And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Definitely Rachel McAdams in Game Night. I am a big fan of J-Law—even shared a plane with her!—but RM killed it in Game Night. She’s a very funny actress, which of course you’d know if you saw Mean Girls (2004).
Best Actor: Chris Evans as Captain America in Avengers: Endgame. You can’t deny he plays the part extremely well. I never liked the character as a kid, and never thought I ever would. Yet, here I am…
Best Quote: “May the odds be ever in your favour.” — Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games
Looking for Cable wouldn’t be difficult, despite being in a 72,000 capacity football stadium crawling with avid wrestling fans bustling from spot to spot: ticketed seat–popcorn stand—bathroom—merch table—back to seat. It was dizzying to the sleep depraved Brody, but adrenaline was doing its job in his veins just fine. According to Chester, Cable liked to watch the show from a vantage point facing the wrestlers’ entrance ramp, as square on as possible. They went straight to the top level, #4, of the stadium where Brody realized that Cable wasn’t what he thought. He was prepared to find a middle-aged white man who loosely resembled the comic book store guy on The Simpsons. What he was introduced to was a late-20’s latino woman in a black t-shirt with “SECURITY” spelled out in large letters on the back from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. She wore a ball cap with a ponytail and had a countenance that gave the impression she was a very happy person, even when she wasn’t smiling.
She and Chester hugged, then so did she and Anita. Brody was always uncomfortable with hugs, so thankfully that’s where the hugging stopped. Chester got right to business.
“So you’re aware of this being-stuck problem we have?”
“Yes, I do. We’ve all heard about it. We might as well take care of this now. Unless you three were hoping to see the matches.”
“No, you were right the first time. We have to move fast,” said Anita.
They walked away together, collectively knowing where they were heading, leaving Brody to follow like a puppy dog. Heading down a “staff only” hallway with blank beige walls the group stopped by a set of elevator doors. The wheels in Brody’s head were turning and it showed on his face.
“Yeah,” answered Brody with a weak smile.
“This is scary too, but much faster.”
“Yes, Chester and I are not as skilled as Cable in this form of travel. But if we want to get unstuck, this is the only way.”
“I thought you acquired all the knowledge that humans can know.”
“We do. But Cable isn’t a human. And her gate skills go beyond what the two of us can do. She’s like a wizard.” It seemed Anita was using this last word as more of a compliment than a literal identity designation. With a twinkle in her eye it looked like she enjoyed bragging on Cable, but the idea that she wasn’t human was unsettling to Brody.
A ding turned all four heads to the elevator door. None of them seemed to expect what would materialize before them. Their eyes widened as a man wearing white from head to toe stood inside the elevator. His face was a chiseled and carved work of art, like a statue had come to life. Two curtains of jet black hair hung on for dear life along the sides of his skull.
“Don’t run.” He said these two words simply and slowly, as if there was a period in between them. The melancholy of his voice creeped Brody out.
Just then Cable let out the most terrifying and piercing scream one could imagine. That seemed to be a cue as Anita and Chester ran back down the hall, each with a fistful of Brody’s shirt, forcing his flight as well.
The man in white covered his ears, knees buckling as he absorbed the pain. But he was determined and stumbled out of the tiny elevator. He made his way down the corridor but looked like a helpless drunk trying to leave a bar, hands still covering his ears. Cable kept the scream going until she could see the man in white no longer.
Chester seemed to know exactly where to go in this stadium. Brody and Anita followed him as swiftly as they could. There wasn’t enough people in the building yet to keep them from moving fast, but just enough to help cover their tracks. They eventually ended up in a large hallway, one that Brody thought might connect to the private boxes. A door flew open and they ran in. Again, not sure which one opened it, but it hadn’t ceased to amaze him that Anita and Chester could do that. A big Star Wars fan all of his life made it even greater of a thrill for Brody.
“We’re safe here,” said Anita, with the steady voice of someone who certainly did not just run the quarter length of a stadium afraid for her life. Another reminder for Brody that his new friends did not have the limitations of being a human being.
“How are we safe here?” cried Brody, between panting and gasping.
“He can’t open doors without a human’s help. Not knobs, not lee-vahs,” said Chester. “Like Cable, he’s not human. He can do a lot of snazzy things, but being trapped in space and time really make take a trip for biscuits.”
Brody’s forehead furrowed and his eyes darted at Chester. But Anita interjected. “He’s also not entirely used to this time and space. He’s been living in 5th century Nepal for the last two hundred years. But Brody, that’s not important. What’s important is that we get to an elevator with Cable.”
“Wait!” Brody had caught enough breath and caught his bearings enough to get a bit impatient. “I don’t need to know all the ins and outs of the afterlife, but I do need to know why it’s so important that you two need me to get you out of here. Why can’t Cable just do it?”
Chester gave Anita that same look he did back in the Denny’s booth when Brody had asked how they’d known him. And like before, Anita chose to answer first.
“I don’t know if you’re ready for that yet Brody.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I am! At this point I’m running for my life and all to get you guys back to… to… heaven or something!”
“Brody,” said Anita, “You’re life as you know it isn’t what’s in danger. That man in white is Odium. He’s here to stop Chester and I from getting you back home.”
“Home?” This just kept getting stranger for Brody, but just as the word left his mouth he felt for Anita. He could tell what she was about to say was hard for her to get out. For just a moment he saw her as his granddaughter. He imagined her as a child opening up a Christmas gift he’d gotten her. He wondered if she listened to him tell stories or had a favourite meal that he would make for her. Maybe she was a grandchild he would never have known at all for some reason. Either way, he felt love in his heart for her despite their only being introduced hours ago.
“Go ahead Anita,” he managed. “Tell me what I need to hear, and hold back what you think I can’t handle. You’re the boss.”
She smiled. “Brody, have you wondered yet while I’m old while Chester is young?” He had. “When we die, our bodies that we appear in don’t reflect the age when we died or anything like that. It simply reflects the body we were most comfortable in. And truly, after life nobody really cares what they look like.”
Chester looked like he was about to add to Anita’s lesson of sorts but she held up her hand, politely asking him to let her finish.
“Brody, everything I told you about me and my life are true…but I purposely didn’t tell you the years I was born, married, died, etc.”
“Brody, you died after living a very full life at the age of 97.”
To be continued…
My siblings and I love playing games, and by that I refer to the “board” variety, not so much video games or sports. So this week we’re going to pick from three movies that all have the word “game” or “games” in the title. They’re all good, so which one would you choose for our Movie of the Week?
The Hunger Games
(2012, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson)
(2018, starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams)
(2019, don’t get me started here…)
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Best Actor: Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove, Captain Mandrake and President Muffley in Dr. Strangelove.
Best Actress: “You were never there for me were you mother? You expected Mike and Carol Brady to raise me! I’m the bastard son of Claire Huxtable! I am a Lost Cunningham! I learned the facts of life from watching The Facts of Life! Oh God!” — Jim Carrey as Chip Douglas in The Cable Guy.
When Chester hung a right approaching a garage door at the foot of a high rise apartment building, Brody had a feeling the door would rise up for him. It did. He wasn’t sure if Chester had done that or Anita, but that was unimportant. His fears were threatening to crawl up his spine and do a cannonball into his gut again, but his sixth sense kept telling him that he was going to be ok.
The Tribute crept inside and down the sloping concrete of the parking garage, then the door descended behind them. “I think this place is perfect,” said Chester taking the car around a corner, then came to a stop at the head of an aisle. On either side were bumpers lined up like soldiers guarding the concrete walls on the other side. In the middle, just a sloped smooth pad of grey about 150 yards long, occasional yellow arrows pointing the way.
“Yes it is. Good job Chester,” said Anita. “Brody, you might want to close your eyes.”
Brody’s lips mouthed “wha…” but nothing came from his voice box.
Chester straightened his legs hard and fast, dropping the gas pedal to the floor as if his foot was a cinder block. Brody straightened his body in terror driving his own feet to the floor, as if that would help anything in such a situation.
“Hit the power!” yelled Chester. Anita’s hand when up and all interior lighting in the parking garage went out. Only seeing what headlights would reveal in an underground parking garage was the stuff nightmares and horror movies were made of. But it got worse: the wall at the end of the corridor was coming at them fast. It was as if the wall was running threateningly towards them, like a psychotic game of chicken.
“Ok, kill the motor!” yelled Chester throwing the gear shift into neutral. Immediately the engine stopped, but one would hardly notice considering the headlights went out. Flying towards a concrete wall and then being unable to see anything at all is what caused Brody’s throat to finally open up and let out a blood curdling scream.
It lasted but a second and the headlights shot back on. But now it was pavement they saw before them. Instead of bumpers whizzing by on either side it was trees. Chester decelerated until he gently brought the Tribute to a stop.
Brody thought he was going to cry. “Are you ok Brody?” Anita offered. Chester fired up the engine of the Tribute again.
“This is your place right?” He pulled directly into Brody’s mobile home driveway. “I’m sorry Brode, but there was no way we could have done this with you unless we just went ahead and did it. Like ripping off a bandaid.”
“Brody we jumped through a space-time portal. I know it looked scary but you’re going to be ok. Time is so precious right now and we can waste none of it.”
Is this really happening? Am I being punked?
“We can talk more about this, but let’s first get to your bathroom,” said Chester handing Brody his car keys and walking straight for the mobile home front steps.
It was an odd picture. Chester sat on the closed seat of the toilet, Anita leaned against the sink vanity, and Brody held the bathroom door open with his back, still looking like he’d just seen a ghost. Oh, if I’d only just seen a ghost, he thought. Hot water shot through the shower head throwing steam in the air like a fog machine. But Brody didn’t mind the awkwardness. Better than terror, he told himself.
“Ok, so tell me how you did that with my car.”
“Ah, there’s no point in that,” dismissed Chester. Brody looked to Anita for help, which she tried to oblige.
“You ever heard of people who can bend spoons with their mind? There are people out there who can do it, but how would you ever be able to explain it, right?” Brody kept listening. “Well, there are a lot of things humans are capable of. As we evolve on this planet we discover more and more the things we can do. And, it just so happens that after death you discover all of those things.”
“It’s all discover-able. You know, with science and everything. But trying to teach you all that now? Pfft!” Chester seemed mildly amused. “It’d take fer-evuh.”
They proceeded to inform Brody of life in the afterworld. How the absence of fear accelerates and magnifies love, happiness, and adventure. How time travel isn’t a machine but a simple manipulation of time, space, and dimensions. He started to enjoy himself when they’d told him stories of their own time travel adventures. Anita was there to see The Ramones play at the Rainbow Theatre in London on Christmas Eve 1977. Brody didn’t peg her for a Ramones fan, but it turned out she was quite the rock enthusiast, especially when it came to “rock history,” a term she used often and with affection. She’d also taken in most of the 1985 Live Aid concert. She shared a few other band names but didn’t dwell on them when she realized Brody had either not heard of them, or perhaps didn’t have the same excitement as she did about them. But the event she enjoyed the most was hearing Terry Fox address a crowd of ten thousand at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto back in the summer of 1980.
Chester celebrated in the streets of Reims, France on May 7, 1945 when Germany signed their surrender to the Allies. He also attended both of his parents’ funerals, and watched King Kong debut at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1933. The three talked like pre-teens at a slumber party about these adventures, and Brody soaked in every story.
“Um, not really. I liked it when I was a kid.”
“Who was your favourite?” Anita seemed very interested, though he suspected it was strictly for practical reasons.
“Well… I liked a lot of them. I remember liking Undertaker a lot.
“Perfect. Got a favourite match?”
“Really Anita? You don’t seem the type…”
“I know the perfect one. Wrestlemania 25 against Shawn Michaels. Am I right?” Chester’s eyes lit up like he was proud for coming up with this one.
“Oh yeah, that one was pretty great.”
“Ok, we’re going there.”
“Wait, what? We’re…”
“Brody, you know now that we know how to time jump. Trust us with this and I promise you it will not be anywhere near as scary as the parking garage.”
He liked the sound of that.
“I think there’s enough steam goin’ now ‘Nita. We need to hurry up and find Cable. C’mon, everyone in the tub,” and Chester stepped into Brody’s bathtub with the assertiveness of a commuter stepping on a bus not wanting to be late. “Ooh, I like the grips you got on the floor of your tub. Good work fine fellow!”
He moved to the back of the tub as Anita stepped in. They stood there looking like they were waiting their turn in line at the bank.
“Brody, you’ll need to go first. Trust me, it’s better that way.”
By now he was used to following their crazy instructions and not only getting desirable results, but also being completely unharmed. This time he was to think about the Undertaker. About the crowd in Houston that roared as he made a smoke-filled entrance. Then he was to step forward into the shower stream. He’d need to close his eyes as the water would be shooting directly into his face. “Keep walking,” they’d told him. To his surprise, taking that extra step to the other side of the shower stream didn’t result in bumping into the shower wall. Instead, it was like he stepped into a pool. Down he went, completely submerged.
When his head popped up above the surface he saw rocks and grass. Then he saw his companions on either side. “Swim to the bank there. We’re getting out,” said Anita. Chester was already stepping onto the grass.
As they stood on the bank of a small river wiping the water from their hair and faces, Brody noticed how hot the air was, and how how crunchy the grass was. “Welcome to 2009,” said Chester. “And welcome to Houston.”
Anita felt the need to subtly remind the other two there was work to be done. “We’re near the airport. Let’s go get a car.”
Brody knew what that meant, but by now he was getting a rush from all the adventure. What he didn’t know, and what Anita and Chester didn’t realize, was that someone was watching them.
Joy and I have been watching the TV show Fargo for the past few weeks, and just like the 1996 movie it grew out of it is a dark comedy. We’re really enjoying it so I thought we could take a look at some other good dark comedies for our movies this week. Which one is your pick?
The Cable Guy (1996)
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game. Such a great movie, too.
Best Actor: Bill Murray as Baloo in The Jungle Book. This is so far my favourite of the recent Disney live-action remakes.
Best Quote: “I’m your father. Trying to comprehend how much I love you would be like trying to visualize the size of the universe.” — Kevin Costner as Larry Bloom (father of Molly Bloom) in Molly’s Game.
No! Though it was an old car Brody babied it. Tune ups, transmission flushes, oil changes complete with high grade synthetics; yet, the Tribute wouldn’t turn over. It was as if there was nothing but grease and stale air under the hood. He just wanted to leave. That coffee conversation was more than just weird. The level of crazy those two are on… It wasn’t just the kind of crazy where you shake your head with a crooked grin like you do for tornado chasers, or people who belong to fanatical religious groups. No, this kind of crazy was the kind you don’t feel safe around. Like if you are listening to your religious zealot of an uncle ranting about his views and then realize he is carrying a gun in his jacket.
“Please Brody, don’t leave!” The older woman was standing in the parking lot a few yards away but in his view. It was like she was desperately pleading with him but respected him enough to give him space. Not so with Chester. He was at the passenger side door, palms on the window, and wide eyes.
“Brode! Ya gatta help us!”
Brode? Chester hardly knew him, what made him think he could move straight to nickname mode? That and the fact that he hated that unnecessary shortening of his name that for a second he’d forgotten his fear and shot the portly oddball the ol’ wtf stink-eye.
Then Brody looked again at Anita, and immediately regretted it. Oddly enough he felt bad for her. He saw in her pain, sorrow, and a vulnerability that one doesn’t expect to see in the eyes of a crazy person. And there was this odd feeling of responsibility for her, even love and loyalty, if she really was who she was claiming to be.
So tired. So annoyed. Somewhat still scared. But Brody found himself opening the door and getting out like a child who begrudgingly agreed to do what his parent asked. He stood and Anita approached.
They just stood for a few seconds looking at each other. To Brody it was hours. Chester stared unashamedly, waiting for what would happen next.
“Did you do it?”
Anita shook her head yes slowly.
“Do what??” interjected Chester, being soundly ignored.
Brody closed his eyes and exhaled. “This…” gesturing to the hood, “is my baby.”
“Oh the cah!”
“Yes, the CAH!” Brody mocked. “Forgive me for not wanting to be a part of your…witchcraft!” Witchcraft? It wasn’t the word he was looking for, but he was too shaken by the events of the last half hour to be flustered by poor word choice.
“Brody, we didn’t hurt your car. We just made it….not start.”
“Yeah, just for now,” added Chester.
“We need you to just listen. We will show you that what we’re saying is true and will keep you completely safe. Please Brody.”
Well, she had a way with words. In minutes they were back at their Denny’s booth. Coffee was cold, but no one was wanting any in the first place. They decided to start over and get to know one another a bit better. Perhaps that would help ease things a bit. Chester was a recent high school graduate who was adopted as a baby by an American couple in 1924. He lived through the great depression and the start of WWII. Like most young men his age he was sent oversees to fight the Nazis, and like most young men who were of Asian descent, he was sent on the front lines. He wasn’t as eager to join the fight as some of his peers. He’d even had a buddy join the Canadian army a couple of years prior to Pearl Harbour (This really piqued Brody’s interest.). Chester fought valiantly, but after a year and a half he died bleeding to death of bullet wounds, lying in the middle of a dirt road in Tunisia.
Chester seemed a little too matter-of-fact about his war experience and death, at least according to Brody. But Anita clarified. She explained how in what we call “the after life,” souls aren’t affected by the distresses and hardships of life on earth. And she spoke up at just the right time. It was her turn to share.
Anita was a happily married mother of three, grandmother of two and great grandmother of four. She was a high school math teacher who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on her 81st birthday. It was a scary time for her family, but by that time it was much easier to deal with the disease. Unfortunately it decided to return, this time to attack her lungs, a part of the body that scientists and doctors struggled to find cures for that had as good success rates as other types of cancer. She said she still misses her family, but in a different way than you do.
“Wait. You’re in your 90’s?” asked Brody incredulously.
“I died in my 90’s yes.” Knowing what he was getting at she added, “People live a lot longer in your immediate future. They also age slower. A lot of giant leaps were made in the field of medicine back in the mid 30’s.”
By now Brody’s nerves had eased enough for him to want to know more. It was time for him to ask some questions about Anita and Chester’s current situation.
“So, when you’re, um… in heaven,”
“Heaven!” Chester repeated with a smile and laugh you’d expect to see on an old man.
“Yeah. Well, what do you call it?”
“We don’t call it anything,” offered Anita. It just seems impossible to get used to people calling this “after life” or “heaven.”
“But it is ah-some!” said Chester. “That’s how we found you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Anita knew from her mom’s stories that you were a boxing fan and that you’d been there for the Puri-Stone fight of 2025.” Chester made ‘boxing’ sound like ‘baxing.’
“So you guys can time travel and go wherever you want?”
“Yes, but there are rules. Just like in natural law, no one really sets the rules. They’re just there. For instance, I can’t just say to myself I want to go to the local grocery store of my childhood on May 1, 1973. But if there is a specific notable event, one that lives in the minds and hearts of souls, living and dead—especially one’s own—it’s easy to get there.”
Brody was unaware that his mouth was open while he listened, nor how big his eyes were, nor how his head was cocked to the right, which made Chester giggle a bit.
“And how!” said Chester. Geez, listen to this guy. He really is an old man.
“We can fill you in more later Brody, but for now, we really need to get to a shower. Can we use yours?”
“You want to take a shower?”
“No no, not take one,” Chester interjected, “Clean as a whistle we are. We do still need your show-ah though.”
Brody was back to feeling nervous again. There’s something about bringing someone you just met to your house so they can use your amenities that feels a little off. Chester seemed to notice this.
“Tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. We get in your cah and you let me do the driving, and I promise you we’ll get you home safe.”
“What, you guys can teleport?”
“Something like that.”
More out of exhaustion than anything Brody agreed to the deal, but he couldn’t possibly have been prepared for the car ride he was about to take.