Column, Movie Diary

Chipping away at time

By Dom Cioffi

Like most people, the year-long lockdown has worn me out. I know I shouldn’t complain since so many others have suffered truly life-altering experiences during the past twelve months, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t felt an impact.

The blending of days is palpable, as is the sense that the four walls I live in are getting smaller by the hour. I’ve also found that, because my work computer is stationed on a desk in my living room, I spend too many hours consumed with my job. Sure, that’s allowed me to make some great progress, but it’s also rendered me a bit resentful that my personal time is waning.

Thankfully, as a runner, I have kept consistently active through the year. I have run at least five miles every other day for over a decade and I attribute this activity as a primary source of my sanity. As such, running definitely has come in handy with the unique stressors of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I’ve also stayed on track with my diet. I probably snack more than I ever have because the pantry closet is only 20 feet away from me for most of the day, but I make sure the items I reach for (like nuts and dried fruit) are not going to jack up my weight.

I’ve mentioned before that my guitar playing abilities have certainly improved in the last year. I promised myself early on that I would not spend the lockdown staring at a screen, so whenever I feel the need for entertainment, I reach for my guitar. I’m not saying I’m ready for a live performance anytime soon, but there has been an occasion or two where I’ve thought, “I just might be able to pull that song off around a campfire.”

My wife has also kept herself busy. She spent the first half of the lockdown learning to make cakes — not just ordinary cakes, but professional-level baking masterpieces. She started with one or two fun and interesting designs and eventually moved up to full-fledged works of art.

Of course, my son and I became the primary guinea pigs for taste-testing these culinary delights (which is yet another reason I make sure to run consistently). Eventually the cake making waned and she moved onto artisan breads and pastas, which also attack the waistline.

While indulging in this coronavirus hobby, she also became fully consumed in two forms of online entertainment: news and cheesy movies. Not a minute passes in her kitchen where she is not tuned into either a news channel or the Hallmark Network.

The dichotomy of this baffles me.

One minute she’s rifling off reasons why unique alternative energy sources are being maligned by government agencies and the next minute she’s got a tear in her eye because the ridiculously attractive woman who owns a tree farm in New Hampshire has fallen hopelessly in love with a big city land developer who wants to buy up her property.

My wife has argued that one entertainment source fuels the other: too much serious news prompts an escape into tacky love stories; too many tacky love stories prompt the need for a dose of reality. Either way, I let her indulge, mostly because she’s always making something good to eat.

Our son has also done his best to navigate life while locked out of school and sports. He’s done an admirable job with his schoolwork considering the strange environment. We also let up on the video game restrictions since it’s his primary way to interact with friends.

I’ve told him since last March, if you cover your responsibilities, I’ll allow the gaming. The transition was slow at first, but eventually he understood that if he got things done, he’d get access to the nightly online party.

He’s also developed a love for podcasts, which is something he never engaged in prior to the lockdown. He’s always been a music listener, so he lives on Spotify. At some point, one of his friends convinced him to listen to a Spotify podcast mini-series about pirates and buried treasure and he ultimately fell in love with the genre.

This week’s film, “The Dig,” also features a buried treasure, but in this case it’s an historical artifact that’s unearthed instead of a pirate’s booty.

Based on a true story from the 1930s, “The Dig,” starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, is an impressive period drama that takes an otherwise dull and laborious event and turns it into a compelling tale of relationships under duress.

This isn’t a film for everyone as it would likely appeal to a more mature audience with a soft spot for English period pieces.  An earthy “B-” for “The Dig,” (available for streaming on Netflix).

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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