Saturday, 08 February 2014
INTERESTING STUFF – 8 February 2014
HELEN MIRREN'S TWERKING SKILLS
Certainly you recall the “twerking” craze that lasted for a day or two following Miley Cyrus's “performance” of the maneuver at an award show not long ago.
Now, one of our favorite elder actors, Helen Mirren, was dragooned into showing off her twerking skills at Harvard University when she was given the Hasty Pudding Club's woman of the year award a week or so ago. Here she is:
You can read more here.
This is a lovely, full-length documentary about a group of old – and quite glamorous - ordinary women who are transformed through ballroom dancing as they learn the steps and prepare for the premier of their spy-themed dance show titled In Search of the Daytona Diamond.
Most of the women are widows and as they rehearse, we are let in on their life stories as they talk about their dreams, the loss of their husbands, growing old and what this performance means to them.
The much younger dance studio owner, Caleb Young, has his own story of loss related to 9/11 in New York City that gives him a special insight into the women he teaches in the Florida studio he owns with his mother.
Take a look at the trailer:
The film about these women, their teachers and the dance production they work so hard to perfect, directed by Brian Lilla, is funny, poignant, sad at times and not something you'll soon forget.
The DVD goes on sale Tuesday 11 February. You can purchase it here.
CONFESSIONS OF A TSA OFFICER
Former TSA agent Jason Edward Harrington confirms pretty much everything you ever suspected about those airport security checks.
”Once, in 2008, I had to confiscate a bottle of alcohol from a group of Marines coming home from Afghanistan,” writes Harrington.
“It was celebration champagne intended for one of the men in the group—a young, decorated soldier. He was in a wheelchair, both legs lost to an I.E.D., and it fell to me to tell this kid who would never walk again that his homecoming champagne had to be taken away in the name of national security.”
Harrington tells us that everyone at TSA knew from the getgo that the full-body scanners don't work. The person who trained Harrington on the scanner
“...said we wouldn’t be able to distinguish plastic explosives from body fat and that guns were practically invisible if they were turned sideways in a pocket.”
Further, you are not wrong, says Harrington, about all the cruel jokes you have suspected TSA agents are making about us:
”Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display. Piercings of every kind were visible.
“Women who’d had mastectomies were easy to discern — their chests showed up on our screens as dull, pixelated regions. Hernias appeared as bulging, blistery growths in the crotch area...All the old, crass stereotypes about race and genitalia size thrived on our secure government radio channels.”
Harrington is working on a novel based on his time as a TSA agent. Meanwhile you can read his entire report about the TSA at Politico.
HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON 2
On Valentine's Day, season two of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey will be released on Netflix. Here's a trailer:
Like Season 1, all 13 episodes will be available at once on Netlfix next Friday. If there is no post here on Monday the 17th, you will know that, as with season 1, I spent the weekend wallowing in a marathon of the entire season over two days.
DOWNTON ABBEY CAST HELPS PHILIPPINE TSUNAME
Although I watch now and then, I am not the rabid fan of Downton Abbey that I am of House of Cards.
Nevertheless, the characters are compelling and now the cast has come together in a video to aid the victims of the tsunami that devastated the Philippines. At first I was put off by the humor in the video but they won me over. Take a look:
To find out how you can contribute to Philippines Relief and enter the contest to win a trip to London and a day on the set of Downton Abbey, click here.
NEWS ANCHOR WIPES THE FLOOR WITH COCA-COLA AD HATERS
Coca-Cola produced a stirring Super Bowl commercial in which people from many countries sang America the Beautiful in their own languages.
Glenn Beck was among the first of many conservatives to condemn Coke for the ad. He nonsensically accused the company of trying to “divide people.”
I thought I was going to write a takedown of this kind of stupidity but Atlanta news anchor, Brenda Wood of WXIA did a much better job that I would have. I want to hear a lot applause for this one:
A couple of days later, while taking a moment to point out just how cloying the ad really is, Jon Stewart on The Daily Show did an equally good job of taking down the haters:
ROLLING STONE'S POPE STORY
Pope Francis made the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
The story, written by Mark Binelli, is comprehensive, detailed and fascinating. If you think, perhaps, that because you're not Roman Catholic it's not important to bother with the new pontiff, you're wrong. Powerful politicians in the United States and the world pay attention to what this man says and he has the power to change minds.
However, some prominent Catholics insist that he is more traditional than he sounds in public.
”This is a common retort among conservative Catholics about Pope Francis:” writes Binelli. “You guys in the secular liberal media just aren't listening. [Rick] Santorum [for example] has insisted the pope's comments on gays and abortion were taken out of context...
“Father Thomas J. Reese, a senior analyst at the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter, says the arguments about style versus substance when it comes to Pope Francis are missing the point entirely.
"'In the Catholic Church, style is substance,' Reese says. 'We are a church of symbols. That's what we call the sacrament: symbols that give us grace. These things really matter. So Francis is already changing the church in real ways through his words and symbolic gestures.'”
It's a long report and definitely worth the read; I couldn't put it down. You will find it here.
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN
There are no more than a handful of other contemporary actors who have given me as much pleasure and, even, thrills with their performances as Philip Seymour Hoffman.
He was one of our greatest artists, just 46 years old when he died last week of a heroin overdose and we are all poorer for the loss – so many performances that might have been we will never see.
I especially like this clip of Hoffman speaking that Jon Stewart chose for his short tribute to the actor. It applies not just to the actors Hoffman is addressing, but to how everyone should try to live.
The string of short clips in The New York Times video makes one hunger for a marathon Philip Seymour Hoffman viewing:
There are hundreds of other tributes around the web and The Guardian has collected some of Hoffman's finest movie clips.
SIMON'S CAT VALENTINE
This seems way to early since Valentine's Day is still seven days away but by next week's Interesting Stuff, it would be passe. So, from Bev Carney, here is the latest Simon's Cat.
Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.
You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.