Here’s what Facebook knows about me.

I have been reading a lot of paranoid articles about Facebook’s intrusion into our privacy so I decided that I would see exactly what they had on me.  Following simple instructions I was able to download everything that Facebook knows about me, all my posts and messages, all the photos and videos that I had posted and also see what advertisers know about me.

It is all pretty boring.

There were no real surprises. It was kind of nice to be able to have all my facebook photos in a file or see every post that I had made since I signed up in 2009.  If nothing else, it allowed me to have a copy of all these photos just in case Facebook folds or somehow my file gets closed.

What about advertisers?  Well there is a list of ads that I have clicked on to view more.  No surprises there as they obviously had some item that actually interested me – or that I may have even bought online.

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And there was a long list of items that I was supposedly interested in so advertisers could aim their merchandise at me.  But this seemed bland and innocuous and even had a few weird things like skunks and rings of Saturn and Catholic Schools in the mix.   Go ahead, advertisers and send me things about skunks.  What do I care? The only advertiser that has my contact info is Airbnb and it is one that I use. They have my information elsewhere as well.

I was surprised to see a list of many of my
“friends” phone numbers in a file.  Not all of them but many.  Not sure where that came from.  But it gives me a good phone directory for friends!  I can also see a list of friends that I have “removed”.  But don’t worry, I can’t see if you have removed me!

The bottom line is that Facebook seems not to know anything about me that I have not been open about in my posts or interested in following  up on by clicking on a link or “Liking” it.

I came away from this exercise thinking that there was nothing there that I had not posted myself and that the advertisers knew nothing about me that I had not openly declared.  Basically I have not posted anything that I consider to be “private” so what Facebook knows about me is what I have chosen to reveal. I think that is the key.  Whatever you post is public and will remain. So taking some care not to post anything that you don’t want to persist in cyberspace is probably the best strategy.

I also have to be aware that what is showing up on my news feed is selected by Facebook and geared to what I have posted or liked in the past. So it is not an unbiased reporting of  events or opinion.  Suffice to say that I have not seen any pro-Trump posts.

Actually what bugs me more is those Facebook “friends” who lurk and are entertained by  reading my posts and but are not open enough to share anything themselves or even post a “like” or a comment from time to time.  Facebook is a social medium.  To me, Social means interactive.  If someone is not willing to share anything about themselves, but is happy to read all about someone else’s life events and opinions,  perhaps Facebook is not the medium for them.  Or perhaps they might eventually find themselves on my “removed” list.

Should I cancel my Facebook page because of privacy concerns? If this is all they know about me then I see no need.  Do I wish I could spend a bit less time checking my Facebook feed?  Yes.  But that is not their fault but my being hooked on this 21st century communication with online friends.

 

Chop Chop

It’s true.

One of my blood relations, my seventh great grandfather, Dominicus Jordan, was slaughtered in 1703 by blows to the head with a hatchet.

This month, in the King’s Town Players production of Blood Relations, I am playing the role of Andrew Borden who, in real life, suffered the same fate.

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Andrew Jackson Borden,  Lizzie’s father.

Andrew is the more famous of the two, having been found dead, along with his wife Abby, in their Fall River, Massachusetts home on the morning of August 4, 1892. The only people who had been in the house that morning were the maid who was out washing windows and the Borden’s daughter Lizzie. Lizzie’s was charged with the murder and her trial drew the same kind of widespread attention that O.J. Simpson got in 1995 and the out come of “Not Guilty” was received with the same skepticism. Lizzie Borden has become a bit of a legend since that time with the assumption being that she was the one who viciously murdered her parents despite the fact that there was and is no concrete evidence to prove her guilt. borden_4She got off on the “reasonable doubt” claim and to this day that verdict would have to hold. As a gruesome piece of evidence, the coroner had decapitated both Abby and Andrew and their skulls were submitted as evidence at the trial.

I remember skipping to the rhyme “Lizzie Borden took an axe. Gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41” when I was a youngster. Her notoriety is of epic proportion.

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Photos of Dominicus Jordan’s musket – Maine Historical Society

My seventh great grandfather’s death is well documented too.  Dominicus Jordan was born in Spurwink, Cape Elizabeth, Maine in about 1655.  In 1675 his family had to leave the district because at the beginning of “King Phillip’s War” their family home was destroyed by the Indians. Dominicus became known during that time as the “Indian-killer” and he fiercely defended his family and property. He was known for carrying a six-foot long rifle slung over his back wherever he went.
That rifle, with some of the barrel later sawn off, is now in the Maine Historical Society Museum in Portland. Gradually peace returned and Dominicus and his wife, Hanna Tristram, returned to Spurwink. Dominicus’ reputation with his native adversaries, however, remained with him. On August 10, 1703, under the guise of wanting to buy some goods, a small band of Indians fell on Dominicus, one of them striking his head with a hatchet and killing him. With Domincus murdered, his wife and six children were all “led through the wilderness to Canada” and kept as prisoners in what is now Quebec. After several years all but one made their way back to Maine.

There are no skipping rhymes about Dominicus but lots of legend.  And I do actually carry some of his DNA. I know from DNA testing on Ancestry that my brother, my kids and I all share some segments of DNA with other Dominicus Jordan progeny.  I am wondering if my DNA will help me to live the role of the unfortunate Andrew Borden.

So…did Lizzie do it? Come out to Blood Relations to see what. you think. The show will be at the Domino Theatre and runs Wednesday to Saturday for two weeks – March 21-24 and 28-31. Tickets will be available online and at the door. I hope my friends will be supportive of this production. And my enemies?  Well they might be excited to see me get hacked.

AM and Gosia

Gosia Rutkowska and Anne Marie Bergman rehearse for Blood Relations.

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KCFF18 – three more movies – two comedies and one that was unsettling.

Let’s get the unsettling movie out of the way first.

Black Cop has certainly been the talk of this Kingston Canadian Film Festival in 2018.  It played to two sold out screenings to audiences that found it somewhat unnerving.  We were warned when the creator/director, Cory Bowles (Trailer Park Boys) introduced the film, ending with  “Enjoy the film” then corrected it to “Enjoy the experience”.

Black-Cop-movie--623x350The movie, all shot in Halifax, is about a black policeman who is finding his work as a policeman to be challenging when people of color are in trouble with the law, or accused unfairly of being lawbreakers.  At one point when he is off duty, he is “carded” by another cop and treated badly, simply because he is a person of color.  He snaps and starts to turn the tables, stopping white people and being abusive and hostile in his interactions with them. This gave our predominantly white audience a feeling for what it would be like to have the shoe on the other foot, to be suspected and abused simply because of your skin color.  It was startling to experience and a provocative but very effective way of creating understanding of movements like Black Lives Matter.

Both Bowles and the film’s star, Ronnie Rowe, were at a Q&A after the screening.  It was clear that the audience was a bit stunned and needing some time to take it all in and the frank discussion about racial profiling and being a person of color in Canada was both welcome and complimented the film.   Everyone should see this film. Don’t watch it alone. You will need a chance to debrief afterward as there is a lot of overwhelming content to process.

MV5BZTNmOTliNjItMmE2MC00NjFiLTlhODgtZTQ4MTIyZjA5ODA0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1MDYyMDE@._V1_UY1200_CR85,0,630,1200_AL_The two comedies were both fun but paled in comparison to Black Cop.

Room for Rent, shot in Winnipeg,  is about a young man, Mitch Baldwin (played by Mark Little), who won a lottery, blew all the money (and in the process a lot of relationships) and who is now living at home with his parents.   When his father (Mark McKinney) loses his job and they think they will have to sell the house the family decides to rent a room to make some money. Enter Carl Lemay (Brett Gellman), an assertive loose canon of a guy who complicates Iife for everyone, particularly Mitch.

 

Unknown-5Another Kind of Wedding was filmed in Montreal.  I loved the familiar locations including the bagel shop where Tara Foods gets their bagels.  Kingston was also mentioned by none other than Kathleen Turner.   Even though the line was a bit negative “Who would want to spend a week in Kingston?”, the audience loved to be acknowledged on film by this superstar.

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William Hurt and Kathleen Turner in Body Heat (1981) one of my favourite films.

 

Body Heat (1981) is one of my all-time favourite movies and I have always found Kathleen Turner to be “hot”.  She is now in her mid-sixties and has put on 50 pounds but she still exudes a sultry, classy, confidence that is oh so sexy.    And she is great in this movie as one of the mothers of the groom.

I think the title of this film is unfortunate and not appealing but it has already been changed from Someone Else’s Wedding so I guess the producers are struggling to find a wedding title that has not been taken.

I realized that it takes more to make me like a comedy than a drama.  They tend to be shallow and often work too hard to make us laugh. Wedding movie comedies usually follow a pattern – introduction, complications, affairs, family feuds, disruption, and then a sudden turn around where everyone comes out OK in the end.  This movie also follows that formula but the characters were all interesting and varied and I think that saved the film for me. I liked it better than Room for Rent and it was a light and pleasant way to spend my Sunday morning.

For each of the films that I mentioned today, I have naturally started with where they were filmed.  This is part of the fun of seeing Canadian movies where Canadian cities are presented as themselves, not as a substitute for some American town or New York.   It adds a sort of familiarity to the film that increases the appeal for a Canadian audience.  Canadian locations do look like home to Canadians.  Like our accent or “eh” or “sorry”, we do have a look to our cities and towns that a Canadian can indentify.  What fun to spend the weekend watching films that embrace that.  Thanks to the KCFF18 for providing this treat.

Two more KCFF18 movies

Coming of age movies seem to be popular. Two of this year’s nominees for Best Picture are Ladybird and Call Me By Your Name, both about teens discovering themselves and their relationships, including with their parents. Last year my favourite Canadian film was Weirdos. In all of these films, my aging self is having more trouble identifying with the teens but I tend to do relate to the parents.

Adventures in Public School is also a film in the coming of age genre but with a quirky comedic twist. Liam is a teenager who has been home schooled by his mother (played by Judy Greer – “Say goodbye to these” – Arrested Development) who has educated him but smothered him and protected him from any outside influence, including other kids. He goes to the local secondary school to write his final exams so he can go to Cambridge to become an Astronomer” like Stephen Hawking”  but sees a one-legged young woman at the school who catches his eye, He bombs the test on purpose so he can go to the school to get to know her. Of course, this does not sit well with the mom who then takes it on herself to instruct Liam (who ends up taking the class place of a girl named Maria Sanchez and then having to take all her classes using her name) in what she figures is the usual coming of age stuff like drinking alcohol, sex and smoking marijuana.

The movie is pretty silly but not to the point of being annoying. I found myself laughing a lot and there were quirky little moments that were both humorous and endearing. Not an award-winning film but entertaining and “cute”.

 

Today, I really enjoyed Cardinals. It was a slow burn, somewhat understated film that dealt with a woman released from jail ten years after killing someone in a car accident and being charged with impaired driving.  I thought it was impeccably written and unfolded slowly but with purpose.  Never tedious but always crawling ahead. The writer and directors (Grayson Moore, Aiden Shipley) are two young men whose work shows maturity beyond their years.  I can’t say too much about the plot because you have to experience it as it unfolds. I was trying to find some way of describing how the movie feels – like peeling an onion, watching a slow striptease or lava bubbling up from a volcano. None of those analogies did it justice. I realized that it felt very much like reading a good book. Something happens to advance the plot then there are a couple of pages of descriptive to flesh it out and then you turn the page and there is something else revealed. A jigsaw where you suddenly find a piece that clarifies a section.  I really liked the mood and the performances. The cast includes many talented Canadian actors and an added bonus for me was that one of the lead actors is Grace Glowicki, who I know from hanging out with her on a movie set , Nightrunners, shot in Kenya, three years back.

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Grayson Moore and Aiden Shipley at a Q&A after the KCFF screening of Cardinals.

Here is a scene from the movie to whet your appetite. Watch for it. I suspect it will eventually appear on Netflix. Also keep and eye on Grayson Moore and Aiden Shipley. They are talented young Canadian film-makers.

 

 

Kingston Canadian Film Festival 2018 – 1

One of the things I like about film festivals is that, in addition to feature films or short films, I can see documentaries that I would otherwise not have encountered and seeing them in a theatre, rather than on a small screen from the couch at home, is much more engaging.

At the first full day of the Kingston Canadian Film Festival I included two documentaries on my schedule of four films for the day.

Both of these related to events of the 1960’s and to some these may have been historical documentaries but for me and others my generation they were reminiscences of times we lived through and remember well.

Unknown-4Expo 67: Mission Impossible was a behind the scenes look at the seemingly unachievable task of putting together a World’s Fair on two yet-to-be-constructed man made islands in the St. Lawrence River in the heart of Montreal.   It was indeed an Herculean task to build this site from the ground up at an escalating cost and with the skepticism of much of Canada outside of the province of Quebec, that it could be completed on time.  Even the computer estimates suggested a probably completion date of mid 1969… two years too late.

I enjoyed being reminded about how things were in the mid 60’s and seeing the clothing, the masses of paper in the offices, the large machines for typing computer punch cards to enter data into the grand computers run with tape input,  the ubiquitous cigarettes and cigars and pipes with smoke billowing up in meetings or at public events. And, of course, I remember, along with 55,000,000 other attendees  at Expo 67 – Man and his World – gawking in awe at the 90 pavilions , the centrepiece being  the geodesic dome designed by Brockminster Fuller  that was the U.S. pavilion with that  “modernistic” monorail running right through it and a real space capsule at the top.

The film, however, was just an historical rehash, interesting to document the events leading up to Expo and a great summary with archival footage.   It could be something that makes a 2 hour CBC special on TV.

Ninth_Floor_MovieThe documentary, Ninth Floor, that I saw this morning, however, was something special.   This film told a story of the crisis at Sir George Williams University in Montreal in 1969 when students protested lack of action by the University on charges of racism.   Now, I was a university student at UWO at that time so it was people my age making a statement and demonstrating to correct a wrong that they perceived.  Canadian filmmaker Mina Shum is a great story-teller with diverse talent as evidenced by her film Meditation Park that was shown last night as the opening film of the festival.  Ninth Hour, although a documentary, was also a very adeptly-crafted story combining present day interviews with now much older protesting students who were involved in 1969 (one of whom is now a Canadian Senator), archival montages of news coverage and film shot while the crisis was unfolding, and very cleverly-integrated film shot recently that fleshes out the story and seeming timeless.  Shum was very careful not to include elements in the recent film that would date it in any way.  Some of the images are quite beautiful and even arty but every one contributes to the story.

Ninth-FloorThe elders being interviewed (all protesters during the crisis) are wise and eloquent and intelligent and have the benefit of years of living and  a unique and personal perspective on racism in Canada.  I particularly liked the one fellow commenting  with a smile, “Canadians are racist but they apologize for it.”

I watched this film with a friend who just turned 20 and it struck me that I was his age when all of this was taking place.  I wonder if Dylan will be watching a movie (or whatever medium tells stories in 2068) that will be historically documenting  how young people who are determined to fight for a cause like the students in Florida today advocating for gun-law legislation in the U. S. or the current Black Lives Matter movement, can be the pivotal influence to make political change.  I wonder what the youth of 2068 will be having to lobby for in order to get the older generation to act on some other outrage.  Or whether racism will still be an issue.   A film like this one, looking back, causes one to think about what is happening today and wonder about the future.  Does anything really change?

I also wondered if my friend Stephen Moiko, a Kenyan who did post-graduate training at McGill experienced racism in any overt or subtle ways in Montreal five years ago.  Although Stephen and I have talked for hours about many things, we have not touched on racism in Canada.  I plan to visit Stephen and his Maasai family in April and I am going to bring this up.  Get ready, Stephen.

Screenshot 2018-03-02 17.04.08Now, you may not be lucky enough to see Ninth Floor in a theater but you are able to see the film on the National Film Board web site – free and downloadable.  I recommend it highly and if you are a certain age it will give you pause to think about how things were unfolding in Canada in 1969 and how oblivious we all were to it in many ways.   Here is the link to the entire film, available free on the NFB site.  https://www.nfb.ca/film/ninth_floor/

 

 

Shum’s film, Meditation Park, opened the KCFF last night and was well-received.  Shot in Vancouver, it also has a theme that explores mixed cultures and race in a Canadian neighborhood. I found it to feel a bit disjointed and contrived but the overarching story was engaging and felt very “Canadian” even though the protagonist couple were Chinese and conversed much of the time in sub-titled Cantonese.   And who doesn’t like Don McKellar who plays their neighbor?