Posted in Movies, Uncategorized

BRAVE

brave1Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is different from the average Disney Princess. She’s strong, independent, and doesn’t need a man to define her. She’s not stick insect thin, her hair is frizzy, she doesn’t worry about her clothes, she wants to compete, she’s confident, and secure in who she is.

Not that Disney didn’t try to alter Pixar’s vision of Merida. They were going to thin her out, smooth out her hair, and round out her eyes (the better to spot your Prince, I guess).
Thankfully A Mighty Girl http://www.amightygirl.com/, a website dedicated to empowering girls filed a petition with Disney that said keep her as she is – imperfectly perfect.
The world doesn’t need another blatantly sexist marketing depiction of women. Aren’t there more than enough?

This isn’t about feminism because I really don’t consider myself one, this is more about equality in roles, jobs, life, and the future.

I always think of Joss Whedon‘s answer, when asked by a reporter why he writes so many strong female characters. “Because you’re still asking me that question.”  
Says it all.

What is this fascination with encouraging girls and women to be a Princess?

Fine for Halloween or dress up, but why not look for more than an antiquated and archetypal figure whose only role was to marry a Prince and in fairy tales, live happily ever after.

Why not encourage girlbrave2s to be more: a doctor, lawyer, athlete, researcher, scientist, teacher, politician, writer, computer programmer, explorer, photographer, military personnel, activist, dentist, miner, astronaut, police officer, nurse, clerk, accountant, chef, nuclear physicist, CEO, journalist, postal worker, diplomat, Mom, President, Prime Minister, artist, entertainer, etc. Or all of the above?

Why not encourage girls to be something that doesn’t revolve around jewels and gowns?

This movie is rife with themes ranging from communication issues, prejudice, pride, strength, standing up for what you believe in, love, hope, and acceptance.

Watching this you felt there was some chance for cartoons and people to break free of the stereotypes and brainwashing.

But it turns out it’s not a whole new world, and many still prefer for their Fairy Godmother to transform them into a Princess so they can find their Prince.

I just hope they make sure they love who they are and add the Prince, not need him for definition.

Thebrave4 depiction of Scotland in pseudo Medieval times was gorgeous. Funny, silly, but with a lot of great messages.

The cast was fantastic.

Thank you Pixar, for being Brave.

Posted in Televison

PINKY & THE BRAIN

Subtle, silly, witty, snort-your-beverage-of-choice-up-your-nose-genius.

The theme song will be in my head forever. Although I was never quite sure which one was the genius and which one was insane. Each night they tried to take over the world and failed, but kept trying. Quite a lesson in perseverance.

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This sadly only ran for 65 episodes (and I have them all!!!), but it will run through our hearts and brains forever, leaving tiny little paw prints that leave tiny little ouchies…
This isn’t a show of half measures, people either love it or hate it or possibly just miss out on its brilliance altogether.

anima5My fav lines were always when Brain (voiced by the astonishing Maurice LaMarche) would say, “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

Pinky (voiced by the talented Rob Paulsen) would usually have some bizarre answer like:

“I think so, Brain, but…but burlap chafes me so.” or

“I think so, Brain, but this time, you put the trousers on the chimp.” or

“I think so Brain, but pants with horizontal stripes make me look chubby.” or

“I think so, but what if the chicken won’t wear the nylons?”  Or

“I think so, Brain, but if they called them ‘Sad Meals’, kids wouldn’t buy them.” or

“Well, I think so, hiccup, but Kevin Costner with an English accent?”

“I think so, Brain, but me and Pippi Longstocking… I mean, what would the children look like?” or

“Well, I think so, Brain, but if Jimmy cracks corn, and nobody cares, why does he keep doing it?”

And it’s all funnier in his Cockney accent and throw in a:  narf, zort, poit, and a troz and you’ve got yourself a lot of laughs.

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Posted in Televison, Uncategorized

THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW

Still one of the funniest shows ever to grace the small screen.

Went with the Wind still cracks me up; a classic. Loved As the Stomach Turns.

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Never did get the Tarzan call though. And never thought Mama’s Family was even slightly funny.carol5

Some of the best moments were the cast’s inability to keep a straight face, especially Harvey Korman. There was so much ad-libbing you could just see some cast and guests trying to keep up. I’m giggling thinking of Tim Conway as the old man.

Amazing guest stars over the years, so funny to see Steve Martin and Betty White together.

Also,

Madeline Kahn, Shirley McLaine, Vincent Prince,

James Stewart, Bob Newhart, Roddy MacDowall,

Jerry Lewis, Rich Little, Paul Lynde, Ricardo Montalban,

Debbie Reynolds, George Carlin, Shirley Jones,

Jonathan Winters, The Smothers Brothers, Sonny & Cher,

Barbara Eden, Leonard Nimoy, Robin Williams, Alan Alda, carol4

Dick Van Dyke, Buddy Ebsen, Rock Hudson, Janet Jackson,

Kenneth Mars, Wayne Rogers, Telly Savalas, Phil Silvers, Maggie Smith, 

Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, Sammy Davis Jr., Don Adams and so many more.

Posted in Canada, Environment, Political, Uncategorized

Random Acts of Kindness

kind11Cold weather inspires a lot of grumbling, whining, and sometimes, random acts of kindness.

In Ottawa and various places where it’s cold, statues started sporting scarves, hats, coats, etc. Attached where notes explaining they weren’t Lost, people could take them to keep warm. This is a lovely random act of kindness.

kind1In the gloom and doom of news we can think there isn’t a lot of kindness left in the world. There is. Although some alleged acts of kindness are for publicity, attention or validation.

A few months ago people were allegedly spending thousands of dollars to buy strangers coffee. Really? People who can afford to buy coffee got free coffee. Sure it got Tim Hortons a lot of publicity. Sadly, there were probably some people who believed it and also followed the trend.

Random Acts of Kindness are about doing nice things for someone who are in need.  A gesture, or some help, giving of your time or yourself, to support people, not corporations.

If you had $500 to give to charitable pursuits why not help someone in need?  If buying people coffee can make their day, imagine what that money could mean to someone with an actual problem?  Thousands of dollars given to a corporate giant who has a poor employee history, hires temporary foreign workers, and causes endless traffic problems, gee, that’s a good idea.  That money could have changed lives, not just given news coverage.

Help in ways that count.  What’s next, buying 500 people a 99-cent app for their smart phones, or Frappucinos, or  free month of Netflix?  Ever thought of paying it forward by helping those in need?  Altruism is amazing, if well-placed.

We seem to have a difficult time telling the difference between wants and needs.

  • You need water; you want coffee.kind10Need shelter; want a 4000 sq foot house.

  • Need food;want to eat at restaurants several times per week.

  • Need air to breathe;want to over-consume fossil fuels.

  • Need medicine to get better; want pills to fix everything.

  • Need clothes; want fast fashion made by basically slave labour under horrible conditions.

  • Need leaders; want lying politicians who govern in their own special interests as long as they tell you pretty lies.

  • Need communication; want endless versions of smartphones and tablets made by slave labour under horrible conditions.

These are all distractions. Don’t look behind the curtain of a news story to see the who’s manipulating reality.

There are more and more people in need, real need, not just needing a caffeine fix.

kind3This seems more about the drama than the do-good.
Kind of like putting stuffed animals and flowers at the sites of tragic events or in Memoriam.

If you really want to honour those who have passed away donate money to help others.

Give those teddy bears to children who are ill, neglected, abused, suffering, and/or sad.
Give those flowers to your elderly neighbour, seniors’ home, etc.

Use some critical thinking. Life is not a reality show.

Posted in Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

The Breakfast Club

80s36I guess you could read all sorts of profound messages into The Breakfast Club, such as:

  • If people from various cliques were forced to spend time with each other they’d see what they have in common and empathize with each other or they’ll get along for that day without their respective peers around, but when they’re back with their cliques, things would be the same.

  • Teens from various groups can bond over their mutual contempt for parents, authoritarian figures, really, most adults. So I guess for that moment in time they get each other and see they’re not that different, at least in this. It would be interesting to see The Breakfast Club 20 years later when they are the adults they disdained.

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  • How teens feel pressure from adults as well as peers and the subsequent forms of rebellion.

  • Vernon doesn’t really enjoy being an authoritarian. He clearly doesn’t have the resources to properly work with the students on a productive level. He resorts to bullying which is what educational professionals are trying to stop.

  • One day can change your life.

  • Or you could see The Breakfast Club as a bunch of kids bored in detention, smoking marijuana who talked the nerd into doing their essays for them.

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This film did change the way teens were marketed.  It’s also one of the movies that makes some people believe they’d like their life to be an 80s movie.

Mostly it just gave us great lines like:

Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?

Mess with the bull, young man.  You get the horns!

And my personal fav, Screws fall out all the time, the world’s an imperfect place.

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Of course this movie wouldn’t exist today. The Athlete, The Basket Case, The Princess, The Criminal and The Brain would all be on the cell phones all day and would never be bored enough to interact.

Posted in Movies, Uncategorized

FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF

80s46Anyone?… Anyone? Bueller?… Bueller?

I doubt there are many people who haven’t seen this film at least once, if not many times, even if it’s just for curiosity. Whether young or old, FBDO holds mysteries to the Universe or absolutely nothing but a lot of laughter.

80s4I always felt FBDO was about freedom, not wanting to be put in a box or labelled. It was about feeling you could be who you really were. There are always going to be people who want to quell that independence. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it, just be aware.

This was the most teen and least teen movie ever made. It roared through heights of maturity and smashed through walls of formative angst in a 1961 Ferrari GT California blaze. Oh yeah…

Sure, Ferris was a self-absorbed man-child, but he got something right, you can’t live for everyone else.80s45I always figured John Hughes didn’t like adults very much. His versions of them in his movies are mostly: puerile, prosaic, obtuse, petty, neglectful, and/or even vindictive…and worst of all, mostly irrelevant. Not very flattering.

It’s a tonic to make you feel happy and alive, to remind you to stop and enjoy life…

It gave us the line:  I weep for the future, which I still use to this day.

80s42And Charlie Sheen‘s performance is brilliant. His best ever; ummm, take that as you will. No problem whatsoever!

Anyone remember the short-lived and ill-conceived NBC prequel TV series around 1990 entitled: Ferris Bueller? Anyone?…Anyone?…It starred Charlie Schlatter, Jennifer Aniston, and Ami Dolenz. Nevermind, it’s best if you don’t.

80s44Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?…

Posted in Books, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

Labyrinth

ImageI’ve never been sure if Labyrinth was meant to be a children’s film that grown-ups love, or a grown-up film that some children just might like as well.

I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Either way it’s certainly a brilliant lesson in be careful what you wish for.

Remarkable performances by David Bowie (of course) and Jennifer Connelly (a vision of things to come), but we all know, the Muppets are the real stars in this fantastic fantasy flick.

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Bowie is the perfect choice (again, of course) for Jareth, the Goblin King. Edgy, intense, mature, and smooth, he embodies a very, very adult world. Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is drawn to him (of course) as she teeters on the brink of becoming a woman while still desperately clutching onto her childhood with a grubby fist. Jareth is the embodiment of temptation, to want, to yearn, to cling…he compels her, offering what she thinks she wants, fighting herself to take responsibility for her own actions.

In the throes of teen angst, Sarah blames everyone for her restlessness and discontent. Jareth seems the answer to all until she sees the truth (“I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” ~Jareth) and the consequences – losing not only her baby brother, but herself.

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Sarah‘s lesson? There are so many to choose from, but the most important? That accepting who she was, is, and will be has its own rewards…instead of running from the future, she must embrace it and the present. The past will take care of itself, it always does.

OK, this definitely isn’t a new story, but this was beyond well-told, all the same.

And it has Bowie. And Bowie singing. Sigh.

 Sarah: That’s not fair!
Jareth: You say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is?

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Magical…magically so.

Posted in Books, Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

Emma

emma3Jane Austen’s diverting and delightful Emma has intrigued audiences, in print and on screens for many years. Emma is a woefully well-intended but misplaced matchmaker, suppressed adventuress, and a stymied intellectual. Her main foil is her own Queen Bee attitude; her immature overconfidence that she knows best for everyone.

Along with her overprotective father, her handsome and under-appreciated neighbour/brother-in-law and a whole cast of other characters Emma takes a winding and oft self-deceiving journey to a place she should have explored long before – her own heart.

I enjoyed much of this 2009 TV adaptation.

emma1Lively and amusing, Romola Garai seemed a tad too worldly for Emma.

Jonny Lee Miller (a divine Mr. Knightley) was too background. They needed to use Miller and Michael Gambon to more effect. They really needed to use this whole cast to better effect. For heaven’s sake why hire brilliant actors and then under- utilize them?

The chemistry with Garai and Miller is fabulous, the cut and thrust of their conversations scrumptious, but sparse.

The flow of the series leans at times toward tentative and expected. Emma should be more bold, joyful, and flourishing in it’s a journey of self-discovery.

Overall, this series was charming, efficient, and lovely, but how many versions of Jane Austen novels do we need? Many will disagree, but I would like to see some other stories told, perhaps some that are more unfamiliar to us. While it is cozy to watch a story so beloved and memorable, why not give us some other classics, or lesser known works that we may also enjoy? I know the answer. Money. People flock to the recognizable.

While I enjoy various versions of Austen, I guess I’d also like more variety.emma2

Posted in Books, Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

WATERSHIP DOWN

ImageEver read a book you basically wanted to dislike for various reasons yet still you like it, and you like it a lot? Watership Down by Richard Adams is one of those books, for me. It should seem cheesy and all rabbity and odd, but it’s endearing and compelling instead.

I suppose it depends on how you view the story. ImageAs a sweet tale a father started telling his children on car rides or an allegory about corporate persecution, domination of the vulnerable, logic and sentiment at war and so much more.

If viewed as the latter I wonder who would be most disturbed by a freedom so longed for, snatched away, the children or the parents? Both can understand, but children still have the hope of that freedom, while adults realize it is more illusionary.

Depending on the level you choose to read or believe, perhaps a challenging read, but worth it. Very strange, but there it is.

Watership Down has been adapted to film, TV, theatre, games, and has inspired songs, album titles, references, and parodies, it’s become a cult classic. Why? I’m sure there are various reasons.

Perhaps because the 1970s were a time of change where people were exploring massive social, political, and economic shifts. Using anthropomorphic depictions of animals lets us examine human issues, problems, flaws, transformations, strife, horror, etc. through nonhuman images in a sort of Safe Mode.

It’s a lot like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (by Robert C. O’Brien, later made into The Secret of NIMH) which published just a year before, similar ideas and visions. But maybe we’re reading too much into WD, sometimes a rabbit is just a rabbit.

bunny2I wonder…40 years from now what literature will represent our times, to last the test of time, if any? Maybe just an app or chip or a memory. Hopefully all is not Lost.

Posted in Books, Cooking, Food, Televison, Uncategorized

Jeeves and Wooster

jeeves&w1Understandable this clunky British 1930s era comedy isn’t for everyone…but isn’t that a shame? You really don’t know what you’re missing, then again, if you don’t know, you’re probably not missing it and are ok with that.
Jeeves and Wooster is a lenient, laconic, laughable dance. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry onscreen are pure magic. Their chemistry is flawless.

Jeeves and Wooster are like:
Pasta and sauce. jeeves&w5
Cake and ice cream.
Oil and vinegar.
Tomato soup and grilled cheese.
Hot chocolate and whipped cream.
Chips and salsa.
Cabbage and tomato.
Peanut butter and banana. jeeves&w3
Peanut Butter and jam.  
Peanut butter and bacon.
They’re peanut butter and chocolate.
Oops, I’ve gone off on a peanut butter tangent. But you get the point. Things that could be great separately, but are superb together.
Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are fantastic on their own, but together, they’re a magnificent treat that’s timeless.

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Hugh Laurie plays Bertie Wooster, an upper class British twit who gets himself in one scrape after another. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just kind of oblivious. Stephen Fry plays his long-suffering pragmatic, perfect, and always prepared valet who keeps Wooster’s escapades in check, or at least, he tries. The P.G. Wodehouse books these were adapted from are worth a read as well.

Gentle, carefree merriment.

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Posted in Canada, Chocolate, Cooking, Doctor Who, Environment, Food, Uncategorized

Baby it’s cold outside

cold1Hate to be one of those super obvious people, but it’s cold outside!!! I’m more than sure there are really warm places, but I’m not in one of them.

I’m going to say this is the coldest I remember, I haven’t checked my facts on this one, I believe when it comes to weather it’s important to exaggerate and use as much hyperbole as possible, after all, you’re cold.

No one’s even touched upon the real drama of this Polar Vortex, flyaway hair…

1. Heat yourself, not your space.  Best time for socks and/or slippers, long-sleeved shirts, pants, thermal long johns, sweaters (your choice of pattern), bridgetjones2blankets, robes, hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, etc.cold6

2. Candles add heat, as do fireplaces, but be very careful, fire is only fun when contained.

3. Thick curtains and blinds (open if the sun is shining; closed if lots of wind and at night).

4. Keep interior doors closed, stops the cold moving from unused rooms.

5. Bake lasagna, cabbage rolls, cakes, etc. Not in the summer when you need to use Central Air to cool it down afterwards. Use your oven’s heat to warm your house – smells fantastic and you get yummy food.

6. A great time for soups or stews, not sure if scientifically they keep you warmer, but it sure feels that way. More so if dumplings are involved.

7. If so inclined I’ve been lead to, er, believe hot toddies can be a lovely way to keep warm, or hot chocolate, tea or coffee.cold98. If you know any penguins willing to share body heat they seem dreadfully good at that whole sitting on someone to keep them warm thing. They’re also so adorable.cold8

9. Fat might be bad for you, but comes in handy during these extreme cold spells. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Mother Nature is freaking on us and the general obesity rate is rising. Food for thought.

10. When you’re going to brave the outdoors, be a Boy Scout, always be prepared. Remember, the key is layers. Cover exposed skin. Make sure you’re aware of places you can duck into to warm up, especially on a longer trek.

11. People think because they’re driving they don’t have to dress for the weather. Wrong. Wear or bring a winter jacket. Wear or bring winter boots. Have extra gloves, hats, scarves, blankets, candles, and other emergency supplies in your car. Just in case.

12. Body heat. Enough said.

13. Don’t be hating on the cold, embrace it. Go for a walk; shovel (lift with your knees, not your back. No twisting and take your time, it’s not a race). Go sledding, skiing, skating, throw hot water into the air so it turns into snow…

Relax. It’s winter, not Armageddon. We’ll be back to whining about the heat in no time.