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#Re: Christie Blanchford’s article on Jack Layton

I have been a small-l liberal all my life, my very first vote, back in the day, being for Tommy Douglas. In recent years, however, fearing that the NDP supported Quebec’s separatist leanings, I ‘held my nose and voted Liberal’ or, even if he or she didn’t have a chance of getting elected here in Westmount, picked a Green candidate who at least seemed to share the ecological part of my vision for Canada’s future.

Jack Layton crossed my radar a few years back as someone to support because he not only talked of liberal ideals, but had a public life of service that showed how he put such ideas into practice. He was also smart, humorous, energetic, and well-spoken and seemed to radiate a kind of good-natured air of benevolence. What always struck me about his appearance was his clean, well-shaped head, his trim, rather jaunty, white mustache, his broad smile and his twinkling eyes. There was even, during his last electioneering, as he hobbled along with his cane, an iconic echo of Chaplin’s Little Tramp, taking on the Fat Cats of Ottawa. In the televised debates, while Harper intoned endlessly that all would be well in the world if Canadians just gave him a majority and PQ leader Gilles Duceppe repetitively tried to get someone--anyone-- to promise that French would be used in every single office in Quebec (as if that would solve all of Quebec’s problems), Layton was the only one asking the serious questions and offering proposals that rang out with some hope and good sense.

It is no wonder that he was elected, although I still recall my excitement learning that he had done so. It was similar to what I might have felt as a child, after being told that Santa Claus, contrary to what I recently had been told, really existed. A ‘good guy’ had actually won! Well, okay, maybe he had only become Leader of the Opposition, but that was enough to give me hope that he could be a gadfly to Harper’s government and bring about some good that way. And who knew? Maybe if he did well, he could someday be prime minister. The fact that he was probably dying of a second bout of cancer, one too horrid for him even to name, made the whole thing seem even more poignant.

Even though I expected it, his death was a shock. It came too soon, before he could reap the rewards of his new success. And before he could disappoint us by being unable to do all he had hoped to do. And then, in the midst of our grief--not so much for Jack Layton as for the death of our hopes for the kind of Canada he proposed--came Christie Blanchford’s article.

I have enjoyed Ms. Blanchford’s writing at times. Her account of the Utah Olympics, a few years ago, was revealing and humorous. Even though I hate the sense of entitlement that diehard smokers emit, I still recall laughing out loud at her account of lying on the floor in the corridor outside her hotel room, one night when she found herself locked out, blowing her cigaret smoke under the door and into her room so that no one could accuse her of breaking the hotel’s No Smoking rules. I liked her insouciance, her critical eye, her keen ability to see through all the hype into the rather self-serving Mormon heart of that event.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like it when she turned those same talents on Jack Layton, especially when his funeral was scarcely over. I how people have been outraged by her article, for it made me cringe, mainly because I found myself not wanting to be told that Jack was just another glib politician, one whose minders had managed to clothe in such a way as to take us all in. On further reflection, however, I found myself wondering how Jack’s entire life of service, his daily habits of cycling, wearing jeans, working with people in every walk of life, his expressed upbeat philosophy--how all that could be a lie, while his last letter revealed (according to Ms. Blanchford) his real nature: that of a straw man whose speech writers’ were once again crafting him to suit his demographic. Or (Ms. Blanchford seemed uncertain which was the case), of a man so shallow that he could only think of bumper-sticker slogans for his final words to his followers. Or one so two-faced that even while dying he couldn’t do nothing but utter party lines. Ms. Blanchford’s cynicism seems to have made it impossible for her to believe that he might just have been too tired and weak to choose the best words, but still sincere, and that his speechwriters might have left his words as they were simply in order to honor him.

Whatever the reality of that final letter, Ms. Blanchford should have waited to attack it. She was too quick to criticize, too gleeful about using that letter as a launching pad to question Layton’s entire life and philosophy. I’m not saying she didn’t have a right to express her opinion, and I’m certainly not pleased that some Layton supporters have sent her letters filled with expletives and death threats. I just feel that she should have waited a month or two before writing. Actually, of course, I wish that she had waited and changed her mind, turned off her cynicism, tried to understand.

Yes, daily life abounds with reasons to become cynical. I have to fight to keep from believing that all politicians are scum bags; that all politics is, by definition, set up to attract selfish, greedy, corrupt individuals--or those who will soon become that way once they are in office; that all the hope and idealism in the world is really just a mask covering a sordid reality; that one’s best self-defense is a critical sneer.

What if there really was a politician who resisted manipulation and actually stood for something worthwhile; whose life was a testament to his desire to help people; whose vision for Canada was intelligent, hopeful and yet possible; who saw the problems we face and was ready to take them on and try to solve them? Would Ms. Blanchford recognize him or her? Or would she be too busy gleefully trying to unmask him?

Montreal Gautier Exhibit
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I didn't really want to go to the Gautier exhibit, for some reason. I wasn't really familiar with his fashions, except for the striped t-shirts, so i didn't think I'd enjoy his work. However, my husband wanted to see it and I desired a change of scene, so we went, with me in a wheel chair. And I soon found that the exhibit was not only entertaining, but exhilarating. 


The manikins stand on a platform that circles the room, one that is raised above the ordinary walkway. They are universally slim, as manikins usually are, but not universally beautiful. Instead, they are quite different, each one with a distinctive face. Their hair is distinctive, too, ranging from usual women's styles to wild mohawks. And their faces! They have eyes that move and mouths and muscles that move as they whisper or mutter. This phenomenon is achieved through cameras that project these expressions onto blank manikin faces. 


The result is eerie and haunting. It's as if you are looking at a group of slaves that have been forced to stand around, waiting to be appraised. Slaves that are sullen and bored. Slaves in rich fabrics and styles, ones that look like something out of a sci-fi movie about another planet with a half-barbarous culture. The manikins often talk to themselves, one of them actually saying "I'm bored to death with all this!'


This is very exciting, for some reason. I felt pleased as punch, highly satisfied with such cleverness in exhibiting fashion. Was Gautier really this far out? Who wore his clothing then--anyone? I yearned to see the beautiful ladies of red carpet events, wearing such odd and beautiful gowns; how tame their gowns are in contrast!


And after, there was a bagel with smoked salmon and creamed cheese in the cafeteria, where we sat and discussed what we'd seen. It was hard to explain or account for the thrill we had felt. After all, was it not just costumes? And had Gautier ever influenced ordinary fashions, or are his costumes just for the runway. The latter, it would seem. But so expensive it all must have been. Where, then, did he get the money for these shows? From movies that he worked in as costumer, it seems. And shows that he must have charged from. Even the items in the gift shop are expensive. I lift up a teddy bear the size of a pint of milk, one dressed in a red tartan kilt and labeled "Gautier exhibit" is moderately cute, and I briefly court the idea of getting it for a grand-daughter, until I discover that it costs $140. Ditto for a very ordinary poster, one that presents a line-up of manikins in costumes, none of them particularly interesting: cost $50. So---this is one way he makes his money.


Still, I enjoyed the exhibit very much and recommend it. Go for the experience, whether you like fashion or not.

The Gautier Exhibit in Montreal--Summer 2011
cronemagic
I didn't really want to go to the Gautier exhibit, for some reason. I wasn't really familiar with his fashions, except for the striped t-shirts, so i didn't think I'd enjoy his work. However, my husband wanted to see it and I desired a change of scene, so we went, with me in a wheel chair. And I soon found that the exhibit was not only entertaining, but exhilarating. 

The manikins stand on a platform that circles the room, one that is raised above the ordinary walkway. They are universally slim, as manikins usually are, but not universally beautiful. Instead, they are quite different, each one with a distinctive face. Their hair is distinctive, too, ranging from usual women's styles to wild mohawks. And their faces! They have eyes that move and mouths and muscles that move as they whisper or mutter. This phenomenon is achieved through cameras that project these expressions onto blank manikin faces.

The result is eerie and haunting. It's as if you are looking at a group of slaves that have been forced to stand around, waiting to be appraised. Slaves that are sullen and bored. Slaves in rich fabrics and styles, ones that look like something out of a sci-fi movie about another planet with a half-barbarous culture. The manikins often talk to themselves, one of them actually saying "I'm bored to death with all this!'

This is very exciting, for some reason. I felt pleased as punch, highly satisfied with such cleverness in exhibiting fashion. Was Gautier really this far out? Who wore his clothing then--anyone? I yearned to see the beautiful ladies of red carpet events, wearing such odd and beautiful gowns; how tame their gowns are in contrast!

And after, there was a bagel with smoked salmon and creamed cheese in the cafeteria, where we sat and discussed what we'd seen. It was hard to explain or account for the thrill we had felt. After all, was it not just costumes? And had Gautier ever influenced ordinary fashions, or are his costumes just for the runway. The latter, it would seem. But so expensive it all must have been. Where, then, did he get the money for these shows? From movies that he worked in as costumer, it seems. And shows that he must have charged from. Even the items in the gift shop are expensive. I lift up a teddy bear the size of a pint of milk, one dressed in a red tartan kilt and labeled "Gautier exhibit" is moderately cute, and I briefly court the idea of getting it for a grand-daughter, until I discover that it costs $140. Ditto for a very ordinary poster, one that presents a line-up of manikins in costumes, none of them particularly interesting: cost $50. So---this is one way he makes his money.

Still, I enjoyed the exhibit very much and recommend it. Go for the experience, whether you like fashion or not.

(no subject)
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 Is this working? Yesterday I posted something and it didn't appear on my journal, but my friends could read it.

Herbed Chicken Thighs---Delicious!
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December 6th, 11:17

 

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Herbed Chicken Thighs--Delicious!

 

Current Music:   Pictures in an Exhibition

 

Hi there

 

 

It's a cold (-2, windchill-8) day with occasional bits of snow flying furiously around like angry dandruff. Nice to be able to stay indoors and lounge. This is the real enjoyment of retirement.

 

 

Here's another recipe--of something I cooked yesterday-- that turned out to be delicious,  even though I was remembering it rather than reading it off, due to the fact that I couldn't print it (The type of font didn't translate from its online script to my Mac, meaning that when I printed it--and I use the word printed lightly here--I got only a blank page. Strange. 

 

 

And I was too lazy to write it down. Anyway, I must have remembered it well enough to make a delicious dinner out of it nevertheless. Here it is:

 

 

Ingredients:

 

 

 4TBS of olive oil, used in two spots in the making 

 

5 oz. mushrooms, sliced

 

4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

 

2 TBS fresg rosemary, chopped up

 

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

 

salt and pepper to taste

 

3/4 cup white wine

 

12 cherry tomatoes

 

12 pitted black Nicoise olives

 

 

Instructions:

 

 

1. Heat 2 TBS of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

 

2. Cook mushrooms until soft,  over medium-high heat, then remove them to a plate.

 

3. Put rosemary, chicken thighs, garlic cloves in hot oil, seasoning with hot oil.

 

4. Cook, turning chicken, until chicken and garlic are well-browned.

 

5. Return mushrooms to skillet.

 

6. Add wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Cook about 3 minutes.

 

7. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer gently for 1 hour (actually, I did it for about half an hour)

 

8. Sprinkle tomatoes and olives over chicken, return cover, and cook for about 5 minutes more.

 

 

The result is the most tender little chicken bites you've ever tasted, that anyone, even a kid, so long as they love chicken, would love. 

 

And they aren't terribly caloric, either, so you feel virtuous as you eat them. Plus, the rosemary gives the chicken a really  tasty flavor, and the wine just enhances it. The tomatoes cook just enough to lose their pop and their skins no longer seem like skins. The olives hit just the right note.

 

The recipe called for flakes of red pepper to be added just before the tomatoes and olives, but I forgot that, and i suppose if I had added  them, the meal would have been a bit more spicy, but I assure you that it was delicious and tasty without. 

 

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Herbed Chicken Thighs--Delicious!
[info]cronemagic
Current Music:
Pictures in an Exhibition
Hi there

It's a cold (-2, windchill-8) day with occasional bits of snow flying furiously around like angry dandruff. Nice to be able to stay indoors and lounge. This is the real enjoyment of retirement.

Here's another recipe--of something I cooked yesterday-- that turned out to be delicious,  even though I was remembering it rather than reading it off, due to the fact that I couldn't print it (The type of font didn't translate from its online script to my Mac, meaning that when I printed it--and I use the word printed lightly here--I got only a blank page. Strange. 

And I was too lazy to write it down. Anyway, I must have remembered it well enough to make a delicious dinner out of it nevertheless. Here it is:

Ingredients:

 4TBS of olive oil, used in two spots in the making 
5 oz. mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 TBS fresg rosemary, chopped up
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup white wine
12 cherry tomatoes
12 pitted black Nicoise olives

Instructions:

1. Heat 2 TBS of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Cook mushrooms until soft,  over medium-high heat, then remove them to a plate.
3. Put rosemary, chicken thighs, garlic cloves in hot oil, seasoning with hot oil.
4. Cook, turning chicken, until chicken and garlic are well-browned.
5. Return mushrooms to skillet.
6. Add wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Cook about 3 minutes.
7. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer gently for 1 hour (actually, I did it for about half an hour)
8. Sprinkle tomatoes and olives over chicken, return cover, and cook for about 5 minutes more.

The result is the most tender little chicken bites you've ever tasted, that anyone, even a kid, so long as they love chicken, would love. 
And they aren't terribly caloric, either, so you feel virtuous as you eat them. Plus, the rosemary gives the chicken a really  tasty flavor, and the wine just enhances it. The tomatoes cook just enough to lose their pop and their skins no longer seem like skins. The olives hit just the right note.
The recipe called for flakes of red pepper to be added just before the tomatoes and olives, but I forgot that, and i suppose if I had added  them, the meal would have been a bit more spicy, but I assure you that it was delicious and tasty without. 
  •  

Herbed Chicken Thighs--Delicious!
cronemagic
Hi there

It's a cold (-2, windchill-8) day with occasional bits of snow flying furiously around like angry dandruff. Nice to be able to stay indoors and lounge. This is the real enjoyment of retirement.

Here's another recipe--of something I cooked yesterday-- that turned out to be delicious,  even though I was remembering it rather than reading it off, due to the fact that I couldn't print it (The type of font didn't translate from its online script to my Mac, meaning that when I printed it--and I use the word printed lightly here--I got only a blank page. Strange.

And I was too lazy to write it down. Anyway, I must have remembered it well enough to make a delicious dinner out of it nevertheless. Here it is:

Ingredients:

 4TBS of olive oil, used in two spots in the making 
5 oz. mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 TBS fresg rosemary, chopped up
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup white wine
12 cherry tomatoes
12 pitted black Nicoise olives

Instructions:

1. Heat 2 TBS of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Cook mushrooms until soft,  over medium-high heat, then remove them to a plate.
3. Put rosemary, chicken thighs, garlic cloves in hot oil, seasoning with hot oil.
4. Cook, turning chicken, until chicken and garlic are well-browned.
5. Return mushrooms to skillet.
6. Add wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Cook about 3 minutes.
7. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer gently for 1 hour (actually, I did it for about half an hour)
8. Sprinkle tomatoes and olives over chicken, return cover, and cook for about 5 minutes more.

The result is the most tender little chicken bites you've ever tasted, that anyone, even a kid, so long as they love chicken, would love.
And they aren't terribly caloric, either, so you feel virtuous as you eat them. Plus, the rosemary gives the chicken a really  tasty flavor, and the wine just enhances it. The tomatoes cook just enough to lose their pop and their skins no longer seem like skins. The olives hit just the right note.
The recipe called for flakes of red pepper to be added just before the tomatoes and olives, but I forgot that, and i suppose if I had added  them, the meal would have been a bit more spicy, but I assure you that it was delicious and tasty without. 

Snakes
cronemagic
 I am not a fan of snakes.

One spring day, my little sister and I, age 7 and 12, stepped outside  our  front door to go to school, and saw that the entire front walk and front steps were covered with a writhing mass of garden snakes. , but at that moment, all I saw was a scene from a horror movie: The Attack of The Killer Snakes.

In my haste to push my little sister, who was behind me, back into the house as she came around my side, she  stepped on the tail of one of the snakes. To the horror of both of us, the startled snakes snapped up on its tail and wrapped itself along her bare leg under her little dress. She shrieked and so did I, so much that my mother appeared in her housecoat at the door behind us, demanding to know what was the matter and then shrieking herself when she saw what it was.

Only  a few moments passed, I'm sure,  but it seemed like forever before I thought to lunge at my sister to push her back inside the house, while my mother,  seeing what else was required, struck at the snake with the morning newspaper she luckily had been holding.

After only a few minutes of recovery time, she insisted that we go on to school by way of the back door. She was left with the daunting task of getting rid of the snakes--not realizing that when the sun went down and the cement was no longer warm, they would  go back into the field next to our house, which was their summer home.  And, being a widow, she couldn't get her husband to do it.  

As I recall, the live-in gardener of the old lady who lived next door alone on a two acre lot came over, at her request, and beat them off with a broom---while wearing rubber boots.  These were not poisonous snakes, I learned, but 

Snakes
cronemagic
 I am not a fan of snakes.

One spring day, my little sister and I, age 7 and 12, stepped outside  our  front door to go to school, and saw the    entire front walk and front steps covered with a writhing mass of garden snakes.

?

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