Starstricken

 It’s been four years since my grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It’s still hard to look at the few pictures from the hospital, this happy, beautiful boy so wan and hurt.

I don’t remember if I snagged a plane ticket after that, or if I’d already scheduled a visit, but I definitely remember that trip. I took a cab from the airport to their home in east Austin, as they had their hands full, and I arrived just in time for an insulin shot. Those were not nearly as easy back then. Not nearly.

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But that was then, this is now, everything’s so much better. It just came up, because that was the last time I watched the Academy Awards. I think Cameron wanted to watch it for some reason; doesn’t matter, I didn’t mind, just hadn’t seen the show for a long time. It was the year Birdman won, and as it turned out I watched Birdman on the plane flight to Austin. I actually could root for someone.

That’s the problem, right there. It’s not just that we watch television in such different ways now, or that award shows are dumb and this one is particularly long and annoying. The Oscars were always long and dull; it didn’t matter to me, it was fun to watch the stars and the self-congratulations and just the celebration of movie making.

I was always a huge fan of the show. There was a time, maybe 25-30 years ago, when I’d make it like Super Bowl Sunday—I’d have snacks, libations, and every TV in the house tuned to ABC so I didn’t miss a moment while I moved from room to room (at some point over the course of a four-hour show, you should really move).

And in my peak movie-going period, in the late 1970s and early 80s, before video stores showed up, it would be a given that I’d seen all of the films nominated for Best Picture. As I became a parent, which coincided with home video, I’d rent some and see some in the theater, and occasionally miss a couple. I had kids, too. I saw a lot of films that don’t get much Oscar love but a lot of affection from the little ones.

I really enjoyed movies, that’s the thing. We all see movies, just as we all read and we all listen to music, but our levels of engagement vary pretty significantly. I had a trial of Amazon Music for three months, which just ended yesterday. I used it maybe 10 times. I probably listen to fewer than 10 songs that I deliberately choose (or a playlist) a month. I have a bizarre relationship with music, it feels like, given everything.

This has all changed, the way everything has changed. Used to be, you saw movies in the theater or you didn’t see them for years, if ever. Premium cable channels changed some of that, video rentals the rest.

Films have now become unmoored in time, their release dates irrelevant. I think it was last year that I finally saw The Devil Wears Prada. It was great.

Roma

Roma

So it could be years before I see The Green Book or Bohemian Rhapsody, if ever. And given that the apparent Best Picture favorite this year is Roma, which is a Netflix film and played in 200 theaters in the U.S. for three weeks before landing on the streaming platform, I can easily imagine in the near future that most of the nominated films are watched at home and not in the theater. It’s not hard to imagine a future where some great films never make it to the mall at all. I just don’t know where Oscar fits in.

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Since the Facebook Memories feature has been very special about informing me that either (a) I’m prone to illness in this part of the winter or (b) I really, really like to complain about colds on social media (both could be true, I guess), I feel compelled to post updates on what I refer to as Episode Two: The Virus Strikes Back.

This is about as dull as Sunday night’s Oscar show will be, although I did have a few hours of fun nausea yesterday, which we finally decided was a side effect of the cough suppressant I was taking. It eventually went away and hasn’t returned, but nausea on top of just generally being ill feels unfair. It’s the worst, nausea, at least for me.

Now if I just remember all of this next January I’ll be good. Or ill. Hard to say.

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Chuck SigarsComment