Friday, November 23, 2007

Only Love Can Conquer Hate

Lately I've been listening to some really great music protesting the war. In the great tradition of Vietnam protest songs in the 60's (Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind, Lennon's Imagine, Marvin Gaye's What's Goin On?) we have these amazing songs such as When the President Talks to God (Bright Eyes), American Idiot (Green Day) and even Not Ready to Make Nice (Dixie Chicks). The song that has resonated with me most however is Dear Mr. President (Pink). The lyrics like "how can you sleep while the rest of us cry?" and "when you look in the mirror are you proud?" have inspired me to write my own open letter to the Executive in Chief. Enjoy!

Dear Mr. President,

I'm an American citizen who has lived abroad now for six years. I am also a Christian, like yourself. As you know, we are charged with thanking God for all things, in the good and the bad times. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought a "thank-you" note would be appropriate.

First of all I thank God for you. Jesus told us that leaders are allowed by God to lead. God probably helped save you from your addictions to alcohol and cocaine use. You wouldn't be where you are today if it wasn't for God. It's a hard job, harder than you probably expected and I don't envy you at all.

Secondly, I thank God for showing Christians the folly of being over-involved in politics. We're beginning to realize that killing of innocents is not of God and torture is not Christlike. Thank you Mr. President for showing us how we have been used and manipulated for political gain.

Third, I thank God that, because of your misguided leadership on the environment, we now know that global warming and dependence on oil are problems we can't afford to ignore. God created this Earth and gave it to us as stewards, not to exploit it for our own selfish reasons.

Finally, I thank God for your extremist policies on same-sex union, stem-cell research and terrorism. By focusing so much of your attention on these issues, we were able to see how far removed you are from our core values of compassion, justice, mercy, forgiveness and above all, grace.

I will continue to pray for you, your wife and your children in addition to all the families (on both sides) that have lost and will continue to lose their children and spouses in this war (almost 4,000 US military and over 77,000 Iraqi civilians).



So- what would you say to the president?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We're All in the Mood for a Melody

I have to admit I do like my current job. This is probably the reason why I have been less agressive in looking for something else. I know I could have it a lot worse and many do. This job is relatively stress-free, I like my coworkers and I feel good about helping students learn something I have an actual passion for: the English language. It's also fascinating to share our cultures with each other.

One way I have been facilitating this is by having "Music Thursdays" in my Listening and Pronunciation class. It gives us something to look forward to. I pick an artist and choose two songs I feel would be interesting, important and appropriate. Then I copy the lyrics. After this I read them over and decide which words to leave out, usually looking for elements of rhyme and repetition. Then in class we listen to each song twice- once without interruption and the second time stopping periodically to give the answers and discuss the meaning and context.

At first I began with Canadian artists but when I ran out of them, I turned south to "classic" artists from my own country. Here is a list of the artists I have highlighted thus far and their songs. Are there any additions you would suggest?

Joni Mitchell- Case of You, River
Alanis Morrisette- Ironic, Hand in My Pocket
Sarah McLachlan- Possession, Hold On

Aretha Franklin- Respect
Carpenters- Top of the World, Close to You
Cher-I Got You Babe, Believe
Desree-You Gotta Be
Dionne Farris-Human
Janet Jackson- Control, Miss You Much
Mariah Carey- Vision of Love, Emotions
Vonda Shepard- (covers) I Only Wanna Be With You, It's In His Kiss
Whitney Houston (ballads)- The Greatest Love of All, I Believe in You and Me
Whitney Houston (pop)- I'm Every Woman, I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Beatles 1- Help!, The Long and Winding Road, Let It Be
Beatles 2- Revolution, Obladi-Oblada
Sting-If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Every Breath You Take
ABBA- Dancing Queen, Thank You for the Music

Monday, November 05, 2007

In a New York Minute

My brother recently had a "close call" with the Grim Reaper. He was driving home after just successfully winning his very first jury trial (rah!) and was on the phone telling my mom all about about it. Suddenly he saw the ladder on the truck ahead of him lift up high in the air and come CRASHING down on the road directly in front of him, (narrowly missing hitting him or the windshield). With traffic on either side, he had to drive over the ladder and thankfully there was no damage to himself or the car. The difference of a second or two probably saved his life.

Not long after this, a family that went to our hometown church had a terrible car accident. They were returning home from their daughter's wedding and, in a matter of seconds, crashed into a semi-truck, killing the mother and severely injuring their granddaughter. Active and with many friends, the whole town is really devastated.

In a recent post I wrote about "nudges" that I feel come from God. Today I'm wondering again about them. Are they present at all times and we choose to ignore them at our own peril? Or are they sometimes conspicuously absent and life events are allowed to surprise and shock us?

The book club selection I just finished reading tonight deals with this age-old conflict between predeterminism and free-will. One scene describes a fatal car accident. Because of the main character's ability to spontaneously time travel, he ends up surviving while his mother dies. The question of why he was "saved" haunts him. Tonight I find I have similar questions as well. Why did my brother survive but our friend die? Is everything predetermined or can we change our future with the choices we make in the present?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Who Are the People In Your Neighbourhood?

Wow! Lately my neighbourhood's been the happening place!

I got home today to find the front of my apartment building blocked off for a film production. I asked a woman standing next to the side door and she said they were filming the movie "The Time Traveler's Wife." Sheepishly I pulled the novel (this month's book club selection) out of my bag and we both shared a laugh. Set in Chicago, the story (produced by Brad Pitt) is being filmed in locations all over my city. The cast features Ontario's own Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls) as Claire and Aussie hottie Eric Bana (Troy, Hulk) as Henry. One key point of the book is that the Time Traveler takes nothing with him when he travels, so there are difficulties in finding clothes in the new place. I'm crossing my fingers for some gratutious nudity here but not holding my breath! :)

Coming home last night from work, my partner ran into yet another film production outside the exit of our closest subway station. Wisegal stars Alyssa Milano (Charmed) as the widowed mother of two who goes to work for her lover Frank Russo (Jason Gedrick -Ally McBeal, Murder One), a captain in a Brooklyn crime family.

And finally, just last week who should be walking (yes walking) down Yonge Street but Hilton heiress Paris Hilton. She is Toronto filming the movie Repo! The Genetic Opera! (a horror musical if you can possibly believe it!) Paris was dressed up in a skeleton costume (incognito you see) and happened to see her image in an advertisment for One Night In Paris, a porn movie her former boyfriend made from a home movie she made with him. Upset, she stormed in the store (just south of Wellesley Street), demanded they take down the advertisements and when they did not comply, began ripping them down, threatening to sue them and call the police. After she had left, her manager entered and warned the store that the leaking of the event (it was captured on security camera) would result in a law suit. The store owners are now in negotiations for sale of this footage. (Taped audio)

Who are the people in YOUR neighbourhood?? :)