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November 25, 2007

Critter Blessings

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is a film (also a book, a separate project) that documents the life-changing relationship between a flock of wild parrots living near Telegraph Hill in San Francisco and a man named Mark Bittner.

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

A powerful and touching real tale, this is one man's journey that led him where he never expected. Anyone interested in the lives of animals, self-exploration or who has empathy for people whose paths are not always direct will appreciate this story. The documentary is beautifully put together, with sensitivity but not sentimentalism. The film won multiple awards and the book has been a New York Times bestseller. You will never look at birds the same way again.

November 21, 2007

Winston Churchill, My Cats' Favorite Celebrity

Having been captivated by what I've heard in bits and pieces about Winston Churchill, I am now learning more about him.

Winston Churchill Great Sayings

A dashing young Churchill and a quote by him that helps me laugh in hard times

My reasons for being intrigued by the man are more for his inspiring and witty statements and the unusual aspects of his life than for his seminal role in British and world history. However, as a person is the whole of what they are, I have become more interested in his political actions as well. For instance, Churchill foretold the Nazi threat when English politicians and citizens ignored the seriousness of Hitler's insanity.

Churchill is inspiring in many ways. Descending from an aristocratic family, he was the absolute bottom of his class repeatedly as a very young boy. He loved his foreboding parents but they didn't have much time for him. (His father, Randolph, was a climbing successful politician and his mother was a beauty, whom Churchill adored but who was distant to her children.) Slowly but surely, he ended up first in his class in many subjects. Born two months premature, he coped with uneven health throughout his life (childhood scares, a later heart attack and stroke) but lived to be 90. He overcame a speech impediment. Churchill confronted depression most of his life and called it his "black dog." He drank alcohol daily but wasn't considered an alcoholic and won a bet that he could abstain for a full year.

Serving as Prime Minister of England twice (in the 1940s and 1950s), Churchill was passionate about painting and took it up professionally in his 40s. His paintings are good enough to be in the permanent collections of some of the world's most prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was a prolific, great writer and mostly earned his living that way. He won a Nobel Prize for literature. As a politician, he was known for — and annoyed people by — changing his mind. (So I guess it's not just "a woman's prerogative.") Maybe that's what they mean by a man needing to "get in touch with his feminine side." :)

Winston Churchill Inspirational Sayings

Churchill loved cats and brought his cat to cabinet meetings (I love a man not afraid to love his cat). His ginger (orange) cat, Jock, is written in his will to be taken care of and maintained with his estate and now Jock III happily resides there. I have also heard that Jane Austen was Churchill's favorite writer and that he recognized her uncanny ability to portray the personalities, foibles, prejudices and nuances of people. I am in accord with him about cats and Jane Austen.

November 2, 2007

Yes, I Really Can Fly

For the first time in a while, I went out in a costume on Halloween:

Halloween

In case you can't tell (duh), I'm a wood nymph. I had gotten this costume that I love, complete with (working) wings for a party two years ago that never happened. So this year, I just thought, I'm putting it on and going some place. That place ended up being Union Hall in Brooklyn, which I mentioned a few entries back as having fun and good-looking bocce ball courts. Well, did we ever have a good time (my friend and I). The place was very full but because it's so big, there was still enough room to walk around without it getting uncomfortable. It was like being in a party at a beautiful mansion. The costumes were fantastic, from Marie Antoinette to Clark Kent to pirates to many original oddball combos that were hilarious — lots of great wigs with huge hair — the inventiveness was satisfying. Everyone was friendly and you could easily talk to strangers because the costumes were a good introduction. About a fifth or so of the crowd wasn't wearing costumes and even that was fun, making it an odder and more eclectic scene. It was a perfect party and I'm so glad I went out. I'm definitely doing this again.