Wow! I won a blogger award. Thanks!

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Thanks, fellow blogger, Opallaontrails, for nominating me for the Liebster award! Here are the questions presented to me to answer. I answered the first four and threw in numbers five and six for my nominees to answer.

1.  If you were to invite five celebrities (authors, musicians, actors, world leaders, even socialites) to your home for dinner, whom would they be and why?

A. Alan Alda. Because I’m a huge M*A*S*H fan and he’s won all the awards there is to win in show business and he would be an amusing addition to the dinner party.

B. Dave Matthews. I’d ask him to play a song for me with his group after I made him dinner. I never tire of his music.

C. Clint Eastwood. Because I could listen to him play jazz piano, talk about movies, and after I charmed him, he’d let me write a screenplay for his next movie.

D. The Dali Lama. Because I think Tenzin Gyatso the XIV is the real McCoy and I could use some wisdom and compassion.

E. Oprah Winfrey. She’s fascinating and I would hope she’d give the thumbs up for my new novel, The Knife with the Ivory Handle. 

2.  What would you serve them for dinner? Is there any significance in the dish(es) you have chosen? (Don’t worry even if you don’t cook; design the menu and someone will cook for you.)

I love to cook. I bet they all need some comfort food. How about my famous lasagna with really good red wine? Certainly from Blenheim, Dave Matthew’s winery outside of Charlottesville, VA.

3.  If you had to travel to an isolated location far from civilization to live for three months without the support of the internet. Name three books that you would bring with you to read. Why?

A. A world history textbook. There’s the whole world to read about and it would keep me interested.

B. A German language text book. I might as practice my skills of Deutsch. I could butcher it all day long and who would care?

C. The c0mplete works of Shakespeare for pleasure.

4. You would be allowed to bring three musical compositions to listen to in #3, what would they be, and why?

I recently wrote a blog about this!  Check out, “Music You’d Hear on My Island”.

5. If you could script a favorite Sunday, what would you do?

6. What’s the top three things on your bucket list?

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Now is the fun part, and I can give credit to the blogs I follow which give me something to think about, something to giggle about, something to admire. To my nominees: I hope you’ll accept this award by writing a post to answer the questions below, paste the icon(s) to your post, and also link back to my post. Please nominate three to seven deserving bloggers by writing something to introduce them.

1. http://keithandthemovies.com/    keith7198. Keith at the Movies. We are movie buffs and I respect his opinion and knowledge. He is one of the only movie buffs who will respond and discuss the movies with you. He’s great!

2. http://berniegourley.com/  B Gourley. He is an intellectual with a variety of blog topics. From poetry, to pictures, to essays–his love for the Asian culture comes through frequently. His blogs are interesting.

3. http://retireediary.wordpress.com/  Michael Lai. Diary of a Retiree. From Hong Kong, surely he has been nominated before. He’s my favorite photography blogger. He’s been all over the world, and his shots are unparalleled. He always pays attention to what you are doing and loves to comment. I wish I had his lifestyle!

4. http://50yearproject.wordpress.com/  TMB. “50 Year Project”. My favorite cheery Londoner, TMB’s goal is to “visit 192 countries, read 1,001 books, and watch the top 100 movies”. Well, that sums up all my interests. It’s easy to follow her blog.

I am having such a fun time blogging and I enjoy this blogshere. You all brighten my day! Thanks for stopping by….

At The Edge of The Grand Canyon

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Don’t let that smile fool you. I’m petrified.

Yesterday, my best friend, Jim, with a nice camera and an eye for photography caught some gorgeous shots at the Grand Canyon.

Acrophobia. Doesn’t everyone have it? I read somewhere, studies have shown babies and animals, when at the edge of a periphery, back off because the survival instinct kicks in. So who were those fools I saw yesterday sitting on the edge, feet dangling off into 5,000 feet of nothingness?

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I don’t mind flying in planes, except when it comes time to land. I love all birds. I’ve dreamed of learning how fly a helicopter. I wanted to be that glider, parachuter, and parasailer. My favorite dreams are the ones where I’m flying. But when I get closer than fifty feet from the edge–forget it.

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I could rip apart the valuable human next to me. I could scream and swear like an ex-sailor. My heart pounds in my ears and the world jiggles and I crawl on all fours or crouch and frantically search for something to grab. I start to gulp, gulp, gulp, but there is no air.

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Idiots!

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Lots of trees and shrubbery to clutch before I ricocheted off the sides off the vertical drop.

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I crawled out on the ledge.  Jim did his best to ease my fear of being at the edge. He thought if he were goofy, I’d laugh and relax. I tried hard to be a good sport.  I watched the sun set over one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I knew it was a special moment. I breathed. I breathed some more. I tried to think of a happy place and remembered I was already there. So why wasn’t I happy? Poor Jim. He did not understand. The more jerky and funny his movements, the more I envisioned he would roll off the edge and I would have to lean over the precipice and catch him. I would vomit all over God’s creation and him–oh–maybe one day I will rise above my phobia.

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Thanks, Jim, for a terrifying, albeit beautiful day!

Africa: Issues in Books and Films, Part III

In honor of International Women’s Day (3/8), I’d like to suggest everyone read a story recognizing two heroic women.

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Written in 1975 and set in Egypt, Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi is a fictionalized memoir. Sharing the narration, Nawal is a reporter who interviews a female prostitute prisoner, Firdaus, who is sentenced to death for murdering her pimp. Firdaus recalls her life story with a unsentimentalized voice. Assaulted through female circumcision, sexual harassment by her uncle, prostitution, and homelessness, Firdaus reclaims her body through financial independence. Her attempt for attaining respectability makes her a great heroine for me as well as Nawal El Saadawi for braving to tell the story.

Two of my favorite books set in Africa illustrate anti-colonization. They are Heart of Darkness by J. Conrad and Waiting for The Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee. If your tastes run to the heavy-hitters in literature, well, you’ve probably already read them! If not, you are missing out.

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Last King of Scotland (2006) is a powerful British film. Forest Whitaker earned the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ugandan President Idi Amin. Take a look at the preview. It reveals the pattern of how dictators begin as revolutionaries who seem like saviors, but once in power, they throttle and kill the very people they wanted to save in the first place.

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There are many South African films and books about the ills of the society. Nelson Mandela deserves a blog in his own right. I think of the recent film starring Morgan Freeman in Invictus, but if you don’t know much about Mandela, I recommend the documentary made in 2004 called Life and Times of Nelson Mandela.

I am a fan of science fiction films, so when the film  District 9 (2009) came out, I ran to see it. It’s a fascinating allegory of the extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth. Obviously illustrating the polar sides of the segregated blacks and the Afrikaners in Johannesburg, the film shows a twist of the unlikely friendship between the white man and the alien. There’s a trick of the film. You the viewer, who in the beginning of the film cringes at the alien, find yourself empathizing with the creature. The “humanizing” of the alien asks the observer to reevaluate racial prejudice. I loved the film.  Here’s a trailer for you.

The quintessential S. African text is Cry the Beloved Country written by Alan Payton in 1948.

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If you read this in high school, you probably didn’t like it much. Try reading it again. The descriptions of South Africa are lyrical. It’s the story of a  Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom. It demonstrates a people driven by racial injustice. Try watching the film version starring Richard Harris and James Earl Jones.

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Blood Diamond (2006) is a perfect film, in my estimation. One interesting aspect demonstrates how war-lords kidnap and brain-wash their boy victims. How they turn them into murderers makes the film original for me. Here’s a film that brings awareness and assists change. Based on a true story, DiCaprio played Archer, the smuggler turned informant.  Hounsou, as usual, played the distressed father superbly.

Please watch the award-winning 2010 documentary from PBS, Frontline World. “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground”. Where do the pitched computers and outdated technology go? One dumping ground is Ghana.

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The sad part of this blog is I could go on and on about the issues of the continent. I’d rather write blogs about how beautiful Africa is and ignore the issues. I never once mentioned Ethiopia or the AIDS problem. Where, I ask you, is there not a problem facing Africa? I applaud the books and films that attempt to raise awareness. Whatever it takes to bring about change. Awareness is the first step. Then what?