Does size matter?

I started collecting books in high school. There were several two-for-a-quarter used bookstores downtown and I’d take the bus down there every weekend and spend a dollar or two. In college, the library would cull the stacks and put withdrawn books out for sale cheap. I bought them using my blackboard-cleaning money. After that, years and years of books sales, garage sales, and flea markets, all to accumulate books that would thenceforward collect dust on shelves around the house. I would  read one from time to time, or at least take it down and handle it, but the books were there mainly to keep me company or perhaps because I had some notion of someday reading them all, in the same way that someday I would travel the globe. For actual reading, I checked out fun books from the library. Finally, in my sixties, I quit buying books (more or less). I quit rearranging the books on the shelves. I quit waiting for visitors to ask me about them. I quit waiting for something magic to happen.

When I started listening to audio books – books on tape – in the early 80s, I kept a list. I was up to 500 when I lost the text file that contained the list. I don’t remember if a disk crashed or I just lost interest or what. There must have been backups for the file somewhere, but I never found them (or looked for them, really). Redoing the list would have been impossible. Too much work and too much memory required. And, I had already been wondering what the point was. What difference did it make how many books I had listened to? Nobody ever asked, just like with the books. (I’m not counting the joker who ran his eyes over the shelves and said, “Read ’em all?”)

Which brings me to movies, and how many I’ve seen. I visited the blog today of a fellow who has seen more than 10,000 movies. That’s a movie a day for 30 years; or a movie every two days for 60 years. The fellow, I think, has ranked the movies in order of preference. There is something in the totality of this feat that appeals to me, but I’ve noticed, for example, that at some point my collection of books began to seem less like a comment upon my elevated taste and more like a burden to whomever gets stuck with it when I drop dead. My list of 500 books on tape, and the act of listening to them,  not only did not change my life, but have mostly fled from my memory. Except Moby Dick. It was about a whale.

Also, what about that guy who watched the 15,000 Movies You Need To See Before You Die, and then killed himself?

However – however! – I did bestir myself one time to watch all but nine of the entries on the IMDB Top 250 list. It’s a wacky list, but maybe that’s a good thing. Now, several years later, I still have a warm feeling about having seen, finally, the classic films on that list, even if I hated them with a passion whilst I was forcing myself to watch them, five minutes at a time.

So I told myself this morning: this week, you can spend one night each with seven movies or you can spend seven nights with one movie and its Criterion extras. Choose well, Grasshopper!

The other thing is, what about TV shows? Why all the love for movies? If I start watching three sitcoms a day, I’ll get to 10,000 by 2020! Today’s selection, to get this started: Leave It To Beaver #213, My Three Sons #43, and Dr. Phil #404 (I’m counting Oprah and Dr. Phil and Glenn Beck as sitcoms).

Better than that, if I listen to 28 podcasts a day, I’ll hit 10,000 in a year, with a week to spare!

8 Responses

  1. 10,000 films!! 1-a-day for THIRTY YEARS!

    I don’t know how its possible. I have a similar urge for completion of those lists (i was quite proud that philip frenchs’ top films of 2010 were released and i have seen all ten!) but i think you need to have so much time your willing to give to it – all those sunny days, and you have to stay in and watch. All those potential meeting-of-friends and parties …but alas, you have to watch…

    Personally, I have started counting my films since 2007, and I simply make a card of notes after each viewing … secondly, I make a concerted effort to try and watch a film in its entireity. Even some trilogies all three in one day if poss. Lastly, every film needs to a, how can I say, academic(?) reason to watch. There was no reason to watch CLASH OF THE TITANS, whilst there was a reason to watch CATFISH (the dichotomy between CATFISH and THE SOCIAL NETWORK), etc.

    I think there is a method to my madness…

    • i too used to miss the sunny days and parties with hot chicks because i had to stay in and watch movies. but now with my trusty iphone, ipad, ipod, touch, and android devices, i can stand in the sun watching Zombies of Wellmuck. I can pretend to listen to the babes at parties whilst glancing down at Can You Forgive Her. I can withstand me mum’s advice cause she doesn’t notice my earphone while she’s giving it. By my reckoning, I can hit 10,000 movies in six months, if you count the ones playing on my pillow whilst i sleep at night.

  2. I think it does…to a few 🙂

    As graduate student I had convinced myself that I need to collect every academic paper and book on my speciality – Newfoundland and Labrador prehistory – which would somehow increase my knowledge of the discipline (even if i never got around reading everything). Although I eventually used pretty much every book for reference purposes, my obsession to collect has lessened now that i’ve embarked on the 1001 movies task.

    I’ve since come to the realization that it doesn’t really matter what i collect, or the reason/s for it – it does seem that it is the act of collecting which really matters (at least to me).

    PS. Anyone know what can be done with 5000 kinder toys from the 1990s? 😉

    • My neighbor has a prehistoric Labrador.

      I used to go into the market and sort through the 6 oz. coke bottles, picking out the old cut-glass ones with the town of origin embossed on the bottom. I had a map with pins in it showing the towns represented in my collection. It was a sad day when those beautiful old bottles were phased out and slowly, slowly disappeared from the shelves. My collection is stashed under the house where, when the Big One hits, they will be entombed.

  3. The numbers are not what’s important.

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