Friday, October 29, 2021

Road Tripping

Road trips used to be a lot harder.

In August I flew back to Newfoundland. It was the most expensive flight I’ve purchased in years. The flight was delayed twice and, if you count the train ride to Pearson, the wait at the gate and the time filling out COVID documentation once I landed, I was wearing a mask and breathing with difficultly for over seven hours. This is how we travel now. Not by hook or by crook but by cautious and respectful steps.

In contrast, in September, Julia and I took a road trip a few hours outside of Toronto where we listened to our own music and podcasts, took our own time, took the road less travelled, snacked on our snacks and spoke and laughed entirely unmasked.

I’m not generally a fan of the road trip by car. The stress of driving on a 400-series Ontario highway combined with junk food, intermittent radio, carefully timed bathroom breaks, not to mention other idiot drivers, all while sealed inside a ton or so of steel, glass and plastic seems more like torture by boredom than fun. By comparison, nothing comes close to the thrill and genuine freedom of heading out on the open road with just your bike and a couple of stuffed panniers. When you bike it takes a day to cover the same distance you might go in an hour by car but you remember every minute of that day and every kilometre of that journey. It is so visceral. The sun or (god forbid) rain on your cheeks, the aromas in your nose, the wind buffeting you, the sounds from roadside woods or creeks all become unforgettable. The journey isn’t just the way you got somewhere on your vacation but it is the vacation.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Welcome to the Working Week 

What breed am I? Couch potato.

It was another long day full of meetings, conversations, planning and deadlines. Another late supper and another day that ended on the couch flipping between late night talking heads and their celebrity guests. The THC/CBD oil was starting to kick when I decided I'd had enough and stood up to head to bed. As I usually do, I checked my phone to see when my first meeting of the next day would be. Oddly, there were no meetings  because, as I came to realize, I was looking at Saturday in my calendar. Only then did it occur to me that it was Friday night. This is a day that shall live in infamy. The time I forgot it was Friday.

You often hear retired people forgetting what day of the week it is, because, well, why would it matter? I can sometimes picture the same thing happening to me but it never occurred to me that I might not remember what day it was because I was so busy.

The affluence of doing absolutely nothing is something I cherish. I realize I live easier than most but I don’t feel “rich” or wealthy. I think of the wealthy as those who don’t need to work to pay for their lifestyle and they don’t have to work to even build more wealth. "Money makes money," as they say. Yet it occurred to me that the freedom to do nothing but lie around listening to podcasts, flipping through a magazine or a book, or watching a film is a kind of wealth many cannot experience. 

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Seen in Augustember 

The lady arrives, in First Cow. Image via The Movie Db.
I've been lax in my accounting of films and television I've watched this summer and now autumn. Who knows what temporal anomaly I've fallen into but there are parts of life that often take precedence over tracking what I've been watching from the nest of my couch. Thus this attempt to catch up.

In August
Locked Down
This is a film about the COVID lockdown, set during the lockdown, filmed during the lockdown about a relationship breakdown. It’s also a heist film. Imagine that just as you and your life partner had called it quits on your long term relationship, you and everyone else has been ordered to stay at home in quarantine. This is the situation that Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejifor) find themselves in. After weeks of trying to avoid each other in the same London townhouse events occur that find them both struggling to continue while separate  opportunities converge into one. Linda is charged with emptying the famed Harrod’s department store as part of a COVID shutdown, including a valuable gem, while Paxton is a driver assigned to do the pickup. The wheels are set in motion for an unique heist. The madness of the early months of quarantine are accurately captured; Paxton spending days in sweats with unkempt hair, Linda over-consuming white wine in between attending video call for work. Yet, somehow the thrill and juice of the heist feels missing. Perhaps the filmmakers, while working under pandemic protocols, lost the verve to create art and fell beneath the cloud of COVID itself. Who could blame them?

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, in First Cow, no, wait, that's First Man. Image via The Movie Db.
First Man
Ryan Gosling plays famed astronaut Neil Armstrong from his early days as a gifted engineer up to the point of his first steps on the moon. This depiction of his life is framed by the personal loss of his daughter, through the alienation of his family due to the demands of being an early NASA astronaut, up to the fateful moment when he uttered the words, “…one small step for man.” It took many people to put a human on the moon, and Armstrong’s story is just one but he was also an exceptional person on a team of exceptional people.

Amazon Prime
Kate Beckinsale is Lindy, someone who’s anger management treatment includes self-administered shock therapy. She also seems to be a highly skilled fighter/bouncer. This odd combination is just the grist to set in motion a series of increasingly violent set pieces. In the end, her journey to find the killer of a new boyfriend is a ruse. Dear filmmakers, we know how it feels to be deceived and manipulated, unfortunately we can’t just zap ourselves out of our anger.

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