Messenger From the North

I watch a lot of movies, and I am particular about the themes. I prefer stories about real people and not those of Hollywood gangsters and shoot em ups. Some of that stuff might be going on in the real world, but not to the extent to which writers and movie makers lead us to believe. Maybe I am living in a bubble here on the edge of the mid-west near one of the largest cities in North America. Yes, we have crime, and yes, we have murders, but why make movies about them? Isn’t that reinforcing the bad behavior, i.e. by glorifying it in film?

A few days ago, I came across a movie titled Chloe and Theo. This story had all th elements of a great movie, it was funny, it was sad, it was tragic, and it had a message. The premise of the story is that a tribe of Inuit Indians living on the ice fields of the arctic circle have seen a trend of warming that is shrinking their ice, and forcing the animals inland, and away from their habitat which is the ice and the frigid waters of the arctic. They decide to send a messenger from their tribe to speak to the elders, and to give them a message of pending doom. They pick a single man named Theo not because he is a smart guy, or a diplomat, or a scientist, but because he is the only one in their village who can speak english. The village elders give him a pouch filled with cash to make the trip.

Theo lands in New York and is amazed at the tall buildings the hordes of people, and the noise. He often laments that where he is from there is a simple beauty to the empty, whiteness, and silence of the ice. He checks into a low cost flop-house and goes looking for the elders. Along the way he meets a young woman who is homeless after she recognizes him as an eskimo. She befriends him only because she thinks he is different, and she wants to know all about him. Theo asks her to help him find the elders. She takes him to her tented area in a dilapidated building where many homeless sleep. She introduces him to what she considers to be an elder. He is in reality a informal leader of the homeless group to which she belongs. Theo is not satisfied, so the group begins a brain storming session as to who they should try to get him to see. At first it was the President of the USA, but the idea falls apart when the FBI gets involved and asks too many dumb questions. Eventually, they break from the FBI and return to brainstorming. The elder in the group has a brainstorm, why not take Theo to the United Nations, and the story goes in that direction, but again proves to be fruitless.

Another plot is to introduce him to the producers of a big TV show, and they succeed in getting a meeting with them. The homeless group and Theo enter the building and are getting into an elevator when Theo balks, he wants to walk up the 62 stories to reduce his contribution to the carbon footprint left by the elevator. He walks while the homeless group is waiting for him to arrive. Nerves take over and the producers insist of leaving, but the homeless are persistent and make Theo’s pitch for him. The scene ends with all of them leaving the conference room as Theo finally arrives.

To make this long story shorter I will only say that these characters all made the story believable. Before the end of the film they are successful in finding a way to get Theo’s story to the Elders. They celebrate and give Theo a gift of a pair of shoes to replace the heavy boots he has worn since he left his Northern Village, and as he has always done throughout the story he takes a walk to try his new shoes, and to clear his head. Then something unbelievable happens and the story ends.

This is what I rate a five star film * * * * *

Out of the Darkness, Into the Light

Yesterday I came close to losing it. The day was a typical dark, dreary, and rainy December late fall day. After so many years experiencing the same symptoms in the same months I have self diagnosed myself with Light Affective Disorder or LAD. It affects my mood, and causes me to become lethargic, energy-less, and sad. All I want to do is eat, sleep, and cry too. Fortunately, for me I can overcome most of the symptoms and make a day of it. Yesterday was a losing one. Finally, after finishing reading a Tom Clancy book my mood began to pick up. I called a restaurant and made reservations for two for supper(note the emphasis on food). We left in the dark at 4:45 to make a five o’clock reserve at a restaurant we have never been to. Upon arriving, the police had Main Street blocked off. Change plans, go around the block and come in from another direction. The other end of Main was also closed. The restaurant was in between the two blockades. I envisioned a gas leak or some other disaster pending, not knowing why all the emergency vehicles were there I decided to change plans again and go to a place that we know very well. There was to be no adventure on this evening.

At Docks restaurant, I asked the owner what was going on down at Main. His answer surprised me because the day was so rotten. It seems they block that section of Main to cater to a Village festival every Sunday from 1 – 5 and allow crowds to walk freely from business to business without traffic concerns.

After dinner we explored a neighborhood to see some Christmas lights. A couple of days ago I was touring on Google maps and came across a house that was marked as Czyz Family Light Show. It was worth the effort to find it in the dark, and I’ll go to see it again.

I read some more before retiring and then made a huge mistake at 11:00 p.m. Normally, I turn off and go to bed, but this time, instead of turning out the light and closing my eyes to sleep I turned on Amazon Prime Video and found a movie. For whatever reason I watched a Mark Wahlberg movie called Joe Bell. Mark’s performance as the father of a gay boy got to me and held my attention till the end which I hated, but ends are ends, and that is all I can say. I finally turned off the lights and closed my eyes at 12:40 a.m.

Snoooze-VVVVVVVVV

Today is one of those days when I am falling asleep on my feet. My body missed an hour of sleep last night and now it takes the initiative to make up for it any way it can. Usually, it in in the middle of a sentence as I am writing or reading. If you see a string of a single character running across the screen you will know that my body just went into rest mode. The single character comes from my thumb which has stopped while in the middle of a stroke and is resting on one key.

September days can be outstanding in, Illinois and today is one of them. It is sunny bright with sparsely spaced billowy white clouds streaming across the sky. The temperature hovers around eighty mid-day and then quickly descends into the sixtes after sunset and finally bottomming out in the fifties near sunrise.

I should be out riding my bike, but that is a sport I gave up fifteen years ago and now it would take me a better part of the afternoon just to prep the machine for riding. At one point cycling was my life, I belonged to a bike club that went of regular rides several times a week, and in between I commuted to work by bike. I scare myself when I think about the number of hours I spent riding and enjoying the physicality of it all. I also realize how lucky I was to have an understanding wife who tolerated my sport. We spent many hours apart because of my selfishness in choosing to pump the pedals instead of spending time with her. That is one regret that I have which I have compensated for by abandoning the sport.

Today, I spent the afternoon cooking my supper. As I write there is a pot of beef stroganoff simmering on the stove, and next to it is a pot of water in a very slow boil ready to accept the wide noodles to compliment the dish. This is certainly not a KETO meal, but it is so very delicious that I have to forget KETO once in a while. I use a recipe from Paula Dean who showed me how to do it on the Cooking Channel. It is way too simple but tastes like a very complicated affair. It is my favorite recipe. Next to the stroganoff my next favorite is chicken parmesan cooked in home made tomato sauce. It is another a recipe downloaded from the cooking channel years ago. I learned from these two recipes that cooking can be much like chemistry. Pay attention to the details and measure the ingredients to make it taste like Emiril made it.

My plan is to chill until it is time to eat, then afterwards go for a walk. The walk will take off the edge of a big meal and allow me to enjoy the evening watching a few episodes from two series that I have become attached to: Bosch, and Downton Abbey. I have to control how much I see of the detective program because it is very explicit in showing murder scenes. A month ago I overloaded and decided to take a few weeks off to unload the depressing story and the scenes that come with it. The stories are so enthralling that It is like being hooked on a drug.

If there is any energy left in me after the walk I may forget TV and choose to descend into my wood shop to work on my bird. My latest Intarsia project is an owl in full flight going after prey. I started this project in December of 2020 and feverishly worked on it to about 75% complete in March 2021. The devil is in the details however, and after taking a break from the wood shop to concentrate on a number of other projects one being my garden, and another my wedding it was not until September that I resumed. Now I am competing with beautiful days and the regret of not spending those hours with my partner. Thankfully, my body tells me how much time I can spend in the shop just as it tells me when I need to rest.

My goal to read a book a week for the year is finally becoming real. After a non-stop reading marathon to catch up to four books a month I am at thirty-three and on track to reach thirty six by the end of September. To give myself some variety I’ve decided to mix non-fiction with fiction, male and female authors, old and new. Mostly they are stories copyrighted in 2020 and 2021 because I zero in on the large print section and they are recently published. I love historical fiction because it blends facts with characters and story’s that become real. For instance, last week I finished Kitchen Front which takes place in England during WWII and deals with the population that didn’t fight. They are the ones who contributed to the war by dealing with rationing of food and other necessities like gasoline, and tires. At the same time I have been watching Downton Abbey, a story about how an aristocratic family living in a huge manor deals with World War One. The two stories mirror each other and the difference in life between 1918 and 1940 were not very large. One thing that did change was the attitude of the people who were serving the aristocrats. The servants began to realize that maybe they had the short end of the stick and were itching to change their lives to become something better than a maid, butler, or valet.

It is time to blend the sour cream into the stroganoff and to drain the wide noodles. It has been pure pleasure staying awake throughout this report.

Escape Reality Into Fantasy

Last night I finished watching an entertaining TV series labeled “White Collar.” The premise of the story is a unique FBI division that specializes in solving white collar crimes. I had to look it up to determine if it is a legitimate function of the FBI. It is legit, but this story stretches the premise a bit.

Mozzie, Neal Caffrey, Peter Burke, Elizabeth Burke, White Collar Characters

In this series an FBI agent is paired with a Criminal Informant. The FBI agent represents law and order while the CI is the opposite. In this case the criminal is a convicted art thief-forger who has been released from jail to work with the agent to solve major crimes. The bad guy gives the good guy insight into how thieves think and act. What this did for the FBI good guy is give him an upper hand in solving crimes. The series has played for six seasons with fourteen episodes, and last night I saw the grand finale. It surprised me, and left me wanting more. I will miss living with these people.

Afterwards, I always like to read more about the actors who starred in the story. In White Collar I was particularly interested in learning more about Matt Bomer who starred as Neal Caffrey the Criminal Informant. Bomer is what I call beautiful. He has exceptional good looks, a charming manner, and is very appealing to women. While investigating Bomer’s acting background I watched an interview with him and Stephen Colbert. Immediately I detected a mannerism in Bomer’s voice which made me suspect he is gay. I continued my search and learned, yes he is gay. Like the ending of the story, this surprised me. I am of a generation that grew up not knowing there was such a thing as homosexuality, and as such don’t really believe it exists even today. When I heard him openly declare his proclivity for men it unnerved me. Why? Who knows why? I just prefer to believe that this anomaly doesn’t exist. Over the years, I have known several men who were openly gay and liked them as human beings. I put my deep rooted teachings aside and dealt with them as people, but it still shocks me when I learn someone is.

Usually, when a series is popular it keeps on going. For instance, the series Heartland filmed in Canada is in its fourteenth season and beginning to film the fifteenth. The same actors who were in episode-one, season-one, are still playing in season fifteen. That means the viewer gets to watch the actors age and grow in their characters. Heartland is smart enough to add new characters throughout. Many of them are kids who need help. A principal character in Heartland is Jack Bartlett the grandfather who has a soft spot for troubled kids. The local social worker brings him new ones to raise on his ranch with his family, two grand daughters, their father. The story line is continuous with new twists intertwined throughput. What helps this series is the magnificent scenery in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Calgary, Canada. The second advantage of the story is the theme of using horses. The relationship between horses and people is amazing and also therapeutic.

Tonight, I begin a search to find a new series that will allow me to escape from reality. Is that normal, or is it sick? My wife often sits next to me and says “this is not interesting for me.” She prefers I find some concert or some doctor who gives information about life. She loves knowledge, so do I, but I also love fantasy, and choose to escape into a great story whenever I can.

A Normal Thanksgiving Day

NOT! The weather is normal, but the circumstances are totally out of whack. A grey cloudy day, cold, and a little wet, but where are my friends, where is the turkey in the oven and the stuffing next to it? Where is the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, and the pumpkin pie, where are the friends and family? All hunkered down. In compliance with our governor’s mandate to stay at home, celebrate alone, or virtually. How does one pass the gravy over a Zoom meal?

For as long as I can remember, and that is not long these days, Thanksgiving has been at my house or at one of my kids’ houses. It is not to be this year. I am made to feel like I am placing my life in jeopardy by visiting my daughter for dinner. God did not encourage us to have families so we could abandon them during the holidays.

Add to the gloomy day, and the lack of familial fellowship is the gloominess of having lost an excellent series called Home Fires. I got hooked watching this historical drama about a small town in England just as WW 2 begins in Europe. The folks are privy to having an RAF Airbase located right out side their town limits. This soap opera has stories galore to tell. Nearly everyone in the population has some part to play. The number of social issues and taboos is limitless, such as divorce, lesbianism, the call to duty, the declaration of conscientious objection, poor versus rich or class distinction, crooked business men taking advantage of the government spending, cancer, rationing, black markets, spousal abuse, women living without their men, etc. The actors all fit their parts and play them well. So well in fact that I had become one of the residents living next door to the action. This is one story that could well have run for ten or more seasons with many episodes in each and it would not fail to fascinate me. Evidently, I am not enough of an audience to meet the needs of the producers. Sadly, I have just read that the producers learned that the program leaned toward an older audience and have chosen to look at something that’ll lean toward youth. Being an old fart I will agree with their assessment, but not their action.

I switched to a new series being pushed by Amazon labeled The Pack. This mindless non-sense will no doubt run forever without adding a single scintilla of good to the world. It will make dog lovers happy, and since all of us love dogs the program has a chance, but I didn’t finish watching the first episode and will avoid any more.

I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving Holiday.

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