Red, Blue, Panic and Bond

Well, political season 2012 has come to an end, and as usual, had a minimal impact on the state of Alaska. National politics has little interest up here; why bother? By the time the polls close in Alaska, anything national in scope has already been decided. Alaska has a long history of going Republican, and it held true in this election: Romney got his measly 3 electoral votes, after Obama had already won.

Now we’re going to get into sticky territory, I know. Politics is messy, polarized business in the States, and if my Facebook feed was any indication, there are still some sour grapes from the right-leaning crowd. I’m going to be honest. I’m a centrist. I find that there’s a lot of crazy on both sides, and I do my best to just stay out of it. I did, however, vote for Obama. Romney is just too weird and aloof, with his off-the-cuff $10,000 bets and “binders of women” (though that was admittedly a fairly understandable gaffe: we all know what he meant, it just sounded hilariously creepy).

Alaska’s ballot was mostly dominated by judge elections this year (over a dozen!), there was an initiative to convene a congress or whatever to amend the state constitution (not for any specific reason, of course, just in case) which got voted down, and a bunch of unopposed (or nearly unopposed) state races. As usual, we got goofy little “I voted” stickers, which you can see here. Buff stuck his to Vitus, who wasn’t 100% sure what to do about it.

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But this is all old news anyway, blue wins, red loses. Monday was Veteran’s Day, a fact I originally missed, because I still had work. Our particular GameStop is just outside the Air Force base, so we see a lot of servicemen. Today (Tuesday) is the release date for one of the biggest games of the year, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, so Monday was a lot of last-minute pre-orders, paying off pre-orders, and general anticipatory buzz. The military shooter genre has never been a favorite of mine, but people in the service seem keen to play an over-the-top cinematic version of their job, so who am I to judge? I’ll be working the night shift tonight, processing some of our more than a thousand orders.

Yesterday, my shift was early enough that carpooling down to Anchorage with Katrina seemed reasonable. Of course, the telephone company starts work much earlier than a retail store, so I was still going to be sitting around Anchorage for a few hours before my store opened. To make up for it, we agreed to catch a showing of the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, after work. I started at the coffee shop down the street, because mornings do not agree with me, and then drove toward the strip mall where I work. I had some time to kill, so I thought I’d call home. Cell reception is non-existent where we live, so my jaunts into Anchorage are the only time I can reach anyone. What I didn’t count on was that my phone was practically dead, and the conversation with my parents ate up the rest of the juice. “No problem,” I thought. Katrina and I had already agreed I would meet her with the car at the library near her work.

After work, I cheerfully tootled off toward the library. The utter lack of cars in the parking lot was a clue, and the great big banner reading “Library Closed” was a better one. Katrina was nowhere to be found, and I had no way to get in touch with her. I was her ride out of here, so panic and guilt started creeping into my brain. My first instinct was to head to the Alaska Communications building; maybe she was still there, waiting in the cold, desolate parking lot for that idiot who wasn’t answering his phone to show up. But no. The parking lot was rapidly emptying of cars, no sign of Katrina, and the doors were locked, so I couldn’t even barge in and ask to use a phone. My own cell phone lay in my palm, dead and useless. I swore up and down, and probably looked like a raving lunatic to the last few ACS employees high-tailing it to their cars. I climbed back in the old Subaru and swore and screamed loud enough to rattle the windows. I was out of ideas. Katrina was out there, somewhere, and I had no idea how to find her or get ahold of her. (at this point, those of you who know us well have no doubt deduced the obvious answer, but you can miss obvious things when your brain is stressed out.)

Of course. The coffee shop down the street.

Katrina is something of a coffee nut, having picked up the habit when she was an exchange student in Costa Rica, and allowed to maintain it by the fact that in Alaska, there is a coffee shop, shack or Starbucks on practically every corner. Chances were good that if she found the library closed, she would head for the nearest place that would offer her 16 ounces of black coffee. And, at the very least, they would probably let me use the phone to call her. But lo and behold, there she was, hunched over her book, cup on the table. She seemed happy to see me, if a little taken aback at how happy I was to see her, and at the fact that I appeared to be practically frothing at the mouth in panic. The moral of this story being: keep your damn phone charged!

We even made it back to the theater in time for dinner and a movie. Skyfall, by the way, is by far the best of Daniel Craig’s Bond films, telling a modern thriller while nodding back to the 50-year history of the franchise in a way that wasn’t too pandering. Kind of like the end of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, where everyone’s assembled on the bridge, and Chris Pine suddenly switches to a really hammy William Shatner-style delivery. Javier Bardem shows his acting chops again as one of the better Bond villains we’ve seen in years, and Dame Judy Dench as “M” has more to do than ever. As for the significance of the title, that is something that the movie seems to want to reveal to you, so I won’t ruin it here.

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