Movies in the Time of Pandemic

One thing the pandemic has been good for is staying in and watching movies. For me, it’s mostly older movies I’ve wanted to revisit, but hadn’t had time. Some of them replay on television, but I really, really hate being interrupted by 5 minutes of commercials. So off to Netflix and Prime and others I go. Or I look through my bookshelves of Blu-rays/DVDs and dig out a favorite. 

I like movies that have a slow build-up, that delve into character before making things explode. Movies we can talk about after they are finished. Turning on Netflix, I’m overwhelmed by choice and spend more time adding to my watchlist than actually watching. 

Running Lists

I made a list of the movies I turn to again and again. Some are old, some are newer, but not many. My tastes run to fantasy and science fiction (big surprise), musicals, drama, and opera. Period pieces are great, especially Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. The drawback – they are long, we’re talking 3 – 4+ hours long. Mini-series length. They are so engrossing, I don’t mind. 

The Blues Brothers. When I need a pick me up, that’s the movie I put on. I love musicals. I probably left a lot of them off my list, they are hard to find on television, except on PBS. Bollywood movies are usually a blast. Surprisingly, Netflix has a lot of them. I’m a sucker for Disney cartoons like Moana and Brave, although I didn’t list any Disney movies. But I’ll always watch them. I’m sure there are tons more movies I could add, but the ones listed below are some of my favorites, in no particular order. What are some of yours? What movies do you turn to when COVID makes you stay home?

My Watch List:

The Martian (AKA another “Saving Matt Damon” movie at our house)

Field of Dreams

Lord of the Rings/Hobbit

My Neighbor Totoro

Spirited Away (Okay, any Miyazaki movie)


The Princess Bride

Aida (the Metropolitan Opera version with Violeta Urmana/Johan Botha)

Red (Mark Rothko) on Great Performances

The Lion in Winter

2001 A Space Odyssey

Apollo 13



Singin’ in the Rain

Die Hard

Blade Runner

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Lawrence of Arabia

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Indian)

Red Cliff (Chinese)

Seven Samurai

Hidden Figures

Major League

Blues Brothers


Godzilla (1954 & 2014)

The Producers

The Warrior (Korean)

The Great Battle (Chinese)

Advice Paralysis

How’s your writing going? How’s your quarantine going? How are you doing today? 

I finally identified my current writing problem. Instruction fatigue that leads to paralysis. I’m editing a novel as I try to write more poetry. I’m using search and replace to search and destroy insidious words. Good advice I read somewhere. Normally, I would embrace what I can use, discard the rest. I enjoy helpful advice. 


Since all the writers are stuck at home, advice is gushing out to blogs and writing sites like water from a fire hose. Everyone has the time to advise right now. “Write All The Things!” Advice flies at me every time I open my email or browse to my favorite sites. At first, it seemed good. I gulped the gushing water. Then I tried to apply it to my own work. That’s when I choked. Contradictions rattled in my brain. Do this, not that. Do that, not this. Write, no, write more. Wear a mask. Wear two masks. Wrap duct tape around your face and wear a welding shield. Don’t touch your face. Don’t touch anything. Don’t breathe, it’s safer. But despite that, write. 

Tons of articles appeared on how to use this stay at home time to your advantage, most of them exhorting you to not waste time and get that Great American Novel (or Poem) in the works. Sort of NaNoWriMo, the Pandemic Version. It can guilt-trip people frozen in place by everyday fears—money, food, rent, worry about loved ones. The numbered “C” that has replaced the Big C. Getting through the day seems more important than getting Sylvia out of the murder house and on the run for her life. 

It’s a dystopian novel that sprung to life. Kudos to those who can keep plugging on despite the looming end of the world as we know it. (Too much?) I struggle to do any real editing of my novel, other than nit-picky stuff—eradicating weasel words like “that” and “would”. My poetry has undertones of despair. Even a poem about a flower ends with its death. I’m afraid to edit previous work because of this. I’m trying to pull up my bootstraps and accept writing isn’t coming from a happy place right now.

I don’t want to journal. Meditating is not the answer to all problems. Hurtling an asteroid into Earth seems like a good place to end a sci-fi novel.

Must Not Give In To Annihilating Humanity. 

Find inspiration where you can. Don’t worry if you can’t. 

That’s all I’ve got right now. I venture out the door to my “essential” (sacrificial) job with the public that leaves me fearful I’ve caught coronavirus every time I leave at five. That I’ve brought it home to my family. Writing needs to be a safe space. Not swallowing the fire hose of advice is now refuge from my tendency to beat myself up over not producing more, since I’m stuck in the house when I’m not at work. 

Advice is a sign of the times. It’s a cozy blanket fort offered up as salve to our burning fears. It wants to distract us from the underlying terror that something bad is going to happen and we’re helpless to stop it. I like to be in control of my world and damn it, the world is spinning out of control. I’m embracing the paralysis by easing away from social media and the news. I’m baking bread. Writing ideas in a notebook with my favorite pen. Petting the dog. Reading everything I can get my hands on. Paralysis retreats inch by inch. By the weekend, I’m ready to write again and send my plaintive “How are you doing today?” out into the world once more. 

The Pandemic Avoider’s Guide to Caution

I started out smug. Coronavirus can’t get me, I don’t associate with people all that much. My faithful muse smacked me on the back of the head. Fool, said she.

I’m not as introverted as I think. 

Being in the high risk group makes me very cautious. Even my other half worries about bringing something home. But there is another problem. Besides having no baseball to distract me. 

I work with the public. And the higher-ups show no sign of letting us do much work by phone or Internet. A lot can be done that way. We have hand sanitizer on desks and by phones. We’re as careful as we can be, but wiping down computers and phones and desks with Clorox does nothing about the people that come in sniffling and sneezing. We hand them masks. They hand us paperwork from their germy hands. I’m tempted to spray it down with Lysol, but doing it in front of them is a bridge I haven’t crossed. Yet. Pens, packages, the door handles. I wash my hands once an hour. Is that enough? More soap? Lye?

My other half goes to the grocery store for us. Wiping down the cart handles is fine, but what about the can someone took off the shelf and then put back? Things that are exchanged and replaced? Will flour ever be back in stock? How many meals can one make with hamburger? This is the time hoarding tendencies come in handy. Plenty of food in the freezer, art supplies, and yarn to knit. But limited TP and hand sanitizer. Rinsing hands in vodka seems excessive. At the moment. Better put to use with orange juice.

Everything that can be closed, is closed. I get gas with gloves on. The gym is closed now. I’m hoping stretches and dumbbells at home will do for the time being. My dog is too old to walk, but my neighborhood is empty for me to roam the road. We walkers wave at each other from opposite sides of the street. Advantages of living out of town.

How much avoidance is acceptable? How much further does an introvert have to go to be safe? Is there no safe place? Probably not. Unless you want to disconnect entirely from the public and live like a hermit. Even then, if your groceries get delivered, who handled them? There’s no winning. I’ve gone with sanitizer, wipes, and avoiding gatherings, but even introverts need human contact more than they think. On the plus side, I have lots of time to edit the novel, read, and create new poetry. 

All we can do is our best. Don’t let the possibilities overwhelm you. Watch Netflix or Prime or the Weather Channel. (Highway Thru Hell is my guilty pleasure.) Quit picking your nose. Try not to run screaming when someone around you coughs. Take precautions, but don’t wear a HazMat suit. Yet. Introvert, but don’t let it consume you.

In the words of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, “Let’s be careful out there.”

Back to Top