To Live or Die: Some Hard Decisions?

Written by Harold McNeill on February 9th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Book & Movie Reviews


  stephen_hawkings_national_health-care-debate

What if this man choose to die rather than live? Having choose the latter even in the face of a debilitating disease, he went on to became an extremely influential scholar. Every person who reaches such a crossroads in their life deserves the opportunity of reaching out to others before making the final decision to end life.  Wrapping a potentially serious criminal charge around such discussions makes no sense and the Supreme Court of Canada got it right.

To Live or Die: Another choice along the path of life.

On the evening prior to the Supreme Court 9-0 decision overturning the Criminal Code sanction against ‘assisted suicide’, I attended the movie “A Theory of Everything, a biographical account of the life of Dr. Stephen Hawkings. The movie was adapted from a novel written by Hawking’s first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, the mother of their three children (family photo in footer).  It was an excellent movie so if you have a chance drop in and enjoy.

As many know Dr. Hawking became a world-renowned mathematician and cosmologist who wrote a number of best sellers including A Brief History of Time which sold over ten million copies. Part of Hawking’s wide popularity was his ability to write about highly technical mathematical and scientific theories in terms a layman could understand.

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Intouchables: Movie Review

Written by Harold McNeill on September 1st, 2012. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews


Photo: This scene in the movie reminded Lynn and I very much of an adventure we
we experienced in the skies over Interlauken in Switzerland. The visuals were so similar it was errie.
Lynn could totally sympathize with the younger man (LINK HERE)

Except for the Bourne Legacy last week, we seem to have been doing very well with our movie selections. The Best Marigold Hotel and Hope Springs, our other most recent, garnered four thumbs up. Last night after spending a few minutes chatting with the young lady in the popcorn stand at the Odeon (Victoria) and telling her about our impressions of the three movies, she stated that seemed to be the general customer response.

The choice of the Intouchables, (French, 2012) was somewhat different, yet garnered four thumbs up as have our other selections in sub-titled movies such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (Swedish) and Bon Cop Bad Cop (French, 2006). Those movies, as with the Intouchables, posed no barriers in understanding. For that matter, I think one pays closer attention to the characters when not having the voice track. 

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Hope Springs: Movie Review

Written by Harold McNeill on August 10th, 2012. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews


It has been a couple of months since dinner and a movie and last night’s choice was excellent even though it was our second choice as the first choice at Silver City didn’t start until next Thursday (hmm, I wonder if it could have been ‘he’ who misread the blog?).

Not to worry, a quick run downtown to the Odeon, saw us picking up tickets for Hope Springs, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep as Arnold and Maeve Soames. Steve Carell, as Dr. Bernie Feld, rounded out the largely three person drama that was everything we could have hoped for.  Although listed as a ‘comedy’, it was much more a drama with some great humour injected at just the right moment to relieve some of the building tension.

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Arbutus Singers

Written by Harold McNeill on June 4th, 2012. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews


Below: Arbutus Singers Performing at
First Metropolitan United Church

June, 2012: Photos of Arbutus Singers courtesy of Nadine Schaddelee

December 5, 2012 Another stellar performance by the Arbutus Singers, this time a return engagement at St. Aiden’s Church. Jack Boomer, the Musical Director, is always at his best, not only as he lead the choir, but also with his easy going manner as he engaged the capacity crowd of 400.

As promised to the neighborly folks with whom we shared front and centre seats, the following photographs have been added. A few words about the Choir and last springs presentation follows below. 

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Hugo, a movie well worth attending

Written by Harold McNeill on March 3rd, 2012. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews


On the recommendation of friends Garth and Esther Dunn, Lynn and I trotted out for our semi-regular Friday Night Dinner and Movie Date but instead of Friday we headed out Thursday to the Academy Award Winner Hugo.

The movie did not disappoint as the mixture of fantasy, reality, young, old, love, tragedy and the evolution of life, was juxtaposed with award winning sound, cinematography and visual effects that left us captivated from the opening scenes to the very end of the 127 minute production.

The only part we both still have trouble adjusting to is the 3D effects, although in this movie I think most would appreciate the stunning visual impact.

From a book Hugo Cabret, four thumbs up (with Garth and Esther that makes eight) to Marten Scorsese (another hit), Asa Butterfield (photo above) and Chloe Moretz (two kids in their early teens facing off against adults), Ben Kingsley (a convincing old man who felt his life’s work had been lost in a sea of change), Sacha Cohen (actually very well acted by Cohen who is cast in a more serious and touching role) as well as a host of others.  Oscar wins: Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Direction, Sound Mix, and Visual Effects.

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Moneyball: Movie Review

Written by Harold McNeill on September 24th, 2011. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews


Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill
Director: Bennett Miller
Running Time: 134 minutes

After a summer of camping, it was great to get back to the fall/winter routines. Two days ago, the last piece of garden furniture was tucked away and the gutters cleaned, just as much needed rain began to fall. Today, a very warm, muggy day that is unusual in Victoria.

Earlier in the day we ran into a friend, Tanya Beatty, an avid baseball fan, who spent time California this summer and attended an Oakland A’s game. Although she had not yet seen the movie Moneyball, she heard it was very good so Lynn and I scooted to Silver City and were fortunate to catch a seat. 
The movie was an excellent recommendation.  Brad Pitt, plays Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane who, wanting to do something different, took a chance and hired a statistician Jonah Hill (Peter Brand) as one of his scouts.

Together they worked toward building a winning team with very little money.  Hill had developed a system of tracking players that ran counter to traditional baseball wisdom and as a result he and Billy had to overcome a great many challenges as others worked to thwart them at every turn.

The story line is at the same time exciting, humorous and sad, as players, general managers, coaches, scouts and others struggle to survive in the unforgiving system that is Major League baseball.  Each of the many characters in the movie play their parts well and five minutes in you will be glued to the story line and rooting for the protagonists.

Whether or not you like baseball, Lynn and I are certain you will enjoy this movie and give it four thumbs up.  Thanks Tanya for the suggestion.

Harold and Lynn

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Water for Elephants (Release: April 2011)

Written by Harold McNeill on April 30th, 2011. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews


It was a discouraging time deep in the depression of the 1930s when men were riding the rails in search of work and their next meal. Labour laws were non-existent and abuse of the less fortunate a reality of every day life.  A naive young man, Jacob ((Robert Pattison), was about to graduate from Cornel Veterinary School when his world was suddenly turned up side down.

He fleed school and joined a second rate circus run by an unscrupulous and abusive owner, August (Christopher Waltz), who was married to the seductive centre ring performer Marlena (Reese Witherspoon).  Events spun out of control as the circus crossed the country and Jacob found himself in a love triangle fighting not only for his own life but also for the lives of the animals in his charge and some of the carnies who had befriended him.

The show engagingly begins and ends by means of flashbacks with Hal Holbrook playing ‘Old Jacob’ in a manner that brings into close focus the ephemeral nature of love, life, birth and death. 

Lynn and I very much enjoyed this 120 minute movie and gave it four thumbs up. Without reservation we encourage you to put this movie on your ‘must see’ list.

Cheers
Harold     
 

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Movie Review: Black Swan

Written by Harold McNeill on January 30th, 2011. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews


Black Swan - Natalie PortmanThis week dinner and a movie took me on a trip to Langley to meet Christine whose young man is currently away for two week s at a job site.  We decided upon Black Swan as Christine has a fondness for theatre.

Our hopes were fading for dinner as every restaurant in the vicinity of the theatre had at least a forty-five minute wait.  Taking the bull by the horns I checked out Boston Pizza and found a young man sitting alone at a table for four and “low and behold” after a short conversation, he invited us to join him.   It was a most pleasant dinner with this young man was making a quick trip from Seattle to visit his young daughter.

Now, as for the movie “Black Swan”, it is not one I would recommend for the squeamish or the faint of heart.  It is a dark, psychological thriller, filled with repressed sexuality and parental control that borders on the psychotic.

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  • McNeill Life Stories Illegal Aliens intercepted in Sarnia - McNeill Life Stories

    August 23, 2016 |

    […] Maxime Bernier, a leading contender in the Conservative race is calling for a “wall to be built along the border and claims that if he becomes the next Prime Minister he will force the Americans to pay for the building of that wall. (Border Security Gone Crazy) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Keep the peace and be of Good Behaviour - McNeill Life Stories

    August 21, 2016 |

    […] If you happen to support Bill C-51, a bill that is related solely to ‘terrorism’ and, perhaps, support an even more invasive laws being included, what would you think about the entire Bill (present and proposed) being folded back into the Criminal Code and made applicable to every Canadian?  Would that give our police to much power to simply bypass checks and balances developed over the past 150 years. (Oversight) […]

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

  • McNeill Life Stories Wedding Bells: Gordon McLean and Megan Corns

    June 28, 2016 |

    […] More amazing still is that many of those I met are now living and working in communities in or near cities and towns where I spent much of my early life (e.g. Vermillion, Turtleford, Westlock, Edmonton, etc.) For that matter one family from Edmonton lives no more than a stones throw from the home in which my family lived in 1949 at 12237, 95th Street, a time when Edmonton boasted a population of 137,000 and our home was on the very west edge of the city. Today the next block contains the Yellow Head Highway. Link: http://www.mcneillifestories.com/mcneill-family-edmonton/ […]

  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i was..my father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!
    ❤️