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James Garner PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 26 July 2014 11:32

So many people I love are dying! My mom, my aunt, James Garner...

My mom loved James Garner, by the way, as did I. As should have any red-blooded, heterosexual woman. I once went on a date with a guy who looked like James Garner and he turned out to be a big jerk. But he looked like James Garner, so I went on a second date with him hoping I had been wrong in my assessment of his character. I hadn't been and that was that. Looking like James Garner does not mean you are James Garner. 

He was in Rockford, of course, but also in so many wonderful movies: the Americanization of Emily, 36 Hours, Support your Local Sheriff and the Great Escape. Here's a cute scene from the latter, with another gentleman you might recognize (and one you might not). By the way, I wanted to use a clip from the Americanization of Emily, the great pro-American, anti-European speech -- a.k.a., the 'don't blame our Coca-Cola bottles' speech -- but I could not find it on youtube. If any of you can, do send it to me via the contact link above. 

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Last Updated on Saturday, 26 July 2014 11:33
 
Sleepwalkers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Thursday, 24 July 2014 17:20

If you haven't read the book 'The Sleepwalkers', about the origins of World War I, you must. 'Tis very good, edifying and all that. One quote, in particular, from the book, is worth drawing to your attention, dear readers.

The targeting of the archduke  thus exemplified one abiding strand in the logic of terrorist movements, namely that reformers and moderates are more to be feared than outright enemies and hardliners. 

Clark was writing, of course, about Serbs in the early 20th century, but it could apply to what happened to Anwar Sadat, for example, and it could apply now to any extremist group in the headlines, such as, oh, Hamas, say. One weeps for any reasonable person surrounded by such barbarians.  

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 17:21
 
Matteo Renzi Speaking English PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Thursday, 24 July 2014 17:07

This is rather unfair. I mean, ok, his English isn't great, or even good, but he's Italian, which means that what he lacks in skills he makes up for in showy-offy-ness. Seriously, though, I was touched when he mentioned his mother crying when the Berlin Wall fell, because I remember that mine did, as well. But mine did because she was terrified at the prospect of a reunited Germany. Given the odious winds of anti-Semitism spewing across Europe right now, of course, she needn't have worried about Germany going mad again. Plenty of other countries will do that in its place. 

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Elaine Stritch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 19 July 2014 09:14

In 2003, I was smart enough to buy tickets (with a friend) to go and see Elaine Stritch's one woman show when she brought it to Toronto. At the time she was nearly 80. The evening was a collection of singing and stories about her raucous, hard-drinking life and love affairs. Here she is talking about Ben Gazzara (one of my big crushes) and Rock Hudson. Hilarious! If I weren't so shy, one day I think I could do a show like this about my love life (but without the singing, as a favour to the audience). 

Stritch passed away a few days ago: may this wonderful woman rest in peace and if you have a moment, look online for 'Elaine Stritch: At Liberty' (the show of which I speak) and treat yourself to the whole thing. 

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Israel/Gaza PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Monday, 14 July 2014 17:55

The usual useful idiots are out there saying the usual nonsense. My favourite has to be the 'x number of Palestinians have died, but no Israelis have died!' It is not a crime to put time, money and effort into protecting one's citizens, and it actually is a crime to do what Hamas does -- use human shields and deliberately place weapons in densely populated civilian neighbourhoods. But I recognize that for some, there are never enough dead Jews. There is also the plain fact that Israel does everything it can to minimize civilian deaths

I think Alan Dershowitz here is worth a read, and also Tom Doran. Above all, there is this piece by Jeffrey Goldberg. For my money, this is the key point, and one that has me going back to when I was in Gaza and Israel as a journalist in 2005, when Israel disengaged from the territory. I was able then to sit down and talk with some settlers who were being forced out and who were not happy about it, but who still hoped that the Palestinians would make a go at building a civil society and at putting down their weapons. So far, that hasn't happened. 

In 2005, the Palestinians of Gaza, free from their Israeli occupiers, could have taken a lesson from the Kurds -- and from David Ben-Gurion, the principal Israeli state-builder -- and created the necessary infrastructure for eventual freedom. Gaza is centrally located between two large economies, those of Israel and Egypt. Europe is just across the Mediterranean. Gaza could have easily attracted untold billions in economic aid.

The Israelis did not impose a blockade on Gaza right away. That came later, when it became clear that Palestinian groups were considering using their newly liberated territory as a launching pad for attacks. In the days after withdrawal, the Israelis encouraged Gaza’s development. A group of American Jewish donors paid $14 million for 3,000 greenhouses left behind by expelled Jewish settlers and donated them to the Palestinian Authority. The greenhouses were soon looted and destroyed, serving, until today, as a perfect metaphor for Gaza’s wasted opportunity.

If Gaza had, despite all the difficulties, despite all the handicaps imposed on it by Israel and Egypt, taken practical steps toward creating the nucleus of a state, I believe Israel would have soon moved to evacuate large sections of the West Bank as well. But what Hamas wants most is not a state in a part of Palestine. What it wants is the elimination of Israel. It will not achieve the latter, and it is actively thwarting the former.

That's about it.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 July 2014 17:59
 
Shirtless 'Protesters' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 12 July 2014 11:35
If only the shirtless 'protesters' following our mayor around looked like this. Sadly, they do not.
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It is Nice to feel Vindicated PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 14:59

Remember this? Well, I ran into someone from my old Italian class with the 'Io sono scrittrice' lady in it and with the people who kept speaking English in it, and what did this person say to me? And I mean, he said this without prompting, without my mentioning the class in question or the people in question. He said, 'You were the smartest person in that class'. 

Oh yeah. Fat lot of good it did me. 

Of course, I don't suppose it was exactly saying much either. But I'll take it. 

 
Paul Mazursky and Louis Zamperini PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 05 July 2014 18:27

Paul Mazursky died last week. He directed Harry and Tonto, which for my money is one of the best American movies. I blogged about it over two years ago and you can read what I wrote and see a clip from the movie here. It seems to me that if you can create one work of art like that and leave it behind, you've done your bit on this planet. Mazursky made other films that I know some found interesting, but none impress me like Harry and Tonto, a man and his cat. 

Louis Zamperini died, as well. He was the subject of this book, which I highly recommend. Some of us have very little happen to us, some of us have gothic lives. Zamperini was one of the latter. An Olympian, a war hero, a man who was lost at sea for seven weeks in a raft and a man who was tortured by the Japanese while in a POW camp...and more. What sets him even more apart from the rest of us was that after the war he forgave his captors, meeting as many of them as would agree to meet with him. Some wouldn't. The Japanese culture at the time would not allow for anything that would bring 'shame' to someone -- admitting a wrong, meeting with a conqueror (i.e., a former soldier of the army that defeated you) and so forth. But the ones who met him, I believe, must have found great peace. So wonderful. 

Quelle vie. 

 
Retro-active Shameless self-Promotion: World Cup Edition PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Sunday, 29 June 2014 09:54

Some of my stories from last year which are soccer-related: 1) Story about attending a Serie A match in Italy, 2) Pirlo-appreciation story, 3) Soccer and racism

 
The Next Adventure PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 21 June 2014 17:45

We said goodbye to my aunt today -- a beautiful service, unpretentious and sweet and real. My cousin did a wonderful job and talked about how my aunt viewed everything as an adventure. The only thing missing was some Elvis music, as my aunt was crazy for him. 

So for my Aunt Wesla, here is a favourite:

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Last Updated on Saturday, 21 June 2014 17:50
 
World Cup PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 14 June 2014 15:05

Totally love the World Cup and agree with John Oliver that, as it is the only thing that gives my life meaning, I prefer to not know how it is made. 

This is wonderful -- he totally eviscerates FIFA. 

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If I Were King of the Forest PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Thursday, 12 June 2014 20:21
I love this guy. He is one of the street cats for whom I help provide care and he always reminds me of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. Whenever I visit with him, I half expect him to burst into 'If I Were King of the Forest'. Truly a noble beast.
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Last Updated on Thursday, 12 June 2014 20:22
 
Respite... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 13:01
...from the woes of earthly life, brought to you by some awkwardly-sitting cats. 
 
Vivian Maier and Letters to my Parents PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 09:57

The life and work of Vivian Maier, years after her death, are getting plenty of attention. Below see my favourite Maier pic -- it captures a perfect moment. I read, recently, the New Yorker article about Maier and interestingly, this coincided with the aftermath of my mother's death. One of the things that happened after my mother died was that my sister sent to me a huge file that had been in mom's closet: virtually every letter/postcard I had sent to mom and my father when I lived overseas. I sat down and read them and realized that, by God, I was a really funny, positive, smart and funny young woman during those years, very observant, optimistic and adventurous, and the cards and letters I sent my parents reflected that.

So, you know, you might think my parents would have been encouraging. Instead, what I got from them was nearly non-stop nagging and criticism and letters that ended in 'we live in constant worry about you', and two people telling someone who clearly was not civil service material that the key to her happiness was moving to Ottawa and working for the civil service. They also created a narrative whereby there was something 'wrong' with me and I just needed to 'get over it'.

Now, I realize we all have parents who don't often 'get' us and who worry about us. This is a symptom of love, in a way, but also of forcing someone to fit a certain narrative that is important to the forcers. And when I didn't fit that narrative, instead of just saying, 'well isn't Rondi kind of cool the way she is?', much fiction was created. So sadly, reading those postcards I wrote just made me sad, rather than making me smile at my youth.

And reading the above-linked Maier article hit a nerve, especially when I read this part:

The unconventional choices of women are explained in the language of mental illness, trauma, or sexual repression, as symptoms of pathology rather than as an active response to structural challenges or mere preference.

(Emphasis mine.) A response and a mere preference. It is as complicated as that.

catmaier
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 June 2014 10:56
 
She Just Wasn't a Very Good Writer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 31 May 2014 10:39

May Maya Angelou rest in peace. I admire her having written openly about having been sexually abused in her youth, but it is a safe bet that any writer who is taught primarily in Women's Studies courses is not a good writer. Her politics were ridiculous, too. I think the most revealing thing about her is that she insisted on being called 'Doctor' even though her PhD was honorary. My late brother, whose PhD was earned, hated being called 'Doctor' and most certainly would never have insisted upon it. 

I think this write-up is very good and this quote sums up Angelou's career. 

Her greatest performance wasn’t in the miniseries Roots or on the album Miss Calypso. It was playing the character Maya Angelou. There’s a P.T. Barnum quality to Maya Angelou. Convincing the world of your greatness requires a greatness. This is especially true of the mediocre.

That last line is true of many in this life, is it not?

 
Mad Men: Take it Away, Robert Morse PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Friday, 30 May 2014 14:48

The Mad Men episodes for 2014 are now finished -- seven (or six?) more to come in 2015 and that will be the end of the entire series, sadly. I so enjoy it, and I have to say that this year's episodes have been among my favourites, largely because they have avoided (to my astonishment) the ham-handed politicizing of some of the previous seasons. In fact, the one episode that featured hippies prominently, showed them to be selfish, spoiled and stupid (exactly what they were). And each time some snot-nosed punk in this year's episodes has made some disrespectful or ignorant comment about the world around them, they find themselves neatly and promptly smacked down by an adult. It is refreshing.

For my money, the last scene in the last episode of this year was utterly magical and might even have been the best possible finale for the entire series. Who knows? Perhaps Matt Weiner can top this, but somehow, I doubt it.

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