Thunder Bay to Cuba

When I was five years old, in 1971, my paternal grandmother and I visited Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is where both she and her son (my father) were born.

In my foggy memory of that trip, we were scheduled to fly home one day, but had the option of staying over for another, and it was my decision which. Whatever my decision was, I have ever since been under the impression that the flight that we didn’t take was the one detailed here that was hijacked to Cuba, making it “Canada’s only successful airline hijacking.”

But the dates don’t add up — the hijacking in question took place on boxing day of that year, and I’m fairly certain we visited in the summer or the fall, as there was no snow. And, besides, five year olds don’t generally leave their parents alone for Christmas.

It’s amazing how something I’ve so long believed to be true turns out to be a fanciful merging of true facts into delightful fiction. I think, in retrospect, what probably happened was that we visited in 1972, after the hijacking, and took the same ill-fated Air Canada Flight 932, albeit several months later. My grandmother or one of my Thunder Bay relatives probably mentioned this and somehow my 5 (or 7) year old mind mushed this altogether into the story I believed for the next 30ish years.

Air Canada no longer has a flight numbered 932. All the flights from Thunder Bay to Toronto start with the number 5.

Imagine: hijacked to Cuba from Thunder Bay!

More on Midriffs

From the section titled “Student Safety Rules” of the 2001-2002 Parent Handbook for Wells Memorial School in Harrisville, New Hampshire (emphasis mine):

  1. Students are not to leave the school grounds without permission.
  2. Students are to use school property with respect and concern for others.
  3. Students are expected to respect others’ rights while using the halls. This includes no running in the halls.
  4. Students are to follow the direction of staff members at all times.
  5. Children and adults will treat each other with respect and appropriate concern for health, safety, welfare, and the rights of others.
  6. Students shall not have gum, candy, or soda at school (except on special occasions).
  7. Students will dress appropriately while at school. Midriffs should be covered and there are to be no t-shirts with inappropriate pictures or words.
  8. Playground safety rules:
    1. Children are to remain on the playground away from the doors until the bell rings. They are not to enter without permission from the adult supervising.
    2. Students are responsible for respecting the rights and welfare of others on the playground.
    3. Students will follow the direction of the person supervising in all instances.
    4. The throwing of snowballs and making tunnels on school property is not permitted.
    5. Sliding on the ice on the playground is not permitted.
    6. Games with rough physical contact and tackle football are not permitted.
    7. Students are not allowed to take their shirts off.
    8. In order to play in the snow, snow pants, boots, and mittens or gloves must be worn.
    9. During lunch time appropriate eating behavior and manners are expected.
I find myself in complete agreement of all of the above with the exception of 7 and 8g. It’s one thing to make rules about snow tunnels — kids get killed in snow tunnels. It’s another thing entirely to dictate dress and midriff-covering standards.

I’m trying very hard to conjure and image the meeting of the school safety committee where the “Students are not allowed to take their shirts off.” rule was established. What safety issue brought on this rule? A rash of severe sunburns? Children irrationally taking off their shirts in mid-winter? Imagine.

At the Movies: Steamy Mexican Sex, Natalie Portman and Real Life

On the surface, the movie Y Tu Mama Tambien is about sex and the movie Star Wars: Attack of the Clones isn’t.

After all, there are, by my count, 2,143 words in the Sex/Nudity section of the review of the former, and 91 words on Sex/Nudity for the later.

In Star Wars sex and nudity gets about as wild as:

Later, they playfully roll around on the ground (over and over) until she’s eventually straddling him (but nothing else happens).
while in Y Tu Mama Tambien it’s more along the lines of:
From a distance, we see Julio and Tenoch lying on separate diving boards above a pool masturbating (we see their hands rhymically moving at their crotches as they mention various things and women to fantasize about). We then see them react to climaxing (we don’t see the actual orgasms, but do see some seminal fluid land in the pool).

Star Wars is rated PG. Y Tu Mama Tambien isn’t rated at all.

And so conventional wisdom would say that Star Wars is a good family movie and Y Tu Mama Tambien, well, isn’t.

But let’s scratch below this surface.

There are two plot lines in this most recent episode of the Star Wars trilogy. First, a military - political drama that involves a lot of robots and two groups called The Republic and The Federation. Second involves getting Darth Vader and Natalie Portman to sleep together so that they can produce Luke Skywalker for the fourth movie in the trilogy.

As near as I can tell, the “love” between these two exists on some mystical plane that we’re never really filled in on the details of. They knew each other as children. He’s been thinking of her every day for 10 years. She bares her midriff a lot. He stares into her eyes a lot. They steal a kiss they then regret. They “playfully roll around on the ground (over and over)”.

In other words they have a fantasy relationship that bears little or no similarity to how actual relationships start and develop. They are two icons that bump and merge in the stars. And then they get married beside a lake.

In Y Tu Mama Tambien there is no love to speak of. There are two lifelong friends and a woman, the cousin of one, who take a road trip to the seashore and have assorted varieties of spontaneous and consensual sex along the way. The friends argue. The sex is clumsy and difficult. There’s beer. And pot. And more beer. And a beautiful secluded beach. And a family of escaped pigs. And then it’s over.

In other words, in spirit if not in detail, it’s a lot like the everyday relationships going on all around us. It’s about how people meet and how sex actually happens and why people freak out about it and how people can be friends and then not be friends.

So which is the family movie? The one that perpetuates dreamy impossible science fiction romance, or the one that doesn’t? I’m not sure I know the answer because, at 19 months, wee Oliver doesn’t go to the movies yet. But I’ve a hunch that in the end its the steamy Mexican teen sex that might provide a better education in the ways of the world.

Flying Postscript

That flight of mine that I didn’t take tonight from Boston to Halifax — the one that was scheduled to leave Boston at 6:10 p.m. and arrive Halifax at 8:40 p.m. — ended up actually leaving Boston at 8:49 p.m. and arriving Halifax at 11:18 p.m., a full two and a half hours late.

Best Hotel / Worst Airline

Right about this time I expected to be having to take my shoes off in the security line at Logan Airport, en route to Charlottetown on Air Canada.

Alas Air Canada’s flight from Boston to Halifax is delayed 50 minutes, which means I cannot make a connection to Charlottetown. Air Canada’s option was to put me up in a hotel in Halifax, which is tantamount to condemning me to hell, so I’ve opted to stay in Boston another night.

As such I find myself again sitting on the floor of the bathroom of room #213 of the Club Quarters Hotel in downtown Boston.

Club Quarters isn’t really a hotel, per se. It’s a private member-owned hotel cooperative, owned by large corporations and universities that have banded together to create cheaper lodging for their employees. They sell off weekend rooms to discount hotel brokers, and it’s through such a mechanism that I find myself staying here.

The “hotel” is wonderful. As I mentioned earlier, checkin is completely automated. The rooms are small but well laid out and spotlessly clean. There’s a nice club room downstairs, saturated with wireless Internet access. There’s a restaurant next door. It’s central — two blocks from the State St. T station. It’s quiet. It’s perhaps the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in for business.

This in contrast to Air Canada which I hesitate to even call an airline given their propensity to not fly has affected my life more often than not. This is the second time in less than a year that a Boston to Halifax flight has been delayed, and one of a half dozen or so times that Air Canada’s inabilities have affected me or my immediate family this year. They are, in a word, inept. Sheesh.

That said, there are worse places in the world to be stuck than in Boston. Off to have a tiny bit of fun.