Me, Marley, the Whistler Film Fest and the VCR

This week American Express and the annual Whistler Film Fest sweep through Whistler…and I am reminded that we are the first generation (generation X) to have grown up with commercial movies in our homes on demand.  My next door neighbor, Doug, had the first VCR I had ever seen not rolled into a classroom by the AV Club dudes (go ahead, say it…geeks) and before long the Vic20 was in the basement (aging myself, I know…but that was the first home computer) and the race was on.  I sat down with my best buddies Jason and Scott and their dad plugged in a copy of, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”, and I knew life would never be the same…

Wednesday, August 19th, 11:30pm

The significance of Marley (yes, Marley from, “Marley and Me”) is the timing.  Then again, that may be too simple a word to say coming from the first generation of movie watchers with VCR’s and DVD’s.  Rewind…

A decade (or two) ago there was, “K2”, with Harold Jameson and Taylor Brooks and the dichotomy of two best friends sharing my name climbing the toughest mountain in the world and the year or two that followed when I read virtually every climbers’ account of every K2 and Everest expedition back to Mallory and Irvine.  Not that I am a climber (at least not without the sole purpose of skiing down),  I am instead drawn to the lost moments between the climb and the humanity that connects man and the everyday with the dream and majesty of nature and the limits of them all…flashback;

The scene: K2 Camp 2, Pakistan, inside the two-man tent the night before the storm that killed two…

Harold: What do you think about when you climb?

Taylor: Sex

Harold: Sex you’ve had or sex you’re going to have?

Taylor: Neither.  Sex I didn’t have.  I think about the ones that got away.


I don’t know how I remember it all, I don’t.  My mind is a tangled mess of 40 years of dialog indeliberately memorized while watching the same favorite movies over and over.  It is hard to think of a moment that I can’t relate back to a favorite scene or speech or silent moment with the cameras rolling.  I can even recall the turning points in my life by remembering when or where I watched a certain show.     

Shortly after, there was the inevitable calling of T.J. Burke (struggling writer and the best skier on the mountain…oh ya) and his buddy Dexter (R.I.P.) of ‘Aspen Extreme’.  The dialogue opens with T.J.’s immortal one liner; “Every day people go out there and do something with their lives, and every day it’s not you and it’s not me.”  (Even more shortly after I dropped out of college – the first time – and moved to Fernie.) 

Then ‘Henry V’ and the fields of France and the barrage of reminiscent Shakespearean movies / plays by Kenneth Branagh .  ‘Harry Met Sally’, ‘She’s Having a Baby’, that one with Sean Penn and his wife Robyn Write (are they still married?) ‘She’s So Lovely’…Baz and the post modern ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘9 1/2 Weeks’…enough said, ‘Singles’, and the greatest soundtrack ever assembled…in the 90’s…and getting to the point, the list goes on in my mind, in no apparent order, of defining times, of glimpses of greatness, of pencils and keypads and moving into the second generation of PDA’s and finally 40. 

Did I say I was getting to the point?  That is what happens when you grow up on this stuff.  Ha, ha!  Now mix in more reading than anyone should attempt in 6 or 7 years of university.  A.E.Housman and the Norton Anthology of Poetry 201 and of course ‘The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock and T.S. Elliot, ‘…the women come and go…hair grows thin…slippers in the daytime’, you know the one, biographies, autobiographies, female archetypes in Canadian literature (yes, that is a course)…and finally, the inevitable fact that one day all of the writing and quoting movie characters will find itself somewhere.  Oh ya, and of course the tell-tale moment in every dreamer’s life when Fred says, “I’m a writer I guess.”, to which Holly Golightly replies, “You guess, you don’t know?”, in, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. 

Breakfast At Tiffany's by why plus eight.

Finding focus is difficult at the best of times but more so through this life it is a rare gift to find inspiration in your own time.  Enter Marley and here I am writing again with broken ribs, again, and ridiculous dreams of being a 40-year-old surfer, skateboarder (since mountain biking doesn’t seem to be my thing…too hard to sleep with broken bones).  Writing, like movies, takes me to the familiar. (Stop and think about that.)  Sometimes the lull of the refrigerator and the company of Fish, that damn 7-year-old sometimes much neglected gold-fish who could live in a can of oil…is home.  Like plugging in those old shows that inevitably leave you in dreamland in front of the TV because they are so engrained in your being you can finish watching in your mind’s eye while you sleep. 

Instead, I wake up with the pain, the ribs still, find myself searching for midnight snacks, ice cream and BBQ chips tonight,  watching, ‘Marley and Me’, into the early morning. 

The most impressionable and capturing is almost always the most unexpected, the everyday.  Like waking up here in Whistler, the most spectacular yet calming and contenting place I have ever called home.  “So what if this is it?”,  I said to my wife one day after trying just about everything to find our way into a bigger house (…it’s Whistler, you do the math).  “What is the worst thing that can happen (if we fail)?”  We end up here, in our nice little house, with our kids, with each other, with my shop and her fitness classes and a nice truck…we end up here with all of these familiar things.  I  end up here with the original Sony Wega TV , a shelf full of DVD’s and a box (or two) of my favorite VCR shows of all time and maybe later a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery book shop to pick up another empty journal to fill up with the endless indescribable that keeps us coming back for more….this life.

sunny reading by ganobristol.


1 Comment

  1. Umm…if my understanding is correct, you know all the words to K2 because you used to watch it every single day?? Another great one Hi!! Keep’em coming!!! 🙂

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