You don’t often go to a movie where the audience claps as the credits roll but there was hearty applause on Sunday night at Winnipeg’s Cinematheque Theatre where I watched RBG a documentary about American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is a remarkable and interesting woman in so many ways. Here are five.
- Ruth who is 85 has survived cancer twice and works out regularly with her personal trainer- planking and doing twenty push ups in a row.
- She wears different collars with her Supreme Court robes depending on the cases being decided and depending on whether she is offering a dissenting opinion or a majority opinion on that case.
- She was very good friends with the late Justice Antonin Scalia even though she disagreed with him vehemently on many key issues that came before the Supreme Court. They both loved the opera.
- Her granddaughter Clara Spera just graduated from Harvard Law School. Both Ruth and her daughter Jane were also Harvard law students. There are three generations of women lawyers in the family all educated at Harvard.
- Ruth has had a hand in deciding many important cases on the Supreme Court. Without her and her influence on the court there might not be gender inclusive admission policies for universities, same sex marriage rights or rights for people with mental illness to live in community settings. She has been the voice of dissent as well for many important rulings like the one which ended the manual recount of ballots in the 2000 election thus insuring a George Bush win and the most recent case where the Supreme Court decided a baker was within his rights not to provide a wedding cake for a same sex couple.
Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Simmie Knox 2000
If you see the movie RBG you will know why the audience clapped at the end. I could probably write a dozen blog posts featuring five interesting things I learned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Look for more.
Called to Court
Filed under Movies, People
I went along with my husband Dave yesterday to watch him play in a ball tournament in Steinbach. I hadn’t really planned to go but Dave said the team was having a meal after the tournament at one of the player’s homes and partners were invited. He said he’d really like me to come. So I changed my plans and went along. I was so glad I did.
My friend Marge came to the tournament to watch her husband play ball too. Dave and I have been friends with Marge and her husband Fran since 1976 when we were their neighbours in Landmark for a year. Marge and I hadn’t seen each other since January. We had been in Europe for two months and they had been on a trip to Europe as well and so the first order of business was to catch up on our travel experiences. Then we moved on to talk about our children and grandchildren and siblings and friends and hobbies and volunteer work and books and a little bit of politics and church and our childhoods and summer plans and………….. suffice it to say our husbands’ expertise on the ball diamond did not garner our full attention.
I love making new friends but there is something lovely about spending time with old friends who already know all about you and your past, someone with whom you have so many shared experiences. No matter how long you have been apart you can just pick up talking with one another and feel like the last time you were together was the day before.
I learned a round song when I was a child that went………… Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.
Are Men and Women’s Friendships Different?
My Mom’s Friends
A Reunion With Old Friends in Portugal
Filed under People, Sports
I read in the Winnipeg Free Press on the weekend that Roland Penner had died. He was a high-profile lawyer, a professor at the University of Manitoba, member of the Manitoba legislature, and served as the province’s attorney general. I knew him however as a storyteller.
Photo by Joe Bryska/Winnipeg Free Press
In 2012 I took a course from Roland at the McNally Robinson Community Classroom called Winnipeg Fact and Fiction where he told stories about events from Winnipeg history and then introduced us to books that had those same events as their focus. I remember three of the classes in particular. One in which he taught us about the Winnipeg strike and we looked at Margaret Sweatman’s novel Fox. Another where he described famous criminal cases tried in Winnipeg and introduced us to Heather Robertson’s biography of robber Kenneth Leishman The Flying Bandit and another where we examined the Winnipeg immigrant experience and Fredelle Maynard’s memoire Raisins and Almonds.
In 2012 I had just moved to Winnipeg and taking the course from Roland was a great way to connect with the history of the city that was to be my new home. He made every class so interesting. He was 86 at the time. In one of the blog posts I wrote about the course I described Roland as an ‘octogenarian story teller extraordinaire’. It is clear from his obituary Roland Penner lived his life story to the fullest and left an extraordinary mark on our province’s and city’s histories. He was 93.
Winnipeg General Strike
The Flying Bandit
Winnipeg Mennonite Immigrant Fiction
I was walking by the Salvation Army Hostel on Monday and saw a young woman looking at a map printed out from a computer. “Can you help me?” she asked. “I’m not a city girl. I feel like a lost tourist.”
She wanted to find the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in St. Boniface. I told her she could walk with me and once we got to my street I’d show her the direction to go. I told her I volunteered at a Mennonite Thrift Shop.
“I’m a Mennonite,” she said. She told me her name. Her first name was Biblical and her surname definitely Mennonite. “Where are you from?” I asked. She named my hometown and as we talked she told me about the schools there she had attended. I had attended all three myself and taught at one of them. When I asked about her parents she described her father with an expletive and said she never wanted to see him again. Her Mom had left her Dad and moved to a distant Manitoba town.
I asked her what she was going to buy at the Thrift Shop. “Clothes,” she said. “I just got out of prison and all I have are the clothes on my back.” I asked how she’d landed up in jail. “I assaulted someone,” she told me and then quickly added, “you don’t have to worry, I am not a violent person. I was attacked and just defended myself.”
We kept talking till we reached my street. I found out she’d been kicked out of high school, had no one in the city she knew, and had no money. There was a limited amount of time she could stay at the Salvation Army. “I’ll have to find a way to make Winnipeg my home,” she said.
When we reached my street I pointed her in the direction of St. Boniface, gave her some money to buy clothes, wished her well and waved good-bye. I can’t stop thinking about her. I know there is probably lots more to her story than she told me. But………what will happen to her? What chance does she have?
My Husband and the Pope Are On The Same Page
Called to Court
Filed under People, Winnipeg
With my Advanced Composition class in Hong Kong-2011
Teenagers are extremely smart. -Ransom Riggs
With teenage girls at a highschool in Cambodia-2011
Being a teenager is an amazing time and a hard time. – Sophia Bush
Teenagers in Lviv Ukraine- 2011
Teenagers are kinda the same wherever you find them. -Tom Cotton
With my students in Madrid Spain-2008
Teenagers are some of the most passionate, dynamic and creative people I know.- Malorie Blackman
Girl in Jerusalem-2009
I think all teenagers feel they are alone. – Nicholas Hoult
Teenagers teaching me to dance in Borneo-2010
Teenagers come to things fresh and can teach us an awful lot. – Jane Goldman
Visiting two of my teenage students at Parsons School of Design in New York-2012
Teenagers learn best by doing things- Geoff Mulgan
Teenage school girls in Vietnam-2008
Teenagers today are more free to be themselves and to accept themselves.- John Knowles
As a teenage high school student I was the editor of my school newspaper The SCEye. Here I am pictured with my newspaper staff. -1969
I liked being a teenager but I would not go back. – Rob Lowe
My mother with her best friend around 1943
As a teenager, you’re still discovering who you are, what your life is about, and who you want to be as a person. -Kaya Scodelario
Non-verbal communication can be so powerful. Actress Sally Hawkins playing a mute cleaning lady named Elisa Esposito, doesn’t utter a word in the movie The Shape of Water but she speaks volumes. In her unbelievably expressive face you can clearly see love and frustration, anger, humour and intelligence. All Elisa need do is shrug her shoulder, soften her eyes or let a tiny smile begin to play at the corner of her lips and you know exactly how she is feeling. Using only sign language and body language Elisa does her job capably and has won loyal friends.
Because she can’t speak the romance she carries on with a merman, an exotic water creature being kept in the lab where she works, is even more intense and emotional than it would have been had the love affair been conducted in words.
As I watched The Shape of Water I was actually reminded of something actor Will Smith said in the movie Hitch where he is coaching a man trying to pursue the love of his life. “Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal body language; thirty percent is your tone, so that means ninety percent of what you’re saying isn’t coming out of your mouth.”
I was also reminded of this picture of my husband Dave carrying on price negotiations in a market in Saigon using only a calculator and his facial and body expressions. He didn’t speak the women’s language and they didn’t speak his but Dave was so good at communicating with his body language. Dave is a very funny man and he can be funny without saying a word.
Sally Hawkins may not win the Golden Globe tonight for best actress but her ability to play a woman who speaks without speaking was exceptional and reminds us all that we communicate with far more than just our words.
Other posts about communication…….
Heart’s Content- The Fishing Village That Changed the World
I Had My Toes Read
The Language of Flowers
It was a delight! We saw the musical Bittergirl at the Manitoba Theatre Centre on Saturday. The show was absolutely entertaining from start to finish. Great singing, familiar music, clever staging, a talented band, fast pacing and plenty of humour.
Bittergirl tells the story of three women who have been dumped by the men in their lives. They’ve all had long-term relationships they thought were stable. Then much to their shock and dismay one day their partners just walk out on them. How will they survive? Bittergirl follows the three women as they try to repair their broken hearts.
The show was great but I found out later it isn’t really an accurate reflection of hetrosexual relationship break ups because it is women and not men who initiate the end of relationships about 70 percent of the time. I also found out it is men and not women who suffer the most after a break up.
So maybe they need to make a musical called Bitterboy. I wonder if it would be as popular?
Childbirth and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Inspiration From Billy Elliot
Filed under People, Theatre