Posts tagged Hollywood

Writing articles while I have time and “Unbroken”

Yesterday I wrote two articles for our local newspaper, today I have two more in rough draft form.  I am determined to get at least seven done out of the eight that I have planned.  Some of these articles are writing themselves and as if there is an outside force propelling me on.  That is a good feeling. I also did an interview of two educational administrators eleven years ago and I am using the text of what I videotaped to put together two articles about two very different people who worked alongside each other for a time.  They were very charming in their own way, one was the consummate extrovert, the other a studious but friendly gentleman. I met the latter’s son this past summer and he reminded me of the extrovert, so different from his father was he.

We are making our final plans to see family members while our days are waning in sunny Arizona.  We saw “Unbroken” last night and it was in a BIG theater with lots of people in attendance.  People clapped at the end out of a sense of relief.  We had all witnessed some frightful things about what the cruelties of war does to people.  Hate was personified in the Japanese prison guard called “The Bird.”  He seemed to enjoy his torture of the hero in the story who after he was freed at the war’s end went back to Japan to try and find all those who were part of the prison system he was under.  He met with all of them and gave them forgiveness but the person known as the Bird would not meet with Louie Z.  He did not want to be broken down by his forgiveness, who knows whatever happened to him.  Louie Z. died in his 90s but not before he returned to run with the Olympic flame in Japan which was a high point for him.

What a story of perseverance and eventual faith.  Louie went back to his Italian family in the U.S. after two years in the Japanese prison system. He eventually got married but he still suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome after what he had been through.  He was into drugs and alcohol until he went to a Billy Graham crusade.  The American pilot named Phil who had been in the life raft with him for over 45 days on the Pacific Ocean also survived the prisons in Japan.  He was a Christian and perhaps had some earlier impact on Louie.  His family were religious but he would have none of that until he heard the message about Jesus.  I’m glad that the movie portrayed that part of his story of what he went through but they only captured a part of it. My husband read the book and he claimed that it was much more about his return to civilian life and how he coped and changed for the good.  The life leading up to his days on the ocean and then two years of capture is just a small part of the whole, real life story.

I suppose Hollywood can only document so much in two hours of what was in the true story that Laura Hildebrand had written about Louie Zamparini (sp). I am glad that it was aired because watching about 20 minutes of previews showed that there are soooooo many other movies that are not worthwhile to even see. In fact, some are downright evil and dangerous to young minds.  Do people actually like going to these movies? Are there any good morals or inspiration to them?  With the movie “Unbroken,” there was the inspiration to survive and then to forgive those who had persecuted.

It will be interesting to see the other reviews on this movie.  This was only day two of it being out in the public.  I hope there is a sequel that will show the rest of Louie’s life.  He died just recently at the age of 90 or so.  What a victor and he would give all the glory to Christ.

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Sagynysh’s Grandparents’ Hollywood Love Affair

I have many very good stories from my Masters students class which keeps expanding.  (Sagynysh is in the second row, second in on left with a white shirt).  Last count I have about 23 Masters students if all showed up. The following is a informative essay written by Sagynysh who is a masters student in the Public Administration MPA program.   I think she does a nice job and this is in English, not her first or second language!!!

“It is said that grandparents love their grandchildren more than their own children. I have seen and believed it when my parents became grandparents to my two nice little nieces. They really love these sometimes naughty girls. They read books, walk in the park, give advice and good examples, teach them what is good and what is bad, spoil them and indulge in everything, and even let them do some things which me and my elder sister had never been allowed to do. 

Frankly speaking it is really hard for me to choose and write about one of my grandparents because I grew up with my mother and father. We rarely visited them as they lived in other cities so far away from us. 

Unfortunately, my grandparents from my father’s side died when I was a child. I just remember the silhouette and features of my grandmother. My grandfather also kept in my memory only his gait, manners, my surname and the way of calling me “Sakonai”… Their names were Uitolgan and Kalbay. Sometimes I try to discover in my memory some of their individual personalities, but I cannot. I was little enough when they left us. Everything I know about them is from my father, elder sister and cousins’ stories.     

Fortunately, my other grandparents from my mother’s side are alive. Now they are approximately at 85 years old. Their names are Zhuma and Zhanyl. The most I like is the fact they have their own love story. My grandmother at the age of 17 was engaged to one rich man of 30 years. She did not feel any feelings of love next to him as she was dating with my grandfather and liked him instead. So, my grandfather stole her before that wedding. The story is really related to the stories from Hollywood movies. Also, that astonished me greatly is the point that my grandmother gave birth 10 times! And among them 3 pairs of twins! That’s why they have a lot of grandchildren and even a number of great – grandchildren. 

In spite of it, my grandparents are always glad when I visit them. They ask me a lot of questions in order to be informed about me and it seems like they want to make up for lost time. They became happy hearing about my achievements, progress and successful results. And they never forget about my birthday.         

Even though one of them left me so early, one of them lives so far away from me, and I grew up without their caresses, I am sure they like me very much. Nobody and nothing is to be blamed for that. I know they love me. I feel it.  

When I see how happy my darling nieces are to have grandparents like my mother and father, I cannot help but believe that my future children will be happy too. I hope they will live in the atmosphere of grandparents’ love, caress and kind words.”

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Watched Six Movies in 24 hours

I landed safely in Minneapolis after two long and uneventful flights and a long wait in Amsterdam in the span of 24 hours.  To pass my time on planes I usually can’t sleep and I like to catch up on movies.  The following are the six movies I watched in the span of 24 hours.  Lots to sort through!   

Slumdog Millionaire – set in India using the popular game show “So you want to be a millionaire.”  Heard so much about this movie because of the academy awards, I just HAD to see it.  They used a kid named Jamal who grew up on the streets who ultimately won a lot of rupees from the game show Indian style.  How did he do it? *Spoiler*  Shows torture of Jamal at first like water boarding, electrocution and slapping around to get to the bottom of that answer.  The “truth” was even more riveting to Jamal’s accusers than what they thought was some kind of electronic scam.  Many improbable scenes happen so it seemed surreal throughout in that sense and had a typical Hollywood happy ending.  I liked the last dancing scene at the train station when they rolled the credits.  Very creative.


Changeling – The next sobering movie I watched was directed by Clint Eastwood.  He is a master at creating films that have an “edginess” to them with current social issues, this one was no exception set in the late 1920s in L.A. starring Angelina Jolie.  She did a superb job of acting, convincing the viewers that she was a single mom who simply wanted her son back alive.  Her son had been missing for five months and then things got really rough for her.  True story but the supporting role goes to the Presbyterian minister who was backing this mother to find out just how corrupt and devious the L.A. police department could be.  Never seemed that she thanked the minister for pulling her out of a psycho ward and the courtroom cases they went through while she was very motherly about correcting the boy on his manners when he came to live in her house who wasn’t her true son.  Seems when Hollywood directors use any period piece, they may discover that a lot of prayer went into the actually living out of the real life tragedy. I believe Hollywood does all they can to dilute how much faith happened back in our earlier days.  This has a mixed ending, similar to Eastwoods “Million Dollar Baby.”  I want to see his latest film “Grand Torino.”


First Daughter – After two sad and serious movies, I had to watch a comedy and this felt like I was watching Chelsea Clinton leave Wash. D.C. to go to Stanford for her university education.  Probably this movie script had all sorts of things that happened in real life for the Clinton family or for the Bush twins but it was made to look fictional.  I would have liked to have seen Anne Hathaway do this movie but she no longer is convincing as a college coed, another young actress did a very good job.  Her “boyfriend” looked a little older for the college scene but that was part of the plot too.  Watch it for some funny scenes that will make you LOL.


Doubt – Meryl Streep never disappoints in her acting roles, though I’m disappointed in her politics as with most all Hollywood actors.  This movie is set in 1960s in some Catholic Church and school and Streep is the battleaxe principal who does not like the warm, charismatic priest. (Think “Devil Wears Prada” but the opposite in fashion design with her nun’s habit)  The plot is rich with meaning about intolerance, discrimination and struggles with the Catholic faith as it tries to lighten up a bit from the Old School.  It reminded me of the Soviet teachers I am surrounded by who are stuck in the old ways and can’t get out.  Meryl Streep has an abrupt and surprise ending and it leaves you with DOUBT!!!  I recommend watching it to see what issues they are really dealing with.


Get Smart – Anne Hathaway and the other male actor (I forget his name) but he does a great job playing the Max character from the Get Smart TV series.  Lots of funny scenes that are set in U.S. then in Russia then in L.A. but my KLM airline pilot had to land so I couldn’t find out what really happened.  I believe the president of the US was saved from a certain nuclear attack in L.A. thanks to Max and his agent 99 (Anne) and they predictably got together in the end.  Agent 23 turns out to be the double agent but then I’m giving the whole plot away, right?


Australia – Nicole Kidman and cattle driving don’t seem to go together but she does a great job riding horses and being the prim and proper British woman at first who eventually fits into the Wild West cowboy scenes in Australia.  What was odd about this film was that the director’s made Nicole seem so cartoon-ish at first.  From being totally aghast at kangaroo hunts, shocked at the decay to their Down Under residence her late husband had built and then trying to be a mother to a little half Aboriginal child.  Then the second half of the movie Kidman suddenly becomes ultimately absorbed by Australia’s toughened charm. It was as if the directors forced Kidman to do a fast forward in her caricature and then she seemed more relaxed and likeable as a person once she started to fight the big fight in Australia against an adversary in the cattle drive business.  This movie is set in the late 1930s and continues into the war with Japan in the 1940s and how it changed many Australians lives as a result.  The scenery is beautiful; the history bits are good just to see how Australia was affected by WWII. I always knew from my Philippine days that the Australians were very involved in the Pacific conquest but have not known much in how they suffered.   This film also deals with the issues of the discrimination against the aboriginal peoples.  On the whole a good movie, though it seems long but is worth the watch. 

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“English as She is Spoke” and Written

English as She is Spoke is an old classic book over 150 years recently republished which rivals anything Mr. Barot scripted in his recent movie about cultural leanings of America for make benefit glorious nation.  (I purposely misspelled his name and don’t want to draw any attention with search engines to Barot’s gross errors depicting this wonderful country where I presently teach English.)  


Of course, I’ve read some tortured writing of English done by my Kazakh students that leaves much to be desired, but at least they are trying to get their message across.  I understand they come from minimal learning experiences where writing was not encouraged in Russian, much less English.  Ironically, I’ve also seen some fairly horrific examples of writing from natives speakers of English too.  Let’s have Hollywood produce a movie which graphically shows how American students get away with playing video games for hours on end and how they have no time to do their writing assignments or read the material to show what is expected of them in a composition class.  Now THAT would be a sleeper movie!!!


Apparently Mark Twain loved this little book written by Pedro Carolino who was a hack just like Barot and used Jose Da Fonseca’s name as co-author of this comprehensive phrasebook of the English language.  Da Fonseca was a upstanding scholar who happened to have a phrasebook for Portuguese that was worked over by Carolino to make it purposefully absurd.  It came out as a “masterpiece” in 1869 and had many reprints and other spinoffs such as English as She is Taught or English as She is Wrote which shows funny exam-answer humor that only a teacher can fully appreciate.


Reading through this little book made me squirm simply because it is so obviously hacked.  For Twain to give it the thumbs up brings my estimation of him a bit lower even though I loved reading his Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer stories as I was growing up.  Twain lived later into life and died an unhappy man.  Reading English as She is Spoke would not improve one’s mood.  However, it makes me more determined than ever as a writing teacher to have my students improve their English skills so they don’t get laughed at by quacks similar to Carolino or Barot.


In Part One of this book are vocabulary words supposedly translated from Portuguese to English titled “Index of the Matters:”  The Mankind, Ages, Defects of the Body, Servants, diseases, remedies, parties a town, of the bed, eatings, quadruped’s beasts, fishes and shell-fishes, colours, games, of the altar, chastisements, familiar phrases.  You get the idea that articles and prepositions are put in where they don’t belong, taken out where they DO belong.  On page 22 is a phrase “stop a little” or “Let us go to respire the air.”  Page 24 “At what o’clock is to get up?” p. 26 “dress your hairs” or p. 30 “This girl have a beauty edge.”


My sister lived in Brazil at the tender age of 16 on an AFS student exchange.  She got to know her host family and quickly picked up the language of Portuguese.  I’ll have to give her this book to see if she recollects any of these supposed “familiar phrases.”  Several years later, one of the daughters of her Brazilian host family came to the U.S. on a similar exchange to live with a typical middle class American family.  Somehow I got caught in the middle a family squabble because the rich, young Brazilian girl did NOT know any English.  She kept saying over and over, “I no happy, I no happy.”  That was one thing she made everyone painfully aware of.  I think she was eventually moved to a different family and that resolved her happiness issue.  It didn’t help for her to come off the plane to a cold Minnesota winter with only sandals and a light dress and coat.  Obviously, no one had fully prepared her for the stark weather conditions or the language barrier once she arrived in the U.S.


One phrase that caught my attention was under the section titled “Idiotisms and Proverbs.”  I had asked my ESL students when I taught in Virginia years ago to give me three idioms or proverbs from their country.  One guy from a South American country, I don’t remember which one, gave me “The robe don’t make the monk.” That’s a good proverb.  However, Carolino was up to his tricks with changing “robe” to “dress” so it reads on page 128: “the dress don’t make the monk.”  Funny huh?  The actual saying in Portuguese is: “O habito nao faz o monge.”


Why is “the robe don’t make the monk” a good proverb?  Even though it is not proper English, the point comes across loud and clear. Supposedly there are people in places of authority who may have the title in their respective job but do NOT embrace the work ethic or are NOT skillful enough to fill that particular job and its job description.  Consequently, people under them suffer.  I might add there are perhaps many teachers who are teaching writing who don’t know how to write.  May the land of Kazakhstan have fully educated and talented teachers who know how to write in English.  Thus, they can teach their Kazakh students to write well, especially in a western style university where that is the expectation and the norm.  That is, if Kazakh students should ever leave Kazakhstan on some exchange program to the U.S. or U.K. to find out how miserable they can be if not fully prepared.

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