Monthly Archives: June 2016

6 Asperger Facts to Remember

If your child has just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or an Autistic Spectrum Disorder , here are 6 important facts to remember.

  • You Did Not Do Anything Wrong.  Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurological condition that a certain percentage of children are born with. It is usually not noticed for a few years since the primary characteristic of the condition is fact that people with Aspergers have trouble in social interactions especially with strangers . It is NOT caused by something you did.  It was NOT caused by a vaccine your child got.  The vaccine  theory has been totally disproved numerous times by neurological researchers.  However, the lie that vaccines cause autism just will not die on the internet. Be prepared that there will be idiots accusing you of having “damaged” your child.
Hans Asperger

Hans Asperger

  • Your Kid Is Not A Genius – There are many successful people with Aspergers’ Syndrome.  People theorize that Albert Einstein probably  had Aspergers, and possibly so did Steve Jobs. However,  having Asperger’s Syndrome does not make someone a genius. People with Asperger’s Syndrome are on the Autistic Spectrum. Their high intelligence helps them to find mechanisms to cope with their autism. Their autism is not what gives them the intelligence
  • Other problems like Anger and Depression often accompany Asperger’s Syndrome. People with Asperger’s Syndrome have the same social desires as everyone else. They want to be well liked and popular. They want to have friends and they want to be loved. However, their condition makes it much more difficult for them to achieve these basic human needs. Constant social rejection can often lead to depression and anger.
Hans Asperger was doing his studies at the same time the Nazis controlled Europe

Hans Asperger was doing his studies at the same time the Nazis controlled Europe

  • It Does Not Go Away – Your child is not going to outgrow Aspergers. It is not a childhood disease, and you need to help your child to prepare to be an adult with Aspergers. A sad statistic is that 80% of adults with Apergers are unemployed. There are special programs and some companies that work on hiring people with Apergers.  You should find out about these before your child enters the work force.
  • The Internet is the best and worst thing to ever happen to people with Asperger’s Syndrome. The internet can be good since it can allow someone with Aspergers to interact with people they would normally be too awkward to meet.  However, the internet can very easily become a crutch used to avoid any real interactions with real people. Despite the terminology internet “friends” are not the same as real friends.  It can lead to someone becoming completely isolated from the real world. People with Aspergers need to force themselves to experience real life and real social situations.

 

Hans Asperger working with children considered "different"

Hans Asperger working with children considered “different”

  • You Are Not Alone –Estimates are that 1 in 500 people have Aspergers. Extrapolating that means that over 647,000 people in the United States have Asperger’s Syndrome. And Aspergers is just one part of the Autistic Spectrum.  There is much more awareness and many more programs available than there were a few generations ago. It should be remembered that when Doctor Hans Asperger himself was practicing medicine in Vienna Adolf Hitler was still in control of much of Europe. Imagine how brave a man  Hans Asperger must have been to care about children who were considered “different”, at a time when Nazis were trying to kill everyone considered “inferior”.

 

Neon Demon – Artistic Movie or Horror/Soft Core Porn?

The Neon Demon stars Elle Fanning as you have never seen her before.   We liked most of  this film and Elle Fanning was excellent in it.  However, in the last 20 minutes, it suddenly turns into a combination soft core porn/horror movie. It went from being an artistic movie to exploitative crap in an instant. Suddenly,  instead of  a movie about the competitive high-fashion world,  we were watching a movie with cannibalism and necrophilia.  What happened? It gets so bizarre that we rate this movie 3 Question Marks, instead of Stars. The last time we gave a movie question marks was for Lucy, with Scarlett Johansson.

Elle Fanning in a fashion shoot in The Neon Demon

Elle Fanning in a fashion shoot in The Neon Demon

Jesse (Elle Fanning) is a 16 year-old who has come to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a fashion model.  She is like a thousand other girls, except that she has the beauty to actually make her dreams come true.  Jessie quickly gets noticed by the top photographer in the business, and in doing so immediately gains the hatred of every other model in the city.

Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves

Dangers are everywhere for a beautiful young woman making her living being photographed in very skimpy outfits. The cheap hotel where she lives is run by a complete sleaze (excellently played by Keanu Reeves). If you are used to seeing Keanu Reeves as the handsome hero, it will shock you to see him as the perverted motel manager with absolutely no good qualities.

Jean Malone & Ellle Fanning in The Neon Demon

Jean Malone & Ellle Fanning in The Neon Demon

However, as the film progresses it becomes obvious that the other models pose much more of a threat than lecherous middle-aged men.  At least with the men, the danger is obvious.

Elle Fanning is great and this film shows she has the range to play much more complex characters than she has previously.  Unfortunately, this movie will most likely not do well at the box office due to the bizarre way it ends.

Remembering Doctor Jean Farrell

My aunt, Doctor Jean Farrell of Stamford Connecticut died on July 3, 1984. She was a well known Pediatrician at Stamford Hospital. Those of you who were her patients will now have children (perhaps even grandchildren) of your own and realize how important a good pediatrician is in your life.

Doctor Jean Farrell, 1947 Vassar College 1952 Georgetown Medical School

Doctor Jean Farrell,  Vassar College
1952 Georgetown Medical School

Jean was a big woman. She was big physically. She had a loud booming voice and a hearty laugh. If you were her friend she would do anything for you, and if you were her enemy, then God help you because nothing else would be able to.

Jean Farrell was also a a pioneering woman for her time. She went to Georgetown Medical School at a time when female doctors were still very unusual. She became a Board Certified Pediatrician and spearheaded  many new techniques that saved children’s lives.

She was only 56 when she died and since she was unmarried my father (Dr. John Farrell)  and I had to review the death certificate. If you have never seen a death certificate they are very cold and terse documents to sum up a person’s life.  I still remember the wording. It read:

“Occupation – Doctor, Unmarried, No Children”

It struck me how wrong that document was. Jean Farrell had hundreds of children. All of her patients were her children. If any of you read this, I would like you to know that despite her rough exterior Doctor Jean Farrell cared for each of you very much and as individuals. She knew all your names. You were her life.

When Jean died there were many large floral bouquets, but one tribute stood out from the rest. It was from a friend of Jean’s named Iris, who like, Jean was a devout Catholic.  There was a simple cut glass vase with a single red rose in it. (Jean’s hobby outside of work was growing roses.) Beside the rose was a card with the handwritten note:

“Until we meet again”

 

“Reign Over Me” – Adam Sandler’s great dramatic role

The 2007 film Reign Over Me features Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle in roles that are far removed from their normal comfort zones. Both Sandler and Cheadle give fantastic performances in this beautiful movie. This is not an Adam Sandler comedy. He is playing a dramatic role with no laughs in it, and he plays the part perfectly.

Adam Sandler is Charlie Fineman, who has never gotten over the shock of his entire family being killed in the 9/11 terrorists attacks. He has become a total recluse, spending his days continually remodeling his apartment, and his nights speeding around Manhattan on his electric scooter. He is so far gone that his in-laws are taking legal actions to try to have him committed to a mental institution.

Adam Sandler & Don Cheadle in Reign Over Me

Adam Sandler & Don Cheadle in Reign Over Me

By pure chance  he runs into his old college friend Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle). Alan is struck by the change in Charlie and wants desperately to help his old friend.  This is Don Cheadle at his best. If you have only seen him play the wise cracking self assured Marty Kaan on House of Lies then you don’t know the full range of one of America’s greatest actors. As he showed in The United States of Leland, Don Cheadle is also a great dramatic actor.

Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle speed an electric scooter through New York traffiic

Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle speed an electric scooter through New York traffic

Alan wants to keep Charlie from being committed to a mental institution and spends as much time as possible trying to get through to Charlie.  But Char;lie won’t even talk about 9/11 and won’t explain his obsession with constantly remodeling the apartment. I

At the same time Alan is working on helping Charlie’s depression, Charlie is inadvertently changing Alan’s dull life.  They speed through New York traffic on Charlie’s electric scooter, and for the first time i years Alan really feels alive.

We won’t give away the ending of the movie. We will simply say that this is a film worth seeing and we give it our highest rating.

10 Facts About Afib You Need To Know by Gregory Farrell

If you  periodically get Afib (Atrial Fibrillation) you soon discover that you are in many respects on your own in developing the best  treatment. Here are 10 facts you need to know.

  • Doctors don’t really know what causes your  Afib. This is because Afib is a symptom and is not an actual disease. There is no single cause and many different things can trigger it. The cause is different in different people. T hat is why a cardiologist may put you through a battery of tests.
  • Very often the tests will show there is nothing “wrong” with your heart. Of course, you know that something is wrong. You felt like you were having a heart attack and were about to die and then all the tests show that your heart is strong and healthy. It’s like when your car has a problem, but runs perfectly whenever you bring it to the mechanic. The doctor will probably advise you to take home a portable heart monitor to record the symptoms when you are having them. This is a great idea and with miniaturization the device is not at all cumbersome. You can even electronically send the results to your doctor over the phone.
Warfarin causes 58,000 emergency room visits per year - some fatal

Wafarin causes 58,000 emergency room visits per year – some fatal

  • Some doctors will try to over-medicate you with very dangerous drugs. A large number of doctors have a knee-jerk reaction to immediately prescribe blood thinners as soon as they hear about any issue with the heart. This is completely unnecessary in most people who periodically get Afib symptoms, and is very dangerous. If you have had an Afib episode, you have NOT had a heart attack and don’t need to go on blood thinners.
  • The blood Thinner Wafarin (brand name Coumadin) is the number 1 drug cause of emergency room visits for Seniors, with more that 58,000 visits per year.
Blood thinners can cause a person to actually bleed to death

Blood thinners can cause a person to actually bleed to death

  • Blood Thinners can kill you. They can make your blood so thin that you bleed to death internally with your blood going through the walls of your veins and arteries into your organs. You can find yourself urinating pure blood until you die.
  • Diet and environmental factors are more of an Afib trigger than stress. When you tell  friends about your Afib they will immediately assume it is caused by stress and start giving you advice about how to calm down or meditate or try Yoga, etc.. However, caffeine, high salt diets and alcohol are much more likely to trigger Afib than stress. Other items, like exposure to strong fumes of cleaning fluids, can also trigger an episode
  • Exercise is Good for your Afib, not bad. Your blood pressure actually decreases when you walk or do cardiovascular exercise. The worst thing is just sitting in a desk chair all day.
  • Afib often strikes when you are just going to sleep, or are sleeping. Most people assume that if your heart made it through another stressful day then you are “safe” when you go to bed. However, the shifting of gears from waking to sleeping is when many people report their worst Afib episodes. It can even happen when you are sleeping. A lot of people assume that they are unique in this problem and that it can’t possibly be normal. However, it is very common. Your heart may be great during an afternoon run and then start racing uncontrollably when you try to sleep.

 

Burning the heart for Ablation

Burning the heart for Ablation

  • Surgery to try to fix  Afib is still in the Dark Ages. You cardiologist may recommend the “simple” procedure of Ablation. This is where a tube is fed into a vein and pushed all the way up until it reaches your heart. Then the surgeon will  stimulate different parts of the heart to discover exactly where the errant electronic signals that cause Afiib originate from. Once located, the surgeon will then burn that part of the heart to destroy the nerves sending those signals.  You read that correctly. The surgeon wants to burn a part of your heart. Sometimes the surgeon does not get the right part of the heart, and sometime the burning causes unintended damage. There is no such thing as “minor” heart surgery. It should be used only as a last option.
  • YOU have to take charge of your treatment. Don’t just sit passively and have the doctor make all decisions for you. Each Afib case is different and each patient is different. All drugs have side effects and the effects vary tremendously from person to person.  Make sure you ask about all side effects of all proposed treatment options. If one drug is not working or you feel it is impacting you badly speak up and have your doctor try an alternative.  If that makes you that pain in the ass patient who asks a lot of questions to doctors and nurses, that’s fine. Your goal is not to be the most popular patient. Your goal is to get the best treatment.

 

Chris Christie Disrespects Orlando victims

While other States showed compassion for the victims of the Orlando massacre by lowering their flags to half staff,  Chris Christie left flags at the New Jersey State offices flying high. Chris Christie was either too political, too insensitive, too out-of touch, or just too stupid to order the flags lowered.

Finally after almost a week, Christie ordered the flags lowered, and even then only after NYC’s public radio station repeatedly questioned the Governor’s office at to  why the flags were not lowered.

Flags lowered - But not in New Jersey

Flags lowered – But not in New Jersey

Christie has not said why there was such a delay.  Some people believe that now that Christie has become Trump’s stooge, Christie was pandering to the extreme Right by refusing to acknowledge violence against Gay people. Others have suggested that Christie was just too stupid to realize flags were supposed to be lowered in times of national tragedy.

Chris Christie bows to his master

Chris Christie bows to his master

The actual  reason, of course, is that Chris Christie is not really the Governor of New Jersey any more. He gave up that position when he decided to run for President. He is almost never in the State and is completely out of touch with anything being done here. When he dropped out of the Presidential race himself, he then switched full force to campaigning for Donald Trump, and continues to ignore New Jersey.

Chris Christie had no idea that the flags in New Jersey were still at full staff, just as he is not aware of anything else going on in the State of New Jersey. It took a New York City radio station to tell him of the situation.

Chrisite relaxes while being paid for a job he is not doing

Christie relaxes while being paid for a job he is not doing

If Chris Christie wants to spend his time campaigning for Donald Trump instead of being governor of New Jersey that is his right.  However, we New Jersey tax payers should not be paying Christie for a job he no longer does.

Chris Christie should resign  as governor. He is stealing from the people of New Jersey by taking money for a job he is not doing. Resignation would be the honorable thing to do.  Of course, Christie will not resign. The words honor and Chris Christie are never seen in the same sentence.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a hilarious spoof of the horror movie genre. It takes every horror movie cliche imaginable and turns them around to comic effect.

Alan Tudyk as "Tucker", and Tyler Labine as "Dale"

Alan Tudyk as “Tucker”, and Tyler Labine as “Dale”

Tucker and Dale are two nice  working-class guys who have saved their money to buy an old cabin in the woods and fix it up as a vacation home. They bring with them all the equipment you would need to clear the brush around the cabin – chain saws, machetes and a wood chipper.

At the same time Tucker and Dale are working on their dream home, a group of college students is camping in the woods nearby. The college kids become convinced that Tucker and Dale are psycho killers ready to chop them up.

Katrina Bowden as "Allison"

Katrina Bowden as “Allison”

Tucker and Dale end up up saving one of the college kids, (Allison) from drowning.  They bring her back to the cabin to recover. While there, Allison and Dale get to know each other and become friends.

Jesss Moss is perfect as the Preppie psyco "Chad"

Jesss Moss is perfect as the Preppie psyco “Chad”

However, just when you think there might be a happy resolution, the movie shifts into high gear and goes into full fledged violent, gory horror movie mode.

Chad, the leader of the college kids, convinces the others that Allison has been captured by Tucker and Dale, and that the only way to save Allison is to kill Tucker and Dale. In a reverse of the normal horror movie, the hillbillies are the ones being attacked by the college kids.

The more you love horror films the more you will love Tucker and Dale vs Evil. It uses to comic effect all the things that drive viewers crazy about horror movies. Cell phones don’t work. People never call the police. Everyone continually makes stupid decisions.

Be warned, however, that this is a very bloody movie. It has every bit as much gore as “real” horror films. In fact, it goes “over the top” on the gore as just one more way to make fun of other movies.

The acting is fantastic. The beautiful Kartina Bowden is great as Allison, who, (without success)  tries to be  the the voice of reason in this crazy world. Alan Tudyk is perfect as Tucker, a shy gentle man who the college kids think is a killer. Tyler Labine is Dale, who just wants a nice vacation home. Jessie Moss is “Chad”, the sneering arrogant preppie who holds a dark secret within.

 

Good Kill

Good Kill is a glimpse into the surreal and complex lives of the men and women who pilot predator drones which the United States has increasingly used to target terrorists and suspected terrorists throughout the world.

Ethan Hawke is Air Force Major Thomas Egan. He lives with his beautiful wife Molly in suburban Los Vegas. It seems like a happy peaceful existence except that every day Egan goes to war. The drones that fly in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen are flown remotely by Egan and other pilots working from trailers in a Nevada Air Force base.

Ethan Hawke and January Jones in Good Kill

Ethan Hawke and January Jones in Good Kill

From the safety of his air conditioned trailer, Egan has fired missiles  that have killed hundreds of people over the course of many months. Since the terrorists operate in urban areas, there is often “collateral” damage. That is; peaceful civilians and even children often get killed along with the terrorists.

The dichotomy of Egan’s home and work life takes an ever increasing psychological toll on him.  How can he go home and tell his wife that an hour before dinner he killed six terrorists and 3 small boys who happened to be playing soccer near where the terrorists were?

Egan is also an experienced F-16 pilot and has flown many combat missions where his own life was in danger. He feels like a coward piloting a drone where he can never personally be injured, even if the drone happens to crash. The worst part is that the picture quality from the drone is so good that he can see perfectly the faces of the people he is killing.

Predator Drone with weapons ready

Predator Drone with weapons
ready

January Jones is excellent as Egan’s wife Molly. It is a completely different character than we are used to seeing her in The Last Man On Earth. Molly Egan is happy that her husband is safe in Los Vegas instead of flying “real” combat missions where he might get killed. But she can see that the stress is tearing him and their marriage apart.

Good Kill is well written and the special effects with the drone sequences make you feel like you are really in the trailer piloting the deadly device.

The one problem with Good Kill is that there is way too much talk with the various drone pilots discussing  the political issues. They spend a lot of time debating all the pros and cons of using drones.  This is sort of an insult to the intelligence of the audience.  We can see the issues and the possible choices just by watching  what the characters do. We don’t need them to continually discuss their points of view.  It also takes away from the reality of the film. Anyone who has spent any time around real combat officers knows they stay on topic about the specifics of a mission, and avoid any type of political debates.

However, it is still a great film and one that we recommend.

We rate Good Kill Four Stars ****

 

 

Could The Last Man On Earth Really Happen?

Could The Last Man On Earth really happen? The short answer is “Yes” The Last Man On Earth takes place in a future where a deadly virus has killed almost ever human and animal on the planet.

We humans are protected by the fact that most bacteria and viruses cannot jump species to species. If your cat sneezes right in your face, you do not get a Cold, since the virus giving kitty a cold had no effect on people.

The Black Death in the Middle Ages

The Black Death in the Middle Ages

Note that we said most viruses and bacteria. The problem is that in real life, the few diseases that have jumped from animals to people have turned out to be the most deadly of all.

In 1918, a Kansas farm boy caught a flu virus from the pigs. This inter-species germ jump became The Great Influenza which spread world-wide and ended up killing more people than World War I.

The virus that causes AIDS originally came from monkeys and was transmitted by people butchering monkeys for food.

Yessinia Pestis bacteria - Better known as "The Black Death"

Yessinia Pestis bacteria – Better known as “The Black Death”

Let’s not forget the king of all Bacteria –  Yersinia Pestis, better know as the Black Death. In the Middle Ages it killed as many as half of all the people in Europe. It spread from rats and mice to people. Ironically the religious  superstitions of those days made things worse. Cats were thought to be in league with the Devil, so most cats were killed. If the Europeans had not done this, the cats would have controlled the mice & rat population, considerably slowing the spread of the Black Death.

Fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty come from the days of the Black Death. In some areas, entire towns, villages and even kingdoms no longer had any people.  Decades later travelers would come through a forest and suddenly find an huge castle completely empty. That’s where the stories of an evil witch putting everyone to sleep started and became Sleeping Beauty.

After the Black Death whole castles were devoid of people

After the Black Death whole castles were devoid of people

Remember that all these diseases still exist in the world. They are still capable of killing millions. One day, they may mutate into something even more powerful and kill billions. Something to think about the next time your pet dog, cat or hamster isn’t feeling well and you give it a great big hug.

 

Shikar

Shikar by Jack Warner is a beautifully crafted novel about the hunt for a man-eating tiger in rural Georgia. The tiger escaped from an  illegal carnival. Since the carnival owners did not have a permit for this exotic creature, they quickly left town without reporting the missing tiger. This leaves the local people total unprepared for the attacks to come.

Shikar by Jack Warner

Shikar by Jack Warner

A full grown tiger is 650 pounds of pure muscle and can move in absolute silence with blinding speed. Shikar (which means “the Hunt” in Hindi) does a great job of describing the power and beauty of a tiger without making it out to be a monster.

Tigers normally do not hunt people. However, this one was having a difficult time finding enough game in the local woods. Finally, in desperate hunger,  it turns to hunting the slowest, easiest to kill,  animal of all – people.

A successful hunt

A successful hunt

Local deer hunters go after the tiger, and soon find out that if you go into a forest after a tiger you very quickly become the hunted instead of the hunter,.

Tiger on the attack

Tiger on the attack

Jack Warner does a great job of describing the local people as well as the tiger. You care deeply about what happens to them; especially a young poor boy who develops an almost mystical connection with the tiger.

We are sure you will enjoy Shikar as much as we did.

5 Reasons Why New Jersey is The Rodney Dangerfield State

I love New Jersey, but let’s face it, we are the Rodney Dangerfield of states. New Jersey gets no respect. Here are some examples of what we mean.

  • People can’t even get the name “New Jersey” correct. It is amazing how many out-of staters refer to New Jersey as simply “Jersey” . Nobody calls New York “York”, or New Hampshire “Hampshire”, so why do they call New Jersey “Jersey“? The actual Jersey is an island in the English Channel. Even the beautiful Taylor Swift says, “hello Jersey!” whenever she performs here.
Rodney Dangerfield. (not from New Jersey)

Rodney Dangerfield. (not from New Jersey)

  • We don’t even get to keep the name of our professional football teams. New Jersey has 2 very successful professional football teams.  The world calls them The New York Giants and the New York Jets.
The Jets who play in New Jersey, but call themselves the "New York" Jets

The Jets who play in New Jersey, but call themselves the “New York” Jets

  • Our Presidential Primaries don’t count. The New Jersey Presidential primaries are dead last in the nation. The candidates for both parties were  decided long before New Jersey gets a chance to vote. Consequently, during the primaries the candidates don’t bother to come here. This is especially annoying when they appear in New York City and don’t even come across the GW Bridge for an afternoon visit.
Stolen from New Jersey by New York lawyers

Stolen from New Jersey by New York lawyers

  • New York Stole the Statue of Liberty from Us. Even though the Statue of Liberty is clearly within the state borders of New Jersey the United States Supreme Court awarded it to New York. The attorneys for New York were able to get the Supreme Court to accept a ridiculously drawn  and gerrymandered dividing  line that was manufactured for the sole purpose of stealing the Statue of Liberty from New Jersey.
Meryl Streep from Bernardsville New Jersey

Meryl Streep from Bernardsville New Jersey

  • New Jersey gets no credit for having produced some of the world’s best actors. Most people don’t realize that some of the best know American actors grew up  right here in The Garden State.  These include, Meryl Streep (Bernardsville), Peter Dinklage (Morristown), Zach Braff (Orange) Even Jon Stuart, who loves poking fun at New Jersey actually grew up in Mercer and went to high school there (as Jonathan Leibowitz).

New Jersey is not what most people think, but that’s just fine with us. One of the best features of New Jersey is that we take all the jokes in stride and even enjoy  poking fun at ourselves. But please try to get our name straight.

Will Hodor Return As A White Walker?

Will Hodor return as a White Walker on Game of Thrones? He had one of the most moving death scenes ever put on film. But is he really dead? Even if he is dead will he come back? Let’s remember a few key points:

Hodor "death scene" on Game of Thrones

Hodor “death scene” on Game of Thrones

  • If Hodor was killed he died North of The Wall! Any Game Of Thrones fan knows that if you die North of The Wall, you return as a White Walker unless your body is immediately burned to ashes.
Kristian Nairn as Hodor

Kristian Nairn as Hodor

  • We never actually saw Hodor die. Another rule of Game Of Thrones is that you cannot presume anyone is really dead unless you actually saw him die on screen. Remember The Hound?
Vladimir Furdik as the Night's King

Vladimir Furdik as the Night’s King

  • It could be that the show will have the ultimate twist to Hodor’s character. At this point the T.V. show has gone far beyond what happened in the books, so it is no longer bound by them.  Wouldn’t it be cool if the Night’s King brought Hodor back as a White Walker, but then Hodor refused to follow the Knight’s King’s commands? Perhaps Hodor’s compete goodness and loyalty will survive beyond death, and he will become the leader of a White Walker rebellion. That  seems far fetched, but we would love to see it happen.
The Children creating the first White Walker

The Children creating the first White Walker

  • If this is the last we have seen of Hodor, then we cannot let it go without saying what an incredible job  the Irish actor Kristian Nairn has done creating a character loved by millions despite the fact that he was only ever able to say one word.

 

 

4 Surprises About The People Behind “Game of Thrones”

Here are 4 Surprising facts about the poeple who make Game Of Thrones great.

  • On Game of Thrones Cersei and Tyrion Lanister hate each other. One of the main goals on Cersei Lanister’s  life is to find a way to killer her brother Tyrion. However, off the set, Cersei (Lena Headey) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) are the best of friends. In fact, when they are shooting in Europe,  Peter Dinklage lives with Lena Headey and her husband.
Lena Headey & Peter Dinklage

Lena Headey & Peter Dinklage

  • Emilia Clarke has famously appeared nude many times as the Mother Of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen. But when offered the lead role in  Fifty Shades of Grey Emilia Clarke turned it down stating that it contained, “too much nudity”
Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke

  • Jack Gleeson is one of the best bad guys ever with his portrayal of the nasty selfish King Joffrey Baratheon. On real life Jack Gleeson is finishing up his philosophy degree at Ireland’s prestigious Trinity College. Instead of more acting roles, his goal is to focus his life oh philanthropic work. The other actors on Game of Thrones all say he is one of the most intelligent, caring  and nicest person they have ever met.
Jack Gleeson

Jack Gleeson

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

  • None of Game of Thrones is filmed in the United States, and the almost none of the actors are American. Despite this, the creator of Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin and major star Peter Dinklage both were born and grew up in New Jersey. In fact Peter Dinklage was in Basking Ridge NJ (where East Coast Stories is based) just a few weeks ago appearing with the Somerset Hills chorus. The movie The Station Agent, which showed the world the depth of Peter Dinklage’s acting skill all takes place in New Jersey.
The Station Agent

The Station Agent

 

Brittni’s Notebook

Brittni’s Notebook is an eclectic mix of stories, book, movie & T.V. reviews, and even includes a cooking and recipe section. It is written by Brittni Kayne, a young woman in a small rural Wyoming town.

Brittni Kayne

Brittni Kayne

Brittni describes herself a “not so modern woman” as she has a love of William Shakespeare and Old English literature.  Brittni also notes that she is an “English major and not afraid to use it”. However, she does have a sense of humor about the hurdles English majors face in today’s world. In one post she says,

“During my last semester as an English major, I was required to take Senior Seminar: a horrific class in which students were pelted with literature spanning 3,000 years along with theory from the last 300 years in a last-ditch attempt to make sure we knew everything English majors ought to know before going out in the world to have long theoretical discussions with our coworkers (because that’s what people at insurance companies and restaurants like to talk about, right?).”

Despite poking  fun at  herself  Brittni does put her English degree and study of history to good use,  by providing historical context for her excellent  reviews. In commenting on the modern viewers of Game of Thrones, Brittni notes:

” If there’s one thing I learned from this season of Game of Thrones, it’s that HBO’s modern television audience isn’t so different from the audience that sat in the theaters of Ancient Greece. Today’s business executives, fast food workers, college students, and stay-at-home moms love bread and circuses as much as the Roman people who cheered on gladiators or the French peasants who attended guillotine executions during the 1700s. Perhaps witnessing a man get stabbed several times by his so-called brothers and watching his blood leak out onto the snow reminds us that traffic jams, missed appointments, or late papers aren’t the end of the world after all.”

Brittni’s Notebook also has a number of incredibly beautiful photographs of Wyoming.

Brittni Kayne in Wyoming

Brittni Kayne in Wyoming

The posts describe the  simple pleasures of a road trip or a hike, while being surrounded by beauty.

rural Wyoming

rural Wyoming

While calling herself  “not so modern”, Brittni Kayne is, in fact , a true Renaissance Woman. She is using the modern technology to produce a truly professional blog.  She has not limited herself to one theme and wants to explore all the aspects of life, from music to food and entertainment and photography.

View from a Wyoming road

View from a Wyoming road

We look forward to reading more of Brittni’s Notebook in the future, and wish Brittni success on all her future writing.

 

5 Signs of Computerized Age Discrimination

The advent of the computerized hiring process has made age discrimination  easier and more prevalent.  While technically illegal, age discrimination is practiced much more openly than other types of job discrimination.  Here are some signs of it.

1. Immediately asking the Graduation Date – In the U.S. you can’t ask a job applicant “how old are you?” However, on most computerized job submissions, the first question asks for your graduation date. Companies will say this is so that they can check to make sure you have the degree. This is nonsense. Degree verification is never done in the first round of the selection process. It would be too time-consuming and too costly for companies to verity the degrees of every online applicant

The online applications ask the graduation date as the  first question so that the company can eliminate from contention applicants above a certain age. They never even get called in for an interview.  You are naive if you think that is not happening.

Age 3

2. Putting an upper limit on experience desired –  It is common to see  a job posting that says something like  “10-15 years of experience required”. Why is there an upper limit? Why not just say “10 years minimum experience required”?  It is because consciously or not the people doing the hiring do not want someone with 20 years experience, because they think that person is too old.

3. Stressing the “Young Management Team” as a benefit of the company. This phrase is used on many job postings.  What that posting is really saying is,  “we are a young company and  we want young employees.”

age 2

4. Using words like “aggressive”, “motivated” or “driven” as substitutes for  “young”. Again, these are phrases used all the time in job postings. African-American and Hispanic-Americans have long been aware of how destructive code words can be used by companies to hide prejudices. In fact, the term “older workers” itself  is a type of slur. Older than what? What is the ideal work age after which you are suddenly considered “older”?

5. Assuming that older applicants are not tech-savvy. The fact that a particular technology did not exist when someone graduated, does not mean an individual never learned it in their career. Many older workers are more tech-savvy than their younger counterparts simply because they have been exposed to  more systems.

6. Assuming that an older worker will resent working for a younger boss. This idea still exists, despite many studies to the contrary.

age 1

 

The biggest problem with these discriminatory practices is that they are hidden and self-perpetuating. Hiring managers are often not even aware that they are sub-consciously eliminating from consideration all applicants above a certain age. They are self-perpetuating since the older workers don’t even get a chance to be interviewed. Their backgrounds never make it through the computerized selection process, so a human never actually sees the “older” candidate.

The more experienced job candidates (notice how I did not say “older”) just want the same chance as the other candidates. They want hiring managers to get their eyes off the graduation date and start looking at the experience, training and qualifications these candidates  have for the job.

 

 

5 Reasons the Bob Newhart Show Was Revolutionary

Watching re-runs today, you may not realize that The Bob Newhart Show was revolutionary when it made its debut in 1972. Here are the 5 reasons why.

1. The characters all live in a city – The standard T.V. sitcom took place in the suburbs. Father Knows Best, The  Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett , and Leave It To Beaver all took place in the suburbs.  However, the characters in The New Hart show all lived in an apartment building in Chicago.

Cast of The Bob Newhart Show

Cast of The Bob Newhart Show

2. The female lead of the show had a job – Emily Hathaway (played by Suzanne Pleshette) was a full time public school teacher, and she was good it in. Up until then, almost 100% of T.V. shown portrayed women as stay at home moms.

The beautiful Suzanne Pleshette

The beautiful Suzanne Pleshette

3. Suzanne Pleshette was sexual. – It is hard to even image  Ozzie & Harriett Nelson or June & Ward Cleaver having sex. In fact, it is even disturbing to think about. In The Bob Newart Show, however, the beautiful Suzanne Pleshette was shown in a low cut nightgown sharing a king sized bed with her husband.

The Hartleys in Bed

The Hartleys in Bed

4. The married couple had no kids and did not plan to have any – The Newharts had a full life without children, and their friends were also all professional people with no kids.

Jack Riley as "Mr. Carlin"

Jack Riley as “Mr. Carlin”

5. The subject of mental illness was portrayed without hysteria.  Dr. Robert Hathaway (Bob Newhart) was a psychologist, and a large part of the show focused on his patients. They were not crazy or dangerous people, but likeable individuals who were struggling to face the pressures of everyday life. Of course, being a comedy the situations were portrayed with humor. The most memorable patient was “Mr. Carlin” (brilliantly played by Jack Riley). Mr. Carlin was a successful real estate developer who just cannot seem to be able to connect with people personally.  Actually broaching the taboo subject of mental illness is probably the biggest contribution of  The Bob Newhart Show .

So, if you happen to to be flipping through the channels and come across an old rerun of The Bob Newhart Show, you may want to view it with some respect. In its own way, it began to breakdown the T.V. stereotypes of what Americans were supposed to be and how we were supposed to act.

 

 

When Men Wore Hats – a poem of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Men wore hats. Women’s dresses were  Bright,

Ties  narrow and black.  All shirts were white.

Cars had fins and gadgets galore.

America was Great. We had won the War.

The President was handsome. His wife a gem.

We never saw their likes again.

Was it real or were we fools?

Bullets and Time have been so cruel.

John F. Kennedy in business hat and white shirt

John F. Kennedy in business hat and white shirt