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I am invoking a spoiler alert for this blog.  The title however, does say it all.  I have to say, the Force did awakened in me, when I saw Skellig Michael Island, jutting out from the Irish Sea when watching the most recent Star Wars.  It was at once breathtaking and nostalgic.  When I went on my honeymoon to Ireland for six weeks, this was one of the places my husband and I visited.

IMG.jpg

The pictures above were taken in around July, 1983.  Skellig Michael is off the coast of Ireland.

“Skellig Michael (Irish: Sceilig Mhichíl), or Great Skellig (Irish: Sceilig Mhór), is the larger of the two Skellig Islands, 11.6 kilometres (7.2 mi) west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.[2] A Christian monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century [ … ] continuously occupied until it was abandoned in the late 12th century. The remains of the monastery, and most of the island, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.[2]” Wikipedia – Skellig Michael

See New York Times article: Spoiler Alert: This Island Appears in ‘Star Wars’

The first picture is of the Great Skellig Michael as we were approaching it.  The second one is of the Island next to it and looking down on the Beehive huts.  It has gannet birds over its entire surface.  It almost looked like snow, until a few took off and flew.  The third picture is of me, looking a bit worse for ware, but proving to the world, I made it.  There are Beehive huts behind me, where the order of St. Michael built their monastery.  Monte Saint Michel is of the same order.  You can tell they liked their isolation.

The only way to get there is by boat, unless you have an emergency or perhaps you are J.J. Abrams, you can use the helicopter pad.  We, meaning I, endured 20 foot swells for over two hours.  When we lost sight of the mainland, I was not a happy camper.  The pilot of our boat was a 14 year old, very well trained (by her father, who was standing by).

Instead of trying to go through the swells, this girl took us on a path between them.  I was green, and not with envy, I get seasick very easily.  However, I didn’t toss my cookies, thankfully.  A woman who was on the boat with us, was enjoying herself so much, she decided to eat an apple.  Which made me even more green.  The amusing part was she barfed her brains out just after her smug eating escapade.

In order to get off the boat and onto the island, you have to wait for a swell to carry you up the face of a huge concrete wall.  When the water surges upwards a person grabs onto you arm and as soon as the surge brings you to the landing area, you are thrust with great force off the boat and onto the island.  I felt like I would end up like a cartoon figure splatting into the concrete wall, like a Looney Toon.

Skellig Island  More of my pictures.

One picture is of my husband standing near the entrance of one of the Beehive huts.  The picture at the top is of some of the paths that were built by the monks.  That one looks like the “cliff” that we went up I had to go on my hands and knees, because the wind was blowing so ferociously.  I thought I would be blown from the top.  This is when I asked my newlywed if he had taken out life insurance on me.  I was especially suspicious when he had walked up this escarpment merely by leaning into the wind.  Did I tell you that one wrong move and I could have plummeted into the Irish Sea?  I think my husband also called me a wimp, or perhaps it was the hollowing of the wind through the nooks and crannies of the rocks and straight into my soul.

I had to back down the way I came, I was not turning around, but wouldn’t you know, a colourful puffin peeked its head out from beneath a rock on the eroded stairway and I was in heaven.  I believe I left out a crucial item: I caught sight of a sign as I was coming down from the face of the rock, and it said stay out, dangerous!  Humm, I should really ask my husband of 33 years about this adventure he took me on that day.

For information on the latest Star Wars, look up on IMDB.com

Also Look up Wikipedia – Skellig Michael

Last but not least, you must see these pictures. Google pictures – Skellig Michael

So I have really saved the spoiler alert for last.  The last view we see in the new Star Wars film is Luke Skywalker and Rey on the Skellig Michael island.  The build up to showing this island in all its glory is magnificent.  My husband and I recognized it at once.  If this scene does not take your breath away (other than we find Luke of course), actually going to the island no doubt will.  I am sure it is now one of those pilgrimages that devout Star Wars fans will try to visit.  And ironically enough, it is then centuries later that Skellig Michael island is honoured along with its spirits.  May the Force be with you; especially trying to get to the island, and exploring it.  Bon Voyage, or perhaps arrivederci!

 

 

Homeland

I am writing again about the TV series Homeland because I continue to be intrigued by it.  The Homeland plot is so advanced, I’m happy to say, I am not always sure what will happen next.

Carrie

Carrie

After yesterday’s bombing in Paris, it is easy to compare the diabolical nature the characters Carrie, Sal, Quinn, and others face in trying to stop the proliferation of terrorism.  That means the teams’ methods are not always Kosher.  It seems all to apparent, that one must fight fire with fire, both on the screen and off.  Who knows what is going on in France’s backyard. Can they infiltrate the terrorists cells and bring them down?  Let’s hope so…

With Homeland it is also clear that any normal relationships that CIA agents want to have are thwarted by the constant vigilance and violence they have to use to meet their goals.  Even strong relationships within the CIA are questioned.  I can’t imagine always having to look over your shoulder to not only see if the enemy is there, but if there is going to be any intentional “friendly” fire.  After hearing a disturbing story on the PBS Newshour about the horrible vetting that is done for secret clearances, I am aghast at what is in store for the United States FBI and CIA operations.

Still of Mandy Patinkin in Homeland (2011)

Sal

This Homeland season, the Russians are a dire threat.  It not only reminds us of our relationship with the Russians in the past, but the way our relationship has soured so significantly since Putin has decided to become both the Soviet Union again, and a Czar.  Scary stuff indeed … People get poisoned or assassinated by Russians.  In Homeland, this happens as well.

With the comparison of the world precisely reflected in the TV series Homeland, present day terrorism, espionage, fights and concerns are relayed to us with most of the ugly and disturbing details.  I am thankful I am watching this on TV series and not in a theater in Paris witnessing it first hand.

This blog is dedicated to the people who have died and have been wounded in the Paris slaughtering and to their friends and family.  May your journey to healing from this devastating horror to peace and happiness be as positive as it can be.

Devorah

P.S.  I found this picture amazing.

Vikings!

SPOIL ALERTS:

VIKINGS

I have been watching the television series Vikings and have been intrigued by its depiction of an ancient people who were violent warriors, settlers, farmers, and very superstitious. Writer and historian, Michael Hirst’s amazing story telling of the Norse legendary figure Ragnar Lothbrok whose exploits are at once compelling, fascinating, and riveting.  Some things the Vikings do are so grotesque and deplorable, you feel as though you have to have a bucket beside you.

For those of you who like Game of Thrones, I am sure you will like Vikings.  I have had a hard time following Game of Thrones many twists and turns; luckily I have had help from my son to fathom what the heck is going on sometimes and what family did what to whom.  With Vikings, it is complex, but I did not feel as though I can’t wrap my mind around it fully.  I really enjoy that feature!

Vikings characters are well cast.  I think the main character Ragnar Lothbrok, played by Travis Fimmel; he is an amazing actor who depicts the complexity of his character.  The character Ragnar is portrayed as an exceptionally smart, driven, corrupt, and a compassionate man, who may just spare your life … that is, if he feels it serves his purpose.

What I really like is the portrayal of women, in particular Lagertha.  She is a “Shield Maiden”, or a woman warrior.  She was once married to Ragnar, but decided to divorce him because he wanted to take a second wife.  According to this legendary view women were allowed to divorce their husbands.  Lagertha has many attributes; a mother, a warrior, a diplomat and a grandmother.  She can single handily kill a multitude of men, then farm, govern, and pillage with the best of them.

One of the main characters who struggles with his Christianity and passion for the Viking people and their Gods is, Athelstan.  He enlightens Ragnar to a world beyond the realm of the Vikings.  Ragnar is then torn in the opposite direction of believing in his Gods, but wondering about Christianity of the time and its power, corruption, and grip it has on so many foreigners.  Ragnar and Athelstan’s relationship is one that transcends religion, there is a brotherhood of thoughts, ideas, and dealing with conventional beliefs of the time.  They are each other’s equal from opposite realms.  I have found that intriguing.

I could go on forever writing about this television series, but there would be more spoil alerts than I have already presented.  I encourage you to watch it, from the beginning and in sequence.  It will engross you, and invite you to witness a historic people who weren’t just raiders and maleficences who worship strange gods, in an odd manner.  It will enlighten you to people who built ships that sailed the high seas, and built communities like no other.

If you have seen Vikings, let me know what you think!

American Sniper

I recently saw the movie American Sniper.  I wasn’t certain about wanting to see the “horrors of war”, a recent one no less, but I became interested in seeing it since I saw Bradley Cooper interviewed by Charlie Rose.  I was intrigued by Bradley Cooper and by his story of Chris Kyle’s life story.  And, this film was directed by Clint Eastwood, so, it was a must see.

Now I have to tell you, Clint Eastwood’s politics are as far from mine as New York is from Los Angeles; totally different.  But, I respect him as being a phenomenal actor and director.  I was interested in the “politics” Eastwood would present.  What I saw though, was a compassionate story, albeit violent, of a man’s duty and his conscience pertaining to his deeds as a sniper, a husband, and a father.

In this film, you not only see “Chris” as an excellent marksman, but you see a man hell bent on the need to protect his men, country and family from terrorism.  Keeping the war in the Middle-East’s backyard was his goal.  However, to “Chris”, coming home looked scarier at times, than actually fighting the enemy.  He was taught to be an aggressor, to take out bad people.  To live a peaceful life at home seemed counter-intuitive to his mission in life, his job.  Eventually he merged his two lives by taking care of injured (physically and mentally) Veterans.

Watching “Chris’s” struggle to go from war hero and killer to husband, father and helping veterans was astounding.  The insight this film gave to the gravity of the human cost of war is akin to seeing a hideous open wound heal, but knowing the ugly scars and some of the pain will always be there.

Bradley Cooper is an exceptional actor.  I felt I was in his predicament as the Chris Kyle character.  I was elated to see a film where the acting and the story line compliment one another so well.  I believe Bradley Cooper will win the Academy Award for Best Actor for two reasons; his ability to get into the skin of a person and play them spot on, and secondly to get us, the audience, into Chris Kyle’s skin and let us know what it is like being a sharp shooter, or sniper Navy Seal, family man and a Veteran is all about.

Below is a cool website I found …  I have cut and paste this info for your FYI.

The Inspiring Stories Behind 15 Classic Novels

Miss Cellania • Monday, September 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM • 2

Even the most talented fiction writers start with a kernel of truth. What? You thought novelists just made up stories? Well, yes, mostly, but even the most outlandish tales are born of elements the author knows. Sometimes they are true stories that hit close to home, like the inspiration for Anna Karenina.

In January 1872, the death of a 35-year-old woman was reported in the Russian press: smartly dressed and carrying a bag containing a change of clothes, the girl had thrown herself under a freight train at Yasenki Station outside Moscow. The woman was identified as Anna Pirogova, a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy’s wife and the mistress of his good friend and neighbour, Alexander Bibikov. It soon transpired that Alexander had told Anna that he planned to leave her and marry his son’s new governess, and, unable to cope, she had left him a brief note — “You are my murderer; be happy, if an assassin can be happy” — and fled. Tolstoy himself attended Anna’s post-mortem the following day, and by all accounts the sight of the unrecognisable body of a woman he had known so well stayed with him long afterwards, so that when he came to begin a new novel more than a year later he already had its tragic conclusion in mind.

You have to wonder how Bibkov liked his friend’s resulting novel. From Frankenstein to Catch 22, find 14 more stories of how classic novels were inspired at HuffPo.

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It is very exciting that Hamilton’s very own Art Gallery of Hamilton or AGH, is involved with showcasing fine films.  I saw Midnight in Paris through their Festival programme and it was astounding.  Please see my blog on Midnight in Paris.   The AGH has two exciting things going on now; the I Love Film series, and their World Film Festival.   I am learning more about these programmes and I look forward to writing more blogs about them.  In the meantime give a look at their AGH film link above or at AGH  To have an idea of what calibre of films they have see AGH’s Films and Trailers.  For previous prices to view the films and be part of the event go to Tickets and Passes.  AGH members get bonus prices and activities.  I will be sure to post the new World Film Festival season, as soon as I become aware of it.

This is a great opportunity to attend films that might not be seen elsewhere, or there was a limited engagement and you missed one of those great films.  Between the Ancaster Film Fest and the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s I love Film Series and World Film Festival, I can see a wide variety of films and not have to travel all the way to Toronto!   Bonus!