Monday, January 31, 2011

Nowhere Boy...

Have any of you seen this film? It is finally out on DVD in the United States and worth watching for anyone interested in John Lennon's youth and the birth of the Beatles. Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, this biopic features Aaron Johnson as the teen Lennon, Thomas Brodie Sangster as the young Paul McCartney, Kristin Scott Thomas as Lennon's Aunt Mimi and Anne-Marie Duff as his mother, Julia.

The film focuses on the years 1955-1960 in John's life, the rivalry for his affections between Mimi who raised him, and Julia, the mother he was just beginning to know when she died tragically, his introduction to music and the formation of The Quarrymen, Lennon's first band and the predessessor to The Beatles.

Rarely have I seen a biopic so perfectly cast, and as Taylor-Woods' directorial debut, her comfort with the visual is obvious. No spoilers, if you want to know more, see the film.
I related to quite a bit in this film, which surprised me since it reflected more my mother's generation than my own. My first memory of John Lennon was at age 4 or so, listening to an album called Meet The Beatles on my mother's newly acquired portable Hi-Fi in our upstairs flat and singing to the refrain, "I Want To Hold Your Hand."  As a single parent and working woman on a budget, the record was a treat, and something she really liked. Generally, we listened to her 50's-era radio in the kitchen or hummed along to the car radio on outings.

Prior to moving to our first flat together, I had lived with my maternal grandparents while my mother, a young divorcee, resumed her university studies to obtain a teaching degree. She was in her early twenties then and loved the music of the era, especially the groups such as the Beatles which were part of the so-called British invasion.

Watching parts of Nowhere Boy also reminded me of some of the storms of my childhood between my mother and grandmother often preceded by the phrase, "She wouldn't do that if she were living in my house."  This was generally an attempt by my Nana to correct some perceived deficiency of parenting in my mother, while asserting her own superiority. I was caught in the middle, and also subjected to frequent bouts of grandmotherly correction---everything from remembering to wear much-hated eyeglasses, my posture to my behavior, friends and schoolwork---was fair game. While she was stern, she and my grandfather did a lot for me, and I always knew my grandmother could be counted on in any situation. If the portrayal of Mimi Smith in this film is true to form, then she and my grandmother were cut from the same cloth.

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Night Rains And Tornado Watches...

Our meteorologists certainly nailed the current forecast: rain and tornado watches followed by another day of cold weather...

The sky went from slightly gray to black, with no sun set. I attempted some night photos but the pictures were terrible. I'll keep trying...

Mr. Obama will deliver his State of the Union Address in a few hours. I don't expect anything that hasn't already been said but perhaps that is being a bit optimistic...(writer is now busily freeing tongue from cheek...)

Before venturing out to hospital this afternoon, I heard part of an interview with Princeton economist Paul Krugman discussing the euro and the current situation in the EU...I wish I'd had a pad and paper to scribble some notes...

His blog is interesting as are his books but I would love to hear what any EU bloggers have to say about unemployment, economics, this recession, etc.

What say you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Home On A Rainy Day...

Monday was a holiday here. As the weather was wet from about midnight until 7 PM or so, it was a great time to catch up with laundry, bills and an assortment of other odds and ends. Never to be left out, the felines hammed it up, and Jacob made a show of nesting in the dryer, despite protestations and laundry.

Angel, always one for attention, closed her beautiful blues as this was snapped...She was a wee bit grumpy...And, yes, the laundry did time.
The plaque behind her head says "Because I'm the cat, that's why."

Thank You, Reverend King

I am reprising a post originally made in January, 2009. As today, January 17, marks the birthday and life's work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, it is a holiday in the U.S.

The above photo is  taken from on January 17, 2011, by the owner of this blog. This photo is used for illustrative purposes only. It will not be sold or used for profit in any way. The website from which this photo was taken allows this photo to be used free of charge for educational purposes on personal and educational websites and in personal e-mails.

The writing on this blog is the work of its owner and should not be used without permission.

While I hate using Web photos and would prefer to use my own, I was a small child when Reverend King was assassinated. I remember nightly images of this man on both the Spanish and English television channels available where we lived. While much of the English news was censored, the Spanish newscasts often featured information on his activities.

The first recollection I have of the word "pacifist" is in connection with Martin Luther King, Jr, and protests for both Civil Rights and an end to the war in Vietnam. Residing in a community dominated by both military and government employees, the questions asked of my parents and teachers were often met with cautious responses.

"What is a pacifist?," was one of the first. The initial response, "Why are you asking?" then led to a series of even more provocative inquiries on my part that culminated in the simplistic reply, "A pacifist is someone who does not believe in violence."

When I pointed out that killing people only resulted in more people getting killed and asked why both sides could not just stop and talk with each other, my exasperated mother conceded the point that talking was indeed a better solution than shooting or dropping bombs.

Her frustration reached new heights when I observed that it was wrong to put Mr. King in jail just for standing up for people who could not stand up for themselves, then wondering aloud why everyone did not have the same rights, despite differences in their houses, the color of their skin or where they were from. She knew I was right, but offered no satisfactory answers as to why the rest of the world did not see things my way.

I knew by age nine that discrimination, cruelty and ignorance existed, for I had experienced them in my school and neighborhood, and so had my mother. I was growing up female in a world full of sexism, disabled in a school in which well-meaning teachers and neighbors, and even some doctors, were often ignorant.

Despite having the things many of my neighbors and their children had, I was also growing up in a Third World Nation, in which many neighborhoods overflowed with poverty. I also grew up around people from throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as the United States and Mexico, and grew to love many of the wonderful foods, customs and cultural experiences that sprang from this exposure.

That this environment, coupled with personal experiences, also gave me a first-hand look at the differences in the way people are perceived and treated is no surprise. Indeed, the desire for fairness, equity and dignity for everyone , which I also later learned from Judaism, and first glimpsed through the eyes of a Baptist civil rights activist and minister on an old black and white television screen, remain at my core as a woman today.

As a citizen, I often find myself at odds with the activities and views of elected officials and wonder what we are coming to as a nation and as a member of a much larger and diverse planet. I am sure that over forty years ago, Reverend King hoped fervently that through his and the actions of others, rampant prejudice would end, and that rights and human dignity would be respected.

Many people, including Reverend King, were forced to give their lives in pursuit of a better world for all. While much has changed, as evidenced by the historical election of Barack Obama, we dare not forget the past nor can we assume that the battle against racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism and other forms of prejudice is over. There is still much we can do personally and politically. That said, tomorrow's commemoration of the birthday, achievements and sacrifices made by Martin Luther King, Jr provides individuals and communities the opportunity to reflect upon where they are, what they as part of society have accomplished, and what they want to see in the future.

Thank You, Reverend King.

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Some Things To Think About...

I must apologise for my recent absence here. I've been busy in the "real" world with various things, including a new archival project, some professional reading, home clearing and compiling a list of goals for 2011.

As you'll see, the goals are not lofty; practicality and cost-cutting figure prominently.

Go paperless---I am over run with paper and over dealing with piles of it. Now I just hope my computer holds out!

Cut transport costs---I'll shortly begin using my county's para transit service. The system is rule-heavy and does have some limitations, but if I can use it for my more frequent trips, I stand to save some money which I can divert for other purposes.

Download and use Skype---Now all I need are some decent headphones!

Up my intake of fruit and veg and cook and freeze meals so that I always have healthy food and don't rely on take-aways or frozen dinners. This is forcing me to re-acquaint myself with recipes and cook books gone a bit dusty from disuse. Thanks to wonderful bloggers for sharing their recipes!

Increase the intensity of my fitness regime---I've surpassed 150 crunches almost daily, increased the weight and reps on the machines and continued the necessary stretches which increase flexibility and keep my low back pain free. In the spring and summer, I'll resume swims, aiming for three  per week as rain allows.

On the professional front, I'll stay busy at the library and begin reading the required bibliography for the Archivist's Certification Examination. I'm not sure this is the most practical of choices for someone in my situation, but there do appear to be more jobs in this arena than there are for librarians at present. Though librarianship itself is a highly adaptive and varied field, budget cuts and shortfalls have curtailed opportunities for many.

I've translated some conference materials and the language bug has bitten again. I'll let you know where that leads.

In the meantime, I've got to find out if the charger purchased with the re-chargeable batteries for my camera actually works. No little amber lights appear when it is plugged in, and I've tried the batteries every which way...

Thanks to those of you who've graced me with reading suggestions. They were all great and have been saved. I'm attempting three at present and have another six from the public library I visited today. I do plan to blog again and fix the blog roll this weekend.

Until Then...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First Dinner 2011 At Chez Moi...

It was quiet here today; all the revelers who were discharging bottle rockets and fireworks until the sun rose eventually made their way home to bed. Even the resident felines, who never ignore their meal schedule, failed to stir for breakfast. I'm almost certain they would have slept straight through dinner but for the clatter and aromas coming from la cuisine.

It was a matter of what was in the cupboards and what was fresh in the refrigerator before it dawned on me that my mother always swore that in the south people usually eat black-eyed peas for luck at the new year, a tradition we never observed during my childhood near the equator.

You can see the results above; Fresh, steamed greens with a hint of garlic, a small, plump tomato garnished with cracked peppercorns and some rice with seasoned black-eyed peas.

In a nod to elegance, this repast sits atop a Limoges luncheon plate. I use them because they not only appeal to the eye, but to the waistline, as luncheon plates are smaller than the typical dinner plates used here.

Wishing you all a large dose of luck in 2011!