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Thursday, February 13, 2003

I hit the Netflix jackpot today, with three red envelopes waiting in my mailbox after I sloshed through the mud to get to it this afternoon. Two of the DVDs are current Oscar nominees that I haven't seen: My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Lilo and Stitch. The other is Seven (or more properly Se7en), which I missed when it was released in 1995. I've been trying to catch up on some of these movies that everyone but me has seen, which is why I rented Donnie Darko earlier this week.

The trouble is, I thought I was renting Donnie Brasco, which I also haven't seen. You can imagine my surprise when I pressed the Play button and instead of Johnny Depp I found Jake Gyllenhaal. This wasn't the wiseguy mob flick I was expecting. In fact, it was pretty a pretty deep shot in the opposite direction, a psychological time-travel fantasy.

But wow! I was transfixed by Donnie Darko when I stayed up way too late last night watching it. I could never quite tell which way it was going to veer next. It's really very little about time travel, except on a theoretical level, and very much more about choices and regrets and second chances. I'll find out what the filmmakers think it was about when I watch it again, with the commentary tracks.

That won't happen tonight, though. None of the four red envelopes will be opened on the night the new Survivor: The Amazon starts. I choose my reality TV carefully, but I've been watching Survivor since the first episode of the first series. I've sampled first episodes of other reality shows and never gone back, so there must be something here that I'm connecting with.

I can't quite figure what it is, unless it's the fact that this is our national meeting place, where the largest number of people are doing the same thing at the same time. That used to happen all the time, on Sunday nights for Ed Sullivan, then on Mondays for The Carol Burnett Show.

There's nothing on the tube now that draws the kind of audience All in the Family or Happy Days had in their time. There aren't many TV shows that keep America buzzin' these days, so maybe that's why I stick with Survivor. You know I love sappy romantic dramas, but I enjoy a little vicarious grub-eating and back-stabbing, too.

rain pouring off the gutter

From the back porch, winter camellias and winter weather.

During my freshman year in college, away from home for the first time, I haunted the TV room in my dorm (Anacapa Hall at UCSB, if you want to know). I wasn't alone there, ever, because no one had sets in their rooms in those days, but there wasn't a lot of argument about what we'd watch.

Sunday nights we'd tune in for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and stay up late for Mission: Impossible. Wednesday was Lost in Space, Friday was Star Trek. Halfway through my freshman year, two new shows premiered, Laugh-In on Mondays and It Takes a Thief on Tuesdays, adding two more nights of communal experiences. It's a wonder we ever got any homework done.

Yeah, we were kind of a geeky bunch, mostly freshman, because upper classmen were allowed to live in off-campus housing and we weren't.

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Spring training starts this weekend for most baseball teams, including my team. It'll be two weeks before they start playing practice games, but I have a special reason to be eager for those games to begin. The Giants were the last major league team to lose a game.

Of course, it was the seventh game of the World Series, but still. Last game: 4-1 loss at Anaheim, October 27. Next game: vs. Chicago Cubs, February 27.

The long baseball drought is nearly over. I can face a miserable rainy day like this one, as long as I know pitchers and catchers are gathering in Arizona and Florida for the annual unofficial beginning of spring. Happy new year to me.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Two-Footed Landing
"You vote for my skater and I'll vote for yours."

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The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky.