One of my dog Jack’s favourite places to ramble is in a piece of Parkland along the Nanaimo river. We meet nice dogs who come with nice people, the paths are gravelled and open. There’s no slogging along muddy trails under the dripping branches of dank woodlands. It is the place where the eagle dropped the duck at Jack’s feet. (see blog dated Nov. 11, 2015 ‘A Scent Of Apples…) There are rabbits and squirrels to harass and open forest for Jack to explore while I can keep him in sight. Once this was virgin fir forest before it was logged and turned into farmland. Now it has been planted with pine, in straight rows. It is called an “experimental forest”. Perhaps I’ve had my head in the bilge for too many years but I don’t understand the persistence that we can improve nature. If the climate and terrain have determined over millions of years that a specific species is best suited in a particular area, how the hell do we think we can improve on that simple wisdom? I’ve spent many years in and around the forest industry and am dumfounded by this practice. But then, there are many things which, to me, seem either blindly foolish or deliberately twisted, just like the movies.
I’ve acquired a term recently: CGI: Computer Generated Image. Well, it’s new to me. I’ve learned it from watching two recent films, ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Finest Hours.’ These images are so good, so believable, perhaps it is inevitable that breathing actors will be replaced with computer generated characters. Extrapolate that thought to sports, we could have virtual athletes and hey, what about politicians? If characters like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, or Sarah Palin (I won’t touch on Canadian politicians) have caught serious attention on the political stage, then what is for real? Cartoon characters are just as credible and at least we know what we’re looking at. How about Wiley Coyote for president? On television old Arnie is picking up some extra pocket money advertising a new cyber war game so it all makes sense in an abstract sort of way. We can drink a lot of beer wading through this subject. Real beer that is, with lots of gluten. I just tapped out a typo, perhaps a Freudian slip, with the word ‘plotiticians’. We can have some fun with that one too.
I am not beginning a film review in my blog but both of these current flics have a few glaringly obvious oops. ‘The Revenant’, filmed in four countries, has no continuity in its scenes. Set in the early 1800s it begins near the edge of a camp with men stalking elk through the waters of a spring flood plain in a coastal second-growth fir forest. You can hear bull elk bugling, although elk make their mating calls in the fall. The camp comes under attack by local natives. Eventually the survivors make for a raft moored on the banks of a high-country river. The same camp, now thousands of feet higher in altitude! How’d they do that? As they drift down the river, you can see clear-cut logging blocks in the background, several times. Those scene incongruities occur constantly throughout the entire bladder-bursting film. There’s a lot to be said for intermissions, and think of all that extra crap food the theatre could sell.
The story is built around the protagonist being severely mauled by an angry sow grizzly bear. That long scene is amazingly believable. I wonder how they can dub-in a very realistic rampaging bear, yet not dub-out modern scars in other scenes. I thought that film makers employed people to keep a tab on continuity and realism. I’d love that job! I did not see any jet contrails and I did very much like how the first nations characters and their mistreatment were portrayed in this story.
‘The Finest Hours’ is a Disney effort made by landlubbers for landlubbers. Actually, the CGIs in this film are also incredible but I was left jaded with some simple oversights. Lifeboats can run fully submersed for brief periods, they must be able to do that, but they are not submarines. Once fully afloat again, with the wheelhouse torn away, the crew is soaking wet. The North Atlantic is freaking cold anytime of the year and especially in a raging winter storm. No one seemed even near hypothermia, despite hours of exposure to extreme conditions that would kill the average person within a short time. Hell, you couldn’t even see their breath! In reality their hair and clothing would be frozen instantly. I was born a few months after the events of this true 1952 story and I’m not so sure that folks were that much tougher back then. Even casual conversation was possible despite the supposed raging elements. Having experienced the actual conditions being represented in this film I can tell you that the simple act of breathing is a challenge. Speech is reduced to single screamed words. At the end of the film, the returning lifeboat is conned into harbour to the six-volt headlights of those old cars. Apparently nobody thought to run and start the generator in the lighthouse. Hmmm! I know, picky, picky, picky. All those missed details, I think, detract from the credibility of the story.
Well, I can give each of these movies an IDFA award. (I Didn’t Fall Asleep) And anyway not many folks give a toss about reality these days from what I can see. In fact, we all seem determined to find some sort of distraction from it; after all that’s why we go to the movies. No I didn’t buy any of that trans-fat-sodden popcorn or sugary drinks and yes, I returned my 3D glasses at the end of the show.
Just as I was about to post this blog I learned of a third movie now being released. ‘The Lady In The Van’ stars the venerable and wonderful Maggie Smith. It depends solely on good acting and a good story. I’ve seen the trailer, it looks promising. This was first written as a play based on a true story. Interestingly, I saw this on stage in London in January 2000. It starred, yep, Maggie Smith. I think she knows her lines. So there, I’ve said something positive about a new movie.
It’s mid-winter and the blahs are upon many people although there is noticeably longer daylight in the evenings, when it is not overcast and bucketing rain. The buds are beginning to swell. Patches of early flowers show their colours in the sheltered spots and this morning I saw some shoots of skunk cabbage in the swamp. Hope is in the air. We’ll make it through.
Speaking of parks, and hope, an agreement has finally been reached to put eighty-five percent of the woodlands of the Great Bear Rain Forest into permanent conservation. I think that’s truly great but would like to point out that there is a reason why much of that timber has never been logged. It is just not commercially viable. A lot of that timber is of low quality and has been left on the stump throughout our province’s rapacious history because it wasn’t of sufficient quality to be of commercial interest. So wahoo!
While the media bandstands the Provincial Government and the First Nations Peoples for this wonderful accord, nobody notices anymore how many shiploads of raw logs will leave this province this week and every week. I can show you foreign ships loading raw logs while moored to the former docks of sawmills now closed, allegedly, because there were not enough logs available. The questions are obvious…and so are the answers. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
If our provincial government wants to do something meaningful, stop the export of our raw resources and all the related jobs! Eco-tourism is touted as the economic future of the Great Bear Rainforest, yet sport fishing continues there at an unsustainable rate and all along the British Columbia coastline. What I saw last summer while working in that region disgusted me. I can’t return to be part, in any way, of the ongoing rape. A typical conversation I repeatedly heard went like this. “How was the fishing today?” “Great! We really slayed them!”
Our federal Department of Fisheries shows a minimal presence during this annual orgy. Few folks seem inclined toward personal responsibility for what they take. There is still an archaic notion that everyone can take as much as they want because there is an unlimited stock. That abundance is dwindling, as we know it is around the planet at an alarming rate. If trophy-hunting bears is now a moral transgression, especially in the Great Bear Rainforest, what about fish? An eco-system is a sum of all its parts and you cannot exploit one component without affecting everything. We’re repeatedly told how salmon are the bio-foundation of the entire rain forest. The sport fishing industry is a multi-billion dollar machine but until there are no fish and so no whales or bears or wolves, folks will not learn from the sad examples already set so many other places. There is a clear line between need and greed. We refuse to acknowledge how we personally trespass over that boundary. It’s always the other guy. Sadly, legislation and strick enforcement is the only answer.
I’ve raised my objections, here are some possible solutions.
The sport of fishing should again become a sport,and stop being a meat harvest. All those electronic gadgets should be gone from boats so that skill and knowledge are the sole means of catching a fish. If I, one of the world’s most hopeless fishermen, can bring home some tasty protein that way, so can anybody else. If spending obscene amounts of money to have photos taken with a really big fish is a measure of manliness…well, I’m perfectly happy with who I am and no, I don’t have plastic testicles hanging from the rear of my vehicle.
Change the catch limits. Once you land a fish of any size of a specific species in its season you are done for the day. So one salmon, one halibut, one ling cod, one snapper, etc. If that is not enough for one day for each person, nothing will be. Once you’ve caught a fish and released it, regardless of size, chances are good that it will not survive the trauma of the catch so take it home and eat it.
The commercial herring roe fishery should come to an end or at least be put in moratorium for a few years. Herring are the prime datum of the marine food chain and unless we all acquire a taste for them ourselves; leave them alone. Hell, everyone complains that they are not making any money anyway. Let’s call their bluff.
The concept of the by-catch must come to an end. Fish of the commercially wrong size and species are routinely discarded from a catch and thrown away dead or dying. If those tons of wasted seafood were retained as the fresh healthy edible product they are maybe we’d need fewer fish farms. It seems incredibly stupid that we do this. Perhaps we should put all aspects of our Westcoast fishery into moratorium for three to five years. I am confident we would soon demonstrate what the factor of imbalance really is. Howl all you want about these ideas, but you are either part of the solution or part of the problem. The way things are going now is not a path toward sustainability. We love to talk about what we should have done when it’s too late. Let’s do something now. At least ask a few questions.
Of all the food items we can produce here in BC, we now import most of those from somewhere else; so why not seafood from somewhere over the horizon? Just think of all the diesel that gets burned solely in the importation of fresh food we should be growing right here. Is this thinking green?
On that note, I’ve one final rumination. It is about the breaking up of HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Algonquin. These are both vessels retired from our Pacific Naval fleet. They will be towed, via Panama, all the way to Halifax! A ship-breaker there won the contract with a bid of $39,000,000. I can’t discover if that bid includes the cost of towing each ship half-way around the continent. I understand the issues of safely removing environmentally nasty materials but can’t we resurrect a shipyard here in BC to do the work? Why not simply sell the ships as scrap to the highest bidder and take the cash instead of paying for the dismantling? Vancouver-based Seaspan International, part of the enormously successful Washington Group, takes its retired vessels to China and brings back new ones. Hmmm!
I don’t have all of the information and I certainly don’t have any answers but I raise my weary question once again about the chicken farmer who goes to town to buy eggs. Computer Generated Images? I’m not sure what’s real and what is common sense in daily life. Is anyone? Have we become too stupid to know how stupid we’ve become?
See ya in the movies.
“ Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.”
….Henry David Thoreau