Thursday 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

I'm sure everyone's heard by now of today's once-in-a-lifetime convergence of American Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah. I think it's great because both holidays are fundamentally about freedom and gratitude. So to celebrate, here's a few of my fave Thanksgivukkah images from the internet. Enjoy, everyone!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Slapping Tom Hiddleston

First, King Henry IV (Jeremy Irons) slaps the smirk off the face of his son Prince Hal . . .

. . . and then Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) does the same to the Norse trickster god Loki . . .

I detect a trend! Who will slap Tom Hiddleston next?

Monday 25 November 2013

Rider Nation TRIUMPHS!

What a great Grey Cup win for the Saskatchewan Roughriders! They dominated throughout the entire game -- final score: 45-23!

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats used up all of their nine lives during the game but never had the lead or were even close. Even Rider fans were showing them who was boss --

And for those of you doubting whether Regina grocery stores could indeed find watermelons out of season, oh yes they could and did!

[Photo #1 by Mark Blinch, Reuters. Photo # 2 by Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press. Photo # 3 tweeted by fan Alexandra S.]

Sunday 24 November 2013

It's Grey Cup Sunday!

This year Regina is the host city of the Canadian Football League's championship game! In its frosty outdoor stadium, the home-town team of Saskatchewan Roughriders (Western Champions) will fight the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Eastern Champions) for the 2013 Grey Cup.

Being a good prairie girl, I'm cheering for the Riders of course. And Regina wants the Cup baaaaaad, if only to redeem itself for the "13th man" fiasco from its notorious 2009 Grey Cup loss.

It's well known that Rider fans are the most loyal and fanatical fans in the entire CFL. There will be lots of green Rider gear in the stands today. And despite the wintery conditions, I'm sure we'll see more than a few "melonheads" in the crowd. Regina grocery stores will have imported every watermelon they could beg, borrow or steal for the occasion.

Fans can carve the basic football helmet model for themselves --

Or they can fancy it up with some accessories --

Or just go crazy and do their own thing. "This . . . is . . . SASKATCHEWAN!"

It's good, clean fun for the whole family!

Friday 22 November 2013

50 Years Ago Today

I'm a total politics junkie, although not so rabid as I used to be. My very first political memory is from 1963, when I was six. My memory isn't so much a direct memory of JFK's assassination, but of the reaction of the adults around me -- such shock and horror and disbelief. But I do remember, a few days later, coming home from school for lunch and watching JFK's funeral on our black-and-white TV. There was a very real sense that the world had just gone completely stark-raving mad. The only event since then which has matched that reaction is 9/11.

[This post previously appeared on my blog on November 22, 2008]

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Why isn't Jeremy Irons knighted yet?

With all due respect, Betty Windsor -- git off yer royal duff, haul out ye olde sworde and knight Jeremy Irons already fer chrissakes! He's been one of Britain's best actors for over 30 years. Who can forget his stellar performances in films and series like Brideshead Revisited, The MissionReversal of Fortune, M. Butterfly, Lolita and The Borgias, to mention only a few? All the other finest British actors and actresses of his generation have been knighted already -- surely it must be his turn by now?

To top everything off, he recently turned in a stunning performance as Henry IV in The Hollow Crown BBC series of Shakespearian plays. Oh yes, all eyes were on up-and-comers Ben Whishaw and Tom Hiddleston, but it was Jeremy Irons who OWNED that series. No one else delivers Shakespeare like Jeremy Irons -- he always makes those incredibly complex lines sound like simple speech from an actual person. THAT'S the true measure of a great actor. In his intense scenes with Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons' acting skill easily eclipsed that of the younger actor -- and we all know that Tom Hiddleston is no slouch in the acting department.

I admire Jeremy Irons so much I'm even willing to overlook his incredibly stupid views on same-sex marriage. THAT'S how good he is.

May he soon be SIR Jeremy Irons, as he so richly deserves.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Seven Score and Ten Years Ago Today . . .

. . . on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Amazingly brief (the entire speech consisted of only 10 sentences), it is nevertheless justly celebrated as one of history's most famous and profound speeches. However, by modern standards, it's much too long-winded for today's short attention spans --

And rather than attending some big ceremony, today's Lincoln would just tweet it from his local Starbucks while enjoying a grande cappuccino. Or perhaps a nice pumpkin spice latte?

Monday 18 November 2013

Wolverine's New Career

Notwithstanding his adamantium claws, Wolverine is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so to speak. Unfortunately, Professor Charles Xavier figured that out too and gave him his walking papers from the X-Men franchise --

But Wolverine has bounced back. He is nothing if not resourceful in adversity. Wolverine simply changed his name to "Hugh Jackman," brushed up on his song and dance skills and . . .

. . . landed a plum role in the blockbuster movie adaptation of Les Miz.

Reviews have been mixed. Alas, no Oscar for our hero!

Oh well, things could be worse. At least he's not portraying Van Helsing!

Saturday 16 November 2013

Photo of the Week!

Winnipeg. Winter. A Hudson's Bay coat. A formerly injured, now rehabilitated and released, Great Horned Owl. A quintessentially Canadian photo, n'est-ce pas?


[Photo © Boris Minkevich, Winnipeg Free Press, 2012.]

Thursday 14 November 2013

Serious Unicorns

The mythical unicorn is one of Scotland's official symbols. When the Crown of England and the Crown of Scotland were merged into a single British monarchy by the Acts of Union in 1707, the coat of arms for the newly formed Great Britain featured the English lion and the Scottish unicorn in equally supportive roles.

Our Canadian coat of arms features the same lion and unicorn imagery, since Britain's monarch is also the Canadian head of state.

The imposing main entrance of Canada's parliament buildings in Ottawa is flanked by larger-than-life statues of the heraldic lion and unicorn:

I suppose the lion is roaring and the unicorn is . . . whinnying? I don't know what sound unicorns are traditionally supposed to make but something horse-like would seem to be most likely.

These serious unicorns represent purity of heart, freedom and the ancient right of kings. They do not fart rainbows and glitter like today's silly unicorns. Sometimes it's important to remember their original dignity and symbolism.

[First photo is from the internet; all others taken by Debra She Who Seeks in Ottawa, 2010]

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Silly Unicorns

Unicorns have a pretty silly image in popular culture at the moment.

Not as silly as those of us who like or believe in them though.

But at one time, unicorns were not silly figures of fun but serious images of purity and freedom.

More on those serious unicorns tomorrow.

Monday 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day

                    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
                    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
                    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
                    We will remember them.

                           --From "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon

                        LEST WE FORGET

Friday 8 November 2013

Another Public Service Message

And yes, a Guide is needed. Because the Internet will suck you in before you know it.

Twelve years ago? Noob. Some of us have been here since the Victorian era!

The Internet is a jealous mistress. She will never let you go.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Don't say you haven't been warned.

Thursday 7 November 2013

A Public Service Message

One day, a buddy introduces you to booze. And at first, it's just a cute joke. A fun time.

Then you get hardcore, man. You drink more and more. All the time.

You get destructive and belligerent. An intervention becomes necessary.

Finally, you agree to go to rehab and learn to call on your Higher Power.

Stay sober, friends! -- A public service message from the Squirrel Community.

P.S.: As a special note to Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford -- see the trouble that a drunken stupor can lead to? Good gawd, man, take a lesson from the squirrels!

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Japanese Tea Ceremony -- The Experience

I had never participated in a Tea Ceremony before but I had read about them and thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong.

After we were seated and had washed our hands on warm cloths, we were served a small, extremely sweet cake to eat before the Tea Ceremony began. I thought this was very odd. The Japanese are not big on sweets at the best of times, let alone at a traditional Tea Ceremony.

But I think this aspect of the ceremony was probably for the benefit of our western palates. As we learned, the tea which is always used in the Tea Ceremony is a powdered green tea called matcha and it is extremely bitter. The Japanese likely learned from experience that westerners would not or could not drink matcha without a preceding big dose of sugar to coat our mouths! [Nope, I'm wrong: see Kestril Trueseeker's remark in the Comments at the end of the blog!]

An older lady explained to us what a younger lady was doing as she went through the steps of the Tea Ceremony. Each action must be slowly and mindfully performed as a meditative act. But in another concession to our western restlessness, pre-boiled water was used so we didn't have to sit there waiting for it.

While we were on the bus driving to Uji, our tour guide had instructed us how to respectfully hold and turn the tea bowl in a traditional manner while sipping. It is not considered proper to drink from the same side as any decoration that is found on the bowl.

The tea is also supposed to be slowly and silently consumed as a mindful act of meditation. My Rare One and I did so with an attempt at the proper spirit, but I'm afraid everyone else in the tour group spent the entire time yakking, laughing and farting around like boorish yahoos. I was embarrassed for them and for us, but the Japanese ladies were seemingly placid and unperturbed by this disrespectful behaviour.

I have read that a traditional Japanese tea ceremony can last for hours. But we were in and out of there in half an hour, max. Another indication that we got the western tourist version, I suppose. Or maybe that's only how long the Japanese ladies could stand us, LOL!

[All photos by My Rare One, April 2012, except for Photo 2 which is from the internet.]

Monday 4 November 2013

Japanese Tea Ceremony -- The Setting

Here's another tale from our tour of Japan in April of 2012 --

In the southern Japanese city of Uji, some members of our group attended a traditional Tea Ceremony. Behind these beautiful cherry blossoms and a meticulously sculpted tree, My Rare One and I located the Uji City Municipal Tea Ceremony House called Taiho-An.

We entered through its front gate . . .

. . . proceeded through the courtyard's waiting area . . .

. . . and arrived at one of the Tea House's three tea rooms.

This room was meant for Japanese guests because it was a mat room and required leaving your shoes at the door.

But as westerners, we were directed to the tea room with chair seating and no requirement for shoe removal. Hmmm, already not so traditional! But our middle-aged bones didn't argue about not sitting on the floor.

Tomorrow's post: Japanese Tea Ceremony -- The Experience.

[Photos 1 and 2 by Debra She Who Seeks; Photos 3 to 5 by My Rare One; all taken in April, 2012]