"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself." -William Blake
I watched the first two episodes of this Netflix series recently. The show is in its second season now, but I'm just starting season one. Each episode examines the history of a classic or immensely popular toy in a lively and informative manner, and is frequently quite amusing. The first episode is about the Star Wars toys and memorabilia, which have made more money than the actual films in theaters. It was really interesting to see how, when George Lucas was making his first Star Wars film, it was next to impossible to get any toy company to take a gamble on him. All of the big name companies like Mattel and Hasbro turned Lucas down and he was forced to use a small virtually unknown toy company called Kenner. Kenner agreed to take on making the movie toys, but only if they retained 95% of the profits. Lucasfilm was desperate enough that they were forced to agree to these terms... and then of course, the movie was a bit of a hit. It would be years, though, before Lucas would be able to get a better deal.
Some of the best parts of the Star Wars episode were interviews with some of the toy designers and builders. Their stories of trying to get prototype toys together on a shoestring budget before the first movie were interesting and often really funny. One describes how, when working on the Jawa action figure, he couldn't find any fabric in the workshop which looked like the Jawa cloaks. Then looking down, he realized that he was wearing brown socks so took one off and cut it up, fashioning a cloak out of it. The Jawa prototype was shipped off to be shown to the executives wearing his worn sock. I quite enjoyed seeing Star Wars on the ground floor, so to speak, before it was the money-making behemoth it became. After the movies became mega hits, they of course get more money to make bigger and better toys- like the model Millennium Falcon- but happily there are also a lot of really cheesy items, like the lightsaber toothpick holder.
The show also interviews various collectors of Star Wars toys, from the casual nostalgic buyers to the dead serious collectors. The guy in this picture owns the biggest collection in the world; at one point he says that his collection has become the most important thing in his life. Which is really sad. The show, however, is light, fast paced, and a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to watching more episodes in the series.
This illustration is from a PG Wodehouse short story which forms two chapters of his 1923 collection The inimitable Jeeves- Comrade Bingo and Bingo Has A Bad Goodwood. This image is from a scene near the end of the story. Bingo has been masquerading as a radical in order to impress the father of the girl he's enamored of, because the man is the leader of a group of commies known as Red Dawn. After the Goodwood races, Bingo is giving a speech decrying the upper classes in general and his uncle, Lord Bittlesham, in particular. Suddenly, Comrade Butt (member of Red Dawn and rival for Charlotte's affections) leaps forward, pulls off Bingo's fake beard and exposes him as one of the hated aristocracy. Bingo responds by grabbing Butt by the throat and a knock-down-drag-out ensues until a nearby police officer intervenes and drags the two away. It later turns out that Jeeves, wanting to separate Bingo from Charlotte and her Red Dawn friends and relations, provided Comrade Butts with the information about his actual identity. It works.
Last night we watched the first half of the 1987 miniseries Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel. It is, obviously, the sequel to the 1985 miniseries Anne of Green Gables. The film draws material from three of the books in the Anne series: Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, and Anne of Windy Poplars. And, of course, some of the content didn't happen in any of the books. In The Sequel, some time has passed since the end of the first miniseries; Anne is now eighteen, has finished her BA, and has been teaching school in Avonlea for some time. Despite an increased level of maturity, she is still capable of getting herself into amusing scrapes- such as the incident with Dolly the Jersey cow.
In the first half of the miniseries, Anne finds herself at a bit of a crossroad. She enjoys teaching school, but really wants to be a writer. She's been attempting to get a work of fiction she wrote published, but it is rejected. Her best friend Diana has just gotten married, and Gilbert Blythe proposes to Anne. Convinced that she only cares for him as a friend, Anne turns him down. Just at this uncomfortable time, Anne receives a letter from her old teacher Miss Stacey who wants her to apply for a teaching position at a prestigious girls' school- Kingsport Ladies' Academy- in Nova Scotia. Feeling the need to get away from the Island for a while, Anne applies and is accepted. Sad to leave Marilla and Green Gables, Anne is nevertheless looking forward to a change of scene and company in Kingsport.
“If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.” ― G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
Okay, I generally try to keep political content to a minimum, but I'm feeling a bit ornery tonight and want to blow off some steam, so here goes...
Earlier this month, Justin Trudeau gave the commencement speech at NYU. This came as a surprise to many Canadians, since a lot of us do our best to avoid listening to our Prime Minister's sanctimonious platitudes and verbal inanities; it's difficult to imagine anyone deliberately soliciting them. What was truly surprising, however, was the content of his speech- especially the part where he urged graduates to be open to other points of view, to not exist in an intellectual bubble, and to not engage in identity politics. What made this so astonishing was the breathtaking hypocrisy of these remarks, considering that Trudeau has built his political career on identity politics- and nepotism- and could be a stand in for John Travolta in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble.
Now, it's true that I'm an instinctive conservative- fiscally and socially- and have never in my adult life considered voting Liberal either in provincial or federal elections. This is not to be taken as a ringing endorsement of the Conservative party, which is frequently wishy-washy, sheepish, and apologetic about conservative policies. For heaven's sake, stop apologizing and make intelligent, moral arguments for conservatism. It's also true that from the minute Justin Trudeau pranced onto the political stage, I've considered him to be an immature, incompetent, out of touch, socialism-loving narcissist. When he was elected, I figured that we were in for years of fiscal irresponsibility and debt, as well as cringing embarrassment every time he got in front of a camera and made an exhibition of himself. I have not been proven wrong.
I also figured that we were in for a tiresome period of him pushing the most "progressive" social policies possible on every front. If there's one thing that our dear leader enjoys more than dressing up, it's theatrically emoting over "oppressed" groups and of course, environmental issues. As expected, he has missed no opportunity to leap in front of a mic to weep for and apologize to any group which has, at any time in history, been offended by something Canada did, or didn't do, or whatever. He also reflexively starts babbling about the evils of fossil fuels and the need for a carbon tax seemingly every time a camera points in his direction. As I said, no surprise there.
What I failed to anticipate, however, was the fanatical zeal with which "Sunny Ways" Trudeau and his acolytes would push some of their agendas. In some cases, neither the obvious disapproval of the Canadian public nor the fact that they are violating Canadian charter rights has given them a moment's pause. A prime example of this is the issue of abortion.
Abortion is a sacred cow- perhaps I should say, golden calf- for the Liberals. They don't think that there should be any limits on it at all. While this has been the party position for a long time, before Trudeau became leader allowances were made for personal beliefs and convictions. Justin Trudeau did away with this: he decreed that no one who was pro life would be allowed to run for, or hold a position in, the Liberal party. Essentially, this indicates a belief that Canadians who do not support abortion should be denied political representation, and should not be allowed to hold public office.
Last year Conservative MP Rachael Harder was nominated to chair the House of Commons Status of Women Committee. Liberal and- of course- NDP members walked out in protest, saying that Harder could not represent women because she is pro life. She did not, I hardly need add, end up serving in that position. The only possible take away from this is that the Liberals believe that pro life women are not true women, should not be allowed in positions of leadership, and again, should be allowed no representation in government.
Trudeau and his coterie, however, were just getting warmed up. This year, his government announced changes to the student summer job grant program. Every year, small businesses and non-profit groups can apply for a federal grant to hire student workers for the summer. A lot of soup kitchens, summer camps, etc. avail themselves of this program, which allows them to hire local students, gain some much-needed summer staff, and provide the young men and women with a chance to experience helping and serving others. In December, however, the Liberal government announced that anyone applying for a grant for the upcoming summer would have to check off a new box on the application, one that states that the applicant agrees with the Liberal government's position on a bunch of issues, one of these being abortion. Obviously, no true Christian- or Jewish, or Muslim- group was going to do this. A huge outcry was raised and not, I am glad to say, just from pro lifers. A lot of people on the other side of the issue have spoken out about this, concerned over the obvious violation of Canadians' right to freedom of religion. I haven't actually seen one article in any newspaper supporting the Liberals on this issue. The push back seems to have startled the Liberals, but they shrugged it off; Labour Minister Patty Hajdu sallied forth to tell those uppity Christians that they didn't have to actually agree with abortion- just sign the paper saying they did. Only someone who has no concept of what actual convictions and beliefs are would make such a manifestly arrogant and ignorant suggestion. Naturally, most declined to betray their values for a mess of pottage, and have lost grants which they previously qualified for. I personally know of two churches which run charitable programs who were denied grants because of this. Also, a non-denominational summer camp for which one of my sisters is a board member lost their student grant which was used to hire staff. This camp takes in a lot of foster kids as campers, but perhaps the Liberals think that these kids should've just been aborted anyway. Christian churches in the area are raising funds to support these various groups, so their work will continue despite the government's best efforts.
The Conservatives forced a vote on this issue, but are a minority in the House, and all of the NDPs- abortion cheerleaders to the end- voted with the government. Only two Liberal MPs had the moral courage to break ranks and vote in favour of Canadian rights and freedoms, and they were swiftly punished by Trudeau, who removed them from their posts. Sunny ways! To add insult to injury, it has recently come to light that one of the groups which did qualify for a grant is a radical environmental group which is paying students to attend protests of the Trans Mountain pipeline, where some police officers have been assaulted. Remember kids: it's no to soup kitchens and summer camps and yes to violent protests. So this is where we are in Canada in 2018: if you oppose abortion, or even just believe that there should be limits to it, you are a second class citizen in the eyes of the government. They will do their best to keep you from having political representation, and will block your access to government programs which, as a tax payer, you are nonetheless forced to pay into. In Soviet Russia, people who were openly Christian were not allowed to hold public office. It seems it is the position of Justin Trudeau's "Liberal" party that pro lifers should be treated in the same fashion. No, of course I'm not saying that Canada is anywhere as bad as the USSR, but democratic nations don't crumble in a day and Trudeau has set a dangerous precedent with his abortion purity test. Those abortion radicals who are celebrating this crackdown on pro lifers would do well to remember that times change, tables turn, and the Liberals won't be in power forever.
Johnny Belinda is a movie which was released in 1948. It stars Jane Wyman as the title character Belinda McDonald, a deaf-mute girl living with her father and aunt in rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The film is adapted from an earlier play by Elmer Blaney Harris who based it on actual events which occurred on Prince Edward Island, where he owned a home, rather than Cape Breton Island. In the movie, Belinda exists in a lonely world of silence, presumed to be stupid by her family and the community. This changes when kindly Doctor Richardson sets up a practice in the area and takes an interest in the deaf girl, teaching her sign language and some lip reading. Then, just as things are looking up for Belinda, she is attacked and sexually assaulted by a local thug. The consequences of this traumatic event are far-reaching and tragic. The subject matter of Johnny Belinda was considered quite controversial at the time because under the Hays Code rape was not allowed to be depicted in movies. Johnny Belinda was the first film for which this restriction was waived. Jane Wyman, who won an Oscar for her performance, learned sign language for the role and insisted on performing with her ears blocked in order to give a realistic portrayal of deafness. In the scene below, Belinda is praying after the death (murder) of her father.