One day I noticed I was watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day every time it was on.

When you have a couple hundred channels, T2 is on, well, a lot.

So is Spaceballs.

I’d watch two or three movies at the same time. I mixed genres and release dates, mashed up entire schools of cinema. All the stories and visions, mine to control!

This was not scholarly appreciation. This was not DIY film school.

This was a binge, a debauch, a scandal!

I’m not sure when my epiphany occurred. I was out of control, for sure. Plenty of red flags.

Maybe it was during my third or fourth viewing of The Misfits on TCM when I realized if there were no TVs in my living space, perhaps I would find other things to do.

The Misfits is certainly worthy of multiple viewings. If you’re a movie guy or movie gal, you know that Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay, and Marilyn Monroe stars with Gable and Clift (Eli Wallach deserves equal billing, I think). Directed by John Huston. Nuff said.

But if you’re watching a terrific movie and you kind of lose interest because you’re waiting for it to get to a really good part that you know is coming, then it’s time to give movies (and sitting around looking at junk) a rest.

When I was a kid, I got the movies, and the movies got me. I never had a chance to look down on the movies. The movies have always been high art to me.

My first movie? I think it was Way…Way Out with Jerry Lewis, which would explain a lot. (If you want to see Way…Way Out, I guess you have to go to France, where Mr. Lewis is better understood. Seriously. Jerry Lewis is the man.)

I grew up watching TV, too, but the movies were always the best thing on TV. The hours spent soaking up cathode rays were nothing compared to a Saturday afternoon at the Lamar or Paramount in downtown Jackson.

The Lamar was a fantastic old palace with sticky floors and a CinemaScope-friendly screen. You inhaled the popcorn ether of the lobby as the Coming Attraction posters floated by. More movies on the way. All senses firing.

The lobby inclined, I think. I remember walking up to the doors of the auditorium, as if approaching a shrine.

The screen appeared from behind a velvety curtain, which parted as the lights dimmed and the shadows began to flicker and roll.

There I saw classic and contemporary Disney pictures, and John Wayne westerns. These were the brand names my parents trusted.

But my parents were fooled. Duped. Played.

Walt Disney and the Duke were subversive, radical, hyper-real. The wide screen was larger and louder than anything I’d ever seen. It was the window to the future, which, clearly, would be goofy (if not Goofy) and violent and American.

At five or six, I drew the obvious conclusion – movies are the best thing ever, man.

So it began. A little taste of Rio Lobo and Son of Flubber and the kid is hooked for life.

Now the TV – my movie pusher – is gone. Vital signs normal. But who knows how long I can take it? (Avatar, yeah, whatever. Terminator 2, slick. That’s what you want. Linda Hamilton. That’s all I’m sayin’.)

International Blogosphere Sensation Bob Johnson has been working on his impressions. Yesterday he showed me his impression of a wastebasket, which I thought was excellent.

Bob Johnson is also participating in the No Television Experiment, and chewing up a box of old baseball caps. He is a highly motivated individual with multitasking capability.

To make the experiment more scientific, I did some research. I asked a buddy if he’d ever voluntarily given up TV.

“No,” he said, as if to a small child. “My TV is my friend.”

Writing about giving up TV makes me want to watch TV.

Why is it suddenly cold? What is this terrible loneliness?

_____________________________________________

John Hicks is reading a book. 

John Hicks lives outside the city limits, where eagles dare.

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