Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, December 31, 2012

Only hours left - please make your gift before midnight

 I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

Good news - if you are reading this in 2012, you still have time to make a year end tax-deductible gift to Amnesty International.

Donate now.

When you give to Amnesty International USA, you contribute to a growing, global, grass-roots movement of ordinary people united for extraordinary purpose - defending human rights for all.
We fight for people who are unjustly imprisoned.

We campaign for governments to improve protections for people who are often targeted for who they are, like indigenous communities, LGBT people, women and girls.

We turn the tide against government oppression, corporate recklessness, and abuses like torture and the death penalty.
In 2013 we will shift into high gear. We must, because the human rights landscape itself is shifting rapidly, dramatically.

The truth is, we need your help to move this cause forward.

LIGHT THE WAY: Donate to Amnesty.

Frank Jannuzi
P.S. Give before midnight Dec 31st and you gift will automatically be doubled by friends of Amnesty. Don't stop now - click here to get your gift in before midnight.

A message from Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford

 I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

Taylor and I have supported Amnesty International for decades, because it unites us in saving lives and defending human rights.

We are both very fortunate to live and work in countries where artists have freedom of speech and artistic expression - they are even lauded and awarded for their work.

However, in many countries in the world, creating art or speaking openly can land you in jail, or much worse. Artists doing the same work that we take for granted have been tortured and "disappeared" for exposing painful truths about corruption and inhumanity in their societies. The fall-out for family and friends can be agonizing - even they can become targets of harassment.

Over the last 50 years, Amnesty has freed thousands of people who have been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs or peaceful activism.

We believe deeply in Amnesty’s vision. Please, join us as proud members of Amnesty today.

In the realm of defending human rights, no voice carries farther or stronger than Amnesty’s. For that voice to remain strong, it needs all of us to step up.

If you give now, every dollar of your gift will be matched.

We are bound together by a passion for human rights. Take that next step with us. Become a member now.

Your gift can make a world of difference.

Very truly yours,
Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford

Sunday, December 30, 2012

write a book/ Angels of Brothels/ Jake Sasseville

Dec. 15 Write a book: I've been reading a lot of book reviews in the Edmonton Journal, National Post, and the Globe and Mail.  Once a week on the weekend editions, they put out book reviews.  I read it to learn about stories and characters.  As you can see from my blog, I'm a prolific writer. 

I don't know what kind of book I could write.  I did find this blog post by Scott Berkun called "How to Write a book-the short honest truth."  He talks about how it's really hard to write a book, and harder to get it published.  However, self-publishing in the digital age has made it much easier.

Dec. 20 Microsoft Publisher: I have these computer programs on my new computer.  I decided to study up on Microsoft Excel, Access, Outlook, and PowerPoint.  I did find Publisher really fun. 

There are all these templates to make newsletters, cards, calenders, post cards, business cards, etc.  This reminds me of my graphic design program I took at NAIT.  We didn't use this though.  We used Corel Draw, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Indesign.

Documentaries: I had put this in my "Inspirational quotes (Part 9)."  It was from a Globe and Mail article I read:

“I don’t think I can leave the documentary realm.  Docs keep us on our toes.  It’s more than improvisation.  It’s all about capturing and interpreting reality which is how I define filmmaking.”- Yung Chang

I don't really watch documentaries.  I sometimes did when my brother and dad watches Discovery Channel shows about animals.  I like to watch 20/20 news magazine shows.  It's interesting and informative.

XII Tribes Entertainment: I was told by a producer Michel Zgarka to "like" this on Facebook.  I did and I also found a trailer for a harrowing documentary called Angels of Brothels.

Angels of Brothels: Here's a trailer.  It's about a man who saves women and girls from human trafficking.  He brings his hidden cameras around and risks his life to save them.  Even the trailer is kind of hard to watch.

Disks: Today I checked to see if my 3.5 floppy disks all work.  Yeah, they still do even if some are from 10 yrs ago.

The Vertex Fighter: I was reading some feng shui again, and it inspired me to clean my room.  I have The Vertex Fighter drafts 1, 2, and 4 printed out on scrap paper.  They're from 2007 and 2008.  I then emailed those drafts on my fun email account.  Today I emailed them on my professional email account.  I have it saved on 3.5 floppy disks.

Now I have 3 digital copies of it, so I can then recycle the paper drafts because it's clutter.

Dec. 21 Beyond Structure: I was going through my old emails like The Great American Pitchfest newsletter, and it mentioned David Freeman teaching his class "Beyond Structure."  It says he taught screenwriters to write movies like X-Men: First Class.

I checked out a bit of the website, and it seems pretty good about writing stories.  I would have to read more later.

Scripter: I also got this email and learned about a business called Scripter.  It's where you send in your script, and professional script readers read it and write a report about it for a fee.  After you get the report, you can improve your script to production companies and there is a higher chance your script will be picked up.  They give you "coverage."

On the FAQ page:

"Coverage" is an industry term for the written analysis of a script. An industry-standard coverage report is 1-3 pages in length and consists of three parts: (1) some basic info about the script (e.g., author, genre, logline); (2) a synopsis of the script; and (3) an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.

Jake Sasseville: I read about him in Metro newspaper about a month ago.  He was 15 yrs old and he produced a TV show.  Oh that was my dream to produce a TV show while I was still in high school.  He's 27 yrs old just like me. 

According to Wikipedia: Sasseville developed “The Edge with Jake Sasseville” while a fifteen year old in Maine. He aired the show on local Public-access television cable TV and later on the local Fox station. After moving to New York, he began to create syndication deals with individual TV stations. At its peak, “The Edge” aired on at least 37 stations following a guerrilla marketing campaign that encouraged fans to contact TV stations.[4] Guests included actor Rainn Wilson of The Office, musician and activist Wyclef Jean, and comedian Will Forte of Saturday Night Live.[5] Repeats continued until the summer of 2010.

Bleeder: I think I found this either in the National Post or Globe and Mail book reviews.  This is a vampire book called Bleeder.  You can read it for free online, chapter by chapter.  It says if you like the story, you can donate.  I guess that means pay.

The author is Monica S. Kuebler who lives in Toronto.  She grew up reading Stephen King.  I haven't read the book, because I read so much already with the newspapers.

However, I just think it's really cool to have your book published online.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post Secret/ Mayans/ consumer culture


Dec. 16 Post Secret:

"Frank, I'm sending you my key to her house- it hurts too much to keep and throw away.  I'd rather it be here.  No secret- just the pain of a love we could never get right..."

Dec. 23:

"I've been praying that God would do an "It's a Wonderful Life" thing with me and show me what life would be like without me.  I'm not looking for catastrophic differences.  Just something to show me that I'm living for something."

"All I want for Christmas is a positive pregnancy test."

Email: Frank- Last year, a couple of weeks before Christmas, I posted this secret to the PostSecret App.

I received so many responses of heartfelt encouragement and offers of prayers. It was amazing how much love the PostSecret community shared. I was devastated when my pregnancy test came back negative two days before Christmas.

Amazingly enough, a month and a half later, a trip to the doctor revealed that I was pregnant! I can't thank the PS community enough for being an amazing group that I could lean on. Thank you for the encouragement, thank you for the prayers. My beautiful baby girl is now three months old. Merry Christmas to my PostSecret family<3 p="p">
"I know my purpose in life is to change the way people see the world.  And themselves." 

Postcard: There's a bubble that says: " 'I can't.  She asked if I could spend Christmas with her.'  I can't wait till I have a girlfriend so I'll have an excuse to spend the holidays with another family."

"My happiness is your happiness.  Your happiness is my happiness.  I know what we have is love."

"I have a few things on my Christmas list, but I would give all of them up if that could give my dad a job."
(The postcard has a Christmas tree that says: "All I want for Christmas is...sweater, sneakers, money (things crossed out) to see my dad smile again."

Dec. 26 Christmas: I worked all day Christmas.  I went home and had a roast beef dinner with my family.  After that I read a bunch of Christmas articles from the newspapers.

I don't know about you, but Christmas is a 2 month event.  It starts on Nov. 1, at least for retail.  As soon as Halloween is over, you pull out all the Christmas merchandise out.

Amnesia: Here's some good news.  This woman who had amnesia and was wandering around Toronto, has finally been identified as Linda Hegg.  She had schizophrenia.  She has a university degree in languages.

"Police say an amateur web sleuth helped them make the connection to Hegg, who was reported missing in the United States after she had already arrived in Canada."

Mayans: Here's an article from Yahoo.  It says: " of the most advanced civilizations in the ancient world. They had advanced concepts of astronomy and mathematics, and they had an intricate system of calendar."  I didn't know they were an advanced civilization.  I was thinking: "Why should I believe what some people from centuries ago thought that the end of the world was happening?"

Apocalypse: There is often lot of talk of the end of the world.  I remember in 1999, I read a book about the millennium.  I forgot what the book was called.  It was for kids/ teens.  It mentioned in the year 999, everybody thought the world was ending, and they gave away all their live stock by setting them free.  The world didn't end, so they returned to normal life.

There was panic of the year 2000, and nothing bad happened.  Last year, there was "The Rapture" and nothing happened.  I wrote about it, like I was watching a MTV Live promo and the hosts said: "This is the first show after the rapture!"

The audience cheers.  lol.

Dec. 27 Consumer culture: Yesterday was Boxing Day, so I find this subject fitting.

Clothing: On Nov. 19, 2012, I read an article by Courtney Shea who writes "The Weekly Challenge."  It's a self-improvement column.  She has to spend a week wearing the same outfit.

Article: "In her 2011 book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World, British journalist Lucy Siegle reported that the average British woman currently buys almost half her body weight in garments per year, and owns a whopping 4 times more clothing than she did in 1980."  (Same for Canadians.)

The article mentioned the movie The Fly where Geena Davis asks Jeff Goldblum why he has 5 identical suits.  He says it's about not wasting time thinking about fashion, and makes him think about more important things in life.

Me: I find the challenge easy.  I have a black shirt from work that I have to wear, and wear black dress pants.  Prior to getting the uniform shirt this year, last year I had 5 black shirts I had to wear for work because you have to wear black.

When I worked at the Soup place, I wear a selection of shirts I owned.  I don't buy clothes, because I mainly get them from my sister.

Save your money: On Nov. 13, 2012, I read an article in 24 by Joanne Richard. 

It talked about people hoping to win the lottery and your kid's athletic skills will win them a college scholarship.

Money guru Nathan Dungan: "In both instances, you are suspending rational thinking for an outcome that will most likely lead to disappointment."

It talked about how we spend too much money going out to eat.

Rob Livingston (president of Capital One Canada): "We're using food as a way to reward or treat ourselves- we learned this is the No. 1 motivating factor behind why people overspend."


"Women overspend on groceries, clothing, and personal care items.
Men overspend on bigger ticket times like education, shelter, and vehicles.

In planning for a secure future, men hope for a salary increase at their current job.
Women hope for a new job that pays significantly more."

Words: I've been reading and have come a lot of words I don't know, so I went to

Oryx: "a large African antelope, Oryx gazella,  grayish with black markings and having long, nearly straight horns: an endangered species."

Coccyx: "a small triangular bone forming the lower extremity of the spinal column in humans, consisting of four ankylosed rudimentary vertebrae."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

hackers/ Deluxe Burger/ holidays

Nov. 21 Hackers: I was researching computer jobs before.  It was to see if I can get a career in the computer industry.  It was also to do some research for my script.  It could be about hackers.  Kind of like the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Here is a good description: "Computer hackers are unauthorized users who break into computer systems in order to steal, change or destroy information,"

This website gives good tips on how to avoid hackers: like delete spam, don't open spam, get a 2 way firewall, etc.

Nov. 22 Question: I was reading in the Globe and Mail article by Brad Wheeler.  SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) had a poll: "Who would you want to have dinner with?"

23% musician
21% actor
18% athlete
13% writer
13% politician

It's kind of like the question: "If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would you want to meet?" 

In the first question, I would say an actor, David Anders.  You may have seen him on Once Upon a Time.  I've been a fan of his since Jan. 2002 when he first appeared on Alias.

You may have thought: "I thought you were going to say writer because you're a writer."  Well I have talked to Writers in Residences before like Marty Chan, Chris Craddock, Conni Massing, Jocelyn Brown, and Lynn Coady through the phone and email.  I have met Marty Chan in person.

I have met some musicians like the British boy band Blue (and got a hug from my favorite member Lee Ryan), and Kyle Riabko.  I would like to meet Robin Thicke. 

The only politician I would really like to meet is Barack Obama.

Nov. 26 Rain script: Today was very productive.

1. I went to work and worked for 6hrs.
2. I got home and spent 1 hr and 15 min looking for an office job and applied to some places.  I then emailed my friend some job postings.
3. Then I worked on my Rain script.

I written something last night and typed it up today.  It's a few pages, but I think I improved the story.

Feng shui: What inspired me to go and write the Rain script today is because of feng shui.  First I threw out my extra copy of The Vertex Fighter draft 5.  Then I still had this big pile of like 100 scrap paper on my desk of handwritten scenes and notes.  It's an accurate estimate.  30 of the pages were for The Vertex Fighter.  70 of the pages were for Rain.

I decided that I should print out the Rain script, because I find myself reading my old notes that don't have relevance of being used in the script.

Dec. 5 Rant: This is about winter.  Yesterday I went to work at the call centre.  After that I waited for the bus for 5 min. and was on it for about 15 min.  I then got off and had to wait for the bus for 30min.  I got home and I checked the electronic thermometer to see how cold it's outside.  It was -10C.

I was dressed warmly with my yoga jacket, and a winter jacket over it.  I had on a toque, and a hood over it.  I wore gloves and cotton pants.  I wore winter boots.  However, I think I should have wore an extra pair of socks because my toes got cold when I was out there for so long. 

At least I had a newspaper to read in a well-lit area to keep my mind occupied from the cold.  It also made me appreciate shoveling snow today.  I am actively shoveling and moving around unlike standing there waiting for a bus.

Feelings: I feel kind of down today.  I don't know, winter? 

It could be my job search.  I did look and apply for some jobs today.

Dec. 13 Marriage photos: Here is marriage photo of a couple on their wedding day.  6 decades later, the husband is in the hospital.

Dec. 15 Capilano: I was there a few weeks ago, and Payless Shoe Source was closing down.

City Centre:
Last week I was in downtown doing some job interviews.  I was at City Centre mall, and ARJ Imports is closing down on Dec. 31 because the lease is up.  There's a new store called Fascino Travel and Leisure that sells discount nail polish, perfumes, and bags.

Good deed: I was at the mall, and this guy in a wheelchair said: "Excuse me" and I see what he wanted.  He said he needed me to button the top button on his collar, so I did it.  As long as he's not asking for money, that's fine.

Deluxe Burger: Earlier this week, my co-workers had our own little Christmas party at Deluxe Burger at West Ed mall.  I've never been there before.  I ordered the Urban Classic burger for $10.  It was good.  I sampled my co-worker's fries, and they were average.

The dessert was blue and pink cotton candy, and it was complementary.  I thought the cotton candy was unique because it's not often sold at restaurants.  My sister had recommended to try the lobster nachos.  It costs $17.  They're an appetizer, but the order is really big so you can eat it like an entree.  One ordered it as an appetizer and the other ordered it as an entree.  It's really good.

There are poutines and even dog food for your dog to take home and eat it.  There were also these little shopping carts of fries.  Dog food and shopping carts are also unique to this restaurant.

There is good music, like Top 40 music from the last 10 yrs.  Good service.  The restaurant looked trendy and modern.  There was a little Christmas decorations with white trees and wreaths with blue ornaments.  I do recommend you try it.

The only nitpick I have is the price.  A pop is $3.  I would usually buy a burger at a fast food joint because it's cheaper.

Holidays: Anne Laurie sent me this article "4 Ways to Make the Holiday Season more Enjoyable."  Limit commitments, enjoy the simple things, remember your childhood memories with accuracy, and look at the holiday through your child's eyes.

If you really look at your commitments, you may not "have" to go to all these events and parties.  You can probably see these people another time.

Toddler toys:
Roxanne Porter sent met this article "Holiday Gift Guide for Toddlers."  They're educational toys like blocks, shape toys and arts and crafts.  I have a nitpick these days with little kids playing with iPhones and iPads, and hand held video games.  I think kids should interact with the people around them like their families.

I would say the same with adults.  It seems we're all staring at our screens.  Well if you're riding on a bus, then you can do all that.  If you're out with friends, then don't stare at a screen.

Nanny Jobs website has a fun logo.  The letter J is an umbrella which is a shout out to Mary Poppins.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Get on the map with me and Sting!

 I got this from Amnesty International.  Sign this petition:

Dear Tracy,

If you feel like I do, then put your fist in the air!
I am deeply troubled that Masha Alekhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot are still in prison. A Russian appeals court failed to overturn their sentence in October despite the international outcry against their imprisonment.

If you feel like I do, then raise your voice with me.

I am disturbed that they can be so harshly silenced just because they performed a song that criticizes Vladimir Putin.
I am outraged that officials can shut down free speech all across Russia – and get away with it.

If you feel like I do, then add yourself to the Free Pussy Riot Map!

Pussy Riot's case connects the worlds of music and human rights. When you add yourself to the Free Pussy Riot Map – Amnesty International’s newest human rights project for solidarity, you help deepen that connection.

When asked how he felt about Pussy Riot’s case, Sting had this to say: “Dissent is a legitimate and essential right in any democracy and modern politicians must accept this fact with tolerance.”
Take a look for yourself and see the range of artists who have also been inspired to speak out on Pussy Riot's behalf: From Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to Switchfoot, from Amanda Palmer to Matt Cameron, drummer for the band’s Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. There’s no better time than right now to unite with them as well as others to make our voices heard and our rights known.

Get on the Free Pussy Riot Map! We will share all entries with members of Pussy Riot. We want them to see that people like YOU are in their corner!

Pussy Riot is one of this year’s signature Write #4Rights cases because their case so clearly illustrates that we can never take the right to free expression for granted. You may not like how they expressed themselves, but they broke no law. Their sentences – two years each in a penal colony for performing a 40-second protest song – are inhumane.

It doesn’t matter if you’re punk rocker or not – if you care about justice, then you should raise your voice for Pussy Riot. You should join me, Sting and the growing number of artists and activists by adding yourself to the map!

In Solidarity,

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

Christmas recipes/ Mayan calender/ Colin O'Donoghue

Dec. 21 Christmas recipes:

Christmas desserts: Suzanne Cullen sent me this article "30 Blogs with Winning Christmas Desserts."  It has recipes for chocolate, fruit-inspired, dairy free, nut free, bite sized, and "Around the World" that's more like German and Irish desserts.

Christmas drinks: Jeralyn Nelson sent me this article "30 Blogs with the Best Holiday Drink Recipes."  They're cider, non-alcoholic, alcoholic, hot chocolate, crock pot, and teas.

Christmas gift wrapping: Allen Miller sent me this article "30 Blogs with Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas."  There is eco-friendly options, gift baskets, make your own wrapping paper, creating gift toppers, making a bow, and gift tags.

If you're into arts and crafts, you'll like this.  You can use this for other occasions where you give gifts.

Budgeting Apps:  Jacqui Barrie sent met this article "10 iPhone Apps for Tracking Holiday Expenses."  If you have an iPhone and need a budget, here are some helpful Apps.  This isn't just for the holiday season, but all year round.

Nanny gifts: Abby Nelson sent me this article "5 Gifts Employers can Give Nannies for the Holidays."  It can be used for other people like an auto detail, a Kindle (or a book gift card), tickets to a nanny conference like Nannypalooza, concert or game tickets, or air miles so she can fly home.

Dec. 22 Hostess gifts: Maria Wells sent me this article "Top 10 Hostess Gifts."  It mentions wine, gourmet pumpkin butter, sea salts, coasters, tin of tea leaves.  It also mentions soap and hand lotions.

Budget tips:
Maureen Denard sent me this article "How to Budget for Christmas and Avoid Going into Debt."  The tips are making a list, and only using cash and debit.  If you use credit, you will go over budget.  If money is tight, tell your friends and neighbors not to exchange gifts with them.

Email greeting cards:
Birthday Alarm sent me this.  It's where you can email greeting cards.  They're like videos.  They're so cute and fun.  On the left side there are all these other occasions you can send them on.  Check it out:

Christmas joke:
I got this from Daily Silly.

A man in Melbourne calls his son in Brisbane four days before Christmas and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing. Thirty years of misery is enough." "Dad, what are you talking about?" the son screams. "We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Perth and tell her."

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts. "I'll take care of this." She calls Melbourne immediately, and screams at her father, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says "Its fixed. They're coming for Christmas and paying their own way!"

Stupid criminals: I was watching Jay Leno.

Leno: This girl robbed a bank and then made a video and put it up on Youtube.  She then got caught.

He showed this video of the teenage girl.  She tells the story with cue cards about how she robbed a bank.

Card: I stole a car.
Card: I took off the license plate.
Card: I robbed a bank with a pillow case.
She holds out these huge stacks of cash.

She then rips off her face, and it's Lindsay Lohan.  lol.

When I saw the cash, I thought: "Are you going to use that money to pay for college?"

Mayan calender: The world was to end on Dec. 21, 2012.  On Dec. 15, 2012, there's an article by Karen Burshtein in the National Post.  The interview was with "Vancouver-based Guataphile and founder of El Camino VolunTours Chris Buckshaw."

Buckshaw: "In reality, Dec. 21, 2012 represents the end of a 5,126 yr cycle.  This is actually the fifth such cycle in the Mayan calender system.  The sixth cycle is about to begin, and is a continuation of many cycles.  In Mayan legend, man is made of corn, their main food staple.

In previous cycles, man was made form different things, such as wood and earth.  Those were imperfect designs, and humankind had been evolving.  This year marks the end of the Men of Corn, and we wait to see what the next incarnation will be."

In the article, it mentions this is going to be the 1st New Year's Eve in 5000 years for the Mayans.

Dec. 23 Airport joke: I got this from Daily Silly.  It's fitting because lots of people are traveling during the holiday season:

I was at the airport waiting for my plane to board one day. I was at gate number 26 when an announcement came over the broadcast system. An official sounding voice said, "We apologize for the inconvenience, but United flight 237, previously scheduled to leave from gate 26, will now be leaving from gate 48." So I picked up my things and walked to the new gate. Shortly after arriving at the new gate another announcement blasted out explaining that United flight 237 had been moved back to the original gate 26. So once again I retrieved my belongings and walked back to the original gate. Just as I began settling in another announcement was broadcast, "We would like to thank you for participating in United Airline's physical fitness program!"

Colin O' Donoghue:
I was watching Once Upon a Time, and they introduced the character Captain Hook.  He's played by Irish actor Colin O'Donoghue.  He plays this handsome and charismatic bad guy.  Here's how he looks as Captain Hook:

Here he is as himself:

It's interesting.  I find him more attractive as Hook, than as himself.  Looks like I've fallen in love with the character than the actor.

I did watch him in this 11min interview.  He is the movie The Rite and he plays a priest in it.  He stars with Anthony Hopkins in it.  He talks about how he was so nervous when he met Hopkins for the first time.  In the interview, the host brings up that he's the next Colin Farrel, because they're both Irish actors.  I'm not really a fan of Farrel though.

Here's the video:

Here's The Rite information:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Light the Way. Double your impact.

 I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

For over 50 years, Amnesty International has persevered against cruelty and repression.

We have risen to defend the brave ones, the forgotten ones, the fearless voices demanding fairness, equality and human dignity. We have supported grass-roots movements that have toppled oppressive regimes. We have freed the unjustly imprisoned.

None of these human rights achievements would be possible without dedicated supporters like you.

LIGHT THE WAY. Defend human rights by becoming a Partner of Conscience monthly donor to Amnesty International USA.

Donate now and make twice the impact through our matching gift challenge. Every dollar donated before Dec. 31 will be doubled – up to $222,500.

Our movement needs your help to face the simultaneous human rights crises that are unfolding throughout the world today.
  • The devastating brutality in Syria is far from over. Amnesty is doing everything in its power to help end the cold-blooded killing of Syrian civilians, including mobilizing massive pressure to stop the flow of weapons to the Syrian government.
  • Malala Yousufzai is not alone. The vicious shooting of this brave, young Pakistani activist by the Taliban was a harsh reminder of endemic violence and discrimination against women and girls. Amnesty is working with women on the ground to wage multiple, hard-hitting campaigns that support and defend the dignity and human rights of women and girls.
  • We have yet to learn the truth about the U.S. government's secret drone kill list. Reports indicate that drones have killed thousands, including children – but the Obama administration has markedly expanded these "targeted killings" under policies that appear to violate international law.
We received the Nobel Peace Prize for our life-saving work and will never stop fighting for fundamental human rights and dignity.

Make a monthly gift now. We need to raise millions of dollars to help fund our global campaigns in 2013. With your help, I know we can do this.

Thank you for all you do to support human rights.

Frank Jannuzi

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thank you: your support is helping Gao Zhisheng

I got this from Amnesty International:

Thank you for speaking out for Gao Zhisheng
Stand with those who risk their lives to defend the rights of others
Become a monthly supporter of Amnesty International
Thank you for taking the time sign our petition to free Gao Zhisheng from his wrongful imprisonment in China. Your support is so appreciated and so needed.
We'd like to share with you a few words from Gao's wife, Geng He, who has asked us not to give up on him:

"As a committed Human Rights Defender, my husband has never given up on fighting for the rights and freedom of others. In the same way, I will never give up on him. Neither will Amnesty International. And neither, I hope will you." 
- Geng He, wife of human rights defender, Gao Zhisheng

You know we're not giving up on Gao. In fact, Amnesty International members in 80 countries gathered last Monday, International Human Rights Day, to write letters on behalf of Gao, urging the Chinese authorities to set him free.

It's important that we defend people like Gao, because when Human Rights Defenders like him are targeted by his own government, you know that others are suffering.

Not so long ago, Gao Zhisheng was named among China’s top ten lawyers and celebrated by the government. However, as he became increasingly outspoken about human rights abuses in the country, the authorities tried to silence him.
First they revoked his licence, then they closed his law practice, and on August 22nd, 2006 Gao was taken away by police for the first time. In all, he has been abducted three times and has spent 36 months in detention. The second time, he was tortured relentlessly.
"His guards beat him with electric batons, shone lamps in his eyes, chained him to an iron chair, and burnt his dear face and body with cigarettes. They blew smoke in his eyes for hour after hour until they were so swollen he could no longer see" -Gao's wife, Geng He
Yet Gao refused to be broken. So the authorities turned their attention to his wife and children.They cut off the water supply to their home and blocked them from leaving the house, denying them food or water for 36 hours.
"Tianyu, my little son, was just three years old and I will never forget his tears and pain as the hunger set in... my heart was twisted like a piece of dough" - Geng He
When the torturers told Gao Zhisheng of his family’s suffering, it was more than he could bear. He signed a confession and was released. Yet even then the harassment continued, and in February 2009 the police took Gao Zhisheng away again. His family have not seen him since.
At Amnesty, we're doing all we can to free Gao Zhisheng.
We're monitoring and reporting on his case so the world knows about him. We’re lobbying the United Nations and national governments to speak out on China’s human rights record, and we're collecting thousands of messages calling on the Chinese premier to release Gao Zhisheng immediately.
However, we need your support – not just to help Gao, but for everyone who has ever risked their life to defend human rights.

As 2012 closes, I'd like to thank you for being one of our cherished activists. It's your willingness to speak out for others that helps make our collective voice heard.
Please consider joining us in 2013 as a monthly donor to help us stand with human rights defenders like Gao Zhisheng.
Together there's a chance we can with Gao Zhisheng's freedom.
Yours Sincerely,

Alex Neve, Secretary General
Amnesty International Canada

Thank you for speaking out for Gao. If you're not already a regular supporter of Amnesty International, please join us now and help us stand behind those who put their life at risk to protect the human rights of others.

Peter wrote a letter, and shook the world

I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

When Amnesty founder Peter Benenson published his "Appeal for Amnesty" in 1961, little did he know he lit the fuse of a human rights revolution.

It was as if people were waiting for this signal.

Fast-forward to today and it is hard to believe the scale of the transformations that followed. Women's rights, children's rights, indigenous rights, workers' rights, the rights of disabled persons - all of these have been strengthened by international standards and in the public consciousness.

Each of these human rights achievements sprang from the ideals and efforts of a movement powered by people like you.

When you support Amnesty International USA, you are a part of this heroic history. If you join Amnesty right now, your gift will unlock matching funds - but only until Dec. 31.

When Peter lit the first Amnesty candle, he was reminded of the words of a 16th-century man who faced persecution with these words (paraphrasing), "We have today lit such a candle as shall never be put out."
We free the unjustly imprisoned.
1966, 1,000 prisoners of conscience released since founding

We are recognized for our groundbreaking work.
1977, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for work to secure freedom and justice

We break the chains of oppression.
1986, Members write to 10,000 people of influence around the world urging them to pressure the South African government to end human rights abuses under apartheid

We elevate human rights.
1993, After intense lobbying, United Nations establishes UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights

We turn torturers into outlaws.
2002, International Criminal Court treaty enters into force after years of lobbying

We defend the defenders.
2010, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is finally set free after spending some 15 years under house arrest
For 50 years, supporters like you never let Peter's light fade. Today we are three million members strong and growing with each human rights success.

I am so proud of what Amnesty has become, and so hopeful for what it can be.

To unleash the extraordinary achievements of tomorrow, we need your investment in this movement today. I urge you to take advantage of our matching gift challenge before it ends on Dec. 31.

LIGHT THE WAY: Join Amnesty today.

Together we can deliver hope for humanity.

Thank you for writing and shining!

 I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

We joined. We wrote. We shined our light. Because of it, courageous human rights defenders, the unjustly imprisoned, and even the family members of these individuals know that they are not alone.

This year’s Write #4Rights, our global letter-writing campaign, has officially ended, but our critical work continues. Every year, this global initiative brings the world closer together in defending human rights. Our light, when we shine it together, makes the world a little brighter...and it doesn't end here.

Thank you for all you have done and all that you will continue to do in the upcoming year. Here are just a few places you can see the impact of your Write #4Rights work:
  • We got on the map! Sting and Roger Waters got on the map. So did artists Noelle Scaggs and Amanda Palmer. Thousands of other artists and activists also demonstrated their support on the Free Pussy Riot Map. Check it out and if you haven’t already, you can get on the map too!
  • We shined a light - literally! See solidarity in lights – a local Amnesty group in Baltimore led a beautiful vigil of lights in honor of Noxolo Nogwaza, an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights who was murdered last year in South Africa.
  • We made a difference: Last week, prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab's three-year sentence was reduced to two years by the court, though not altogether lifted. There’s still some serious work to be done, as Nabeel should never have been arrested in the first place for exercising his right to freedom of expression. We’ll continue to take action on Nabeel’s behalf until he is freed.
  • Check out more pictures from this year’s Write #4Rights!
Again, thank you for all that you’ve done to help make this year’s Write #4Rights so unforgettable. Your actions mean a lot.

In Solidarity,

Write #4Rights Team
Amnesty International USA

Cabin Fever/ The A-Team/ The Expendables

Dec. 8: These are the movie reviews published at the Golden Vanguard website.

Cabin Fever movie review

By Tracy Au

The movie is written by Randy Pearlstein and Eli Roth.  Roth also directed it and it his first film.  His name may sound familiar, because he is also an actor in the movie Inglourious Basterds. 

The movie started off with a creepy beginning.  It then focuses on five college friends Paul, Karen, Bert, Marcy, and Jeff (Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, James Debello, Cerina Vincent, and Joey Kern) who rent a cabin in the woods.  It’s a common theme in stories of a cabin being isolated from the world and no technology to communicate.

There is fear as they encounter a man who can either infect them with this disease, or kill them.  It leads to the car being wrecked and the man dying.  The friends experience difficulty in getting help as they can’t find anyone to help them.  Or when they do, they realize they can’t ask this person for help.

Overall, this is a mediocre movie.  The characters aren’t really likable.  It’s not really scary.  There were some moments I jumped.  The theme of a disease infecting one and then others had the potential to terrify you, but it wasn’t pulled off. 

The best part of the movie was the dark humor that was thrown in it.  It was the community locals like the store owner, the deputy, and the farmer woman that made the movie enjoyable.

The A-Team

By Tracy Au

There are multiple explosions, shoot outs, car chases, and fist fights that occur in this action movie called The A-Team.  However, it’s creative and imaginative as they show some things that you don’t see very often in movies like helicopter chase scenes or flying a tank.

The movie is based on the old TV show from the 80s of the same name.  The A-Team is Iraq war veterans that consist of the leader Hannibal (Liam Neeson), the womanizing funny guy Face (Bradley Cooper), tough guy B.A. (Quinton Jackson), and mentally insane guy Murdock (Sharlto Copley). 

Lt. Sosa (Jessica Biel) who also is an ex-flame of Face hires the team to find the plates that are used to print $100 bills.  It has an unpredictable story to go with all the action.  The mission goes sideways and they are framed for murder, and promptly court martial.

CIA agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) still needs to get the plates.  Black Forces agent Pike (Brian Bloom) complicates matters for the team.

This isn’t just an action movie, but a comedy too where you laugh out loud.  They scheme together to pull off their plans to get the bad guys like Lynch and Pike.  It has good plot twists and a big payoff. 

There is a wild and climatic ending.  You know a movie is good when it’s over, you think: “Is there going to be a sequel to this?”

According to this article, no:

Go watch it.

The Expendables

By Tracy Au

The Expendables are a team of mercenaries played by actors from every action movie ever made.  Or at least it seems like it when you got Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Lee (Jason Statham), Yin (Jet Li), Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren), Hale (Terry Crews), and Tool (Mickey Rourke).  Even Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an appearance.   

CIA operative Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) hires the Expendables to take down a rogue CIA agent Munroe (Eric Roberts) and the Latin dictator General Garza (David Zayas).

Barney and Lee go to see their contact Sandra (Giselle Itie) in the South American country Vilena Island.  Sandra informs them that ever since General Garza took over, the country became a terrible place to live in. (By the way, that’s a fictional place so no real country would be offended by it and hurt box office sales.) 

It is very violent with shooting, fist fighting, and stabbings.  It is very intense with suspense and tension as the mission becomes more personal for Barney.  He has to do more than take down Munroe and Garza, but also help Sandra.

There are light and fun moments between the guys, and even during a stand off with guns.

If you like action movies, the cast, fun and excitement, then you will enjoy this movie.

Charisma Carpenter: On a side note that's not mentioned in the review, is that Buffy and Angel actor Charisma Carpenter is in this movie.  She played Cordelia on the TV shows.  In the movie, she did some good acting.  She was only in 2 scenes, but I would say the first scene that she was in, showed some dramatic acting.

I think it could be used for her acting reel.  She played Jason Statham's girlfriend.

Dec. 10 Dream: Last night I had a dream that one of my old restaurant boss was back at work.  He told me there was a condo that was close by the restaurant and it was $95 a month to rent there.  I thought: "That's cheaper than living with my parents where I pay $400 a month."  I also take the bus to work, but in my dream, I could walk to work.

I would then save money on my bus pass.  Now I'm awake, I have to ask: "Does the $95 cover utilities like electricity and water?"  What about groceries?  When I work at the restaurant, I eat there.

In my 24 horoscope, it said: "A dream reveals the proper direction."

Dec. 11 The Golden Vanguard: I have added them as my friend on Facebook, and they confirmed me.  They even introduced me as one of their new writers for movie reviews and got their other friends to send me a warm welcome.  I thanked them for it.  They are so nice.

Dec. 13 Writer in residence: I put this on Omar Mouallem's Facebook page:

Me: Hey Omar, I just got a email from Linked In saying you're the new Writer in Residence at the Edmonton Public Library. I was like: "Oh my god, I have sent my writing to those people before and now it's one of my classmates." Congratulations.

Omar "likes" my post and said: "So I'll be seeing you there, then?