Unplugged

Somehow, we turned down this deal.
Free couch on the street! Somehow, we turned down this deal.

Last night we saw our third Hitchcock movie in two days. The Brattle Theatre in downtown Cambridge is doing a retrospective on Hitchcock’s 1950s films; on Sunday we saw a double feature of “Rear Window” (my all-time favorite movie*) and “Vertigo”; last night it was “Strangers on a Train.”

*My top 5 favorite movies:

“Rear Window.”

“The Princess Bride.”

“The Searchers.”

“Richard Pryor Live in Concert.”

“The Sure Thing.”

Of course these aren’t the five GREATEST movies of all time — no “Godfather” in here. These are just the movies I’d happily watch over and over all day long not just because they’re great, but because they match up with some other special moment. No. 6 on the list would probably be “Airplane II,” which is not nearly as good as the first “Airplane!”, but I went with my friends Perry and Virgil and we were the only people in the theater laughing, but we were laughing so hard we just about rolled around on the dangerously sticky theater floor. That’s what makes a favorite movie — the memory of what your life was like when you saw it.

And by the way, I am totally stealing my good friend Joe Posnanski’s Pozterisk idea here. When he patents it I’ll be glad to pay up.

Back home we might not see a movie once a month, much less three in two days. But time is chunkier here. We’re not racing to make deadline or lingering at the office to catch up on e-mails. There’s plenty to do — and will be plenty more once classes start in full next week — but there’s also some air in the day. You can read a book. Or go hang out in Harvard Square and compare the street musicians. Or just take a long walk at night and think about who else has walked these old brick sidewalks.

There’s also air in the day because of what we’re not doing. We’re reading the Boston Globe every day but not like we read the Observer — we don’t need to know how the mayor up here is doing, we won’t be covering the first day of school. We watched the Obama and McCain convention speeches (and Sarah Palin’s, of course*) but I’m not as tuned in as I’d normally be. We’re sort of checking the news in Charlotte — that United Way thing turned out to have some legs after all — but we’re pretty much unplugged there, too.

*So doesn’t Sarah Palin look like she walked right out of the “Hot For Teacher” video?

I have to say, being unplugged is not a bad thing at all.

As a newsman I should whack myself on the knuckles for saying this, but sometimes it feels like there’s just too much news. We’re drowning in it. You can’t ever keep up. It’s like going into the record store and realizing that no matter what you pick, there’s 5,000 great CDs in there that you’ll never get to listen to. (Driving around today I heard 20 great songs on the radio by bands I had never heard of, and of course it was one of those college stations where they ID the songs every two hours, but then they played “Celebrated Summer” by Husker Du* and it was like being lost and finally seeing your house up ahead on the street — hey, I know that song!

*Husker Du. What a band. The loudest band I’ve ever seen live — even louder than the Ramones. Bob Mould lived my dream — he fronted a great rock band and then wrote storylines for World Championship Wrestling. Now that’s a career.

At home I think, most of the time, we try to do it all. But one of the things we have to learn up here is what we can’t do. We can’t take every great class. We can’t read all the books in the library. We can’t go see every great speaker or hear every great band. So, in a weird way, the pressure’s off.

I say that knowing that in a couple of weeks we’ll be pulling all-nighters to get our reading done and dashing across campus to catch a brownbag speaker. But we’ve already learned something important: Find those air bubbles in your day. Then breathe deep.

They’re showing 12 Hitchcock movies at the Brattle. We might have to go 12-for-12.

2 thoughts on “Unplugged”

  1. Aw hell — now you’re blogging. And I thought I’d get a year’s break from all those messages I hae to write that say “You’re the best writer ever and you made me cry again.”
    “Rear Window” is in my top 10 list, too. Along with “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca” (best viewing ever: in the student union at Florida State), “Wizard of Oz” and “Moonstruck” (the best-smelling movie I ever saw).

  2. Dang, Tommy — an Hitchcock marathon and all the great books you can read? You’re living the dream, dude. I can’t resist hitting you with my top five, in no particular order:

    –North by Northwest
    –Blade Runner
    –Unforgiven
    –Saving Private Ryan
    –Do The Right Thing

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