Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Theater of the Mind

So a couple of weeks ago I touched on my 2010 pop resolutions, which could be summed up as “overly ambitious” in terms of sheer volume of content consumption, and what that meant for my 2011 in terms of book-reading and movie-watching and so on. Since then I’ve had a minor revelation which I’m kind of stoked about, assuming I ever get myself properly positioned to take advantage of it.

Towards the end of last year we broke down and bought a portable DVD player, specifically to have self-contained entertainment at the ready for the little guy as we took him on connecting flights back and forth to see my mom around Thanksgiving. And as I reported at the time, this plan succeeded brilliantly and the means matched up very well with the ends. But what I had to remind myself of recently was that despite the conclusion of said ends, we still own the portable DVD player. I mean, of course we do. Granted, it’s been hidden inside the credenza, somewhere behind our modest library of dust-gathering Wii games, so that the little guy would forget about it instead of demanding to watch movies every waking hour, but sure enough I nearly forgot about it right alongside him.

Additionally, also towards the end of last year, I more or less settled into a regular Friday VRE routine. So that’s two hours every week, one Friday morning and one Friday afternoon, where I can sit and focus on one thing (often entirely unselfconsciously, so long as I manage to get one of the single-seats on the upper level of the train car). And this strikes me as an ideal way to, for example, make some serious progress on the shows on DVD I’ve been meaning to get around to (Smallville, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica – not Buffy, though, since that’s very much something for my wife and I to share). I could also watch a movie, theoretically, as long as I didn’t mind stopping at the 60-minute mark and resuming later in the day or possibly the following week (I’ve been known to watch movies in chunks like that before, so it wouldn’t be terribly unsettling). I think the VRE might even have electrical outlets, not strictly necessary since the portable DVD has a battery but nice nonetheless. And all in all it would make Fridays a little different and give me something to look forward to, which can be an immeasurable boon especially given this time of year’s short days and freezing temperatures. This seems like a good plan!

But of course I never make it quite that simple on myself. Watching a movie or a couple episodes of the geek-serial I’m currently catching up on every Friday means that many fewer hours of commuting time given over to reading every week. And, again, I’m not trying to plow through sixty books in 2011 or anything like that, but I am trying to read twelve or so cornerstones of capital-L Literature. At the moment I’m at about page 600 of Don Quixote. And it’s immensely entertaining and I’m glad to have finally tackled it! But I have 312 pages to go and was hoping to have it finished by the end of January. Two hours of reading on the train this Friday would help a lot, which means the portable DVD player plan may have to wait a bit longer. And so it shall.

In the mean time, though, I have been trying to manage the old Netflix queue a little more ambitiously by putting discs near the top which either I think my wife might like or which she offhandedly mentions in specific. That’s a two-birds-one-stone approach because the dreaded Gap Between Football and Baseball Season is practically upon us and go-to entertainment options are highly desirable, plus getting our money’s worth out of Netflix has its own inherent appeal. The most recent effort in this vein was the third season of Blackadder, which arrived a week or so ago and has been our bedtime viewing of choice for the past couple of nights. Blackadder has the added benefits of:

- featuring Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent, thus sating a desire for more Hugh Laurie brought on by the recent overavailabiltiy of House marathons on basic cable

He cleans up nice, huh?
- only running to six episodes in the entire season, and thus not seeming totally daunting as a quantity of entertainment to enjoy rather than slog through


- being pretty fricking hilarious

Once we’ve run through that series I’ll have to try to keep the momentum going with some similar picks. And then of course the Orioles will be on almost every night and we’ll have a newborn and the odds of forgetting we own multiple non-portable DVD players and/or how to operate them will grow exponentially! But February and March at least should be entertaining.

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