October 12th – Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all for the Canadian Thanksgiving. It has been a surreal time and with Toronto’s COVID-19 cases rising to levels unseen since March the city has been starting to shut down again, like gyms and indoor seating in restaurants. For me, ice hockey has been suspended for the next few weeks, which really sucks. For me, I am most thankful that those I care about are COVID-19 free. Everyone in my immediate circle remains healthy, thank goodness. Kids, parents, friends are all lucky enough not to be touched by this virus. Schools are back in session but many are taking classes remotely. These are strange days indeed, and the possibility is that there won’t be exams for high school students.

On the TV, I have started watching Ridley Scott’s Raised By Wolves. It is a futuristic story with human beings born and raised by humanoid androids who have some seemingly special powers. I am only a couple of episodes in.

I am also watching The Third Day with Jude Law. More and more it feels like the Midsommar story which I didn’t really like. It was previously reviewed, but it was ultimately just weird with people who don’t act like they should. In The Third Day, which was at TIFF, Law is a guy who from England who has a financial transaction heading south. He is driving near the western shores of England and comes upon a strange happening with a young girl. He ends up taking her to this island only reachable by a road that disappears with the tides, and so is only traversable twice a day. On the island, he runs into odd characters who have their own religion. Emily Watson assists him with a hotel room. Things happen that are simply strange. In Episode 2, after what can only be considered an ordeal, Law has the ability to leave the island. He doesn’t go. Then more bad things happen predictably. I lose sympathy for those people who act outside what the average person would do, and for little reason. On Crave there are only four episodes and I was thinking/hoping that this would be the end. It isn’t. Episode 4 makes even less sense, but tries hard to justify itself at the end. There, like most horrors these days, have uncomfortable pictures of weird things. It can be a gross out – although it is by means a slasher series. Anyway I am growing less enamored by it each episode.

Finally I completed watching McMillions, which was a docuseries which addresses the (unknown to me) scam in the early 2000s with the Monopoly game at McDonalds. There was a rumour flying around the Jacksonville FL FBI office that there was something amiss with the popular game where Monopoly pieces are collected off drink, fries and burger purchases. There was even a possibility that one could instantly win a million dollars ($50,000 a year paid over 20 years). It generated significant extra sales for McDonalds when the game was on. McDonalds had outsourced the game to a Marketing company who had the pieces made at a secure facility in a rural town in the South US. What caught the attention of the FBI agents was the number of people from in and around Jacksonville who were winners in a national contest. The odds were astronomical. The scam unfolds in layers with tracking the winners, to monitoring their phone records to find connections with the same number. The scam grows more involved reaching higher levels of the mob. The kingpin seems to be a middle man who gets more and more involved financially. The basics were that the pieces were taken from the secure facility and then given to known third parties (with an upfront payment required by that recipient). Then they head to a McDonalds and claim their prize. After receipt of the prize, then a portion of it would go to the Recruiter (the person looking to profit from the stolen winners). The FBI follows the money, and comes upon some interesting characters. For me, much like Filthy Rich about Jeffrey Epstein, the (mostly) white, white collar crime perpetrators are treated judicially with kit gloves. Makes me wonder looking back on it, it after all was 18 years ago, a different time by another example of a system that is unbalanced. Ultimately McDonalds was defrauded of about $25M. The one Recruiter says after his short stint in prison that he would do nothing different, and would repeat it. He pocketed about $600,000 for his efforts. The system is broken, with even the FBI agents who shake their heads at the end result. The time, effort and money put into investigating this comes to a resolution that it disappointing. The scam itself was overshadowed by the news of 9-11 in September just as the case was ramping up in the Courts. The FBI were reassigned to terrorism, and this fell to the back pages. The ultimate aftermath was, as often happens, the marketing company getting terminated for one man’s greed along with the small company in rural South that is shut down. This isn’t a victimless crime. Worth checking out.

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