Posts tagged Julie and Julia

“Iron Lady” and Meryl Streep’s Performance

I know this has nothing to do with Kazakhstan but in a sense it does.  Asians are much more tolerant of older people, they give them the respect that is due them.  “Getting old is not for sissies,” my 96 year old grandma used to quote.  I don’t understand why women, such as Meryl Streep, who pride themselves on being liberal and emancipated tear down other successful women. I don’t get it.  Meryl Streep did a huge disservice to the legacy of Margaret Thatcher in the latest movie “Iron Lady.”

Streep was very talented on imitating Julia Child and her walk, talk and mannerisms (think “Julie and Julia” movie), Streep did the same with the honorable Thatcher’s accent and movements.  However, what I find remiss is that Streep was ready and willing to play the role of an aging woman with dementia. There’s nothing attractive about witnessing the fragile years of a deteriorated mind especially of one who used to be a world powerhouse such as Margaret Thatcher.

The following are Meryl Streep’s thoughts on her performance in “Iron Lady” from Internet Movie Database

“It took a lot out of me, but it was a privilege to play Margaret Thatcher, it really was. I still don’t agree with a lot of her policies. But I feel she believed in them and that they came from an honest conviction, and that she wasn’t a cosmetic politician just changing make-up to suit the times.

We on the Left didn’t like her policies but secretly we were thrilled that a woman had made it, and we thought, “Wow, if it can happen there in England, it could happen here.” But we’re still waiting in America.

She’s still an incredibly divisive figure, but you miss her clarity today. It was all very clear and up front, and I loved that eagerness to mix it up and to make it about ideas. Today it’s all about feelings. You know, “How do I come off?” and, “Does this seem OK?” You want people who are willing to find a solution. I admire the fact that she was a “love-me-or-hate-me” kind of leader who said: “This is what I stand for.” It’s a hard thing to do and no one’s doing that now.

[on what appealed to Meryl Streep about playing Margaret Thatcher] Women and power, and diminishment of power, and loss of power. And reconciliation with your life where you come to a point where you’ve lived most of it, and it’s behind you. I have always liked and been intrigued by older people and the idea that behind them lives every human trauma, drama, glory, jokes, love.

I consider all the roles I play a privilege but this one was special because there are such vehement opinions about her. People seemed to look at her as an icon or a monster and I just wanted to locate the human being inside those caricatures that we’ve seen over so many years. And to investigate myself what it must have been like for her.

[Streep responding to those who have criticized the emphasis placed on Margaret Thatcher’s frail and confused old age] Some people have said it’s shameful to portray this part of a life. But the corollary of that is that, if you think that debility, delicacy, dementia are shameful, if you think that the ebbing of a life is something that should be shut away, if you think that people need to be defended from these images then – yes – then you’ll think it’s a shameful thing.”

Apparently, whoever wrote the “Iron Lady” script wanted the audience to be confused about Thatcher’s husband, Denis, appearing in her other world of delusion or reappearing in mere flashbacks in time.  Denis provides the comic relief necessary for this film and is entertaining when he tries to get Margaret to lighten up.  Endearing are their two children who wanted their mother to stay home and not follow her vision and passion to lead the country. Did Meryl Streep’s three daughters and one son have the same desire to have their mother home with them?  Seems she has racked up many movies in her acting career since the mid-1970s, same drive to follow one’s passion. Will someone play Meryl Streep’s tottering years when she goes senile?  I wonder.

What I liked best about the movie was the quote that Margaret Thatcher used.  If only Meryl Streep heeded these words and was not on the liberal left so ready to take an icon of freedom and democracy down.  A movie built around “selective memories” should instead showcase “Iron Lady” as having character of the right sort.

“Watch your thoughts for they become words,

Watch your words for they become actions,

Watch your actions for they become…habits,

Watch your habits, for they become your character,

And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny!

What we think, we become.”

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Blogging about WebSurvey Master…am I a Slave to Blogging?

I have met some very nice people because of this blog about Kazakhstan. I’ve written almost every day and especially after three years of being consistent in Kazakhstan, I have an audience more than just my Mom.  As my dear husband knows only too well, sometimes I feel as compulsive as the blogger in the movie “Julie and Julia.”  I’m not obsessing over a person like Julia Childs. I guess I’m trying to digest what this country of Kazakhstan is all about. Maybe I AM a slave to blogging…

In a very round about way I read some Kazakh person’s blog who was writing from London and wondering why Kazakh people don’t blog.  After I wrote to him telling him I appreciated his thoughts on this very subject because I’ve been wondering about this same problem for several years. In response, he gave me a link from a blogger from India who had, in turn, responded to HIS blog thinking aloud about why Kazakhs don’t like to write. You see how this social networking through blogs can pick up steam?  As a writing teacher, it is sometimes difficult to get anyone to write, not just Kazakhs or Ukrainians. But perhaps with Kazakhs there are even more tantalizing reasons to ferret out this information so that they WOULD blog more about their amazing country and culture.

Is it that Kazakhs want to remain mysterious to the rest of the world?  I am convinced there are many talented Kazakhs who have the ability to write but they just don’t feel compelled to do so.  This person I just recently got in contact with said that Kazakhs are too lazy.  Now, he can get away with writing that because he is Kazakh.  I, as an American, would not be able to write that so easily without offending Kazakhs.  Okay, so it is OUT there in the blogosphere and I didn’t say it. I suppose I should put the link on my blog right this very minute so you know that I’m writing truthfully.  However, I would have to get his permission first, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

I would like to do another questionnaire like I did with Survey Monkey and thankfully a new commenter yesterday brought to my attention about another swell on-line survey that I could use with my students.  Yes!!! I’m open to anything NEW and I’m seeing that this latest website that I showed to my students is a fun one for them.  First, I’ll have to try out this link which may even be better than SurveyMonkey.  We’ll see.  But this was just another person I will possibly meet soon, I believe he lives in Astana.  Without blogging and being OUT THERE, how would I know these people even exist with common interests to my own?

Next, I want to survey our student body about movies. What kind do they like (comedy, drama, history, horror, etc.), what values do they see in American movies and other questions. I hope to get to the core of what we do every Sunday afternoon by showing good and wholesome movies with English subtitles to these university students. We want to open this service up to the general public of Astana so that other university students can profit from our handouts and discussion in English afterwards.

Finally, my husband will hopefully meet a commenter to my blog while he is visiting Almaty this weekend.  I think this person started commenting on my blog entries about a year ago.  He shares some of the same economic interests as my husband does so that might be helpful to finally meet the person behind the pseudonym. I’ve met over the phone or in person some of my other commenters and that is always fun.

For now, my students who are blogging are excited about getting outside commenters besides just me, their teacher.  The adventure is finding out what you write and think matters to someone else.  That is why I want to survey more about blogging to get to the bottom of this problem of why Kazakh students don’t feel a need to write to the general globalized public about who they are and where they have come from. A great land of Kazakhstan which I can hardly understand, not knowing the language beyond four words, would be better served to explain it by actual Kazakhs blogging MORE!!!

I’ll keep you posted about what my students have written about the problems they see exist with blogging from Kazakhstan. It’s not like there is a law against it, or IS there an unwritten code that I, as the unsuspecting American, don’t know about??? Stay tuned!

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Photos of Intl. Women’s Day Party and Movies

This particular Friday was a good day, it ended well.  The men lined up to give plants to the ladies to celebrate International Women’s Day.  Afterwards some stayed behind and watched “Pink Panther” during the lunch break. My favorite part of the movie is when Steve Martin prepares himself to speak flawless English before his trip to New York from Paris.  He has a terrible time pronouncing the phrase: “I want to buy a hamburger.” The others enjoyed that scene as much as I did having seen it for about the fifth time. Since we couldn’t watch the whole hour and a half, we will pick up where we left off with Martin’s mispronunciation of “hamburger” next Friday in order to maybe have time to discuss.

Also, I’m showing the photo of the crowd that came to my place last Friday night to watch the movie “Julie and Julia.”  I am surrounded by some fun people in Astana, I will be their English teacher, for many of my fellow employees to brush up on their English speaking skills.  Looking forward to it.  Here’s photos because I don’t have much else to write.  

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Photos of Manhole Cover and Carpets

What can I write today? I’ve been at the office all day and it turned out to be a fun with a birthday party at the end of it for a 22 year old secretary named Irina.  During the day I gave an English proficiency test among my 30 plus Kazakh work colleagues to four groups.  I also promoted the next movie we will watch with English subtitles on Friday as a whole group, Steve Martin’s “Pink Panther.”  We had about 13 people watch “Julie and Julia” last Friday night but this time it will be during the standard work break for lunch from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  I gave each person a handout with some of the vocabulary words from the movie to look up in Russian so when they hear it in English and see the English words in the subtitles, it will be like an “immersion” experience for almost two hours. Some of these people do not know ANY English, they will be in my “basic elementary” grouping for twice weekly instruction.

Some Kazakh people from work (many different departments such as finance, accounting, H.R. logistics, construction, etc.) claimed they didn’t want to hang around for the movie until after work lets out at 7:00, getting them home by 9:00 or so.  Okay, so we adjust, Friday lunch break may be our movie time.

I also discovered among my work colleagues, there are some extremely competitive people concerning their English proficiency skills.  Wow, what passion to get the grammar just right, to know the difference between an adjective and noun such as scarce and scarcity.  Or one word that had MANY of the people flummoxed was the word “conducive.”  Also, we went round about the synonyms “takes place” and “occur” as in an event or meeting.  There seems to be a difference according to the British but as Americans we wouldn’t know the nuances of that and other words in the IELTS quick placement test.

Since I don’t have much energy to write beyond just that, here are some photos from here in Astana or from Almaty.  Manhole covers gives us all pause in Kazakhstan and a weird preoccupation that we wouldn’t give a second thought to in the U.S.  I’ve had two American friends fall in to manholes and hurt themselves badly because they weren’t paying attention to where they were walking.  Most people from the former Soviet Union, however, know NEVER to step on manhole covers. These covers are remarkable here in Kazakhstan because you often see men working near them with long wires or some covers are missing entirely, but not necessarily true in this new city of Astana, Kazakhstan.

I also wanted to show Kazakh carpets, one I bought back in 1993 in Almaty, the other is my friend Julia’s carpet that she recently bought in Almaty at a very good deal. I would like to buy a carpet here in Astana once I get paid. Again, Americans are different about their carpets.  We walk on them with our street shoes on without a second thought, whereas here in Central Asia you show respect by NOT walking on these pieces of art.  You must wear indoor slippers and NOT your shoes that you used outside.  Manhole cover and carpets, I guess I had something to write about afterall.

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