Movie Marathon Like a Navy SEAL

The Art of Manliness website has a great article on how military special forces pull all-nighters. You know those guys don’t fool around when staying awake all night. While I’ve previously written about how to stay awake during a movie marathon, I’ve learned a few new tips and tricks from this article.

The most useful tidbit is to watch what you eat. Typical movie marathons provide a cornucopia of carbohydrates, fats, sugars, and other delicious ingredients to delight your tastebuds. The military guys say gorging just sets you up for a crash. Eat light, and focus on proteins (jerky, nuts, etc.) to stay full. This will help you avoid the crash carbs and sugars bring. The same goes for your drinks – go sugar-free to avoid the crash.

The second most useful tip is to lay off caffeine prior to the movie marathon. The military guys would say that skipping caffeine the day before the movie marathon, and during the daytime portion of the start of your movie marathon, helps. The Caffeine Informer recommends an even longer period of 2 weeks to 2 months to get a full-body caffeine reset. Regardless of length, skipping caffeine when you don’t need it reduces your body’s tolerance to caffeine, so that it works when you do need it.

Like with the advice for food, spec ops recommends steady dripping the caffeine to avoid a crash. The article indicates 100-150 milligrams every 2-3 hours should do it. That’s a relatively high amount of steady caffeine, per my previous article on caffeine for movie marathons. For comparison purposes, that is one 16-oz McDonald’s Latte every 2-3 hours. I think the key is to start late when you need it, not continuously gulp down 12 lattes throughout the entire marathon.

Strategic napping is also a useful idea. A ninety minute nap is more effective than caffeine at boosting alertness. The recommended nap zone is between 1-3 PM and 1-3 AM. I think napping during the movie marathon itself defeats the purpose (you are trying to stay awake!) – but I like the idea of short naps immediately before the marathon. Sometimes you can’t always get a perfect night’s sleep ahead of time, but just 90 minutes of extra sleep immediately before might be able to give you a good boost in performance.

Other fun facts from the article:

  1. Military energy gum is a thing
  2. Staying up all night can produce a sense of euphoria(!). I knew movie marathons were addictive!

Check out my full article on how to stay awake during a movie marathon so that you too can movie marathon like a pro.

Photo by Jamiecat *

Packing for a Movie Marathon

Packing for a movie marathon
This is what I’m packing for the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan’s 24-hour movie-thon.

I have less than one week to finish packing for a movie marathon! The Children’s Leukemia Foundation’s 24-Hour Movie-Thon in Novi, Michigan is about two hours from where I live, so I need to think carefully about what I bring. There’s no going back once I’m there. Thankfully, years of hard-earned movie marathon experience have given me the grim determination needed to prepare for this moment. Plus, I already had a pretty good idea what to pack since I’ve written about creating a movie marathon survival kit before. Also, I’m going to movie theater, not the Klondike. I think I’ll survive somehow.

Check out what I’m packing:

  • Backpack – I love this trusty backpack. It is designed to carry a laptop and computer accessories. That means it has a ton of pockets, which is perfect for carrying around a weird assortment of movie marathon gear.
  • Floss – Could you imagine anything more devastating than getting a popcorn kernel stuck in your teeth in the first hour of the movie marathon? The next 23 hours would drive you mad!
  • Disposable toothbrush – Yup. One-time-use toothbrushes exist. No need to carry around a tube of toothpaste, or a little plastic bag to put your wet toothbrush in. PRO TIP: Your dentist may give you one of these for free. Just ask!
  • Deodorant – I hope this is self-explanatory. But you never know with film nerds.
  • Moist towelettes – You could describe my skin as “oily”. Maybe even “pimply”. Or perhaps “just plain gross.”. A couple wet wipes should help me achieve that just-out-of-the-shower feeling. Assuming the shower consisted of a damp napkin.
  • MintsLife savers Wint-O-Green is a wonderful economy source of fresh breath. They are cheap and plentiful and you can get a near lifetime supply from Costco.
  • Antacids – Can you think of a single food or drink at a movie theater that doesn’t generate bucketloads of stomach acid? Even if you can, is it really worth eating? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is “No”.
  • Medicine – I take a small pharmacy’s worth of drugs every day. Even 24-hour hour movie marathons doesn’t give me a free pass to skip these.
  • Battery pack, power block, charging cable – How did we ever live without our smart phones? I have no idea, and I plan to keep mine powered throughout the marathon!
  • Notepad and pens – I like writing notes during my movie marathons to share my thoughts on this weblog. Pen and paper do not require power and don’t annoy fellow movie goers.
  • Portable soda – No, I’m not bringing this into the theater. This is for the drive home!
  • Sleeping bag and pillow – I used to think that bringing a blanket, pillow or sleeping bag was just pre-giving up on staying awake during the marathon. I’m seeing things a little differently now. I’m not worried about staying awake during the movie marathon, but what about the two-hour drive home? I have a minivan, so I’m going to bring sleep gear in case I need to sleep in the van right after the marathon. Is it illegal to sleep in the back of a vehicle in a movie theater lot? I guess I’ll find out.

What do you think? Did I forget anything?

Using Outlook as a Movie Marathon Scheduler

I’m looking for the perfect movie marathon scheduler tool. I currently use an Excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet does a fine job, but I still yearn for a drag-and-drop style interface, which can magically import movie information from IMDB, use that data to create an accurate schedule, and then share that schedule quickly and easily via the web.

If I didn’t have a demanding job, 2.5 kids, and a house to maintain, I would build this magical system myself! However, all I have available to me is a few minutes here and there to see if the tools at my disposal can be used for more efficient movie marathon planning.

I own Microsoft Outlook 2010, and it occurred to me that perhaps sliding around appointments in a calendar isn’t just for business purposes. So, I started exploring what it would take to make it a movie marathon scheduler.

Pros and Cons to Using Outlook as a Movie Marathon Scheduler

Here’s a quick summary of what I found.


  1. It’s easy to zoom in and out to make big or small adjustments in the schedule times.
  2. It’s easy to rearrange your schedule using drag-and-drop.
  3. It’s easy to visualize the schedule.
  4. It’s easy to export the schedule to e-mail or Microsoft Word.


  1. There is no easy way to create an appointment by entering movie runtime in minutes.
  2. There is no out-of-the-box method to share your schedule via a website, social media, etc.
  3. Other than e-mail and Microsoft Word, there aren’t many nice data export options.

Still interested? Want more details? Here are the steps I took to set it up.

Setting Up a Movie Marathon Calendar In Outlook

  1. Go to the calendar view in Outlook, right-click and select “New Calendar”
  2. In the Ribbon near the top of your screen, ensure the “Day” view is selected (as opposed to “Week” or “Month” view).
  3. In the little calendar in the upper-left of your screen, select the both the start and end days of your movie marathon. This lets you see the entire movie marathon schedule at a glance.
  4. While working on the schedule, you can zoom in and out of your schedule by right-clicking the timeline shown on the left of your screen, and selecting how big or small you want your time scale.

The screenshot below highlights what you should see, and how to see it.

Setting Up a Movie Marathon Calendar in Outlook

If you prefer to always work in a particular time scale, you can set whatever you like as the default.  Right-click anywhere in your calendar, select “View Settings”, press the “Other Settings” button, and select the default time scale you would like (5 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, whatever).

Creating a Movie Marathon Schedule in Your Outlook Calendar

  1. Create a new appointment for the movie you would like to schedule.
  2. For the subject, type in the name of the movie
  3. For start time, select any arbitrary start time
  4. For end time, manually type a time of day, based on the starting time plus the minutes of movie runtime.
  5. In the description, type in whatever you like to describe the movie. I like to copy and paste movie summaries from IMDB.
  6. Save your appointment, then drag it around in the schedule to find a timeslot that works. Zoom in to a 15-minute time scale to easily schedule movies to start on any quarter hour.

How to Publish a Movie Marathon Schedule Using Outlook

  1. For a quick printout of start and end times, select View => Change View => List, then print the result.
  2. To export to e-mail, select Home => E-mail Calendar (this export is great! It is a beautifully formatted, clickable, and provides multiple levels of detail – see image below!)
  3. To export to Microsoft Word – Outlook does not offer this as a feature. However, if you select “E-mail Calendar” and copy and paste the content into Word, this works just fine.
  4. To export to Microsoft Excel – select File => Options => Advanced => Import / Export. Then select “CSV” or “Excel 2003”. This offers no frills, but gets the date, start time and end time of your movies into Excel.

Movie Marathon Schedule E-mail


After taking a thorough look at Outlook, I might use it to assist with the scheduling of my next movie marathon. Rearranging the schedule by simply sliding the movies around sure is handy, and syncing an Outlook calendar to a Google calendar for sharing is doable. But that is the subject of another article.

Movie Marathon Scheduler for Movie Theaters

I had a great time at my first 24 hour movie marathon in a real theater. But you know what would have helped? A movie marathon scheduler. When you have 18 different movies playing throughout the day at various times, any tool that help you schedule out your own personal marathon sure would have been helpful.

I recently found Its interface is slick and simple – you enter in your zip code, pick a theater, pick what movies you want to see – and bang – a fill-in-the-blanks schedule is created for you. You just slide around the movies you want to see until you create a schedule that works for you. Here is a screenshot.

A sample movie theater marathon schedule.The only drawback is that TheaterTag does not automatically generate working schedules for you. This was a feature of the Movie Madness movie marathon scheduler. Movie Madness automatically generates a large list of possible movie schedules, based on your search criteria. Well, it did anyway – it apparently hasn’t been updated since 2007 and doesn’t work these days.

Regardless, I don’t miss this feature much. I think it is more fun to manually create your own schedule. It helps build the anticipation!

So next time I have a movie marathon in a theater, I’ll be using this tool to plan it all out. I might even use it to plan an extended visit to the theater. I’ve never actually seen more than one movie at a time in a theater before (excluding the one 24-hour marathon)! I think it would be fun to just take a day off sometime and just watch movies all day. No work, no chores, no obligations – just entertainment!

One disclaimer though – I do not endorse theater hopping. If I spend a day at the movies, I’m paying for the experience. Cheating the theater out of money just isn’t my cup of tea.

Movie Marathon Food Tip: Always Order the Largest Pizzas

Supreme pizzaNPR did an analysis and demonstrated that buying the largest size pizza is almost always a better deal than the smaller sizes. This piqued my interest, since movie marathon food should always include pizza as its cornerstone, but I have never before bought the largest possible pizzas.

So I thought I’d do an analysis and see what I would save. Let’s use the prices and sizes of my local pizza place as an example. The large, 14 inch (the size I always order), cheese pizza costs $11.85. The extra-large, 18 inch, cheese pizza costs $14.55.

I’d have to order 1.7 large pizzas to get the same amount of food as one extra-large pizza. If I could somehow order 1.7 large pizzas, it would cost me $20.15. That means I save $5.60 every time I buy an extra-large compared to the equivalent amount of large pizzas.

That adds up for a 24 hour movie marathon! At my last two marathons, I ordered six large pizzas. Let’s assume I paid at least $71.10 for those pizzas. I could have ordered 4 extra-large pizzas for $58.20 instead. That would have me saved $12.90 on my bill, and I would have had the equivalent of 6.8 large pizzas. In other words – I could have been getting almost one more pizza’s worth of food for $13 less!

In the past, I’ve ordered large pizzas for two reasons:

  1. It let me to easily order a variety of pizzas with different toppings
  2. It gave me an easy point-of-reference, since I usually order large pizzas, and I had a good idea of how many large pizza slices people would eat.

For the future, I think I’m going extra-large for some great savings!


  1. There was one counter-point to the original NPR story – don’t buy that much pizza if it’ll go to waste. Point taken.