Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, June 2, 2021, or: Indy, Baseball, and Video Format Upgrades

Art by Richard Amsel. (C) 1981 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Hey, there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. It’s a warm, grey-lit day; currently the temperature is 85˚F (30˚C) under cloudy skies. With humidity at 41% and the wind blowing from the southeast at 7 MPH (12 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 89˚F (32˚C). Today’s forecast will be on the soggy side; we’re advised to watch for scattered rain showers, and the high is expected to reach 92˚F (33˚C). Tonight, the scattered rain showers will continue, and the low will be 72˚F (22˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 38, or Good.

(C) 2011, 2021 PBS and Florentine Films

If all goes well, by this same time next week I should be the happy recipient of two pricey (and how!) Blu-ray box sets – Paramount Home Media Distribution’s Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection 4K Blu-ray and PBS’ Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns. Both sets are “format upgrades”: in the case of the Indy films, I am progressing from 2K HD Blu-ray discs (BDs) to 4K UHD BDs. In the case of Baseball, I am upscaling from standard definition (SD) DVDs to 2K BDs.

I admit that I have a tendency for redundancy when it comes to collecting home media releases of movies that I am particularly fond of. For instance, I have eight of the 11 Star Wars films in at  four formats – DVD, BD, 4K UHD BD, and digital.[1] I also have E.T., Saving Private Ryan, Superman, and Jaws in those four formats as well, a testament to how highly I esteem those films, as well as to the durability of carefully-stored and handled disc media.

Paramount Home Media Distribution’s banner ad for the new 4K UHD box set. (C) 2021 Paramount Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Since I tend to limit format upgrades to what I consider to be the crown jewels of my video collection, you would be correct if you think that the titles I choose to have in multiple formats are special to me for reasons that go beyond Well, they’re really good movies or They are part of cinema or TV history.  After all, the former is highly subjective (I’ve met people, including some of my Colombian relatives, who wouldn’t be caught dead watching Star Wars.) and the latter might impress film buffs and filmmakers, but it’s probably irrelevant to a person whose idea of entertainment is limited to reality TV.

In the case of the Indiana Jones films (at least the four directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas), I have an emotional attachment to them because Raiders of the Lost Ark – which celebrates its 40th Anniversary on June 12 – is the first movie I invited my late mom to see in theaters. It was, as I recall, the second half of her Mother’s Day present for that year; on the actual day (May 10), I presented her with the paperback of Campbell Brown’s novelization of Raiders, a book that she loved and kept in her library until she died six summers ago.

One of the last photos taken of me at my old Miami-area neighborhood. This was the “rough draft” for a costume I wore to a Halloween party in 2015. My mom gave me the jacket in Bogota, Colombia during our last overseas trip to see family in late 1993, and I’m wearing the second Indy hat she gave me as a replacement for my first. Photo by Rogers Perez.

Mom and I saw the first three films in the Indiana Jones franchise in theaters when they first came out, and, because she stopped going out to the movies after 2005 due to her health issues., we ended up seeing 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on DVD. (I saw Crystal Skull twice in theaters – once with my former neighbors Ivan Kivitt and Danny Mason, and again with my half-sister Vicky.[2])  Mom was as much of an Indy fan as I was; she gave me my two Indiana Jones fedoras,[3] and when Paramount Home Media Distribution and Lucasfilm released the three DVD box sets of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones in 2007 and 2008, she watched all of the (re-edited) Young Indy movies with me because she enjoyed the series’ mix of fiction and history.

Baseball has no such easy explanation. I’m not necessarily a baseball fan, and I did not watch Ken Burns’ documentary when it aired in 1994 on PBS. I think I decided to get it – as well as Jazz – when I read somewhere that It was part of Ken Burns’ massive trilogy about American history which began with The Civil War, a series that I watched in 1990 and made me a “Ken Burns fan.”

As I said, I am not a die-hard devotee of the sport, but when I watched Baseball – which by the time I bought it in 2017 had been supplemented with a follow-up documentary, Baseball: The Tenth Inning – on DVD, I was enthralled by the game’s rich and often tragic history. I suppose I like it because it is a “Ken Burns film,” which suggests that it’s not the topic of the story that attracted me to this documentary series, but rather who was telling the story and how the story was told.

I guess it doesn’t matter why I choose to upgrade some films or franchises. I don’t upgrade everything I own on home video – the only time I ever did that was when DVDs came along and made VHS tapes obsolete in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Not only was it necessary for various reasons, but it was easier to do both logistically – I think I had “only” about 90 titles on videocassette by the time I upgraded to DVD – but also emotionally; VHS was my least favorite home video format.

I shudder to think of my credit card bill for June and July; I pre-ordered Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection and Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns months in advance, before I had to replace a laptop computer that went kaput last month.  I can afford it, of course, because the rent I pay to the Caregiver is a fraction of what I’d pay elsewhere, and she is not the type of person who gets upset if I splurge on something that makes me happy every once in a while.  

It’s now early afternoon – I am not the world’s best or fastest typist – and I do have other matters to attend to, so I’ll take my leave of you, Dear Reader. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] I don’t have Solo, The Last Jedi, or The Rise of Skywalker on DVD because Buena Vista Home Entertainment did not include DVDs in their multi-format sets for those films.

[2] This was also the last movie Vicky and I went to see at a movie theater together. By then, our relationship was so badly strained that we could barely stand each other and only pretended to get along for our mother’s sake. Someday I’ll explain why going to the movies with Vicky was more of a hassle than a fun outing. For now, suffice it to say that after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I never accepted an invite to the movies from my half-sister again.

[3] She bought me my first Indy hat in 1989 during a visit to Bayside Marketplace in a store called Hats in the Belfry. I still have it, though it is missing the hatband around the crown because a dog we were taking care of for a neighbor chewed it off circa 2005, Mom gave me the money for the replacement as a birthday present.

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.

4 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, June 2, 2021, or: Indy, Baseball, and Video Format Upgrades

  1. Being a baseball fan, I just love Ken Burns’ series. It really encompasses part of our history in this country. One thing has always been a constant since the late 1800’s – baseball.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am surprised by how much I love this series, considering how casual a fan I am. I did follow the Florida (now Miami) Marlins for a while back when I still lived in Miami, but since I moved, I kinda stopped. And I”m not sure that I want to follow the Rays…..

      But this series…is amazeballs. I even have the soundtrack on CD and digital.

      Liked by 1 person

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