27 November 2023

Turkey, Movies, Basketball and Stuck in a Tunnel, My Four-Day Weekend

The Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers

My four-day weekend began with the end of my work day on Wednesday afternoon. Two hours after lunch I went to the gym for a vigorous workout. Back home my lovely wife made dinner and I graciously consented to eat it. In the evening I watched one of my favorite films of all time, Ice Storm (1997) Lee. I often watch it on Thanksgiving Eve as it is set during the Thanksgiving weekend of 1973.

I spent the first part of Turkey Day reading and watching a movie on Criterion Channel called, Safe in Hell (1931) Wellman, a very pre-code film that I much enjoyed. Then it was off to my sister-in-law’s house for dinner. In attendance were the missus, my daughters, my nephews, a niece, significant others, five children, my sister-in-law, a dog and one person who was not family who I never got to know. I had a grand time chatting with kinfolk, playing with children and petting and sneaking food to the dog. I also ate quite a bit of food as one is prone to doing on this particular occasion. I feel safe in saying a good time was had by all.

The next day I went to a women’s basketball game as Cal hosted game one of their tourney. Our heroes bested San Jose State. I then walked to Moe’s bookstore to look for a gift for younger daughter who shares her dad’s passion for reading. I found nothing suitable but enjoyed my time in one of the world’s best bookstores.

I returned home to find both daughters visiting and of course enjoyed their company. In the evening I watched my second favorite Marx Brothers film, Horse Feathers (1932) McLeod. Despite this being my umpteenth viewing it I managed several chuckles, guffaws, titters, hardy-har-hars and belly laughs.

Saturday started with me watching my favorite English football (that’s soccer to you Yanks) team (Arsenal) win on a late goal. I did my happy dance. Then it was off to the second day of the tourney. This time a Bear team depleted by injuries lost. The game was even for three quarters but the exhausted locals faded at the end. Never mind it was a good day.

At home it was movie time again. The missus and I watched Godland (2022) Pálmason on DVD. My copy had only just arrived, I’d pre-ordered it not long after watching it for the first time on the Criterion Channel.  A great film is always better the second time. This was followed by watching my favorite college football team, the University of California Golden Bears, defeat UCLA in a stunning upset, 33-7. Two great wins on telly for the day with a loss in person sandwiched in between. Fair return.

Sunday morning I spent a fair bit of time with the Sunday New York Times. Mostly I was reading it. Having poured through a majority of it, the missus and I embarked on our big adventure. We went into San Francisco to see the latest movie from the great Finnish director, Aki Kaurismäki, Fallen Leaves. The closure of virtually all of Berkeley’s theaters necessitated making the long journey. We went to the Opera Plaza Landmark cinema which is a stone’s throw from Civic Center. That meant walking from the BART station past all variety of mendicants, tramps, loonies, methheads, and paranoid schizophrenics. As a social worker, this is younger daughter’s clientele. Lucky.

The theater was tiny — no, microscopic -- with only three rows but the seats — dear god, they were comfy, you sank into them. The movie was sublime, in other words, typical  Kaurismäki. From there we dodged the hoi polloi and made our way back to the subway and what we assumed would be a pleasant and quick journey back to Berkeley. But fate intervened — as it so often does.

Just outside Oakland’s 12th Street Station the train stopped. And stayed stopped. At one point the lights went out. That terror (slight exaggeration) lasted only half a minute. But the tedium of sitting on a train in a tunnel continued. Of course my wife went about chattering with other passengers, meanwhile my mood plunged, my anxiety rose. I took an Ativan. It helped a bit. We were constantly thanked for our patience and apologized to. Never helps. Finally a “rescue” train arrived. We had to walk to the back of our train where we were told we would “cross over.” I did not like the use of this phrase as it invoked what many people refer to as dying. Nonetheless we soldiered on and literally stepped over a small plank onto another train. I gave our driver a parting fist bump.

Again we sat for awhile but eventually were on our way and arrived safely in Berkeley. We decided to treat ourselves after the trauma of being tunnel-bound by having dinner at a local eatery. From there it was home sweet home.

The rest of the evening hardly deserves mention though it did entail washing towels, reading and watching a spot of TV before retiring for the evening. All told not a bad weekend. How was yours?

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