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

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.