I noticed this morning, via the “On This Day” feature in both Day One and this blog, that I saw The Rise of Skywalker in Manville on this day last year. And it appears that that was the last time I actually saw a movie in a theater.

I think that, if I keep an eye on the “On This Day” stuff, I’ll probably be able to note a few more slightly depressing anniversaries of the “last time I did X” over the next couple of months. Though, now that I’m looking, I’m realizing that a few have already passed. The last time I went to MoMA was Oct 13, 2019, for their reopening preview. I’m glad I got to see the museum once after the remodel, but I would have liked to have seen it a few more times since then. The last time I got on a plane was May 2019, for a business trip to Redmond. The last time I stayed in a hotel was October 2019, for NYCC. So it’s already been well over a year since I’ve done a number of things. I could disappear down a hole thinking about this stuff, but there’s not much point in that. Better to look forward.

One more look back though: In the post I wrote on Rise of Skywalker, I made a joking reference to Sátántangó, which was then playing at Lincoln Center. I never got in to see that, though of course I was only joking about doing so. It’s a 7.5 hour movie. They had it running in their virtual cinema for a while too, after the pandemic started, and I kind of wanted to rent it there, and watch it at home, but I never got around to it. I did a little poking around just now, and I see that it’s finally due for a US Blu-ray release, next month. So I went ahead and pre-ordered it on Amazon. It’s only $25. That’s a bargain: only $3.33 per hour. Whether or not I ever actually watch the Blu-ray… we’ll see. Check back with me in another year.

A Weird Christmas

It’s been a weird year, so of course it was a weird Christmas. I did a Zoom dinner with my brother and his wife, and a couple of their friends. My brother made Beef Wellington. I made a veggie burger. I don’t really have a lot of holiday-related ambition this year. I didn’t try to do anything special for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I don’t think I’ll do anything special for New Year’s Eve or Day.

As mentioned previously, in general, I’ve watched a lot of movies this year. I just counted up the movies I’ve watched in December, and I’m up to 25, so that’s an average of a movie a day. A fair number of those were Christmas movies, or at least Christmas-adjacent movies. So I’ve tried to get myself into the right holiday mood. I’ve watched three different versions of A Christmas Carol (the 1938 version, the Muppet version, and the Mickey Mouse version). I watched It’s A Wonderful Life. I watched the Die Hard director’s commentary.

Yesterday morning, I watched Soul on Disney+. That was really my big event for the day. I thought it was a great movie, and a great way to escape reality for an hour and a half. Today, I finished watching season two of The Mandalorian. I wasn’t as enamored of the last couple of episodes as I was of some of the earlier ones. I may re-watch them, and see if I like them better a second time around. Theoretically, now that I’ve seen Soul and all of The Mandalorian, I could cancel my Disney+ subscription for a while. But there are a bunch of new Marvel and Star Wars shows coming up, so I guess I should just keep it going.

I did not talk myself into signing up for HBO Max to see Wonder Woman 1984. It sounds like a movie I’ll want to see eventually, but not a “sign up for a new $15/month streaming service” kind of movie. Likewise, I’m not choosing to pay for a copy of Tenet, either on Blu-ray or digital, but at some point, when it’s available to rent, or the price to buy it drops, I’ll give it a try.

so many movies

I saw a comic recently where the character is writing a “top 10 things I did this year” list, which gradually devolves into a “top 10 movies I’ve watched this year” list. I really identified with that. I’ve actually watched 61 movies so far this year, according to my Letterboxd stats. I know that’s a lot more than usual, though I didn’t really keep track of this stuff, prior to signing up for Letterboxd last year. I’ve watched 14 movies so far this month, and will likely watch several more before the end of the year. Part of the reason for watching so many movies is, of course, being home all the time now. Another reason is just that there hasn’t been as much new TV this year, so catching up on old movies seemed like a good idea. I’ve managed to watch four Kurosawa movies in the last few weeks, for instance.

I’m currently on a bit of a Christmas movie kick. Even though I won’t really be doing much (if anything) to celebrate Christmas this year, I’ve been hungry for a certain kind of Christmas spirit. It’s hard to spell out exactly what I’m looking for, but I’ve been watching movies like Netflix’s Klaus, and Arthur Christmas (which I bought on Blu-ray), and The Muppet Christmas Carol (on Disney+). And I’ve started watching It’s A Wonderful Life (on Amazon). I’m getting some inspiration from Letterboxd’s list of top 25 Christmas movies.

I’m not buying a lot of movies on Blu-ray right now, though I guess I have bought maybe a dozen or so this year. I think I may have dodged a bullet, since I only found out about this auction after it had already happened; I could easily see myself bidding on a box or two of random DVDs, in a moment of weakness. My own Blu-ray and DVD collection is too big, but not 30k+ big. For what I’m watching now, I’m trying to pick movies from the various streaming services I’m currently subscribed to, plus stuff that I already have in my collection.

It’s interesting to see what’s going on with new movies this year and into next year. I happened to stumble across this article, from late 2019, with a look forward at 2020’s movie releases. Of all the movies on the list, most were postponed and eventually released to home video (in one form or another). A few are still being held back, like No Time To Die and Black Widow.

I’m looking forward to watching Soul on Christmas day (or at least on the weekend right after Christmas). And I’m toying with the idea of signing up for HBO Max, so I can watch Wonder Woman 1984 too. I’d also like to watch Tenet, but maybe I’ll wait until I can rent that one (which will apparently be in early January). Or I could just spend the long Christmas weekend re-watching Doctor Who Christmas specials, most of which I have in my iTunes library. That’s always a fun way to escape from reality for a bit.



end of vacation, end of year

So it’s back to work tomorrow, after my week-long vacation. Looking at my “things to do on vacation” list, I didn’t do any of them. Which is fine. I did a few things, including updating my MacBook to Big Sur, sending out my Christmas cards, reading the entire Locke & Key comic book series, and, um… replacing the battery in my smoke detector. Yeah, I know those aren’t big accomplishments, but hey, it was supposed to be a vacation, right?

I’ve also been doing a lot of end-of-year thinking and planning. I got a few end-of-year things done this week, and there are a bunch more that I’m still working on. One thing, of course, is figuring out which services/subscriptions to keep and which to cancel, and whether or not I should be signing up for anything new right now. So the rest of this post is going to turn into yet another rumination about all that stuff.

For video, I added Disney+ recently, and also Hulu, via their $2/month Black Friday deal. So now I have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu for video services. I’ve been thinking about canceling my traditional cable subscription, but I still haven’t done that. It’s looking like my cable bill might go up by $20/month in January, so that’s pushing me more in that direction. I’ve been experimenting with using my Apple TV more and my TiVo less, and figuring out how to get some of the stuff I like on regular TV without a cable subscription. I can get most (or all) of the PBS content I want from the PBS Apple TV app. And I can watch clips of the late-night shows on YouTube. So that’s probably fine.

For music, I’ll probably let my Apple Music free trial turn into a paid subscription when the trial is up. I’m actually using it a lot.

For comics, I do intend on dropping my Westfield subscriptions at some point, but I haven’t done it yet. For December, I would have had just three comics on my order, but I added a couple of graphic novels. That might be my last order, or I might hang in there for two more months. I have a couple of series I’d like to complete before giving up on print comics.

I’ve also been thinking about some financial stuff. Specifically, I’ve been assessing my credit card situation. I signed up for the Apple Card recently, as I’ve probably mentioned here before. I don’t like some things about that card, but the cash back for Apple Store purchases makes it worthwhile. Now that I’ve had it for awhile, I think I’m a little more OK with it than I initially was. Even though I can’t download transactions from it directly into Quicken, the process for saving a QFX file and importing it into Quicken isn’t that bad. And the Apple Card is better about privacy than most other cards, so maybe I should consider using it for more stuff.

Meanwhile, I switched my AmEx card from the Green card to the EveryDay card earlier this year. That was a good decision, since the Green card annual fee was going up to $150/year, and had mostly travel-related bonuses. The EveryDay card has no fee and has extra bonuses for everyday stuff like groceries. So it’s almost like I knew the pandemic was coming, when I switched back in February. I’ve certainly spent a lot more money on groceries this year than I have on travel.

I’ve been spending a heck of a lot of money at Amazon this year too, so that’s got me thinking about signing up for the Amazon Prime credit card. That gives you 5% cash back on Amazon purchases, which would have gotten me as much as $100 this year, depending on which purchases are eligible. But if I get that card, then I’ll have a total of five cards (Citi MC, AmEx, Macy’s, Apple, and Amazon), which might be too many cards. Maybe I should drop the Macy’s card. I’ve ordered a few things from them online this year, but not nearly as much stuff as I’ve ordered from Amazon.

I’m a little worried about how opening multiple new credit cards in one year might affect my credit score. But, then again, I’m not planning on borrowing any money any time soon, so I probably shouldn’t care about that. I don’t know. I guess it’s good to have enough free time and enough money to mess around with all this stuff.

Vacation, I guess

I’m on “vacation” this week. I put that in quotes because I’m spending the week alone in my apartment, which is the same thing I’ve done every week since March. The only difference this week is that I’m reading comics and watching TV all day instead of just part of the day. I had a number of PTO days left this year that were in the “use it or lose it” category, so here I am, with a week off and nothing to do. I’m not complaining. I fully recognize that sitting around doing nothing for a week while getting paid my full salary and still having health insurance is something for which I should be really grateful.

The vacation got off to a rocky start, after I had a really bad night Saturday. I just couldn’t get any sleep, mostly due to a really stuffy nose. That left me feeling like a zombie on Sunday. I did a little better with sleep Sunday night, and I think I got back to something like normal last night, so, all things considered, I’m not doing too bad today. But the rough weekend has drained some of my ambition. (Not that I had much to start with.)

I started a note in Evernote a few weeks back for “things to do on my vacation,” but I’m looking at it now, and I don’t think I really want to do any of those things. A few of them seem risky, given the current COVID-19 situation. And a few of them just seem like more work than I want to do.

In the “too much work” category: I’d thought about attending GitHub Universe, which is running today through Thursday. Or the virtual DevIntersection event that’s running tomorrow and Thursday. As much as I think that it’d be a good idea to spend some time “sharpening the saw”, so to speak, I’m really more in the mood to just relax and do nothing this week. If, at some point, I feel like I’ve maxed out on TV and comics, maybe I’ll try to do some work on this year’s Advent of Code project. I’ve done the Advent of Code thing in previous years, though I’ve never gotten through the whole thing. Anyway, that might be a good compromise between stuff that looks too much like work and stuff that looks too much like being in a coma.

In the “too risky” category: I miss being able to go into NYC at this time of year. It’s cold, but it’s nice to go in and do some holiday shopping, and visit some museums, and maybe see some movies. I noticed a blog post in my “On This Day” widget about the Cartoon Musicals program at Lincoln Center from 2005. That was fun. All of the movie theaters in NYC are still closed. I could watch some stuff from the Lincoln Center virtual cinema, or the Film Forum one, but there’s nothing at either of those right now that I’m terribly interested in. If I’m going to stay home and watch movies on my couch, I’ll just stick with Netflix.

I’ve also been thinking that I should spend some time watching some of the video content that the Met and MoMA have posted this year. Maybe I could start with the exhibit tour for Making the Met. It bothers me a bit that I never got to see that exhibit in person. Technically, I could hop on a train today and go into the Met and see the exhibit, but it just seems like an unnecessary risk, and a bad idea. I feel bad that nearly all of the Met’s big plans around celebrating their 150th anniversary this year had to be scrapped or scaled way back. But I’m sure the Met is doing better than a lot of other cultural institutions right now, even if they’re not doing great.

I always feel a little guilty doing nothing, but apparently I shouldn’t. I just read this article about niksen, the “Dutch art of doing nothing”, and apparently doing nothing is good for me. (I could read a book about it too, but reading a book about doing nothing seems like failing at doing nothing.) So, anyway, it’s just past 9 AM, I’m done with breakfast, and I should really be done with blogging too. Time to read some comics. Or just stare into space. Whatever.