Sunday, March 31, 2019

Rethinking How I Watch Movies

Of late, I've been watching movies over multiple evenings. I watch a movie for an hour or so, then after a scene change, I'll stop it. I usually resume watching it the next day. I've been doing this for the past few years, but I really embraced it last year, to the tune of almost 80 movies.

It's a form of time management, but one that required a change in thinking on my part. When I was growing up, I feasted on movies. I would sometimes spend entire days at the theater, watching the same movie twice, or sneaking into the next theater to catch part of another movie. All through college and my early 20s I was a fan of the movie-going experience, and sitting through its entirety was something I took for granted.

Fast-forward to my middle age, and the infinite free time I had when I was a callow youth is gone. It's hard enough making time for a proper two hour movie let alone spending a whole day watching multiple movies.

A former co-worker was the first to suggest watching movies over multiple sittings. I remembering complaining about the length of the Lord of the Rings movies and he said "Just watch it an hour at a time." This makes perfect sense! After all, we don't read books in one sitting.

I still get to the theater, but it has to be for something that is a consensus theatrical epic. For the most part, though, I've let go my fixation for the single-sitting rule. Now I'm happily surprised when a movie is so compelling that I will sit through it all at once!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Cars of My Life

I first learned to drive with my Dad's Chevrolet Chevelle in the mid 1980s. It was long, it was blue, and towards the end of its existence it belched out blue exhaust smoke at random. I remember many afternoons with my Dad practicing parallel parking over and over between two traffic cones.

Our family traded up from the Chevelle into a generic Chevrolet conversion van, complete with a manual sliding door and a ladder to get to the roof. We drove this car across the country, wearing out its single cassette player. I was excited when I drove for a few hours on those long rides.

When I left for college and beyond, I inherited the family sedan, a blue Nissan Sentra. (My parents bought a red Sentra to replace it.) I shared the car with my wife in the 1990s after we moved to the suburbs. I drove the Sentra until small holes started to emerge in the trunk and back-seat wheel wells due to rust.

In 2000, using a little dot-com money, I bought a used Audi A4. It remains my favorite car. It was sleek yet muscular. I loved that you could lower the windows by rotating the key counter-clockwise in the door lock. I also loved its red interior lights. I gave up the car after one too many engine start problems and a persistent water leak.

In 2006, I bought a Subaru Legacy. This car is completely nondescript but is thoroughly reliable. The all-wheel drive has paid for itself over many winters up and down our hilly neighborhood. I taught my daughter how to drive with this car. It might not be flashy, but as long as it's drivable, I'll be keeping it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

My 2018 Books and Movies

In 2018, I finished 31 books and watched 79 movies.

My favorite fiction book from last year was Fatherland, by Robert Harris. It's crime-fiction set in a Germany that won World War II. I enjoyed the pace and the voice of the detective protagonist, Xavier March. Other favorites deserving mention: Bruno, Chief of Police, by Martin Walker and Signs Preceding the End of the World, by Yuri Herrera.

For non-fiction, I very much liked Skyfaring, by Mark Vanhoenacker, and Dreamland, by Sam Quinones. Skyfaring is a soaring, evocative meditation about air travel by a commercial pilot. Dreamland is a deep look at the heroin crisis in the United States.

79 movies is a lot for me. For whatever reason I dug deep into Netflix and Amazon Prime Movies from November onwards. From the movies I rated a 10 the standouts I recommend: Get Out (2017), Her (2013), and What Happened to Monday (2017).