Vacation Notes

May 24, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

I'm not a "vacation person." My idea of a perfect vacation is sitting at home for a week - watching movies, lounging around my pool, and puttering around in the yard. Maybe a day trip or two to the shore. That's about it. Boring but restful. No itineraries, no schedules, no pressure. I don't get stressed out easily, but there are three things guaranteed to elevate my stress level: airports, airplanes, and hotels. So, of course, it seems like every vacation I go on involves all three. Which means I approach every vacation with a mixture of anxiety, dread, and anticipation. I'm sure that's not the way it's supposed to be.

Film festivals involve travel, although they are more work than vacation. Toronto's not so bad. I like the hotel, even though the rooms are small (the Chinese restaurant on the second floor is excellent), and the flight is under two hours. (In theory, I could drive if I was so inclined.) However, one of the reasons I stopped my annual pilgrimage to Sundance is because I couldn't stand the trip. In perfect circumstances, it took about seven hours (four hours to Denver, 90 minute stayover, 90 minutes to Salt Lake City), and circumstances were rarely perfect. There would almost always be weather problems in either Salt Lake City, Denver, or Philadelphia/Newark, prolonging the trip into a full-day affair.

This vacation has nothing to do with movies and everything to do with my sister-in-law's wedding. The word "ordeal" seems accurate although perhaps not adequate. It's 18 1/2 hours from Newark to Singapore, then a four-hour layover in Singapore, followed by 3 1/2 hours to Manila. That's a 26-hour trip. And I almost never sleep on planes. The return journey is just as fun: 3 1/2 hours from Manila to Singapore, then a 14-hour layover, followed by 18 1/2 hours from Singapore to Newark. (I'm still trying to figure out how the East-to-West trip against the prevailing winds can be the same as the West-to-East trip with them.) I'll be spending half as much time traveling as I will on the ground in the Philippines. The only plus: I had enough frequent flier miles to get two business class tickets.

The question of what to do on a plane for a total of 44 hours puzzles me. I am bringing two books and a laptop. The books represent easy reading - no real concentration needed (Sue Grafton's R Is for Ricochet and David Ellis' In the Company of Liars). I'll write for a little while - probably about two hours going and two hours coming back. Then there are the DVDs. I selected six titles. Flirting, because I have been determined for about three months to write a review of it. Lagaan, which I have yet to see because it's almost impossible to find a block of four uninterrupted hours in which to watch it. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which I haven't seen in 16 years and would like to re-visit to determine if it's as disappointing as I remember it being. Laura, which I also haven't seen in a while. Ikiru, in case I'm in the mood for a great movie. And, of course, Patton, my desert island choice. That's about 15 hours of movies, 12 hours of reading, and four hours of writing. I guess I'll spend the rest of the time trying to sleep and/or playing computer games.

Assuming I have a broadband connection in my hotel room (which is supposed to be the case, but you never know until you check in) and a few spare moments (almost guaranteed, since I sleep an average of two hours less per night than my wife), I'll try to provide a few ReelThoughts while I'm in Manila. No reviews, though. The next one of those will go up around June 3, and will be of Layer Cake. And The Price of the Crown will start that weekend (Sunday, June 5).

Meanwhile, at my abode, my house-sitters have full permission to use the home theater, raid the DVD library, and turn on the computer - but they do not have permission to upload to my site. So anything that shows up on ReelViews is still "authorized content."

Until next time I post - enjoy staying rooted on terra firma. I'll be wishing I was joining you.