Category Archives: Media

I Cry Every Episode – Chef’s Table

I have been enjoying a Netflix series called Chef’s Table.  Each show follows the culinary adventures of one of the world’s great chefs.  But……… you not only see them creating all this amazing food, you also learn their life story. To me that is every bit as fascinating as their skill in the kitchen. Every time I’ve watched Chef’s Table there’s been a moment in the episode that has brought me to tears. 

I just saw the story about Michelin Three Star chef Dominique Crenn.  A meal at Dominque’s restaurant in San Francisco is a very personal experience.  She likes to greet her guests, shake hands with them and talk with them. She writes poetry and when you enter her restaurant you will receive a printed poem instead of a menu.  Different lines in the poem refer to dishes you will eat that night.

Dominque Crenn at work in her kitchen

Her restaurant is called Atelier Crenn and pays tribute to Dominque’s late father Allain Crenn who was an artist. His paintings decorate her restaurant. ‘Atelier’ means workshop and Dominque’s father had an artist’s workshop or studio in the house where Dominique grew up. She named the restaurant to honor her father who loved her dearly and told her she could be anything she wanted to be! During the episode of Chef’s Table featuring Dominique, she goes back to her childhood home in France to see her father’s old studio/workshop and visit her father’s grave. At that point both Dominique and I were in tears.  

Mashama Bailey in her Savannah restaurant

Then there was the episode about Mashama Bailey an award winning black chef who operates a restaurant in Savannah called Grey in an old bus station from Jim Crow times when black and white travelers had to wait for the bus in separate areas of the station, use separate washrooms and drink from different fountains. Reminders of those days of shameful segregation deliberately remain in the decor of the restaurant where Mashama serves southern comfort food.  

There is a scene in the Chef’s Table episode about Mashama where her parents tell her how proud they are of her and how proud her grandmothers would be to know their granddaughter was reclaiming the history of that bus station with her restaurant where people of every race and culture can enjoy soul food together.  You could tell how moved Mashama was at her parents’ praise and I was ……. in tears. 

I haven’t been a big fan of cooking shows in the past but Chef’s Table is different. In each episode you see an incredible artist creating sumptous and gorgeous food but…….. you also learn that their talent and drive is inspired by some very deeply personal experiences that are bound to make you cry. 

Other posts……..

A Chocolate Evening With Beatriz

Cooking Up A Storm in The Yucatan

First Supper in Lisbon- My Husband Has Great Instincts

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Films That Mirror Life

The world of film offers a way to explore some important changes that are happening in families.  I’ve watched a variety of movies and television series lately that illustrate some of the new family dynamics developing in society.

The number of Canadian children living alone with their father has increased by 35% in the last decade. Statistics Canada says this reflects a growing acknowledgement of the important role of fathers in family life. 

eighth grade movieThe movie Eighth Grade available for rent on Amazon tells the story of a dedicated single Dad raising his teenage daughter who is beset with self- esteem issues, anxious about her appearance, her friendships and her online presence.  Although she finds her father bumbling and irritating at times he is the rock in her life always there to listen, tell her how great she is, and to provide protection and support.

Nearly 16% of Canadian couples will struggle with infertility in 2019. Only 5% had problems conceiving children in 1985. Many different factors contribute to this increased rate. While new ways of helping such couples are constantly being explored infertility is still very difficult.

private-life-poster-thumbThe movie Private Life on Netflix looks at a couple Richard and Rachel who desperately want to conceive a child. They’ve tried everything but won’t give up.  I found their story heartbreaking even thought it is told with a sense of wry humor.

There has been a significant increase in the number of same sex Canadian couples having children and raising families together. These families tend to live in urban areas. Their children may be biological or adopted or a combination of both. 

CIERRA RAMIREZ, TERI POLO, SHERRI SAUM, DAVID LAMBERT, NOAH CENTINEO, HAYDEN BYERLY, MAIA MITCHELLThe Fosters is a Netflix series that tells the story of Lena and Stefanie, a married lesbian couple living in San Diego. They are raising one biological and four adopted children together. Lena is the vice-principal at a charter high school and Stefanie is a police officer. Together they provide their children with a loving and stable home.

About 10% of Canadian children live in stepfamilies. About 30% of those children live in what is called complex stepfamilies, with both biological parents having some custody rights and stepbrothers and sisters playing a role in their lives.

The Netflix series Bonus Family examines just such a situation. Lisa and Patrick are a Swedish couple who have both left unhappy marriages to live together. Lisa has a son and daughter and Patrick has a son. They retain joint custody of their children with their former partners and Patrick and Lisa have a new baby together. It is a very complex situation and Patrick and Lisa seek help from a therapist team to try and sort it all out.

There are more Canadian children with disabilities and they are living longer. A Lethbridge University research report said this statistic raises concerns for parents who worry about who will care for their disabled children once they can no longer do so.

In the moving and inspiring Netflix documentary Far From The Tree we meet a whole series of families who are doing their best to find happiness even though their children face some major challenges in life.  One of the families profiled is that of Jason Kingsley a man with Down syndrome and his elderly mother Emily. Jason’s father has died, and Jason has no siblings. Emily expresses her anxiety about who will care for her son once she is gone.

Canadian families are changing and one way we can further understand those changes and think about them is to watch films and television series that explore a wide variety of family experiences.

This post was a newspaper column published in The Carillon recently. 

Other columns published on my blog…….

The Great Statue Debate

Women in Politics

On The Rock

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A Penny For Your Thoughts

There is an episode from the old television series The Twilight Zone I’ve been thinking about lately.  It is called A Penny for Your Thoughts and stars Dick York as a man named Hector B. Poole who suddenly has the ability to know exactly what other people are thinking. 

Would I want to know what other people are thinking?  I think in some cases as Hector discovers this could work out positively.  

Hector is happy to find out that a woman he likes feels the same way about him.

For example Hector finds out that a woman in his office he admires has affection for him too.  It might be nice to know that someone regards you positively even if they don’t tell you. It could improve your relationship.  

Hector discovers that his boss has little respect for him.

It might also be good to know if you irritate and upset people or to learn they don’t respect you even if they are doing a pretty good job of hiding those feelings.  Then you could attempt to change your behavior and that could improve your relationship.  However knowing what people think of you might also prove so devastating that it could end a relationship. 

In the closing scene of the Twilight Zone episode A Penny For Your Thoughts Hector loses his ability to read people’s minds and viewers are left with the feeling that might be for the best. I think probably the courage to communicate openly with others and to share our feelings more readily may be a better way to work at relationships than trying to read minds. 

Other posts………

Calculator Conversation

Saying No

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This is Us. Is it Like Us?

Dave and I are watching the second season of This is Us.  I think one of the reasons I enjoy the show so much is that although it is set in the present it keeps going back to the past. This means we are given new insights each week into the lives and experiences of the main characters and so with each episode we come to know and understand them more richly.  

thisisusIn the last three episodes we watched, the set of triplets at the heart of the show are each facing a crisis. The show takes us back to when the three were learning to walk, when they were youngsters discovering their passions and interests, and finally the year they graduated from high school.  We see many of the same scenes over in each episode but each time we see those scenes from only one of the triplet’s perspectives.  It is surprising how each episode is so different. 

It really makes me think about events in my own family’s life. I am sure individual family members perceived them very differently. It also makes me think about things that have happened in my past and how they may have shaped the person I became.

I suspect This is Us a popular television series because as people watch it they are thinking about their own families and wondering how is this like us? 

Other posts……….

The Fosters

What’s a Bonus Family? 

Binge Watching

 

 

 

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Nostalgia

hymn sing programI took my father to the Hymn Sing Reunion Concert on Sunday. For readers who don’t know, Hymn Sing was a Canadian television program from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Every year a group of promising young singers was chosen to present a weekly Sunday night concert of familiar Christian hymns.  The show, filmed in Winnipeg, was hugely popular across the country, sometimes garnering a viewership greater than that of Hockey Night in Canada.

hymn sing reunionI was definitely one of the younger people at the reunion concert at Bethel Mennonite Church on Sunday afternoon which featured sixty former Hymn Sing performers. It was sold out. What drew such a big audience to the concert?  I think it was nostalgia for hymns that may not be sung in churches very much anymore, nostalgia for the kind of religious and contemplative television programming we don’t see much of anymore, and perhaps nostalgia for a time when things were a little more black and white. 

Aga RSZ-50 - Diora - E070 (wiki)I noticed in the Hymn Sing Concert program that one of the event’s sponsors was Nostalgia Radio CJNU.  Last Thursday I gave a group of staff and board members from Nostalgia Radio a tour of the French Moderns Exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I asked them about their radio station and they told me it is run by retired broadcasters and other folks who were nostalgic for music of bygone decades, music that is sometimes hard to find on other Winnipeg radio stations. They play that kind of music everyday as well as lend their support to a whole variety of community and cultural groups including the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

shepherd tending his flock millet brooklyn museum

Shepherd Tending His Flock – Jean-François Millet- 1860

A painting I discussed with the Nostalgia radio crew was this one of a shepherd by Jean-Francois Millet.  Lisa Small, curator from the Brooklyn Museum where Millet’s painting makes its permanent home, says one of the reasons paintings like Millet’s of the shepherd were so popular in the late 1800s  was that the rapid rise of industrialization meant many families had left their farms and villages to move to the city. They were nostalgic for their country roots. Millet’s paintings took them back to their childhoods in rural France. 

This past week I’ve been reminded that music and art can be powerful inspirations for nostalgia. 

Other posts………..

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Filed under Art, Media, Music, WInnipeg Art Gallery

That’s Not My Kind of God Either

I have been watching the American television series The Fosters on Netflix.  It frequently addresses current political issues as it tells the story of an American family in San Diego. In the fifth and final season of the drama many of the episodes revolve around immigration as two high school seniors from the Foster family provide support to a college student from a Mexican family.  Her name is Ximena. 

Callie, one of the girls from the Foster family holds a photo of her friend Ximena at a rally to support young people in the DACA program.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement have arrested Ximena’s parents who are illegal immigrants. ICE officers arrive at a highschool dance to take Ximena into custody too. Ximena is acting as a chaperone for her younger sister at the dance.  Ximena has had DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) status in the past but is waiting for her status to be renewed. The younger sister who was born in the United States is taken away by Child and Family services but two teenagers from the Foster family help Ximena slip out a back door and drive her to a church where she receives sanctuary. The pastor of the church provides the young woman with food, clothing and bedding. 

At one point the pastor says, “If you want to talk or pray, I’m here.”  The young woman replies, “I don’t want to pray to a God that would allow my family to be torn apart like this.”  The pastor replies, “I don’t pray to that kind of God either. I believe in Immanuel God with us and God is with you always, in your family’s strength to keep going, in your hope for the future and in the people who have helped you tonight.”  

I  think along the same lines that fictional pastor in the television program did. I find it really hard to understand people who say they believe in God and yet support the current American administration who are arresting desperate asylum seekers, separating refugee parents from their children, and refusing to fully respect and honour the DACA policy established by their country in the past.  I admit it makes me want to ask, “What kind of God are those people praying to?”  I realize of course that they are probably saying the same thing about me. 

Other posts………

Tolerating Other Christians

Standing Up For Children

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Doing Something

I am so dismayed at what is going in the United States.  A man seemingly without a moral compass in his personal, business or political life is leading the country and………… nearly half of its citizens have no problem with that. The members of his party follow their immoral leader like fearful sheep anxious that not doing so might cost them their own political jobs.  An American speaker in our church on Sunday said it is hard to have hope in a time like this, hard to believe that God’s love will triumph when vulnerable people are being placed in ever greater jeopardy and racism of many kinds flourishes in a way many Americans thought was relegated to the past.  

As a Canadian who wants to help people like our speaker have hope, and as someone who could have my own life effected by the president’s actions on climate change, free trade, immigration, and military action I feel helpless.  What can I do?  I decided one little thing I could do was to buy subscriptions to a couple American periodicals that seem to report with integrity. 

I decided to subscribe to The Atlantic and The Washington Post since both I believe offer a fairly measured and honest view of what is happening in America.  I admit I was attracted to The Washington Post by the recent movie about it and also by the fact they just won a Pulitzer Prize for their story about defeated Republican candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.   I figure by supporting the efforts of the free American press with my subscription money I can encourage  journalists to keep reporting the news in an honest way even when their country’s president is constantly calling them ‘fakes.’  

Purchasing a couple of news subscriptions isn’t doing a whole lot.  But it’s doing something. 

Other posts………..

Seeing The Post in Lisbon With People Who Truly Understand What Freedom of the Press Is

A Prayer for Journalists

Her Worship

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