Family Entertainment

We don’t do cable except for the web (which maybe a bit like saying you’re a vegetarian except for bacon). There is no doubt that what counts for family entertainment around here is far more strange than the steady diet of Mr Dress-up and The Friendly Giant I was nourished on.

The Yellow Submarine is the big fave this month. Watch it all on Google Video. As a result Harry is scared of Blue Meanies and has opinions on his favourite Beatle. Don’t you just love the open web? (He picks both Ringo and John- his parents agree.) I just learned that the director, George Dunning was a Canadian from this article celebrating it as a landmark in animation.

Some people who had dressed conservatively before they saw it were suddenly wearing bright colors, costumes and the latest in mod fashions. Hippies painted Yellow Submarines on their vans and in San Francisco a Beatles fan painted a scene from the film on the front of her house.”

Now that’s cultural impact. It is a beautiful way to spend an hour or so but here’s Harry’s favourite bit.

This song from the Icelandic show LazyTown gets my vote today because it’s a bit creepy, very catchy, and it features pirates.



Tonight the VSB Trustees, along with Committees II/III, met to listen to delegates’ presentations against the possible closure to close Garibaldi. There were eight or nine delegates [actually 11 delegates represented Garibaldi], covering many aspects of why Garibaldi should stay open. The Trustees decided to amend the motion to allow for the school to stay open if a viable plan to make the school work financially is produced by the end of the 2008 March break. via Save the Garibaldi Annex

That is as good an outcome as we could have hoped for. Approximately 50 folks showed up to protest the closing of a school whose population has dwindled to 39 students this year. Kind of points to an interesting story doesn’t it? Continue reading

School blues

The little school around the corner from us is up on the chopping block so tonight we’re heading off to a school board meeting to show support for keeping it open, even though we are one of a number of families who have gone elsewhere. Apparently our reasons are fairly typical. We heard rumours of it closing from the moment we moved into the neighbourhood so we mentally dismissed it as a possibility before we even really considered it.

Plus we, like so many other parents, want “special” programming. We’ve ended up at the next closest school, still within easy walking distance in a French Immersion program (woohoo we won the lottery!).

When we were considering French Immersion last year a wise friend and colleague said to me that if your kid emerges from elementary school with basic literacy, numeracy and social skills, it’s done its job. Learning a second language is a bonus. This grounded me (somewhat.)

Don’t expect scintillating project based learning, creative analysis and action on world issues, experimentation in democratic decision-making, outdoor experiences, rich storytelling, exposure to a variety of modes of artistic expression, creative use of various technologies and tools. Don’t not expect that either- you just might find a teacher or two who can provide some of that, or a school community that takes on some aspect of it.

By the end of term one I’m focusing on the basics. There are over 600 kids at Hastings. There are 4 “safety monitors” at recess. Harry, with his still unshaken faith in his own super-hero ability is engaging in some kind of game of cat and mouse with the bigger kids (“the bad boys”). He knows what bully means. He looks at me like I have horns growing out of my head when I tell him to go to a grown-up if trouble starts. Where exactly might they be?

It’s early days but I find myself wondering if this big a school can truly be the caring, kind community it aspires to be, especially in BC’s current political climate where cutting anything to do with children is fair game. In reading through the comments on the blog and discussion forum to keep Garibaldi open I came across a parent who said her child knows the name of everyone at the school. That sounds pretty damn good to me right now.

I’ve got lots of ideas how a small school like Garibaldi might truly reflect and serve this incredibly, culturally diverse neighbourhood we live in and help prepare kids for lives in these very uncertain times. I’m not alone- there are many creative and impassioned ideas of what this school might be.

When I take Dex on his morning shamble through the back lanes I am daily struck by the sheer creative ingenuity that generations of my neighbours bring to growing food in a small, urban space. What a magical, experimental, learning and growing space we could create on the school grounds. It’s got this fabulous southern exposure. I’d love to see examples of urban forest gardening, a Chinese medicinal garden and gathering space where our Asian elders could practice tai chi (they’re often on the bit of lawn at the front of the school by the road.)

It’s those images that I’ll be meditating on at the meeting tonight.

For your pre-Christmas viewing pleasure

We finished watching the 4th episode “The Century of the Self” last night, the BBC documentary that explores the influence of Freud’s ideas on marketers, public relations and politics. “The Corporation” analyzed corporate behaviour through the lense of psychosis; Century of the Self explores how psychoanalytic understandings and techniques made possible the sweep and unholy alliance of mass consumerism and ne0-conservative politics.

Where “The Corporation” felt clunky and interminable with every left nostrum getting a work-out, “The Century of the Self”, though it does flirt with over-simplification in its tight focus on the influence of Freud’s ideas, is fun to watch, and ultimately more convincing.

I felt anew the fear that Thatcher and Reagan inspired in me as a teenager- really they were just useful foreshadowing for the corruption and fear we live with now. But it was the brief clip from Mario Cuomo’s powerful 1984 Democratic Convention speech that got me searching this morning.

His 1992 convention speech is also on YouTube- he could be talking about Bush Jr in that one.

Special Libraries

apocalyptic dream

Dreams/Nightmares? by Giampaolo Macorig

I wasn’t going to share my dream from last night until I was checking out my blog feeds and came across this dream post from John Crowley. I haven’t remembered my dreams much the last five years which is, coincidentally how long Harry has been around. Unless I have earplugs in, I generally bolt awake at the slightest quiver of energy in the house.

The dream: a new criminal, a potential criminal, or perhaps more of a gumshoe detective type, is delivering a package. He arrives at rambling second floor of a warehouse. There are many people milling bout and lots of piles of paper. He is greeted by a woman who leads him through the warren to a room where people are sitting around a table eating. He joins them for the meal and after follows the woman back to her bedroom. It is clear they will make love but here my dream averted its eyes. As they talk she reveals that she is a librarian and is running a special library for a famous and brutal crime family.

At this point, I think woke up and tried to fill in in some rationale and details with my only slightly more conscious mind. A special library for a crime cartel, the patriarch wanting to archive their stolen goods, not wanting them to go off the grid of human cultural history? She is well paid, of course and devoted to her work. When the gumshoe and librarian part, it’s clear they feel an inevitability to their encounter. But I know they won’t come together again, at least not easily. He is going to meet with some kind of violence.

I know that Brian and I talked briefly about the Prelingers last night and their library of “cast-offs and printed ephemera” and their influence is surely felt in this dream. I felt career envy when I read that article in Harper’s, something I only seem to get for paths that promise limited financial reward. But I sense that my idea that blogging is integral to the teaching and learning of the “sustainable living arts”; folk skills reimagined and practiced in the city, in partnership with rural, susbsistence farmers is, in some way, related to the Prelingers ideas:

“They think the conflict between a so-called digital culture and a so-called print culture is fake; they think we should stop celebrating, or lamenting, the discontinuous story of how the circuits will displace the shelves and start telling a continuous story about how the two might fit together” (p. 47)

I told Jake and Anne about the dream as we were walking the kids to school this morning and Jake said “I’d like to take credit for that” and indeed we did meditate together last night, giving over some waking time to dreaming. As I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come I was thinking about the periodic apocalyptic dreams I’ve had over the years (particularly from about 16-22). My certainty that big changes, catastrophic changes to the way we lived were coming, soon, rest as much upon my dreams as the terrifying science that keeps confirming them.

Images from Doris Lessing’s climate change infused novels Mara and Dann floated through. Also bubbling up were memories of university when I eagerly signed up for the first year of a new inter-disciplinary program called “Humanities and Psychoanalytic Thought” and met the professor who encouraged me to explore themes of separation and loss, including their deeply personal resonances. (He’s got a new book out I see. ) So I feel asleep thinking about dreams and how much stock I’ve placed in them, though my own have been so quiet for years.

Some novels inhabit me like dreams with those by John Crowley being the most persistent (and welcome). My 39th birthday present from Brian is a copy (still to come) of the 25th anniversary edition of Little, Big. One of the dreams Crowley shared is a crime dream as well, though I particularly enjoyed his recounting of the dentist dream:

I was having elaborate dentistry done by a highly skilled progressive dentist — nothing he did hurt, indeed couldn’t even be felt. In the chair next to me (like barber chairs) another dentist was working on Jack Nicholson, His teeth were quite poor (you could see these discolored teeth ringed with gold, part of a partial plate) and he said it was the fault of New York doctors he’d seen. “All they know is drill, drill, drill!”