Posted in Books, Movies, Political, Uncategorized

Words Will Break Cement

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Truth is, everyone needs to be more tolerant. Everyone.

Aren’t most of the world’s problems because of intolerance?

Would we have to fight for rights and freedoms if everyone was more tolerant?

Why does it bother anyone who you love?

The colour of your skin?

The shape of your body?

Whom you choose to worship?

That someone has special needs?

What you choose to listen to or watch?

Why does choice intimidate some many people?

Just their need to control?

Whatever. Relax.

1pussy1When I first heard the name Pussy Riot I thought they were a punk band.1pussy5

So I read Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen (Riverhead Books/Penguin) in the hope of understanding the situation. Well-written and painstakingly detailed, it made for fascinating read.

I don’t always get performance art, I’m way too plebeian for that. However, I understand the need for artistic expression.

The women from Pussy Riot are part of one of the Russian art collectives who call themselves Voina. They stage performance art, often as a form of protest.

Their performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow went viral. Was it tasteless and a slap in the face of religion? Absolutely. Although I rather think that was their purpose.

Russia gives them ample material to protest.
LGBT rights regressing rapidly.
A wealth gap like the space between planets.
Barely existent women’s rights.
Maybe Georgia and Ukraine could give us some insight into how the Russian government feels about, you know, rights.

1pussy4Whether or not you agree with civil disobedience or the way this group or others protest, it gets attention. I disagree they should be jailed, separated from their family and friends, brutalized, beaten, persecuted, and maligned just because they don’t agree with the people in power. Also, it really just, well, proves their point.

Every country has its problems. Democracy seems to be creeping into twilight around the world, soon to join the dinosaurs as fossil fuel. When we don’t stand up for something, we really do seem to fall for anything.

Sadly Russia is not unique in intolerance, grinding of rights and freedoms, and overenthusiastic authoritarianism. Putin is just really, really open about it.1pussy6

It’s easy to pick on Russia, they have those cool accents that make everything sound sinister and we’re kind of programmed by James Bond flicks.

Tolerance would do us all well.

As long as you’re not hurting anyone…then who are you hurting?

 

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Happy Birthday Paddington Bear!

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As a child, I was a Paddington junkie.1padd14
One of my prized possessions was a Paddington toy that sat on my shelf on my desk.
I would wake each morning to see Paddington smiling at me (as only a bear can smile), with his jaunty battered hat, blue coat with marmalade stains (I don’t think there were really marmalade stains, but I imagined there were), his suitcase saying Wanted On Voyage, and his little tag saying, Please look after this bear. thank you.

When my son was young I started reading him the Paddington books, although he never seemed to find Paddington as enchanting as I did. He still doesn’t.

Since bears have 2 birthdays, one in the summer and one at Christmas…today is Paddington‘s birthday! Happy Birthday Paddington!

I reread some of the books, so familiar and beloved and I remembered what had captured my fancy.
Paddington Bear is everything the world should be. He’s sweet, smart, funny, polite, kind, helpful, always finding adventure, and always having a good time.

Notes on Padingtun Brown, 32 Windsor Gardens, Lundun, England, Yurope, The World:

Paddington Bear was first introduced to readers in 1958.

Written by Michael Bond and originally illustrated by Peggy Fortnum, this high-spirited, marmalade-obsessed bear instantly stole our hearts. Weird how we love these fictional bears…maybe because they’re not mauling or killing us.1padd5

Paddington Bear was based on a lone teddy bear Michael Bond bought for his wife on Christmas Eve 1956 near Paddington Station and child evacuees leaving London during WWII.1padd4

In Paddington’s adventures and misadventures everyone ends up having fun, except Mr. Curry who always gets his just deserts (without the sticky buns) in the end because of his rude and sometimes selfish behaviour. I often wondered who he was based on.

Paddington whose Peruvian name was actually Pastuso (not to be confused with Uncle Pastuzo, Paddington’s rich world-wandering uncle) was orphaned from an earthquake. Raised by his Aunt Lucy in darkest Peru, Paddington was sent to England after she had to go live in the Home for Retired Bears.

The Browns take Paddington home to 32 Windsor Gardens; yet there actually was no 32 Windsor Gardens. Hmmm.

Google celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Paddington publication on October 13, 2008 by incorporating an image of Paddington with a sign showing Peru and London into their logo. Almost 6 years later, Paddington is now a senior citizen.

1padd16When I think of Seth MacFarlane’s movie, Ted (which doesn’t happen often) it sort of makes me think of Jonathan and Paddington grown up…or Stewie and Rupert grown up; either way, the British accents are gone.1padd1

Bond‘s books have since become several series, plays, parodies, etc., not to mention a huge amount of merchandise. Paddington will hit the big screen in time for his other birthday this year, Christmas, although Colin Firth has just changed his mind about voicing Paddington, what’s that love, not Darcy enough or are you just too sexy for that bear?

They’ve actually cast a few of my choices, Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Brown, Jim Broadbent as Mr. Gruber, Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Brown, and Julie Walters as Mrs. Bird, and somehow I knew Peter Capaldi would make a perfect Mr. Curry (though I’m still reserving judgment on how he’ll do as The Doctor in Doctor Who).

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The first in the series, A Bear Called Paddington, is still my favourite. I always loved that Michael Bond wrote the Paddington books as chapter books, but each chapter could be a stand alone.

What are your favourite Paddington memories?

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Posted in Autism, Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

Planet of the Apes and Philosophy

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The first thing most people think of when thinking About Planet of the Apes is Charlton Heston’s celebrated overacting as Taylor saying, “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”, but after reading this entertaining and thought-provoking book, Planet of the Apes and Philosophy: Great Apes Think Alike (edited by John Huss), part of the Popular Culture and Philosophy series from Open Court, I realize that either I don’t think enough about Planet of the Apes…or these philosophers think about it way too much.

While I enjoyed all these cool essays on how Planet of the Apes pertains to: war, peace, love, hate, prejudice, revolution, evolution, genetic engineering, time/space paradoxes, insanity, identity, the environment, our inability to learn from the past, not looking toward the future, what made me think most was about our ability as humans to speak.

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Humans talk. We talk a lot. We talk about important things. And a lot about trivial things.
We tell truths, lies, we tell people what they want to hear and sometimes we tell them only what we think they need to know.
We laugh, we scream, we whisper, we sing, we hum. We’re low talkers, high talkers, close talkers, mumblers…
We feel our being able to speak separates us from animals, somehow makes us a superior species.

Yeah, so superior.

1apes19This book is an absorbing and straightforward work that lets us explore many ethical, political, scientific, cultural, creative, and emotional issues in the fun and safe environment of the Planet of the Apes franchise.

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It makes one think, is our new frenzied behaviour because we jumped into technology that instead of amplifying our voices in fact mutes them? The information age was supposed to enlighten, it was supposed to be the great equalizer. Yet we are bombarded by that information, it comes at us in waves, in 140 characters, in memes, emails, texts, posts, pictures, videos, social media…and there’s no need for that information to be correct, just out there.

Whatever it is, we can’t seem to stop…the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the latest in the franchise (the 8th plus 2 TV series) will be hitting theaters July 11, 2014.

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Maybe we should try to work out our problems here on Earth without struggling too hard to solve the mysteries of mankind and the universe, after all, we might not like the answers.

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“You know what they say, ‘Human see, human do.'” ~Julius

"...the Earth has aged nearly 700 years since we left it...You, who are reading me now, are a different breed...I hope a better one.... Tell me, though, does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother...keep his neighbor's children starving?" ~Taylor
“…the Earth has aged nearly 700 years since we left it…You, who are reading me now, are a different breed…I hope a better one…. Tell me, though, does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother…keep his neighbor’s children starving?” ~Taylor

Posted in Family, Parenting, Uncategorized

Building Decks With Dad

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It’s not as though me and my Dad built decks for a living or built lots of decks together.

We built one deck together. It took us a few days. And by us I mean mostly my Dad.

Up front, I’m not sure whether I was more of a help or hindrance.

I recall smashing my thumb with a hammer. Dad said, more or less, “Great, your Mom is going to kill me”, with a laugh. It was a family joke. She understood. I had suffered many injuries in the care of everyone, as well as those that happened while with friends, in school, alone. I was known as clumsy. Turns out I actually had: Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, and Hypermobile Joint Syndrome. It’s very possible I’m also clumsy.

Why was I at the camp (some call them cottages or summer home, in Northern Ontario, they’re called camps) helping my Dad with the deck? I seemed an unlikely choice, but my older brother who was actually helpful in building situations was away at university and everyone else was working. My Dad was on vacation and we needed a deck at the camp.

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We’d work during the day and in the evening we’d have supper then ice cream, watch TV, I’d read to my Dad, or we’d both read to ourselves…and we’d talk.

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You may have noticed I refer to my father as Dad, never my father because he’s a Dad, always. Funny, smart, sweet, sometimes annoying, sometimes really annoying, kind, and fun. He loved friends and family, cars, talking about cars, looking at cars, fixing cars, driving cars, watching cars, taking pictures of cars and with cars, also, cats, beer, eating, TV, movies, working, laughing, dancing; he was a gentleman and a gentle man, hopelessly silly…and always a Dad to me and my brother.scan0010

There’s never a picture of him where that mischievous twinkle isn’t in his eye except when he had dark sunglasses on, but we know the twinkle’s still there.

I’m not sure we were always aware of how lucky we were to have a Mom & Dad, not just a Mother & Father. We did always know we were loved. Of course, look at us, we were adorable. I love my Mom & Dad today and every day.

I have lived at least six or seven lifetimes in the past 30 or so years since those days at the camp. I wish my memory was perfect or more robust, but the happiness I felt in that time has never faded in my heart.

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Enjoy the times you have because you never know until later those times were actually treasures.

Happy Dad’s Day to all those men who care enough to be Dads, not just fathers!

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Posted in Books, Jane Austen, Uncategorized

Unleashing Mr. Darcy

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Despite the title, no safe words needed, this isn’t 50 Shades of Darcy (note to self, write a novel called 50 Shades of Darcy); instead this is a sweet, romantic working of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in a modern world of dog shows.

Teri Wilson has stayed true to Ms. Austen’s core of Pride and Prejudice, making it all about First Impressions (Ms. Austen’s working title for Pride and Prejudice) especially the fact that Ms. Austen proves that in P & P and all her other works that first impressions are often wrong.

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We’ve all met someone who we think is lovely or someone who we think is horrid and it turns out, we were incorrect, they’re in fact, horrid or lovely instead.
Sometimes it’s circumstances that give us the wrong impression, or the mood of the person, or our mood, or the other issue Ms. Austen loves to use in her stories, misunderstandings. Pride and Prejudice and her other works are riddled with misunderstandings that lead people to think certain things that may not be true or just. Ms. Wilson also added dogs and dog shows.

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I unabashedly adore romance novels and movies. They lighten my mood and relax me. They make me think of being young and carefree.  They’re also a lovely palate cleanser between non-fiction, politics (sorry, I can’t list that with the non-fiction because there are so many fictional elements in politics, sadly), horror, sci-fi, fantasy, drama, and of course, real life.

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This was a delightful read, as we follow Miss Elizabeth Scott and her beloved Cavalier, Bliss through misadventures, misunderstands and reaching 30. From New York to London, Elizabeth struggles to find her way while continuing to be thrown into the path of smug but gorgeous billionaire dog breeder and judge Donovan Darcy.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good romance novel and some chocolate (yes, any ice cream included, of course) can improve even the roughest of days.

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http://www.teriwilson.net

Posted in Books, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

The Princess Bride

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I would be hard-pressed to believe anyone who had seen this movie didn’t like this movie. I know, it’s seen as chick flick material, but I think it can’t be reduced to just anything. It is so much more. It has comedy. Drama. Love. Romance. Bad men. Good men. Giants. Revenge. Fire swamps. Death. Swordplay. Beauty. Villains. Bravery. Cowardice. Pain. Dreams. Hope.

Some Inconceivable Princess Bride info…

Billy Crystal ad-libbed a lot of his lines. Anyone surprised?

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Apparently Cary Elwes thought Westley as the Dread Pirate Roberts/The Man In Black should have a mustache, to look more Errol Flynn-swashbuckling piratey guy. Not sure that really worked.

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The Cliffs of Insanity are really the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland and matte paintings.

The Princess Bride has spawned parodies, parties, costumes, and of course, it’s inconceivable that people wouldn’t love to quote it.

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William Goldman, the author of The Princess Bride also wrote screenplays for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men, A Bridge Too Far, Misery, Marathon Man (his own novel), and many more.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman is supposed to be an abridged version of the book, The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern. S. Morgenstern is really a pseudonym as well as a tricky narrative device that Goldman used to layer his novel. Confused yet?

The Princess Bride is a classic representation of Bildungsroman, a literary genre that concentrates on the ethical and psychological development of youth as they make the transition to adulthood. The term was created by J.K.S. Morgenstern (hmmm, sounds similar to S. Morgenstern). Here’s a few coming-of-age books, movies, and TV shows.

1prin12Stand By Me, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,
Sixteen Candles, Mean Girls, Superbad,
Varsity Blues, Easy A, Napoleon Dynamite,
The 400 Blows, Somersault, Garden State,
Clerks, Running With Scissors, The Graduate,
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,
Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Harry Potter,
Slumdog Millionaire, Youth In Revolt,
Rebel Without A Cause, Pretty In Pink, Twilight,
War Games, Wuthering Heights, Precious,
The Breakfast Club, Juno, Boy, Winter’s Bone,
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Hamlet,
Prozac Nation, Now and Then, Boys Don’t Cry,
Freaks and Geeks, The Spectacular Now,
Trainspotting, American Graffiti,
Moonrise Kingdom, Say Anything,
Romeo and Juliet, My So-Called Life, Blue Lagoon…
Can you think of any others? 80s6

Remember the ROUS (Rodents of Unusual Size)? Actually people in costumes, with Rob Reiner doing the noises.

Look closely, above the sick Grandson’s (Fred Savage) bed is the hat Rob Reiner wore in This Is Spinal Tap; Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) did The Princess Bride score and insisted on the subtle nod.

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That was actually Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin fencing, both left and right-handed.  The only stuntmen used were for the flips. Just in case you needed to be reminded how cool they are.

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I’m frugal watching commentaries, they can detract from the entertainment of the movie; exceptionally so here.

Despite many gaffs, mistakes, continuity errors, and plot holes in this movie this is a beloved classic that’s been thrilling audiences for 27 years.

I can watch this movie from start to end or start watching it at any point. It’s that awesome.

I think in this film, ‘As You Wish’ simply means ‘I love you’.

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Posted in Internet, Movies, Political, Televison, Uncategorized

D-Day June 6 1944 – 70 Years Later

1dday4The world has a short memory and an even shorter attention span.

June 6, 1944, 70 years ago the Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. It was supposed to be June 5, 1944, but weather delayed it.

Every year we remember those who fought for us. There’s pomp and ceremony and we say we care.

But what about the rest of the year?
Should veterans have to fight for food, shelter, care, and support?
Should we still keep fighting, in wars, in our own countries, among ourselves?
More than 40% don’t vote in North America. We’re so used to our freedoms we take them for granted. We will stay in line for a sale or tickets or waiting for a new product, but don’t take 5 minutes to vote. I know, I voted this morning, it took under 5 minutes; people wait in line at drive-thrus longer than that to get coffee or a burger. I really don’t get it.

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Into The Jaws of Death, Robert F. Sargent

Many died that day and for the months after as they fought to take back German-occupied Western Europe and tried and succeeded in turning the tides of the war.

Many call them heroes, but I think most of them didn’t think of themselves that way, they were doing their duty, carrying out orders.
Like police officers and firefighters, soldiers serve their country and its citizens by putting their lives on the line. We see it as brave, they see it as a job, that someone must protect, serve, save, and defend.
Maybe that’s what makes them truly heroes, that they don’t do it to be heroes.

The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Overlord (with the naval aspect codenamed Operation Neptune) is still the largest seaborne invasion in history. Many movies, books, TV shows, songs, etc. have come from that day. Obviously many aren’t factual, after all, history is written by the winners, but still interesting.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the undersea documentation of the D-Day assault were looked at in a historically significant way, sadly, by then, there was erosion and reclamation by the sea. First underwater archaeological study and surveys in 2000.

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They found some interesting information and artefacts as well as some discrepancies.
To this day, small pieces of history haunt the shores and seas of Normandy, a bizarre reminder that history should be remembered, all those who fought, honoured.

I was thinking, if they tried to do something like this today social media would probably tell the German forces every move, how many troops, ships, planes…there would be pictures of parachutes and tweets and pix of where they were landing, people updating their Facebook status and Vine vids…Instagrammers would briefly interrupt posting pix of food to tell where and how many allied forces were and what they were wearing.1dday6 And many, many memes.

We still don’t know the exact number that died during the Allied invasion. 14 years ago Carol Tuckwiller, a former librarian was assigned the significant mission of identifying every Allied soldier who died on June 6, 1944.
She spent over six years searching through records and evidence, contacting sources, etc., eventually giving up not because all soldiers were accounted for, but she ran out of credible information.

So 70 years later and 1dday8out of more than 150,000 warriors who went in that day, no one knows for sure how many died. But her work brought many names of fallen soldiers into the historical records and onto plaques and made us realize there were more lives lost than we had understood.

Despite the glossy ceremonies under sun upon sand we must always remember the price of war and the higher price of oppression.
Lives lost, futures stolen, dignity torn asunder, money and power the tyrannical rulers…we could be talking about 70 years ago or any day in various parts of the world, sadly, too little has changed.

Politicians make hypocritical speeches about how much our veterans mean to us while many veterans struggle just to get by in their day-to-day lives.

Those who once stormed the beaches to fight the enemy and liberate oppressed people now have to storm their own governments for the care and attention they should receive with thanks for their valiant service.

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Some of the best images of the D-Day invasion are from Canadian war artist, Orville Fisher (the 3 paintings pictured above, please check out his other work, truly, truly amazing).

I doubt the significance of the weathered faces and stiff bodies of the remaining veterans is lost on them or us; make no mistake, most will not be here to celebrate 75 years after D-Day.
We must then remember for them.