Sunday, October 4, 2020.
By MICHAEL WALSH
So, I had this idea.
It was in the late 1970s, and I’d been The Province’s full-time film critic for about seven years. Ready for new challenges, I’d decided to add “author” to my résumé and I thought that a cheerful little book of pop-culture criticism combining film history with some social analysis would be just the thing.
To keep it flying off the paperback racks, it would have to be written (in the words of the newspaper style guides of the day) “light, tight and bright.” Its title: 7x7 (or, if the publisher insisted, Seven Times Seven).
Its content would be built around seven representative movie titles, each selected to highlight my ideas about a different aspect of the film industry as it was at the time. Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for example, would key to a consideration of animated features, while Akira Kurowawa’s Seven Samurai could introduce the subject of world cinema.
I planned chapters on Westerns (The Magnificent Seven) and movie musicals (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). There’d be insights on the horror genre (The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires), on the emergence of “adult” cinema (Russ Meyer’s The Seven Minutes) and political thrillers (Seven Days in May). For various reasons, the project’s notes ended up in a file folder, where they languish to this day.
So, I had this idea.
It was in the early 2010s, and I’d recently retired from The Province. There was this new thing called the Internet, and I was going to make it my toy. Things went along swimmingly until (as I said in my last blog posting) “Krypton shifted its orbit.”
Exercising an abundance of caution – officially a senior, I do tick a number of the coronavirus vulnerability boxes – we’ve been observing self-isolation since March 16, with the happy result that we’re celebrating Reeling Back’s seventh anniversary COVID-free. That’s the good news.
Not so good was the demise, in June, of the flat screen iMac (bought in March 2009) that was home to Reeling Back’s editing software.
Yes, I’d known for years that the machine was well past its best-before date, but I’d grown comfortable with its out-of-date operating system and put off the inevitable replacement just long enough to regret it mightily.
I took until mid-July to put together the pieces of a new system and begin the grand adventure that is making the leap from Maverick (OS 10.9.5) to Catalina (OS 10.15.5). There have been issues, including the frustration of scanner and OCR software refusing to work with the new Mac mini. Without their cooperation, restoring my old reviews to the archive can’t happen, and profanity ensues.
Normally, I would mark Reeling Back’s anniversary with a new posting in all five of the boxes on the site’s home page. That’s a tradition that I've managed to honour every year since its launch.
Today, it’s “lucky” seven, and we’re into a “new” normal. I have this idea that it’s going to continue to be a worthwhile Canadian initiative.