What Else Have You Done During the Pandemic, Glenn?

Funny you should ask. If you don’t get the reference, look at the title of this post. Duh.

Well, since I’m still not instructing and only occasionally flying, I decided that we needed to establish an accounting for our movie viewing. You see, we don’t have cable or any online streaming services – which means we don’t watch television. We watch the DVD and Blue Ray movies we’ve bought since we got together, nineteen years ago. (The dozens of VCR tapes, unfortunately, have bit the dust, along with the VCR itself.)

So … for part of March and most of April, I catalogued all 924 of our movies in an Excel spreadsheet. “924 movies?” you gasp. “How the hell did you get 924 movies?” There are more, actually – there are a few collections: 50 war “classics” and all 26 episodes of Victory at Sea. But over the years I’d go to Fry’s and see what was on sale, sometimes TMC or Amazon would have a sale – and we’ve ended up with 924 movies (although, if you added the 50 war classics and the 26 episode of Victory at Sea, we’ve got exactly 1000.)

Being a tad anal retentive, and bored, I decided that I should include the dates we watched said movies for the last 3 years that we’ve kept a written record. (I mean, that qualifies as anal, doesn’t it?) And I decided to color code the spread sheet so that you can quickly determine what month you’ve watched which movie. Then I projected our viewing pleasure through this Christmas season (we’ve got 30 Christmas movies – 31 if you count New Years Eve. Each film isn’t necessarily about Christmas – and there are NO stupid Hallmark Christmas specials – but Christmas plays a part in each of the 30 we qualify as such.)

Aren’t you impressed? Amazed? Shaking your heads and making that “tsk, tsk, tsk” sound of disapproval? I thought so.

Tonight (8/23/2020), for instance, we’ll be watching “Bridget Jones – the Edge of Reason” with Rene Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Tomorrow? “Iron Man 2”. Definitely not the best of the Iron Man family.

How often do we rewatch movies since there are only 924? Well, we have a rule that we can only watch a real favorite once a year. For example, we won’t view “Sleepless in Seattle” until November 25th of this year. We already watched “Casablanca” this year, so we can’t schedule it until June 4, 2021 (our tenth wedding anniversary).

What kinds of movies do we like the best? You’ll chuckle. Romantic comedies, of course, are our favorites, and we usually cry at the appropriate times. Yes, we are both sentimental sods. Ya ought-a witness us viewing “The English Patient” ferchrissake – it’s a real weep-fest. Our all-time favorite – and one I’ve probably watched over 100 times – is, and will always be, “Casablanca.” Bogart at his tough guy best, Ingrid Bergman at her most beautiful, Claude Rains without a scruple, Sidney Greenstreet wearing (really?) a fez, and SZ “Cuddles” Sakal stealing every scene. Paul Henreid (Ilsa’s husband) is a bit of a stiff, Peter Lorre has too small a part, Conrad Veidt is the uber Nazi that everyone should hate, and Dooley Wilson sings “As Time Goes By” better than anyone ever has, or ever will. And, yes, my eyes are blurring with tears as I think about it. I’m not sure that I can wait for next June.

I haven’t any idea how many rom-com’s we own – it might take a month trying to count them all. But I do know that we’ve got 65 that qualify as war films (not counting the 50 “classics”). Hard to say which is the best but we own “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Mash,” “Patton,” “Platoon,” “Dr Strangelove,” “Das Boot,” “The Guns of Navarone,” (in which Gregory Peck calls David Niven, “son”) “The Hunt for Red October,” “Stalag 17,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Apocalypse Now,” “The Deer Hunter,” and, maybe my personal favorite from when I was little, “A Walk in the Sun,” with Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, Lloyd Bridges, George Tyne, John Ireland, Sterling Holloway and Norman Lloyd.

We own 54 flying movies, which means there are airplanes, sometimes in war (which would inflate the war titles, I guess). If you’d like to know which I love, you’ll have to dig around in the archives: December 2018 and December 2017 will get you what you ought-a know. And we don’t ever chew our cabbage twice hereabouts – although “The High and the Mighty,” is still my favorite and “Twelve O’Clock High” is still the best war flying movie of all frkng time … and there’s no debating that around here.

What the hell else have we been doing during the pandemic. We walk nearly every day, up and down the hills in the neighborhood with a goal of 7500 steps. Why 7500? Well, three and a half miles is enough for an old guy, and Piper, the Golden Retriever pup, isn’t used to hills or heat.

I’ve done some reading whilst battling the boredom. “What reading?” I can almost hear you ask. Well the catholic nuns and brothers of grade and high school insisted on lotsa reading, and not all of it religious crap, but they missed teaching a great author, perhaps because she was female. Jane Austen was never taught at the Academy of St Dorothy or Xaverian High in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Last Christmas, Laurel gave me a complete set of Ms Austen’s six novels and I’ve read them all in order of publication: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Favorite? Well I’ve seen Ang Lee and Emma Thompson’s version of “Sense and Sensibility,” and Joe Wright and Keira Knightley’s “Pride and Prejudice” probably a dozen times, each. While I loved both books, Persuasion has become my favorite, although I can’t give you a detailed reason why. Which means that all of them require a re-reading in the not-too-distant future.

If you consider yourself well-read – and I’m talking to all you macho men out there – and you’ve never read Jane Austen, then you’re not. It took me seventy-two years to finally sit down with Jane Austen and I could kick myself for missing out on such a wonderful author.

I’ve begun another reading project this month. I’ve always been fascinated by the Civil War but never did much about it. In my lifetime, I’ve probably driven within five miles of Gettysburg at least 50 times, and I never once stopped. During the 34 years I mostly wasted living in the east, I probably was within fifty miles of every Civil War battle site and memorial, and never visited a one. But a few years ago, I found a copy of Bruce Catton’s This Hallowed Ground and I can’t remember being as moved by a book.

Catton wrote extensively about the American Civil War. Perhaps his most famous works were his trilogies: The Army of the Potomac, and the Centennial History of the Civil War. The first was comprised of Mr. Lincoln’s Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. The second of these trilogies includes The Coming Fury, Terrible Swift Sword, and Never Call Retreat.

I now own both trilogies and, at present, I find myself a quarter of the way through the second volume of the first, Glory Road. The Civil War was brutal and, on the Union side for the most part, run by Generals who were in deep water and way over their heads. Robert E Lee outmaneuvered and outsmarted the Unions pack of clowns until Gettysburg, when he was forced into battle because Jeb Stuart and his cavalry were roaming the countryside instead of scouting for his infantry. The Confederate forces suffered a crippling defeat. And the Union troops under George Meade, Ulysses Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman, better armed, equipped and fed, eventually wore the rebel troops down. Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 and Andrew Johnson declared an end on May 9, 1865.

Catton is an evocative writer of what’s referred to narrative histories. If you’re interested in the Civil War – and in these times with the Buffoon’s threats and his alt-right storm troopers spoiling for a race war, you ought to be – Bruce Catton would be a fine guide to gain a better understanding of the times.

Who knows what we’ll do next month? One thing is certain, as long as the trump Buffoon is in office, we won’t be getting rid of the pandemic – and I won’t be flying.

Posted in Whimsy