Monday, May 23, 2020.
By MICHAEL WALSH
Has it really been five months?
On January 1, the day I posted my last editorial (web log), the headline read “Resolute Going Forward.” It seemed like a plan, until (referencing Maria Schell's character in 1978’s Superman), Krypton shifted its orbit. On February 11, it was “Hello, COVID 19, you societal game-changer, you.”
The bug’s progress became the headline. On the day following the Ides of March, we began the self-isolation recommended for seniors, our contribution to British Columbia’s curve-flattening strategy. And so it continues, this game of numbers, with today being the end of our 11th week indoors.
Now, there’s a number — and a prime number at that — that was made to have fun with.
Most of the fun is harmless. For example, did you know that Canada’s dollar coin is a hendecagon, a.k.a. an 11-sided polygon? Or that there are 11 points on the maple leaf featured on our flag? Then there’s the historical fact that when Britain switched to the Gregorian calendar, eleven days were simply deleted. (Wednesday September 2, 1752 was followed by Thursday September 14, 1752.)
I think we can agree that the toffs sitting around the table negotiating an end to the First World War (grandly styled “the war to end all wars”) were deeply into symbolic numbers when they agreed when the guns should fall silent on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” — 11/11/11 — of 1918.
But wait, there’s more. The 11th of November in the year 1111 (11/11/1111) was, and will be, the only date in history to have all eight digits the same. Apparently, it was a Saturday. Sadly, if anything memorable happened on that one-of-a-kind day, no one bothered to write it down.
One strategy for staying positive during these uncertain times is playfulness. One danger is the natural desire to find some kind of meaning in it all. On any leap down the rabbit hole that is the Internet you’re likely to meet a fair number of squirrels, individuals eager to share their answers to questions you never knew you had. During my recent interest in 11, I discovered AstroTalk, a website that has to be seen to be disbelieved.
There I found the sort of woo-woo retailed by many of the shows on the so-called History Channel, including a feature by astrologer Sneha Sinha explaining the “meaning of Angel Number 1111 . . . It’s a sign from the universe trying to bring to your (sic) knowledge of your current situation. . . Apart from angels and other heavenly gods trying to grab your attention, the ancestors can also be a reason for you seeing 1111.” O . . . kay, let’s just back away slowly.
According to a number of “experts” interviewed recently on CBC Radio, we also are enduring an epidemic of boredom, a result of people staying indoors during the pandemic lockdown. On hearing that, I felt doubly grateful. Not only am I (currently) COVID free, I’m not at all bored. Here we are, alive during an incredibly interesting moment in human history with so many unfolding possibilities to consider, so many connections to be made, so much to think about.
I will admit to feeling guilty about slackening off on my Reeling Back responsibilities — the month of March went by without a single posting. With summer on the way, I’ll try to pick up the pace. In the meantime — and with No. 1,111 now part of the archive — I’ll recall the last week’s additions, including:
ROADKILL — Toronto New Wave director Bruce McDonald made his feature debut in 1989 with this tale of a young woman's search for a missing rock star and spiritual transcendence. His description for it was “outlaw cinema.” (May 28)
VINCENT PRICE (interview) — In 1974, the screen legend was in Vancouver to play a starring role in producer Trevor Wallace’s ambitious Canadian-made feature Journey into Fear. We talked of his love for art and his active career as a stage actor. (May 27)
WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE? — Serving up black humour in a tasty package, director Ted Kotcheff built this 1978 horror comedy around a perfect performance by portly actor Robert Morley. Though top billing went to George Segal and Jacqueline Bisset, he was the standout. (May 26)
AIRPORT — What Hollywood historians call “the golden era of the disaster film” began with director George Seaton’s 1970 adaptation of an Arthur Hailey novel. It featured an all-star cast headed up by Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin and George Kennedy. (May 24)
AIRPORT 1975 — Truly offensive to women in general (and stewardesses in particular), this second entry in the aviation disaster franchise was directed by Jack Smight. Charlton Heston co-starred with Karen Black and a crippled Boeing 747. (May 24)
AIRPORT ’77 — Disaster ensues when skyjackers use the Bermuda Triangle to mask their getaway in this third feature in the franchise. Directed by Jerry Jameson, it starred Jack Lemmon, James Stewart and featured a cameo appearance by a revolutionary new home entertainment technology. (May 24)