They called us enemy

They-Called-Us-EnemyGeorge Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s—and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In a stunning graphic memoir, Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of over 100,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon—and America itself—in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

[Text from the publisher’s site; see also the backcover]

The second season of the TV series The Terror, subtitled Infamy, was set in a Japanese-American internment camp around old Japanese ghost stories. It was quite interesting (stars-3-5). George Takei, of Star Trek fame, who had experienced the camps in his childhood, was asked to be a consultant and, since he is also an actor, to be a member of the cast. He incorporated a lot of his own experience into the TV series. This comic memoir, where Takei recounts the whole traumatic experience of the internment camps, could be a good companion book to the TV series.

They-Called-Us-Enemy-banner

The storytelling is excellent as it not only chronicles the daily life of his family inside the camp, how he felt as a four-year-old and what was the impact on his later life, but it also tells us of the journey that brought him to want to share this story. However, if it is presented has a book for all ages, it should probably more appropriately targets a teenage readership as the story is very serious, with references to policies and politics that kids would probably not understand.

The artwork is generally nice but often a little crude and simplistic with an overuse of screentone to add shades and textures. The story would have been better served by a more professional graphic style. However, this look was probably chosen to make the book feel more accessible.

Overall, it is a very interesting comics about an important (but little known) part of American history that should be a mandatory reading in civics or history classes all over America. A must (particularly now).

They called us enemy, co-written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker. Marietta: Top Shelf Comics (imprint of IDW Publishing), July 2019. 208 pages, 6.5 x 19 in, $US 19.99 / $C 25.99. ISBN 978-1-60309-450-4. For teenage readers (12+). stars-3-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2019 George Takei

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Jour du souvenir

Souvenons-nous de quoi, au juste ?
Que de chair à cannon il a fallut servir…
Pour les intérêts d’un empire mourant ?

Qu’on nous avait promis que ce serait…
Une guerre pour qu’il n’y en ait plus jamais ?
Que pour les autres on meure vaillamment…
Mais refusons d’agir pour assurer l’avenir ?

Moi, j’oublierais volontiers ces temps injuste !

Morwajal
2019/11/11

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Festival Végane 2019

VeganFest2019

Cette année, je suis encore aller faire un tour au Festival Végane de Montréal (je l’avais aussi visité en 2016 et 2018). Non pas que je sois moi-même végane (partisan du véganisme ou végétalisme intégral, à ne pas confondre avec les habitants de la planète Vega — les méchants de Goldorak ou du système stellaire) mais par simple curiosité, pour explorer les nouvelles tendances de l’alimentation santé. 

Le Festival Végane de Montréal se tenait donc au Palais des Congrès les samedi 21 et dimanche 22 septembre 2019. La foule était au rendez-vous et il y avait de nombreux exposants — malheureusement d’année en année il semble que ce soit toujours les même. La salle de conférence était un peu plus accessible que l’année précédente mais on y retrouvait surtout des démonstrations culinaires (alors que les premières années il y avait surtout des organisations socio-politiques qui parlaient des enjeux véganes: protection des animaux, agriculture urbaine, lutte contre l’industrie pharmaco-agro-alimentaire, etc. — cette année ces organisations étaient relégué à la dernière allée, au fond du salon). C’était donc un peu décevant mais tout de même toujours assez informatif…

Continuez la lecture (plus de détails et photos) après le saut de page >>

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About Greta

She was in the news a lot lately, but I didn’t pay much attention until I saw her speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit this morning. It was an incredible speech, beautiful and emotional. It shows that she is an incredible girl.  Greta Thunberg was raised in a strongly cultured environment (her grandfather is/was an actor, her father is an actor and writer and her mother is an opera singer!) so it is not a surprise that she is well awaken to the state of the world. She started protesting alone, but finally won many followers. She gaves many speeches (you can also watch her TED speech) and published a book about them. She crossed an ocean in a sail boat to come deliver that latest speech. And yet, she is just a teenager.

She also received lots of criticisms from morons: they complained about her looks (yes, she’s sixteen but looks like she’s ten), about her mental health (she suffers from Asperger’s syndrome), accused her of not writing her own speeches, of being manipulated. She responded that such personal attacks only show that her detractors have “no argument or nothing else to say”. Indeed. And, frankly, who cares? It is simply beautiful to see such idealism, courage and determination in a young person. People should just admire that and not try to ruin it merely because they are mean or jealous.

Some people also complained that such idealism won’t amount to anything. Yes, it’s cute to see a teenage girl do all those things, but it will not move the mountains that need to be moved to succeed in saving the planet. At best, they say, it is a distraction. After all, mass shootings like Sandy Hook or Stoneman Douglas H.S. (despite the short-lived activism of some of its students) failed to change anything in the U.S. gun law… Why should it be different with this wave of protestations and manifestations ? To that I answer: Why not? What do we have to lose as we realize more and more that our planet is indeed on fire? Certainly, it cannot do any harm. It will build up and eventually the back of the proverbial camel will break…

Greta actions are great. They are an inspiration to all, but mostly to her own generation. Yes, the young people tend to be apathetic and rarely vote or express opinion. But that seems to be changing now. The U.S. mid-term elections of 2018 is the proof as more young people, more women and more minorities voted. Also more women, more minorities and younger candidates (including the infamous “Squad”) were elected. It shows that the ground is finally moving and activism is changing. Hopefully, the ball will keep rolling and might bring real change this time. And Greta will be a great inspiration.

Greta’s Books

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference (Penguin, 2019, 80 pg, $9.99): a collection of Greta’s speech. [ AmazonGoodreadsPenguinWikipediaWorldCat ]

Rejoignez-nous : #grèvepourleclimat (Kero, 2019, 30 pg, $4.95): extracts from Greta’s speech at the 2019 Davos forum. [ AmazonGoodreadsWorldCat ]

Our house is on fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis, by Malena Ernman with Greta, Beata and Svante Thunberg. (Penguin, 288 pg, £16.99, to be released on 2020/03/05; originally published in Swedish on 2018/08/23): A biography of Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman where, among other things, she recounts (with the collaboration of her husband Svante Thunberg and daughters Greta and Beata) how Greta came to be involved in climate activism. [ GoodreadsPenguinWikipedia ]

All this reminds me of Bill Nye The Science Guy’s speech about the planet being on fire on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2019/05/12). Here’s the short clip but you can find the whole video on Youtube:

Will the people in power finally listen? Nothing individuals like us can do will help much (of course we can do our part with the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle — and we can get involved in activism!). The only solution is political: we must pressure — by all means possible — the politicians so they enact the necessary changes to save the planet, to save ourselves. Changes like stopping being so darn dependant on fossil energy, like investing all we can in renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.), like passing laws to force everyone to do their part (like forbidding gas engines in car starting in five years from now for new cars, and ten years from now for ALL cars — switching to electric or fuel cell engines), or like really sticking to the Paris Agreement, like promoting sustainability at all levels, like changing society itself, like the Green New Deal, etc. This is our last chance. For the future generations.

Unfortunately, it probably won’t change anything. Humans are stupid and because of that we are most likely doomed. However, we are also driven, moved and inspired by hope…

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Puzzling young TV drama

This week-end I watched a few episodes of two puzzling Teen/YA TV drama with enigmatic titles.

Pandora

pandora-posterSet in the year 2199, a young woman who has lost everything finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy where she learns to defend the galaxy from intergalactic threats.

The first one is titled Pandora and is a Star Trek wannabe with poor special effects and quite average acting — after all they are young adults in college so maybe it’s normal if they sound contrived. With just two episodes it is difficult to judge the writing, but so far it is intriguing enough that I might watch more. After all, series like the original Star Trek or Doctor Who have managed very well despite their low-budget production. Everything is in the writing. We shall see. It airs Tuesdays on The CW at 20:00 ET. It’s too early to have a rating on aggregators (but IMDb gives it a 3.8). stars-2-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ CW GoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

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Euphoria

MV5BMDMzZDkyNzEtYTY5Ni00NzlhLWI4MzUtY2UzNjNmMjI1YzIzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_A group of high school students navigates drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love and friendship.

The second is a teen drama based on a 2012 Israeli series and is titled Euphoria. So far seven episodes have already aired but I’ve seen only the latest. It is diverse, brutal, scary even, sometimes psychedelic, but seems brilliantly written with generally pretty good acting. It is really modern: filmed video clip style, crazy fast-paced, with lots of violence and nudity, and, of course, it is making use of social media as narrative device. The main character is a bipolar drug addict who’s trying to make sense of her world… A little exhausting to watch, but promising. It airs Sundays on HBO at 22:00 ET. It has been rated 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2 on IMDb. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleHBOIMDbWikipedia ]

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Gentleman Jack

GentlemanJack-posterThis is another fascinating TV series that I am compelled to introduce to my readership. HBO has finally realized what PBS knew for a long time: well produced costume drama British TV series can be very popular in America too! They are now starting to co-produced Brit TV series in order to bring them over this side of the Atlantic, but their choice of titles is more edgy or controversial than what PBS is doing. And I am very grateful for that.

Gentleman Jack tells the story of Anne Lister, a landowner and industrialist from Halifax, West Yorkshire. She is known for being the first well-documented “modern lesbian”, as she left coded diaries chronicling in details her daily life, including her romantic relationships and the workings of her Shibden Hall estate and business. Set in 1832, the series mostly tells about her venture in coal mining and her relationship with Ann Walker. It started mainly for the challenge of the conquest and partly for financial interest, but she quickly becomes quite fond of the wealthy heiress. First, I was shocked by how she was planning to win her affection, but I quickly realized that if a man would have been doing the same thing it would have appeared totally normal! 

The acting is excellent (Lister is played by Suranne Jones and Walker by Sophie Rundle) and the story (created by Sally Wainwright) is well written and quite funny. The series is interesting not only because it displays the beautiful English countryside and makes us discover the eccentricity, boldness and modernity of Anne Lister, but above all because it opens a window on the way of life of the English country folks and small nobility at a time when everything is about the change. 

Gentleman Jack is an excellent historical drama that deserves your attention. It was well received by the critics (with ratings of 8.0 on IMDb and of 87% / 93% on Rotten Tomatoes). The first eight-episode season just ended, but it is still streaming on HBO. A second season has already been announced. I can’t wait to hear again the ending credits’ catchy tune by O’Hooley & Tidow!stars-4-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleHBOIMDbOfficialWikipedia ]

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Chernobyl

Chernobyl_2019_MiniseriesI really must bring this TV mini-series to your attention. Chernobyl is a superb five-part historical TV drama co-produced by HBO and Sky UK. It is about the events that led to and the aftermath of the nuclear reactor disaster that occurred in north Ukraine on April 26th 1986. The story focuses mostly on the scientist Valery Legasov (played by Jared Harris) who is sent to the site of the disaster, along with the Council of Ministers’ deputy chairman Boris Shcherbina (played by Stellan Skarsgård), to assess the damage and oversee the cleanup effort. Legasov also ask his colleague Ulana Khomyuk to investigate the cause of the reactor explosion. 

The storytelling is surprisingly accurate (although a few facts were tweeked for dramatization purpose). It tells a dark, somber story but, on top of that, the ambiance of the show itself (the sets that look like you were really in the 80s soviet era, the solemn music, the slow pace of the show) create a dark, oppressive (almost horrific) feeling that is quite depressive. However, that’s what makes the show so spot on. 

The accuracy is such that even the selected actors looks like the part (although they are — and speak — mostly British English, but the acting is so good that you don’t really care). The only character that didn’t historically exist was Ulana Khomyuk (played by Emily Watson) which was created as a composite character representing all the scientists that worked along Valery Legasov. They even shot in Ukraine and Lithuania to get the soviet vibe of the location. The last episode concludes with a “where are they now”-style epilogue that explains what happened after and shows real footage of the characters and events (on a backdrop of gloomy Russian chorus). It is really chilling!

It is an incredible miniseries, very well crafted, visually stunning in how everything look so drab and grey, quite compelling and that rings so true. It shows the extent of the human stupidity and the deep flaws of the USSR society and political system. However, the message is also extremely pertinent for today as it poses the question “What is the cost of lies?” (in an obvious reference to the Trump White House)… A must see.

I am not the only one who greatly appreciated this series as it was very well received by the critics (ratings of 9.6 on IMDb and of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes). To learn more about this series you can check the accompanying podcast where screenwriter Craig Mazin discuss the production (available on Youtube, Spotify or Apple) and the series is still available for streaming on HBO.stars-4-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleHBOIMDbWikipedia ]

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