It’s Christmas Eve 2020. I went down a rabbit hole of fireplace videos. I don’t have a fireplace in the house but I’ve always been fascinated with ‘em.
I’ve grown to love the sound of a crackling fire. It’s not the most pleasant sound, but is mysteriously compelling. Sometimes the cracks and pops can even be startling. In that brief moment of loudness, you are brought out of the tranquility and reminded of the primal fear of fire.
I ask the $20 Echo Dot, “Alexa, play fireplace sounds,” and Alexa would wordlessly begin to sound like it’s burning. This is great for some background ambiance. For when I have no coffee shop to go to, or, more realistically, when I don’t feel like listening to the same-sounding Lo-fi hip-pop radio playlist again. The digital warmth is certainly nice. What’s nicer is the fact that it drowns out the silence in the void.
Surrounded by modern white walls of the living room, I put on Netflix and searched “fireplace”. I was delighted to find out there is a whole series of these videos. Hour-long recordings of a burning fireplace, in UHD 4K. “A real fireplace sparks and crackles, adding warmth and atmosphere to any home.”
I looked up an interview with George Ford, the creator of the fireplace trilogy. His favorite is the Classic Edition which happens to be my favorite as well. It’s suitable for all seasons unlike the Yule Log, and the Birchwood Edition takes too long to start.
It takes a while for my television to adjust to high quality, which was frustrating when I upgraded to a better quality plan just as Netflix did the price hike. Again. There is something surreal about the pixelated flames burning inside a TV screen.
The Netflix-made “Bright Edition” is a joke comparing to the original. It’s a tie-in with the 2017 film Bright, and features a graffiti-covered wall and a dumpster barrel fire. Gotta have that dystopian edginess. The fire looks like bad CGI and even changes color like a LED light stripe. The occasional fairy-thing flapping about is unnecessary but hilarious.
Comparing to Netflix, there are countless videos on YouTube. The selection is endless. Different types of fireplace, different locations. Campfire in the wilderness. Fire by the Christmas tree. Some of them have millions of views. I suppose there’s a real audience for these videos.
Give me all the warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of the year. 2020 is challenging, and 2021 doesn’t promise to be magically better.
Happy holidays if you celebrate, and happy burning.