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

  • 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) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold