Canada Divided Past Hope

Much as before the election, two major conflicts continue to divide the country. The East vs. the West. The former where all the seats are and where the feds dole out more money for PQ and ON vs. any support for the West. And the climate change agenda vs. the pipelines/Canadian and Western economies.

Unfortunately, Trudeau’s unethical criminal actions, his racism, his chauvinism, his many gaffes, his ignoring of Canada’s most pressing problems, and total lack of substance are embraced by most Canadians. He is the worst PM we have ever had. Pity those misguided Canadians who did not have the brains, guts, or sense to turf out the Selfie King.

(Unfortunately, too, Scheer was weak on his stand against Trudeau’s sins, shameful behaviors, and numerous gaffes. He came across as a lightweight beamish boy, not as a man who would put Trudeau in his place.)

Canada’s/the West’s economies are in big trouble now with the NDP likely to bond with the Libs. The West has been alienated yet again for the umpteenth time and since there are so few seats out this way, none of this still matters to the Liberals.

Canadians have chosen political failure and willful destruction of the economy in a very chaotic, uncertain modern world. We are equally as dumb as the Americans were in their 2016 election. Canada just likes image, not substance, responsibility, accountability, and intelligence. Most voters in this country are that shallow and dumb.

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Re. Soul and E.M. Forster

So, what of the soul and being conscious of it and heeding its significant needs and deep requirements? ‘Twas this that E.M. Forster explored in his novels, especially Howards End and A Passage to India.

In the latter, Adela Questad of arrogant, uptight Europe encounters the mystical soul of India in the Marabar Caves scene, and her own hypocritical void receives a profound wake-up call and comeuppance (the latter later at the trial). Likewise, in the cave scene, the half-mystical Mrs. Moore realizes her own emptiness, later persuading Adela to drop her accusation, and moving toward a more Hindu state epitomized and practised  by Professor Godbole.  (All of this to do with the importance of the state of one’s soul in the context of the physical world.)

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‘Basics’: Lessons from the Backyard Birds

1. Water, I’d say, is very basic for birds as much as for humans. The magpies were around this frosty morning to drink what they could. These in-between times, as fall turns into spring, similar to winter giving way to spring, are the tough water access times. What water there is is frozen for part or all of the day and there is no snow to chew into liquid form.

2. Solid wild bird food will suffice for all birds and squirrels (if you include some peanuts or peanuts in the shell) in this region. Suet is especially appreciated by the small to medium-sized birds. Even the woodpeckers and flickers need solid food and have to feed off trees and plants. When the temps get down to zeroish to minus 30 is a definite time to remember our feathered friends who are down some 29% globally in the last half-century. We are a part of Nature, too, and our behavior resembles birds (and animals). So with the current climate crisis, it is time to give back if one’s budget allows. For me, this is a no-brainer and on a par with charities for animals and people.

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30 Minutes of Beautiful Visual Art:

the entire Pukaskwa segment on tv’s Frame channel. The many stills capture the beauty of Pukaswa park’s wildness and ruggedness. Some of the photos look like Lawren Harris’s works on the far North. I believe one photographer put the entire segment together though s/he is uncredited. It concludes with a shot of the photographer’s tent in the landscape: his or her personal autograph/touch. A beautiful, splendid A/V show/gallery about this very remote place that most people will never visit, let alone hear about.

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2/3s of Cream Gone

Drummer Ginger Baker finally succumbed to death after cheating it for many years. He was 80.

Bassist Jack Bruce passed in 2014.

Which leaves ‘Slowhand’ Eric Clapton, 74, the most famous of a once-powerhouse trio from the late ’60s; they were the first supergroup ever.

Bruce’s bass work was jazzy and very much created his own counter-melodies to go with Clapton’s solos. Baker’s tom-tommy drumming was distinctly different from other drummers of the day. He played his own melodies while the others went their own way.

And yet somehow it all hung together when they played opening and closing themes to songs, evident in such classics as “Crossroads”, “White Room”, “Crossroads”, and “Sunshine of Your Life”. Theirs was a very experimental, loose aggregation, more akin to a jazz than rock group except for Clapton’s high-pitched solos. They were ultimately more musically interesting than the Jimi Hendrix Experience although Clapton and many other guitarists of the day were wowed by and bowed down to the legendary Hendrix and his unique guitar sounds and solos..

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“Zelig”: One of Woody’s Allen’s Best

Well, no living director other than Scorcese has had the prolific run that the Woodman has had. As soon as you try to list Allen’s best, you realize how many hits he’s had and how many unique films there are within his oeuvre.

Zelig, his black and white mockumentary masterpiece about a fictional ‘chameleon-man’ who came to public attention in the 1920s, is a work of genius which came out in 1983. Director Woody inserts his character into old black-and-white footage and surrounds himself with deceased cultural figures of the day including Hitler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Eugene O’Neill. He also uses many old historical scenes such as Lindbergh’s ticker-tape parade, speakeasy scenes, and Nazi parades.

There is a good chunk of social criticism embedded in all the laughs about prejudice, discrimination, anti-Semitism, popular ’20s entertainments, media coverage, documentaries, and movies. It is also an offbeat conventional love story in which love finds a way despite many obstacles. (Incidentally, Zelig’s doctor is effectively played by his wife-actress at the time, Mia Farrow.)

Allen also puts in interviews with living cultural figures (at the time) such as the art critic Susan Sontag and the Holocaust writer-psychologist Bruno Bettleheim to add verisimilitude to this witty laugh-a-minute fake documentary. The photography of Gordon Willis and the music (a combination of pieces written about Zelig and songs of the ’20s) contribute to the look and feel of this special film. But it is Allen’s triple contributions as actor, writer, and director that make Zelig the successful film achievement that it is.

This is, hands-down, one of the funniest, cleverest documentaries (c.f. This Is Spinal Tap) ever produced in film history. It is also important to remember that Zelig preceded Forrest Gump in its use of special effects for humorous juxtapositions. Overall, Zelig is extremely well-done with great attention to detail: a major cinematic success and one of Allen’s remarkable triumphs.

(One p.c. warning for 2019 viewers: the scenes when Zelig briefly ‘turns’ black or Asian.)

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“Our Man in Havana” (1959)

A very quirky, droll English production of a Graham Greene novel/screenplay. Alec Guinness stars as Jim Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman who stumbles into the English secret service and becomes “Our Man in Havana”.

The movie is directed by Carol Reed, who also directed Greene’s The Third Man. Other actors include Burl Ives as a German doctor-friend, Maureen O’Hara as Jim’s secretary-love, Ernie Kovacs as a smarmy police chief, Noel Coward as the agent who hires Jim, and Ralph Richardson as the “Q” back in London. Each character is as funny and interesting as Jim’s fictional reports and dodges to avoid accountability.

This is a nicely-done, witty satire on the spy trade by Greene, the English author who specialized in spy fiction long before Le Carre, Ian Fleming, and their modern successors. Viewers have to pay close attention to the dialogue and contexts not to miss the timeless jokes and ironies.

Highly recommended for spy movie satire fans, but be aware this Sony/Columbia film on DVD is higher comedy than Austin Powers stuff. Also recommended for viewers who like literate, quirky scripts with olde school humor.

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Poverty Memories

No, they’re never far away. This morning at 7-Eleven, a boy didn’t appear to have enough change for milk and I offered to pay immediately. (BTW/Turned out it was a misunderstanding and he did he have enough to get the milk.)

But it reminded me of being 6-8 and my mother and I, left on our own sometimes by my wayward father, down to spare change basically. I can recall us cobbling together 15-20 cents to buy a loaf of bread or a quart of milk in the ’50s. That change was a direct means to survival.

Something I relearned with my wife in our first year of relatively stony-broke young marriage, cobbling together 20 cents thereabouts to buy an A & W kids’ meal to feed both of us supper. (This in 1971-72 before Chargex was introduced. We lived hand to mouth. Not much seemed to have changed in two decades except that I/we were poor but happy.)

These daze, I still pick up change off the sidewalk and street whenever I see it. A nickel, a dime, a quarter still mean something. And always remind me of the old days when we didn’t have too nickels to rub together quite literally.

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“84 Charing Cross Road” (1986)

A nice, old-fashioned romance based on Helen Hanff’s popular 1980s play starring Anne Bancroft as Hanff, an American writer, and Anthony Hopkins as Frank, a London bookseller

The plot is simple, based on their touching, humorous correspondence from 1949 to the 1960s. Spoiler: the two never meet, but there are some ‘close calls’ to build some suspense as the viewer is drawn into their oddly full, but never complete relationship.

Much of this may be lost on today’s younger and post-2000 viewers who may wonder what the fuss is about and what the points of the movie are. But this is a quiet, pleasant, entertaining drama with realistic characters, good acting, and nice subtleties. Anyone seriously interesting in books and antiquarian reading will be quite satisfied by this well-directed film by David Jones. Recommended for readers, romantics, and old school film fans.

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Trump’s Self-Misbranding

“Stable genius”?
How about “Mentally unstable dope”?

He is a bad cartoon right down to his Taxi Driver meltdown press conference yesterday: “Are you talkin’ to me? Are you talkin’ to me?”

We do it to ourselves, as I have often said. Pelosi was very shrewd. She knew all they had to do once that they started the hearing was to let him babble and hang himself (ironically what T wanted to do to all his enemies). She could really have the last laugh if Pence is also impeached and she becomes the acting POTUS until the election. Contemplate the karma of that possibility.

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