The official trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has been released, and I just realized I feel the way I used to feel catching a featured music video from an upcoming movie on MTV. Why? because I’m old and music videos used to function as unofficial trailers. Anyway. It’s here!
I have no idea how many times I’ve hit replay because that thunderous Avengers theme is so emotionally manipulative, I don’t know where to begin. Or maybe I have all the feels because I’m revisiting how much money I’ve spent on the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the past ten years and this April I might end up spending even more. If the movie is as great as its trailer, I just might watch it a couple more times. Or five. It’s like the MCU is a goddamn annual subscription or something, you guys.
So, a few things:
Are we 100% convinced that Thanos is Josh Brolin and not Bruce Willis in Smurf drag?
Rocket Raccoon and the fervent hope that Pepper Potts doesn’t appear anywhere in this movie!
Doctor Strange as the 1% who want to know where the hell Hawkeye is and his adversary as the rest of us who don’t give a rat’s arse!
And lastly, but not leastly, I expect the mandatory Marvel superhero heaving beefcake shots to be on a strict 1:1 ratio. Or this happens.
I’d heard of the Peabody Awards, but had never dug deep enough about its origins. Yesterday, George Peabody was the Google Doodle. The original billionaire philanthropist, old George gave over half of his money away and was so thrifty, he still took the bus. His only indulgence was an apple a day and he turned down a baronetcy offered by Queen Victoria, which tells us he had a set of brass balls as large as the state of Texas.
I like successful people who haven’t let their money change who they are. In my cursory research of interesting factoids related to George Peabody, a list of billionaires who still do real things crossed my radar. If anything, I’ve always thought the family behind Wal-mart are a bunch of awful people, but knowing one of them drives a fifteen year old rustbucket was a nice surprise. Granted, rich people aren’t always angels sent from above. They are first and foremost all about business, which is a cold mother, especially when it comes to profit.
For all we know, George Peabody was closer to a crabby, tightfisted miser than Santa Claus. Even so, his kind of realness is the kind that I respect. Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day money is for spending and all the accoutrements are great, but I’ve always been at home with the idea that you don’t have to have something. You just have to know you can get it if you want to.
Like I want to know I can own a Ferrari if I want to, I just don’t need to have one. Or I want to know I can buy an island if I want to, but I’m not going to bother. And I want to know I can get a reservation at the world’s most exclusive restaurant if I want to, but I don’t have to go because I’d rather have Popeye’s chicken. Or I want to know that I can stay out until four in the morning and get shitfaced, but I don’t really need to. That’s it, really. Just knowing you can.
There’s no need for bullshit mega-mansion swag with the fast Italian cars and the private jets and bespoke clothing. They’re fun, and if I was a billionaire I would probably have bigger indulgences than George Peabody’s apple, but I want to think I wouldn’t be what Migos calls bad and boujee. I want to think I would be like Bill Gates, who still rocks a $10 Casio even if he has more money than the GDP of certain developing countries. I want to be a billionaire who still eats tempura at the boulevard because it’s yummy. And because I can. No need to show it, just have to know it. There’s freedom in that.
Lately my weekends have been spent at home, doing nothing. Not that I’m forever out and about, but it’s very unlike me to let a month go by without at least attempting to discover something new. These days though, things seem to be rote. Even my food adventures are rote. I’ll visit my favourite bakery in Chinatown (I’ve found Hong Kong style bakeries to be closest in taste to Philippine-style breads), maybe drop by my neighbourhood jerk joint for oxtail if I feel like it, or hit up my secret go-to in Ossington – which I refuse to name because I selfishly don’t want it to get too popular – for Portuguese rotisserie chicken. I’ve slowly felt myself falling into a rut, which is not something one should fall into, not when one lives in Toronto. There’s so many things to do and to see, falling into a rut is almost inexcusable.
But there’s only so much adventure I can bring myself to do. I spent a year or two feverishly trying out new things, the goal being to find something I liked and could stick with, a huge chunk of the new things being places to eat at. Like where to go for brunch. (Check.) Or Cajun. (Check.)All-you-can-eat Indian. (Check.) Ramen. (Check.) Peking duck. (Check, check.)
So I sifted through the morass of my internal wiring, trying to see what was up. Is it getting older? Laziness? Predictability? If I’m being entirely honest, I think some of it is that. And then it hit me. The real problem is having too many options. I feel inundated with them. It’s Toronto. Turn a corner, and something’s happening. A new restaurant. A new Instagram-worthy little nook. Something. There’s always something, and I find myself with so many options, I feel paralyzed by my inability to choose.
Even deciding to stay in and watch something can be paralyzing. What platform do I use? Netflix? Hulu? Amazon Prime? And once I decide which one I want to use, another round of choices begins. Do I watch a TV show? If so, what show? Do I watch a movie? If so, what genre? And once I decide on a genre, what movie? It’s exhausting, like my life is suddenly a long-ass exam comprised mostly of questions with multiple choice answers.
It’s been said humans are only capable of making a finite number of good decisions in a day. Once we pass that number, the quality of our judgment starts to decline, one main reason tech titans like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg always wear the same thing any given day; it lessens the amount of choices they have to make, freeing them to hopefully save that mental energy to make better choices.
I don’t really know where I”m going with this except to say that’s what I came up with today. The inundation of all that’s possible and all that’s new has me paralyzed. I sometimes find myself with so many options, I’m wracked by indecision, struggling with the inevitability of regret, because I know no matter which choice I go with, I may end up regretting not choosing differently. And I don’t like regret. It tastes bad. Indecision tastes bad too, but it’s a little more palatable, so I end up on the couch refusing to make a choice. Which comes with its own taste, and its own brand of regret.
I was looking forward to The Shape of Water, something Le Hubs and I have been planning to go see, but through a combination of factors – chief of them being apathy because it’s winter – didn’t really get to see until yesterday.
The Shape of Water, which, by del Toro’s confession, came from his obsession with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, is the story of what would happen if the girl ends up with the creature. It doesn’t help that the creature – referred to as “The Asset” – looks so much like Abe Sapien from Hellboy, it’s hard to silence the voice in my head screaming “origin story!” (For the record, I wasn’t the only one doing this.)
Set in the Cold War era, Elisa (Sally Hawkins, here a soundless tour-de-force) is a cleaner who works for a top-secret government institution whose main goal is to outstrip the Russians in the race for space dominance. She’s mute, lives above a movie theatre and has friends who are full of spunk: a gay BFF (Richard Jenkins) and a sassy black woman (Octavia Spencer, earning every inch of that Oscar cred) at work. Her life is a routine, and she seems content. Well, content enough. Whatever frustrations she may have are exorcised in her bathtub before her morning even begins.
A story isn’t a story unless something happens, so of course something happens to Elisa, in the form of a mysterious tank brought in one day by Strickland (Michael Shannon, channeling that intense menace as always) who turns out to be the worst sort of alpha male. Twisted, racist and brutal, Strickland is dismissive of and yet inexplicably turned on by, imperfection.
The tank holds The Asset, an amphibious humanoid (Abe Sapien!) caught in the wilds of the Amazon and dragged to America for dissection because scientists need answers for allowing astronauts to breathe in space. Elisa meets The Asset (Abe Sapien!) and feels sorry for him. She decides to keep him company during her lunch break, and their unlikely bond is formed by hard boiled eggs and classic oldies. Despite The Asset (Abe Sapien!) having a bulge as unobtrusive as a Ken doll, there are clearly sparks which lead to the inevitable.
Other things happen of course, as they must, because stories have to have beginnings, middles, and ends. There’s a beautifully evocative scene involving some towels and taps that are allowed to run. Stripped of everything, The Shape of Water celebrates love in its purest form, where looks don’t matter, shortcomings are overlooked and physical barriers are swept aside, the way humans have improbable sex with dinosaurs in those crazy erotic fiction novels that actually exist. But having effectively silenced “Abe Sapien Origins!” the voice had popped up again, squeaking things like “monster porn!” and “slimy, slithery, splendid!”, the possible mechanics of this particular scenario so distracting, it messed with my ability to appreciate the movie for how visually striking and remarkably tender it really is.
Maybe this was because I didn’t go in expecting a love story. That’s on me, for ignoring every obvious marker and breathless movie blurb. To be fair, I never expect a romance when it comes to Guillermo del Toro. Not even when it’s marketed as one. (Exhibit A: Crimson Peak.) To watch a Guillermo del Toro film is to surrender to the clutches of the visionary equivalent of Edgar Allan Poe, even when he goes full-on Technicolor with something like Pacific Rim. It’s the dance of the dark, and the sinister, everything imbued with the sweet scent of rot that seeps through his work. If there’s any sort of romance to be had from del Toro, it’s the deep and abiding love he has for the macabre.
Artwork by James Jean, by way of the official website of The Oscars
When you grow up in a small town and cut your teeth on the Disney renaissance, getting out is always the goal. Not that getting out was never the goal, but all those songs about being part of some other world, there being more than a provincial life, a whole new world, going the distance while the wolf cries to the blue corn moon because it’s the circle of life? Come on. I was practically being programmed to leave.
At nineteen, itching to go out and explore the world, the sight of four privileged women running around in expensive outfits, living out their thirties in the playground of New York City was an eye-opener. What the Golden Girls is to some people, Sex and the City is to me. Until then, the longing to leave was just that. A longing. Some sort of nebulous desire to go out and somehow, have the adventure of a lifetime. There was a goal but it wasn’t exactly defined, until SATC came along and defined it.
Living in New York City was not my goal. Neither was it to be a part of a fab foursome (I would be Miranda). But what I wanted was to be an adult with people who gave me understanding and acceptance, to have my own place, to explore the idea of brunch, buy whatever caught my fancy and do whatever and whomever I wanted to do, whenever and wherever I felt like it. Sure, in my fantasy world I also weighed less than a hundred pounds and there was little to no Netflix, but that benchmark aside, I think I got what I wanted.
So here I am, the same age Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte were, and I realize adulting is fun. It’s also a horrible ball of crap. You can’t just ignore the price of living on your own, blithely going through life and ten different credit cards in the hope of landing a job at Vogue as well as the eligible bachelor you’ve had your eye on since day one. Work has to be done. Bills have to be paid.
So what happens when you get what you want and all of a sudden realize you want even more because humans are never satisfied? You find something new to aspire to. And now, this is my new fantasy:
Yes, I know, another fab foursome of privileged white ladies swilling pinot and enjoying their hard-earned comforts, maybe I’m just too colonized for my own good. But hey, I’m with it.
Skin colour aside, what I really want is to be best friends with Jane Fonda, who is my current guru and life coach, although she really should lose that janky-ass wig… no. Skin colour aside, what I really want is to be with people I’m comfortable with, who I like, and respect, who love books, and reading, and who haven’t lost their zest to learn and discover new things, despite probably taking ten separate medications for ten separate ailments. It’s vital to still have enough joy and verve left to strap on the world’s most ridiculous push up bra, go out there and really grab life by the balls. So yes. Yes. This movie will be my Waiting to Exhale. And yes, I’m going to watch it. When it comes out. In theatres. And if I don’t, on Netflix. I think. Oh sod it all, I’ll set a reminder.
The human body is a machine susceptible to the long-term effects of constant use. We are all eventually going to be witness to and subject of an excruciatingly slow sort of wear and tear, physically breaking down, like an apple left in a fruit bowl too long. It’s inevitable.
I realized this up in Ottawa last month, when I spent the night with my cousins before my aunt’s funeral in Montreal. My other aunt, who is still living, made me laugh with her stories of her physical travails. She’s broken pretty much everything you can expect to break (hip, foot, arm), had a complete hysterectomy, mistook hemorrhoids for cervical cancer and she just got hearing aids. Getting into a car is a whole production, involving first a foot, then a leg, then hauling the rest of herself into the vehicle, cane hooked over her right arm, the whole song and dance made even more precarious when the driveway is iced over because getting old in the Great White North is a complete funhouse.
It’s not a feeling one gets in one’s teens or one’s twenties, when the body seems like Teflon and nothing seems to stick, but enter your thirties and things start happening. Suddenly, hair isn’t as thick, waists aren’t as trim, comfort begins to be more of a priority and the slow slide into questioning what you’ve done with your life so far begins. Up next, mid-life crisis!
I spent a good chunk of my Friday on a contact lens appointment. Because my body is as contradictory as I sometimes am, my left eye is far-sighted while the right sees things better from up close. It’s a balance that works out, but sometimes one eye overcompensates and I end up with a massive headache. I’ve been flirting with wearing glasses for the past few years but made the mistake of getting them whenever I was in the Philippines for a visit which means follow-ups couldn’t be done. And anyone worth his salt knows when it comes to glasses, follow-ups are important. It’s like losing your virginity. You never get it right the first time.
Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and go for my first eye exam in North America. I’d already gotten a prescription last week and it made me see things from afar in wonderfully crisp detail, like the world was suddenly in high-def Ultra 4K. But it was messing with my reading, and words were blurring up close.
So I went back after a week for the mandatory follow up and that’s where I stopped being happy and started considering Lasik. If anything, I can see long distances, but I don’t quite care as much about that as I do being able to read. And somehow, after running what seemed like the gamut of lenses, I was back where I started, with busted eyesight and seemingly no answers. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I chose contact lenses? I have no idea. The one shining spot is I am apparently not ready for bifocals, which I was given to understand are for the olds. But that’s beside the point. The point is when you get older and the mind-body connection starts to fray, sometimes you find yourself standing in an optician’s office contemplating the merits of allowing lasers to sear a layer off your cornea because it’s just too frustrating to have yet another lens held up to your eyes.
But, I understand it’s a process, that sometimes you can’t just throw money at the problem. I know I’m going to have a few more weeks like this, going back and forth and figuring out what fits me the most. I can’t outrun it anymore anyway and really, it’s time. It’s time to accept the inevitable. All the eating of squash in the world isn’t going to be enough to combat the ravages of age.
First bionic ears, now enhanced eyes. I’m ready for my titanium hip, Mr. de Mille.
I was supposed to go see if Marvel could convince me to be a cat person today, but underestimated the depth of public interest in Black Panther. I tried, at least. Woke up early, went to the theatre and walked smack into a lineup of everyone wanting tickets and the show I wanted to see sold out. To be fair, I was there fifteen minutes before start time, and I didn’t pre-book because I wanted to live on the edge, but Black Panther is showing everywhere in the freaking city, you’d think there’d at least be a few seats left.
So instead of having a review, I have regrets. Because reasons. And because I had three days to watch it, but my couch wouldn’t let me. The Olympics wouldn’t let me. I wouldn’t let me. Sometimes I really am just too lazy for my own good.
Maybe it’s also my subconscious rebelling at the thought of me, a dog person, watching a movie about what is essentially a large cat with superpowers. And maybe it’s because when I googled Black Panther for showtimes, someone wrote about how there’s not enough LGBTQ representation in the movie, which was my cue to mentally throw my hands up in the air and give up on humanity.
I swear to the good sweet baby Jesus I’m sick of how there’s always something wrong with something. How there isn’t enough women. Or enough minorities. Or enough gays. Or enough lunch meat.
You know what there isn’t enough of? Sanity. I wonder if our parents saw us in the nineties with the baggy pants, exposed midriffs, beepers and the Alanis Morrisette and thought to themselves that the world was going to hell in a handbasket? Because they were right about that, just wrong about when. And how.
Can’t we just be happy? Can’t we just get along? Can’t we just focus on what’s there instead of on what isn’t, for one shining moment?
I hate it when long weekends end. I always get so emo. And godamnit I really wanted to see Black Panther.