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03/06/2003

Foreign Film Workout

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Sure that entry title doesn't seem to make sense, but today I will show you a way how you can lose weight and appreciate films from around the world.

I signed up with Netflix a couple of years ago. I never really got a great deal of use out of it though. Claudine and I rarely sat and watched movies at night. 1) Because her schedule had her working late or not coming home at all some nights. And B) because by the time all the kids are finally put to sleep (heh, I mean "put to bed". As much as we'd like to "put them to sleep" some times) (I'm kidding, by the way. It's just a joke) we're way too tired to invest a couple of hours in a movie. So that membership really was going to waste.

Now in January of this year, I realize that I've kind of hit a plateau in my physical fitness. I've been able to keep off the weight that I'd lost as a result of my surgery last January but even though I was eating really well I wasn't making any progress on the last bit of weight that had taken up residence around my waist. And I would really like to lose that ring around my waist. I would like to see definition in my stomach just once in my life. I'm going to be 40 this year. If I don't do it now, I don't think I'll ever do it. It's not like I'm fat, but I've always been thick around the middle. I think this is my one last shot at my fitness goal. But guess what? I've still got a job, three kids and no time. I'm not going to go crazy trying to lose this weight at the expense of everything else. So I figured if I could throw in some kind of cardio workout everyday - just 30 minutes - I could slowly lose this last bit of weight without actually killing myself.

Sounds like a plan. Claudine has an old stationary bike in our bedroom that she bought when she was in med school down in D.C. I figure that since I work at home, I could climb on the old bike at lunchtime, pedal away for half an hour, take a quick shower and be back at my desk before anyone misses me. I positioned the bike in front of the T.V. and started. In the first week, I realized just what a vast wasteland daytime T.V. was. I've got the friggin' IO digital cable system with a zillion channels and I still couldn't find anything worth watching. Something that didn't help was that the bike was kind of old so it was pretty noisy. When I say "pretty noisy", I mean really noisy. Really, really noisy. Am I making it clear that there was noise associated with the bike? A lot of noise? I couldn't really hear anything without jacking the volume up.

After suffering through workout after workout of crappy infomercials, bad movies and worse re-runs, it finally hit me that I could watch my Netflix DVD's while working out. And so I did that. My workout viewing problem was solved! Alas, the sound problem remained. I would be constantly rewinding and jacking the volume up for all the quiet parts in the movies. Then hitting mute when the loud explosions or music montages would come on (I guess that gives you a clue what kind of movies I watch).

Finally it hit me. Actually, it didn't exactly "hit" me - it was more of a fortuitous coincidence. See, I try to be kind of hip and with it when actually I'm a 39 year-old whit guy who lives in the suburbs. I'm not hip and with it. But when reading various journals and sites around the internet of people who ARE with it, I would find discussions of all sorts of movies that I had never heard of. And so I put some of those selection on my Netflix queue just to see what these movies were all about. And, as it turns out, a large number of these movies were foreign films. I think it was during Amelie that I realized that sometimes subtitles rock in a big way. It didn't matter anymore if I was catching every nuance of whispered dialog. It didn't matter if I was doing sprint intervals that make the bike sound like a 747 was landing in the back yard. I was finally getting the whole movie without having to constantly rewind or jack the volume up to 11. Since then I have watched: Princess Mononoke which had English dubbing AND English subtitles, Abre los ojos (Open You Eyes) which was much better than that stupid Vanilla Sky remake, and Lola rennt (Run Lola Run). Right now, I have on my desk waiting to be viewed Ringu (The Ring), the original version of the recently released The Ring. And supposedly much better version. And in my Netflix queue is Ran, a movie that everyone says is great but I've never seen it.