October 16, 2011 - October 31, 2011

 

That didn't go so well, did it?

October 27, 2011, OTTAWA — If you're new here, welcome and thank you; presumably you got my invitation and, if you did, more like than not you also know that I screwed up in sending it.

I've gotten so used to dealing with actual mailing list software, I had completely forgotten that email programs don't work the same way and that putting a "list" name into the To: field means that every address there will show up in every recipient's mail.

To say I was (and am) embarrassed is to put it mildly.

If it makes you feel any better, my sub-conscious also gave me a helluva hard time last night as well. All right. Time to brave my inbox, and then get to work.

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On the inter-connectedness of some things

The MacKenzie-Papineau Monument in Ottawa
The MacKenzie-Papineau Monument in Ottawa. Photo by The Phantom Photographer.

October 26, 2011, OTTAWA — The past couple of weeks have offered some stark reminders of how small the world can seem.

I attended a ceremony at the Spanish embassy on the 20th, and a funeral in the south end of Ottawa on the 22nd. Both events involved family.

I could not help but be reminded of just deep are my own roots into the past. For instance, I am but a single "degree of separation" from the 19th century; my father's father, who lived until 1996, was born in 1899 and fought in the Russian Revolution.

Almost two weeks ago now, my father's last remaining aunt, his mother's sister, passed away (though her funeral was not held until this past Saturday).

I didn't know her well; she had been more of an occasional, if benevolent, presence than a person to me, but the elegies I heard made me wish I had known her much better.

Mother of five, whose husband ran out shortly after the last baby was born, Auntie Pearl raised her children on her own. By all reports, she did so with a generosity and love that spread far beyond her blood-ties; I think close to a hundred people turned out to say goodbye, many of them friends, not family.

Coincidentally and on a much happier note, on my mother's side of the family, my great uncle Jules was in town last week, the last living Canadian veteran of the Spanish Civil War.

Uncle Jules was here at the request of the government of Spain which, finally, was to follow through on a promise made 15 years ago to those who had volunteered to fight against Franco's fascists in the dark days before the Second World War.

Entirely by accident, during a ceremony at the Spanish Embassy, I learned that the man who designed Ottawa's memorial to the "Mac-Paps" lives in Sudbury and knows my mother, as does his wife, who is the editor of Sudbury Living, a magazine for which my mother has been writing recently.

The world can sometimes seem very close indeed. And history too is often not nearly so far away as it seems.

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The sonic lipstick's last hurrah (Part 3 of 3)

October 20, 2011, OTTAWA — It seems churlish — and a bit pointless — to dwell on the negatives, so let's get it them of the way.

The Man Who Never Was is the weakest serial of The Sarah Jane Adventures's final half-series. The details are clunky and there is an almost unforgivable bit of idiot-plotting to get us to the cliff-hanger at the end of the first episode.

But never mind all that; it is still an entertaining episode and a fitting tribute to its late star.

The other parts of the story, the important bits, more than make up for the deficits, and Russell T Davies deserves our thanks for reigning in his tendency towards over-blown melodrama.

I'm going to miss The Sarah Jane Adventures an awful lot. In its quiet way it offered its young (and not-so-young) viewers a powerful moral vision and provided an example (instead of a lecture) of a subtly radical alternative to life as most of us know beneath its fantastic trappings.

Some spoilers behind the link. And I'll try not to get blubbery.

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