Around this time of year, most folks are plotting their New Year's resolutions -- those sentence-long self-improvement promises to toss out the cigarettes, lose those last ten pounds and/or keep the checkbook balanced, while leaving the credit cards in the wallet.
But without a little support (and more than a little willpower), most resolutions die a quick death, dissipating into the atmosphere as swiftly as breath carries the well-meaning words past the lips.
This isn't to say that resolutions shouldn't be made -- on the contrary, desiring to improve yourself in some fashion is the first step to actually making that improvement. So I'm all for having goals.
Most of my own resolutions are among the standards: discard some excess weight, get in reasonably better shape, monitor my budget a little better.
But I have another, one that actually relates to an entertainment column.
In 2011, I resolve to finally watch all those DVDs I've been buying. I love owning movies and TV series on DVD and Blu-ray (that's a shocker, huh?); if a store has a "home entertainment" section, that's usually my first -- and sometimes only -- stop. I used to haunt the aisles at any number of video stores, be they Blockbuster or Hollywood Video or Movie Gallery. I knew the layout of the Lincoln, Nebraska Best Buy better than half of the employees when I lived in that city (and still sorta do, even now). And while I pride myself on being able to say no to something if I'm sure it's not on my "must get" or "within my price range" lists, if I find something I've carried a nostalgic torch for (or at least have heard raves about) and haven't been able to locate on a previous journey, it's awfully tough for me to leave it on the shelf. This has led, inevitably, to my purchasing a significant number of movies and TV shows that I've added to the collection without giving them at least a cursory spin in the DVD player. (Packages get unwrapped, yes; discs are inspected, of course. But some of the shows are still "near mint," as the coin/stamp/comic book collector would describe them.) Yet I can't bear to part with a single one of them, so I'm constantly pledging to myself that I will watch one or another of them one of these days -- you know, as soon as the right mood strikes.
That mindset needs to come to an end. Most coins ultimately need to be spent, most stamps mailed, most comic books turned into overblown motion pictures with brain-numbing 3D visual effects.
I intend to fulfill this resolution by finally sitting down and watching a critically-acclaimed series of dark British crime dramas called "The Red Riding Trilogy," which deals with a police department so corrupt that it was unable to stop a serial murderer from terrorizing the citizenry for a decade. I've opened the cases, I've looked at the discs, I've read rave review after rave review -- I need to actually put in the time and watch the grim, tragic story I've only heard about up to this point finally unfold before me. Maybe that will give me the courage to open another case for another movie I've bought but never watched, then another and another and another after that, until I've seen them all, until I've witnessed the expanse of joy and misery that is the collected filmmakers' vision of the fullness of the human condition, forever captured on film, then transferred onto a durable digital format, preserving it for future generations -- and generations beyond those.
Or maybe I'll just flip around and see if I can catch the last half of "Caddyshack" on AMC again. Love that movie.