Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | March 3, 2015

Imitation versus Breaking

The Imitation Game Movie

                                                                     sourced from official movie website

The Imitation Game is the story of the brilliant mathematician who broke the Enigma code during World War II. I hesitated going to see it because I was such a fan of Breaking the Code (BBC, 1996). Putting aside the fact the Derek Jacobi was in his mid-50s when playing Alan Turing (in his late 20s), this earlier Turing bio pic impacted me in such a way 19 years later, I still remember it.

I was afraid that seeing Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing would spoil my memory of Jacobi’s performance. When I mentioned this to a friend, he pointed out that each actor would bring their own unique style to a story based on historical events. As it turns out, he was right.

Both movies share several similarities: based on the book, Alan Turing – the Enigma; divided into three significant periods of Turing’s life; and portrayed the essence of this complex person as an individual more comfortable around machines than human beings. Where they differ is in their focus. The Imitation Game centres on Turing’s time at Bletchley Park and his difficulty in getting what he needs from the powers that be to get the job done, while Breaking the Code emphasizes Turing’s ideas and thought processes.

Although I can’t help note what I see as The Imitation Game’s fatal flaw: an overall twenty-first century sensibility. Specifically the interpretation of Joan Clarke (fictionalized name Pat Green in the 1996 film) as a young woman in the 1930s and the role she played at Bletchley seemed too modern. For me Breaking the Code better recreated the issues of Alan Turing’s world – his genius, his homosexuality and his secrets, both military and personal.

I did end up liking The Imitation Game. What made it so enjoyable was the undeniable chemistry between Keira Knightley (Joan Clarke) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing), adding charm and humour to an intense story that mostly takes place during war time. But the “winner” of my affections remains Breaking the Code, a powerful portrayal of how society likes the benefits of geniuses but can’t seem to make a place for them amongst us.

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | March 2, 2015

Mystery Pain – Fragment 54

From the beginning, there was something strange about the pain. It was not an ache or a jab. It did not throb like a low-tuned drum. The pain was like nothing she had ever experienced before, and so far, as of 2:37 p.m. on this Thursday afternoon, it was the most unique event to occur during the past week.

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | February 28, 2015

City Planning and a Job Interview

East Vancouver neighbourhood Yesterday, I had a job interview for a special library position I really want. My typical job interview prep includes visiting their website and conducting an internet search for annual reports etc. that might not be included on the company’s webpages. Because this particular position involved knowledge of city planning in the Lower Mainland, my preliminary research for the job led me to a book titled City Making in Paradise. I intended on reading just Chapter Four, the one directly related to the organization with which I had the interview. But then I began reading Chapter One and just kept going. Who knew city planning could be such a riveting topic?

Downtown Vancouver East Side One day last September, I became frustrated with the project I was working on. It was sunny out, and I didn’t really want to be sitting inside in front of the computer. What’s the point of being a freelance writer if you can’t play hooky every now and then. I grabbed my camera and off I went. I was actually looking for Railtown – I did indeed find it but when I got the pics back home and Googled for some info to include in a blog post, I discovered I had walked right through Railtown, into Strathcona. For some reason I no longer remember, I never wrote about my Strathcona neighbourhood adventures.

Strathcona Houses Vancouver The second chapter of City Making in Paradise discusses how the neighbourhood community of Strathcona was part of a three-phase demolition plan to make way for an elevated six-lane freeway. Concerned community members, city planners and politicians managed to save the remainder of the heritage homes (about half of Strathcona’s houses had been already bulldozed). But reading about how Strathcona had been saved, reminded me that I had been there. Snapped pictures. Enjoyed walking around and then sitting in MacLean Park before heading home. It seemed inconceivable to me that this charming neighbourhood and the adjacent Chinatown (as we know it today) wouldn’t exist without some wise rethinking.

Vancouver East Side MacLean Park I felt the interview went well. Whether or not I actually land the job, I will never look at Vancouver quite in the same way again. And I intend on becoming more aware of the issues and decisions regarding the city where I live.

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | February 26, 2015


Forgotten here
this secret shame
I hold for ever knowing you.
Even if burying your memory
would be enough
to remember to (forget),
could I really free
myself from your ghost embrace?

Imagine this:
pans and hand-crafted mallets
from darker woods–
I could drum your (memory)
into the sands of time
in the key of #F.

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | February 17, 2015

Cake and Suffering

Cake starring Jennifer Aniston

Sourced from ©Cinelou Releasing

Cake is definitely an interesting choice for the title of a movie about chronic pain. I’m not going to give it away, but you don’t find out why it’s called that until the last half hour or so. In fact, that’s what I liked about this film – it unfolds slowly. It’s almost as if we’re given information about Claire Simmons (Jennifer Aniston) on a need-to-know basis.

We first meet Aniston’s character in a chronic pain support group, where the facilitator of the group (Felicity Huffman) asks them to express their feelings about Nina, a member who recently committed suicide. Claire proceeds to do just that. And we’re off! Her fascination with Nina Collins (Anna Kendrick) and the family she left behind are just the tip of the iceberg of Claire’s issues and all the stuff she’s dealing with.

Most reviewers that I’ve read seem to see this movie as a just okay portrayal of an LA woman suffering terrible chronic pain. I’ve known people who live with chronic pain – it colours their worlds in ways the rest of us can’t even imagine. Add to that mix, the death of a child…personally I thought Aniston’s performance was a subtle balance of the love-hate this character feels about the world in general and herself in particular. Although you’ve got be interested in the story of a person who is so angry she’s asked to leave her support group – by voice mail.

But as she digs deeper into Nina’s story, more about Claire’s own circumstances are revealed. Eventually the bitchiness, the ever-present seething anger bubbling just beneath the surface, and her stash of pill bottles hidden behind the picture hanging in the hallway next to the kitchen make perfect sense. I didn’t see Jennifer; from the first frame of the movie I only saw Claire and her personal battle to make sense of the senseless.

I agree, this film is not for everyone. But that was another thing I liked about the movie Cake – while the theme is dark, the subject matter is handled intelligently, with a lot of compassion and a touch of humour. One scene shows Felicity Huffman making Aniston set her peace offering on the floor between them  – she wants the gift but she doesn’t want Claire to get close enough to hand it to her.

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | February 12, 2015

Let Me

be someone else
thin lines intersecting
other dimensions;
geometric shapes interlocking
like misshapen Venn diagrams.

Let me
confess these hands
are not mine;
nor are the eyes.
I feel crowded;
an artifice without foundation.

Let me
disappear softly into ether
either lost or found;
I don’t mind:
I refuse
to obey the laws of gravity.

Let me
(finally) I am wanted.

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | January 31, 2015

Stan Something – Fragment 53

Her date (a friend of a friend) for the party of a co-worker disappeared from sight about an hour and a half ago. While waiting for him to return, Chandra meets a man, standing temptingly close, by the name of Stan Something. And now this intriguing stranger (with no concept of personal space) is whispering an adventurous suggestion in her left ear. She hesitates (and has no idea why).

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | January 22, 2015

A Thief’s Life

The thief wonders why
she has three faces,
and not four
(one for each corner of the earth).

She wonders why
her multiple lives
haven’t lent her any mystery.

Her evolution from woman
to thief
has been long and weary.
Stolen kisses;
bits and pieces of happiness;
things once owned by others;
but never given a whole pie.

So, she celebrates alone;
expresses herself through
someone else’s baubles.
Nothing is good.
Nothing is bad.
It just is.

Life is a sparkling jewel
that will never belong to her
unless she steals it.

Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | January 19, 2015

Hard Work

I’m embarrassed to say, that after two years, I’m still trying to figure out some important aspects of the freelance writing business.  To my credit, I never thought that freelancing would be less work than a corporate job. Because assigning priorities; estimating how long individual tasks will take; and self-discipline are easier for me when I’m in a structured environment, I just assumed that being a freelancer would be hard work. But I also assumed that after a period of adjustment the process would become more organic and not such a struggle. However, that hasn’t happened.

It’s still a struggle. A big struggle. If I’m being absolutely honest with myself, my biggest stumbling block is self-discipline. Unless I have a very specific deadline, when I get up in the morning I fall into the bad habit of viewing the day’s scheduled activities as one big, negotiable menu (pick and choose as I see fit; leave stuff on the plate I don’t want to eat; and consume empty calories at will).

Another difficulty I’m experiencing as a freelance writer is while I’m landing work, it’s not consistently in my niche. I discovered, in my last corporate, full-time job, that I have a passion for writing about furniture. I can tell you why a certain type of armchair is referred to as a “wingback;” how many feet of personal space per person you should allow for when buying a dining room table; and the height of a dining chair, counter chair/stool and bar stool. When we were divvying up the furniture from my dad’s apartment, my sister bragged that she always wanted a china cabinet and now she did. I told her no, she didn’t own a china cabinet; it was actually a curio cabinet. (Yes, I know my furniture and I’m a snob about it!) But to date, I have yet to approach furniture companies and pitch them a comprehensive social media/blog plan.

The third main area I’m failing in as a freelancer is maneuvering my way around job bid sites. After all this time, I remain very intimidated by the process. Since much of freelancer’s work comes from these types of leads, I better get over it sooner rather than later. However, I just get so flustered “selling” my expertise (and by default, myself).

Although, in my defense, I am already being proactive about networking and targeting specific sectors that might be interested in the types of services I offer. Fingers crossed…


Posted by: This Is the Way It Is | January 12, 2015

Not So Smart

A couple of years back, I noticed that I couldn’t use the oven at 425° without setting off the smoke alarm. If I wanted to set the oven that high, I had to make sure that all the windows were open – and even then it was hit-and-miss. When I asked people I encountered in the laundry room or elevator about it, the most common response was: yes, it happened to them too on a regular basis.

Because the smoke alarm is situated in the hallway next to the bathroom and across from the kitchen, heat from stove sets off the alarm. In winter, opening windows became a problematic solution because it made the apartment cold; once they were closed, it seemed to never get much warmer for the rest of the evening. Since the only thing I ever baked at that temperature was frozen pizza, it wasn’t much of a sacrifice to only eat it out someplace as a treat.

Then, last spring, the stupid smoke alarm started going off in the middle of a shower. I run the water as hot as I can stand to steam out the kinks and wake up creaky joints, especially my hip. Nothing like trying to have a relaxing shower with the smoke alarm screaming blue murder. Once in a while – okay, but it became a regular thing. Having tepid showers wasn’t an option.

So I Googled. Turns out that the smoke alarm isn’t as smart as it thinks it is. Essentially motion makes the alarm sound. But it can’t tell the difference between particles of smoke or particles of heat/steam. All articles I consulted pointed out that a smoke alarm shouldn’t be situated next a bathroom or kitchen. Great (it is)! But I did manage to gather a few of useful suggestions from a forum site. (I ignored the one that is technically illegal).

  1. Remove batteries
  2. Put a pot filled with water on the stove element over the oven vent
  3. Keep the bathroom door closed
  4. Block the bathroom door with a towel to stop steam from escaping (I use the bath mat)

I was afraid that once winter arrived and the windows were closed, the steam and heat would set off the smoke alarm again. I refuse to remove the batteries. But the other troubleshooting ideas seem to be working out fine.


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