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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Jim Carrey: from Scarborough to Hollywood

Nov. 16 Jim Carrey: from Scarborough to Hollywood: I was reading in the Edmonton Journal and found an article about the actor Jim Carrey.  I remember watching some of an E True Hollywood Story way back in 2001.  In the show, it talked about how he and his family struggled financially.  Jim had to work as a janitor at night and didn’t get much sleep.  So he goes to school tired and sleeps in class.

On his 16th birthday, he dropped out of school to get a career as a stand up comedian.  I found the article on National Post and they show all these pictures of him like when he was a teenager with one of his teachers Lucy Belvedere.  He makes a goofy face.  

The article was very inspirational because he overcame adversity and it’s a triumphant story.  Here’s the whole article “Dumb and Dumber Weak (sic): Jim Carrey’s rocky road from Scarborough to Hollywood — ‘He was born to do it’”:

At about the time Jim Carrey was making his first appearance at the Toronto comedy club Yuk Yuks, he was 16 years old, a Grade 9 dropout and had spent the previous eight months living in a tent with two siblings in Charles Daley Park in Lincoln, Ont. It was 1978, and the family’s fortunes were dire, but slowly improving:

 His father would gain employment in the accounting department at the Titan Wheels Factory in Scarborough and, in exchange for living in the house across the street, the Carreys would clean the building every night, from 6 p.m. into the next morning. It seems like the stuff of Dickens and certainly paints Carrey — who would become the first comic actor to earn US$20-million for a single film — as someone who grew up trying to inject levity into a grim situation that only grew worse (his mother struggled her whole life with mental health issues).

However, Rita Carrey, a year older than her brother Jim, paints the opposite picture. Now 54, she says her father was a natural comedian and even when times were at their bleakest — when it got cold in the park, when their mother was suicidal — Jim’s humour didn’t come from pain, but was second nature. Jim Carrey was funny like night is dark.

“When we were homeless, it sucked, but not for us. Mom and Dad would be the ones worrying — you’d see their cigarettes flicker when you went to take a pee at two in the morning — but Jim and I, we were fine,” says Rita, a musician performing the autobiographical Carrey On this weekend in Toronto, and a manager of Always Christmas at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls. “[Jim's humour] didn’t come from a need for attention or denial or anything like that: He was born to do it.”

In three decades of making movies, Carrey has earned global box office receipts of more than US$4-billion. Between July 1994 and November 1995, Carrey had four straight films gross more than US$100-million. That puts him alongside Adam Sandler, Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks in the ranks of Hollywood’s golden boys. Yet, now 52 years old, Carrey hasn’t made a live-action smash since 2003’s Bruce Almighty, and his odd off-set behaviour and poor film choices have overshadowed his beloved catchphrases and pratfalls.

Between 2005 and 2010, his relationship with Jenny McCarthy, who railed against vaccinations, only added to his eccentric reputation. He’s spoken about his depression, ADHD and, last summer, tweeted that he “cannot support that level of violence” in the hyper-violent film Kick-Ass 2, despite presumably being aware of its genre tendencies before signing on. All of this, including his two divorces, aren’t much in terms of industry flame-outs — he’s more like a John Travolta question mark than an Amanda Bynes train wreck — and the tide could now be turning again for the elastic-faced man.

Two weekends ago, he was a charismatic host on Saturday Night Live and he’s since been busy fostering good will before this Friday’s opening of Dumb and Dumber To, a follow-up to the high water mark of his comedic career. At the very least, the film will give audiences a chance to see him do what he’s been successfully doing his whole life, or at least until he got famous: making people laugh.

“I remember waiting with another teacher for the recess bell to ring and this teacher, she started laughing, ‘Oh, it’s that new kid Jim Carrey, he’s so funny!’ That was the first time I heard of him,” says Lucy Belvedere, a former teacher at St. Francis Xavier in Burlington, Ont., who Carrey has credited with helping him become a performer. “He could become quite a distraction, making his weird faces and trying to be funny. In order to control the class, if everyone behaved, I would give him 15 minutes to perform at the end of the day.”

At the time, Carrey was president of the debate club, but Belvedere says his parents had no involvement with the school. “I was shocked to learn about how ill his mother was; I had no idea he was involved in that sadness,” she says, remembering him doing imitations of Elvis and Clint Eastwood and performing ventriloquism and magic tricks. “If I provided him with his first place to do a performance, it only started as a tool for me to control him and the other kids.”

Alongside his family, Carrey would hone his performance and eventually take the stage at Yuk Yuks, wearing a blue leisure suit and doing impressions. In 1977, Mark Breslin, the founder of Yuk Yuks, remembers sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll being comedy’s ethos — more John Belushi, less Johnny Carson — and that Carrey committed standup’s ultimate sin: He was square.

“I can only call it ‘Bad Rich Little,’ and when the audience started to boo him, I had to put the hook around his neck and give it a yank — that was the end of Jim Carrey at the club,” says Breslin, who first saw Carrey perform on his stage at 15. However, Carrey — then practising his act at midnight with his father while mopping a Scarborough factory floor — would not be deterred. Three years later, he returned.

“This time, he’s 18 and polished and the audience liked it and this guy from the Toronto Star writes: ‘I’ve seen the future of comedy and it’s Jim Carrey.’ The next night, there were lineups around the block,” Breslin says. “What we didn’t know, what nobody knew, was the guy was cleaning all night with his father, but the audience loved it and he never looked back from there.”

Carrey’s success can feel as if it happened overnight, but he had plenty of credits before Ace Ventura: Pet Detective introduced his talking butt to the world. He played an animator in The Duck Factory in 1984 and had parts in Peggy Sue Got Married, The Dead Pool and Pink Cadillac, before working with Damon Wayans on Earth Girls Are Easy, which led to Damon’s brother Keenen Ivory Wayans to cast him on In Living Color in 1990.

“He was killing everywhere — commanding the stage, the material was funny, the performance superb, he was beyond charming,” says Bruce Hills, chief operating officer of Just For Laughs, who booked Carrey after the comedian moved to Los Angeles. “It was obvious he was a star.”

Carrey’s star would burn brightest after In Living Color, which aired for four seasons, from Ace Ventura in 1994 to The Cable Guy in 1996, then flicker through passable comedies such as Me Myself & Irene, Fun With Dick and Jane and Yes Man. In 1987, he married Melissa Womer, an actress and waitress he met at The Comedy Store, and they divorced in 1995. Lauren Holly, who he worked with on Dumb and Dumber, married him in 1996, but it only lasted one year. (She did not join Carrey and Jeff Daniels in the sequel).

After that, Carrey would take on darker roles. In 1998, he made The Truman Show, and joined a rare list of actors who’ve won a Golden Globe but then failed to get nominated for an Oscar for the same performance. Incredibly, this is a feat he would repeat the very next year, when he played Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. “I’m the Tom Hanks of the Golden Globes,” he said, accepting his statue.

Through it all, Carrey maintained a close relationship with his family, and though both of his parents died by the time he was 32, he stayed close with Rita, who continued to live in the Niagara Region. Rita says Jim sent her a text before hosting Saturday Night Live. “He hasn’t forgotten about his family,” she says. “All of us siblings are still close.”

This weekend, perhaps more than any other, might be a time when Carrey will want to keep his family even closer. Can you strike comedy gold as a young actor, venture into dramatic territory, have an odd public persona and then rekindle the box office receipts of your youth? According to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak — the global movie and TV tracker that provides the studios with box office receipts — you can.

“Audiences get tired of an actor when the choices they make don’t resonate, but they’re still rooting for their favourite stars,” says Dergarabedian, adding that Carrey specifically chose this project to curry back the favour he’s lost. “The reason you make Dumb and Dumber To is because you want to get back on top — you want to be back on the top of the food chain.”

For Rita Carrey, Jim’s career is never seriously in danger. After facing hard times that go well beyond public opinion, Rita has come to rely upon her brother’s stiff upper lip. She says it’s a family trait. “I used to drive a city bus and when people found out who I was, they’d say: ‘Why are you stuck in this dead-end job?’ You shrink to about the size of an ant,” she says. “Jim offered to help me, but what kind of example would that set for my kids? Some people might not think our upbringing was normal, but one thing we never heard was: Poor me.”

Friday, November 28, 2014

Help bring home Canadian serving life sentence in China

A good father was unjustly sentenced to life in prison.

Dear Tracy,

I'm writing to you today because a brave man - a good father - was unjustly sentenced to life in prison. You and I might be his only hope to regaining freedom and seeing his loving family again.

In 2006, Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil was ripped away from his family, and then began a nightmare of serious human rights violations, including a blatantly unfair detention, trial and life sentence in China. He's often been kept in solitary confinement, and was likely tortured, including beatings and threats.

Will you help bring him home?

At home in Burlington, Ontario with their four children, Huseyin's wife Kamila continues to cry out for support and pressure on the Chinese government. Kamila and her children don’t know if they will ever see Huseyin again. Please stand with Kamila and Amnesty International to urge the Chinese government to act on Huseyin's case. 

Huseyin cannot defend himself and he cannot even ask you for your help. But he and his family desperately need you to act now. Please take action.

Alex Neve
Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

P.S. You can learn more about Celil's case and other cases we are working on for Write for Rights, by checking our! Write for Rights is the largest human rights event in the world! Join us!

Ray Bradbury/ Ancillary Sword

Oct. 19 Ray Bradbury: I cut out this Globe and Mail article “Prolific author’s best tales have a magical quality that endures” by David Pringle on Jun. 7, 2012.  I didn’t know about Bradbury until he passed away in 2012 and I was reading the newspaper about him.  Here is a really good article, because I bolded a lot of lines:

Ray Bradbury, who has died aged 91, was the 20th-century American short-story writer par excellence. Although he was also known for a few novels – principally the science-fiction book-burning dystopia Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and the dark fantasy Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) – as well as for children's books, plays, screenplays and poetry, it was for his short stories that he gained his widest fame, with his best-known collection being The Martian Chronicles (1950). His tales were collected in dozens of volumes and reprinted in countless magazines and anthologies, including many school textbooks, making his name familiar to younger generations.

Among his more influential admirers were the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who read his stories in Russian translations of the 1950s, and JG Ballard, whose introduction to his own volume of Complete Short Stories (2001) stated: "At its best, in Borges, Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allan Poe, the short story is coined from precious metal, a glint of gold that will glow for ever in the deep purse of your imagination."

Born in the small town of Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury arrived in Los Angeles with his parents, Leonard and Esther, in 1934, and lived there for the rest of his life. At the time of his graduation from Los Angeles high school in 1938, he was already publishing stories in amateur fanzines, and was an active member of the LA Science Fiction Society, where he rubbed shoulders with more senior writers such as Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett and Robert A Heinlein.

He had a reputation at that time as an amusing but pushy kid, always under the feet of visiting magazine editors, always asking his seniors for tips, coaxing them into reading his manuscripts and sometimes collaborating with him. Sustaining himself as a part-time newspaper seller, he continued to write furiously (at one point, it is said, he burned more than a million words of unpublished fiction), making his first professional sales in 1941 and styling himself a full-time writer from 1943. By 1947 he was sufficiently established in his career to marry Marguerite McClure, with whom he was to have four daughters.

The best of his early stories appeared in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, edited at that time by Dorothy McIlwraith. These were moody, macabre pieces which avoided the stock ghosts and monsters of supernatural fiction. The Crowd, about a conspiracy of ghoulish spectators at traffic accidents, and The Scythe, about a farmer who involuntarily takes on the role of Death, were typical of Bradbury's prolific output in 1943-44. These were collected, along with many similarly grotesque pieces, in his first book, Dark Carnival (1947), with some rewritten for his definitive collection of horror stories, The October Country (1955). He also contributed numerous stories to the crime and science-fiction pulps of the mid-1940s, some of them unreprinted to this day.

Not content to remain a master of pulp, Bradbury set his sights on more prestigious magazines. In 1945 he made his breakthrough when he sold a non-fantasy story, The Big Black and White Game (on racial and sporting themes), to the American Mercury. This came to the attention of Martha Foley, editor of the annual Best American Short Stories anthology, who reprinted it in her 1946 volume – the first of many appearances by Bradbury in that and similar anthologies.

Within a few years, he was selling stories regularly to the biggest and "slickest" magazines of the dayMademoiselle, Charm, Collier's, the New Yorker (just once), Maclean's, Seventeen, Esquire, the Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Harper's and more. In an era before television held sway, the last heyday of the magazine short story, Bradbury flourished. His fantastical, whimsical stories, blending horror, humour and sentiment – instantly recognisable in style – appealed to editors and readers across the board.

Ironically, however, it was in the lowly science-fiction pulps that his second – and best – book had its origins. With The Million-Year Picnic in 1946, he began a loose series about pioneer settlers on Mars and, over the next four years, these appeared primarily in the gaudiest of poorly paying pulp magazines, Planet Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories. They were gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (known in Britain as The Silver Locusts).

The book was praised by critics, including Christopher Isherwood, and sold well (in its paperback reprints, it became a steady seller and has been in print ever since). Scarcely a "novel", and scarcely science fiction – his space rockets are like firecrackers, and his Mars people are Halloween ghosts, while his Martian landscape is a heightened version of southern California – it nevertheless became a classic science-fiction novel.

The Martian Chronicles was followed by The Illustrated Man (1951), The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953) and, a little later, A Medicine for Melancholy (1959; known in Britain as The Day It Rained Forever). These, along with his short novel Fahrenheit 451 (filmed by François Truffaut in 1966), remain the core Bradbury books. The best of their tales have a magical quality that endures.

Another of his finest books, Dandelion Wine (1957), like his earlier Mars volume, is a gathering of short stories furbished with linking passages and presented anew as a "novel". Like most of his work, it is about childhood, or the child's-eye view of things. Set in the fictional Green Town, Illinois (a reimagined Waukegan), during the long hot summer of 1928, it concerns minor domestic incidents which are made over in the feverish mind of a 12-year-old boy so that the town seems to become a realm of time-travellers and witches, of enchanted tennis shoes and impossible "happiness machines". The book is not a fantasy of the supernatural in any conventional sense, but a highly imaginative work that mines a deep vein of modern American folk-fantasy. There is much delightful whimsy, combined with an obvious nostalgia for a simpler, old-fashioned way of life, but there are also dark elements. The boy realises that one day he will die; an old woman is robbed of all the memories of her youth; a killer known as the Lonely One lurks in the town's shadows.

Although he continued to write to the end, most of Bradbury's work after 1960 was less successful. Death is a Lonely Business (1985) and A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990) were adequately entertaining mysteries. Green Shadows, White Whale (1992) and From the Dust Returned (2001) were latter-day attempts at "fix-up" novels, put together in the same style as Dandelion Wine. The former was based on "Irish" short stories written in the 1950s and 60s, inspired by his experience of working on location with John Huston on the 1956 film of Moby Dick (for which Bradbury wrote the screenplay); and the latter on very early fantasy stories of the 1940s. Later collections ranged from The Machineries of Joy (1964) to Driving Blind (1997), One More for the Road (2002) and We'll Always Have Paris (2009).

Despite a 50-year decline from his peak of the 1950s, Bradbury remained a much-loved writer, his work often adapted for film and television. Never a great traveller (he preferred a bicycle to a car, and usually avoided aircraft), he lived quietly and was the recipient of many awards ranging from an O Henry prize in 1947 to a Bram Stoker lifetime achievement award in 1988 and, in 2004, a National Medal of Arts award.

Marguerite died in 2003. Bradbury is survived by their daughters, Susan, Ramona, Bettina and Alexandra.

Nov. 28 Ancillary Sword: I found this in the Edmonton Journal in Oct. 17, 2014.  It’s a book review of Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie and it’s reviewed by Daniel Kaszor.  Kaszor says:

“Good science-fiction informs and references the modern human condition, commenting on it and framing it to make you think about how we live right now. This can be done by speculating on where technologies will take the human race, offering fresh eyes to current events by presenting them through a lens of abstraction, or by framing our societal status quo against alternatives.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Matching Gift for the Holidays! URGENT (Food Banks Canada)

Dear Tracy,

It’s me again, with some wonderful news!

I just got word from our staff team that a very generous donor has offered a special gift to Food Banks Canada.

Your holiday gift to Food Banks Canada is being matched up to a maximum of $25,000 by Quaker® Canada, Tostitos® Canada, and parent company PepsiCo Canada.

This offer expires December 31st, so act fast.

You can make your gift by visiting our Holiday Recipe Book where you can read, upload your own favourite recipes, and of course make your holiday gift on our secure online form.

If you prefer just to make your donation please visit here.

With much gratitude, 
Debbie O'Bray Signature.JPG
Debbie O'Bray 
Volunteer, Food Banks Canada Board of Directors and Supporter 

P.S. Matching gifts also count if you send them by mail, but please mail them soon as this offer expires December 31!

Why I'm returning to Ferguson

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In August, Police Officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown to death. Today, a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Officer Wilson.

The community response leading up to, and likely to follow, the grand jury decision marks a pivotal moment in U.S. history — a moment of passion, frustration, and activism.

Officials in Ferguson and throughout the United States must ensure that each individual's human rights — including the right to freely express themselves in the form of peaceful protest — are respected, protected and fulfilled.

It's time to bring human rights home.

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Dear Tracy,

Today, a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in August.

The community response to Mike Brown's death, and the response that is likely still to come, mark a pivotal moment in the human rights movement and in U.S. history.

It's a moment of passion, of frustration, and of activism.

It's within this moment that officials in Ferguson and throughout the United States must stand up to ensure that each individual's human rights  including the right to freely express themselves in the form of peaceful protest  are respected, protected and fulfilled.

That's why Amnesty International’s human rights observer delegation is on the ground in Ferguson today: to monitor the protests and law enforcement’s response.

Amnesty is calling upon law enforcement officers to facilitate peaceful protests.

We are calling on them to bear in mind their role as partners and protectors of community, seeking to do no harm.

We are calling on them to protect peaceful assemblies, even if a small minority tries to turn a peaceful protest into a violent one.

That's what human rights looks like.

As I write this, I'm making final preparations to head to Ferguson, representing Amnesty’s commitment to protecting the human rights of all people —  including the one pictured in this email. This little boy reminds us that his life, and all lives, matter.

While we can't all be in Ferguson in this moment, we can stand in solidarity with those exercising their right to peaceful protest today.

As you share this image in support of peaceful protest on Twitter and Facebook, we ask that you remember the human rights of boys like this one.

And as law enforcement officers head to work in the coming days, we ask that they do the same.

In solidarity,

Steven W. Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Don Winslow "Savages"/ Richard Attenborough "Jurassic Park"

 Oct. 19 Don Winslow: I cut out this Edmonton Journal article “Author found his muse in a sleazy time and place” by Charles McGrath on Jul. 6, 2012.  I was going to put excerpts, but the article was really good.  It profiled the author Don Winslow who wrote the book Savages and it turned into a movie.  It talks about all his life experience working as a PI to an author:

Don Winslow, whose book “The Kings of Cool” just came out, is a rarity among writers of crime fiction: He doesn’t just make it up. For years he was a private investigator, and he used to read writers like Chandler, Hammett and Elmore Leonard while sitting in his car on stakeouts. Eventually he worked his way up to high-profile arson cases in California (the background for his 1999 novel “California Fire and Life”), but he got his start in Times Square in the late ’70s, when, he likes to say, “the whole place was a glittering river of theft.”

The other morning Mr. Winslow — who now divides his time between Solana Beach, Calif., and a ranch near the old mining town of Julian — took a walking tour of his old turf, marveling at how much it has changed. No prostitutes, no porn palaces, no crack vials underfoot. “They used to crunch under your shoes like clamshells,” he recalled.

An especially startling development was a nearly block-long sign at 49th and Broadway advertising “Savages,” the new Oliver Stone movie (for which Mr. Winslow helped write the screenplay) based on his 2010 novel of the same name. But except for the 42nd Street megaplexes, he pointed out, there were no Times Square movie theaters anymore, and they were where he used to ply his trade. He was hired by the owners to keep an eye on the help.

“Everyone was ripping off everyone else,” he said, explaining that in those days theaters were an all-cash business. “Managers weren’t reporting the real box-office figures. Ushers were palming tickets and then selling them back to the cashier. I knew ushers who came to work in BMWs.”
Another of his jobs was looking out for pickpockets. “Everyone knew who they were,” he said, “but you couldn’t kick them out until they did something. I used to tip a big cup of soda in a guy’s lap. Either he’d get up and leave or he’d start a fight and then we could kick him out.” He was also hired to look for runaways and missing businessmen. “I guess you could say I was in the scandal-killing business,” he said. 

Mr. Winslow does not look like a private investigator, which may be why he was successful. He’s small, slight and soft-spoken: the kind of person who in most books hires the P.I.

Over lunch at Big Nick’s Burger and Pizza Joint, an Upper West Side hole in the wall that used to be one of his hangouts, he said he grew up in the working-class town of Matunuck, R.I., listening to his father, a career Navy man, tell stories. (His sister, Kristine Rolofson, is a romance novelist.) Like so many young people back then, he came to New York with the notion of becoming a writer, perhaps a playwright, and fell into the private investigation business by accident, after being fired from a job as an assistant manager of a movie theater. His mistake, he says now, was that he turned in a completely honest set of books. 

He didn’t publish his first novel until 1991, after a series of unlikely detours that included getting a master’s degree in African history from the University of Nebraska, a stint running safari tours in Kenya and more private investigation work, that time for high-end corporate clients. He did some industrial espionage, investigated drug use among a company’s employees and then moved on from what he calls dark work to becoming an arson expert. For three years he and his wife lived in California hotels on an expense account. “I was an overpaid migrant worker,” he said. 

That first novel, “A Cool Breeze on the Underground,” written five pages a day over a couple of years, was about a graduate student who also works for a detective agency, and it was followed by four others about the same character. “I thought that was what you did, you had a series,” he said. Mr. Winslow became better known with novels like “California Fire and Life” and “The Dawn Patrol,” about a detective who is also a surfer. His breakout novel was his 13th, “Savages,” published when he was 56.

The book, about three very hip Laguna Beach dope dealers who run afoul of a Mexican drug cartel, is full of attitude: lean, almost abstract at times, with very short sentences sometimes skittering down mostly white pages like modern poetry. Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times, praised it for fusing “the grave and the playful, the body blow and the joke, the nightmare and the pipe dream.” 

“I guess I rolled a grenade down the aisle with that one,” Mr. Winslow said. When he began the book, he was feeling fed up with the way thrillers lately have been overly defined into subgenres, each with its own requirements.

“I was a little tired of people telling me how to write, what’s going to sell and what isn’t,” he said. “I felt like throwing some elbows.”

He added: “Without sounding too presumptuous, I thought I was hearing a new language out there on the West Coast and wanted to see what happened if I put it in a book. I also wanted to play with the fractured way we get our information now.”

Mr. Stone said it was precisely this elliptical style that drew him to direct the movie, which opens on July 6 and stars Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively and John Travolta. “Someone gave the book to me and said, ‘Pay attention to this, this is different,’ ” Mr. Stone said. “It’s a very original story: youth versus age, the younger generation coming to grips with the older.” About working with Mr. Winslow, he said, “I can’t say there weren’t moments of difficulty,” adding: “Don’s a strange one, a bit hermetic. But he knows this material.”

“The Kings of Cool” is a prequel to “Savages.” Told in the same pared-down style, sometimes even adopting a screenplay format, it picks up the same three characters — Ben, the hydroponic genius; Chon, the ex-Navy SEAL who does not believe in turning the other cheek; and O, their shared slacker girlfriend — at an earlier point and provides them with a back story that combines almost Sophoclean secrets with a multigenerational history of drugs in California. “I realized that I wasn’t done with these people, and that there was more to tell,” Mr. Winslow said. “Plus I’m kind of a freak about origin stories.” 

A waitress came by to ask if he wanted anything else. Mr. Winslow shook his head and said, “You know, I used to come here all the time when I was a kid.”

She smiled and, just like a character in a crime thriller, said, “You’re still a kid, darling.”
Mr. Winslow laughed and pointed out that readers often assume from his books that he must be the brooding type. “I’m actually pretty positive,” he said. “But I guess it is a pretty dark vision sometimes. I don’t know that I’d want to visit my brain except with a gun and a flashlight.”

Richard Attenborough: He is an actor (Jurassic Park) and a director.  I cut out this article “A giant of British Cinema” because he passed away.  What stood out to me was this part:

Gandhi (1982), an epic but intimate biographical film, was his greatest triumph.

With the little-known Ben Kingsley in the title role, the film traces Mohandas K. Gandhi’s life as an Indian lawyer who forsakes his job and possessions and takes up a walking staff to lead his oppressed country’s fight for independence from Britain through a campaign of passive resistance, ending in his assassination.

Among the film’s critics were historians, who said it contributed to myth making, portraying Gandhi as a humble man who brought down an empire without acknowledging that the British, exhausted by the Second World War, were eager to unload their Indian possessions. Nevertheless, Gandhi was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight, including best picture, best director, best cinematography, best original screenplay and best actor.

Mr. Attenborough brought the film to fruition after a 20-year battle to raise money and interest from often-reluctant Hollywood producers, one of whom predicted that there would be no audience for “a little brown man in a sheet carrying a beanstalk.” (Mr. Attenborough ended up producing it himself.)

My opinion: Attenborough put 20 yrs of time to get this movie produced.  He must be really passionate about it if he stayed with this project for so long.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tell Ferguson police that you're paying attention

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A city on edge

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Ferguson residents are anxious and on edge.

The state of Missouri is preparing for a grand jury to announce whether Officer Darren Wilson will face criminal charges for killing unarmed teen Michael Brown this summer.

I need your help reminding law enforcement to protect human rights.

Tell Missouri Officials: Respect the human rights of all protestors.
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Dear Tracy,

Tensions are rising in Ferguson.

Any day now, the world will know whether Officer Darren Wilson will face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown, an unarmed teen, in August.

Missouri officials have been preparing for this moment for months — they brought in more riot gear, called in the National Guard and declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of unrest.

But in the lead up to this moment, are officials spending enough time training officers to de-escalate violence and ensuring compliance with human rights standards on policing?

Tell Missouri officials: Law enforcement must respect human rights, no matter what the grand jury decides.

Ferguson residents are anxious today — and I can understand why.

When police responded to protests in Ferguson earlier this Fall, they curtailed freedom of expression. Amnesty International's report "On the Streets of America" documents instances where police intimidated peaceful protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets.

It's because of this that I sent a team of Amnesty International observers to the city: to monitor the policing of protests and to let law enforcement know that the world is watching.

Stand with us in making sure law enforcement does not repeat the mistakes of the recent past — tell Missouri officials to protect the rights of peaceful protestors.

In solidarity,

Steven W Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Sunday, November 23, 2014

consumerism/ crazy ATM blast video

Nov. 14: I was going to start writing some things in my “parking lot” email draft.  I clicked on it, and it was blank.  So it doesn’t work.  I then sent it to an email that doesn’t work and it always gets bounced back to me.  And it doesn’t bounce back.  I’m kind of mad about it.  However, I have another “parking lot” email in another account so I’ll write about that instead.

Consumerism: My sister checked out this book from the library called Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline.  This is a good time to put this on my email/ blog post because of the holiday shopping season.  Here’s the summary on Amazon:

“Until recently, Elizabeth Cline was a typical American consumer. She’d grown accustomed to shopping at outlet malls, discount stores like T.J. Maxx, and cheap but trendy retailers like Forever 21, Target, and H&M. She was buying a new item of clothing almost every week (the national average is sixty-four per year) but all she had to show for it was a closet and countless storage bins packed full of low-quality fads she barely wore—including the same sailor-stripe tops and fleece hoodies as a million other shoppers. When she found herself lugging home seven pairs of identical canvas flats from Kmart (a steal at $7 per pair, marked down from $15!), she realized that something was deeply wrong.

Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JCPenney now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. Retailers are pro­ducing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they’ve turned clothing into a disposable good. After all, we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more.

But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?

In Overdressed, Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retail­ers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals. She travels to cheap-chic factories in China, follows the fashion industry as it chases even lower costs into Bangladesh, and looks at the impact (both here and abroad) of America’s drastic increase in imports. She even explores how cheap fashion harms the charity thrift shops and textile recyclers where our masses of cloth­ing castoffs end up.

Sewing, once a life skill for American women and a pathway from poverty to the middle class for workers, is now a dead-end sweatshop job. The pressures of cheap have forced retailers to drastically reduce detail and craftsmanship, making the clothes we wear more and more uniform, basic, and low quality. Creative inde­pendent designers struggle to produce good and sustainable clothes at affordable prices.

Cline shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, refash­ioning clothes throughout their lifetimes, and mending and even making clothes themselves.”

will inspire you to vote with your dollars and find a path back to being well dressed and feeling good about what you wear.

The Shopping Diet: Spend Less and Get More: It’s a book by Phillip Bloch.  This is more about how to stretch your dollar further.

My opinion: I hope all of you guys become more conscious consumers after reading the above.

Crazy ATM blast video: On Oct. 1, 2014 I found this on Yahoo news "Caring thief saves homeless man from ATM blast": “A thief in Sao Paulo who was preparing to blow up an ATM showed his
humanitarian side when he pulled a homeless man to safety after he unknowingly walked into the blast zone.”

Dean: When you are committing a crime the furthest thing from your mind is the consequences. You are in an extended "fight or flight" state and you only focus on the task at hand aka "the plan". You can't and don't stop and think "hmm if that guy gets killed then I could be charged with murder" Especially in the short time they had. It was purely out of concern for a human life. Not the act of a person trying to avoid a murder

Canadianmade: Honour among thieves

Maureen: He was not a humanitarian!!!!!..... He was saving his own skin and his
criminal  actions.. He did not want to add "murderer" to his list of crimes.

My opinion: I have to agree with Dean.  I thought that too.

Cascades and the environment: The company Cascades created a sustainable products.  Here’s the website: 

Robin Thicke: This was way back in Jul. 2014.  (I did say it was in my “parking lot” email).  Here’s an excerpt:

Paula Patton has not yet forgiven Robin Thicke -- and neither has anyone else, apparently. While promoting his new album "Paula," which addresses the breakup of Thicke's marriage, the "Get Her Back" singer got slammed over the weekend by Nick Cannon and Chris Rock, as well as by the public.

But that was nothing compared to what happened on Tuesday (Happy Canada Day!) when Thicke took part in Twitter Q&A under the hashtag #AskThicke. Predictably, instead of asking him celebrity-friendly questions about his work, Twitter users addressed Thicke's controversial music as well as rumours that he cheated on Patton.

My opinion: When you put yourself and your work out there, there are going to be fans and critics. 

James Franco: Same goes for this actor.  Here’s an excerpt:

A scathing message posted to the actor's Twitter account Thursday blasted the Times' theater critic Ben Brantley for his pan of the new "Of Mice and Men" Broadway revival.

Franco and "Bridesmaids" star Chris O'Dowd performed in the play's opening night Wednesday. Based on George Steinbeck's classic 1939 novella, the "This Is The End" actor is portraying migrant worker George while O'Dowd has stepped into the role of the mentally incompetent Lennie.

After the New York Times released a less-than-flattering review of the play, Franco went on a rant on Instagram, calling Brantley a "little b****" and declaring that "the theater community hates him."

The Instagram post was quickly deleted, but not before Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson obtained a screenshot.

My opinion: Once again, not everybody’s going to like you and your work.

Stacey Dash: She is the actress who plays Cher’s friend Dionne on the TV show and movie Clueless.  I clicked on the link and it doesn’t work.  It’s where Dash talks about being African- American and supporting Mitt Romney instead of Barack Obama.

Aggressive Bull Interrupts Wedding Photos: I found this on Yahoo:

“Brian and Rebecca Pepper were taking their wedding photos in a paddock in Tamworth, Australia when a bull approached the loving couple. At first, everything was fine, but when the bull got aggressive, so did the groom.  Luckily, their photographer Rachel Deane snapped some very memorable pictures of the unusual animal disturbance.”

I want to add that the “parking lot” email bounced back to me after all.  It just took longer than usual.  Lol. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tell Congress to support the fight to stop Ebola

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Tell Congress to 
Support the 
Fight to stop Ebola
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Since the first cases of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa were reported in March of this year, more than 4,500 people have died, with 13,700 cases of the disease being reported across the world.

3,700 children have been either orphaned or have lost at least one parent to the disease.

The United States has been a critical actor in the struggle to contain the outbreak, which has already had a devastating impact on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, much more needs to be done if the disease is to be effectively contained and the impacted communities are to rebuild their communities and their lives.

Congress must work with the Obama administration to robustly fund the US response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
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Dear Tracy,

In countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, survival is becoming a challenge even for those not carrying the disease.

The streets of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are not crowded like they once were. Schools are closed, forcing children to stay inside every day. Food is difficult to obtain, with prices skyrocketing, shops closing, and aid not coming in from abroad. Flights have been canceled.

The general feeling is one of fear.

Tell Congress to fund President Obama's Ebola outbreak response plan.

Since the first cases of the current outbreak were reported in March of this year, nearly every morning brings terrifying news updates of more deaths as a result of the virus.

The World Health Organization most recently confirmed more than 4,500 deaths, with 13,700 cases of the disease reported across the world. 3,700 children have been either orphaned or have lost at least one parent to the disease.

People are desperately trying, and in many cases failing, to get medical help that would make the difference between life and death. Doctors and nurses are at a breaking point, with their countries' already-weakened health systems collapsing under the weight of responding to the crisis.

Entire communities are quarantined, lacking access to sufficient food and water, and even those who survive the disease are often stigmatized and shunned from their communities.

Tell Congress to respond swiftly to this crisis.

The United States has been at the forefront of efforts by the international community to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

However, much more needs to be done.

More medical supplies and equipment are needed; more medical professionals need to be deployed to the impacted countries, and more healthcare workers in those countries and in the region need to be trained. Humanitarian assistance needs to be delivered to ensure food for communities whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the crisis. And the health systems in West Africa must be rebuilt to prevent such crises in the future.

We cannot allow the U.S. and the international community to falter in their response.

This is a global crisis that demands a global response.

There's no time to waste.

In solidarity,

Adotei Akwei
Managing Director
Amnesty International USA

Enough is enough: Demand Ghoncheh's release

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Enough is enough: 
Ghoncheh's release
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Ghoncheh Ghavami
Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested in June when she went to Tehran's Azadi Stadium to protest the ban on women being allowed into sport stadiums.

Amnesty recently heard reports that Ghoncheh was sentenced to a year in prison on charges of "spreading propaganda against the system". However, neither Ghoncheh nor her lawyer have received the verdict in writing and without it her lawyer cannot appeal the sentence.

Demand Ghoncheh's release.
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Dear Tracy,

Amnesty recently learned that Ghoncheh Ghavami -- who was wrongfully jailed last June in Iran -- was reportedly sentenced to a year in prison.

Her crime? Protesting the ban on women being present in sport stadiums.

Since 1979, Iran has imposed a ban on women watching football games in stadiums. In 2012, this ban was extended to volleyball matches. It's just one more example of the Iranian government exercising control over the daily lives of its citizens. Police used excessive force, including beatings, to disperse protesters at the stadium. Many, including Ghoncheh, were arrested.

Demand Ghoncheh's release.

The judge overseeing Ghoncheh's case has not yet formally communicated the verdict to Ghoncheh and her lawyer, leaving Ghoncheh in limbo -- without a confirmed verdict, her lawyer cannot appeal her sentence.

Ghoncheh has gone on a hunger strike to protest. She needs you to amplify her voice using your own.

Tell the Iranian government to release Ghoncheh immediately and unconditionally.

Ghoncheh has faced long periods of solitary confinement and has been denied access to her lawyer. Now, is left to struggle with an uncertain fate.

Tell the Iranian authorities once more that enough is enough.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

Prepare yourself to save a life on December 10th

December 10, International Human Rights Day, marks a global day of action

Join us this year to help change a life! 

Prepare yourself to save a life on December 10th! 

Dear friends,

It's an awe-inspiring thought that you and I can really save someone's life.

What makes this possible is that the few minutes, or maybe a full hour or more, of your time on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, contributes one small part to a massive, life-saving effort as Amnesty International mobilizes its world-wide network to take action on some of the most high-profile cases in human rights.

It's worth your time because your involvement can lead to these kind of results:
  • "Your letters kept hope alive at the darkest hours of need.”
  • “I am alive today because the international community has heard about our work."
  • "Amnesty International members are living proof that this world can be a better place."

Don't miss being a part of this powerful event.

It's easy to participate, it's free, it's empowering: you can choose to write one or several letters, sign one or all of our featured online petitions, share your support on social media, or organize a Write for Rights event with your friends, family or colleagues.

There are already 130 events registered across Canada and we expect tens of thousands of individual Canadians to be taking action on their own or as part of a larger Write for Rights event on International Human Rights Day.

Last year Amnesty International supporters in over 140 countries sent more than 2.3 million letters and petitions on International Human Rights Day!  

We know that the influence of letters or a widely-circulated petition can tip the balance and persuade a government leader to do the right thing. We know that our efforts get results. Read successes stories.

Will it be YOUR action that tips the balance and saves a life? 

Sometimes we can work for years to secure someone's freedom or to bring justice to someone who is suffering from human rights abuse. For that reason, each letter-writing case featured in Write for Rights also offers you a chance to write a letter directly to someone who needs hope and support.

You can be a part of this powerful, meaningful day by choosing one of these two options:
Sign-up to participate on your own

Sign-up to organize a letter-writing event with friends, at your school, at your office.Thank you for your commitment to taking action on this important day! Sincerely,   

Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada 

P.S.  If you have any questions, or need help planning your participation, please contact or call us directly via 1-800-AMNESTY (1-800-266-3789).