain here but I'm giving Glee a .1PM.  It's not awful but I'd heard so much good about it and...eh.

  11. sconstant10:40 AM

    But if I want something to suck, and it's even worse than I expect, that's positive, and so I think it should be -100mPM. 

    Possibly this is just a situation that doesn't translate well to the PM domain.

  12. Andrew10:41 AM

    The Mets epic collapse at the end of the 2007 season was probably a 3.0 PM. And the following year, the last game at Shea Stadium, where they had to opportunity to make the playoffs by winning against the Marlins, was probably still 0.7 PM. 

  13. I'll be forward-looking and predict that the Apple tablet will be a 0.3PM to 0.4PM, and there will be a direct relationship between PM and price.

    I figure this is an appropriate topic as Apple launches are as much pop culture events as they are technology events.

  14. J. Bowman10:53 AM

    I think this scale says almost as much about your own expectations of an event as it does about the event itself. Avatar, for instance, rates about 0.05 PM for me; I expected awesome effects wrapped around a predictable story with one-dimensional characters that I didn't care about, and I got it, plus lousy dialogue and a few head-scratching plot holes. The Usual Suspects, on the other hand, gets a -1; I was dragged to a movie I hadn't heard of, assumed it would be terrible, and left thinking I'd seen the Best Movie Evir. The Barenaked Ladies concert I went to at Holy Cross gets a .6 - it would be .9, because G-Love also played a crummy set, but the 45 Minutes Of Awesome that was KRS-One cancels that out.

  15. Carmichael Harold10:55 AM

    callie, I was debating whether the second Matrix belonged on this scale, and I realized that the presence of the third movie made it hard for me to remember whether I liked the second movie at the time or not.  My best guess at my at-the-time experience was that I found the second movie to be ok, mainly because I thought it set up a potentially very interesting third movie.  I was wrong.

  16. Marsha11:06 AM

    It will be interesting to see what people's PM ratings of the Lost finale are.

    The Shawshank Redemption gets a -0.5 PM for me - having loved the book so much, I assumed they'd ruin it as they have so many other Stephen King stories. They definitely didn't ruin it, but the movie can't go further into neg territory beyond -0.5 PM because of the last 30 seconds of the movie, which were wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

    Terminator 2 is probably my biggest negative PM of -0.9. Thought I was going to see another stupid mess of an action movie like all the other ones my boyfriend dragged me to. Ended up one of my favorite movies of all time.

    Season 2 of Gossip Girl:  0.1PM
    Like Water for Chocolate (book): 0.3PM
    Dollhouse first few episodes: 0.4PM
    Dollhouse end of season 1 and all of season 2: -0.6PM

  17. Eric J.11:17 AM

    Watchmen the movie: .5PM
    The last year of Doctor Who: .3PM
    Torchwood Children of Earth: -.3PM
    The Matrix (Original Recipe): -.8PM (Hey, there are two movies coming out this summer about Virtual Reality headtrips. One is directed by David Croenenberg, the other stars Keanu Reeves. Which do you think will be better?)

  18. Neato Torpedo11:18 AM

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:  1.2 PM.  After leaving the theater, my friend asked me if I'd just seen a dog get hit by a car.

  19. -0.8 First Terminator movie. This wins the title for "lowest expectations for a movie I paid actual money for"
    +0.6 Playing Wii for the first time this Christmas
    +0.3 "The Magicians," Lev Grossman
    -1.0 Foie gras milkshake (original Blais version had at ONE.midtown)
    +0.4 Foie gras milkshake (Flip version)
    +1.0 Biscuits from the Flying Biscuit. Not the worst biscuits ever, but easily the worst biscuits from a restaurant with biscuits in the name.

  20. Heather K11:34 AM

    Double agreed.

  21. Well, I think there's a definitional question I think Lou needs to guide us on -- I assume we're talking about expectatation at the time of learning of the concept of the work, or at least "at all points before we start reading reviews."  Because once the Crystal Skull reviews started coming in, that lowers the PM.

  22. Spiderman 3 has to be .8 or .9.  For as great as Spiderman 2 was, 3 was so bad it actually killed the entire Raimi/Maguire series.

    Childhood hero Dan Marino's last game against the Jaguars by a score I will not type: .7

    Funny People: .4 or .5

    Inglourious Basterds is in the negative PM for me, because I was expecting nothing and loved it.

  23. I strongly disliked "Inglourious Basterds," but am resigned to the fact that it's one of the 10 nominations for Best Picture.

    And I think Snakes on A Plane may actuall be a perfect 0.  It delivered pretty much exactly what one would expect--mf'ing snakes on a mf'ing plane, and SLJ expressing his distaste for said snakes.

  24. Alex Gordon12:12 PM

    Along the IB mention, I think Kill Bill, both volumes, are my biggest negative PMs, probably along the lines of -.5. Of recent vintage, every successive season of Heroes grows in PM compared to the first. The Seinfeld series finale would also be a positive PM, while I would give this season of Curb a negative PM.

  25. Jordan12:22 PM

    I think the finale of season 3 of Lost has to be a perfect -1.  I remember watching it with my roommates, all being fed up with the show's progress and some ready to quit, and then just staring there in silence for a solid two minutes at the end.

  26. calliekl12:37 PM

    The Segway had a pretty high PM for me, especially because as a FIRST participant, I held Dean Kamen in pretty high regard.

    I'd say the 2nd season of Heroes was a 0.9PM. Mad Men was a -1 for me.

  27. Adam C.12:42 PM

    Springsteen and the E Street Band, Amensty Int'l Human Rights Now! tour, JFK Stadium, 1988: -2.5 PM, impressive considering my expectation level was already through the roof for my first Bruce show.
    Springsteen's simultaneously released Human Touch and Lucky Town albums, 1992: 0.6 PM.
    Springsteen's 1st SNL appearance (with The Fake Band), 1992:  0.75 PM, complete with my jaw agape after first number.

  28. Adam C.12:44 PM

    On the SLJ front, Deep Blue Sea is firmly in negative PM territory -- I'd say at least -0.8

  29. I'm going to give Star Wars Episode III a -0.9PM.  Expected nothing after how terrible Episodes I and II were, and III turned out to be pretty good.

    New Domino's pizza:  -0.7PM.  It's really not bad.

  30. tortoiseshelly1:43 PM

    Unless your date spoke to you using a sock puppet, too, I think I may have your bad date beat. 900 mPM.

  31. Scott1:57 PM

    +1 When the rumors of Indy 3 first started trickling out, my expectations were off the charts.  By the time I saw it, I expected it to suck, but went to see it anyway in case it might be fun.  Sucked even worse than I expected.  Therefore, less than, but close to, 1.0 PM.

  32. Scott1:58 PM

    Agreed on Dollhouse.  Season 1 was such a let down.  These last few episodes, however, have been divine.

  33. Heather K2:06 PM

    Castle made a mother freaking snakes on a mother freaking plane joke/reference last night.  And it wasn't even made by Castle.

  34. Sherlock Holmes:  .2PM.  I expected it to be bad, I just didn't expect it to be unenjoyable.  Conversely, Twilight: -.2PM.  Surprisingly watchable.  

  35. Bobcat2:12 PM

    Fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons: .5 PMs. It's just World of Warcraft without the graphics. 

  36. Jenn.2:21 PM

    Me:  Why are we still watching Heroes?

    Boyrfriend:  [Insert character] is a moron.  Do you know how you know [insert character] is a moron?  Because s/he is on Heroes.

  37. patricia3:02 PM

    Sign on to the 1.0 for Flying Biscuit biscuits.  So, so disappointing.

  38. Jenn.3:31 PM

    Can't agree on the Flying Biscuit biscuits.  I love them.  Granted, they are on the sweet side of biscuits rather than savory, but I'm down with that.

  39. Dillard4:09 PM

    A couple more (related) items:

    Seinfeld Finale .8PM
    Curb Your Enthusiasm Finale 0 PM

  40. GracieGirl4:48 PM

    "the last 30 seconds of the movie, which were wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong"

    Yes.  Yesyesyes.  A thousand percent yes.  Yes.  Thank you.  Yes.

  41. Jenn.5:07 PM

    I refused to see it, and I don't know that I can honestly say that it would have caused me all that much disappointment, as my immediate thought upon hearing about it was that The Last Crusade perfectly ended the trilogy, and any attempt to revive the franchise stood a good chance of sucking.

  42. GracieGirl5:17 PM

    Twilight (the novel):  .3PM.  I was hoping for a fun and frothy read with cool vampire action, but instead got insufferable, mopey teen-angst.

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the movie):  .75PM.  Would have scored higher, but I'd already lowered my expectations after the first movie. 
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the movie):  -.75PM.  God bless you, Alfonso Cuaron.

    The Eiffel Tower:  -1.0PM.  It may help that, due to a foot injury, I was trapped on an open-topped, double-decker bus and did not have to deal with the crowd on the ground and at the tower itself.  I had pretty high expectations for my long-awaited first trip to Europe and my first sighting of ET not only met, but exceeded them wonderfully.

  43. patricia6:22 PM

    Avatar actually surprised me with a -0.5 for me.  I expected all that you did and to hate it because of all that, and found myself really enjoying it despite myself.  Yes, I see the plot holes, yes I rolled my eyes at the terrible dialogue, and yes, I appreciate the stupid industrial vs. nature stereotypes that were cliched throughout.  And yet I enjoyed it.  A lot.

  44. Marsha6:45 PM

    GracieGirl, you may be the first person I've ever met who not only instantly knew what I was talking about, but who agreed with me. Thank you!

  45. Adam, interesting question.  Is the delta between peak anticipation and disapointment, or between immediately before and after the event.  I was assuming the latter, because the goal is to identify when the suckitude hits you hardest.  For example, I haven't even seen Indy 4 due to the bad reviews, but at one point was very excited about it.  If I saw it, and it sucked, I'd give it a ~0PM.

  46. Oooh, good one.  The Segway was definately a pretty high PM (maybe ~.5, as I wasn't passionately enthusiastic), but yeah, what a disapointment.

  47. Fascinating.  I give 4th Edition -.3PM.  I was optimistic, but it definately exceeded my expectations.  It helps that I have little kids who play WoW, and 4th Edition was much easier to teach than 3rd Edition had been.

  48. I also don't love the biscuits there. More disappointed by the biscuits at the Loveless Cafe [which, admittedly, doesn't have biscuits in the title].

  49. Also, does this mean I shouldn't get the foie gras milkshake at Flip? Or were you just underwhelmed by the fact that it was inferior to the original version?

  50. To begin with, Tuesday's suck.  It's the one day I have limited browsing time at work so I didn't even see this post until tonight.  Grrrr, arg!  I'm still going to give my thoughts!

    Second, I don't think sporting events are well measured using this scale, Simmons' Levels of Losing are more appropriate for the subtle distinctions between tough losses.  For example, Sunday's NFC Championship was a Level 3 Stomach Punch game (I know, because its been 48 hours and my stomach still hurts when I think about it...every 90 seconds...).  But I couldn't give it a realistic PM rating, becuase no matter how devestating the loss, and no matter how excited I was about the game, deep in my heart I never believed the Vikings were going to win.

    Third, I'm proud that after 3 days of thinking about it the Phantom Menace still defines the top of the scale for me.  It's nice that I've been slamming the movie for years for good reason.  My wife took a few hours to answer the question finally coming up with The Sims 3, and damn, I have to say that for her, she's right.  She waited for it for over a year, pre-ordered it, and spent 3 days getting more and more frustrated before putting it away for good.

    Fourth, the negative PM rating is a great idea, and I'm stuck on what it might be.  It could be the Princess Bride, which I thought looked like a stupid girl movie and turned out to be one of my threefavorite movies ever.  But I'm not sure I really thought it was going to suck, just to be lame.  Buffy, of course, sounded like a crazy idea for a show, and I'd seen the movie and gave it a C-, but my first episode was The Pack, which was great, although the peak of the show was well down the road, so I don't think I felt that rush of discovery.  I'll keep thinking about it.

  51. The Pathetic Earthling12:41 AM

    Wow.  Yes.  Yes you do.

  52. bill.4:43 AM

    Mostly underwhelmed -- it wasn't horrible, just didn't think it was worth paying an extra $3 over the other already pricey shakes. It was still better than the Flying Biscuit biscuits.

  53. bill.4:47 AM

    I have experienced no sweetness in any of their biscuits. Flavorless bricks reminescent of a Royal Navy cruise about day 88, circa 1843. And that's one fresh out of the oven.

  54. bill.9:36 AM

    I screwed up. For some reason I thought this was the second Indiana Jones movie. Hate that thing. I've never bothered to watch Crystal Skull, my expectations were so low.

  55. GracieGirl3:47 PM

    You're welcome, Marsha!  It's nice to know I'm not the only one who grumps about that.