Monday, October 30, 2023

Range: Generalization vs. Specialization

We live in an age where specialists appear to have more money and respect.  Parents encourage their children to pick a specialty that they can master and make more money.

Tiger Woods from the world of sport and Yo-Yo Ma from the world of music provide examples of the advantages of mastering a skill at an early age.

We are told to "think outside the box"  The reality is in an age of specialization we work in relatively small boxes and too often try to resolve concerns inside the box.  There are in fact lots of boxes, but we are unaware of most of them

James Flynn, from the University of Otago in New Zealand has studied the challenges of thinking.  "They < students> must be taught to think before what to think about."  

"Sunk costs" discourage people from changing course.  No one wants to admit they wasted their time and money.  Really it is never a total waste to learn what is not working.

Andy Ouderkirk, an inventor at 3M with a multitude of patents noted that over years communications have greatly improved.  "When information became more widely disseminated it became easier to be a broader than a specialist, to start combining things in new ways."  

Charles Darwin wrestled with different theories to explain the information he had gathered.  He had come from a religious background and started from that base.  However he had read Charles Lyell, a geologist that claimed the earth was much older than supposed and that changes were gradual.  This idea prompted him to explore other possibilities leading to the theory of evolution.

There are quite a few pages devoted to the Challenger case study.   On January 27, 1986, many experts gathered and discussed the information they had been given and gave the go ahead.  On January 28th, an O ring failed to seal adequatley  and an explosion killed all seven crew members.  The decision could have been avoided if the decision makers had asked for more data instead of settling for what was given.

There is a great deal of thinking from many different sources that prove that although we need specialists we also need generalists.  Also it is better to learn a variety of things to find a match and then specialize.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Kaali Paani

 This story is set in a remote area, Adaman and Nicobar Islands which are part of India, but under some protection because of indigenous people.  Tourists are not allowed into areas set aside for the indigenous tribes and there is a limit for most visitors.  

The series starts in 2027 and tourists are being given greater freedom to visit.  

 The Trolley dilemma presented early to illustrate that sometimes choices can involve choosing between 5 strangers and one that is loved.  A lot of the characters face such dilemmas.  Another series with a trolley theme:

The head doctor establishes herself as ruthless.  Borrowing from an American television plot she questions an elderly woman suffering from an undiagnosed illness implying that the real cause is sexual relations in a home for the aged that turns out to be true..  

As disaster approaches in the form of a pandemic the film provides many scenarios.  Some are plotting an escape from the island while others are searching for an antidote.  The Orakas are to be protected mainly through isolation.  Skepticism, deception and selfishness all play a role.

The Orakas were depicted as humans, not wanting Indian intervention and respecting nature.  They were not unified, but were shown arguing about what they should do.  There is a bit of twist from what happened to the North American indigenous that did not have immunity from such European diseases as measles. 

The end might have been predictable for a few, but really was stunning.  One of my top ten.

Sameer Saxena and Amit Golani (also writer) shared directing and producing.  Sameer is a showrunner for this film with 14 credits as a producer, 7 as a director and 5 as a writer. including "Jaadugar" (2022). He had started as a engineer student.  His partner did write for one episode as well as director and producer.  He has 4 writing credits, 5 directing credits and 3 producing credits also including "Jaadugar" (2022).    See

Biswapati Sarkar, wrote most of the script.  He has 10 credits as a writer. and 12 as an actor including "Jaadugar" (2022)A childhood visit to the Adaman Islands helped inspire the script.  He was familiar with a Cellular Jail were Indian dissidents were imprisoned during British colonial times.

Rachita Arora provided the music.  She is a composer and playback singer with 16 film credits including "Newton" (2017) and "Sacred Games" (2018-2019).  She started with composing theatre music.   She researches relevant material for a film "to find the music inside." 

Cinematography was handled by 3 different men.  Dhananjay Navagrah has 19 credits including "Article 15 (2015) and "Anek" (2020).  Barney Crocker has over 70 credits including "Casino Royale" (2006) and "Ted Lasso" (2020-2021) 11 episodes.  Ewan Mulligan has over 60 credits including "Article  15" (2015) and "Anek" (2020).  There is a lot of lush scenery, but although the jungle was meant to convey its true beauty it was also to convey claustrophobia.  Check

Dev Rao Jadhar was the editor.  He has 15 credits including "Badhaai Ho" (2018) and "Jaadugar" (2022).  Check

Ashutosh Gowariker played Zibran Qadri, the military leader.  He started as an actor in both Hindi and Marathi films.  He then moved into directing,writing and producer.  His credits include "Lagaan Once Upon a Time in India" (2001), my favorite Bollywood film, "Swades" (2004), "Jodhaa Akbar" (2008) and "Mohenjo Daro" (2016).  A post outlining the work for Oscar nominated film

Arushi Sharma played Jyotsana Dey.  Her parents were both judges while she set out to be an engineer.  She has 5 film credits including "Tamasha" (2015) and "Jaadugar" (2022).   Check:

Amey Wagh played Ketan Sharma, a manipulative officer.  He had a career in both Marathi and Hindi films, altogether 36 credits including 2 episodes with "Sacred Games" (2019) and 9 episodes with "The Great Indian Murder" (2022).

Radhika Mehrotra played Ritu Gagra, a post doc student who looked for a plant as an antidote.  She has 2 film credits.

Sukant Goel played Chiranjeevi, the half Oraka tourist guide.  He was in chemical engineering and got involved with theatre.  He has 15 credits including "Shaitan" (2011), "Kapoor & Sons" (2016) and "Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar" (2021).

Mona Singh played Dr. Singh, the head doctor.  She has 26 credits including "3 Idiots" (2009) and "Laal Singh Chaddha" (2022).  A popular television host she won an award as best female television person of the year for 2004.  See

Rajes Khattar played Saurah Wani, a rich man with connections wanting to escape.   He is fluent in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.  Frequently used as a dubber including for actors like Tom Hanks, Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey Jr., Mads Mikklesen, Samuel L. Jackson and more.  As an actor he has 51 credits including "Khiladi 786" (2012).  

David Warawa played Osei, an Oraka leader.  Born in Africa, he is based in Vienna, Austria and is an international award winning actor who speaks English, German, Shona and Italian.  He has 78 acting credits, 9 for producing and one as writer

Plans are already being made for a second series.  I look forward to it.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Once Upon a Star

Some of us older folks remember black and white films and some of our predecessors can recall movies with no sound dialogue.  Thailand went through a similar progression, but during the period before sound became readily accessible they offered live dubbing which was practical in rural areas with small villages.  They didn't charge admission, but got money from selling medicines usually by interrupting during tense moments in the film.

Unless you are a little interested in history and how things came to be you might find it a bit boring.  However the writer and director have plotted and handled events to be compelling. 

The troop we are following consists of three men, Manit, Kao and Uncle Man two of whom speak dialogue into the mikes while the third provides sound effects, sometimes including music.  The female voices are voiced by Manit.  The dialogue is sometimes improvised and the tone doesn't always match the script.  The three men realize that  they would get better responses if they hired a female.

This changes the dyanamics.  Kae has just left her abusive husband and needs the money.   Her ambition is actually to be typist.  At one point two of the men admit they have feelings for her, but agree not to make a play.  The boss, Manit fixes things and finds a typewriter to make workable and gifts it to Kae.  This infuriates the other, Kao and while they are heatedly discussing it are overheard by Kae who resents that an agreement was made without her knowledge.  After some hard feelings are expressed the situation is resolved by outside factors.

But still the four have competition.   In one segment two screens are side by side close enough that viewers can shift from one to the other.  There is a real tug of war and both use improvisation to good effect.

They also have mechanical problems which come from an old vehicle forced to travel down narrow muddy paths.  On one occasion they are rescued by a team of buffalos and another by a military troop.

Mitr Chaibancha a well regarded actor performed in non talkies.  His films were the attraction for many of the viewers.  In real life he died from a helicopter accident while filming on October 8, 1970.  This coincided with the troop running into hard times from modernizing efforts.

It runs smoothly and engagingly due to the efforts of the cast and crew.  Here are a few.

Nonzee Minbutr is the director/producer.  He started his career as a director of television commercials an music videos.  He has 14 film credits.

Ek Iemchuen is the writer.  He has 7 credits as a production designer and 4 as a writer.

Music is by Chatchai Pongraphan  with twenty years of experience.  He has been quoted saying "I make music for eyes, not ears."  I interpret that to mean the music supports the visual and in this film it certainly does.  He has 40 film credits.       

Teerawat Runjinham was the cinematographer.  He has 22 film credits.

Manussa Vorasingha is the editor. with 54 credits including "Bad Genius" (2017) and "Hunger" (2023).  See one of my favorite films

Sukollawat Kanarot played Manit.  He has 54 film credits.

Nueghida Sophon played Kae.  She is best known for singing.  An award winner at an early age.  She has 13 film credits.

Jirayu La-ongmanee played Kao , the youngest of the three men.  He had been a prominent boy band member.  He has 22 film credits including a number of television series for multiple episodes.

Samart Payukaroon played Uncle Man.  He had been a muay thai and boxing champion.  He has 17 film credits.

We watch movies including the latest with the most fanfare, but we should maybe stop and realize there was a lot of history to reach this stage.  Thailand is making a mark on the international scene, but not forgetting how they got there.

Friday, October 20, 2023


Masturbation may seen an odd topic for a Bollywood movie, however "OMG 2" makes it a focal point.  It is very hard not to laugh while it makes its points.  A plea for sex education

It starts with a relatively innocent boy curious about gossip and ideas he has stumbled on.  In his case it leads to a video about masturbation that is carried on the inter net.  The high class school he attends is disgusted  The father, Kanti is flabbergasted, but decides to defend his son.

India produced the Kama Sutra and other writings regarding sex.  They also produced explicit and erotic sculptures.  But in their modern schools sex is a non topic.

A very sharp lawyer Kamini defends against his suing the school for lack of proper education.  She is used to turning the table on her opposition, but Kanti has been well prepared.

For further comic relief the script has provided a spiritual guide.  Kanti, a Hindu is devoted to Lord Shiva.  Originally the writer wanted a side commentator to be Lord Shiva, but thought too offensive and changed to a messenger from Lord Shiva.

A sex worker is called to testify.  She has a son at the expensive school and needs her profession and needs to protect her son.  Nonetheless Kanti is able to expose some hypocrisy.

Explicit drawings of male and female anatomy were displayed catching me off guard.

His son had tried a variety of sex aids, but found they were all misleading.  He didn't know who to believe and thus was (as were many others) vulnerable.

Near the end the wealthy school raised legal obstacles and bribed their opposition to stop trial.  Kanti accepts an out of court settlement that he soon regrets.  Lord Shiva's messenger shows how his acceptance is distorted.  Will justice prevail?  Will sex education be accepted? 

I recognize no court would operate like in the film.  Pity

Laughs come easily while still making some important points.  It takes a good cast and crew to pull it off.  Here are some of them. 

Amit Rai was the writer/director.  He has 4 credits  including "Road to Sangam" (2009).

Mangesh Dhakde was a composer.  He has  64 credits including "Article 15" (2019), "Lipstick Under my Burka" (2015), "Thappad" (2020), "Anek" 2022) and"Bheed" (2023).  He started composing with his father at a very early age and had been expposed to jazz, classical, Brazilian as well as well as Indian classical music.  ,

Amalendu Chaudhary was the cinematographer.  He has 32 film credits including "Harishchandrachi Factory" (2009), "Stree" (2018) and "Chhichhore" (2019).  See

The editor was Suvir Nath.  He has 9 credits including "Road to Sangam (2009).

Pankaj Tripathi played Kanti the father who took to court to defend his son.  Son of a priest he took an interest in theatre.  After getting an education in hotel management he worked a night shift and started acting in theatre plays. He has appeared in 88 films including "Gangs of Wasseypur" (2012), "Newton" (2017),"Stree" (2018), "Super 30" (2020), "Gunjan Saxena:  The Kargil Girl" (2020) and "Mimi" (2021).  See

Yami Gautam plays Kamini the very sharp lawyer who is very conservative regarding sex.  Yami studied law and later did many commercials and appeared on fashion magazine covers.  She has performed in Kannada, Punjabi, Telegu, Malayalam and Tamil films.  Her film credits include "Vicky Donor" (2012), "Badlapur" (2015), "Kaabil" (2017), "Uri:  The Surgical Strike" (2019) and "Bala" (2019). "A Thursday" (2022) and "Dasvi" (2022).

Akshay Kumar in an atyical role plays Lord Shiva's messenger, but he is very versatile and is also co-producer.  Asked if this film was suitable for children, he replied that it was made for kids, but the censor board  restricted it to 18 years and above.  As a box office attraction Akshay could choose more commercial films, but feels obligated to do some films with a social message.  He was once a waiter, in Bangkok took up martial arts, asked to model and jumped into movies where he is a top box office star.   Has Canadian citizenship (actually campaigned with Stephen Harper.)   Akshay is a non smoker and participant in anti smoking campaigns, but is seen heavily smoking in "Good Newwz" (2019) to illustrate the harmful effects regarding fertility.  For the last decade he has been one of the most bookable Bollywood stars.  My attitude towards him has become much more respectful with such movies as "OMG  Oh My God!" (2012) "Special 26" (2013), "Airlift" (2016), "Rustom," (2016). "Toilet, A Love Story" (2017), "Pad Man" (2018), and "Gold" (2018).  Check:

This is very likely to be among my top ten for the year.

Sex is a dirty thing.  Some parents are happy the schools do it, while others are furious.  Check:

Available on Netflix subtitled  The audio is in Hindi, but with lots of English which is thought to prove that one is an educated person.

Films I have seen are bolded for the first mention.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Miss Shetty Mr. Polishetty

Those who make films are always looking for a new angle to an old story.  Romances are pretty popular, but there are few new angles.  "Miss Shetty Mr. Polishetty" (2023) try an odd duo with a master chef and a would be stand up comedian.  But another twist is the heart of the plot.  She wants to get pregnant, but not be burdened with a marriage.  He gets hooked pretty bad, but she is adamant.

Psychology plays a role only a little different from other romances.  If romances were straight forward, after a few they would be boring, but this one is not.

It takes a number of talented people to pull off such a romance film.  Here are some.

Mahesh Babu Pachigolia as director and writer.  This is his first movie as director/writer.  Previously he had a credit for camera and electrical department.

Radhan and Gopi Sundar combined for the music.  Radhan has 24 composing credits and wrote the songs including ""Arjun Reddy" (2017).  Gopi Sundar wrote the background score with 173 composing credits including "Chennai Express" (2013), "Bangalore Days" (2014) and "Uyare" (2019).  Check  and

Nirav Shah was responsible for cinematography.  He has 47 film credits including "Super Deluxe" (2019).

Kotagiri Venkatheshwara, the editor has 157 credits including "Eega" (2012) and " Baahubali 2:  The Conclusion" (2019).

Anushka Shetty is the Miss Shetty of the story.  She has 53 film credits including  "Baahubali 2:  The Conclusion" (2019).  She is also a yoga instructor.

Naveen Polishetty is the Mr. Polishetty of the story.  He has 15 film credits including "Chhichhore" (2019).  Check

Murli Sharma plays the father of Mr. Polishetty.  Murli has 157 film credits including:  "Jaane Tu...Ya Jannne Na" (2008), "Badliapur" (2015), "Ala Vankunthapuramubo" (2020) and "Major" (2022).  He has been in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi and Malayalam films.

Romances require happy endings and this one does deliver.  Humans are various and when you combine them in different ways you (sometimes) get different results.

Available on Neflix subtitled with  the original Telegu language.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Your Vote needn't be wasted

Some of you might feel your vote wasn't wasted, especially if your choice got elected.  Others might feel they registered their preference.  But let's face it under our system it is those who get elected who have the  power to change your life.

The photo to the left depicts some of the volunteers of Fair Vote Canada who are trying to change things.  I snuck in the back row.   From left to right Jim, Lisa Marie Barron MP, self, Howard, Kevin, Carol, Irene and Heather.

It varies from election to election, but in First Past the Post systems it is most often that over 50% of votes are wasted.  First of course are those who didn't get elected who might take some comfort in how close they came.  Even some of those who voted for the winner could have stayed home because their candidate got more votes than were needed.  Think how many voters agonized over their selection as they knew their first choice was unlikely to win and that a more realistic contender was one to be avoided.  Others (a lot of young people for example) felt it was a waste of time to make the effort.

A good local example comes from the last Ontario provincial election.  Doug Ford got only 40.8% of the votes, but got over 66.9% of the legislative seats.  Over 55% of eligible voters didn't bother meaning Mr. Ford got his power with less than 21% of eligible voters.  He and his party have power to control the budget, taxes you pay, land set aside for ecological reasons and lots of rules that affect your life.  To win votes the Ford administration cut car license fees not worrying about how those necessary funds would be replaced. 

Politicians sometimes like to use the word "mandate" as to why they push legislation.  Too often they received less than 50% of the vote.  When voter turnouts decline it is an indication that many do not feel their concerns will be addressed further underlining there is no mandate.

Much of the world has found a better way.  One where your vote can make a difference no matter your preference.  There are variations and details differ, but the essential point is that every vote counts.  Fair Vote Canada is promoting a Citizen's Assembly where the options including our current system will investigate and make recommendations.   

Politicians who got elected under the current system ridicule the idea of proportional representation.  I went to a meeting several years when the issue was discussed and most remember one fellow shouted "You are just upset because your guy didn't get in."  In fact there were a lot of us whose guy didn't get in.

Under proportional representation legislators need to collaborate.  Compromises are made that limit extreme views.  Politicians are more civil to one another as they need to work together.  Generally nations using proportional representation have worked on important issues like climate change.  Some studies  have shown with happiness surveys that nations with proportional representational forms of government rank higher than those with the First Past the Post governments.

This past week with a few other Fair Vote Canada volunteers we handed out information for  the New Democrat Party convention.  Most of the delegates were very supportive of our efforts to promote proportional representation.  Lisa Marie Barron, the M.P for Nanaimo-Ladysmith was on hand to present a resolution for a Citizen's Assembly.  She encouraged us and posed for a number of group photos.

This convention should represent a small step to ensuring all our votes count for what we really want.  But there is a lot of work left as there are those with vested interests that are very resistant. 


This photo was taken on the second day.  From left to right, two NDP delegates who wanted in for the fun, Roger, Lawson, Lisa Marie Barron, self, Sherry and Anna.  With his back to the camera is Heino wearing a special shirt combining his loves for Fair Vote Canada and the Hamilton Ti-Cats.



 Two other blogs on this topic. and

Friday, October 13, 2023

Keys to the Heart- Filipino remake of Korean film

 Remakes are not always as good as the original, but they always indicate an idea with merit.  "Keys to the Heart" conveys the idea of family reconciliation in a satisfying manner.

 We are introduced to a boxer, Jomo and quickly learn that he has not only lost his license, but also his sparring job.   He does have a bad attitude and at this time his mother has been seeking him.  It turns out he does not want her in his life, but circumstances further conspire that going back to his mother seems his best option.  Gradually we learn he had been a victim of a very abusive upbringing by a father and when his mother left without taking him she was blamed for his misery.

The other main character Jayjay was a brother who was autistic,with the ability to duplicate on a piano any piece of music heard for the first time.  Jomo got disgusted with Jayjay's incontinence and temper fits.  It was awhile before he came to appreciate the musical talent.

In the meantime Jomo was a victim of a hit and run accident.  Surprisingly he was approached by an older man who offered him money not to report the accident.  Not seriously injured he was insulted, but later followed up and found the woman who had hit him.  She was wealthy and it had been her father who earlier offered Jomo money to protect her.  Trying to get enough money to leave the country (for Canada) he is offered a much larger sum of money which he accepts.  After criticizing her cavalier attitude to money she reveals that the accident occurred after her first attempt to drive after losing her leg.

Coincidentally Jayjay who has never taken piano lessons wants to enter a competition, but runs into problems.  Jomo learns that Jayjay greatly admired a female pianist who had won earlier versions of the contest.  It turns out the admired pianist, Annettet is the woman who had hit Jomo and gave him a large amount of money.  Jomo decides to approach her again to help Jayjay enter the contest, but is refused aid because she has bitter feelings about the contest organizers.  

You already have most of the plot ingredients, but I have left out an important element.  And of course there are all sorts of obstacles on the way to a sort of happy ending.  

I found it a satisfying story.  The original Korean version was a hit, but the first Filipino attempt to remake it resulted in the replacement of the three leads and the director.  It takes a crew to put together a good movie.  Here are some of them.

Kerwin Go was the director.  He had studied at the Los Angeles Film School in 2007.  He has three credits as a director, but also worked as cinematographer with 8 film credits.

Pam Miras wrote the screenplay.  She has 21 film credits as a writer, and has won international awards. She also 9  credits as a director and has also been involved as an actress, producer and editor.

Francis De Veyra wrote the original music.  He has 85 composing credits.  He is also a bass player for a group.

Peter Frac handled the cinematography.  He has 3 film credits.

Aaron Alegre and Mark Cyril Bautista did the editing.  They have respectively have 14 and 65 editor film credits.

Zanjoe Marudo played Joma.  He has a strong resemblance to the popular Korean actor, Lee Byun-hun who played the same role in the original.   Zanjoe has 61 film credits.

Elijah Canlas played Jayjay and aside from having to play a savant had to learn to play the piano to be credible.  He has won several awards including being declared "Actor of the Year" by CNN Philippines.  He has 29 film credits.

Dolly De Leon played the mother.  She is theatre trained and now has 51 film credits.  In 2022 without an agent she auditioned for a role in "Triangle of Sadness" (2022) and went on to get nominations for BAFTA and Golden Globe awards.  Since has been booked for more American films.  

Michelle Dee played Annette, a wealthy young woman and former piano contest winner.     She has a psychology degree and earned a certificate from the Harvard Business School.  She won the World Miss Philippines title in 2019.  Since the age of 16 she has been an advocate for autism awareness and recently was made a Goodwill Ambassador for the Autism Society of Philippines.  She also has 12 film credits.

Unfortunately have not seen the original Korean version, but believe this version has high standards. 

Some earlier Filipino movies I have enjoyed: and that  reminded me of a childhood experience with my mother.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

A New Season

Terry Fallis is always good for a laugh. "A New Season" is light, easy reading, with some interesting insights.  He reveals a little of himself in each novel.  A few relate to his political life in Ottawa, one to his twin brother and others to his public relations career.  This one brings up his love of writing songs and his playing ball hockey right up to age 63.

 It uses coincidence a lot and an ideal set of circumstances.  It makes for smooth reading.  He has rewarded my efforts to read his books with lots of laughter and some insights for myself and those I live with.

The protagonist, Jack McMaster had been grieving his wife's death  for over two years with his main relief playing in a ball hockey league.  His son, Will who also grieved felt it was time to shake his father out of his state.    Will had been given a recording of his mother on her death bed  (due to Covid) worrying about Jack and suggesting when he was ready he should not only visit their dream goal of going to Paris and finding someone new.  The couple had planned a trip to Paris that had been postponed twice.  Jack had a fixation shared by his wife on  the 1920's Paris when several American writers and at least one Canadian had lived there.

Then the coincidences start to pile up.  On his foray to a Left Bank cafe he meets a woman named Calla which it turns out is a short form for (Morley) Callaghan the Canadian writer of the 1920's Paris..  She is not only a part time waitress, but an established respected artist and the grand daughter of a woman who lived in the 1920's Paris (from England) and knew many of the famous personalities.  Calla and he soon begin a relationship and discover diaries kept by the Grandmother that become part of the plot.

More plot points are integrated.  One is he uncovers a ball hockey league in Paris and gets Calla involved.  A song he wrote for his wife forty years previously is turned into a hit.  It is turned into a hit by an actual ball hockey team mate, Jim Cuddy, a very well known singer.  The diary captures the interest of an art book publisher and helps for the relationship to overcome the natural obstacles of having an ocean separate two lovers.

The grieving is the one negative in the book and carries on throughout.  Many are dealing with that emotion and can appreciate how dominant a role it can play.  In reality Terry had written a song for a girl friend he had met at McMaster University when they were separated over the Christmas holiday.  He went onto marry her and it has lasted to the current time.  As an important part of his life he included the song into his narrative.  Although the song was not a hit, Terry had befriended Jim Cuddy playing ball hockey.  Another personal note was that Terry did not like Hemingway personally or his writing style.

This is his second book written during the Covid pandemic.  He has quit his public relations job to concentrate on writing books.  I look forward to them.

I have read several of his books and would refer readers to that would point you to a few of his books and a few more insights.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Forgotten Love--a Polish gem

"Forgotten Love" is a heart warming story which might be a clue to how it ends, but the journey is very satisfying.  Available on Netflix with subtitles. 

 Dr. Wilczur is introduced as a very capable surgeon and loving father.  Quickly we learn his wife loves another and leaves him taking her daughter with her.  He is devastated and takes to alcohol.  The author uses a violent robbery as a tool.  Dr. Wilczur is left unconscious on the ground.  Shortly later his coat is found near a river and it is assumed he committed suicide.   

We then are shifted 15 years later and encounter a scruffy looking man who has spent time in jail, but is unable to remember his past.  The viewer assumes he is the missing Dr. Wilczar.  Not too long after he helps relieve pain from a man with a serious injury.  A woman, Zoska watches him and before too long forms a relationship with him.

We also meet a young woman, Marysia who recently lost her mother and is seeking a job to pay for education.  She makes a deal with a tavern owner offering a piano and to play for his customers while she also works as a waitress.  Before too long the clues have piled up and we assume she is the daughter of Dr. Wilczar.  Soon two wealthy young nobles are in the tavern and take a fancy to Marysia.  She rejects one who had bet he could form a relationship.  She is very distrusting of the nobility.  Well you can guess what happens, but is still very enjoyable to watch the actors to play out the script.  It is not a straight line to a happy ending, so you shouldn't be bored.

Michal Gazda is the director.  He has 11 film credits including a recent tv series "Hold Tight" (2022).

The writers, Mariusz Kuczewski (with 21 film credits) and Marcin Baczynski (with 21 film credits) adapted the novel by Tadeusz Dolega-Mostowicz who had been an actor and writer for films.  Tadeusz had died in action in 1939.

Pawel Lucewicz wrote the music.  He has over 40 film credits.

Tomasz Augustynek handled the cinematography with over 30 film credits.

Piotr Kmiecik was editor with 43 film credits including for "Hold Tight" (2022).

Ewa Brodzka was the casting director.  She has 43 film credits including "Schindler's List" (1993) and "The Pianist" (2022).

Leszek Lichota played Dr. Wilczar who early was a very confident doctor and later and uncertain man.  He has 61 film credits including "Hold Tight" (2022).

Maria Kowalska played Marysia.  She has 6 film credits.

Ignacy Liss played the noble lover.  He has 22 film credits.

Anna Szmanczyk played Zoska who formed a relationship with the amnesiac, Dr. Wilczar.  She has 36 film credits.

 This is the second Polish film that has impressed me this year.   Check

Getting at the roots

The Hamass invasion of Israel has the world upset that those dastardly "terrorists" dared to do something so outrageous.  Such violence is outrageous.  It has sparked a strong reaction from Israel and its allies.

 From my view it seems like we are in another perpetual cycle of violence to solve problems that could have been solved more peacefully.  The most important questions are what are the roots of the problem and what can we do now?

I am not a Biblical scholar, but I remember something about Moses leading the Jews to the promised land.  If  I am not mistaken there were people there as they were certainly there by the time of Jesus.  We read references to Caananites and Samaritans.  At one point the Romans had something to do with a  dispersal of  Jews.  A century or two later there was a Muslim revolution that affected what we call the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe.  A few centuries later the Nazis murdered over 6 million Jews and would have done more if they could have.  A few years before that some Arabs under T.E. Lawrence helped defeat the Germans.   Between these two wars many Jews tried to escape from Nazis and were rejected by many countries including the United States and Canada.  One of our Canadian leaders supposedly said that "No Jews were too many."

After these events in 1948 the United Nations declared Israel an independent country.  Arabs were given some rights and territories.  A lot of things happened between then and now, but somehow Israel prospered and the Palestinians lagged behind.  Poor leadership?  Bad luck?  Very complicated with other nations playing a role.

We can go back further.  Human nature.  Fear of strangers.  Strength is needed for survival.  Might is right.  We are better (and more deserving) than those.  We see ethnic conflict causing problems around the globe even as we have concerns for climate change, pandemics and the risks of nuclear war.

I don't have any solutions except the (perhaps unrealistic) faith that somehow reasonable people will gain enough power to impose their will.  Maybe that is not enough, perhaps we need people to respect the rights of others.  As it is, violence made not only of bullets and bombs, but also of legal restrictions and hate dominate the discussion.  This cycle of perpetual violence hurts everyone.  I regret that some felt efforts to address an imbalance in power required violence.

One man I greatly admire is Yuval Noah Harari and feel we would be better off if more people paid attention to his ideas.  Check

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Italy: Beginning of the Journey

This blog is mostly for myself.  I had such a good time I want to remember all the details.  If you are interested to visit Italy you might be curious, but if you have already visited Italy a lot will be repetitious.  If you have no interest in visiting Italy you may find most of it boring.  The country itself is very interesting.

All of us on the tour were over 50, most over 70, except for two adult daughters.  The advantage of staying at one resort is you get to know the staff and its routines--minor trips at your expense.  On the tour you do get to know your fellow travelers--in this case from coast to coast.  Age is the most common denominators, retired as well--most but not all had children and grandchildren 

 As a bit of a punk when living in Haliburton my brother Marshall and I used to watch the cottagers driving back home and thinking how ignorant they were.  To some degree this juvenile attitude was picked up from our peers.  We didn't appreciate that the cottagers did get a lot of enjoyment from the country and they did contribute significantly to our welfare. We knew we were different and of course there had to be some superiority that came with it.  Perhaps we were defensive.  They loved the outdoors and being away from the city rush.

Taken to the Toronto Airport by Airways Transit.  From Toronto we connected to the Montreal Airport to complete our tour gang, 34 altogether some from western Canada, eastern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.  Lanyards with our name reminds of our school days, but help us get each other's names, and also identify us as a group.  Met tour manager, Chris.. 

Our tour manager Chris explained that she never should be addressed as a tour guide.  Tour guides are required to pass a test to get a license.  Chris had her own set of challenges and handled them well.

There was a routine.  We handled carry on baggage while the tour handles the heavier luggage.  Left the luggage outside our room in time for operator to put on bus.  Eat breakfast paid by tour and then as Sharon pointed out we "brush and flush".  We then drive to meet our tour guide and we walk.  To us an odd feature of hotels was that the ground floor was not the first floor, it was zero while what we call the second floor was considered the first floor.  Confusing, but I recall something from my French classes.

Covering Italy from top to bottom there were a few notable traffic differences from what we were used to.  Round abouts slow down traffic and annoy many.  Motorcycles are much more common than in Ontario and more aggressive. They are seen weaving between cars, truck and buses.  

In the early part of our trip we encountered pay for toilets.  With mostly seniors we spent a lot of time searching for public toilets.  At first we scrambled for coins. but were pleased there were some free toilets and buying food at a restaurant opened up another possibility. 

First day spent getting to Milano.  Had been told no meal and that we could not get an airplane meal, but we did and it was substantial.  Long lineups in Milano Airport and we learned far out of the city

For our first lunch we had been told we were expected to pay for our lunch, but in fact it was paid for including some Prosecco and wine.  The waitress afterwards told us that the meat had been cooked in such away that diners could have easy access to marrow that her grandmother assured was the tastiest and healthiest part'

One aspect that annoyed most of us was that dinners tended to be at 8:00 p.m.  We had a need to get up before 7 the next day and felt this minimized our sleep quality.  Perhaps this goes back to the idea of in hot weather workers required a siesta in the afternoon and the hotels adjusted.

Milan was considered very important to the point that Napoleon had himself crowned Emperor here.  The top church was built mostly with marble.  As a request I saw La Scala, the most important opera house in the world where some of my favorite operas saw their debut.  Fashion and financial capital city of Italy

Taken to Lake Garda  around Sermione and were told bigger than Lake Como.  Went for a boat ride and were entertained by the driver feeding a swan. Roman ruins, best seen from the lake were the first attraction, but the second attraction was gelato with several outlets.  We were told that  Maria Callas lived here for a time.  Very busy.  I bought a baseball cap with Lake Garda imprinted.

Roman ruins seen from Lake.

                                                        Swan looking for treats and got them.                                                       


Verona, the next day was famous for its Roman Arena that has become a concert venue including mine and the guide's favorite Eros Ramazotti and Michael Buble.  Giuletta's balcony was another attraction.

Verona Roman Arena used for concerts

                                                                        Giuletta's Balcony





Padova, later same day was an educational centre that had included Gallileo and  Dante.  A personal highlight for Sharon was a coffee that had been shown by Stanley Tucci on his television show.  The coffee drinkers in our gang all loved it.

Sharon and Mary drinking coffee while Calder watches




                                                     Sculpture from church




Venice, like all our locations was bigger than imagined.  On our gondola ride we can be appreciate the skill in building on next to water.   Gondalas, require balance.  We enjoyed a drink with Chris,  Also very crowded.

St. Mark's 




                                                 Chris our tour manager




Gondola Ride




 On our way to Pisa we went through lots of tunnels under the Appeninnes mountains.  There is more to Pisa than the famous leaning tower.  Guide took us in Baptistry and suggested go up to balcony 65 steps for an acoustics demonstration.  Andrea Bocelli had tested it.  She explained history of the leaning tower that had originally built on sand.  Heavy materials caused the lean.  Efforts to fix was interrupted by the 100 year war.  More recently around 1990 the tower was closed for 10 years while international experts made adjustments.  It is resistant to most earth quake shocks.  Our guide  had each person's photo taken appearing to hold up or pull tower.  It was well done and time consuming for her, but the results were special.









Florence (Firenze) was very crowded, even our guide felt it was too crowded.  We saw the fake David.  This was a very good lunch with fellow travelers 

The fake David.

A tomb inside a church.

                                                                            Bride and Groom








Sienna was still another site that offered.more than expected, but less crowded.  At the hotel Sharon was able to wade into the Adriatic Sea.

There were many very elaborate.churches.   I was stunned by the amount of money, tremendous artistry and lives that may have been lost (or shortened).  One church paid homage to Socrates.










Socrates in a Church





 In front of Olive Tree at Sienna Hotel

By the time we reached Assisi my expectations were heightened, but once again it was more than anticipated.  Le Cantina di Oddo offered gnocchi that was excellent.

                      At La Cantina di Oddo.





That was the northern half, and the southern proved to be just as interesting such as                                     

                                                               Check the link below.

Our Italian Adventure Part Two

Roma is often portrayed as a city of pickpockets.  I wore a money bag around my chest, but never felt challenged.  At the Jazz Cafe Ristorante Papa Rex Mumu we had a very helpful waiter who handled separate billings, always a problem with groups very well.  Hop on Hop  off is a great way to learn some of the highlights.  On a double decker bus we got a better view on the  Coloseum and Superior Court.  Also fairly crowded.  We were told that Romans were early users of cement.  Reminds me Phil King had told me Italy was crowded while France was not because of terrorist scares.

 By the Trevi Fountain

  the Colosseum


                                                            the bridge to their Supreme Court





Another day the Vatican proved to be very massive with loads of distinguished art.  We learned about Michelangelo who was able to make a flat surface look curved.  So crowded it was difficult to take a good look much of the time.  The problem is that we felt herded.  There was an unbelievable number of people wanting to see and limited space.  St. Peter's Square was impressive and free toilet facilities restored some of our faith.

The Vatican makes for the seventh country I have traveled in--Canada, the United States, Cuba, New Zealand, Italy and now the Vatican. 



Capri was a side trip, but the most anticipated.  We had decided the restaurants were too expensive.  We took a boat tour.  The landscape was mostly rocks, but lots of trees growing.  We had Sophia Loren's house pointed out.  The Blue Grotto was not available because of rough water, but given a close view.  Did go into another grotto and saw color changes enhanced.







From Capri we took a different ferry to Sorrento which was not really part of the scheduled tour.  We walked up from the shore and through part of the town.  I bought a belt.  Another fine lunch including  pizza with eggplant.  Two travelers had been misdirected and eventually found their way back to our resort.  There was a motorcycle accident on way back.


 Masking had become less of an issue.  We had originally been told we would need to wear masks while in airplanes or the tour bus, but that had been relaxed.  But seniors being seniors it was normal to cough and sometimes our fellow travelers coughed.  Covid has been increasing, but we also didn't want to catch someone else's colds.  Most of us started to wear masks more often, but not everyone. 

 Pompeii was on my bucket list and we had a really good guide, Piero, who was called in with the original guide off ill.  I also had a curiosity about the Etruscans and learned that Pompeii had been founded by them.  I bought a T shirt with a Pompeii theme.  Piero joined us for a bus tour of Naples.  







Naples is the major city closest to where Sharon's Grandmother had been born.  It had a reputation of being very poor and shady.  Also where pizza was first made.  We were taken up to heights where the rich people lived with a beautiful view of the Bay of Naples and the lower down.   It had been founded by Greeks.  We felt Naples was more substantial than we had been led to believe.


To get to Sicily it was decided to take a ferry boat.  Saved a lot of time transporting as we could sleep for the duration.   The ferry boat had two escalators and a lot of facilities.  We were not impressed with food, although for a difference we were given a few options for both primary and secondary entrees.

Palermo is famous for its Mafia connections.  Our guide pointed out a Mafia victim memorial stone.  Founded by Phoenicians followed by Romans, Byzantines, Arabs.  Normans were brought in by the Pope to get rid of Muslims. Still other groups settled such as Swabians and Angelines. The Spanish dominated for 4 centuries.



On our way to a UNESCO church site combining Arab and Norman influences we watched a busking opera singer and dropped some money in his cup.  On the way back we were delayed with a protest march fortunately moving away from us.

We were taken to a very extensive street market that we returned to for our lunch enjoying some local specialties. I remembered our guide suggested a third way to enjoy gelato inside a brioche.  Our manager agreed that free time was something favored by tour groups.

UNESCO honored church


attractive flowering tree  silk floss


 Opera singing busker.



Part of my lunch.

 Our driver made this suggestion requiring a slight detour.  It is a natural and beautiful land feature known as the Turkish Steps.




 Agrigento was the site of Greek temples chosen for its view of the Mediterranean, defensively strong. Lots of olives and surprisingly for carob trees.  Also surprised to see goats.  They also had a memorial section for people who died  in good causes.

A model for a UNESCO symbol.




The fallen Icarus.

With a carob tree.  Carobs are an important part of my diet.







 A memorial for those who died in the cause of freedom.



The ancient Greek Roman theatre hosts big name world class entertainment.







From the theatre you get a view of Mt. Etna that is still classified as active.








We saw a chance to try a brioche gelato.  Marleen asked the server if he could take a photo.  Instead he jumped out and wanted his photo taken by his assistant.  Eventually we also took a photo of the assistant.  The brioche gelato was great.





Food has played a big role in the attraction of Italy.  We certainly enjoyed pasta and pizza in some of the variations.  Risotto was not only enjoyed in the northern part of Italy, but also in the southern portion.

 Our last hotel  Saint Alphio was not the only one to help us sleep with the sound of sea waves.  My first experience with sea waves was in Florida and I was annoyed at first, but came to appreciate it as an aid to sleep.  When my mother was dying and having difficulty relaxing with the help of my daughter Heather I taped some ocean sounds and learned it had been very helpful.   They also had the best food and servicing including food and entertainment.


 This trio catered to our tables.








A flaming cake to bid us farewell

 At the last nite at the Saint Alphio Hotel our tables received a lot of attention from the musical entertainment (guitar,accordion and singer/drums).  Also received a large very delicious cake presented in a flaming manner.

Unfortunately right after that we had to get ready to go home which required a 1:30 wake up for us (the equivalent of 7:30 pm on the preceding Sunday) and then were driven to the Catatonia Airport.  Several of us were wearing masks and one American traveler assumed we had Covid and raised an alarm.  That calmed down and we were flown to Rome with waiting and bureaucracy time at both airports.  Got to the Toronto Airport and at about 2:49 local time.  Then more waiting and bureaucracy until finally picked up by Airways Transit for a drive home in rush hour traffic.  We will be sorting out lots of details such as laundry for the next few days.   Our cats seemed glad to see us, but a little confused.  We are still acclimatizing ourselves to our regular time zone.

In case you missed the first part of our Italian adventure check: