Thursday, February 25, 2016

Selling Papers - Spotlight, Reviewed

This won't be a full-blown review, but Audrey, Fenya and I had the opportunity to watch Spotlight last night, an ensemble newspaper drama based on the true story of how the Boston Glove exposed the systematic shuffling and coverup of pedophile priests. Here are 4 reasons you should watch this excellent movie, and soon.

Powerful true story: This story takes place in 2001, a time when this sort of child abuse was whispered about but could not be proven. Seeing the amount of labour and risk it took to bring this story to light in the face of tremendous opposition is both disgusting and terrifying. The story is not brisk, but takes its time to come to a proper boil, as it should. No time is wasted glomming on additional details about the reporters lives, unless they have a bearing on the story, or, in some cases, if the story has a bearing on them. The internal conflict is palpable; 53% of the Globe's readers are Catholic, and an even higher percentage of Spotlight's staff, who must wrestle with torn loyalties as well as the fear of alienating their readers. John Slattery and Stanley Tucci get great turns as well.

Ensemble cast: Mark Ruffalo has an excellent shot at a supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of a passionate investigative reporter whose compulsion and eventual anger never feel forced.  Rachel McAdams also received a nod, but her role is more understated and I am not thespianically appreciative enough to see the why of it, although she does well with what she has. Liev Schreiber, who I know mostly for more dynamic roles, is terse and subdued as Marty Baron, the then-new editor of the Boston Globe, who is the quintessential outsider: a New Yorker coming to Boston by way of Miami, who is not only Jewish, but not even a baseball fan. Michael Keaton virtually disappears into his part as Spotlight magazine editor Walter 'Robby' Robinson, and whose portrayal is so spot-on, the real man asserts that if Keaton robbed a bank, he himself would be the one arrested .

Oscar Accessibility: Spotlight is up for 6 Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Editing, Original Screenplay, and acting nods for McAdams and Ruffalo), and we watched it through Video On Demand. If you watch this, Fury Road, The Martian, Bridge of Spies, and Room at home, you can put a whopping 29 nominations behind you without even having gone out to see The Revenant (which is also quite good and would give you another dozen!).

It's Important: In addition to being the best newspaper film in years, Spotlight is a powerful and timely reminder of why an independent press is critical to a healthy democracy. In the movie, Globe staffers are worried about possible job cuts brought on by the new Editor brought in by the paper's new owners, as he had done previously in Miami. Here in Edmonton, PostMedia, the corporation which owns the National Post as well as the Edmonton Journal, recently purchased its struggling competition, the Edmonton Sun. In addition to creating a media monopoly in town, they also amalgamated the newsrooms, eliminating a number of reporter positions.

Spotlight may be the last great newspaper movie for a while; in the face of merciless media consolidation, intense competition from the web, and an ongoing debate about what journalism even means as we march into the 21st century, newspapers are on the verge of being made irrelevant. Outside of the movies, there are more and more communications assets owned by a dwindling number of bloated media giants, most of which are designed to do no more than sell ads and clicks, with fewer and fewer trained and passionate people committed to digging up and revealing the truth.

Viewed from this perspective, Spotlight is equal parts drama, dystopic horror, and perhaps tragedy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Autonomous Defense Systems and The Lenten Armistice of 2016

The sense of joy afforded by tiny victories, like finding a parking space within 5 stalls of the door at Costco, or simple pleasures, such as the depth, more so than the frequency or duration, of a good belly laugh, is commensurate with one's appreciation of same.  It goes without saying that our world is filled with people who feel entitled to such things, and rather than appreciation of their presence, experience only rancour at their absence.

In my own experience, a periodic hiatus creates even more gratitude for them, hence my annual tradition of giving up something for Lent. In the past I have foregone beer, chocolate, alcohol and even cursing, but to keep things different, this year I gave up video games.

Playing a lot of console games is not something I do consistently. I tend to dabble, for the most part, and will often go weeks or months without hardly touching them, but if one catches my fancy, especially an adventure with an engaging story unfolding around me, I can go to binge-player mode fairly quickly. It's kind of a feast or famine situation, for the most part.

Currently, however, foregoing such entertainments is more difficult than it once was, because it is something Glory and I have been doing together.

Neither of the girls plays much in the way of video games on their own, but they enjoy doing it as a group, especially on the Wii. We like to play Rock Band together, or kart-style racing games where all of us are interacting at once. It turns out that this is also something Glory likes to do with her bestie, and includes playing a fair amount of first-person shooters (FPS) on the X-Box when she sleeps over.

I was flabbergasted, then delighted, and told Glory that such a game had actually come with the PlayStation 3 I bought a few years back, but I had barely touched it because they are not really my thing. When I asked if she would be interested in playing with me sometime, she happily agreed.

The game in question is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and is probably considered a bit long in the tooth now. The setting is a near-future world similar to our own, but in the midst of a full blown global war with Russia, orchestrated by ultranationalist terrorists, so the settings and weapons are relatively realistic, and sometimes creepily so, as you wander around a devastated London tube station or shattered highway interchange filled with familiar looking vehicles. (The single player mode has a pretty engaging story as well, and the script is by Oscar winning screenwriter Paul Haggis.)

Having no interest in exposing either my youngest or myself to the vicissitudes of online gaming, our first games were relatively slow-paced, mano-a-mano affairs, pitting one of us against the other. This quickly devolved into a strange version of hide and go seek but with fully automatic weapons and fragmentation grenades replacing the flashlights, and was entertaining for a while, but quickly lost its appeal.

Then we tried some of the other missions, like Demolition, which required finding a bomb in the middle of the map which you then had to deposit at the opposing team's headquarters. They would have a short amount of time to defuse it, but since the other player knew exactly where they would be headed, this scenario also lacked any real tactical flair so long as only two people were playing.

The real breakthrough came when we discovered that two people could play alongside as teammates in 'Survival Mode', which pits our heroes against wave after wave of enemies of increasing difficulty. Suddenly things got incredibly interesting, as we tried to explore the various maps while giving each other cover and support. Best of all, if one player went down, the other could rush to their side and revive them, provided they got there before the onscreen countdown reached zero.

Playing as a team meant learning more about the different weapons, enemy tactics, the lay of the land, and the importance of teamwork. Having a little more experience, I tended to take point and do much of the heavy lifting, but Glory could be counted on to save my bacon countless times, spotting flankers, covering blind spots, or madly emptying her clip into the crew who had just incapacitated me before racing to my rescue.

In Survival mode, cash is earned by both vanquishing one's foes, and, well, surviving, as the name suggests. In our earlier games we would quickly run to the various upgrade points and trade up to bigger and more powerful weapons. Eventually we branched out into things like claymore mines, or even allies that could be dropped in to help support us. Soon enough we realized that by foregoing the purchase of upgrades and relying on our pistols, knives, and the slightly better longarms dropped by our foes, we could save more money more quickly, and became ruthlessly efficient at the earlier levels of this mode.

Now, I am not going to bandy the ethical repercussions of playing a relatively realistic violence simulator with my teenaged daughter as a means of spending quality bonding time together, but the hesitant among you need to understand one thing: these are bad people we are virtually terminating here. They attack repeatedly, without warning, and using the most abhorrent tactics, including, but not limited to, chemical warfare, C4 deadman switches and suicide bombs. The only ones Glory and I feel even remotely sorry for are the attack dogs they feel obliged to sic on us every few rounds. No, without exception, these merciless automatons require the swift judgement of their silicon maker, and the two of us are all too happy to arrange the meeting.

On the Paris map, we had sketched out a reasonably effective defense by centering ourselves on a short tunnel next to an open plaza, then setting up claymore mines along the more common approaches. By following the dictates of Sun Tzu and "gathering in plunder" (XI, 13) instead of buying upgraded firearms, we were able to afford the services of a squad of 4 French GIGN troopers equipped with riot shields, which made them far more durable than the Delta Squad chappies who were considerably more affordable.

Hunkered in our respective positions, it was invigorating to watch one of our Gallic comrades burst out of cover and use his momentum and riot shield to knock an attacking commando onto his back, before dispatching him with his submachinegun. Even when the enemy dispatched a pair of juggernauts wearing bomb disposal suits and armed with light machineguns, these brave soldiers pressed the attack, unfooting one of them, but perishing under the withering fire of the second. When all was said and done, Glory said ruefully, "Daddy, we are all out of French guys now."

The Air Support terminal was too far to reach before the next wave, so I rushed to the Explosives station, hoping I could make up the difference with claymores and the like, but I noticed something on the menu that hadn't been previously available.

"Sweetie," I ventured, tenuously, "It says here I can get a... Sentry Gun? for $3000..."

Glory paused briefly from looting magazines off the bodies in the plaza. "A Sentry Gun?" she mused. "(Gasp) YOU MEAN LIKE THE ONES WITH THE MOTION SENSORS IN ALIENS?"

I should perhaps mention here that it is a particular point of pride for me that one of Glory's favourite movies is James Cameron's Aliens, and, like her father, LOVES the scenes with the robot sentry guns that were never part of the theatrical release. So enamoured were my friends and I with this scene that we chained together three VHS machines and painstakingly edited our own special release using footage taped from a television broadcast.

At any rate, I said I supposed they would be similar to those ones, and she breathlessly exclaimed, "THEN YOU HAVE TO GET IT!"

I can't say with certainty whether the source of my immediate and considerable pride was due to her recognition, her excitement, or her clear understanding that this was a moral imperative, so I quickly bought the gun and deployed it in front of her position in the tunnel.

No sooner had I stepped away then the next wave showed up, packing body armour and 6.8 mm Adaptive Combat Rifles.  I sprinted to the other end of the tunnel, knowing my failure to lay down any claymores meant I was likely to have my hands full. It turns out though, that the initial deployment were drawn to my position at the start of the wave, and ran right into our automated defense.

I could hear the whine of the servo bringing the rotating barrels of the minigun up to speed, followed by the industrially lethal sound of 6000 rounds per minute turning our adversaries into sloppy servings of cold cuts. No more than a handful came around to my side, and having scoped my own weapon, I was able to deal with them at range. "How's it going on your side, Bug?" I inquired.

"I've hardly had to shoot anybody, the sentry is doing most of the wor- HEY! STOP SHOOTING MY ROBOT!" An extended burst of fire from her purloined MP5, followed by a grim chuckle and the wry observation, "The nerve of that guy."

Needless to say, our subsequent strategies soon came to include Sentry Guns at the earliest opportunity, and experimentation to find the optimal location. They have made us far more effective combatants, and this small variation has increased our enjoyment of the game immeasurably, in a fashion consistent with the examples given at the beginning of this post.

It is perhaps unfortunate that we made this discovery almost immediately prior to the beginning of Lent, but I choose to look at it with different eyes. Glory and I can still get a game in on Sundays during our weekly respite from Lenten observances, and even though we aren't quite as effective as we might be with more practice, we enjoy our time together on our make-believe battlefield all the more because of its rarity.

Sure, it isn't the most conventional observation for a season of reflection and repentance, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say. I wouldn't want to close by wryly noting something about moving in mysterious ways or anything, but if the reader were inclined to, I would hardly be in a position to disagree.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gunplay, Cosplay, Wordplay, Foreplay: Deadpool, Reviewed

The other movie I got to take in this long weekend was the long-awaited Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds. Despite my having shown the red-band trailer to the girls, they both insisted they wanted to see it, even though Fenya confessed that seeing it with her Dad and 13 year old sister did carry an 'ick' factor for her.

My nephew texted me late Friday night saying he had seen it with some friends of his from the U of A, and had quite enjoyed it. When I asked just how bad a parent I would be for bringing along my girls, he replied,"No worse than the guy who brought his two 6-9 year olds."


So let me just get this out of the way, parentally: yes, the movie is graphically violent, but less gory than, say, Django Unchained. It is laden with profanity, but my girls go to a public school, so it has been a while since I worried too much about that. And yes, there are numerous references to and a couple of fairly frank depictions of human sexuality (and let's face it, you really don't want Morena Bacarin sitting on the bench in that sort of situation, right?) but even those are played for laughs, and were only mildly uncomfortable to witness with my daughters.

No, the only real discomfort came (empathetically, for one thing) from a role reversal in the initial montage used to establish the tone of the relationship of two characters in love with each other, and the other involved the main character and a stuffed unicorn, but I like to keep these reviews spoiler-free, so let's press on, shall we? Yes, that's a good idea...

If you hate the idea of comic book movies, especially superhero films, Deadpool may not change your mind, but it could. It comes to the party fully aware of the limitations inherent to that particular realm of storytelling, and shares a wink with the audience through so many fracturings of the fourth wall that I half expected to see cast members in the audience with us. This self awareness begins with the opening credits ("Starring God's Perfect Idiot", "Directed by An Overpaid Tool") and barrels on relentlessly to the end credits (and beyond, natch).

Strange to say, though, the story is not without heart, and establishes the romantic relationship between mercenary Wade Wilson and his hooker girlfriend Vanessa with surprising swiftness, devoid of saccharin sentiment but feeling authentic and natural nonetheless.

Budget restraints meant the filmmakers had to do more with less, so the cast of characters is fairly slim compared to what we are used to from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or even the X-Men movieverse Deadpool resides in. The running time is a manageable 1:48, which also keeps things from feeling bloated.

Now, if the movie is lean and as self-referential as I've made it out to be, there is a reasonable worry that it might come off as a spoof, or a low-budget knock off, and I am happy to report this is not the case. Even though the main character references the latter point when he visits Xavier's School and observes, "Big house, funny I only ever see the two of you; it's almost like the studio couldn't afford any more X-Men..."

Despite being a pretty-boy who has had three previous comic book roles wither and die beneath him (which had very little to do with him, frankly), Ryan Reynolds is not only a very capable actor, but possesses tremendous comic timing and a passion for the character that sees him getting a producer credit on the movie. This helps him bring the gravitas needed to ground an otherwise fantastical and somewhat derivative plot, and to make a smartass killer who can't easily be killed somewhat identifiable with the audience.

The action scenes are capably done, but really excel in their imagination, such as showing the after effects of punching a 7 foot tall Russian made of organic steel, or how a healing factor can be used to facilitate an escape. Humour leavens fights that would be grotesquely bloody without them, but the added mirth ended up putting me in this weird sweet spot between watching Marvin getting shot in the face in Pulp Fiction and seeing Bugs Bunny fight that bull.

Even the cursing is intensely creative, with epithets and swears combinating in heretofore unimagined permutations. The result is a masters level discourse on profanity, delivered at a lightning clip by both Reynolds and comedian T.J. Miller in his role as Deadpool's friend and barkeep confidante Weasel. This will, unfortunately, make it very difficult for the girls to quote many of the funniest lines in my presence, and vice versa.

Most moviegoers will find their entertainment needs and urges satiated by this effective trifecta of action, comedy and romance, and pretty much in that order, too. Even those who feel they are perhaps getting tired of tights and fights at the movie house should give this one a chance, and I hope Kevin Feige and Zack Snyder and everyone else with an oar in the waters of comic book adaptation is paying attention to Deadpool, as it really is a breath of fresh air that could potentially reinvigorate the genre.

On the other hand though, nerds like me are going to keep coming regardless, so let's talk about Deadpool from that perspective, shall we? Now, full disclosure: I have read very little of Deadpool in the comics, so I can't really address precisely how faithful a rendition we got here (or didn't), but here's where I can weigh in:

The costume - spot on, right down to the white eyes they didn't do for Bale's Batman.

The powers - Deadpool has a regeneration gimmick easily the equal of Wolverine's, and sure, everything heals, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. Plus, it can be awkward when stuff hasn't fully grown back.

Colossus - played up as a bit of a self-righteous dork, but still a very committed and capable opponent (and, spoiler alert, comrade as well). "Did you eat breakfast? Here, take protein bar. Good for bones."

Negasonic Teenage Warhead - power set completely different from the comics (far more akin to Sam Guthrie/Cannonball of the New Mutants), but gets the idea of trainee X-Men into play, and is played with fantastic aloofness by newcomer Brianna Hildebrand.

Vintage X-Men 'Blackbird' jet - hell, yes.

Villains - Ajax (Ed Skrein) is the mad scientist peddling mutant soldiers, but is super powered himself. He is cruel, ruthless, and an accomplished and dangerous physical combatant, but worst of all, he isn't stupid. Gina Carano plays Angel Dust, his muscle, so she is even tougher than he is, and can go toe to toe with Colossus, Which reminds me...

Missed opportunity - I keep waiting for this to show up in a movie, but in the meantime, if you should develop super strength and find yourself fighting someone extremely dangerous and damage resistant, please consider throwing them 2-3 miles away, preferably into a large body of water. Let them lose time and energy running or swimming back to the fight while you mop up the small fry or take a breather.

Settings - the final showdown appears to take place amidst the wreckage of a beached helicarrier. I mean, it could be a regular flattop with some aftermarket HVAC, but I kinda don't think so. Now, this is surprising because even though Deadpool and the X-Men are Marvel characters (which means you get the Marvel logo before the credits and a Stan Lee cameo), they live in a completely separate and legally distinct universe than the MCU. The X-Men movies have no Avengers and no SHIELD, so where the heck did they get a helicarrier? Is this the beginning of normalized relations between Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox! Are these the first overtures of cooperation that could potentially end up Avengers/X-Men team up?!?

My head hurts and there is a bit of drool next to my iPad so I think I might have swooned or something there; let me wrap this up: Deadpool has both nerd cred and filmmaking chops. It is a raunchy, violent, bloodletting, cursing and fornicating excuse of a superhero movie that revels in doing everything that you shouldn't do in a comic book franchise, and it is succeeding because of that audacity, not in spite of it. Despite its crudeness, it treats both its audience and its source material with respect, and doesn't stumble when it needs to get serious to advance the story.

Kudos to the behind the scenes heroes who leaked the test footage they shot with (likely leak source) Reynolds and generated the interest that finally convinced Fox to greenlight this movie. I had a great time, and am eagerly awaiting the sequel (it's still a secret, but they allude to it after the credits; you'll see).

Ah, I see that the gentlemen from the government are here to take away my 'World's Best Dad' mug for exposing my daughters to this film; well, that was probably overdue, and I regret nothing.

Hollywood Parables: Hail Caesar!, Reviewed

I was pretty excited this weekend to have the opportunity to see two different movies in the theatre, the first of which was the Coen Brothers period movie movie Hail Caesar! Like most of the Coens' films, it is not for everyone, and even a lot of people who consider themselves fans have left scathing reviews on sites like IMDb.

Let me begin by saying that Hail Caesar! is terribly marketed, leaving one the impression that there will be far more hijinks ensuing than there really are, but to be completely fair, I haven't the foggiest idea how I would have marketed the film either. I will, however, leave the promotions department on the hook for a trailer that not only misrepresents the movie a bit, but also includes far too much content from the last 15 minutes, and which lets almost all the air out of one of the final gags by telegraphing the punchline.

The story is set in 1950s Hollywood, and revolves around studio 'fixer' Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), the morally conflicted hard man with a soft heart who spends his lengthy workdays solving, concealing or removing problems that could cast his employer, Capitol Pictures, in a bad light. Over the course of the story these problems range from keeping a budding starlet out of a set of saucy postcards, helping another conceal her pregnancy, arranging a cowboy star to take the reins of an auteur's drama, and most notably, dealing with the missing star of "Hail Caesar!" (George Clooney) who has been kidnapped by a couple of extras.

Hail Caesar! is presented as a comedy, and there are quite a few laughs in it, especially if you appreciate the Coens' fascination with the way different people talk, and their depictions of differing accents, outlooks, temperaments and professions. The truth be told though, this movie works not as well as a tepid comedy than it does as a humorous philosophy lesson.

The crux of the movie revolves around why we do what we do, approaching from angles both religious and economic, artistic and commercial. While considering a lucrative job offer from head hunters at Lockheed aviation, Eddie resents the headhunters' implication that his work is essentially babysitting crackpots and somehow isn't serious, isn't 'real' because, after all, it's 'only' the movies, only make believe.

Meanwhile in the film within a film, George Clooney's Roman tribune wrestles with conscience after meeting the Son of God at a well in Palestine, and tries to reconcile a lifetime of belief against the grandeur he has witnessed. Not long after this, the actor finds himself discussing history and economics with his kidnappers, apparently unaware of the Communist nature of their arguments, even when he underlines their maxims with anecdotes featuring other celebrities.

For a Coen comedy, Hail Caesar! is almost astonishingly languid, with no real set pieces or frantic climax. More energy is spent establishing the period, which they do with their passionate eyes for detail and the staging of an aquatic ballet and big song and dance number, something modern audiences are long unaccustomed to.

For my money, it is worth the price of admission to watch Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle, a humble singing cowboy being groomed for bigger things by the studio and all too willing to let them change his image. It begins with a brilliantly painful interaction with director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) as the latter struggles to deal with the Oklahoma drawl and limited vocabulary of the former, but Hobie is not just another hick caricature, and goes on to show tremendous insight and character.

We all had a good time at Hail Caesar!, but I empathize with those that didn't. There is a lot at play here for a comedy, and it doesn't always work. But for a morality tale that incorporates both the glitz and grit of classic Hollywood under the iron thumbs of the studio system, fans of the Coens, film history, or any of the ensemble cast they managed to draw in, it was an evening well spent in both thought and laughter.

This trailer gives you a much better idea of the tone and pace of the film than the first one; if you find this amusing (as I did), you should probably check it out; if it bores you, the film is to be avoided.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Sadness of Fruit

Under normal circumstances, I don’t ascribe any particular amount of emotional resonance to fruit,either generally or in specific, but when getting the groceries this week, adding a small package of blueberries to the cart actually made me a bit, well, blue, actually.

The stage was set for this turn of events earlier in the week, when I had occasion to pick Fenya up from work. Since the end of the Christmas break, she has worked a fairly consistent rotation of Monday-Wednesday-Friday shifts, which go from 4-8. This means she takes the bus straight to work from school, and then sups afterwards. With choir practice on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, it makes for a busy week, but she has a double spare every other morning so she is able to keep on top of her schoolwork.

It’s a short drive from Education Station to our house, but the bus routes are not very cooperative, so Audrey or myself are fine with nipping over and picking her up, sometimes dropping the Corolla off in the parking lot so we can attend a meeting or go to a movie or what have you.

The overall effect though, has been a significant decrease in the number of interactions I get with my firstborn. And as she contemplates moving out of town for her gap year in order to save for university, I am becoming all too aware of the fact that, as much as things have changed in the past year, next year’s paradigm shift in our household dynamics will be even more pronounced.

I am very grateful that despite my apprehensions about the inscrutability of teenage girls that has persisted in my mindset since childhood, Fenya and I have somehow managed to maintain a good level of open communication. Early on in my parenting, I had resigned myself to the inevitability of becoming largely irrelevant once my inability to offer meaningful insights into style, makeup, or popular music made itself known, but have been gratified that both girls still find occasion to actually ask my opinion on things.

Because of this, it was uncomfortable but not awkward to confess to Fenya on the brief drive home that, regardless of what happens in in July of this year, I’ve already begun to miss her.

There was a brief beat, then she put her hand on top of mine where it rested on the gear shift, and said quietly, “Yeah, me too.”

It didn’t really change anything, but that validation actually helped quite a bit; the realization that this important connection, although strained by circumstance, remains intact.

“But what has any of this got to do with blueberries?” I hear my ten of readers wondering. Well, nothing, really; at least, not initially.

Due to a huge project at work being implemented at the end of May, there have been a few disadvantageous impacts on my work schedule, one of which is that I am losing (temporarily, I am assured), my compressed work week. This is an arrangement that allows me to work a longer day in exchange for getting every other Friday off. I never availed myself of this benefit when I was downtown, as it would have meant missing the last bus out of the Government Transit Centre, but once the office relocated to Windermere and I needed to drive there, I saw it as a way to reduce my work-related fuel bill by ten percent while keeping the same vehicle. It’s also nice to not use up leave time for things like medical or dental appointments.

The other thing the compressed day off allowed me to do was to send all three of my girls off to their respective schools with a hot breakfast once or twice a month, and with this being Fenya’s grade 12 year, well, that is something I am really going to miss.

Thankfully the change doesn’t take effect for two more weeks, giving me one final Friday off this week, which I have earmarked for some manner of early morning griddlework.

So when I walked into Safeway this weekend to sort out the weekly provisioning, one of the first things I saw was that blueberries were on sale, and with my general inclination towards bargains coupled with the rapid rise in produce prices as of late, I initially felt that slight tingle where perhaps my ancestors’ hunter/gatherer receptors experienced the elation of a discovery that meant postponing immediate starvation for at least some period of time.

As I began picking through the plastic containers, however, I experienced the maudlin observation that this could very well be the last time I have the opportunity to make such a purchase for a weekday breakfast for four. It's a small thing, a negligible thing, and yet, it made a significant impact on my psyche.

I felt pretty foolish, standing there in the entrance to Safeway, a small clamshell of blueberries in each hand, marveling at the rapid increase in my ocular humidity, but quickly managed to put it aside. After all, if the worst feeling I experienced that day was the realization that things change, and that change often has to come with a cost, I really have no cause to complain, do I?

And yet, I had to move the blueberries to the bottom of the drawer, so as not to be reminded every time I open the fridge.

Strange world, isn't it? Or maybe it is just the people?