Where I’m Calling From

I’ve had a lot of thoughts banging around in my head lately that I’ve wanted to write up as blog posts, but I haven’t had the time. I’ve also been ruminating on ways to link some ideas together into a theme that would make for a clever post. Nothing has really come together quite right though. This morning, I started going through that exercise again, while doing laundry, and the title of my favorite Raymond Carver story, Where I’m Calling From, popped into my head, so I thought I’d use that as a title, just start writing, and see where things went. (To be clear, this post has nothing to do with alcohol. I haven’t really been drinking at all over the last year. The link is more to the general idea of evaluating where I am right now.)

I’ve been very aware of this month being the one-year anniversary of the pandemic lockdown. That was the subject of my last post, from a couple of weeks ago. And I guess it’s going to be the starting point for this post too.

I’m almost exactly a year behind in my email “read/review” folder, where I file all of my email newsletters, so I’m just now reading some articles about the start of the lockdown. At the start of 2021, I briefly considered simply wiping out all of 2020 from the folder and starting fresh, but I didn’t do that. I’m definitely tired of reading about Trump, and there’s not much point in reading articles about the Democratic primaries, so I’m skipping those. But it’s interesting to read (or at least skim) some of the early articles about coronavirus, with the benefit of hindsight. A few people definitely saw what was coming, but most people didn’t. I’m reading stuff from early March, where people were still assuming that 2020 would progress normally, with little or no disruption to international travel, movie theaters, comic book conventions, and so on.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to write up some thoughts on various sub-topics, under individual headings. I’m not sure yet if this is all going to come together, or just be random, but here goes…

Movies

The last movie I saw in a theater was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, at the end of December 2019. I had been planning to see Pixar’s Onward in a theater, but hadn’t gotten around to it when the pandemic shut everything down. Movie theaters in NJ were allowed to reopen in September, though many are still closed, apparently. Movie theaters in NYC are only just now being allowed to reopen. I’m on the mailing list for Film at Lincoln Center and Film Forum, both of which are reopening in April. I can’t see myself going into NYC to see a movie any time soon though. Over the course of the last year, I’ve had good intentions about watching a film or two from the virtual cinema selections that these NYC theaters have provided. But I didn’t get around to watching even one. Meanwhile, though, I watched a bunch of movies on the various streaming services to which I subscribe, and have also bought a bunch of Blu-rays, some of which I’ve watched. There’s a good overview of the NYC movie theater situation here. That article also gets into the overall situation for movie theaters right now. For me, I guess I’m going to stick to streaming and Blu-rays for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of Blu-rays, I may have gone a bit overboard with them over the last year. (I mean, I haven’t gone too far overboard, but I did buy a bunch.) Near the start of the pandemic, I picked up a box set of all four Avengers movies. And I’ve picked up the Steelbook Blu-rays for eight Ghibli films. and the big Criterion Godzilla box set. I’ve watched all four of the Avengers Blu-rays (including most of the special features). But I haven’t watched even one of the Ghibli or Godzilla films yet. (Or course, I’ve seen nearly all of them before, but not recently.)

Comic Book Conventions

WonderCon@Home is being held this weekend. I watched a few of the panels from last year’s virtual WonderCon, and it was kind of fun, but these virtual cons pale in comparison to the real thing. I last went to WonderCon in 2019. In retrospect, I’m really glad I went. That was the first time I’d gone to the con since they’d moved it to Anaheim. And it was the first time I’d been in Anaheim in many years. After that con, I’d fully intended to go back in 2020, and maybe make WonderCon an annual thing for me again. (I went to WonderCon regularly for a few years when it was in San Francisco. Looking back, I guess that was 2005-2008.) When the 2020 con was canceled, I think most folks assumed that things would be back to normal in 2021, and the virtual con would be a one-time thing. This year, we’re all hoping that the vaccine rollout will go great, and we’ll be back to normal for 2022. Honestly, I’m really hoping for that, but I’m not making any plans yet.

Anyway, I intend to watch a few of the panels for this year’s virtual con. I definitely want to watch all three of Mark Evanier’s panels. And there are probably a few other good ones. I should probably try to visit the virtual exhibition hall, but I haven’t had much luck with those, from the last few virtual cons I’ve “attended.” They’ve generally been poorly organized and underwhelming. But I’ll take a look.

The San Diego con has also been canceled for this year. They’ll do a virtual con again, in July, and they’re planning on doing some kind of in-person con in November. I wish them luck with that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be making it out to any San Diego con, any time soon. Meanwhile, the San Diego Convention Center, which had been used as a homeless shelter earlier in the pandemic, is now being used to house migrant children, apparently.

Comic Books

This isn’t really directly pandemic-related, but I’ve finally stopped ordering monthly comics through Westfield. My last order was in February, so I’ll probably get my last few books from them in April or May. I’m way behind in my reading, and there’s not a lot of new stuff coming out that I’m really excited about, so I guess it’s a good time to jump off the wagon again.

I’ve been keeping an eye on all the recent changes in the comic book industry, and a lot of that is kind of weird and a little scary. The latest thing is Marvel moving to Penguin Random House for distribution. I could really go down a rabbit hole on the subject of the many changes at Marvel and DC, and generally in the direct market, over the last year, but that’s probably not a great use of my time. For me, personally, I have a good supply of comics and graphic novels to read over the next year or two, in both physical and digital formats, so I should just be happy with that, and wish everyone who makes their living creating and/or selling comics the best of luck. I could probably go through the rest of 2021 without buying another comic, and I’d be fine. (But, of course, I won’t do that. I’m sure to be tempted into buying at least a handful of new books.)

Summary

Well, that covers a few of the things that were rattling around in my head. I have quite a few that I didn’t get around to here, but they’ll have to wait for another day. It’s almost 11 AM and I haven’t done much with the day yet (aside from laundry). I need to get some exercise, and pay some bills, and stuff like that.

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