Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah

The Caliph's House, by Tahir Shah

Tahir shares one year's look at restoring "The Caliph's House" in Casablanca.

Born to an English mother, and Afghan father, Tahir's childhood was spent in many places, Morocco and England being the two most prominent. His grandfather chose to stay, and died, in Morocco. As a writer and journalist, Tahir grew tired of living in England, his desire to return to Morocco finally came to pass when an aquaintance offered to sell him her family's unlived in house in Casablana. Tahir uprooted his wife and child, to take possesion of this house sight unseen. When they arrived, and found the location they were in for just the first of MANY BIG suprises. Unaware of the fact that part of the purchase, were several already live-in caretakers, and one ANGRY djinn. Like most Westerners, Tahir was unaware that followers of the Islamic faith hold a very strong belief in djinns or jinns, he was to learn that these spirit beings are mentioned in the Quran.

Definition of a jinn from the "Oxford Dictionary of Islam" "Creatures known in popular belief in pre-Islamic Arabia and mentioned in numerous times in the Quran, parallel to human beings but made out of fire rather than clay. Believed to be both less virtuous and less physical than humans, but like humans, endowed with the ability to choose between good and evil. In folk religion, jinn are spirits invoked for magical purposes and are often held responsible for miraculous or unusual events and for a wide range of illnesses, which are popularly believed to be caused by an imbalance between internal and external jinn. Healers often speak directly to jinn prior to driving them out of patients." Page 160 of 2003 edition of the aforementioned dictionary, edited by John L. Esposito, University Professor of Religion and International Affairs and Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

Not being able to speak the Arabic language, Tahir hires an "assistant" Zohra, who is at times helpful, other times rather belligerent, her attitude drives a wedge between them and she finally just quits, Tahir realizes that he must have someone to assist him in so many ways, that he finally hires Kamal. Little does Tahir realize just how much "power" Kamal holds. One of the issues that sets Kamal apart from Zohra is that he knows that the architect that Tahir hired is unscrupulous, the workers are lazy and inept. Kamal insists that Tahir fire the architect and the workers, Tahir is so unsure of this but goes along with Kamal's scheme - what a humdinger scene that had to have been! Kamal uses a form of "blackmail" to achieve many things so that the renovation will run smoothly and finish in a reasonable time.

Tahir offers many views of the living conditions of this country, the reader becomes almost part of the action - and one learns many things about the people, place, culture, foods, and religion.

Reading this book, brought back sights, sounds, smells, heat, rain and FLIES from my childhood in Tripoli. I really enjoyed this one...... Hope you will consider it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"The Net" a movie

The Net, a movie starring Sandra Bullock Once again, here I am suggesting that our society has become TOO dependent on doing all of our "business" over the INTERNET! I mentioned this earlier in my blog after James read a book "Cyber War", how even the Pentagon's system with all its firewalls, etc, can still be broken into......... Watching "The Net" was really creepy, scary, and eye-opening! One is constantly warned not to offer some info over the NET, and yet, still we hear of people being scammed out of their money, identities. You are probably not convinced, and although this movie is a piece of fiction, it does lay out how "Evil" manipulative folks can cause havoc for individuals, and society........ All which you hold private, is just out there for the world to peruse, with just a click of the mouse. Medical information being a real bogey man!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Think about this, you go into a hospital for an allergic reaction, someone comes along and switches your info to being a diabetic!!!!!!! This movie is one to consider, as the say "Buyer Be Ware"

Monday, April 11, 2011

White Squall, a film

White Squall, a film by Ridley Scott. James and I watched this film the other evening. I had not realized when I checked it out, that it was based on an actual event. Jeff Bridges portrays the skipper of a sailing ship, boys are sent on a voyage that is supposed to last 12,000 miles, in addition to receiving an education. Set in the early 60's, at the time of the Cuban/American Bay of Pigs affair, and at the time of Alan Shepard's launch into space. The boys are a motley group from various backgrounds, during which time they, finally, develop as a well greased team of sailors. A "White Squall" hits the ship, and literally the ship is tossed and turned like nothing imaginable. Several people lose their lives. The survivors are picked up and the skipper is put on a "naval trial." As James is much into sailing, this one was interesting. Although, I must admit that Ridley Scott did not have the Alan Shepard event portrayed accurately. In one scene, after the disaster occurs, two boys are shown looking up into the night skies, watching Alan Shepard streak across the night sky - Alan Shepard never went into orbit, so that scene was totally inaccurate - Shepard was in a "sub-orbital" flight, to an altitude of 116 statute miles, and 302 statute miles down range. But it made for good movie footage. Basically, this was a very well made movie, and we enjoyed it, although, I had to cover my eyes during portions of the white squall part - it was just too much for me. If you are not comfortable with movies about water, ships and disaster, this might be not your cup of tea - however, most of the film did NOT revolve around the disaster. It is a coming of age boy type film. Hope you will consider it. Happy Sailing!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

O'Horten a film

James and I watched this "funky" film the other evening. It is Norweigan, has subtitles, however, with limited dialogue, one need not worry about missing anything. Very low-key, with some really interesting overhead shots of a train traveling over a very snowy area. Also, some very quick humorous street scenes. O'Horten is retiring, after 40 years being a train engineer, he is having a hard time coming to terms with his new life. We enjoyed this one due to the lack of conversation, Europeans know how to tell a story on film just using visual effects. Hope you give it a shot.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Oogy" a book by larry levin

Sammy says about the story of Oogy, we have so much in common!

Sammy is a rescue cat from the no-kill animal shelter on Camano Island, WA. CASA

During the horrific winter of 2008-2009, with all the snow that fell on Camano Island, Sammy was found by an animal lover, who took him to CASA. Sammy had been brutally attacked by an unknown animal, raccoon, large dog, or cat, his injuries were extensive.

The staff at CASA made the decision to do all they could to help Sammy survive. The local vet, across the road from the shelter, did major medical work to bring Sammy back to a "normal" life. He spent nearly 2 months at the shelter before he was adopted.

I have to admit that Sammy was not my first choice - he was my third choice, and as they say "third time is a charm", however, it was due to the fact that Sammy was huddled in a corner of the shelter still recovering from his injuries that I did not see him on the first visit. Eventually, I discovered him on their website, about a week later. On the day I took him home, one of the workers at the shelter told me that I was the only person who had expressed interest in adopting him - boy, all those other folks missed out on the cat of a lifetime!

Sammy's injuries included major damage to his left eye tear duct, consequently, that eye weeps, and occasionally droops. His one ear has a huge lump from the injury there, he had been shaved on his upper back/neck area where he had surgery, he has several areas where the fur will never grow again. With all these injuries, as in Oogy's case, Sammy is the most lovable cat James and I have ever had the privilege to know, "own", and love.

Cat lovers know that when one brings home a new "older" cat, they always head for a bed to hide under, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes longer. Sammy was like any other cat, however, he was under the bed for less than an hour, then he was out exploring the house. When James came home later that afternoon, he was quite interested in him, and after supper, jumped right up on James' lap - it was his favorite place to be, for almost a whole year he chose James's lap over mine.

Unlike Oogy, Sammy is strictly an indoor animal, so he is pretty safe from further animal inflicted injuries. He is perfectly happy "flying" from window to window to view the outside world.

Sammy and Oogy are both very fortunate animals that they were at the right place at the right time and the "right" people happened to be there to adopt them and love them.

Oogy's story told by Larry is a beautiful testament to the love of animal and human. I finished this book last night - it is well worth reading, so I hope that you will consider reading it.

By the way, the cover photo of Oogy suggests that Oogy might be a pit bull, however, Larry learns that Oogy is a Dogo - an Argentinian breed that is not usually seen in USA.

Happy Reading!