Monday, January 18, 2016

Blackout & Blues

Most of the time these days, the only clue I have that the power went out in my house is the telltale blinking of a handful of digital clocks. Often, we aren't even home, and when we are, the power typically comes back on either immediately, or within a half hour or so.

So when it went off tonight while I was making supper, I expected a minor delay.  Thankfully the soup was already heated, and the glasstop stove retains its heat for quite a while, but it soon became clear that the accompanying grilled cheese sandwiches would have to wait indefinitely. 

Fenya was on her way back from seeing The Revenant, but Glory was a big help rounding up candles, and even went so far as to remove the battery powered decorative light string from her room. After Fenya arrived, we ate the soup and a caramel apple crostata for dessert.

The original plan had been to get a game of Ticket To Ride in after supper, but alas, that plan had to join the grilled sandwiches in the 'Not Today' column, as the available candlepower would simply not be sufficient if we wanted to maintain our current levels of eyesight.

Fenya decided to take a shower while the water was still hot, and I perused my iPad for some sort of diversion. When I upgraded last year, I got as much memory as I could so I could load it up with movies and comics and apps for just such an occasion, and as a result, had almost a dozen movies to choose from.

Being a Sunday night with the family, I ended up selecting a vintage film, one that the Vatican newspaper described as "a Catholic classic", and set it to play.  After the Universal pictures logo dissolved to a dreary urban cityscape viewed from above, I asked Audrey and Glory to guess the title, but it wasn't until after the establishing shot outside a maximum security penitentiary, watching a convict being escorted by two guards at a brick pace that Glory twigged to it; "This is The Blues Brothers."

Probably one of my three favourite comedies and immensely rewatchable thanks to being tremendously quotable, a ton of fun, and containing some absolutely amazing musical performances by some legendary musicians. It also remains the all time high-water mark for Saturday Night Live movies, and I am confident it will continue to do so ad infinitum.

We had a great time laughing at the antics, remembering scenes we'd forgotten, enjoying the singing and dancing, unconstrained by the tiny ten-inch screen perched on our kitchen table. Afterwards, I watched the credits, noting with interest that a very young Pee Wee Herman was credited under his real name of Paul Reubens for his brief appearance as a waiter, that none other than Chaka Khan is the soloist in Rev. Cleophus James' (James Brown) church choir, and the first prisoner to jump on a table during the closing performance of Jailhouse Rock is Joe Walsh from the Eagles.

We tried once again to count the police cars, but gave it up in favour of laughing; we did catch all three utterances of aggravated officers exclaiming "They broke my watch!" though. While marveling at the concert scenes, I had to wonder how different they might have been if Paul Shaffer had been able to participate, as had been planned.

About twenty minutes after clerk Steven Spielberg presents Jake and Elwood with their receipt for the back taxes on the orphanage (and the receipt still lists 1060 West Addison as the return address), the power finally came back on, about 3 and a quarter hours of outage. The household thermostat had only dipped two degrees over that time, despite the fact that the window thermometer read a brisk -22. Three hours was long enough to make me nervous, but at least power was restored before bedtime.

Watching a movie on a handheld device during a blackout is hardly roughing it, and sure, we could have busted out the cribbage board or some other candlelight compliant game, but in the final analysis, spending a Sunday night at a darkened kitchen table watching two men on a mission from God with my family felt not only tolerable, but almost a privilege.

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