Value the present before it’s nostalgia

By Jim Lee: PNT Columnist

I haven’t gone to the movies for the better part of 10 years. They cost too much. The screens are too small. The magic has faded.

So I just rent something for home.

But going to see a movie is supposed to be an event, not just a film on television. I can remember when it was something I looked forward to for a week or more.

Years ago we got a lot for our money at the movies. Now the price of admission is higher than renting at least two movies at the video store. We can watch them at home where we don’t have to arrange a second mortgage for a bag of popcorn and a soft drink. We can just microwave a bag of popcorn, grab a drink from the fridge, and kick back with a movie.

The problem is that it’s a distraction instead of an event. It’s not going anywhere to do something fun.

I remember going to the Saturday afternoon matinee for kids in the olden days before VCRs, DVDs, and big TVs. I got in for a quarter or so, and I could get popcorn and an orange soda for a nickel or dime each.

The show would start off with a newsreel. We could actually see a motion picture version of the news we had heard on the radio or had seen in the newspaper a week or so before. Then came the cartoons. Next on the schedule was a double-feature extravaganza.

So what if just about everything was in black-and-white (except the cartoons). Real life was in color (not as bright and cheerful as the cartoons), and we were trying to escape from that — just like the Lone Ranger on the radio looking any way we pictured him in our young minds.

In recent years, imagination has become as obsolete as typewriters and hand-written letters.

Kind of sad, ain’t it?

The real bummer is that we can’t turn our backs on progress, no matter how warm and fuzzy nostalgia can be. Unfortunately, progress has a price tag. Like everything else, it has a give and a take. Wishing to return to a previous time is like a faith healer with acute appendicitis. We can’t have it both ways, my friends.

So the next time I start complaining about the techno-frustration of our contemporary world, I’ll try to picture myself with a toothache in 1597. How’s that for an incentive to pop back to the 21st century?

How about a drive to Roswell in 1923? How long would it take, and how comfortable would it be?

The next time I cuss at my cantankerous computer, I’ll think about getting two sheets of paper with a carbon in the typewriter straight and trying not to smear everything to oblivion when covering typos with white-out. And when I wish for the movies like they used to be, I’ll try to think of special effects being limited to a rubber monster suit with a visible zipper up the back.

Yes, I have fond memories of the movie matinees when I was knee-high to a 16mm projector, and I suppose I could call them the “good old days.” But were they really the good old days? We tend to mentally edit out the negative stuff so we can long for a better time. We call them the good old days because we were kids in a world of wonder; now we’re adults who wonder about the world.

We should enjoy the world we have now, not wish it away. And we should plan family events, like a trip to the movies or an afternoon at the park.

Today is tomorrow’s nostalgia. Appreciate and enjoy.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: