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First-hand history lessons
Every Remembrance Day, reporters are asked to speak with those who witnessed history from the trenches, today, Rod Mickleburgh looks back at his personal archive and the stories that still haunt his Boomer-peacenik psyche
By Rod Mickleburgh
There’s nothing quite like the experience of talking to a veteran. They have so much to tell us of a time we peacenik baby-boomers simply can’t comprehend. Death and carnage and mayhem all around them, seeing buddies blown up or shot before their eyes, killing enemy soldiers themselves, and yet they carry on with the fight. Not quite the ordeal of finding a downtown parking spot.
Over the years, I’ve interviewed veterans from the Boer War (no, I wasn’t there…), World War One (the worst of all wars), and the Second World War against fascism. Never have I failed to come away in awe at their courage in signing up, the hell they experienced, and their vivid recollections of a distant past.
My own ...
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Contemplating the 'therapeutic value of style' while struggling with serious illness
By Shelley Page
While dying of prostate cancer, New York Times book critic Anatole Broyard wrote about “the therapeutic value of style.”
In Intoxicated By My Illness, he observed: “It seems to me that every seriously ill person needs to develop a style for his illness. I think that only by insisting on your style can you keep from falling out of love with yourself as the illness attempts to diminish or disfigure you.”
I’ve long envied literary men who write boldly about their various afflictions, fatal and otherwise, knowing that their ability to do their job is never in doubt and they relish the protection that their reputations afford them.
This is not the case for shift workers, dishwashers, desk jockeys that fill boxes with numbers for a modest salary, or almost anyone else. And not for girl reporters trying to figure out how to work sick.
I am currently ...
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Home Entertainment: November 10
Amy Schumer's blockbuster rom-com doesn't reinvent the comedy wheel but it does apply some rubber, while Ben Kingsley walks a mile in Ryan Reynolds body in Tarsem Singh's so so Self/Less
By Katherine Monk
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Is it an Amy Schumer movie directed by Judd Apatow, or a Judd Apatow movie that stars Amy Schumer? It’s hard to tell, because Trainwreck is sexual, psychologically insightful, funny and, in the end, earnest with a very human message about being real, and putting love first.
Yeah. Yeah. Nice. Nice. But I was expecting something a little less conventional from Schumer, the woman who’s been able to “transform comedy” – apparently overnight – by referring to her genitals as often as men. But is that truly transforming comedy, or a case of pushing the boundaries of conformity far enough to include ...
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What makes a Kennedy
Revisiting the landscapes of his boyhood back in Boston, Jack wades through a flood of memories that take us back to the beginning
By John Armstrong
After our swim I was at a loss for what to do with myself. Bobby was organizing the kids for a touch football game on the front lawn but I’d already had enough exercise for one day. More evidence that I’m not a true Kennedy, I suppose. The genuine article can spend all day waterskiing, riding horses and playing tennis and then climb a mountain just for the hell of it after dinner. I can think of much better ways to get tired and in most cases I prefer to conserve my strength in case I might need it for something important. (I did play hockey and lacrosse at college, because there was no way to get out if it, and both those sports are really just street fights with complicated rules. The brothers thought it developed character. I thought it created practice cases for the interns at the medical college. ...
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Welcome to my lair...
This guy from the new Chevrolet commercials — the one who likes to play funny little tricks like pretending to put your phone in a wood chipper, and stopping the elevator, and forcing kids to watch someone else play a videogame: He’s creepy. And not just because he’s looking at every one of those “real people not actors” like they’re a guinea pig in his latest subterranean torture experiment, but because he's a weird pastiche of traits selected at some over-caffeinated marketing meeting where at least one person present had a beard. He’s got the hipster beard that gives him a Viggo Mortensen meets bartender cool, the ironed retro Western shirt (also hipster) and the deadpan self-righteousness of Denis Leary. And what's with the clipboard prop? That's for doctors. You can see why they wanted to get away from the clean-shaven white guy in a suit to reach the target market, but this Frankenstumper gives us the willies — and every time that giant ...
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The Sick Days: Part 14
"I was sick of feeling like a stupid girl who didn’t know enough to manage her own illness."
By Shelley Page
When the pain came, I carried it on my shoulders as I waded through the polluted, dirty water of Lake Ontario. When I made it to my desk in the Toronto Star newsroom, I wrote the final words on Vicki Keith conquest.
“Five down. None to go.”
I followed her in a boat across Erie, Huron and Superior, Ontario (twice), and almost Michigan, and that’s the best lede I could come up with. But at least it was brief.
My knuckles were swollen, my fingers bunched into fists. They looked like boxer’s hands. I punched gingerly at the keys, wincing. It was like repeatedly hitting a block of cement.
I did not go to emergency, as I had when I was in third-year university. I calmly called my rheumatologist at Mount Sinai and asked for an appointment. His office manager did not see the same urgency that I did, and so she booked me the ...
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Route 1 to the heart of darkness
Jack settles back into the Kennedy cottage where he gets a warm welcome from Bobby and gets a good look at The Grandfather: Joseph P. Sr.
By John Armstrong
It was as quiet as New York ever gets on the way out of the city and traffic was light when we got onto US 1 headed south. The freeway runs over top of what was the original Boston Post Road, three hundred years old under its modern surface and ironically, that cement and tarmac was poured and paid for by the Kennedys at their end and the New York Families at ours, our respective crews meeting in the middle somewhere. I remember that because it was one of the illustrations of how a closed economic system works, back in college. We collect our tribute from the people and in return, we have to keep things working, such as roads. Plus, it’s a basic cost of business. Where would we be without transportation? Or sewers, or whatever.
Say we have a contract to let for 100 miles of freeway ...
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Director Catherine Hardwicke takes us back to Beaches
Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore make sand angels together as best friends Milly and Jess, two women who were slowly drifting apart until a life crisis forces them to reconnect
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Historical drama shows the price women had to pay in Britain — the abuse, the imprisonment, the lost families — to win the right to vote