The Day After Thanksgiving 2013

INTERESTING STUFF – 30 November 2013


Cutaway Productions is a student-run video production company working out of Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota. A student who uses the screen name drivinman687 wrote this on the YouTube page about his video:

”My final project I made for my video productions class Cutaway Productions at my high school. I don't own the rights to the song or the pictures and I am not trying to claim them, I just did this video for fun and i spent many a hour on it.”

And what a terrific job he did. Thank Darlene Costner for getting this video to us.


Los Angeles-based filmmaker Brian Knappenberger explained the background of this video:

”This short film addresses the most common arguments I’ve heard from people who are not concerned about online surveillance, such as: 'I’m not doing anything wrong, so why should I care?' and 'We need this to keep us safe.'

"...Edward Snowden has ignited a debate, and for that I am grateful. But now that he’s done his part, it’s time for all Americans to decide how to respond to his revelations. That is to say, it is no longer his story. It is ours.”

Here is Knappenberger's film:

You can read more from Brian Knappenberger at The New York Times.


Whatever would I do for Saturday's Interesting Stuff without Darlene. This too is from her, young Arden Hayes appearing on Jimmy Kimmel's TV show:


I have always liked doll houses. At least one person has suggested that they allow us to have complete control of our environment. I suppose that applies to miniature trains too. This one, in Hamburg, Germany, is breathtakingly fantastic. (Thanks again, Darlene)

You can read about it and see more videos here.


Many studies confirm that loneliness and isolation in old age is deadly leading to anxiety, depression, suicide, heart disease and other health conditions.

"Peter McGrail...worked for decades at Eaton’s, decorating store windows from Toronto to Halifax. After he retired he enjoyed attending concerts, tinkering with antique clocks and gardening at his cabin. But then McGrail’s health and his finances went south.

"By the time he was 80, life was grim. His only friends were the birds and chipmunks he fed in the park.

“'I thought of suicide a few times,' he says, 'When you are down and out at Christmas time, you look out the window and see a cement wall, and it is snowing out and you don’t know what to think, what to do, so you just lie down.'"

Then Les Petits Freres stepped in and today, McGrail has a new home, takes many meals at Les Petits Freres Montreal headquarters and he has been paired with a volunteer who visits him at home regularly.

Les Petits Freres is a worldwide organization that has been changing the lives of lonely elders since it was founded in 1939:

”Today, Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly as it is known in English - flourishes in eight countries, including the United States. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the growing demand for what it has to offer...

“To get help you must be 75 years old and have no family members living nearby. Seniors are referred by social workers, nurses or neighbours. It doesn’t matter whether they live alone or in a residence, whether they are sick or healthy, rich or poor - they just have to say they are lonely...

“Les Petits Frères has no religious or government affiliation. The organization is financed by private donations and is fiercely independent.”

I had never heard of Les Petits Freres until doctafil, who blogs at Jive Chalkin', send me the link to this story about it. You should go read some more.


There are a lot of complaints that there are not enough movies for and/or about old people and there certainly are a lot fewer than there are shoot-'em-ups and zombie films. But just in time for the holidays, at least four have turned up – all of which I intend to see.

So the rest of today's Interesting Stuff is stacked with what look to be four compelling films about elders.


This one stars 77-year-old Bruce Dern as an alcoholic making a trip with his son from Montana to Nebraska to claim a lottery prize.


Judi Dench, age 78, plays Philomena who searches for the son who was taken away from her when he was an infant and she was then forced to enter a convent.


Who can resist it when these four old Hollywood pros get together on screen in a comedy about a bachelor party in Vegas when the last of them finally gets married. Kevin Kline (66), Morgan Freeman (76), Robert DeNiro (70) and Michael Douglas (69) as the holdout groom.


This French documentary was first released in 1973, but few theaters could handle its advanced technology. Now, it has been digitally remastered and is winning awards a festivals.

Written and directed by Dominique Benicheti and shot from 1968 to 1973, it is the story of a rural couple, Benicheti's cousin Jules and Félicie Guiteaux.

Some reviewers reject the slow-moving pace of this story of everyday life but Zachary Wigon in the Village Voice notes that

”...we begin to experience the film as a kind of mindfulness in action, the viewing of the picture as an immersion in a meditative state.

“Thoroughly transporting, the peacefulness and clarity of Cousin Jules can't help but reveal, by contrast, the restlessness and agitation too common to life today.”

You can read more about the documentary here.

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.


Thanks to you and Darlene. This column just keeps getting better and better. I look forward to it all week.

Thanks for the brilliance this morning.

I just have to see the Judi Dench movie "Philomena" and "Last Vegas". Both should be great. The plot of "Nebraska" is intriguing so that's on my list as well.

Sadly I will have to wait until they are on NetFlix.

I really hope that Cousin Jules comes to Tel Aviv. Thanks for all the Stuff and to its contributors!

What an embarrassment of riches today! Thank you.

I saw "Philomena" yesterday and was blown away by its simple power. It will be with me for a long time.

I enjoyed all today's posts, but the one on the miniature exhibit was incredible! Made me wish I could be miniaturized and go spend some time there. What a tremendous amount of work! The trailers were all interesting and I hope to see at least a couple of those movies. Thanks Ronni!

Another movie I saw this week is "All Is Lost" with 77-year-old Robert Redford as the only person in it, with no dialog and still riveting throughout. I must see that Judi Dench movie. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Thanks for the film tips, I can hardly wait to see Nebraska, Dern has been a long time favorite of mine, as is Dench. We live in a remote rural town so I may have to Netflix or buy them (except for Last Vegas which is here)to see them but I will gladly.

Cutaway Productions effort was wonderful, your whole post will keep me thinking all week and beyond.

I just saw Philomena and was on edge because the film makers,it seemed to me, made Philoemena who would be about 65 in the story, seem ten years old. They concentrated on her obsession with the child taken away while ignoring the daughter she had; I felt it was skewed for sentimentality and toward a view of 65 that is less vital than was necessary.

Everyone could be aware of what the patriot(?) Act is doing. From NSA to our suburb, surveillance is increasing rapidly and without public input, unless you like attending city council meetings. Ours voted to allow the police to install video cameras on some intersections & license readers. They are not revealing what other communities and organizations they will share this info with. A longtime local from Germany hollered loudly how terrified he is of this and where it might well lead, meaning increased watching & reporting, misuse, and attendant costly mistakes that will happen to people. Often, it is only at the local level and early on that we all can effect change politically. This is tough with the loss of thorough, well-researched local newspaper reporting.
I also like Dern - his daughter's show was good, too - more thought-provoking that most TV dramas/comedies. Good to see a fellow elder succeed like Dern. And Dench is so captivating in her films.
Good ones….

Wonderful stuff! Thanks!!

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