Hi kids! So I'm back from the UK, back at work, back in ye olde Regular Life. Here's to that.
The UK trip was a ton of fun, though quite exhausting, and, I gotta say, a bit disappointing if what I was expecting was "a trip to England." Because, really, I could have been anywhere in the world, for all I actually saw or experienced. I went, quite literally, from Heathrow Airport to the Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire and then back to the airport, with not one foot set outside of either the entire time. It wasn't for lack of trying, either---but my Lords and Masters at EA UK had me scheduled pretty much the entire time, except for a couple hours here and there when I crawled back to my room for a much needed, jet-lag inspired nap. And anyway, had I wanted to go anywhere, even, as I originally hoped, to a pub--because at the very least I thought I'd at least grab a fine English brew or 10--there was nowhere to go, as the hotel was surrounded by farmland for as far as you could see. We were in the middle of nowhere. A beautiful English countryside version of nowhere, but, still, nowhere. And lest it appear like I am totally complaining, here is a photo of where I was staying:
Yeah. So, ya know: worse places to be "stuck" for three days. Still, you'd think for such a fine establishment, they would at least have some of that aforementioned fine English beer I was craving. But what were my choices? Heineken, Stella, and Corona. WTF?
Anyhoo, my luxurious accommodations continued even after I left the hotel, as I found myself randomly upgraded, in a complete lucky fluke, to business class on British Airways. And oh my god was that a revelation. Seriously, this isn't just a *little* better of a way to fly--it's like an entirely different world. I'm spoiled for life now, especially for a transcontinental flight. Better food, better service, a full open bar and kitchen for the whole flight, and, of course, the leg room. On this airline, anyway, you get a full 6-foot "pod" that is entirely yours, complete with a drawer to put yer stuff in, and a seat that reclines out all the way down to a bed, which they delightfully accompany with a real pillow and blanket. Here's a shot I took on my iphone while reclining:
It doesn't fully do it justice. Let's just say that I practically didn't even want to get off the plane after we landed. I contemplated just staying on, and telling my wife and kid that this plane was now my new address. Of course, being a righteous Berkeley type, I also was filled with indignation, having seen this stuff, and just how crappy people are treated back in Economy, knowing that they *could* get this kind of treatment. Or even 1/4 of this kind of treatment. Rather than being treated like livestock. But, hey, at least I got to live it up once, and laugh and scoff at the lower class losers stuck in steerage! Eat it, peasants!
But perhaps the highlight of the trip is what's referred to in this blog title: The movie that I watched on the plane. I have seen many rock documentaries over the years. Some are okay, some are great (like "Dig"), and some are amazing. Into that latter category I would put, off the top of my head, "Stop Making Sense," "Don't Look Back", and, though it is entirely fictional "This is Spinal Tap." But I now have to add "Anvil: The Story of Anvil", which isn't just a great rock and roll movie, it's a great movie period--one of the finest documentaries I've ever seen and easily one of the best movies I've seen in the past year.
Chronicling the sad fate of 80s Canadian heavy metal band Anvil--a band that I, like most people, probably never heard of---it is truly the "real life Spinal Tap", as others have noted: An un-ironic, true-life tale of a bunch of guys now in their 50s trying to cling on to and recapture their brief fling with rock-and-roll glory. It doesn't matter if you don't like this kind of music, or rock documentaries in general. The beauty of this movie (along with the Spinal Tapian moments of unintentional humor) is the human story: The meditation on aging and ambition and doing what you are passionate about in life--and what happens when things don't entirely go your way. It's inspiring in the most humble and innocent way. For every moment that you may feel, "Wow, these guys are a bit ridiculous and sad," there are two more that will have you cheering them on, or at least admiring them for being so devoted to their passion, and to each other. It's a love story, really, and it's an incredible one. Do yourself a favor and rent it.