Monday, July 19, 2010

So Many [Fill in the Blank]; So Little Time

Even if I only owned 600 CDs, 300 LPs, 100 DVDs and VHS tapes, and 100 cassette tapes), I suspect I'd still feel overwhelmed by my entertainment options.

But I've also got months of MP3 files on my computers for my five (working) MP3 players, Slacker and Pandora accounts, and several hours of movies purchased from iTunes, mostly to entertain my 9-year-old on long car trips.

Then there's Netflix.

For a while, the offer--watch as many movies as you want for $17 a month--seemed too good to be true, but I gave up my Blockbuster card once I did the math. I was getting about eight movies a month, which cost about the same as a Netflix subscription. And I didn't have to worry about surly clerks and driving to the store.

Things got even better when Netflix began to offer movies on demand. It took some experimenting, but after a while I was able to do it with an old laptop hooked up to the TV via the VHS player and a cobbled-together array of cables.

It was just enough of a hassle--dragging out the laptop, finding the cables, connecting them in the right order, waiting for the computer to boot, realizing it wasn't configured for dual displays, rebooting again--so that we mostly did it only when I'd forgotten to queue up a kid-friendly picture for Family Movie Night.

I suppose we could have just gotten a new DVD player or some other device that connected to the Internet, but we were too cheap. And then Netflix announced that it was offering streaming video on the Nintendo Wii. Suddenly, watching movies on-line became a lot easier.

So, here I am now with nearly 150 movies in my regular Netflix queue, about 82 in the Watch Instantly queue, and 23 (release date unknown) in the Saved queue.

I don't know how those numbers compare to other Netflix customers. I do know that, sometimes, contemplating my queue, I start to feel a little guilty. I really should organize it, deleting the movies I'll never watch (even though I know they'd be good for me), and arranging what's left so all the musicals, film noir, and Hollywood blockbusters aren't clumped together.

I might, one day, just like I might actually sit through Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. Meanwhile, I'm thinking of a Qwest commercial from the days when the company's catchphrase was "ride the light." In it, a man checking into a seedy motel asks if there's any entertainment. The clerk tells him they've got "every movie ever made in every language, anytime, day or night."

I couldn't find the time now to watch just the ones in English, but maybe in 20 or 30 years, when I'm old. . . If I can still lift a remote.

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