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Overzealous Recycling 008: Welcome to this one-man show

This might be one of my more anti-social tendencies, but I enjoy going to the movies by myself. Mark Serrels planted his flag for solo moviegoing, calling it one of “life’s secret pleasures” in a piece for CNET, so I figured I’d share my feelings on the topic too.

— If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here 

Most people I know — and I presume most people you know — have a big hang-up about it, like going alone says something about you socially. Or maybe they just don’t like being by themselves in that kind of environment.

I totally understand. That was something I needed to get over too. And I feel the same way on a Friday or Saturday night, when it’s all couples at the theater. It feels awkward, especially if I’m unfortunate enough to be seated between two couples or groups. Most of my solo moviegoing is done during the day, and I imagine that’s the case for the majority of people who see a movie alone.

Going to the movies by myself wasn’t necessarily a choice I made early on. It was kind of forced on me as a kid. As a sixth grader, I wanted to see a movie on a Saturday afternoon and asked my dad if we could go. He had work to do — or just didn’t want to see that particular movie — and rather than deal with a bored, possibly pouting, kid around the house, he made what turned out to be a very formative suggestion.

Dad gave me $10 for the movie and apparently thought it would be good exercise for me to walk to the mall, nearly two miles away. Decades later, I still remember how surprised I was by that. You won’t even give me a ride? He was probably worried about me being too chubby at that age.

Of course, that would be seen as awful parenting in 2019. People would freak out if they saw a 10-year-old walking anywhere alone these days.
It was obviously a very different time, and I’m sure many people who grew up in the 1980s have stories about being left in the car, riding without a car seat, and other stuff that just seemed normal then.

If my father was still around to ask about it, I wonder if he’d express any regret or surprise over sending me off to the movies. (He expressed remorse for a lot of things he did after he had heart surgery and his health declined.) But my parents felt strongly about me being independent. I was routinely sent to the grocery store, drugstore, or even the nearby Domino’s Pizza to pick stuff up. Though now that I think about it, I don’t recall any of my friends ever being sent on errands like that.

No worries, Dad. I’d thank you for it. Going to the movies by myself — even if it included a two-mile walk at that point (and eventually I rode my bike) — was liberating. I no longer had to rely on my parents (Mom didn’t drive) to see a movie if I wanted. That went for friends too. If they didn’t want to or couldn’t join me, I’d just go by myself. I’ve applied that ethos to just about everything ever since (though it works better for some situations than others).

I don’t know if I’d say I prefer going to the movies alone, but I’m certainly accustomed to it — especially when seeing some films to review. Having someone to talk about the movie with afterwards can be a lot of fun, especially if it’s a film that compels some discussion. That walk, drive or time at a coffee shop or bar can be almost as engaging as the movie itself.

But I definitely agree with Serrels. It’s an underrated pleasure, an opportunity to escape from the world for a couple of hours that often feels refreshing.

Spreading the Links

Rather than post a long list of links to read, I think I’m going to sprinkle them throughout each Overzealous Recycling from here on out. Let me know what you prefer as a reader, however.

** Guillermo Del Toro getting to present this year’s Best Director Academy Award to his friend and fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron was a special moment. And it was the latest update to the story of three Mexican filmmakers (do we really want to call them the “Three Amigos”?) ruling the Oscars. Del Toro, Cuaron and Alejandro González Iñárritu have won five of the past six Best Director awards. [Slate]

** Hi, my name is Ian and I am a nail-biter. I don’t know when I started, and it was really bad through my teens and 20s. My fingernails probably aren’t as strong as they could be because of it. I’m not so bad anymore, though I’d still rather bite my nails than clip them. It’s “a manual art,” as Suzannah Showler writes. [New York Times]

My Comic Book DNA

On Twitter a couple of weeks ago, writer Alex Segura asked people to post their #ComicsDNA, the three or four books that formed their fandom as readers. That led to a whole bunch of fun and fascinating responses.

Unfortunately, I missed out on this a couple of weeks ago, so I’d like to do it here. I’m not absolutely certain, but I’m pretty sure this was the first comic book my mother ever bought for me, picking it up at the drugstore on her way home from work:

Of course, I was a big fan of Super Friends on Saturday morning and after-school cartoons. Remembering that a Super Friends comic book was important to me, I think this is the one that got me hooked. (Seems kind of dark, looking at it now.)

I love plenty of Batman comic books, but none is more important to me than issue No. 1 of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

And the same holds true for Daredevil comics. I love a bunch of ’em, especially during Frank Miller’s run. But this is the one that means the most, written by Miller and illustrated by David Mazzuchelli. I should get that image of Daredevil tattooed on me somewhere.

** Dave Bautista says he wants to be viewed more as an actor than action star. Some of his recent choices, like taking smaller roles in Blade Runner 2049 and Hotel Artemis, have been impressive. Facing Triple H at Wrestlemania might run counter to that, though. [Tampa Bay Times]

** I’m a Bill Maher fan, and I think his Real Time panel discussions can occasionally be some of the most intelligent and engaging conversations on politics in a given week (though not as often as it once was). But Drew Magary is right: Real Time is too often a safe haven for liberals now and marginalizes Maher. He tries to be too provocative because of it. By the way, I don’t give a shit about what Maher thinks of Stan Lee or my love of comic books and superheroes. [GQ]

Musical Interlude

Shortly before the Oscars and True Detective finale, Mahershala Ali’s college basketball career was discovered (or remembered) and went viral.

With a second Academy Award in three years now under his belt and a compelling Season 3 of True Detective (in which he played a character throughout five timelines) completed, let’s also look at Ali’s burgeoning career as a rapper. Prince Ali! [Hat tip, The Big Lead]

Next week, are we going to find out that Mahershala was an aspiring four-star chef or race car driver? What can’t this man do?

** Tom King is arguably the most intriguing writer in comic books right now. Some fans don’t like his plotting or storytelling, and his narratives sometimes feel dragged out. But his willingness to dig into the psychology of superheroes (seen in Batman, Mister Miracle and Vision) is fascinating. His Heroes in Crisis mini-series — exploring the mental trauma suffered by these characters — is a really compelling read. [The Ringer]

** I will always be baffled by people who say they “forgot to eat.” And I’m certainly envious of athletes who have difficulty keeping on weight. Washington Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde put on 20 pounds in hopes of becoming a better, more durable pitcher this year. I could probably do that over one weekend eating on Atlanta’s Buford Highway. [Washington Post]

** My go-to line whenever lamenting a possibly bad Best Picture winner is that we’ll look back in 10 years and wonder what the hell the Academy Awards were thinking. Unfortunately, that’s happened many times. What are the best nominees that didn’t win the big award each year? [Vulture]

** Writer Victor LaValle explained how profoundly meaningful the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man is to him. I wish I’d thought more about the importance of representation and diversity in comic books while reading them as a kid. I certainly appreciate it as an adult with three young nieces. [New York Times]

** I wonder how I would’ve felt about an Asian-American Hulk when I was a kid, especially in those formative junior high years as a comic book reader. Would Amadeus Cho’s Totally Awesome Hulk, the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel, Silk, or S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jimmy Woo have blown my mind? Or would I have still preferred Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne? I probably would’ve followed the big names, but I’m intrigued by the growing number of Asian-American characters now. [Fandom]

I did read some Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, comics, but think I preferred watching Bruce Lee films for martial arts action.

** Filmmaker Michael Mann has launched a book imprint. It’s been a while since his last film (2015’s Blackhat), so it’s nice to see that his good taste in storytelling can be applied to true crime, such as Elaine Shannon’s Hunting LeRoux. Fiction — including a prequel to Heat — is coming soon. [Vulture]

Weekly Affirmation

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