film

Friday Reflections

calm body of lake between mountains
Photo by Bri Schneiter on Pexels.com

Pretty cool photo, huh? Too bad I didn’t take it…

This week has been kind of up and down. The war in Europe is messing everything up. I know a guy who is actually Russian. He is related through marriage. I met him when we were living in Moscow and he was like 14 years old. His mother had just died. He had no father. His grandmother or a great aunt or somebody was looking after him. He was very sweet and eager to learn new things. I spent many days helping him with his English and with his Spanish and feeding him. He was probably one of about 5 people I missed when I left Russia. 

I got an email from him the other day. He is now a father of 3, with one who is 16 years old. He is very scared they will haul him away to war. They are all scared they will be pressed into service. He has good friends in Ukraine. He was checking to make sure they were safe and chatting with them often. What a shit show. On top of that his wife is a journalist and scared she will write the wrong thing. They are all trying to get out. One word I learned in Russian that stays with me is Kashmar — Nightmare.

Conde Nast Traveler published the “Best Travel Books of All Time, According to Authors”.   They list 89 books that were nominated by travel writers. The list is varied and interesting. I’ve only read about ten of them. One is about Isabelle Eberhardt who moved from Geneva to Algeria, converted to Islam, lived life as a man, and died at age 27. Now that has to be pretty interesting. I was glad to see a Redmond O’Hanlon book on the list. One of the funniest books I have read was his Into the Heart of Borneo

Ah, yes, hurricanes. That Ian was something else. Hurricanes and earthquakes. And floods. They happen every year but people just build back, go back, stay. I guess many don’t have a choice. 

I watched the movie Elvis last night. It was kind of a weird move. What a sad story. To be honest, I didn’t really like it that much. But I learned a couple of things about the guy that I didn’t know. I really ended up feeling sorry for him. Two songs I discovered are very relevant today. This one was written in 1968: If I can Dream. It was actually the highlight of the film. You can watch it on Youtube.

And this one was recorded by Elvis in 1969, but written by Mac Davis. Many many people have covered it since.

“In The Ghetto”

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto

And his mama cries
‘Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need
It’s another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto

People, don’t you understand
The child needs a helping hand
Or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
Are we too blind to see?
Do we simply turn our heads and look the other way?

Well, the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose
Plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto

And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the streets at night
And he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto

Then one night in desperation
The young man breaks away
He buys a gun,
Steals a car,
Tries to run,
But he don’t get far
And his mama cries

As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man
Face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto

And as her young man dies,
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

And his mama cries 

Try to have a super weekend!

Week in Review

Happy Bastille Day (yesterday)! The French stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789. It was the spark that started the French Revolution. Ten years later it ended in a coup with Napoleon at the helm as “First Consul”. They were able to end feudalism, kill their king, come up with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, draft a new constitution, but in the end they could not agree on how to rule and those in power fought between themselves to the point where the military stepped in. Napoleon went on to conquer most of Europe. Today Bastille Day is celebrated in France and around the world as National Festival Day to symbolize harmony. I find that a little confusing but hey, it’s an excuse to each yummy French food.

I watched the first couple of episodes about Patagonia on CNN this week – “Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World”. What I have seen so far is animal conservation. They are concentrating on species native to the land who are being threatened by the changing environment and humans in general. It is good to know that there are a lot of people out there doing good things to help our planet. I don’t think we hear enough about those things. It is a six part series. You can learn more about it here.

The new version of Jane Austin’s “Persuasion” just came out on Netflix. It did not get a favorable review in the New York Times so I am a bit mixed about it. I will probably watch it since it is one of my favorites. My favorite version is the one from 1997 with Fiona Shaw, Amanda Root, and Ciaran Hinds.

In the news – arrrgghhh. Seems like so many horrible things are happening right now it is hard to take it in. I lived in Russia during both of the Chechen wars and the one thing I remember vividly was the mass killings of civilians and children. What is happening in Ukraine is nothing new.

I made a pretty good casserole last night. The prep was a bit time consuming but it came out yummy.

Chicken Pesto Casserole

Boil 3 medium russet potatoes for about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Two chicken breasts, cubed (I cut them up and cooked them with some shallots and garlic, basil, tarragon, and a little bit of chili powder)
I made a pesto with about a cup of frozen spinach, half cup of sun dried tomatoes, and a small jar of artichoke hearts. (Whizzed in the food processor)
Then I made a white sauce with salt, pepper, basil, tarragon, a little garlic powder. (2 tbsp. butter, 2 tbsp flour, 2 cups milk.)

I added the pesto into the white sauce to combine.
I peeled and thinly sliced the potatoes.

I greased a pyrex baking dish with avocado oil and placed a layer of potatoes in the bottom. Then covered the potatoes with half the pesto mixture, then all the chicken, then another layer of pesto, and topped it off with a mixture of cheeses (about a cup). I used parmesan and a Mexican mix.

Throw it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes. I made everything but the white sauce the day before.

I’m heading to Duluth and a spot right on Lake Superior next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Elusive Home

Check out my Eclectic Global Nomad article:

http://baltimorepostexaminer.com/elusive-home/2013/10/08

….

One thing about TCK’s — they tend to be creative and expressive. Many famous actors, writers, and politicians are TCK’s. I found a new film the other day –  “I AM HOME: thoughts of a nomad”.  It isn’t particularly uplifting but it gets the message across and is kind of soothing.  Three women are featured and each gives her own definition of “home”.  The filmmaker is Anastasia Kirillova who was born in Russia, grew up in Sweden, and lives in the UK. –

Searching for Sugar Man

We watched this documentary last night.  It is about a guy in Detroit who put out two records that didn’t sell at all.  He was a flop.  But somehow his music made its way to South Africa and it spoke to them.  They loved it.  But nobody knew who he was.  The film follows two guys who went looking for him.  I enjoyed the film, it held my interest.  It won a Bafta award if that means anything to you.  But I really liked the music.

 

 

I wonder how many times you’ve been had
And I wonder how many plans have gone bad
I wonder how many times you had sex
I wonder do you know who’ll be next
I wonder l wonder wonder I do

I wonder about the love you can’t find
And I wonder about the loneliness that’s mine
I wonder how much going have you got
And I wonder about your friends that are not
I wonder I wonder I wonder I do

I wonder about the tears in children’s eyes
And I wonder about the soldier that dies
I wonder will this hatred ever end
I wonder and worry my friend
I wonder I wonder wonder don’t you?

I wonder how many times you been had
And I wonder how many dreams have gone bad
I wonder how many times you’ve had sex
And I wonder do you care who’ll be next
I wonder I wonder wonder I do

 

 

TCK/Expat Film

I have updated my TCK/Expat page to include films as well as some additional books.  Check it out.

I recently watched The Road Home.  It is a short film – 24 minutes.  I watched it twice.  It is about a boy with Indian roots who has lived around the world.  His father sends him to boarding school in India and everybody thinks he is Indian but he only speaks English and says he is English.  So, confused about who he is, where he is from, not feeling Indian but looking Indian.  Sound familiar to anybody?

The director is currently working on expanding the film into a longer version with plot twists and adventure.  I think it might lose some of its intimate charm, but we will have to see.  In the meantime, have a look.  You can rent this film and watch it on-line here.

Another one that is currently airing at Film Festivals around the country is Shanghai Calling.  I have watched the trailer and it looks like a good comedy.  A man with Chinese roots who grew up in New York City finds himself sent to live in China for work.  He knows nothing about Chinese culture or language but people think he does because he looks Chinese.  I look forward to seeing it.  You can see the trailer here.

The Harvest

In 1975, I volunteered for an organization called Migrants in Action.  It was an advocacy group for the Mexican migrant workers who worked in the fields from Texas to Minnesota and all across the USA.  This got me interested in learning more about these migrant workers.  I was in college at the time and decided to apply for an independent study to write a research paper on migrant workers in the USA.  It was approved and I spent six weeks doing research and writing the paper.

Part of my research took me to the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.  I don’t remember the details, there was a lot of legal jargon in my paper but it boiled down to:  Things were not Good for the Mexican Migrant Worker.  Here is a timeline:

  • 1920:  The Bracero Program is born. This was a contract that allowed for workers to bring their families with them, stated the pay rate, work schedule, where they would work and their legal status.  Of course this contract was written in English.
  • 1924:  The US Border Patrol was created and the “Illegal Alien” is born
  • 1942:  World War II creates job vacancies.  The Bracero Treaty was signed and this opened the door again to Mexican laborers. Between 1942 and 1964 four million Mexican farm workers came to the USA. Again the contracts were written in English and many braceros would sign them without knowing what their rights were or were not.  At the end of their contract they had to return to Mexico. As World War II ended, the jobs were taken over by returning veterans or workers displaced from wartime industries.  The program ended in 1964.
  • 1966:  Cesar Chavez leads a 250-mile march to Sacramento, California, to bring attention to the mistreatment of farm workers.
  • 1975: The California Labor Relations Act was passed; it was the first law that protected the rights of organizations of farm workers.

Today many of migrant workers are second or third generation families who have their US citizenship.  It is also possible to enter the country legally through the Guest Worker program.  Sometimes people will stay after their contract ends hoping for additional work and a better life.  In this way they open themselves up to all kinds of abuse and injustice because technically they do not exist. But even people with citizenship are living in poverty under horrible conditions.

There is a new documentary film called The Harvest/ La Cosecha which follows three children in a migrant worker family.  There are 400,000 children in the USA who work long hours seven days a week picking the food that ends up on your table.  The film in and of itself is an advocacy for this group of undervalued and mostly “invisible” people.