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Look Back At Me

Look Back.

Look back at me.

Have you ever thought, said, or wanted to say this as someone walked, drove, or flew away?

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On this Labour Day when people march forward to celebrate how far workers have come and how much further they need to go, it’s good to look back on the brave people that fought for workers’ rights.

The BBC miniseries North & South is based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell; screenplay by Sandy Welch and directed by Brian Percival, yes, same title, different show than the American Civil War miniseries, North & South. This North & South refers to the North and South of England, and focuses on industrialization and the inequality between classes.

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A couple hundred years later, not much has changed.
The lower classes work themselves into an early grave while the upper classes pay them less than they should to work themselves into an early grave.

Gaskell does an amazing job of showing both sides; some of the upper class want to be fair and some of the lower class want to be more.

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Elizabeth Gaskell is considered by some as less romantic than some writers  in the Regency-era, after all, she, a woman, dared to tackle the subjects of: poverty, discrimination, unsafe working conditions, the multiple health hazards of working in factories, unions, child labour and welfare, daycare, nutrition, pollution caused by factories, inequality between the classes and more head-on.

Her work, now seen as classic wasn’t beloved by all, still isn’t, many factory owners and the rich didn’t like the truth being exposed or their methods questioned. That hasn’t changed much either.

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We feel Gaskell’s conviction in the strength of Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe). She’s not a simpering miss who’s only thought in life is to marry, but a woman of principles, faith, and compassion. She has feelings for John Thornton, well, duh, it’s Richard Armitage, but she stands resolved to be true to herself and others.

Supporting cast is incredible, including Brendan Coyle (now well-known as the enigmatic Bates on Downton Abbey, also Larkrise To Candleford and so much more – I think he’s one of those British actors who probably have their own period piece costumes at the ready), Sinead Cusack, Tim Pigot-Smith, Rupert Evans, Jo Joyner, Lesley Manville, Anna Maxwell Martin, Brian Protheroe, John Light, Ben Crompton, Pauline Quirke, etc.

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If you can’t get enough of British period pieces, check out Gaskell’s Cranford series, familiar faces for Downton Abbey fans, Carson (Jim Carter) and Michelle Dockery (Mary), and even an Asgard god (Tom Hiddleston)…one of fav TV games, spot the actor to see if they became a star.

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Yes,  North & South is at times a grim visage of lives suffered, but with just enough seething, barely contained Victorian passion, fingers lingering as a cup of tea is passed and obligatory smouldering looks to keep it interesting. Have I really been crushing on RA in N&S for 10 years? Wow.1north7

Sometimes it’s the simplest of words, murmured with brooding passion, that capture and inspire, as Armitage admirers (sure, let’s call us that) around the globe believe.
Look Back.
Look back at me.
I won’t tell you if she does.
I can tell you what I would have done.

So as another Labour Day marches on and another summer draws to a close, we look forward. On the off chance you actually believed companies and corporations willing give their workers: fair wages, reasonable hours, days off, health or safety benefits, vacations, or well, anything good workers enjoy, think again. Those were paid for in blood, sweat and tears.

Be thankful and vigilant.

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Next Time, You Bring The Cookies

1fibro5My brain is often at war with my body.
I want to do more. More! More! Yes, on days like this my brain sounds like a strange combination of yearning romance novel heroine and petulant child.
Such is the hidden world of Fibromyalgia.

My body dragged itself out of bed to start another day. Not really sure why I have a bed sometimes, but at least it’s there for rest and decoration. I also once again failed to get the license number of the Mack Truck that hit me while I was sleeping.
With FMS another day means more pain, fatigue, frustration, disappointment, doubters and just more of less.

I don’t expect anyone who doesn’t live with Fibromyalgia to understand it. I don’t have cancer, that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy and understanding for those that do. Or ALS, MS, CP, Diabetes, Autism, depression, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Doesn’t mean I can’t understand a man because I’m not a man.
Or the rich because I’m not rich.
As human beings we have a wealth of empathy, understanding, and compassion available to us at any time.

I get some people think Fibromyalgia is made up by lazy or unmotivated people. Ok, why do doctors and other professionals go along with it, what’s in it for them? They have more than enough patients, unfortunately cancer alone keeps them pretty busy.

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1sm27So it hasn’t been my day, my week, my month, or even my year, but I do know that laughter is truly the best medicine so I thought today was a good day to review Conversations with Steve Martin edited by Robert E. Kapsis (University Press of Mississippi). Thank you Netgalley.com for letting me borrow this ARC copy, available in stores Monday September 1, 2014.

I’ve already had many conversations with Mr. Martin in the last 35 years – usually he’s wearing an arrow through his head or bunny ears, or a balloon hat, playing his banjo, getting Happy Feet, dressed in a King Tut outfit, and/or eating tiny chocolate cookies while juggling small cats. No cats were harmed in my fantasy conversations with Steve Martin.

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Conversations with Steve Martin highlights Martin‘s contributions not only as a comedian, but as a writer, musician, artist, and free-thinker through a series of interviews and profiles. It’s sort of a living eulogy of Martin’s rollercoaster career over the past 4 decades.

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Steve Martin has thrilled and disappointed audiences for decades with his ever-changing style, from eccentric, incongruous, and wacky to mature to sinister to bizarre to mellow.

As much as I’ve 1sm20enjoyed some of his later work, I sometimes miss the wild and crazy guy, the Cruel Shoes, King Tut, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains http://yadadarcyyada.com/2013/11/27/the-man-with-two-brains/ and more.
That being said, I’m so glad he moved on and didn’t get stuck.

If you’re a Steve Martin fan this latest book is ubercool, if you’re not, well, excuuuuuuuse me!

You can read, watch or have pretend conversations with Steve Martin or maybe really pretend 140 characters or less magical moments on Twitter @SteveMartinToGo

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Carl Reiner may have said it best, “His strength, as an actor, I’ve found, is his beautiful body,” Carl Reiner said jokingly. “His weakness is too much hair on his body.”

Laughter may not fix all the world’s problems, but it sure does know how to make them seem less dire.

I think tonight will be a Steve Martin movie night.

Thank you Mr. Martin for another lovely conversation, next time, you bring the cookies.

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To Ice Bucket or Not To Ice Bucket

1bucket2I didn’t pay much attention to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I was busy with my pet rock who was wearing neon and crocs, eating a cronut, listening to Emo while taking a Selfie of himself solving a Rubik’s Cube hula hooping Gangham Style in his zoot suit.

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A Fad for a good cause is still a fad, but if dumping a literal bucket of cold water on people’s heads is what it takes to wake people up and care, so be it.

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Charities have to do some fancy Cause Marketing to get people’s attention. People take Selfies and videos of themselves all day anyway, why not do it to raise money?

Though this started as the Cold Water Challenge for cancer, daring people for charity caught on for ALS in a big way. Now it’s the celebrity cause du jour.

What’s Right With This Challenge:
1. Hopefully it raises awareness of ALS and other causes.
2. Raises money for ALS and puts people in a charitable mood to give to charities that need it.
3. Distracts people from all the problems of the world.
4. Makes people laugh.
5. Some people have fun pouring cold water on people.

What’s Wrong With This Challenge:
1. Terrible, terrible, terrible waste of water. Water, especially clean water is precious.1buffy1
2. You should donate to a cause because it means something to you, want to, see a need, it’s urgent, etc. For example, I’m going to guess that most people can’t even name a two symptoms of ALS, even after taking this challenge.
3. Distracts people from all the problems in the world.
4.  ALS is a horrible disease, but it’s rare, unlike cancer, diabetes, heart disease, poverty, violence, and so much more.
5. Makes people think they’re actually doing something useful instead of donating their time, skills, connections, money, etc. to causes. Viral Activism and Slacktivism rarely lead to real change.

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Fads come and go.
They’re fun, distracting, something to talk about, think about, like these:
Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids, Silly Putty,
Slinky, Boomboxes, Napster, Atkins,
grunge, troll dolls, disco, flappers,
1bucket10waterbeds, Heelys, The Macarena,
thongs, earth shoes, moon boots,
bellbottoms, Beanie babies, break dancing,
8 track tapes, Minecraft, Paranormal Activity,
fanny packs, Segway, Obama Girl,
We Are The World, Figwit, Product Red,
The Kardashians, seamonkeys, bottled water,1bucket15oxygen bars, Bratz, jelly shoes, slap bracelets,
low-rise jeans, Tamagotchi, planking, flash mobs,
Three Moon Wolf, iPods, hidden cash, memes,
Duck Dynasty, Pokemon, glass eating, hair eating,
twerking, Furby, MySpace, Angry Birds, mopeds,
Occupy, Hipsters, jumping beans (actually, larvae),
Tickle Me Elmo, yoga pants, stirrup pants,
bomb shelters, zombies, zumba, flag pole sitting,

1bucket131bucket12Tea Party, Twitter, crystals, Harlem Shake,
speed dating, Beta, dancing baby, The Ring,
Grumpy Cat, Livestrong, YOLO, juicing,
Keep Calm and (insert whatever here),
Blair Witch Project, cinnamon challenge,
goldfish gulping, online & text slang, Farm Aid,
Drive-Ins, various hairdos, Facebook, Band Aid,
Spice Girls, Coke and Mentos, Kony 2012, smoothies,
fingerless gloves, The Snuggie, Wassup!, Instagram,
Jersey Shore, iPhone, chicken dance, trivial pursuit,
and too many more to list.1bucket22

So do this challenge or not, just remember, if you want to make a real different, pour a figurative bucket of ice water over your head and go be the change you want to see.

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That being said, Leonardo DiCaprio, (filming an environmental documentary in Alberta to expose the truth about the tarsands), challenging Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do the ice bucket challenge: priceless.
Just in case DiCaprio couldn’t get any cooler, now he’s iced.


Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

1asp16I think it’s tragic that people have so many prejudices, especially about things they don’t understand. They don’t know what they’re missing.

Have you even known someone with: ALS, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, CP, Alzheimer’s, Tetanus, Pinched nerve, meningitis, Huntington’s Disease, Migraines, Epilepsy, Polio, stroke, or any of the other neurological disorder?

Would you tell someone who’d suffered a stroke to just talk properly? Unlikely.

Would you tell someone with ALS to stop being so lazy? No way.

Tell someone with Alzheimer’s they could remember if they just tried harder? Doubtful.

Someone with Parkinson’s to stop shaking, that they were just trying to get attention? Improbable.

Yet people with Autism are constantly told to grow up, smarten up, man up, stop being so lazy. People scoff, blame, bully, abuse, mock, make jokes, call names, etc.
Autism is a neurological condition just like any other. They have as much control over how their brain works as any other neurological disorder.

Hopefully someday Asperger’s won’t even be a diagnosis, people will start to respect Neurodiversity.
Until then, they need help and one of the best places to start is OASIS (Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support), http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/ where I admit I’m somewhat of a lurker, as I am on most Asperger’s and Autism sites. There to find information and resources for my son, I don’t always feel like plunging into the fray myself. At least OASIS is a respectful site, not prone to the relentless bickering, squabbling, arguing, and bullying to which some Autism sites fall prey.1asp15

I wish more of the Autism community could pull together, avoid the infighting, and work toward a common goal of helping those with Autism live better lives.

I was lucky enough to borrow an ARC copy from Netgalley.com of Asperger Syndrome: The OASIS Guide by Patricia Romanowski Bashe, 3rd Edition, published by Harmony Books/Crown Publishing available October 14, 2014.
When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s years ago there was little information, now there’s a lot of misinformation, but thankfully there are sites and books like OASIS. Full of incredible, insightful inspiration, advice, and more, this comprehensive guide can help put things into perspective when your head is swirling.
A refuge on those days when you just feel like crying.

It seems lately stated or unstated Asperger’s characters are all over TV, in movies, and in books, with varying degrees of success and respect:

1asp6Community, Bones, House,

The Big Bang Theory, Sherlock, Elementary,

Hannibal, Boston Legal, The Bridge, Skins, ReGenesis,

Grey’s Anatomy, Silicon Valley, Somersault,

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curious incident of the dog in the night-time,

Star Trek, Snow Cake, Edward Scissorhands,

Adam, Monk, Temple Grandin, 24, Triggers,

Scene 47 Adam and Beth in Adam's livingroom

Doctor Who, Mercury Rising, Touch, Parenthood, 

Fringe, Alphas, Doc Martin, Dear John, 1asp9

House Rules, Criminal Minds, P.S. I Love You,

Rain Man, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, CSI,

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,

Mozart and the Whale, My Name is Khan,

and more.

Most often showcbenedictc6ased as charming, eccentric, funny, cute, and usually brilliant Nerds or Geeks who have great jobs, loyal and caring family and friends, etc.
Unfortunately the prognosis is not often that optimistic.
I can’t emphasize enough that this is a debilitating disorder, not entertainment.
Not  functioning is not charming.
Not being able to keep a job or friends isn’t cute.
Getting into difficulties or danger because you can’t comprehend situations is not brilliant.
Being left out, mocked, teased, bullied, or hurt is not funny.
Being medicated or hospitalized or jailed is not eccentric.
Struggling all day, every day to even grasp some of the world around them isn’t amazing.
It may make for good entertainment, but in real life, people have to live with the consequences.

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Frozen…In Summer

  1frozen2 The absolute best part of Frozen, for me, was Olaf the snowman (voiced by the incredible Josh Gad). As far as I’m concerned they could’ve just done a whole Olaf movie. Please tell me they’re doing an Olaf movie.
His song, In Summer was hilarious. I heard it once and have been singing and/or humming it since. A perfect example of what you don’t know is much more important than what you know.

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Despite my love of Disney movies, I don’t think I’m part of their new demographic, but at least they’re trying to show strong female role models. I wish they’d get off the Princess kick.

Sure Frozen isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it has it’s amusing and meaningful moments.

I really liked the part where Elsa discovers that she could be who she really was without hurting herself or others.

Anna hopefully learned that if something is too good to be true, it is. Oh and she could be her own person and still find love.

I wish it was less a regurgitation of earlier Disney attempts to appear less patriarchal and more let’s-give-them-strong-female-characters-so-parents-won’t-feel-guilty-for-letting-their-children-watch-this-stuff, but progress can be slow.

Anyone remember Lilo and Stitch? Two sisters, Ohana means family, no one gets left behind. Weird little alien.
New songs, new animation, but the same stuff.

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If I watched Frozen again I would probably fast forward through most of the other songs as I found them tedious, kind of like Tangled. Sometimes it just feels like they’re playing it safe.
Perhaps I should try watching them again later; I could still be getting over the music in The Lorax.

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1frozen20Maybe I’m just pining for some of Disney’s grittier moments.

Bette Davis gettin’ freaky in The Watcher in the Woods.

Bambi still makes me cry.

Gargoyles.

Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Even Pete’s Dragon was edgier.

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 Pirates of the Caribbean had their fun, and less politically correct.

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If I wanted to watch a Disney film with strong women I’d probably watch: Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, Brave, The Aristocats, Candleshoe, The Journey of Natty Gann, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, The Rescuers, etc.

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Uh bah bah bah bah bah boo – in summer!


Books – Like TV In Your Head

 Reading books as an adult can certainly impact and change you, but in a different way than as a child. As a child you haven’t got a filter yet. You’re becoming who you will be.
For children that are lucky enough to have the time, the resources, and the lifestyle that allows them to read, books are a transport to multiple worlds, times, to anywhere the pages can take them.

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Reading through A Puffin Book: Stories That Last A Lifetime (Puffin Books), I was transported back to my childhood.
Full of excer1books12pts, facts, and cool activities to do with children, I thought, what an appealing and fun way to introduce children to some of these classic books, and remind us children-at-heart of some treasures from our youth.

I totally recall why I’d fallen head over heels in love with Charlotte’s Web, Trumpet of the Swan, and Stuart Little by E.B. White. The messages of friendship and overcoming hardships while being a good person, or pig, or mouse, or swan still ring true.1books2

As a teen reading Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian, I began to think more about people, especially children, trapped in wars and conflicts.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (also loved the movie, The Secret of NIMH) helped me understand it’s important to do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.

I so wanted to have Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams living with me…maybe still do.

Watership Down by Richard Adams made me think about truth and who knows what truth is the truth, or if it’s just your or my truth. Or maybe sometimes a rabbit is just a rabbit. http://yadadarcyyada.com/2014/01/10/watership-down/

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The Neverending Story by Michael Ende while a lovely story, is not 100% accurate, it ended.

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I can’t fully describe how much I loved The Borrowers series by Mary Norton. It endlessly entertained, and helped clarify what I was learning about differences and tolerance.

Anne of Green Gables,
James and the Giant Peach,
Annie, A Dog So Small,
The Worst Witch,
Stig of the Dump,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
http://yadadarcyyada.com/2014/07/20/charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory-turns-50/1books20
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Island of the Blue Dolphins,
Paddington http://yadadarcyyada.com/2014/06/25/happy-birthday-paddington-bear/
Robin Hood, Treasure Island, A Wrinkle in Time,
Percy Jackson, Pippi Longstocking,
Wind in the Willows, Black Beauty,
The Cay, Little Women, Meg & Mog,
Wizard of Oz http://yadadarcyyada.com/2014/04/04/happy-birthday-wizard-of-oz/
Little House on the Prairie,
Chronicles of Narnia, Matilda,
Ballet Shoes, Sherlock Holmes,
Dracula, Dr. Dolittle, The First Year,
Mary Poppins http://yadadarcyyada.com/2014/07/12/saving-mr-banks/
Alice in Wonderland,
The Very Hungry Caterpillar,
Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl,
ok, just realized I’m including titles not even in this book.
I guess I just never realized how many Puffin books I’ve read in my lifetime, and how lucky to be able to share them with my son.
Wait, I can’t forget The Velveteen Rabbit – loving makes everything real.

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I hope these stories that made me laugh, cry, took me away, flew so high, made me think, want, wonder, worry, dream, hope, and care, are still being read by children of all ages.

I had two childhoods, the one I lived in the pages of books, and the other with my family and friends when I would crawl out of my books.

Any favourite books, from childhood or beyond?


Jump The Shark

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Another Shark Week has swam away from The Discovery Channel, but fear not, the shark thrills, chills, myths, and weird people swimming with sharks will linger.

Now if you like sharks and think they get a bad rap, some sharks shows may not be for you. Instead watch or rewatch Rob Stewart’s Sharkwater and Revolution.

Do not watch Sharknado or Sharknado 2  (SyFy) if you were looking for reality of any kind. I thoroughly enjoyed the carnage, and that was just the horrible overacting. The shark stuff was just silly.

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Where Sharknado was fresh and bizarre, Sharknado 2 could have been easily subtitled That Went South So Fast – that includes th1shark1e acting, CGI sharks and storyline.

But who can resist seeing Wil Wheaton get his head ripped off by a flying shark? Kelly Osbourne and Kelly Oxford eaten by sharks, on a plane?
Who doesn’t want to see Judd Hirsch driving a taxi again?
Robert Hays as a pilot with lots of not-so-subtle Airplane! jokes.
Kelly Ripa, Gelman, Matt Lauer, Al Roker as themselves, with sharks.
They slid in, there’s something on the wing of the plane (would have been ultra-classic if they’d managed to get William Shatner or John Lithgow to say the line, a full-on Twilight Zone moment & referenced again in 3rd Rock From The Sun).
Mark McGrath and Kari Wuhrer as Martin and Ellen Brody (think Jaws). Ian Ziering (90120 fame) as Fin. The cameos and quirks never stop and of course, Sharknado 3 can’t be far behind.

One of the best parts was the teaming up of director Anthony Ferrante and Robbie Rist as the band Quint (yes, the nails on the chalkboard character Robert Shaw made so famous in Jaws) doing a tribute to The Ramones with (The Ballad Of) Sharknado; which will have you humming along fairly quickly and possible giggling.

Caution: May contain extreme cheesiness. Will jump the shark so often the expression may have to stop being used.

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So when you’re watching all these shark movies and documentaries, just remember, be careful what you fish for.

Sharks are beautiful, elegant, precise creatures that will probably outlive us all, if they can outlast us as we slaughter them senselessly.
1shark9Instead of fearing them or cutting their fins off to make soup, etc., find out how cool they are.

Sharks are a brilliant example that you should always wear your critical thinking cap when watch TV or movies, listening to the news, or listening to anyone…you may not be getting the whole tooth.

Remember, we’re visiting their home when we go in the ocean.
Be nice, someday they may become Landsharks.


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