Thursday, September 29, 2022

Thai Cave Rescue

An event that captured international attention.  At first it seemed strange that news coverage was given to a soccer team in Thailand.  We learned that they were trapped in a cave and the prospects didn't look too good.  Outsider experts got involved and eventually they were all rescued with only one helper dying in the effort.

 This is a fictional account fairly faithfully following the events.  

The first view is from a meteorological center in Bangkok.   A newcomer felt there should be a concern about a storm in northern part of the country while equipment was failing.  Her boss is nonchalant, but she presses on and goes north ending up at the cave.

We see members of a soccer team ages 11 to 17 and some of their families.  One player is technically not Thai.

The caves are an unusual natural configuration.  It is easy enough to get into, but when there are heavy rains it is a nightmare to get out.  The team's timing was unfortunate.  They were missed soon enough, but communication was non existent.  Before too long it was speculated by some that they might already be dead.  Eventually skilled divers are able to establish contact, but realize it would be far too dangerous to take them out with their present resources. 

The assistant coach, age 25 had been in a monastery and to calm the boys he taught them meditation.  This was critical as they ended up spending 17 days trapped.

The Governor, not religious, but decides to humor parent who is very distressed.  Most of the families feel helpless and rely on praying.  The Governor's supervisor seems to be pressuring him to accept another position.  Later on the supervisor tried to pressure  him to keep out foreigners as he thought it would make Thailand look bad.  There were many difficult decisions to make and always a risk assessment, but the Governor kept his cool..

The value of the movie is the tension and the character development.  10,000 people were involved in the rescue attempt, one of them dying in the effort.  

The series like the actual rescue attempt is an international effort.  Below are just a few who contributed.

Baz Poonpiriya was a director, writer and executive producer.  Among his film credits was "Bad Genius" (2017).  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/06/bad-genius-out-of-thailand.html

Jon M Chu served a director and producer.  Was discovered by Steven Spielberg

Michael Russell Gunn was one of the writers and a producer.  A previous film credit was as producer/writer with "Designated Survivor" (2016-17)

Dana Ledoux Miller was another writer.  She also had been producer for "Designated Survivor" (2016-17).  She had also been involved with  "The Pirates of the Caribbean" (2011) and "The Descendants"  " (2011).

Two cinematographers were used.  Adam Suschitzky whose film credits include "Designated Survivor" (2016) and Glen MacPherson, Canadian born whose credits include "Walking Tall" (2004).-There is some beautiful scenery in the jungles of Thailand, but the real challenge is in the caves, including underwater. in tight quarters.  You will likely get a feeling of claustophobia.

Thaneth Warakulnukroh played the Governor who was the main decision maker in the rescue.  Some of his film credits include "Bad Genius" (2017) and "In Family We Trust" (2018).  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/09/in-family-we-trust.html

 Sanyee Yuan played a hydrologist trying to give her expertise for the rescue attempt.  Surprised to learn her film credits include American films and also two Korean series:  "The King's Affection" (2021) and "Juvenile Justice" (2022).  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/12/the-kings-affection.html and http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/03/juvenile-justice.html

Rodger Corser played a doctor.  He is well known in Australian television including a favorite series, "Doctor Doctor" (2016-2021).    Check:http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/12/tv-series-from-down-under.html

The rescue was quite a challenge.  It took an international effort to meet that.  If you remember the drama through news coverage this will give some background.  If you were not familiar with the story as it happened this will be a tense, but enjoyable adventure.  Available on Netflix.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Excuse my French

Despite the English title "Excuse my French" (2014) is actually from Egypt with English being the only non Arabic language used.  Hany, the young protagonist is in a Christian family with lots of religious artifacts evident.  His parents loved watching "Seinfeld" while Hany watched American sit coms.  He is considered humorous by classmates and does well in most subjects 

Hany lives a protected life in Egypt with a loving father who dies unexpectedly.  He had been attending a private school, but his widow was informed that her husband had been living above their means and they had to find economies.

Hany is agreeable to going to a public school.  He hadn't realized the majority of his fellow students would be Muslim.  His mother had warned him not to talk to any of them.  Observing his classmates he decided it would be better to fit in.  A few seem to realize Hany is not quite like them, but keep it to themselves.

The second half gets more explicit.  His mother was consulting a lawyer about leaving the country and was advised she might claim discrimination based on her religion, but would not be able to return.  Hany watches tv with a variety of views regarding religion and reads.  Some of the opinions are hateful, while a few seem reconcilable.

He decides to enter a religious song contest and wins.   He was asked to sing popular song and does.

Overhears older boys talking disrespectfully about one of the female teachers.  They confront and threaten him.  He has had a good relationship with the teacher, Miss Nelly and decides to approach her and tells her to wear conservative clothes which she resents.  Very shortly she leaves the school upsetting some students and staff.   

We see Hany watching a Christian play in which Peter denies Christ.  This affects him and decides to be  open about his affiliation.  During Ramadan his mother asks him to eat his sandwiches at home rather than taunt those fasting.  He decides to eat in front of those honoring Ramadan.  He gets involves in some fights, but surprisingly some students stand by him.  

He runs into Ms. Nelly at a Christian wedding and they greet each other friendly.  We learn she is Muslim, although dressed in a western fashion.

Emigration continues to be a concern.  We see a  number of prospective migrants in crowded room--including one of his teachers.   His mother does not want to leave and claims to not been discriminated against.  In fact there has been increasing discrimination against the Coptic church.

In the end it seems that Hany and his mother have decided to stay.  Perhaps some minorities can feel comfortable in challenging environments

Although aware that the Coptic Church had long been established in Egypt most assume Egypt is a Muslim country.  One authority I recall claimed Jesus spent time in Alexandria.  There definitely are some who realize the Christians play a positive role, but there is also religious fervor against them.   

Amr Saama, the writer/director was born in Saudi Arabia.  He likes to deal with political and social issues. He won an award at the Venice Film Festival for  a documentary, "Tahrir 2011:  The Good, the Bad and the Politician" (2011).  Another film he directed and wrote was "Asmaa" (2011)--more below.

Rami Gheit is also listed as a (live) director.  He also plays one of the public school teachers in a semi comic role.  He also  been a 2nd director including for "Fair Game" (2010)

Ahmad Dash who played Hany was 13 to 14 years old while filming his first film.  He has since been involved in several films and tv series in Egypt.  He is both lovable and believable. 

Kinda Alloush played Hany's mother.  She received her acting training in Syria and has appeared in films in Syria, Egypt and Jordan.

Hany Adel played the father for a short time.  Aside from acting he also wrote music for this film and others.

Samia Assad played Miss Nelly.  Her film credits included "Asmaa" (2011)

 Bayoumi Fouad played the understanding public school principal.  He has over 150 film credits including ""Asmaa" (2011)

Hind Sabri had a non speaking role as a Christian bride.  Had the title role in "Asmaa" (2011) about a woman suffering from AIDS determined to support others in her situation.

This movie on Netflix gives insight into minorities in other countries--they are not all the same.  It is well presented.

Egypt has the technology to turn out interesting movies and some of social value.  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/02/newtons-cradle.html

Sunday, September 25, 2022

the U.S. and the Holocaust

History is full of events and opinions that do not reflect our better nature.  Canadians cannot be exempted from these black spots including ones brought to light by Ken Burns. 

 Hypocrisy has always been in good supply.  We look with horror at the Holocaust and have great difficulty imagining how it was even possible.  Americans can take solace in that they accepted more Jewish refugees than any other nation and were instrumental in militarily stopping Adolf Hitler, but there is another side to the story with parallels in the present.

 "Americans" have been welcoming European workers while pushing out the indigenous and bringing in Africans to be slaves.  Before the Civil War most immigrants came from northern Europe.  Afterwards those from the south and east of Europe came in greater numbers and at first met with resentment.  Chinese were brought in to build railroads, but also inspired an exclusion act.

Jews at one time made up almost a quarter of the population of New York City becoming the largest concentration of Jews in the world.   Problems were attributed to Jews such as crime.  Eugenics, financed by wealthy and powerful reared its ugly head.  Sterilization became legal in most American states.  

Henry Ford was a prominent anti-Semite publishing in different languages including German.  Jews were restricted in university admissions, jobs  Politicians could get elected with anti immigrant policies.  Immigration laws were enacted that favored northern Europeans.  Asian immigrants were illegal.  South Americans allowed in for labor only.

Hitler (while in prison) was pleased to learn that many Americans were advocating for a Nordic population.  Hitler felt a duty to rid the Jewish Bolshevik leaders that corrupted different parts of the.   Mexicans were repatriated during the Depression.  In 1932 more Americans left than came in.  

By 1933 American journalists made the public well aware of Nazi anti Jewish acts.  American Jews found themselves in a dilemma--keep quiet or protest.  Regardless German Jews would suffer while Hitler thought Jewish actions only proved his anti-Jewish rhetoric.  During the Depression , the state department under Cordell Hull wanted to increase trade.  Immigration became more difficult.  Popular right wing religious leaders were blatantly anti-Semitic.  Germans modeled anti-Semitic laws on Jim Crow laws.

By 1937 fascist countries had become aggressive--Spain, Italy and Germany.  United States did not wish to intervene.  Hitler was a very stirring speaker.  By 1938 Hitler was welcomed in Austria and amalgamated.  Americans fired Jewish employees in Germany.

The world knew of the situation, but did not want to help out.  Hitler took over Sudentenland despite defense agreements involving other countries, notably Great Britain.

Kristallnacht, the night of the  broken glass November 9 and 10th, 1938- not only in Germany, but also Sudetendland-supposedly in retaliation for assassination of a German diplomat.  Businesses were destroyed, houses burnt and for the first time the Nazis rounded up Jewish males for no other reason than being Jewish and sent them to concentration camps.  This was covered on front page of many U.S. newspapers.  FDR was the only world leader to withdraw ambassador from Berlin and allowed visiting Jews on tourism visa to stay.  BUT quotas were maintained and strictly enforced.

Britain allowed 10,000 Jewsih teenagers to immigrate, but not parents.  Eleanor Roosevelt tried to support legislation to help Jewish refugees, but was strongly opposed by prominent racist individuals and organizations, backed by public sentiment.

Events accelerated with an attack on Poland resulting in World War II on Sept 1, 1939.  Germany rapidly conquered most of Europe.  They had made a pact with Soviet Union to split Poland, but in reality Hitler disliked the Jewish influence in Russia.

FDR claimed neutrality while deploring Nazi action  Isolationalists stopped or restricted action that would have relieved Jewish anxiety.

The St. Louis ship was organized to take Jews to Cuba, but rejected by the Cubans and in turn by Canada and others.   U.S. Germans pointed out the hypocrisy while touting their own openesss.  Finances were organized for some of the refugees to European countries.

After the war began suspicion of German spies among the Jewish refugees became overwhelming, despite total lack of evidence.   The Lend-Lease bill opposed by anti Semitic groups and Charles Lindbergh who had helped form American First that also included Henry Ford, and Avery Brundage.  Getting visas to America became much more difficult.  

British espionage efforts uncovered German atrocities, but Churchill was reluctant to publicize as would let the Germans know they knew lots of details of German war effort.  Roosevelt tried to support the British efforts, but had a lot of political opposition.  Lindbergh even identified Jews as those wanting war and even though he was castigated by many newspapers his sentiments were shared by much of the public.

American Jewish groups helped finance efforts in Europe, allowing a few to escape and others to be hidden.

After Pearl Harbor drew America into the war, Japanese internment camps even for citizens were set up.

Germans developed concentration camps, partly for labour as soldiers reduced the labour force  -Those not productive enough were sent for elimination.   Some Nazis took pride in becoming more efficient at killing Jews and others such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Romany, gays and even some P.O.W..

Awareness of atrocities from newspapers and radio broadcasters such as Edward R. Murrow--state dept was skeptical of reports and felt efforts to rescue would be diversions  Despite the support of the Roosevelts, the state dept was obstructionist.  Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the Secretary of Treasury had protested the Armenian killings and referred to them to Roosevelt.

Eisenhower commanded soldiers to witness some of the camps as he felt it needed to be believed.

After the war for awhile immigration quotas remained in effect and Britain had restricted migrants to Palestine.  Eventually restrictions were removed.  The Nuremberg Trials were the first to try genocidal legal cases.

White supremacy is still a part of America as demonstrated on January 6th.   In truth  Civilization is fragile.  Donald Trump used racist rhetoric to get elected.  Many of his followers weren't overtly racist, but tolerated it as a means to get lesser taxes, or regulations or banning abortions.   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/09/symbiotic-relationships-drive-right-wing.html

Reaction to the film included an anti-Semitic view.  One felt the Jews were too demanding and now were adding to American guilt.  We see Muslims vilified in a similar manner.  A big ruckus has been made C.R T. where politicians feel Americans should not be made to feel guilt. over racism.

Ken Burns is a key person behind this series.  He has a long history of dealing with important people and events in depth  and comprehensively such as "The Civil War (1990), "Jazz" (2001), "Baseball" (1994 and 2010), "The Central Park Five" (2012), ""The Roosevelts:  An Intimate History" (2014) "The Vietnam War" (2017). "Hemingway" (2021), "Muhammed Ali" (2021) and "Benjamin Franklin" (2022).   Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/07/benjamin-franklin-ken-burns.html and http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/02/muhammad-ali-by-ken-burns.html

Peter Coyote, the regular narrator for Burns' documentaries. has a lot of experience narrating, but is perhaps better known as an actor.    He adopted the last name Coyote after meeting a Paiute-Shoshone shaman in 1967.  The only American to be directed by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar where he performed in Spanish.  As an actor he has over 150 credits including ""E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), "Erin Brokovich" (2000) and "Le Grand Role" (2004 in French).

Some of the commentators were historians.  Others were participants as children or young adults.  One is struck that first hand information is being steadily lost

Racism is one of the major scourges of the modern world.  But we are all in this together.  More thoughts on racism:http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/03/racism.html

As usual I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen. 

Available through PBS and likely soon to your local library.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Dodge Ball

Do you remember Dodgeball?  That was a game where a circle of young boys and girls with a ball to throw at those in the middle.  Now we have a sport with rules and a way of keeping score and both fun for the participants and the audience.

 Dodgeball is one of many sports competing for a spot at the Olympic circus.  My son developed a strong interest and as he was visiting Edmonton to participate at the world championships it seemed a good time to learn more.  Never did master the rules, but did come to appreciate that skills, physical fitness and strategies are important and it is fun to watch.  

The basic idea of hitting your opponent with a ball and avoid being hit has been retained.  One innovation is to catch the ball.  With a definite format we can have international contests.

Some of us (not me unfortunately) saw a movie that used Dodgeball as a vehicle, "Dodgeball" (2004).   Judging by the comments, it generated a lot of laughs with its plot and action.  Unable to locate it from my usual sources it seems that it did not advance the serious side of the sport, but must have stirred some curiosity. 

Rules are confusing (unless you read the written ones).  There are two versions:  one with a cloth ball and the other with a foam ball.  Both could be viewed g at the World Dodgeball Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The cloth version uses a harder ball that is more painful. 

There are 6 players per side with 6 balls in total.  Initially teams line up at opposite ends of a court and race for their 3 balls.  Strategies have developed to take advantage of this unique starting situation. As soon as you have a ball you can shoot at the opponents, but you also leave yourself vulnerable.  When a player is hit they must leave and stand by the sidelines. After that each team is given opportunities to fire on the other.   The object is to hit all six opponents while they try to do the same to you.   In a sudden death situation each team is given three balls on their back line to help decide the winner.  

After a set is completed the winning team is credited with one point.  Then another set is started with perhaps a change in personnel.  The object is to win the most sets.

 

Ball retrievers or shaggers play an important role. In practice each team has three, one at the end line the others at either side.  They are not allowed to pursue balls on the court while players are not allowed to go off the court.  Their role is to give their side a steady flow of balls which is a key factor in attacking and even for defense. Sometimes this means chasing into the audience, calculating which way a thrown ball will end up and at other times watching the ball roll to the opposition.  Two New Zealand players decided to help the short handed Irish team and shag for them.

Two referees in the middle, one blowing a whistle to start the game--they confer on disputed calls and check each other for greater visibility--there are also four other referees at each side of the court to catch deceptive angles.  Referees  discussing disputed call.  Accredited referees are critical for the game's credibility.   Very little contesting judgments, but as the level is more competitive, players do dispute and many situations are marginal.  


On the attack.  Advance using subterfuge;  for example looking in one direction and hitting someone in another direction.  Two balls for quick followup or blocking.  90% of the attackers seem to be right handed.  Fake shots force a change in position, perhaps making the target more vulnerable.

 

 


 

Head for safety.  On defense one can jump, duck, bend, step aside or best of all catch the ball. Catching the ball is rare, but sometimes a game changer.   The person who threw it is out and your team can bring back a player who had been out.  Sometimes a ball will bounce off a player, but if they can catch it before it hits the ground it does not count as a hit and you are allowed to bring one of the outed players back.  At the end of the game there is often only one player per side and often the game might appear to end when one player apparently has hit the opponent, but if the ball is caught the game reverts. 

In addition to the cloth and foam versions the modern version has three competitions within each version.  One for males, another for females and a third for mixed.  In the mixed it might be assumed the females are the weak link, but that has been proved delusional.  The Olympics are looking for more gender equality and Dodgeball does offer that.

 Dominant teams were from Britain, Austria  Malaysia, Canada, and the United States.  Several countries were unable to get visas for tournament resulting in no African or South American entries.  The poorer countries are handicapped in raising money.   A catch 22 situation;  if an event is considered an Olympic sport it is easier to get govt support, but in the meantime it is harder to raise support.

Excitement- levels run pretty high.  We met participants from different countries, -Ireland, France, Britain, the U.S.  plus a Canadian referee.  All here for love of the sport.

Goodwill was displayed.  The New Zealand team performed a hakka at the beginning of each day.   I don't think too many were intimidated, but appreciative.  Helps build team cohesion.

 

 

Some teams were so excited about the game they invited the opposing players to join them in  a dancing circle and finally collapsing.  Goodwill is an important part of any sport.



 

Is it going to make it to the Olympics?  As one American player said, that is not important.  It offers a lot for participants.  To be taken more seriously coaching also has to be developed.  One colleague suggested a key factor in coaching is teaching.

Check earlier blog on water polo  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/04/in-praise-of-water-polo.html

Another sport promotion:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/04/synchonized-skating-would-add-to-olympic.html

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Murals Liven up Hamilton

 MURALS LIVEN UP HAMILTON

Living in a city can be very drab with many concrete buildings.  Fortunately there are people who spice up things.  Living in Hamilton it is been pleasant to come across murals.  Below is a mishmash of murals that caught my attention.  If you can supply more details of artists, location or sponsors the information would you please let me know.

During Concrete Canvaas 2022 Scott McDonald offered a challenge to anyone interested in helping to create new art.  On the side of a parking lot on York Blvd. near James St. N he put up an outline and invited anyone to help complete the art.  Follow through to the end to see the final result.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 This past June I joined a mural walk and Lester Coloma was on hand to explain some of his work

 

 

 

 

 The tour guide David sent out request for proposals and Lester Coloma won the contract. Located at 1 West St.


 


The other side of the building--a continuation  with the Hammer represents Hamilton.  Did actual painting in 3 days.




Tree of life  by Lester Coloma, a block away at orner of Wellington and King St.





 

 

 

 


 Back side--included signs painted on wall   on right side he included plants that normally would actually be at that location

 

 

 


 Also part of tour was this section by Lester Coloma on King St. across from Ferguson St. where a train station was once located.

 


 The two artists for an African culture mural on King St.  In the sunglasses are significant dates.   One date has to do with first slaves to North America.  Another set of dates has to do with the Underground Railway that helped escaped slaves find freedom in Canada.  Another set of dates is when the Canadian government made restrictive laws against minority immigrants.



This mural was done for a Walt Disneyshort movie.  It is located between King St. E and Main St. E. The artists included Marty Lake, Ryan Jones, Ryan Fedoroczenko and Gleb Naugin.







Our tour guide, Liz  showed us a mural done by a friend.








Well known restaurant, the Black Forest on King St. E. and Ferguson done by Tim Nyehuis/Nine House Prouctions






By Corey Tower of Caro Restaurant





Frankie Venom     by scottanddestroy    Scott McDonald  

 

 

 

 

 

An early Lester Coloma painting on James North.  Has since disappeared.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drawn for the 2014 Supercrawl and intended only to be temporary, but is still there (Cannon and James N.) as of 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 By Mellisa General on James St. N. just north of Wilson.  Presented Supercrawl 2021

 

Another wrap around mural from Lester Coloma, this time for a dental office in Corktown.


 




Barton Street had its share of interesting murals.










At Main and Gage.  Tim Nyehuis/Nine House Production



Barton St. E. Tim Nyehuis/Nine House Production summer 2016





At Barton and Lottridge




Barton St. E., Tim Nyehuis/Nine House Production June/17









On the side of what used to be The Butcher and the Vegan on the corner of Barton St. E. and John St. N.  By Lester Coloma.



 

Travel Consultant on Dundurn S. by Tim Nyehuis/Nine house production


Locke St. S. side wall of West Town Bar & Grill Tim Nyehuis/Nine House Productions
 

Cannon St. between James N. & Hughson N. on sidewall of Burnt Tongue

on Cannon St. E. and Greenaway dated 2022  

  By Kyle Joedicke, an indigenous artist on Barton St. W.






Kyle Joedicke at Powell Park 53 Birch St.





At Powell Park 53 Birch St. behind basketball net









This one is no longer there and replaced by some commercial painting.  By Juliana LaChance.  Was at James St. N. and Murray St. E.









Another by Julia LaChance that has been there a long time.  On Cannon E and Ashley.





 

Barton St. E. Lacrosse theme







At Barton St. E and Cheever






Sponsored by the Grasshopper restaurant and Friscolanti's Funeral Home









Mural by Conrad Furey on Barton St. W on side of John Howard Society











Conrad Furey at Central Library





Conrad Furey at Hamilton Farmer's Market



On Bartton St W. Scott McDonald







Wilson St E.. near West N.by Robyn Lightwalker and Natasha Rose



Only a few blocks away from where I live.  Robert and Mary St.  Artists putting on finishing touches.









Cake and Loaf,a favorite bakery.  By Lester Coloma










At Beasley.  By Bryce Huffman.






Hess Village










Also at Hess Village






Rear view at Hess Village.



Historic train wreck at Ferguson and Kng St.









Lester Coloma at work    
Nikolai Tesla.







Lester Coloma on mural on Chatham St. on wall of Soper's








Finished product.







Famous Hamilton Ti-cat, Angelo Mosca downtown.  Scott McDonald,










Downtown  John St. S.










Dundurn St. N. near King St.W.  Toucan




Ottawa Street.







Thanks to the front line workers during the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Sherman S. and Main St.




Outside the Passport office in Jackson Square by Lester Coloma.






The Fox and the Fiddle on John Street South.









 John St. N.



Pete Fowler was a British musician invited to perform for the 2016 Supercrawl in Hamilton.  While here he did a mural on the wall behind his performing site.


During Concrete Canvass 2022 this replaced the one by Pete Fowler above. On the side of Dr. Disc.   Done by @Peru143.







On the side of what used to be a famous strip club, Hanrahan's.






Barton St. E.







Scott McDonald working on the winning choice.








The finished product.