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Are We BC, AC or PC? 8 Movies or TV Shows I’ll Watch Again While I Wait To Find Out

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Like ancient dinosaurs, we’re passing into a new epoch…

… and while summer has arrived, and the livin’ is easy – this COVID era continues to transform many homes into workplaces, and makes social activities challenging.

Today I’ll reflect a bit on the blessings and the curses of this time. Yup, sweet and sour.

A mere two summers ago we were living in the BC (BEFORECOVID) period, although we didn’t know it at the time; this is the way of Black Swans. I doubt the dinosaurs saw the asteroid approaching.

Yes, life in this BC era was maybe simpler and… maybe more predictable (or not, depending on how you view BC life).

Then last summer, the fear and intense reality of COVID transmission were gearing up for a tidal wave surge that would leave a tense trail of sickness, death, and long-haul destruction in its wake.

This was/is the AC period – the AMIDCOVID Period. Lots of infections and no vaccines or clearly effective treatments (bleach injection anyone?).

Here we are today, we’re in this No Man’s Land of AC, but the tide is turning…

Soon’ish, we’ll enter the PC period (POSTCOVID).

Or will we? We’re standing at the doorstep, and not quite sure if the door will swing open wide or snap shut like a malicious mousetrap.

We’re still a few anxious breaths away from truly transitioning into a new BC era… becoming who we were before March 2020.

………….

It would smack of first-world arrogance if I didn’t add that we’re still a long way from a PC era in most poorer countries where vaccines have barely seen an arm yet.

African, South American, and some Asian populations are stifling in increased poverty and sickness as COVID spreads wildly, sucking away livelihoods for the most oppressed.

Please, the world is small, let’s not any of us forget our neighbours from other countries and continents.

………….

Back here in the privileged countries, COVID has changed every one of our lives in a myriad of ways… some stuff from BC we’ll return to like nothing ever happened, while other things we’ll question and ponder deeply about.

Do we really hanker to be the same person we were in the BC times? Introspecting R US…

Until we know where we are in this uncharted period of time, many of us will continue to semi-cocoon for a while longer like Groundhogs who have seen their shadows.

OK, now for one of the blessings.

BC, I had 10 different and diverse activities on my plate each week.

I was stimulated on so many fronts, but many have fallen off and so I find myself returning to the “comfort food” of the movies and TV shows I’ve seen before but have a tremendous affection for still.

Typically, I don’t usually like a return to what I’ve seen before. I crave the new and novel.

As TV character Ally McBeal would say when entering the stall of her workplace bathroom – “I prefer a fresh bowl“.

I agree with Ally, but… to push this very strange analogy even further, I’d add “… if it’s yellow let it mellow… if it’s brown, flush it down“.

Sometimes I just like the comforting warmth of the known and recognizable (I guess that’s the yellow in my above analogy!).

For some unknown length of time, a lot of us will continue to absorb our popular culture through the strong list of streaming choices our era of technology has gifted us when we want some diversion or relaxation, entertainment or provocation.

Until the day when COVID is undoubtedly in the rearview mirror, I’ll harken back to my short list of 8 shows or movies that I am happy to boomerang around to a 2nd or even 3rd time. Comfort food on the tube.

I won’t spell out all of my specific reasons of why I’ve made these choices, other than to say that in these shows I see and hear a combination of intellect, wit, profound thought, outrageous humour, deep sadness or boundless joy which leave me deeply affected in one or more directions.

Any cultural or artistic product – at its best – should leave us somehow moved, hopefully even changed for the better.

So, in no particular order, here I go:

  1. West Wing
  2. The Newsroom
  3. Of Mice and Men
  4. Seinfeld
  5. When Harry Met Sally
  6. Schindler’s List
  7. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody
  9. BONUS: The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over Concert

Reviewing my own list, I can see – in the writers and actors of each – a sense of the artistic gifts I personally admire and seek out for myself: Aaron Sorkin, John Steinbeck, Jerry Seinfeld, Nora Ephron, Steven Spielberg, William Goldman, Freddie Mercury, Don Henley/Glenn Frey.

Maybe you too can see yourself reflected in the choices you would make on your list as you await the return of BC.

Or perhaps PC will bring on a different you… Introspecting R US!

BC + AC = PC

Pass The Christmas Cake and Remote Please…

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ME… preparing for Christmas!

Ah yes, Christmas in COVID times… a new life experience for all of us who live in the Christian world.

I’m gonna put down my TV remote now and share my guilt trip with you today.

If you can’t feel guilty at Christmas, check your pulse. A Charlie Brown Christmas will just have to wait (but I can listen to the music while writing).

This morning, I was having my twice weekly online 6:30 am tutoring session with my Syrian refugee friend (let’s call him Amir).

We sip coffee and latte together, and chat amiably (in English only – beyond hello, goodbye and thank you, my Arabic sucks big time… yup, more guilt) about our daily lives and the world, before diving into the day’s lesson.

Growing up, Amir barely glimpsed the inside of a classroom in Syria, and after 5 years in Canada, he still struggles hugely with the writing and reading parts of this silly English language we take for granted.

His literacy difficulties (Larry, have you thought that maybe it’s your teaching that is the problem?) hold him back in a major way from obtaining meaningful employment in this country.

The family of 5 (now 7) escaped the brutal Syrian/Russian troop incursions into their small agrarian town near the Jordan border, and arrived in this country having never uttered as much as HELLO in English, and never having felt the bitter chill of snow blowing past their faces. Difficult life? You bet.

Anyway, today – with his burgeoning bundle of English vocabulary – Amir told me the story of his friendly next door neighbour, a 50’ish year-old fellow with 2 young sons – one in Grade 7 and the other in Grade 2.

Amir’s 5 year-old son and the neighbour’s younger son play together often, racing their miniature RC cars in the driveways of the townhouse complex where they live. VROOM VROOM…

The man’s wife is in prison (reason unknown).

Just these tiny pieces of information tell you that the neighbour and his family, like Amir’s, must be in a difficult situation. Then…

Yesterday afternoon… a host of screaming emergency vehicles, blue and red lights flashing – police, fire department, ambulance… CORONER… descended on the neighbour’s house next door… a dozen responders in full uniform…

… an hour and a half later, the neighbour, the father, was declared dead, likely of a heart attack.

As the lifeless father was rolled out of the house in a shiny black, zippered bag, a family member arrived to whisk the 2 boys off to a new “home” in the local area. Merry Christmas little ones.

Even though I don’t truly count myself as a “Christian” today, I’ve lived my entire life in the cozy saturation of Christianity and the Christmas family; beautiful religious ceremony, music, and scents have filled me with nostalgia and warmth and an inclusive sense of belonging… a belonging to something weighty, magical and mysterious. It’s as much a part of me as my heart and lungs.

But with each passing year, and especially so at this time of year, I feel the burden of the discomfort of others (cue melancholy Sarah McLachlan song). This isn’t a bad thing, I don’t think.

It’s good because it tells me that I am experiencing a greater awareness of the whole.

No matter how young or old we are, the ability to unearth and display compassion for others is crucial, and whether it’s tied to a religion or deity doesn’t really matter. Empathy for others isn’t connected to Christianity or Islam or Judaism etc.

Those sounds of discomfort I’m hearing are emanating especially loud this year amongst many individuals and families who despair at the thought of little or no physical connection to family as they awake Christmas morning. It’s not part of our fabled Christmas scene.

Worse still is that Christmas will be even more challenging this year for so many who struggle on a daily basis in ordinary times. These aren’t ordinary times, you know it.

One example in my world: I can only faintly imagine the crushing hurt and thoughts of isolation surging up this year in many of the folks I’ve encountered over the years at the local soup kitchen… or those who can’t visit loved ones in hospitals and care institutions.

And it reminds me to my core of how fortunate I’ve been to have so many opportunities and so many creature comforts… you know… Peace on Earth and Comfort and Joy.

My challenges are infinitely smaller than a family of Syrian refugees living on this alien Canadian “planet”, or a pair of 2 young brothers who’ve lost their main parent and home, and will struggle through a Christmas season like no other.

You will likely find this hard to believe as you read along, but a few hours back I sat down to write this as a light, fluffy piece; a ditty of sorts about my guilty pleasure of watching The Great British Baking Show and this silly passion I hold for sweet food porn interlaced with lovely English, Irish, and Scottish lilts…

… but as so often happens, a tiny voice builds up to a crescendo inside me and crowds my space and finds a different message to write about (you know that speaking about these voices publicly could land you in a totally different space Larry?)

If you’re floundering with Christmas blues this year (and I hope you’re not, but if you or someone you know is struggling – Canada’s Crisis Hotline – 1-833-456-4566), my wish is that you can search your universe and find the positives, your Silver Linings Playbook to get you through …

Here’s my offering, a tiny token to help you along your peaceful trail… another country-style Christmas tune (written by my old bestie John Denver) I played and produced in my little home studio this week. HO HO HO…

The Borrowed View

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The borrowed view… the lovely, sexy borrowed view… no, it’s not a morning TV panel of women in heated discussion… or a euphemism for a Peeping Tom.

No, of course not. But close your blinds just to be on the safe side… although my lawyer will be using it for my legal defence after I raise bail and return to social isolation instead of solitary confinement.

No, the borrowed view is a term my wife often uses as she gazes west out our living room window towards lush, sweeping Ambrosia apple orchards and a mammoth volcanic rock edifice in the near-distance called Giant’s Head Mountain…

… neither of which are situated on our “owned” property but that we happily accept as part of our daily vista ie. our borrowed view.

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A view from our window of Giant’s Head

Usually, a borrowed view is understood as the Chinese-originated principle of “incorporating background landscape into the composition of a garden” found in traditional East Asian garden design.

You should know by now that I’m into Idea Sex, mixing ideas in a blender to create a new thought.

As we’ve trudged through these troubled days of climbing virus infections, obvious racism and other human rights’ problems, I’ve reflected and Idea Sex’ed on my personal “borrowed view” of a slightly different sort.

It’s a sort of Peeping Tommery, but in a positive light.

Racism and hatred would be lessened across the globe with this version of a borrowed view, or as my Syrian friend says in his newfound English idiom… taking a walk in someone else’s shoes.

Life’s good fortune, and admittedly, some not-too-bad choices of my own, have afforded me opportunities to see the world through others’ eyes… to walk in others’ shoes, to at least a limited degree.

I benefit from the richness of a borrowed view of the people I’ve encountered (and so do you when you think of it).

On the flip side of this, I know I’ve been able to share my “view” with others so that they can see the world a little bit differently from my perspective.

We’ve both been enriched by this borrowed sharing of the walk.

OK, one small example of this.

In 1982, Lionel, a young, black-as-night skinned Guyanese man and his wife and five young kids, lived in a tiny house next door to our rental basement apartment in a picturesque small town called Hantsport, Nova Scotia.

Lionel had migrated to Canada in order to train to become a clergyman. He had a thick accent and a gorgeous smile. And a big bible.

I liked Lionel instantly, and for the next few months we spent some time bonding over (or under) some barbells in the cramped basement area next to our apartment.

He was a man of great religious faith. I sat on the opposite side of the God-fearing fence.  However, Lionel and I both grew as humans (no, not just muscle-wise!) as we sweat-pumped iron and talked about our life experiences and views.

We were both inquisitive and respectful. It was heartwarming to get to know him a little.

My WASP worldview was broadened, altered, and enlightened, just as Lionel astonishingly discovered that a heathen could understand and live the Golden Rule sans a bible in hand.

We were able to pass to each other a “borrowed view”.

Another example? OK, a bit more recent.

Ten years ago, we travelled to Cusco, Peru where we lived for 4 months in the high Andes. We studied Spanish and became lightly immersed in ancient Incan culture, but more importantly, immersed in a lovely family of Incan descendants.

This Quechua family generously took us into their home on occasions, and shared meals and holidays, market shopping trips and local football games, dancing and much-too-much chicha (corn beer). My Spanish conversation skills jump dramatically while quaffing chicha!

They lived a simple, rustic life under precarious conditions where a heavy rainfall might possibly destroy their house (and actually has done so partially in the intervening years).

We could see their smiles and hear their laughter but also understand some of the hardships that life had brought their way.

It was/is a difficult existence that they bear with grace and love, and they unselfishly shared it all with us giving us a beautiful borrowed view. We remain friends to this day.

These days, my borrowed view comes through the eyes of a young Syrian man that I tutor each week (online currently). We study and work hard together but also laugh deeply and share a trust and affection. I have the privilege of understanding the world a tiny bit better through the lens of his Muslim perspective.

The more borrowed views I take in, the more I understand the one-ness of our planet. It’s never good to think of the world as US against THEM… it’s US with THEM.

The search for common ground and compassion is much simpler when we experience through our own individual encounters and not the media or the internet.

Hatred is so much easier when it’s held and seen at a distance.

These are the things that remind me that we all live with boundaries and borders just as I have a property boundary here in Summerland.

But life is much richer for us all when we search out and embrace the “borrowed view”.

Just remember, the borrowed view is best applied looking OUT your window and not INTO someone else’s.

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One of my favourite borrowed views… WALL STREET! Booyah!

 

 

 

 

Am I A (Gentle)Man?

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I grew up on sports.

Yup, that’s me above dropping the puck for my brother on the backyard rink our Mom built us over many late and frigid nights.

When I was a kid, I played hockey and football and baseball. I golfed and skied and tennis’ed. I swam. I biked. I ran. I even bowled.

Lots of team sports. It was camaraderie in a peck of pals.

I hugged and patted the butts of many a young boy in my childhood which seems a bit creepy now that I think about it!

Before and after school, anytime I wasn’t delivering newspapers or sleeping, I was across the street in the park with a glove, a ball, a stick, a club, or a bat in my hand.

Like every day. Rain and snow… yes, even mud… just added to the “fun”.

Before and after family meals there was a steady stream of friends calling at the door… can Larry play street hockey? football? baseball?

I loved sports. I loved my buddies.

I’m thinking about sports this week because of flamboyant Canadian jock-jerk Don Cherry who poisons the well of understanding and compassion by calling out others who don’t look or act like him… in this week’s case… immigrants.

Previously, over many years, he’s attacked: French-Canadians, Europeans, people of colour, and women, with Trumpian insults.

Don cherry

He’s opinionated, aggressive and boorish. Yet, many adore him.

Not me.

I spent a lot of time in dressing rooms and locker rooms as a youngster. Comfortable and at home until … I reached the teen years and … things changed.

Listening to Mr. Cherry reminds me of this uncomfortable transition period in my life.

At 13 or 14 years old, when the brawny hormones and cultural conditioning kicked in, many of the nice, kind boys I hung out with for years put on unusual costumes that I didn’t recognize.

Their bodies were changing and they became young men.

The tone of team sports changed too, into a more macho’ized form of activity. The games we played grew more aggressive and angry.

Team sports felt less like games and more like an outlet for anger and short fuses.

Sure, sportsmanship continued to exist, but was harder to find in this virile forest.

Slower than most, I too became a man, but I think in a slightly different way than many of the guys surrounding me.

Months and years passed and I grew more and more uncomfortable with the “toxic masculinity” that necessitated frequent swearing, heavy drinking, misogynistic joking.

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It was growing harder to be a “gentle man” and still remain a part of the core of the team, regardless of talent and skill.

For me, the fun in participating in team sports sadly faded.

I participate in lots of physical pursuits today, but team ones? well… infrequently. My last organized hockey game was more than 10 years ago now.

Like everyone, I have my contradictions.

I still enjoy watching most team sports… I’ve been an avid booster of the Hamilton Tiger Cat football team for decades… OSKEE WEE WEE (don’t even ask!).

Hockey (minus the fighting) is physical and fast and can be as exciting as ever.

Soccer mastery amazes me.

I idolize the dedication, passion, and skill exhibited by athletes. Sport at its best is a beauty and an inspiration to our world. The Olympics give me goosebumps.

When I see examples of observable good sportsmanship, I shiver inside. One small example:

In a cross-country running event in 2012, Spanish runner Ivan Fernandez Anaya had an opportunity to win the race after Kenya’s Olympic bronze medalist Abel Mutai slowed near the finish line thinking that he had won.

Instead of overtaking Mutai at the last second and claiming glory, Anaya urged his opponent over the line and settled for second place.

Anaya later told the media that he didn’t deserve to win and Mutai had created a gap that he could not close if he hadn’t made the mistake.

sportsmanship

That, my friends, is a gentleman, and likely a better man than I.

Our “civilized” world today is dealing with anger and aggression in far too many places. Many leaders and people of influence (like Don Cherry) are directing us towards our inner darkness.

We need more and more examples of positive leadership and good sportsmanship to encourage, inspire and lead us to become our “better angels”.

We’ve come a long way Baby towards sculpting the clay of more gentlemen into “gentle men”. Still, the journey isn’t near over yet.

But the departure of Don Cherry is one more positive step along that road.

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