Apr 7, 2009

Where Were You on April 7th?


2009 marks a silver anniversary of sorts. It was 25 years ago, where yours truly had officially proclaimed cinema as his primary interest. As superfluous as it may sound, it was indeed January 1, 1984 where I began wearing my newfound devotion on my sleeve, commencing with logging in notebooks every movie I had seen from that date forward. In a series of Hilroy 3-ring workbooks, I would devote one line per film: its title, year of release, rating, and primary leads, all preceded by date said film was viewed... and I was adamant about using only one line per title. So on July 21 1985, when I jotted down Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, I hardly had room to fit Dustin Hoffman.

This practice was kept continuously up until some time in 1999. It is a routine I wish I still kept. Not only was writing down the title a good way to commit to memory what one has seen, but more importantly, these pages turned into a veritable diary. Over the years I had always meant to write diaries, but thank my lucky stars I didn't, for fear of them being read by others and a greater dread of reading back about whatever now-trivial problems I would have whined about in those pages all those years ago. Instead, these movie entries act as a surrogate diary, made only accessible to me, just like one should be. Each line acts as a hitching posts to a more vivid memory. Leafing back through these pages for the first time in years, it easy to recall what was going in my life at the time I had viewed whatever film. For example, a 1987 entry for a Saturday afternoon viewing of The King of Marvin Gardens helped me remember that that was the day I was caught in a flash rainstorm earlier that day while driving on Highway 3, and developed an ear infection. Okay, not a pleasant thing to remember, but you get the idea.

Since 2007, I have been writing titles of films I had viewed down in the bottom line of each day in my planner, but still have to prod myself to remember to do it. But when I flip through these old notebooks, it is interesting to see the different patterns of my viewing experiences, based upon what was made available at the time. For example, one cluster of lines would have a lot of titles I would have viewed while "Six Gun Heroes" was still on WQLN, or on CBC Saturday morning, and of course, those many entries made possible by the rich programming of "The Cat's Pajamas" on TV-2. And naturally, these thin workbooks indirectly chronicle my progression from aimless teenager to a twentysomething existentialist, from university to college, from being friendless and single to being in love... quite the epic graduation from teenage misfit to, well, adult misfit.

Let's see now, April 7....
1984: San Francisco / In Old Chicago / Stalag 17
1985: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
1986: Grand Hotel
1987: Kentucky Fried Movie / Now Voyager
1989: Bloodsucking Freaks / Maxiumum Overdrive
1990: W.C. Fields shorts / The Snake Pit / Hangover Square / Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism / The Perils of Pauline
1991: Hellzapoppin
1995: A Child is Waiting
1996: The Ten Commandments
1997: Unhook the Stars

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