Hi Jason! Thank you for your reflection - it’s clear to me that you are someone far more in tune with themselves and I look forward to occupying similar space in the future. I was struck by your “what I know about myself” list. I wasn’t clear enough on them to explain it like that but I am on the same page with that list. #3 has me reflecting on what I’m holding on to (‘relics of people I used to be’ as I noted in my first letter) that do not need being held on to anymore. I hope to find a way to leave a little space in which to honor those people I used to be while not giving them hold on the person I am or may yet be.
But I want to jump in on books and movies! I LOVE movies. I used to go to the Alamo and catch a Tuesday Matinee and have lunch with myself several times a month. I even signed up for their Season Pass… in late February of 2020 so it got basically no use. It worked out though, as I do not have the bandwidth to keep up with the new movie schedule anyway. Now I get to set my own lineup - currently I’m sourcing for my April+ personal showings: Movies Alan Rickman Saw followed by Movies Alan Rickman Was Involved In. I recently read Alan Rickman’s autobiography/published journals and he made enough notes about plays/movies/etc he experienced that it was a rabbit hole I wanted to follow. Plus, apparently there were still a ton of his movies I’d not yet seen.
I get limited time for these things now - especially if the movie isn’t 2 year old friendly (I can quote you the entirety of Cars and Frozen, if you’re so inclined.) But while I traditionally hated splitting up the viewing of a movie (with an LOTR marathon excepted), it’s the only way to go these days and I’m cool if it means I get to watch the movies I want to.
While I’m not active in media critique (I have zero Letterboxd reviews going) I enjoy other people’s reviews. Specifically when something bugs me about a movie or edit and I want to see if anyone else kvetched about the same thing. While I start looking for one thing, inevitably, I find some new insight I can go deeper on, sometimes even making a re-watch necessary.
Having felt a huge void in the last decade or so where reading used to be, I’ve made a conscious choice to go to bed 30+ minutes earlier specifically devoted to reading time. I’ve devoured two fun-and-fast reads - #28 and #29 in a long running series about a female “bounty hunter” in NJ (where I am from) in the last week. I’m also in the middle of a book of essays, a parenting book, a book about boundaries and breaking generational trauma, and some fiction I haven’t figured out the plot for yet. I’d prefer to take it one book at a time but several library holds became available unexpectedly all at once and I went with it.
I’d love to hear what media you’re currently involved in or some that have stuck with you over the years.
First off, if you haven’t seen Galaxy Quest, you’re missing one of Alan Rickman’s best. Just skip right to it and enjoy something that should not be nearly as good as it is.
Reviews and criticism are things I’ve struggled with. Last year I started the year writing a Letterboxd review and blog post for every movie I watched. I don’t think I even made it a month before I realized that felt more like a chore than something I was enjoying, so I jettisoned it. I think the best thing with movies is find someone who wants to engage with them on the same level you do and talk. It’s how some of my best friends in college, well, became some of my best friends in college.
There are times I feel compelled to write. I never regret having put down my thoughts on The Batman– I find myself referencing it often online. It seems to be a movie everyone wants to say something about when they’re done watching it.
I try hard to read mostly fiction. I sometimes listen to nonfiction in audiobook format, but I find that very little nonfiction is actually suited for book length. I often joke that every single business book and self-help book is actually just a blog post stretched well past its welcome. I record all the books I read on my site, though I’m not in love with how my host grabs book images. It’s a bit of a crap shoot.
Books are intimate. Any number of books I’ve read over the years have made a strong impression, but I find that recommending books is something I do cautiously and gently. They are a major investment, and honestly, it hurts in a different way when a book connects so strongly with me and falls flat for someone else. When someone doesn’t understand a book I love, it’s like they don’t understand me in some fundamental way. It’s unfair to expect someone else to not just empathize with me, but react and feel like I do to a story. It’s not really what I expect, but being confronted with someone who doesn’t have the same reaction has the effect of underscoring the otherness that exists between the self and everyone else.
I recently read Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and was blown away. It’s a beautiful story about friendship, creativity, trauma, belonging, and growing. And a lot of what’s in this book is about what it means to know someone, what it means to share with someone, what it means to see someone, or sometimes, not.
A lot of what I’ve read the last couple of years were books that end a trilogy or long series I’ve invested in over time. I’m mostly a sci-fi and fantasy reader, so too much of what I read seems to never end.
Maybe that’s why I abandon television? So much of “peak TV” overstays its welcome for me. I like an ending, but I also don’t like a story that goes off rails to keep production costs low or a show that has an ending they have to write themselves out of to keep going. The best stories know what they have to say and say it. I think that’s why I like miniseries so much. It’s probably why I also tend to like adaptations. Slow Horses, Station Eleven, and The Last Of Us come to mind. All are well plotted, with a clear idea of where they’re going and how their characters are meant to change and evolve. And they all have clear endings. By contrast, Severance was incredible, but I have close to no faith that they will be able to continue to execute at a high level and satisfy on their own mysterious elements.
A toast to our past selves, for the ambitions they had and things they loved; we may no longer share these things with them, but we know what it felt like.