Monday, September 8, 2014
By MICHAEL WALSH
Curious as to the reason for the infestation, I entered the keywords "kittens on the internet" into the Google search box, and was offered a list of "About 10,600,000 results." So much help is no help at all. The vast store of information that is the Internet leaves one feeling overwhelmed; as weak as, well, a kitten.
And maybe that's it. High tech is just one more thing in today's world that makes any one individual feel quite powerless, and those kittens in their millions are humanity's collective cri de coeur resounding in the Cloud.
Now that's a grim thought.
Kitten commentary should be funny, and that was not at all the glass-half-full tone that I was after. Perhaps it has something to do with the genuine powerlessness that I experienced Saturday night around 11:20 when the lights flickered, there was a dull thump, and the house was plunged into darkness.
At that moment, the only light came from the computer screen. The surge protection/battery back-up thing did what it was supposed to, giving me the time to do an orderly shutdown. The darkness was then complete, the world suddenly empty in the absence of electrical power.
A few minutes later, a fire engine, quiet but with all its lights flashing, sped down the block and turned the corner. I joined a small gathering of neighbours where the engine had stopped. Firefighters were taping off the street.
It turned out that a tree had fallen where a whole lot of people could hear it, taking down the municipal power lines. Though the outage was relatively confined, our house was within the area affected.
Powerlessness as metaphor met the reality of powerlessness. There was nothing to be done that was not already being done by others, so I went to bed, reasonably hopeful that things would be back to normal in the morning. And so they were.
What remains is the sobering thought that life as a kitten is precariously balanced somewhere between reasonable hopes and the reality that the lights can go out at any time. Until then, though, I'll meow at the darkness by adding regularly to my Reeling Back archive. My ten most recent postings were:
LORDS and LOVERS — God save the Queen — that's Queen Elizabeth I — on the occasion of her birth in 1533. The celebration includes a quiz about Canadians who have played historical greats in the movies. (Posted September 7)
THE GREAT NORTHFIELD MINNESOTA RAID — The historical Jesse James was far from the heroic bandit made famous in song and story. The legend persists in his many movie portrayals, among them this 1972 feature. (Posted September 5)
Z — An historical moment is well served in Costa-Gavras's 1969 examination of justice following a political assassination in modern Greece, an Oscar winner in the best foreign language film category. (Posted September 3)
F.I.S.T. — Director Norman Jewison's 1978 tale of 20th-century union organizing, based on the turbulent life of Teamsters leader James R. Hoffa, is a film that recalls why we celebrate Labour Day. (Posted September 1)
MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN — Celebrating the birthday of science fiction's one and only mother, Reeling Back recalls the 1994 feature that was most faithful to the text of her 1818 novel. (Posted August 30)
BLUE THUNDER — Made almost a generation after the urban uprisings of the 1960s, director John Badham's 1983 action thriller anticipated today's concern over the militarization of municipal police forces. (Posted August 29)
XANADU — Everybody makes mistakes. In the case of activist documentarian Robert Greenwald, it was his 1980 attempt at making a new-age musical romance. (Posted August 28)
THE NEVERENDING STORY — Vancouver was the chosen location for the "real world" scenes in this multimillion-dollar fantasy feature inspired by a best-selling German children's book, adapted for the screen in 1984. (Posted August 24)
THE CONVERSATION — In terms of the modern surveillance state, Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 feature plays like Happy Days. Who knew that its mom-and-pop snoop shop would one day morph into the multi-national behemoth that is the NSA? (Posted August 22)
WHITE ROOM — Politely Canadian, writer/director Patricia Rozema's 1990 tale of "the watcher and the watched" offers style in place of anything like new emotional vistas. (Posted August 20)