Friday, February 25, 2011

My New Heroes

Violet and Allen Large are my new heroes. Not only did they give away all of their lottery winnings to family and more than 65 charities, they don't regret it for a second. They did not spend a cent on themselves. When the day comes that I can feel even close to their level of contentment and peace, will be the day I can say my soul has evolved to its potential in this lifetime. They are a symbol of hope for us all, as individuals and as a collective. The world could stand to learn a thing or two from this elderly couple from Truro, Nova Scotia. Their selflessness and love are awe-inspiring. They "have each other, and that's all they need." In a world gone mad, they are two people to admire.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Best Original Adaptation goes to.....Solution 3

So, Sunday is Oscar night and for as long as I can remember, I have forced myself to stay up and watch it, boring as most of it is and way past my bedtime. (more so with each passing year!) However, this year there is a new twist in this household. My daughter is planning an "Oscar Party" for her friends and although she said I could come if I wanted, the truth is, she was just being polite. And who can blame her? I know I am a fairly "cool" parent, but no one wants mom hanging around for more than a few minutes with their friends. This will however, impact my viewing of the show as they will have confiscated the big TV in the family room. I could watch it at the kitchen counter on a stool, but 3-4 hours on that stool is not exactly my idea of a comfy spot to sit and diss the stars. I have never wanted a TV in my bedroom - bedrooms are for other pursuits in my mind, but just this once, I wish I did have a big wide screen in there this Sunday night. Of all years for this to happen - I have seen all but one of the Best Film picks - never got around to 27 Days - but I don't think it stands a chance of winning anyway, so no great loss. Hmmmm, I wonder if I can get a live feed on my daughter's laptop? I feel stupid not knowing if this is possible, but it could be the answer to my dilemma. Surely she can sit through the show without her faithful techie companion - the least she could do considering I have been banished. And come to think of it - why are none of my friends having an Oscar Party and if they are, why am I not invited? These are important questions to ponder on the occasion of such a monumental event. Maybe the day has come when I need to succumb to a TV in the bedroom - this will likely not be the last time, and certainly is not the first time I have been banished from the family room. A finished basement would have resolved this crisis for me, but that is a whole other can of worms I best not open here. Right now, I am thinking the red carpet show on the kitchen stool and the rest, if I can, on the laptop. The only problem with that plan is I will surely fall asleep in bed watching it on the laptop as I have enough trouble staying awake to watch it in its entirety while sitting up. I know - solution number 3. Record it and watch it in bits all week long. There is something to be said for no commercials, but it will be old news by then, so what would be the point? On the other hand, it would be great to just zip through the boring speeches, the commercials and anything else I found uninteresting. As a matter of fact, when I think of it, I could probably just watch the opening, select awards that interest me and by the time all is said and done, could wrap up the whole thing in under an hour I bet. Hmmm, I am liking solution 3. Can't believe I didn't think of it in the first place. Now I can still get my beauty sleep (much needed) and stay out of the way of a room full of hormonal teenagers AND save time. That's it then. The Oscar goes to......Solution 3. And please, don't anyone tell me who won - I want to find out for myself on Monday.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chilling to the Winter's Bone

At about the half-way point of watching Winter's Bone, I paused the movie to take a bathroom break. After about an hour into this bleak, depressing world, my image in the bathroom mirror struck me as especially beautiful. I don't say this to sound conceited. I say this to illustrate the contrast between my own image and my own life compared to what I had been watching on the screen. I thought I had seen "ugly" in The Fighter.(the ghastly looking sisters are still haunting me!) But not just physical "ugly". The whole thing. Physical, spiritual, emotional. People whose lives you observe and wonder what reason they could possibly have to want to live. People without joy. People without hope. People barely surviving. Winter's Bone, one of this years Oscar contenders was one of the last movies I had not yet seen. I don't even remember it when it came out in the summer of 2010, so when my film buff daughter asked if I wanted to see it, I said, "sure, may as well see them all." Already available to view on ROD, it was an easy option as I did not feel like venturing out on a cold night. I thought I had gotten away without feeling cold, but this movie was not going to let me. The fact that it is filmed in winter in the Ozarks was an obvious image, but no warm blanket around my shoulders could protect me from the chilling images and story of this young woman's plight. We tend to forget how fortunate we are. As I get older I am more and more grateful and aware of my good fortune, but even so, I still need a slap upside the head from time to time to REALLY remind me. This movie is that slap. Director, Debra Granik's stark portrayal of poverty and depravity and addiction is so real it makes "our" privileged lives seem extreme in the opposite. It is the story of a 17 year old girl trapped in a life she did not ask for. Her mother is mentally ill, her drug-dealing father has run off and left them penniless and she is left to take care of two much younger siblings and their home that is being threatened to be taken over by the bank if her father is not found and brought to trial for his crimes, as he has skipped bail. Ree, brilliantly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, sets off to try to find her father, risking her life in a seedy world of back woods meth labs and gun-toting drugged out hillbillies, one of whom is her own uncle. She enters a dangerous world she understands but does not partake in, with the bravado and bravery of a mother who was trying to protect her children, even though the easy path for her would be to dessert them all. My daughter loves a good horror flick. She prides herself on being pretty immune to just about every special effect going - nothing gets to her. She is able to laugh most of it off and is super-critical of movies that do a poor job of all the blood and guts. At the end of this movie, even she, Miss Jaded, had to admit, Winter's Bone in its tragic realism, was truly horrific. Some images and characters stay in your head forever. This movie and this heroine will without even trying. And it's not a pretty picture.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day, Snow Day, Snow Day........Please!

Snow days. Remember those? If you grew up in any province besides B.C. you surely experienced at least one snow day in your lifetime. What better way to spend a snowy blowy winter day than laying around inside the house all morning in your pajamas watching daytime TV instead of going to school? By afternoon, your mother had had enough of seeing your lazy ass laying about, so she would say "Get your snow pants on and get outside and make a snowman or something." Reluctantly you would layer up and before you could step over the threshold, a momentary guilt would wash over her and she would wrap a woolly scarf around your neck, tight enough to constrict your breathing, but not enough to kill you, and pat your ass on the way out the door. Surveying the lay of the land as you stepped out into the deep pristine powder, your eyelashes thick with flakes in a nan0-second, you would go forth into the backyard and into a world of wonder and magic full of possibility. Snow fort? Snow man? Snow woman? Snow angel? Stopping to snap off a low hanging icicle, tasting it, drawing with it, dueling with it, using it as an appendage on your snow person - again - endless possibilities. The only sound, that of your thick snow pants rubbing as you walked about - only silence when you stopped, or the sound of your own breathing under your now wet woolly scarf. Wet with melting snow and your nasal drip, annoying but warm. For the first while, you remained fairly dry and warm beneath all your layers. Sixteen snow angels later, not so much. No matter how tucked in you thought you were, some snow always made its way into your boot tops, creating a red ring of cold skin where it stopped and packed in on the way down. Now the lining of your boots was starting to get a bit damp, but you didn't care. You carried on. "I know," you thought to yourself, "I will build an igloo just like the Eskimos do and I will sleep in it tonight with a small fire burning in the centre, just like they do." After about a gazillion attempts to create perfectly firm packed "snow bricks", that idea sort of fizzled, but at least you had given it a shot. By now, you had mostly flattened the entire yard, uncovered a bit of the dormant lawn when you rolled the body parts of the snow man you made and were in search of some virgin powder. Now you were starting to notice the damp and wet beginning to annoy you a bit, but not enough to head inside quite yet. Not before you ate a couple more icicles, threw a few more snowballs at various targets and could not stand to go without a tissue for another moment. By now your mother would probably feel sorry enough for you to let you in, so you headed in, stripped off all the wet clothing with the chunks of snow clinging to it here and there, your reddened cheeks, hands and ankles burning as you unthawed. If you had a good mom, you got hot chocolate, a snack and sat back and enjoyed the scent of your woolly mittens and hats steaming on the rad where they were placed to dry off, ready to face another day of a Canadian winter. I hope that at least some kids do this tomorrow - just like I did more than 40 years ago. My own daughter is praying for a snow day tomorrow. Hard to believe, but she has never actually had one. Sure, she has played in the snow, but never had an official snow day in all her years at school. If she does get one, I doubt she will be outside making snow angels at her age, but if she plays her cards right, she may get some hot chocolate in front of the fire and we could both stay inside and enjoy the beauty of the snow falling outside the window. What are the chances we will both get one? We're praying. Fingers crossed. C'mon "snowmegeddon"!