Wheaton’s Way

'Spaceship Earth' and skeeters

At the beginning of this whole shelter-in-place business, we figured what with the movies and shows we’d missed when we were busy, the board games cramming the cupboards and the jigsaw puzzles just waiting to be finished, we’d be golden for months.

In recent weeks, however, the bloom has well-and-truly come off the Netflix and iTunes rose, plus anything that can be accessed with multiple VPN subscriptions. (Who knew there were so many European programmes about cheese?)

I’ve hinted at this before, but it bears repeating: There really is only so much one can watch before one starts to develop bedsores and boredom. In our house, we have resorted to sitting through myriad cooking shows and some indie film releases that we had no problem believing were produced on a shoestring budget.

With every passing night, the sound of the TV remote making its way through all the cable channels – plus a jump to Apple TV just for good measure – becomes more dominant. More clicking, less watching. It’s the visual entertainment equivalent of opening the refrigerator door every 15 minutes, expecting something previously unforeseen to magically appear.

Usually, by the time we both – often reluctantly – agree on something, my housemate Lynne is starting to yawn, so I’m lucky if we can make it to the end before she bids me goodnight.

We were so desperate for fresh material, we nearly purchased ‘Scoob!’ – a new release about the origin story of Scooby-Doo and the gang – but US$24.99 coupled with lacklustre reviews brought us back to our senses. I have such fond memories of watching the cartoons when I was a child, I couldn’t bear to see a less-than-stellar treatment of my favourite Great Dane and those ‘meddling kids’.

One film I will recommend, however, is ‘Spaceship Earth’, a documentary about the team that populated Biosphere 2 in the early ‘90s. Without going into a great amount of detail, Biosphere 2 is a futuristic facility near Oracle, Arizona, that was initially built as a large science project. It’s something you could imagine Elon Musk helming in this day and age – or Richard Branson.

Eight people entered it on 26 Sept. 1991, to live and work there and be self-sufficient for two years, pretty much cut off from the outside world (Earth, which is Biosphere 1, FYI). The three-acre, completely enclosed environment featured a range of climates and landscapes, including a desert, rainforest and ocean.

The project had its supporters and critics, as you might expect, and things didn’t go as swimmingly as everyone hoped, but they stuck it out for the two years, despite accidents and a period when oxygen levels fell at an alarming rate. All I’ll say is that, if for no other reason, you might want to watch it to realise that staying at home for a month or so ain’t that bad after all. Screen it for the whole family, so the kids will subsequently know what you’re talking about when you say, “Yeah? Well at least it’s not Biosphere 2!”

I dutifully sat through season three of ‘Westworld’, a series that Lynne loves. I was OK with season one, and even season two was fairly comprehensible, but by season three I’ll admit I was completely lost. Hosts, humans, mazes, divergences and Doloreses aplenty … I felt like a student who had done well with her bachelor’s degree and got through her master’s by the skin of her teeth, but by the time she was sitting in her first PhD lecture, realised she was in well over her head.

Not only did Lynne look forward to every new episode like a kid standing under the chimney on Christmas Eve, she also needed to understand every nuance explored in it.

When season three was done, I figured that it was put to bed until next year, but no. She bought all three seasons on iTunes so she could watch it again from the beginning and really study it. Yay.

I have no idea how they are going to manage filming season four under the present COVID-19 restrictions, but if what lies in store is a 10-episode run of Westworld in Zoom-land, I’m moving out.

Now, you could say, “Vicki – why stay inside and watch? Why not go outside and get some fresh air and exercise?”

Have you been out there? The mosquitoes are Hitchcockian. Forget murder hornets, I’ll take them any day over a Cayman skeeter.

Last week, I decided to set myself the small task of removing some fairy lights that may or may not have been embedded in the hedge since Christmas. To add some excitement to the proceedings, I went out around dusk.

The colourful language and interpretative dance that followed soon after must have been quite the performance to behold. Lynne was indoors with her headphones on, otherwise she would have heard what no doubt half of George Town did. I was determined to tough it out and get all the lights off at one go – which I did – but by the end, I was blindly ripping the wires from the branches and leaves, screaming into the hard-curfew night as swarms of miniature black fighter planes surrounded me, looking for an in. I was a-gorilla-suit-and-top-of-the-Empire State Building away from having some real insight into King Kong’s woes.

All I can say is, thank goodness we have made it to Level 3 in the COVID-19 government-suppression plan. The hardware stores are finally open, so I can get some professional-grade bug repellant. I’ll also buy some cans of Valspar to make good on my latest comment to Lynne as she started on season one, episode four of ‘Westworld’.

I’ll watch paint dry.

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