Category Archives: Culture

Is Binge- Watch A Word?

atypicalLast night I binged-watched a series on Netflix called Atypical. It was about a family whose eighteen year old autistic son has decided its time for him to start dating.  The series shows how having an autistic child impacts every member of the family in both positive and challenging ways.  There is lots of love and antagonism, responsibility and irresponsibility, independence seeking and bonding as the family tries to get things right.  

offspringAtypical is the third Netflix series I’ve binge-watched.  The other two are Offspring and Outlander.  Offspring had six seasons with around a dozen episodes each and Outlander two seasons each with sixteen hour-long episodes.  After both those instances of binge-watching  I vowed not to binge-watch again because when I do I neglect many other important things in my life. 

However last night when my husband abandoned our planned bike ride to watch the Blue Jays game I decided to binge-watch Atypical, a series that had been recommended to me. I wasn’t sorry.  It was an engaging and interesting show and with only eight episodes each  thirty to forty minute long I finished the series in one evening.  

As I started to write this post I was wondering if I should hyphenate binge-watched or if it was even a word.  So I looked it up and yes indeed it is a word.  In fact the Collins English Dictionary chose ‘binge-watch’ as its word of the year in 2015. I also discovered that about 64% of North Americans binge-watch a television series at least once a year.  So in that way I’m not atypical but very typical indeed. 

Other posts……….


Warms Your Heart and Makes You Laugh Out Loud

What in the World is That? 

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Filed under Culture

A Haunted Island

pointing-to-the-island-1On one of our morning walks here in Costa Rica my brother and I spotted a little island at the North Point of Tamarindo Bay. It seemed to grow smaller and larger with the rise and fall of the tide.  I wanted to know more about it. isla-del-capitan-tamarindoI found out it is called Isla del Capitan because of a local legend that a shipwrecked captain swam to the island from his sinking ship and died there. They say the Captain’s ghost stalks the island, so no one dares to spend the night there.  isla-del-capitanI thought this outcropping near the tip of the island might be the remains of building of some sort where the captain had taken refuge. But a close-up shot shows it is only a rock.moored-boats-isla-del-capitanMany fisherman moor their boats near the island. brown-pelicans It is a popular nesting and roosting spot for the local pelicans.  people-on-isla-de-captian

Apparently a destination wedding has been held on the island so you can access it by boat. One morning we did see some people on the island with no boat in sight so they must have swum out to Isla del Capitan. It might be a good thing to try one day when we are looking for an adventure. 

Other posts…..

A Great House Haunts Me

Winnipeg’s Millenium Centre- Haunted By Ghosts

The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island

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Filed under Costa Rica, Culture, Nature

Extra Crispy

“Wow!”   “That’s extra crispy!”  I was giving a tour of the Olympus exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery yesterday to a group of 11 to 14 year olds. They were fantastic! They knew so much about ancient Greek mythology and they were so excited about seeing the exhibit.  One boy kept remarking that each new thing I showed them was ‘extra crispy’ so finally I asked him what that meant. He told me it means something is totally awesome and amazing. When I got home I looked it up and sure enough right there in the online urban dictionary it says…….


Something so good, so hot, so amazing, it can only be described in two words; extra crispy. 

So if you haven’t seen the Olympus exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery yet, come on down for an extra crispy experience. 

Other posts……

Sunday Afternoon at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

What Talent! Olympus Inspired Art

The Goddess of Running Shoes and Olympic Medals

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Filed under Art, Culture, Education, Winnipeg, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Matching- The Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Nelson Atkins Museum

 I visited the Neslson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City last week.  Guess what I found? 

Aphrodite Nelson Atkins Museum - Kansas City

Aphrodite- Nelson Atkins Museum of Art – Kansas City

Aphrodite Olympus Exhibit Winnipeg Art Gallery

Aphrodite- Olympus Exhibit- Winnipeg Art Gallery

Kylix red figure vase Nelson Aitkins Museum of Art

Kylix red figure vase Nelson Atkins Museum of Art- Kansas City

Kylix black figure vase Olympus exhibit Winnipeg Art Gallery

Kylix black figure vase Olympus exhibit Winnipeg Art Gallery

Sarcophagus Nelson Atkins Museum of Art Kansas City

Sarcophagus Nelson Atkins Museum of Art Kansas City

Sarcophagus Olympus exhibit Winnipeg Art Gallery

Sarcophagus Olympus exhibit Winnipeg Art Gallery

Ancient Jewelry Nelson Atkins Museum of Art Kansas City

Ancient Jewelry Nelson Atkins Museum of Art Kansas City

Ancient Jewelry Olympus Exhibit Winnipeg Art Gallery

Ancient Jewelry Olympus Exhibit Winnipeg Art Gallery

Other posts……..

The Obama Chair House in Kansas City
Cool Stuff Outside the Nelson Atkins Museum

Connections at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

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Filed under Art, Culture, History, Winnipeg, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Radios-Good and Evil

“It’s just a fad,”  says Lord Grantham the patriarch of Downtown Abbey. Dave and I are watching the fifth season of the Downtown Abbey series and in a recent episode Rose, a young relative who lives with the family, lobbies for a wireless radio in the house. Lord Grantham finally rents one when he learns a speech by King George V  will be broadcast on the radio.  The family gathers to listen to the speech and later Lord Grantham agrees to keep the wireless, even though he declares, “it’s just a fad.”  In the mean time the lord’s mother predicts that the intimacy of radio will do damage to the royal family who needs to maintain an aura of mystery and detachment from the public. 

all-the-light-we-cannot-see“Radio- it ties a million ears to a single mouth.” That’s a quote from a book I just finished reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Radios play such an important role in the World War II novel.  Eventually it is a radio which brings together the two young protagonists whose alternating stories have engaged us throughout the novel. The book demonstrates how the radio can be used both for good and evil.  A quote from Nazi cabinet minister Joseph Goebbels begins the book “It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio. “

We listened to American talk shows on the radio as we drove to Arizona.  One thing that struck me about hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham was the utter disrespect they have for President Obama.  It was almost embarrassing to listen to.  Many Canadians do not agree with the policies and actions of our prime minister Stephen Harper, but you don’t hear people on the radio here calling him the devil incarnate, a spoiled child, evil, a traitor to his country, or stupid.  Americans elected their president democratically.  Shouldn’t that entitle him to at least a modicum of respect? 

Me and my Grandpa Schmidt

Me and my Grandpa Schmidt

My maternal grandfather loved to listen to the Amos and Andy show on his Philco radio. He would lie on the couch and laugh and laugh until his mother-in-law Marie who thought listening to the radio was far too worldly, would shake her head and say to her daughter Annie, “My goodness. What is Pete laughing about now?”

Other posts about the radio……….

I was  on the Radio

Radio on the Road

Where Were You? 


Filed under Books, Culture, Family, Politics

Inuit Games

This past week I’ve been organizing, photographing and writing description cards for the items on the art gallery education department Inuit cart. It  contains all kinds of objects we use on our Inuit art tours with students.  Here are some Inuit games and toys I’ve photographed and written about. ( For my international readers who may not know, the Inuit are the First Nations or aboriginal people from Canada’s most northern communities)inuit bone and cup gameThis is the bone and cup game.  You toss the cup with holes in the air and try to catch it on the pointed bone. inuit doll

This Inuit doll is carved from caribou antler.  The arms and legs are attached with sinew.  These dolls go back to ancient Inuit history. bag of bones game inuitThese bones are tossed onto the ground from an animal skin bag.  Hence the game’s name Bag of Bones.  The kids race to shape the bones into the paw or claw of an animal. tugging game

These are tugging bones. Two people sit on the ground facing one another feet placed against the other’s feet. The intent is to pull each other up off the ground while holding onto the tugging bones.

I’m also adding some strings to the cart so the children can try story telling games with the strings. 

Other posts about Inuit art………..

An Inuit Art Primer

The Globalization of Art

Up on the Roof Top


Filed under Art, Canada, Culture, Education, WInnipeg Art Gallery

10 Interesting Things About Bessie Smith- The Greatest Blues Singer in the World

This week we saw The Devil’s Music, a play at the Warehouse Theatre in Winnipeg about the famous 1920’s songstress Bessie Smith.  I learned some interesting things about the Grammy Award winner. 

Bessiesmith wikipedia public domain1. She was born in abject poverty in Tennessee in 1892,  but was so beloved when she died that some ten thousand people walked by her coffin to pay tribute to her.

2. 1960’s rock star Janis Joplin once told friends she felt like she was Bessie Smith reincarnated.  It was Joplin who saw to it that a headstone was provided for Bessie Smith’s grave 35 years after she was killed in a 1937 car accident. Joplin chose an epitaph that named Smith- The Greatest Blues Singer in the World. 

3. During an outdoor performance in North Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan surrounded Bessie’s tent. She confronted them angrily shouting and ordering, “You just pick up them sheets and run!” The Klansmen were shocked. They quickly turned around and disappeared into the night. 

4. Bessie’s relationship with her husband Jack Gee was characterized by violent abuse.  Bessie was one of the first female musicians to sing about the issue of domestic violence.

bessie smith wikipedia public domain5. In 1929 Bessie debuted in her first film St. Louis Blues. It was based on a jazz song called St. Louis Blues recorded by Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. 

6. Bessie struggled with alcoholism beginning in her late teens. It was something that haunted her throughout her life.

7. Bessie adopted a little boy. When she and her husband divorced- in an act of vindictiveness her husband turned the boy into authorities saying Bessie had mistreated the child.  She lost custody of him. 

8. Bessie had her own private train custom-made and paid for  by Columbia records because as a black person she was not permitted in the ‘whites only’ first class cars of trains. Her train had seven staterooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. 

9. Bessie’s popularity led to her earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. In her day she made more money and sold more records than any other blues musician.

10. Bessie had an amazing voice. She was inducted into the Rock- and-Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The United States issued a stamp honoring her in 1992.  

Other posts about famous musicians………

Walking Into a Bob Marley Tourist Trap

Crossing Abbey Road

Nathan Rogers- A Story That Tugs At Your Heart Strings



Filed under Culture, Music, Theatre