I thought, silly me, that being in Oakland for the winter would be warmer than another Paris winter. Who knew? Cyclones, windstorms, endless rain, and flooding. Oh my!!! Storm drains that have had so little to do in the worst California drought ever turned out to be stuffed with leaves and debris. Water just circulates and then floods the intersections. ‘Fountains’ have appeared on the sides of many roads. Monday, Highway 13, which is close to me, had a tree fall across the southern driving direction and a multi-car accident in the northern direction. It was only one of seven road closures that day.
Needless to say, the advice on TV, on the radio, and in e-mails from the city, all advise ‘Stay at Home’. For those of us that actually follow directions, well, what does one do? You’d think we’d be well practiced in ‘sheltering at home’ after how many years of Covid? But I was under the illusion that it was easier here in Oakland than in a small Paris apartment. I never took into account RAIN! Not to be able to sit outside in the backyard or walk around my neighborhood where it is easy to put six feet between me and the nearest person. This has been extraordinary. I will say that I still am very lucky. I have not lost electricity or Wi-Fi and there have been no mudslides near me. We learned that Kevin Costner could not be at the Golden Globes Tuesday night to pick up his best actor award because of the severity of the weather in Santa Barbara/Montecito. The presenter was joking around about it but many people have had to evacuate from very expensive houses down there. So I’m sort of complaining but when compared to what could be….I’m actually happy that it has not been worse.
So what does one do in this new ‘Sheltering in Place’? It turns out there are a number of streaming services available in the US that we don’t get in France. One of them is Hulu. And one of the best shows on Hulu is called Only Murders in the Building with the wonderful Steve Martin and the hilarious Martin Short. They are joined by a young singer/actress I knew nothing about: Selena Gomez. OMITM is a great show. Martin and Martin are seniors who love a True Crime Podcast. They meet each other in a café during a false fire alarm in their building in NYC. Into the café wanders Selena Gomez, hears them talking about the Podcast, and it turns out she is a huge fan also. During the false alarm, someone in the building is murdered and they quickly whip up the idea of having their own podcast called, you guessed it, Only Murders in the Building. Wonderful mayhem ensues. This is not slapstick. This is a witty vehicle that shows off the best of the two comedians. They work so well with each other or as I’ve heard actors say recently: They are wonderful dance partners. And anyone who has seen their Saturday Nite Live hostings in the month of December can tell that they are fond of each other. Hulu has two seasons of ten episodes each. Giving us the opportunity to watch two masters of comedy solving murders and making it thrilling. Selena Gomez isn’t bad either and it is fun to see the generations mix. She claims these two ‘old men’ are her only friends.
I just recently discovered the author Richard Osman, a British screenwriter among his many talents, who has turned his attention to writing mysteries. The first book, The Thursday Murder Club, introduced the world to four seniors, known as pensioners in the UK, who solve murders! They started with cold cases, but by the third book in the series, things have escalated. These books are fun! They are exciting, addictive, and just plain fun! In a time when the world seems to be falling apart, this seems reminiscent of the 40s screwball comedies that were made during WWII when everyone needed a laugh, a smile, and a distraction from what was happening around them. That is what OMITB and the Thursday Murder Club members are doing for me. It’s not quite so bad staying at home with these folk as company.
Is watching streaming services on a TV called watching TV? Other than watching The Golden Globes last night, I haven’t seen any mainstream channels. It’s good to have a large Smart TV that downloads apps and, for a hefty fee, one can be entertained around the clock. Here is another channel not available to me in France even with a good VPN. Turner Classic Movies (TCM—there is a version on French TV but it is not this wonderful classic channel where movies are presented by hosts who know their film history and can relate fascinating details that one would never know otherwise). I watched the 1974 That’s Entertainment, The Sting (1973), The Philadelphia Story (1940) , and the brilliant Inherit the Wind (1960) with Spencer Tracy over the four days of New Year’s weekend. Inherit the Wind is the story of the 1925 Scopes trial where the teaching of evolution by John Scopes was being prosecuted. It could be made today. Do we have a Clarence Darrow available who can go mano a mano with our present-day fundamentalists? All these classic movies hold up. They could have been made yesterday.
Tuesday night was the 80th Golden Globe ceremony. Until last year, when it didn’t air because it was learned there were no black members, it was always everyone’s favorite award ceremony. It is much more laid back, and fun with lots of faux pas that no one really cared about. Then George Floyd was killed and the US started to examine itself on racism. Some entities anyway. Tonight’s show tried to make up ground. The host, Jarrod Carmichael, opened with the line “You know why they asked me to host this show? Because I’m black.” He went on to talk about the elephant in the room in a low-key folksy way. I thought he was excellent. I haven’t read any reviews. Last night’s winners were a diverse group of people many of which would probably not have been honored if not for George Floyd. The two best movies were directed by white men. The Irish movie The Banshees of Inisherin won in the category of best musical or comedy. I haven’t seen the movie but I hear it is not uplifting at all so I’m wondering…. The story of Steven Spielberg’s childhood and his wild wonderful mother, The Fabelmans, won for best Drama. I haven’t seen that either. I can watch both of Apple TV + if I choose not to go to a theatre.
According to my iPhone, this California freak of nature will continue for six more days and maybe beyond. The average temperature is 52o. Much the same as in Paris though the temperature seems to be dropping there. So, to all you brilliant people who developed streaming services, and produce these amazing shows that distract from reality, I say thank you. I will survive yet another housebound adventure.
It’s not what or how you plan but how you respond to what actually happens. That’s what they tell me.
For more photos of the damage: https://ktla.com/news/california/california-storm-damage-in-photos/
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