Monday, December 7 2020

on-call, skyfall, and wasting time on the internet



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends. Happy Monday. You know, Mondays aren’t all bad. Sure, it sort of stings waking up early the first time after a few days. But there’s an aspect to Mondays that feel restorative and redemptive. Busily, tiredly shuffling through my kitchen gathering up empty beer bottles and re-shelving the late night snacking paraphanelia, I’m motivated by a fresh start and a new work day. This Monday feels restorative.

Let’s be honest - I’m in a good mood because my on-call shift finally ended. As we say around this family, “right now is the longest time before I have to do [insert loathsome activity here] again”. No more showering with my phone on the bathmat. No more napping with my phone tucked beside my head. Today, turning my phone back to silent feels as cathartic as when I went full Peter Gibbons on our noisy, malfunctioning carbon monoxide detector only a few days ago.

Sip. How are you feeling this Monday? Are you feeling good and ready to ride into battle alongside our other work week comrades? Or is my enthusiasm just irritating? And more importantly, how was your weekend?

Sadly, I’ve already recapped pretty much the entire weekend. The narrow time gap between Sunday evening’s post and Monday morning’s post pose a real creative writing challenge. The only thing I’ve done since we’ve last been together virtually is share a bottle of wine and a bowl of fruit loops with Marissa and finish watching the movie Skyfall. I’m not particularly keen on filling the time talking about James Bond, but what can I say? Writing on Mondays, beggars can’t be choosers.

Once again marching through the Daniel Craig series of James Bond movies has given me an appreciation for how different they are. Same actors, same basic premise, even the same formula. There’s an opening chase to get you hooked, a coincidental run in with a hot babe who leads him to the villain, and there’s a chase and a stand-off in which the villain gets away. But James Bond, always the exemplar of British fortitude tracks down the bad guy and takes him down by the end of the movie. And of course, he gets the afformentioned hot babe too.

But like I said, coming back to these movies after so long, I’ve grown to appreciate the diversity in feel and quality. Casino Royale is embarassingly bad, but kind of fun to watch while you’re drinking. Quantum of Solace is a flimsy, vexing mess. Skyfall is a damn masterpiece. In fact Skyfall is so good that it proved to be the only Daniel Craig Bond movie that I actually remembered, and I convinced myself that all the good scenes from that movie were sprinkled throughout the other inferior ones.

To loosely quote Samuel Jackson’s character in Kingsman, a spy movie is only as good as the villain. Let’s take a minute to appreciate how good the villain was in Skyfall. The way he silently descends in an elevator and calmly walks through a makeshift server farm in his derelict building. His weirdly perfect bleach blond hair, and the strange swallowing sound in the way he speaks which he later reveals is due to a botched cyanide capsule suicide.

I tried to nitpick. While he was telling his long-winded allegory about how his grandmother taught him to rid their small island of rats, I liberally interjected with my own snark.

“Why would you let the last two rats out?” I quipped. “That will really backfire when they just start having babies and you get rats again.” How predictable that I always feel the need to insert my own wisdom from dealing with a rat infestation.

Skyfall left us pleased. Next up is Spectre. While trying to recount from memory what happens in Spectre, Marissa and I instead got sidetracked with silly pronunciations of the word Spectre.

“Is it speck-tray?” said Marissa.

“No, it’s speek-tar,” I snickered.

“SA-peck-tire,” laughed Marissa.

“SPANK-TRAY,” I echoed back.

And after pulling on the “silly pronunciations of the word spectre” bit for as long as I could, I’m officially out of James Bond talking points. For the next portion of blog fodder, I have a brief reflection on wasting time on the Internet.

Yesterday after getting Rodney out of his room, we tip toed past a sleeping Marissa on the couch and into the dining room. Rodney quickly ran back into the living room to fetch his favorite blue pillow he likes to sit on at the computer. Like a laboratory trained mouse, Rodney took hold of the cursor, clicked the menu button in the top right, and clicked the faded blue icon to open a web browser. His little eyes scanned the screen until he found the little “Nick Jr” bookmark in the top of the browser window.

I left the dining room to let him play computer games in peace. But once the soup was simmering on the stove, I quietly took a seat at the table behind him to observe. I watched Rodney scroll through a bubbly grid of thumbnails. I saw him click through and ad and try a new game in which he piloted a cartoon pterodactyl. I watched him get bored and click the bookmark again to go back to the home page where he quickly located his favorite game Blaze Mud Mountain Rescue. Rodney watched the opening sequence, then using the space bar he helped Blaze the monster truck evade itchy crabs using carefully timed jumps across swinging ropes.

I love watching Rodney kill time on the computer. Wasting time on the Internet has always been a core part of how I motivate myself to do work. In junior high I used to do my homework in the basement. I’d arrange each subject at a different seat on our old faded beige kitchen table. In between math problem sets and reading assignments, I’d reward my efforts by taking a seat at our painfully slow desktop computer and imbibe exactly two Strongbad emails, ten White Ninja comics, or one game of Stinkoman. The Internet was a lot more fun back then.

I found two of my favorite White Ninja web comics. Before you get back to work today, help yourself to a little of my childhood.

2020 12 07 white ninja 1
2020 12 07 white ninja 2

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful Monday, everyone.