On the most recent episode of The Canon, movie critic Devin Faraci referred to Aliens as one of his "vacuum cleaner movies" β€” a movie he enjoys, but can leave on in the background while attending to household chores and other activities, only pausing occasionally to take in a particular scene or line of dialogue. With that in mind β€” and speaking as someone who's planning on getting some spring cleaning done this week β€” what are your "vacuum cleaner" movies or TV shows? (Or podcasts?) Things that you like, and know pretty well, but can enjoy as random background noise almost as much as you can with your full attention.

For me, I'd have to say it's MST3K, preferably the Joel Era with Beaulieu and Murphy. There's something very relaxed and easygoing about those shows that makes it easy to concentrate on the task at hand, like your buddies are hanging out in the other room. I got through a good chunk of my senior year of college and grad school with "Mitchell" or "Cave Dwellers" or "Fugitive Alien" running off a VHS tape in the background. I'm also partial to the first five or six seasons of The Simpsons, which I still know frighteningly well β€” even if I'm not watching, I find myself able to focus on the voices in the heart, and not the voices in my head, like a certain uncle did one gray November morn. I've also used old SNL reruns, though the unexpurgated versions from the '70s can get pretty soporific. (Especially that one early show that was like 80% Paul Simon.)

I tend not to listen to podcasts while working, because I find that I often miss some special detail or argument. But I do find it easier to work with Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster's Best Show sketches playing in the background. They have a slow-burn quality in which the humor gradually escalates into ridiculousness over a lengthy period of time, which makes it easy to get a lot of stuff done. And I just got this ridiculous box set in the mail as a late birthday present, so I expect to be super-productive!


So what's your white noise jam? (Note: I left out music because generally I find that only works if I have a very specific task at hand, like, I bet I can finish the rest of this boring book in the time it takes to get through Exile on Main St.)