Metatalktail Hour: Off the grid, on the list 🏝 August 13, 2022 1:59 AM   Subscribe

Happy weekend, everyone! For our chat this week, is it too old fashioned to ask the classic "desert island" question? Because I'd love to hear about people's resilient faves.

Let's do it. So you're stranded alone on a desert island*, see, and you can have only one each of the following things to entertain yourself:

  • Book
  • Book series
  • Film
  • TV series
  • Album
  • Game
  • Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube
  • Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice

What do you choose?

* magical rules of desert island faves apply; ie you somehow have electricity and means to access just one web site, but no other, and so on.

Or just tell us what's going on with you, how your day is going, what cool thing you saw or did recently, but no politics, please!
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 1:59 AM (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite


Book - Don Quixote
Book series - the Rabbi mysteries by Harry Kemelman? That's kind of a dart throw, but I find them comforting.
Film - The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension!, which is kind of 12 movies in one.
TV series - OG Twilight Zone, partly because there's so many of 'em
Album - Faith No More, Angel Dust
Game - Probably MTG Arena, assuming Island Magic lets me connect to people off the island
Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube - MetaFilter, although not being able to see the sites it connects to would be a pain.
Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice - A pack canoe. Not to escape, I just like canoeing.
posted by Shepherd at 2:32 AM on August 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Book - Carpentaria because I'd have enough time to finally understand most of the nuances.
Book series - Britannica just the facts ma'am.
Film - Cloud Atlas for dreaming of future hopes
TV series - Neighbours (the whole 37 seasons for a sense of family while isolated on DI)
Album - Wakeman's Journey to the Centre of the Earth intimate yet majestic
Game - Chess with the time to get really good at it again
Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube - metasomething idk
Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice - leather work with unlimited supplies.
posted by Thella at 3:06 AM on August 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Book - The Butcher Boy - Patrick McCabe
Book series - Georgette Heyer's Regency and Georgian novels
Film - Brazil
TV series - Six Feet Under
Album - Stories From the City, Stories from the Sea - PJ Harvey
Game - Tetris
Website - oh, you know
Unlisted - every recipe site ever
posted by h00py at 5:58 AM on August 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Book - JR (I've never read it but loved the Recognitions and never had the time to start)
Book series - book of the new sun (not my all time fav but long enough and lots to dig into)
Film - Cemetery of Splendour (so chill)
TV series - Seinfeld
Album - I don't listen to music so pass
Game - Pixel Dungeon (the original, I'm a purist, and it is endlessly replayable)
Website - Wikihow (it would probably come in handy explaining how to open coconuts and stuff)
Unlisted - my Garmin (although I haven't been running much recently, I assume I would have a lot of time on my hands on a desert island)
posted by Literaryhero at 6:13 AM on August 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Not to abuse the edit window, but most of my answers weren't for my favorite things. I tried to balance stuff I liked with quantity. So like as a middle aged American, Seinfeld was very popular with me. Maybe not my favorite, but it has nine seasons and nearly 200 episodes, which makes it more appealing than Better Off Ted, which I might have liked more but with three paltry seasons it would get old fast.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:16 AM on August 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Book - Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, maybe? That, or Schismatrix Plus

Book Series - Dune? At least the first four books. I have read the last two, and, well, I'm good.

TV series - Simpsons. I haven't really seen new episodes in the last ten to fifteen years, so I'd have some catching up to do.

Album - Tallahassee by Mountain Goats. In case the Simpsons makes me too cheerful

Game - SSX, the one with the free ride mountain, where you drop in from a helicopter, and snowboard down the mountain however you feel.

Website - Probably this one, since I'll have questions that I won't know how to answer. Failing that, Defector, or a really thorough sports site to keep up with games.

Food - (not asked, but seriously, if I can just have ga pao every day, I'll be good.

Beer - Bagby's Gotta Pay the Pils. Best pilsner I've ever had, could enjoy that forever. Also, it's a desert island, so I'm assuming I would want something simple and refreshing, and that the island magic that powers the website and games also comes with a refrigerator.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Well, during the pandemic we watched all of Star Trek Deep Espacio 9 to practice Spanish. So that, apparently.
posted by aniola at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Suggest we edit the prompt for single web site to "two web sites one of which has to be Metafilter".
posted by Mitheral at 10:29 AM on August 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Book - Opsterlands, by Battus. Not so much a book as a collection of language-related quirkyness, train-of-thought stuff, wordplay and writing exercises like short stories that don't contain a particular vowel.

Book series - Len Deighton's Bernard Samson triple trilogy plus the closely related Winter.

Film - Der Himmel über Berlin.

TV series - Wondere Wereld, a 1980's view of the future (of which quite a few came true, others didn't or maybe haven't yet)

Album - Rammstein, Rosenrot

Game - Angband

Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube - Why do you even ask?

Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice - A bunch of electronic components and a soldering iron.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:54 AM on August 13, 2022

Book: A very thick blank notebook.
Book series: Modern Poetry in Translation (strictly speaking a magazine, but one with book-sized issues).
Film: Funny Face.
TV series: Twin Peaks.
Album: Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians.
Game: A pack of playing cards for Patience/Solitaire.
Website: - or, if that's not allowed, Project Gutenberg.
Unlisted: pens & ink or pencils (see Book).
posted by misteraitch at 12:13 PM on August 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Book Series: Chemical Abstracts, so I would be able to use them to make a bridge to other islands.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:15 PM on August 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

So I hear there's this one guy suddenly showing up on other people's islands being all, "hey, hi, well, all I have are these Chemical Abstracts issues, but do you mind if I watch Star Trek Deep Espacio 9 with you?"
posted by taz (staff) at 12:30 PM on August 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Book - Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Book series - the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers
Film - Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
TV series - The West Wing
Album - Verdi's La Traviata (Ileana Cotrubas, Placido Domingo)
Game - whichever of the Assassin's Creed that has the best open exploration mode
Website - reddit
Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice - a *really* good fan, so I can sleep comfortably
posted by alchemist at 12:48 PM on August 13, 2022

Book - A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Book series - Calvin and Hobbes
Film - Everything Everywhere All At Once
TV series - The Simpsons
Album - Ignorance Is Bliss by Face to Face
Game - Tennis (my magical island has a full tennis court with a brick wall at one end)
Website - Reddit
Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice - a deck of cards
posted by Twicketface at 2:27 PM on August 13, 2022

But the horrible thing about choosing MetaFilter as your website is that, presumably, you wouldn't be able to read any of the linked materials? That would be maddening.

However, how anyone could survive on a desert island WITHOUT AskMe, I can't imagine. Thank goodness the question limit has been lifted!

I'll have to give all the other categories some thought, but after just a few seconds mulling, I realized my TV series would have to be Mister Rogers. (Literaryhero: 912 episodes! Never gets boring.)
posted by kristi at 3:28 PM on August 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Book - Robinson Crusoe
Book series - Earthsea
Film - Fantasy Island
Album - Calypso by Harry Belafonte
Film series- Victory at Sea
Game - Battleship
Website - NOAA
posted by clavdivs at 3:36 PM on August 13, 2022 [2 favorites]
posted by aniola at 3:41 PM on August 13, 2022

Book series - the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers

I have been reading and re-reading these for like a year now, and I am so done with Earth, and can I please just move to the Exodus Fleet already?
posted by Daily Alice at 6:13 PM on August 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

TV series - Neighbours (the whole 37 seasons for a sense of family while isolated on DI)

That’s exactly why I was thinking Arrested Development.
posted by bendy at 6:22 PM on August 13, 2022

Book: Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
Book series: Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet
Film: Edge of Tomorrow aka Live Die Repeat
TV series: Orphan Black
Album: Meeting by the river / Ry cooder and Vishwamohan Bhatt
Game: Go/ Baduk / Weiqi
Website: Biodiversity Heritage Library
Unlisted: Notebook
posted by dhruva at 7:10 PM on August 13, 2022

Fishing equipment, snorkel and fins, all electric kitchen, sidekick. The Expanse books.
posted by Oyéah at 7:25 PM on August 13, 2022

Book: Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
Book series: Tove Jansson's Moomin books
Film: Waking Life
TV series: Maybe Hill Street Blues? My husband and I are watching it with our daughter and it's interesting how well it holds up after all these years. I love how chaotic it is.
Album: Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
Game: Magnetic Poetry. Maybe it's not really a game but I'm taking it and you can't stop me.
Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube:
Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice: binoculars
posted by Redstart at 8:23 PM on August 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

* Book— complete works of Shakespeare
* Book series—Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
* Film—Double Indemnity
* TV series—The Colbert Report
* Album—Bruce Springsteen “The Collection 1973–1984”
* Game—deck of playing cards
* Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube— Library of Congress
* Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice— radio with unlimited range
posted by calgirl at 8:25 PM on August 13, 2022

A lot of this is going to seem like old white dude stuff, but I’m an old white dude, so read this through that lens. I know a lot of what I love has become problematic as the years have worn on, and it’s been difficult for me to temper my love for a piece of art with the unvarnished truths and revelations about the creators.

Book: Ok, this isn’t fair. Moby Dick? Under The Volcano? A Confederacy of Dunces? In Watermelon Sugar? The Happy Birthday of Death? I would have to close my eyes and grab from a pile of favorites.
Book series: Gunter Grass’ Danzig Trilogy? It’s the only series I can think of that I’ve read besides Tolkien and I’m thoroughly overloaded with LOTR.
Film: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
TV series: Star Trek TOS
Album: Also, not fair. I don’t have a favorite album- there’s too many. Either Grace or Skylarking would have to fill a deep hole.
Game: Scrabble, though I suck at it. I would have an opponent, right?
Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube: (for reasons stated at
Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice: An acoustic guitar so I could create music.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:40 PM on August 13, 2022

The Kleptones A Night At The Hip Hopera : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Seriously sit through it if you haven't before. It's like masterful sampling mixup matchup that there's like *everything* in there.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:11 PM on August 13, 2022

I am, it turns out, kind of stranded on a desert island at the moment. I woke about 18 hours ago to a voice mail from my doctor telling me, in his very mild way of saying so, to go the fuck to the ER right the fuck now.

I was abruptly separated from my family at the door. I will remain separated from them until discharged.

In my possession is a pretty nice iPad with the vendor's sort of mediocre-at-best keyboard case. The hospital's wifi is surprisingly stable, however the speed of its connection to the actual internet is not very impressive at all. As a result I've kind of teleported to a desert island where there is access to 2003 grade internet: text and images, audio, and for the most part video is not a thing.

Apparently my desert island item is, in fact, a relatively reliable 2-ish megabit per second connection to the internet with sufficiently traversable NAT to get to my overlay network. At that point I'm halfway home, anyway.

I wrote my wife a funny letter and left it on the printer downstairs.

As for the rest of my time on the island? I've got my thoughts, a keyboard, and a properly configured copy of vim. I don't really need much else for a while and if I do, well, our entire music collection lives on the overlay network, too.
posted by majick at 1:57 AM on August 14, 2022 [10 favorites]

Shakes coconut out of palm tree on desert island,
smacks it open,
toasts majick's health with the milk.
posted by Cranberry at 2:28 AM on August 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

Lol majick I get the spirit and intent hopefully. I actually factually came home one day after a blood test to a message on the phone from my doctor telling me to get back to the hospital or call an ambulance if necessary or I'll probably be dead by morning. It's a full on story that there. I was in the ICU by midnight and getting getting a giant fucking catheter shoved up my pee hole and IV's shoved into my arms. It was a couple days and then a few weeks of not knowing whether I would live or die. I got better. It's actually a fun story.

I'm amused at how close you got. I've been there, done that.

Haha extra... I'm one of the few actually providing the Internet to the hospital. Oh the fucking irony. Jolly good show.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:29 AM on August 14, 2022 [6 favorites]

Hugs, majick. I'm sorry about this desert island experience, but we are here for you. <3
posted by taz (staff) at 2:38 AM on August 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh gosh. Best wishes, majick.

I don't have desert island faves, but I do have a complaint: the city took my street tree this week. My big, decades-old shade tree that looked, to a layperson's eye, perfectly healthy. We had a few days notice and then on Tuesday two workers came with chainsaws. It's the kind of loss I can't avoid; even if I don't look at the spot where the tree was, in the light levels in my house its absence is eloquent. Neighbors we hadn't spoken to in months stop us on the sidewalk to offer their condolences. Life is just a little bit worse now.
posted by eirias at 6:08 AM on August 14, 2022 [6 favorites]

I'm so sorry for the loss of your tree. We recently suffered a similar such loss suddenly, unjustly, and somewhat criminally. It's hard to look at a place and think, "a tree is supposed to be there" or "this used to be shaded." Life is indeed a little bit worse as a result.
posted by majick at 6:21 AM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Book: Kurt Vonnegut - God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Book series: Larry Niven's Known Space
Film: Terry Gilliam - Brazil
TV series: Star Trek: TNG
Album: Loud Family - Interbabe Concern
Game: We ♥ Katamari (unlike the other categories, an easy, easy choice)
Website: MetaFilter
Unlisted: a guitar

For the most part I wouldn't try to make the case that these are the greatest of all time, but formative stuff that's stuck with me through the years...

Also I'll steal Ghidorah's idea for food, I could likewise eat ga pao every day. (There's a guy at my office who does eat it every day, at the same restaurant!)
posted by equalpants at 6:48 AM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Aaaaaaaargh! Don't make me chooooooooose! OK well if I really have to.

Book: Nope can't just choose one. Treasure Island? The Thirteen Clocks? Piranesi? A Close and Common Orbit? The Summer Book? Nope can't choose.

Book series: Arthur Ransome's "Swallow & Amazons"

Film: Spirited Away

TV series: Frasier

Album: Scott Joplin The Red Back Book

Game: Forbidden Desert

Website: of course!!!

Is a dog an item?
posted by Zumbador at 7:08 AM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Is a dog an item?

posted by Greg_Ace at 11:02 AM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Book: Dorothy Dunnett's King Hereafter, which is dense and allusive and complex and I haven't read it in over twenty years. Would take a long time to read and is worthy of rereading.

Book series: Aubrey/Maturin. Again with the justifying rereading. Also there's 20!

Film: for a change of pace, Much Ado About Nothing, the one with Emma Thompson looking incredibly radiant.

TV series: all of Doctor Who, that'll keep me occupied.

Album: Emmylou Harris' Red Dirt Girl. Such a great album.

Game: a pack of cards

Website: AO3. I'll never lack for reading material!

Unlisted: if I can't have my dog, a blank notebook and a book about teaching yourself to draw...
posted by suelac at 1:08 PM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Film: for a change of pace, Much Ado About Nothing, the one with Emma Thompson looking incredibly radiant.

Doesn't she just?

Also a big thumbs up on Aubrey/Maturin.

You and I would be good desert island companions, suelac. I could read out loud to you while you were sketching.
posted by Well I never at 1:50 PM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Book some gigantic poetry collection, all kinds
Book series Oxford History of the United States
Film Tampopo
TV series The Americans
Album Live in Montreal (Hiromi & Edmar Castaneda)
Game pack of cards
Website MetaFilter
Unlisted cats
posted by kingless at 5:09 PM on August 14, 2022

Book: Reminiscences of a Stock Operator
Book series: The Great Brain
Film: Taxi Driver, 12 Angry Men, or It's a Wonderful Life
TV series: Hogan's Heroes
Album: Europe '72 (Grateful Dead)
Game: Baseball (Not a video gamer obviously)
Website that's not Wikipedia or Youtube: This site. Not sure what to call it.
Unlisted (entertainment or hobby) item of your choice: Baseball glove and baseball.
Other: An unopened beer. Even if I found a way to open it, and there is ALWAYS a way to open it, I would leave it closed and unopened as a symbol of hope, as future reward, as a way to tell myself that this too will get better.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:01 PM on August 14, 2022

I would take my copy of the iching as if I'm going somewhere where I'll be doing a lot of thinking let me take something that might help me think.
posted by bleep at 9:37 PM on August 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Zumbador, I love that you selected AskMe specifically.

Is it safe to eat this unrefrigerated coconut?
Help me find this book I read once containing a diagram of the Kon-Tiki
Stranded for three years -- reassure me my MIL is still wrong
posted by eirias at 10:49 AM on August 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

Thank you for the wishes of wellness. I bear good tidings: I've been sprung.
posted by majick at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

I've been sprung.

I imagine that put a bounce in your step!
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:34 PM on August 16, 2022

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