Claude and I have noticed that there is a plethora of paranormal shows on (formerly) respected channels such as A&E, Discovery, History, etc. Paranormal State, Paranormal Cops, Ancient Paranormal, Paranormal Intervention. That’s my favorite one because the title suggests that it would combine paranormal with another favorite of ours, A&E’s Intervention. But it doesn’t. I digress again. (I do that a lot.) Intervention is, of course, about addiction and the intervention process. They have three interventioners that they round-robin, and they all have the same pat phrases. Our favorite is “There’s just a heck of a lot of love in this room,” which is the opening line for one particular interventioner.
Well, I’ve been thinking lately about calling Intervention. Claude has a little bit of a “problem”. He is addicted to Criterion Collection DVDs. For those that don’t know, Criterion is a company dedicated to taking the finest in film and DVD extras and putting out extraordinary DVDs of the finest movies ever made. Unfortunately, they are also now trying to skew to a younger crowd and have started putting out titles such as “The Aquatic Life of Steve Zizzou” and “Dazed and Confused” and “The Rock” and “Armageddon.” Yeah. Thanks, Criterion. Anyway, Claude’s goal is to own every Criterion ever released. The current count in the catalog is well over 500, and we have about 100.
Every weekend, we have to make a trek to the local used book/movie store to “hunt down Criterions” like some wildebeest. I usually sit in the car, sometimes for an hour or more, while the hunter seeks the hunted. Claude has this unusual behavioral change when he is around books or DVDs in a store – he becomes very excitable, sometimes his forehead shows beads of sweat, and he runs from aisle to aisle like a silver ball in a pinball machine. I often worry.
So how does one break this Criterion addiction, especially since Claude, who is a graduate student, is secretly competing with a very bright young undergrad who has about 350 Criterions. He’s even taken to buying these off his friend, like a dime bag, surreptitiously, after class, and sneaking the Criterions into the house in his bookbag. Funny, his eyes are usually red, too, when he does that.
I can see the scene playing out in my mind from Claude’s Criterion intervention: We’ve all gathered at some non-descript hotel – myself, Claude’s parents who have never watched a movie more high-brow than what you find on the Sci-Fi (or Sy-Fy) channel; his smug undergrad friend who, of course, doesn’t want to be bested, and our favorite local band, just for support and possibly a tune or two. His parents are crying. “Claude, why can’t you just be content to watch Mansquito? Or even Black Hole? You know Judd Nelson plays an ASTROPHYSICIST (now there’s a bit of casting) and he SAVES Minneapolis!” wails his mother, clutching a handkerchief and her rosary beads. “Yeah, don’t you remember 2012? All those EXPLOSIONS! It was so GREAT! And all you want to watch is this black-and-white crap that no one can understand!” booms his father.
Interventionist: “There’s a heck of a lot of Criterions in this room….”
Letter reading begins.
Your Criterion addiction has affected me negatively in the following ways. First of all, I never have any money anymore. You watch every Criterion you get like the Zapruder film, and all the extras and all the commentary tracks, which leaves like zero time for me, personal hygiene, help with a chore or two, or reading my Facebook posts, and most importantly of all, it keeps you from looking at my ICanHazCheezburger cat pictures which I hold so dear. You need to know if you do not accept this gift of help today, there will be consequences. I will stick objects such as silverware and half-chewed gum in the DVD player. I will erase all the stuff you’ve had taped for 2 years on the DVR. I will no longer accept your emails that say things like “Watched Empire of Passion, an Oshima film that forms an informal diptych w/ In the Realm of the Senses, which you bought for me here awhile back. Very different in execution but equally fascinating.” Mainly because I can’t understand what you’re saying, so I’m just sayin’. What is a diptych anyway? (Claude’s mother wails in agony).
At this juncture, Claude runs out of the hotel room and away from the intervention in angry protest. He has to smoke a cigarette (he doesn’t smoke). He’s not getting on that plane to whatever rehab center Intervention has in mind. 90 days, no Criterion, no way. Claude runs outside the hotel and begins rolling around in the grassy area, wailing. I try desperately to console him by pulling out a copy of Criterion’s Lola Montes and rubbing it on his face, soothingly. It doesn’t work. “It HAS to be a BUNUEL!” he shouts at me, angrily. I stop to think what films of Bunuel’s might be on Criterion…honestly, I don’t know. I would think Discreet Charm would be on Criterion…just not sure. I struggle with how to placate Claude sans Bunuel. People are stopping in the parking lot to stare at this spectacle. “Will Bergman do?” I ask in my sweetest, meekest voice. “BERGMAN??? NO!!! Wait…YES!!” His choking sobs start to subside as I give him Smiles of a Summer Night. The interventionist approaches. “I think you’re on the wrong A&E show,” he says. We look at him, puzzled. “Have you ever heard of a little show called ‘Hoarders’? It comes on right after I do, on Monday nights. Ten o’clock.”
We nod our heads as if we’ve just received the key to Enlightenment by the Buddha himself, just to get the interventionist off our backs and keep us off A&E, which used to be “arts” and “entertainment”. We won’t be watching Hoarders. We’ll be watching Criterion.