Browsing Tag: covid-19


    I Saw a Movie Tonight. In a Movie Theater.

    April 23, 2021

    I sure didn’t expect to get a bit emotional tonight in the parking lot of the Queensgate 12 movie theaters, but I also didn’t expect to go 16 months without even being able to see a movie at a real theater.

    Such was the case tonight, though, as I walked out to my car after seeing Godzilla vs. Kong. The movie was good. Seeing a movie (any movie!) in a real theater was magical.

    This fun evening was made possible by the fact that it’s been two weeks and a day since I got my second Pfizer vaccine, so I’m feeling clear to do more “normal” things like this … safely, of course.

    There were only about 25 people in the theater tonight, which holds 95 people. It’s one of those theaters where you pre-select seats, and when I got my ticket yesterday, the system automatically blocked the seats immediately next to mine. That was nice.

    Here’s an interesting coincidence about that getting-a-bit-emotional-in-the-parking-lot thing: When I started up the car, Coldplay’s “The Scientist” was on. The first lyrics I heard?

    Nobody said it was easy
    No one ever said it would be so hard
    I’m going back to the start

    Weird, huh? That’s kinda what was running through my mind at that moment.

    According to my Swarm app check-ins, I hadn’t been to a movie theater since I saw Rise of Skywalker in this same theater back in December 2019. Since then it’s been 16 months of watching a lot of movies on TV at home. (Recommended: The Little Things. Not recommended: Wonder Woman 1984.)

    I enjoy the comfort of watching at home, but damn … I’m really looking forward to more nights like tonight.


    All-In on Grocery Delivery Services

    September 11, 2020

    When it comes to “pandemic changes” that we’re going to continue doing/using after the pandemic ends, grocery delivery is pretty high on the list.

    I’d never done grocery delivery until this hit back in the spring, and now I’m totally sold on it.

    Since Cari is a real estate agent, her weekends are often spent out looking at houses with clients — yes, even during the pandemic that’s still the case. So I’ve been doing the family grocery shopping for pretty much the past 16 years. A typical weekend of grocery shopping involves a minimum of two trips to different stores and takes a good two hours or so, sometimes more but rarely less. And that doesn’t include a monthly trip to Costco; add in another 60-90 minutes for that.

    With grocery delivery, I’m spending maybe 20-30 minutes total making a shopping list and placing the orders through,, and Instacart. And then everything shows up on our front door and we just put it away and get on with our lives.

    I hear you saying, “What about the costs, Matt?”

    The groceries are a little more expensive when ordered through Costco or Instacart. Walmart groceries cost the same online and in the store. Then there are delivery fees and tips … and I try to be a generous tipper, especially in times like this.

    As best I can tell, and I’ve tried to track this, all of those extra costs come to about $50-60 per shopping “event.” I put it that way because we used to do grocery shopping every weekend. Now with delivery, we’re ordering more and only shopping twice a month. So it’s about $100-$120 extra per month … but it saves me about 8-10 hours per month. When I do the math, delivery is basically costing about $12-15 per hour. And my time is worth a lot more than that, so I consider it a fair trade.

    The only downside to grocery delivery is that sometimes the stuff you’ve ordered is out of stock. With all of the services, you can indicate if you want a substitute item or if you want the item skipped if it’s out of stock. And when this happens to your Costco/Instacart order, it’s no problem — you can watch the order being shopped in real-time, and if you don’t like what the “shopper” has chosen as the substitute, you can text right away and provide instructions. But you can’t do that with the Walmart orders. When something’s out of stock at Walmart, the shopper picks a substitute and you’re basically stuck with it. So you have to be extra careful when ordering about which items you’ll allow substitutes for, and which ones you won’t.

    When the pandemic started, we also signed up with a local community farming co-op — they deliver super-fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every week for $29. That’s been really cool because I hate to waste money and hate to throw food away, so I find myself eating a lot healthier these days to make sure that food and money aren’t wasted.

    The photo above shows a typical delivery from this service — heirloom tomatoes, peaches, sweet corn, watermelon, green peppers, cucumbers, avocado, and blueberries. Soooooo fresh and delicious.

    Put all of that together and you can count me a convert to the joys of grocery delivery.


    My Best & Worst Quarantine TV Shows

    September 1, 2020

    Like most of us, I’ve been watching a lot more TV during the pandemic than I have in years. Maybe ever. And no lie, a lot of it has been much better than I expected.

    So, in a nod back to my “Average Matt” days of doing movie reviews for friends’ podcast, here’s a list of the new shows I’ve been watching and how I feel about them — the mostly good and the occasional bad.

    (Note: I’m only talking about new shows I’ve started during these quarantine days. So shows like The Walking Dead and even The Mandalorian won’t be here because they pre-date the pandemic.)

    Defending Jacob (Apple TV+)

    This is by far the best show I’ve watched during the pandemic. It’s a great legal/psychological drama, but not so much a “thriller” like some of the other legal shows over the years. It moves slowly … very slowly at times. But I loved it.

    Defending Jacob was eight episodes long, and from what I’ve read, that’s it. There’s no season two coming up or anything. Just those eight great episodes. It was good enough that I’ll go back and watch ’em all again someday.

    The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

    I’d heard less-than-stellar things about this show, so I was kinda hesitant to watch … but I’m really glad I did.

    This one gets off to a slow start. The people who didn’t like it probably only watched the first 3-4 shows. It starts to get much better around episode 4/5. As I was telling a friend on Twitter earlier this summer, it almost feels like they changed writers or something because the second half of season one is way better than the first half.

    I’m not a huge Jennifer Aniston fan, and in the first few episodes she seems out of place, but she really crushed it in the second half of the season. And Billy Crudup is amazing in his supporting actor role — totally deserving of the award nominations he got.

    Mythic Quest (Apple TV+)

    This is a comedy set in a video game company’s office. The company makes a super popular game called … you guessed it … Mythic Quest.

    This one had some really funny moments and episodes, and some really good/funny characters. But it also had some duds, too. Overall, it’s not bad. When season two rolls around, I’ll check it out. But the show needs to go deeper on the characters — the best comedies (like Cheers, for example) explored the characters while also making you laugh.

    For All Mankind (Apple TV+)

    (Can you tell I spent a lot of time watching Apple TV+ this summer?)

    This is one of those “alternate history” shows, where they tell the story around “what would’ve happened if X didn’t happen, but Y did?” It’s kinda like Man In The High Castle, which I loved, but it’s not dystopian like High Castle was.

    The first episode of this one is a bit slow, but it gets really good after that. Sometimes it seems like the show tries too hard to be conscious of (or “woke” as some would say) and to fix the social injustices of the 1960s/1970s, but I think that’s a relevant part of the “what would’ve happened if…” question that the show raises.

    Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

    I can’t believe I like this show. It’s running right now, and they’re like 4-5 episodes in to the first season.

    There’s nothing original about the show. Ted Lasso is an American football coach who takes a job running a British football/soccer club, even though he knows nothing about the sport. The club just changed ownership in a divorce, and the previous owner’s wife is now in charge — and she wants the team to fail to embarrass her former husband. (That’s why she hired a know-nothing as coach.)

    It all sounds so cliché, yet I can’t stop watching. Jason Sudeikis is really great as Ted, and the show is just starting to unpack some of the personal/character reasons why he’d leave a great job coaching football in the US for this other coaching job he knows nothing about. It has some funny moments, some touching moments, and you know exactly what’s going to happen in the end … but that’s not stopping me from watching.

    Central Park (Apple TV+)

    Finally, an Apple TV+ show I didn’t like. I really wanted to. I watched the first two episodes and started on the third, then decided it just wasn’t for me.

    The Expanse (Amazon Prime)

    Ugh. I so wanted to like this. Managed to stick through all of season one, but I think I bailed during or right after the first episode of season two. It just didn’t do anything for me, despite my best efforts to give it time to work.

    High Score documentary (Netflix)

    Just finished watching this last week. This is a 6-part documentary on the video game revolution of the 1970s/1980s and how it played out into the 1990s.

    There’s obviously a lot of nostalgia here for me, because I grew up on video games — Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, even Apple games. And don’t get me started on how much $$ I spent at the mall arcade. (Or at the 7-11 on Trenton Rd., which was the closest place to find Defender and Missile Command).

    The first two episodes really delivered on that nostalgia, but after that High Score was really hit and miss. The last episode was good, too, I guess. But in the middle … meh. Rather than six episodes, it probably should’ve been four.

    The Last Dance documentary (ESPN)

    Speaking of documentaries, this was fantastic and maybe the best thing I watched all year — but I’m listing it down here because, I don’t know, it feels different from all the scripted shows that I planned to write about.

    So that’s it … my best and worst shows of the pandemic. I also managed to catch a few movies here and there. (Knives Out was great; Greyhound was meh.) And I need to find a way to catch up on one of my favorites, Yellowstone. That just finished season 3, but I never saw season 2 because Paramount Network wasn’t on YouTube TV when we dropped DirecTV a couple years ago.

    What are your best/worst shows that you’ve seen during the pandemic??