Life in the Time of COVID-19: Entertainment is Key to Maintaining Sanity

(C) 2008 Abrams ComicArts and Topps Chewing Gum Company

Living in the time of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is, to put it mildly, quite a challenge for most people, especially those of us who live in the United States. As I write this on the afternoon of April 10, there are 1,673,423 confirmed cases worldwide, with the U.S. in the not-so-great spot of being No. 1 in number of people with COVID-19: 486,490, of whom 18,002 (the size of an average infantry division in the Army) are dead. And although there are signs that the “curve of infection” is leveling off in some parts of the country, the number of cases (and fatalities) is still climbing.

The COVID-19 stats as of 1414 on April 10, according to Johns Hopkins University.

I have been practicing “social distancing” since March 6, 2020; for me, my daily routine is not all that different from that of before the pandemic. With rare exceptions to get a haircut, go see an occasional movie at a nearby theater with The Girlfriend, or go to the nearest branch of my bank to cash a check, my life has not really been affected…much.

So far, the biggest sacrifice I’ve made recently is to forgo the use of the Internet while The Girlfriend works from home. With the Internet carrying far more traffic than normal, our household of five has to deal with s-l-o-w connections and less band-with than usual. Four of us need to use the Internet for work or school at any time of day, but three people absolutely must be online during school/business hours, because that’s how many Wi-Fi connected computers can be online at one time. If a fourth computer attempts to get on the wireless connection, it will knock the one with the weakest connection offline. And because that computer happens to be the one that most needs to be connected for remote-office work, I don’t use the WiFi until after five in the afternoon.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

That does not mean, however, that I can’t use my PC at all during the day. Like most computers with built-in wireless connectivity, my Lenovo All-in-One can operate on “airplane mode.” So while I can’t access the Internet, look up information on, say, the Internet Movie Database, or stream video from my Movies Anywhere or Amazon Prime Video accounts, I can at least use Word to write, listen to music on my Amazon Music app, or even read ebooks that I’ve downloaded to my Amazon Kindle app.

A partial glimpse at my Amazon Music app’s list of purchased albums.

Admittedly, I overlooked the “airplane mode” function on my computer; I’d never needed to be offline on purpose before, so I didn’t even think about it until a week into our county’s “lockdown” and the new routine at home. But once I figured out that I could, at the very least, use Microsoft Word in offline mode, I was less upset about the no-Internet-until-5 PM restrictions than I was at first.

Even though I love my day job as a screenwriter and blogger, I sometimes get restless when I can’t check in on my friends on social media or read articles or other people’s blogs online. I’m so used to being connected that I get antsy when the Internet goes out or I have some restrictions placed on my use of it. (In the early 2000s, when the average connection was through conventional phone landlines, I could not log on until after 11 PM so my mother would be able to use the phone; this didn’t change until 2006, which is when I convinced her to get a DSL connection for our house.)

I can probably write another screenplay along the lines of A Simple Ad on Movie Magic Screenwriter 6.0. on offline mode, but I have not been inspired lately.

To maintain my sanity in these trying times, I try to find as much joy as I can from various forms of entertainment. Some, of course, are dependent on my use of a computer on airplane mode, and they include the following activities:

Gaming

I have a small selection of computer games in my hard drive, most of which I’ve bought on Steam. Because I was so used to being connected to the Internet all day long, I had forgotten that most, if not all, of those games can be played offline. So, as of late, I’ve been spending my offline hours playing some of my favorites, which include a Steam-revived Silent Service II, a World War II submarine simulation originally published by the late, great software company MicroProse in 1990.

Screenshots from Silent Service II.

I also learned that I can play Sid Meier’s Civilization V, the fifth entry in the series of world history sims that began with the original game published in 1991 by MicroProse, which Sid Meier co-founded in 1982, when I was still in high school and half-a-decade before I got my first home computer.

Screenshots from my latest session of Sid Meier’s Civilization V.

Books

Of course, I try to not limit my entertainment options to gaming. I also like to read fiction, non-fiction, and art books related to pop culture. Sometimes, of course, I read books (either new purchases or ones that I’ve owned for decades) in order to review them in my blogs. But most of the time, I read for pleasure and to continue learning new things, especially about history.

The first book in Rick Atkinson’s trilogy about the American Revolution. (C) 2019 Henry Holt & Co.
I have owned at least two copies of this book since the mid-1970s. (C) 1994 Simon & Schuster
When I was a kid in the early 1970s, I collected Wacky Packages stickers. (C) 2008 Abrams ComicArts and Topps Chewing Gum Company (TCGC)
I also collected Star Wars trading cards! (C) 2015 Abrams ComicArts and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

If my office’s layout was optimal, I probably would watch movies on my personal TV/Blu-ray combination. Unfortunately, the way my desk is placed (almost in the center of the room rather than flush against a wall), it’s not easy or pleasant to indulge in this particular pastime. I was given the smallest of the rooms for my “mancave,” so not only is the layout awkward (I can see the TV because it’s on a wall mount, but I have to look over the top of my monitor in order to do so), but space is limited and I feel extremely confined. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic, otherwise…..

At least I can, if I so choose, go to another room and read there. And sometimes I do. But I can’t really watch movies, at least not in a fashion that is comfortable and enjoyable. So that’s one entertainment option that’s closed off to me, at least during The Girlfriend’s working hours.

But, yeah, these are First World problems. And like I said earlier, I do have ways to kill time during these strange, scary, and challenging days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

2 thoughts on “Life in the Time of COVID-19: Entertainment is Key to Maintaining Sanity

  1. We have TV through the internet now, my daughter teleconferences students all day long till about 2:30, I’m on the internet for work, and my son is now home and on and our internet connection has held up. I don’t know how we would have survived this 20 years ago. One of the things I like is a group I’m in on Facebook where people are posting the view outside their window. It gives me the chance to see so much without leaving home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think part of the issue with the Internet where I live is the physical layout of the house itself. The Girlfriend is working from absolutely the worst room for Wi-Fi, as it is on the opposite corner from where the router is. I’m in the room that’s adjacent to the Router Room, so my connection is strong. When we try to use the Roku (you should watch “Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss” on a TV via YouTube. It’s so different from watching it on a PC!), it is so slow! Again, because the Internet is overloaded with so many people online at the same time.

    Like

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