So as the first post today suggests, I broke my “no drinking during thesis writing rule”and woke up confused and nauseated, fully clothed on my bed covers with the DVD menu screen for Flight of the Conchords still flashing on my laptop. I’ve managed to recover to a degree, but still haven’t been able to get anything close to a mindset required to do any real work, so I decided instead to find productivity elsewhere. I went through unopened mail, for one, and realized that my subscription to Entertainment Weekly was a week away from expiration: “Hasta La Vista, Baby,” the letter told me. “Last chance. Renew now or risk termination.”
I have subscribed to EW since 1991. As horribly sentimental as all of this is about to sound, I can clearly remember buying my first issue, seen above with Janine Turner and her breasts on the cover, and filling in that little card. 17 years later (dear god), its still going. In the time in between its been a big influence on my pop culture interests. Especially pre-internet. In the early years, I used to manually enter box office numbers into a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet every week to compile a list of the highest grossing films of the year as it went on. This obsession led to a rather unhealthy knowledge of box office grosses, and to kids on the playground referring to me as “the movie freak” and asking me to relay financial information about any film they named, trying to stump me and threatening violence if I didn’t get the right number (one kid had found an almanac with the prior year’s top 100 films in it, and this was their go-to source, which occasionally proved an issue since sometimes the films had continued making money into the next year, and they didn’t understand this).
Thanks to EW, I’ve probably made at least $1000 in Oscar pools over the years, and I also blame EW’s (or Ken Tucker’s, more specifically) lauding of four shows in particular: Roseanne, My So-Called Life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls for making me become avid and rather obsessed watchers of each of them. Its arrival in my mail has been one of the few routines I’ve carried with me since I moved out of my parents house 6 years ago (other than a daily visit to whatever Starbucks is closest by and ordering the exact same thing, maybe the only one). Through 10 different apartments in 3 different cities, its been a small weekly reminder that there is still that 7 year old movie freak in me somewhere.
But I’m wondering if its time to let go: I usually have read half the material online by the time the magazine arrives, and even if I haven’t, the internet has given me most of the news by then anyway; Quebec’s lazy postal service (or perhaps their hostility toward someone subscribing to an English magazine?) has pushed that “date” back to Tuesday or Wednesday, whereas its on newsstands the Friday before, and I sometimes end up reading it in a store before I get my own copy; I’m also rarely “home” for more than a few weeks at a time, and end up missing weeks of the magazine when I’m working somewhere else.
Magazines, in their printed form, are sadly becoming more and more obsolete in the internet age. I already read my newspapers online, order dvds online, buy music mp3s online, etc, etc, etc. But today I was reminded of how nice it can be to away from the glare of a computer screen (especially when my hungover eyes couldn’t deal with it) and back amongst the nostalgia of the printed page. Nauseated to the point that almost anything was unpleasant, I spent the 2 worst hours of the day curled up with the latest EW, which I’d yet to read. The “Spring TV Preview” (EW ‘Preview’ issues are my favourite EW) on the cover, I took focus off impending vomit by getting lost in new details of “Lost” and a variety of other news and notes. There was a great piece by the lovely Lisa Schwarzbaum on HBO series “In Treatment,” where she discussed the identity of HBO as a network, with the fact that “Treatment” is the third shrink-oriented HBO show as an entry point. She suggests that HBO’s programming is built around the theme of people driven by forces they only partially understand. Lisa doesn’t “count on the good shrinks of HBO to make sense of me and you and everyone we know, but I rely on them to confirm that I’m okay, you’re okay.” (On a side note, this led me to realize HBO itself has been another constant in my life, as a good chunk of my leisure time has been devoted to mass viewing of almost all their series (save “Arli$$” and “Lucky Louie”), making me wonder if Lisa’s suggestion also played a role in my own psychological well-being).
So.. all of this is a long, sentimental rant leading to my final answer: I’m keeping EW. Today, it gave me a little piece of home during a day full of that horrible hung-over lethargy, and I’m grateful enough to throw another $50 EW’s way to keep ’em coming.