Monday, December 26, 2011

Spielberg Shows Again The Insanity: War Horse the Movie (and A Play with Puppets) note to self--Respect for Those with No Choice

Enjoyed War Horse on its Christmas opening day. Although i must admit, in my wizanning age, i want the good ending to hurry along. I don't mind in sports having a touch-and-go game, i prefer it (probably because it is a game and does not really matter)--
but in hearing a tale of love and separations and loyalty, of war and insanity and pain and suffering, of honor and justice and balance,
i Really want the balance to return quickly. What a wimp i have become.
Steven Spielberg has become the master of showing the inanity and weird madness of War. Senseless: "RULES" of War! Humans as lemmings or a tide; so many bodies sacrificed, moistening the sand that a wave may yet make it to the goal...
There were many scenes of beauty: the young Joey and his mother interacting on the lush hillside; the aching scenes of those on the edges of war's evil, a young girl and her grandfather in Holland; the unhurried camera catching the light, pain, suffering and love in the eyes of people and horses throughout the film.
There were scenes of poignancy,
ultimately the understanding of the son and the father of the grotesqueness of war; rather than a pride in one's accomplishments. [Aquitting oneself well in hell is still to witness the unspeakable.] i was struck by the portrayal, a layer without words,
 whereby the father may no longer suffer being an embarrassment, a failure in the eyes of the son
 who now understands that the normal sensitivity of a good human is mortally wounded by surviving war's evil.
 However, the original War Horse was a child's book, and many scenes in the movie are a bit hyperbolic, allowing the movie to remain at the fantasy level of a young reader. Good!
One other "lesson" that i think is
it is a great responsibility to make the Choices for those with no choice, or whose choice has been taken away.  i.e., When men decide to put horses into a war, they either basely assume that horses are property with little meaning, or they make the grave decision to accept responsibility for the lives and deaths of sentient creatures, consequenses of such a decision.
 From last year:
Startlingly real puppets of horses, (Video HERE)  made by two men from South Africa, may be the hook that entices one into (adapted for stage by Nick Stafford) the story, WAR HORSE by children's writer Michael Morpurgo. More about the play here.
The story:
Wiki say: "In Devon at the outbreak of World War I, Joey, young Albert Narracott's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. Joey serves in the British and German Armies, befriends Topthorn (another army horse) and gets caught up in enemy fire; death, disease and fate take him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in No Man's Land. But Albert cannot forget Joey, and, still not old enough to enlist in the army, he embarks on a dangerous mission to find him and bring him home to Devon..."

CBS Sunday Morning Show had a spot about the stunning "puppets" of horses used in the play. You MUST watch some video (below) of this.
Also, the bit speaks to the staggering loss of life in WWI and American Civil War --of horses, who "had no choice".. excerpt: " World War I was the turning point, when tanks became the war horses of the 20th century. And even though the tank on stage is made of aluminum and plastic, and the horse is a puppet, we comprehend what a terrible turning point it was...
"Tanks, I mean, they simply rolled over people, and they rolled through wire, and they obliterated
horses," said author Michael Morpurgo. "And it was that clash, then, of flesh and metal, of the machine and humankind, really, and we saw it with our own eyes, really, that this is the horrible future."

 ..."Their plight was total innocence. They were simply being used, exploited, for cavalry and for pulling ambulances, for pulling guns, they were simply being used and sacrificed."The numbers are staggering: Ten million soldiers died in WWI, and it's believed about the same number of horses.
The story of "War Horse" is actually two stories - one about horses, the other about the extraordinary puppets that seem like living, breathing, feeling creatures on the stage. They were created by South Africans Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones..."
Morpurgo's novel, "War Horse," is the National Theatre of Great Britain's most successful production ever, and opens this week at New York's Lincoln Center.

“He possessed beauty without vanity, strength without insolence; courage without ferocity; and all the virtues of man without his vices”  Lord Byron

More horses HERE and HERE

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sweetest Donkey, er, Burro, uh, Ass, --Coyote Watchdog

I heard from my farmer friend that a donkey will protect sheep from coyotes. When a coyote comes around, the little burro just trots up to look at it.
No matter where it goes around the sheep, the donkey will follow it around looking at it. Hilarious!
 I have some video i will post below of this MAGnificent little donkey, who lives in the Flint Hills of Kansas.    I passed by the lovely creature on the road a few miles from my house, and yes, it was at a farm where i often see lambs  and sheep... The face of this particular burro is Priceless. click on pics to enlarge, some are very big files.

Sweetest Donkey

See more donkeys with Warm Breath HERE

Christmas Video:

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Real Santa (Redux) Note to self: I mean St. Nick!

In early grade school, i was teased for saying "Santa" had brought me such and such a gift. I looked at everyone and said, "Well, St, NICK!
i also believed there was a species of reindeer that could fly. Like, they had a flying squirrel, right? And i had pictures of Flying Lizards.
flying lizards
And, there were magical things in the world i did not know fully-yet-  So, Flying Reindeers were one of my last myths which made me happy. I was seriously disappointed when i realized "they" were not pulling my leg when i was being disabused of my wonderful vision and indoctrinated into the oh-so comforting world of logic...

What makes Santa Claus Real?

The Real Santa

Christmas Approaches by mary todd
 Don't let anyone tell you
that love has no trials.
Love is what is left after the trauma; pain, suffering,
sacrifice; wounds which seem to be unbearable,
heartbreak which seems to wend its way deeper and
deeper into
one's heart.
I know that the Power of Love exceeds all things.
Love allows Hope to live and Faith to endure.
So when the dark comes, say hello; this trial will pass.
When it seems as if you will die of sorrow, allow reason to rest.
Peacefully Go to the Center of Sorrows.
Love will bring you back

The real santa by mary todd

Weakness or Strength?

Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your biggest strength. Take, for example, the story of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. "Sensei," the boy finally asked, "Shouldn't I be learning more moves?" "This is the only move I know, but this is the only move you'll ever need to know," the sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. "No," the sensei insisted, "Let him continue." Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion. On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind. "Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?" "You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm." The boy's biggest weakness had become his biggest strength. Shalom u'vracha!

Snow Cats HERE

Love Endures All Things                

At a fundraising dinner
for a school that serves children with learning disabilities,
the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
 After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection..Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?'
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:
Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.
I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play.. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'
Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field.. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.
Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.
The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.
The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.
Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game......
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.
Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!
Run to first!'
Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.
He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'
Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.
By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball .. the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.
He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.
Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!
Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'
Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.
Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

Love and Mrs. Leonard

I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started to go to school, my classmates - who were constantly teasing - made it clear to me how I must look to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and hollow and somewhat garbled speech. I couldn't even blow up a balloon without holding my nose, and when I bent to drink from a fountain, the water spilled out of my nose. When my schoolmates asked, "What happened to your lip?" I'd tell them that I'd fallen as a baby and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. By the age of seven I was convinced that no one outside my own family could ever love me. Or even like me. And then I entered the second grade, and Mrs. Leonard's class. I never knew what her first name was - just Mrs. Leonard. She was round and pretty and fragrant, with chubby arms and shining brown hair and warm dark eyes that smiled even on rare occasions when her mouth did not. Everyone adored her. But no one came to love her more than I did. And for a special reason. The time came for t;he annual "hearing tests" give at our school. I was barely able to hear anything out of one ear, and was not about to reveal yet another problem that would single me out as different. And so I cheated. I had learned to watch other children and raised my hand when they did during group testing. The "whisper test" however, required a different kind of deception: Each child would go to the door of the classroom, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and the teacher would whisper something from her desk, which the child would repeat. Then the same thing was done for the other ear. I had discovered in kindergarten that nobody checked to see how tightly the untested ear was being covered, so I merely pretended to block mine. As usual, I was last, but all through the testing I wondered what Mrs. Leonard might say to me. I knew from previous years that she whispered things like "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?" My turn came up. I turned my bad ear to her, plugging up the other solidly with my finger, then gently backed my finger out enough to be able to hear. I waited and then the words that God had surely put into her mouth, seven words that changed my life forever. Mrs. Leonard, the pretty , fragrant teacher I adored, said softly, "I wish you were my little girl"

Some people understand life better, And they call some of these people "retarded"...

At the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash.

At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win.
All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry.
The other eight heard the boy cry.
They slowed down and looked back.

Then they all turned around and went back......
every one of them.
One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.
Everyone in the stadium stood, the cheering went on for several minutes.

People who were there are still telling the story........

Why? Because deep down we know this one thing:
What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.
"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle"

The Sweetest Santa by mary todd

Burning Hut
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

The weary man asked his rescuers: "How did you know I was here?"
They replied: "We saw your smoke signal."
It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, the next time your little hut is burning to the ground -- it just may be the smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

Now that my house has been burned down,
I have an unobstructed view of the rising moon.

Traditional Buddhist wisdom.

A Beautiful Santa Claus (the real santa by mary todd)
not the real santa

The Real Santa by Mary Todd

The Power of Love Exceeds All Things.
Sweetest Santa by Mary Todd

found this HERE

DO NOT JUDGE (Writer Unknown)
Pray don't find fault with the man who limps
Or stumbles along the road,
Unless you have worn the shoes he wears
Or struggled beneath his load.

There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt,
Though hidden away from view,
Or the burden he bears, placed on your back

Might cause you to stumble, too.
Don't sneer at the man who's down today,
Unless you have felt the blow
That caused his fall, or felt the same
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, if dealt to you,
In the self-same way at the self-same time
Might cause you to stagger, too.
Don't be too harsh with the man who sins,
Or pelt him with words or stones,
Unless you are sure, yea, doubly sure,
That you have no sins of your own.
For you know, perhaps if the tempter's voice
Should whisper
as soft to you
As it did to him
when he went astray,
'Twould cause you to falter, too.

more flying squirrels HERE

Thursday, December 22, 2011

99% of us around these parts: We Are Rich

Clean water, oh yeah baby.
Soft toilet paper, YESS!
Electricity ROCKS!
I love my little heater.
  Pets that i am not hungry enough to EAT.
A truck that works! Almost all the time!
I can go read at the library every DAY!
I can wash my dishes way better than when i am camping.
I have more clothing than i can ever wear out.
i cannot even count the poeple that i care about
they care about me too.
I can find ways to help out.
I can go to church or NOT anytime i want.
I can CLOSE my door, lock it,
         and NOT ANSWER IT!!!
I  can Go gather firewood without being raped.
Granted, going on a date or out into the scene has its risks...
But only because i don't carry my gun on a date?

Life is really Good for most of us.

if you think
there will ever be a time when there are no super rich
and no poor folk
then, you must not believe
in soulless evolution; there is no moral right and wrong rich poor better greedy kind generous wealth only passing along the genes my friend...

 So, if you are not

Joyce Rupp Christmas Blessing HERE