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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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]