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Movies as Homework

As I've mentioned in this space many times before, we live pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  It's not that there's nothing around, but ours is a small college town in the midst of rural Tennessee.  It's at least a 25 mile round trip to a decent grocery store.  If we want organic foods, the round trip is closer to 100 miles.  A big bookstore?  Also 100 miles, particularly if we want an independent.  Same with music stores, and Thai food, and any edible sushi that doesn't involve a Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.  There's a small movie theater here in town, but it's at least a forty-five minute drive to the nearest first-fun movie theater that offers enough movie choices for a family of four.

Not surprisingly, we do a lot of shopping on the net.  And, also not surprising, we figured that NetFlix was made for people like us.  Any DVD we want is just a click away.  Free postage, a flat fee for as many movies as we can watch.  What could be better, right?   

I should pause here to say that I have no complaints about how NetFlix works, or about their customer service.  Anytime I've called, the people I've talked to have been polite and helpful.  The movies arrive just when they're supposed to.  We send back a movie, and before we know it, there's another one in our mailbox.  Another movie.  Just sitting there, waiting to be watched.  It's probably a good one.  I mean, we put it in our queue, right?  It ought to be good.  It's probably one we've been talking about seeing.  We know that we really ought to watch it.

Have you ever been caught in traffic while riding in a taxi?  Your eyes keeping flicking to the meter, and every few seconds the fare increases, even though you haven't moved at all.  You know the feeling, right?  Well, that's how my wife and I are starting to feel about NetFlix.  Between work and stuff for the kids and just the general demands of keeping the household running, we barely have time to sit and talk to each other, much less watch a movie.  But the movies are just sitting there.  You can almost hear them ticking like that freakin' taxi meter -- that flat rate doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore.  If we watch a movie every weekend and maybe even a second on a Wednesday night, it's a great deal.  But after a couple of weeks, that movie gathering dust next to the telephone is getting pretty darn expensive.

I was up until 11:30 last night watching "The Good Shepherd."  It was a decent movie.  At one point I know that I really wanted to see it.  But that was before it had been sitting in my house for three weeks.  That was before I realized it was two hours and forty-eight minutes long.  I used to like movies.  Now they feel like homework.  Another one arrives and immediately I start trying to figure out when I'm going to get done with it, when I'm going to turn it in.

I sent "The Good Shepherd" back this morning.  I don't know what the next title in my queue is, but I know it should be here by Friday or so.  I just hope it's short.

Today's music:  Branford Marsalis (Renaissance)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 11th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
We experience the same thing with Netflix. (And we just watched The Good Shepherd from there, too! Although "just" in us-and-Netflix terms means like a week ago. It's in my car right now. I keep forgetting to put it in a mailbox.) I complained about it to my brother-in-law, and he said that he temporarily downgrades his plan or suspends his service or something when he's going to be away or he gets too busy to watch as many movies as usual. I haven't checked into it yet, but you might poke around on the site, since apparently the option's there somewhere.

I figured that the minute I did that, we'd start tearing through the Netflixes we have, but I did find time to set up the software that lets you stream Netflix movies to your computer and figure out how to get what's on my notebook monitor to play on the living-room TV, so we would have a fallback. (There's always time to mess with some techy challenge that "will be so cool if I can get it to work." *g*)
Feb. 11th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
We have friends who live on the other side of town -- the DSL side, as we call it, with no small amount of envy in our voices -- who use the download option from NetFlix. They love it. But we're on satellite internet. I can barely download a Daily Show clip without the buffering driving me crazy (eight seconds of action, followed by ten seconds of frozen screen, or worse, that choppy cd-skipping sound you get if the computer is buffering and playing simultaneously).

We're on the plan that gets us two movies at once -- Nancy and I get one, and the girls get the other (two separate queues). The girls go through their movies far faster than we do -- without them we'd be losing our shirts on this deal...
Feb. 12th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
We live in a similar area, although our closest big-city amenities require *at least* a 150 mile round trip. We do not have cable or satellite TV so we tend to watch the movies in our DVD "library" over and over again. :D We talked about joining NetFlix and then changed our minds for the same reason you described so humorously - we don't have time for the obligation of watching movies. :D We spend most of our time outside or busy with the kids, so it just didn't make sense to commit ourselves to having to watch movies.

But it would be fun to see new releases before three years have gone by and we suddenly remember there was a certain movie we wanted to watch!
Feb. 12th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
150 mile round trip!! Wow. Okay, you definitely win the "I-Live-In-The-Boondocks" Award. And no cable or satellite. I'm impressed. If we had to live like that we'd have ended up as the lead story on "Hard Copy" years ago. "Family of Four Goes on Boredom-Induced Rampage...."
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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