Saturday, January 30, 2016

Skid Row Diary 48

14        December          2003              Sunday             Day 155

   “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.” -President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961

   Everybody is sick. With cold, flu, or plague. I confirmed this at lunch with John.
   “Everybody’s sick,” he said.
   I had gotten up just prier to coming down to lunch, so I didn’t have a great deal to say for myself.
   “I’m going to Pasadena,” I said, trying to break the tension.
   “It’s raining,” Mr. Olson said, who was sitting with us. Mr. Olson is of Japanese ancestry, a fellow vet who comes from Oregon. He’s been here 14 months and nobody’s bothered him about leaving yet.
   Oh, to be Japanese!
   “I know,” I said. “I’ll have to take my umbrella.”
   That issue successfully dealt with, I set about my task. I caught the 18 bus downtown, took the Red Line to Union Station, and leaped aboard the Gold Line. It took me right to the Park in Pasadena.
   Mr. Olson was right. It was raining. But not too hard. My umbrella defeated the sky’s attempt to pelt my pate with water traveling at 10 meters per second. I was able to traverse Central Park, and made my way to Barnes and Noble on Colorado Blvd.
   “The ultimate Potato Cookbook,” for Vera Monzano, John’s lovely mother. “The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1,” for John himself. “The Angels Within Us,” for my Rumanian angel, Aurica, and not a damn thing for McCree. He hadn’t even gotten me a birthday card, the miserable bastard. Nobody else did either though. Well, he’s just to miserable and pigheaded for a present. When he learns to get along with people more, well then we’ll see.
   I got a copy of “The Brothers Karamazov,” Dostoyevsky’s final novel (he died just four months after it’s publication), a complete Lord of the Rings trilogy in one book, for myself, and a copy of Maxim Magazine, with the lovely and talented Shannon Elizabeth on the cover, as well as the British edition of SFX.
   The SFX magazine would have arresting photos of nubile space bunnies within it, such as Xenia Seeberg, Jane Fonda, Rose Mcgowan, and Alyssa Milano. I got the magazine though for the investigative and well conceived articles.
   There was a nice picture of Laura Harris in there as well. She qualifies as a space bunny due to her role in Robert Rodriguez’s “The Faculty,” in which she played a role playing, aquatic, shape shifting alien, bent on world domination.
   Laura states that people now can conceivably live to up 140 years old, so she takes lots of vitamins.
   It’s good to plan ahead.  
   I returned to my room with all of my stuff. The rain had stopped trying to attack me by then.
   I wrote. The radio told me that American forces had captured Saddam Hussein alive, yesterday, just outside of his home town. He had been hiding in a shallow, grave like hole in the ground. He had a gun, but gave up without firing a shot.
   Everybody’s all excited that he was caught. I’m rather amazed that he allowed himself to be taken alive. Faced in his dilemma, dear reader, what would you do? It’s a hard thing to end one’s own life. I mean after a while you sort of get used to being alive, and no matter what trials and tribulations you may experience, it certainly is more comforting to remain alive rather than face the huge eternal uncertainty that is death.
   And it probably hurts to die as well.
   If our purpose in invading Iraq had been to topple Saddam, then that had been achieved months ago, and concluded yesterday. But that had not been out purpose. No we went there to find those pesky weapons of mass destruction that apparently had been a threat to us somehow.
   As of yet, no weapons of mass destruction. As of yet, no proven ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.
   In my opinion Saddam should be torn apart very slowly, over a very long period of time, while being shown the evidence of his crimes, those committed in his name. But is America better off for having disposed him? Are the Iraqi people?
   No really. I want to know. Please tell me.
   There’s plenty more despots and mass murderers to be dealt with. Should the U.S. military be used to basically do Amnesty International’s job in other countries as well? An interesting question. Perhaps that would be a victory for global human rights. But probably not. The military is to clumsy to be of much use in that endeavor.
   Congress seems determined to enlarge the armed forces, despite resistance from the Pentagon. Got to keep that money going to Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, on and on, with our only conceivable military threat an increasing tendency toward authoritarian rule in Russia. But does might equal right as a foreign affairs policy?
   Of course it does!
   And delightedly so!
   Watch out Iran. We’re right next door.
   I watched the usual Sunday night shows. “The Simpsons,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Arrested Development,”  “The Ten Commandments.” I watched the last half of “Barton Fink.” I witnessed John Goodman steal the whole film. Then I went to sleep.
   I woke several hours later, coughing and hacking, and trying to catch my breath. When I calmed down I returned to sleep.
   Perchance to Dream I was in psychiatrist’s office, lying back on a recliner, telling her that I’d been having these strange dreams.
   “What kind of dreams Mr. Joyce?” she asked. I looked over at her and noticed she looked almost exactly like Famke Janssen, the lovely and talented Dutch actress, director, screenwriter and former fashion model.
   “It’s like I’m dreaming in chapters...”
   “Chapters? How so?”
   “It’s like a old time movie serial. In my dreams, this girl, who calls herself Maya, but is really the lovely and talented actress Suzanne Lloyd, is a carnival dancer, who keeps trying to lure me into a gymnasium, where Laura Harris turns into the giant, amphibious creature from outer space, who tries to turn me into her slave, but I escape...”
   “Interesting. Please, continue...”
   “Then Maya takes me to the roller coaster, where she tries to scare me to death.”
   “How could a simple roller coaster scare anyone to death, and why would she want to? You can see how silly and harmless this dream is...”
   “In the dream I have a heart condition that would allow me to die very quickly if I get to excited, like if I get too scared. And Maya works for Boeing.”
   “I see.”
   “I don’t think you’ll be able to help me.” And I got to leave, opening her office door only to see her secretary was Ms Lloyd. She smiled at me evilly. Terrified, I ran back into Ms Janssen’s  office and jumped out of the window. Fortunately her office was on the first floor, so I picked myself off and got back into the race, screaming into the night, as I heard Rod Serling say “They say a dream takes only a second or so, yet in that second, a man can live a lifetime. He can suffer and die, and who’s to say which is the greater reality? The one we know or the one in dreams? Between heaven, the sky, the earth, or in the...”
   “Shut the fuck up Rod!” I screamed.
   “Okay Rick.”
   And I kep running, never to be seen again...

15     December        Monday         Day 156

   I got up at 7:00 to meet Ron. We met in the cafeteria, and he watched me eat breakfast. At 7:30 we walked up to the clinic, arguing all of the way.
   “We was in Iraq because they had the capability to shoot missiles at us if they wanted to make them,” Ron maintained.
   “No we didn’t,” I said. “We were there because we were told Saddam Hussein already had weapons of mass destruction in his arsenal, just waiting to be used.”
   “No! Man, I’m telling ya Rick. Trust me. I saw it on Nightline!”
   This is another example of taking a position in reference to another position that is based on hearsay, anecdotal evidence, or one that is unsubstantially proven. It sounds good (sometimes... not in the above example), but has little truth or depth behind it.
   “We can’t go to war on the basis of what we think someone might do! For their perceived intentions.”
   “Well,we did!”
   He had me there.
   John was late opening the VFW office, so we talked to another benefits counselor.
   “VA unemployment? There is no such thing,” he told Ron, who, of course, insisted that there was.
   “A guy in my apartment building got it. He gets eight hundred and forty seven dollars a month. Are you sure?”
   “I’m positive. The VA does not pay veterans for being out of work. The only type of help your’re speaking about are compensation payments for service connected disabilities, or pensions. In order to be qualified for a pension you must be sixty percent disabled.”
   “And have served during a time of war?” I asked.
   “And have served during a time of war, yes.”
   “Are you sure,” Ron was still fishing.
   “Of course I’m sure. This is my job.”
   We went downstairs to find Sam, the CWT rep. He’s been gone for over a week now, and we hear he’s suffered a similar fate as my former case worker, Labren. He’s either flipped out, or relapsed.
   The ASAP desk lady referred us to Dr. Lo, who was handling Sam’s business for the time being.
   We told Dr. Lo that Sam had told us to see him about entering the CWT program. Lo said he’d check into it and get back to us.
   I walked to the housing trust office and sat around, waiting. I’ve smarted up recently, and have brought my writing materials with me, so when the phenomena of the time waiting while those who came after me were served first, would not be wasted.
   When I was the last one left, and could not possibly be ignored anymore, I was told to come back tomorrow to see if there was any openings. I was asking the desk lady about the new St. George Hotel, when Michael came up and asked me how much sober time I had, a question not easily answered. But I certainly had over six months abstinent from alcohol, which was what he actually wanted to know.
   He took me into the back office and gave me a brief interview, and I signed a few forms.
   “Oh, this wasn’t completed.” Michael was talking about the form my case manager had filled out, which he refused to complete, telling me I didn’t need it.
   “If they need further proof I’ll get a notarized letter,” he told me.
   What a dick.
   Michael told me to get it completed. He gave me a form that Labren had completed to show Johnson how it was done. I went and did this. Kenny Johnson’s door was open and he was in there eating peanut butter and crackers. I told him about getting a room, and probably moving in after the first, and gave him the form.
   “But you’re still working with Ms Sanchez, right?” he asked.
   “Oh yes. Very closely.”
   Both Johnson and Sanchez have been about as helpful as an audit from the I.R.S.
   I told him about Lo and CWT, and that I wanted to visit John Monzano and his mom in Camarillo over Christmas.
   “We don’t usually allow passes unless it concerns family reorientation.”
   “Well, they’re pretty much the only family I’ve got,” I told him. He told me to get back to him by the end of the week and he’d let me know.
   I stopped in my room a moment to see what Giselle was wearing, then returned to the trust office. I was the second to last person this time before Michael got back to me. He gave me a big file of papers to take to the Las Americas Hotel on 6th and Alameda. He told me it was a nice place.
   I ate lunch at the cafeteria. Rolled roast beef and mashed potatoes. Then back to ASAP. I was a lot busier than I wanted to be today.
   I received a 12 1/8 x 13 1/8 x 2 3/4 cardboard box from Odaga Corp at the post office.
   At last! Perhaps some news! After using the library computers for several hours I took my prize back to my room to discover what delights awaited within.
   Indeed, there was a letter, two in fact, written on the same piece of paper. One in Spanish and one in English... for gringos probably.
   This is what the one in English said to me:
   “Dear Richard [She calls me Richard] Surwillo: I would like to personally welcome you to my Fan Club. As an official member you will always be up to date with my professional projects as well as my personal life. Your support is very important to me. Thank you for becoming a member and I am sure you will get to know me better. Enclosed you will find:
                                                                      - My official biography
                                                                      - 1 Color picture 9 x 11, autographed
                                                                      - 1 Poster 11 x 17
   Remember you will find the club at In the Fan Club you will find a contact section by E-mail, or you can also leave your message in (305) 460-2203. Your order number is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.”
   I found the three items listed above. The biography was in Spanish, so I could not actually read it... however, I’ve been assured it’s official.
   I studied the two photographs carefully. It was her alright. No doubt about it. The smaller photograph was a picture I’d seen many times before. She was standing in a field of sparse, waist high shrubs, wearing a golden brown, leopard spotted, string bikini, her majestic dark hair swept back over her beautiful shoulders, adorned in a flesh colored headband, hands subtly placed at her lovely waist, deep dark eyes looking directly at the camera, peering through into the inner reaches of one’s soul.
   “With love from Odalys to Rick my #1 fan” was written along the left side, in a colum, the words stacked on top of each other in a strenuously seductive manner.
   This picture, and the letters, are my most prized possessions.
   The larger poster was of Odalys wearing a dark blue, almost black, leather top, very low cut (If I didn’t know better I’d say she was intentionally trying to emphasize her ample breasts and body), and a bikini bottom made of square and triangular bits of gold metal on leather, with blue stones. Her hair styled in long ringlets, falling delicately about her soft, reassuring shoulders. She stood before a wall of blue tile, and once again, was looking straight at me, her full lips slightly parted, as if she were about to say, “Come to me Rick. I need you now.”
   I checked the picture thoroughly to make sure she was all there. When satisfied, I continued on to the the last, unexpected item.
   The letter was dated December 1st, 2003, and hand written in English, which was most useful.
   “Hello Richard.
   Thank you for your
   concern. I am fine.
   My neck hurts sometimes
   But I am okay now
   I am sorry for the time
   but I have a lot of letters
   regarding the same. It’s nice
   to know my fans care.
   Thank you again
   The letter was written on a single piece of blank white paper, very similar to the paper I use to write. I’m hard pressed to find any difference in fact.
   Well. I never expected a personal reply. See what a little cash can do. Especially with women. Before I had actually joined the fan club I had sent two letters a week asking of her condition with no results. As soon as open my wallet a little, bamm! Instant gratification.
   I’m joking of course.
   Odalys, it was very sweet of you to write to me. I will stop bothering you with more letters now, and am very glad and relieved that you are not hurt too badly, but I would like to know a little more of the circumstances surrounding the actual accident. After all, it happened on my home turf. Once again, the next time your in town, call me (you have my number). I’ll be happy to drive you around.
   I wrote, then marveled at Nicole Kidman’s butt in “The Birthday Girl,” and then Kubrick’s “Lolita.” 
   Then to sleep, where I met Odalys in my dreams.
   And we danced the night away.

16      December     Tuesday         Day 157

   I got up late, 10:00 or so. I showered and left the building. I couldn’t get outside without doing so.
   I walked east on 6th Street to Alameda and the Las Americas Hotel.
   A nondescript, brick building, which stands next to a garlic and ginger wholesale outlet, the smell of the two substances permeating the area surrounding the entrance to the building on 6th.
   If I indeed move in here, at least I won’t have to worry about vampires anymore.
   Inside, a young, black gentleman gave me an application to fill out. I sat at a table in the small day room and did just that, filling it out as best as I could. I had forgotten to bring my address book with me, so I told the man at the front desk that I would leave, taking the form with me to be returned later.
   “When will you be back,” he asked.
   “Oh, sometime this afternoon,” I told him.
   He also gave me a form that was to be stamped by DPSS.
   I didn’t want to come back today. I didn’t want to go to the DPSS office. All I really wanted to do was have some fun. And I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one.
   And I wanted to watch “The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, extended version,” which I had found at the library, as preparation to watching “The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King,” tomorrow. But I would wind up spending 3 hours at DPSS, and returning to the hotel.
   But first I walked back to the Weingart for lunch. I showed my Spanish letter from Odalys to the maid, who was suitably impressed. I am now looked up to with awe and respect by the Weingart house service staff.
   I arrived at the DPSS office on 4th Pl, at 12:15, and checked in at Window 7 at 12:20. I have proof of this. I sat down in the large waiting area, as instructed, and began to wait to see my new DPSS case worker, for my name to be called. Fortunately I had brought my notebook and was able to write while waiting.
   An hour and fifty minutes later I was still waiting and writing.
   “Should I be concerned that I haven’t been called yet?” I asked the customer service lady.
   “Not really. Lunch is from eleven thirty to two o’clock, so your worker might just be getting back.”
   I had the Window 7 lady call my worker anyway.
   “Who did you see?” she asked.
   “Who? I haven’t seen anybody yet. I’ve been sitting and waiting to hear my name called.”
   “It says here on the computer that someone has already seen you. You haven’t seen anybody?”
   “No! I sure haven’t.”
   She called someone over and spoke briefly to them.
   “Take a seat. You’re name will be called,” she told me. That was at 2:10.
   At 3:08 I returned to the customer service desk and asked for my worker to be called again. This was done.
   “What do you want?” my worker asked, via the customer service lady.
   “I need this form stamped, and I want to know why I was shorted twenty three dollars on my check last month.”
   “That information cannot be given out today. Come back tomorrow at ten o’clock!” The customer service lady hung up the phone. Apparently my case worker was too busy to hear my reply.
   “I can’t come back tomorrow. It will have to be Thursday.”
   The customer service lady called my case worker again.
   “Come back Thursday at ten o’clock.”
   The Las Americas Hotel is just south of DPSS on Alameda. I walked from 4th Pl to 6th St, and was back in garlic land.
   “I’m glad you came back,” the desk man said. “They were kind of mad at me that I let you take it.”
   “Uh huh.”
   “Is it like a top secret application form that we’re hiding from the Russians, or something?”
   I returned to my lonely room and began watching “The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring,” the first film in the trilogy. I stopped at approximately 30 min into the movie to have spaghetti and meat sauce in the cafeteria.
   Jackie Guerrido was off today, so I didn’t have to worry about the weather. I finished watching the tape near 9:00.
   Let me tell you about “The Lord of the Rings,” and it’s prequel “The Hobbit.” They are four of my favorite books, and have been since I first read them in my late teens. I knew they would make a great live action movie, but the technology at the time did not exist to adequately produce them. Besides, I wasn’t, and still am not, a film director. I was and am an alcoholic and irresponsible person, so I shouldn’t be trusted to get this movie made.
   Some guy made an animated version of less than one half of the story in the late 70‘s, and never finished it
   If Peter Jackson hadn’t come along I would have had to stop drinking, and become a movie producer. However, he did and I didn’t. He made the film so I wouldn’t have to. That was exceptionally considerate of him as I’ve been very busy.
   Okay, when the first film came out in December of 2001, the 19th to be exact, I was supposed to have entered a residential alcohol treatment facility in Pasadena, Grandview, it was called. I had been staying at the bare bones homeless shelter, Union Station, which was keeping me until I got into Grandview. After having waited a month or so, I was given the okay to move in on the 17th. I knew there was a 30 day restriction period during which I would be confined to the premises. That would not do, not with the film opening just two days later.
   Reasonable, mature people would have entered the program and wait 30 days to see the movie. But that’s what a reasonable, mature person would have done, not me.
   I showed up in the morning of the 17th and made the mistake of paying them a first deposit, then told them I had to get some form filled out or something, left and got drunk in a park, then returned, and was dismissed from the program without really having entered it (and the assholes kept my money). Union Station was now closed to me, not sharing my enthusiasm for J.R.R. Tolkien. So I was really homeless at that point. Fortunately, I had a couple of hundred dollars saved from GR, which I quickly went through by staying in a motel on Colorado Blvd., near the City College.
   I was drinking hard liquor rather heavily, which presently I cannot process as I did back when I was a relatively young alcoholic, just starting out. Still, I was in desperate and pathetic shape.   
   I did see “The Lord of the Rings,” though. Several times. Or at least the first half of the film before I usually passed out.
   The first time I saw it I remember getting up to the mines of Moria, then waking up in the psychiatric ward in Huntington Memorial Hospital. I stayed there a day. I didn’t want to leave, but they threw me out as I had no insurance. They referred me to Harbor Light in downtown L.A., and paid a taxi to take me there. I got out of the taxi while still in Pasadena, borrowed some money from friends at Union Station (no small feat), borrowed a bottle of rum from Vons, and went to see “The Lord of the Rings,” again, with much the same result.
   New Year’s Eve was spent drinking stolen booze and sleeping in a very cramped space under an outside staircase across from the hospital. When it got too cold, and began to rain, I couldn’t sleep anymore. I asked the police to arrest me and take me to jail, but they were too busy for my nonsense, with the Rose Parade and all. I spent the night sitting in the emergency room.
   They gave me a warm blanket. A male nurse, Mike, gave me $5. The next day I began my journey to the downtown Harbor Light... and Skid Row.
   Last year was a bit better. “The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers,” debuted on the 18th of December. I was staying at the Cecil Hotel near 7th and Main. I had recently quit my job doing customer service over the phone for parking violators. I was drinking an 18 pack of beer a day, which was much less detrimental to my physical and mental health than hard booze.
   I saw and enjoyed the movie at Citywalk, a tad hung over, suffering from low self esteem, and impending homelessness, my savings quickly disappearing.
   This year things are looking much better. I’m not drinking. My personal growth and self esteem are high. Depression is not an issue for me. I like what I’m writing. I have genuine interests that I believe are not egotistical, and the future looks as manageable as it ever can look.
   So far so good.
   The extended version of the first film I was watching today, I enjoyed very much. Cut out of the theatrical release due to time considerations, scenes that catered to the fans of the novels were included. The gifts of Galadriel to the Fellowship, and Gandalf’s frustration at not being able to open the door at Moria, which I especially enjoyed. New music was written for the scenes, and I think, all things considered and included, it all makes for a better (and longer) movie.
   I meditated after watching it, then went to bed and dreamed I was at a Hobbit dinner party along with Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Miranda Otto, Enya, Sarah Mcleod, and Annie Lennox.
   We were at Bilbo Baggins 111th birthday party with 144 Hobbits of the Baggins’ acquaintance. The strange wizard Gandalf  had provided a fireworks show earlier. Now Bilbo took to the stage.
   “I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
   Then he disappeared and the adventure began.   

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy Birthday Sarah Polley!

The've got only one guy who comes back from the dead. We've got millions". On her film “Dawn of the Dead” going up against Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ” head-to-head at the box office


Picture Legend:

1. Sarah
2. CN Tower
3. Mother Diane
4. Sarah and Michael
5. My favorite picture of her
6. Harry Gulkin in later years
7. In “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”
8. In “Ramona”
9. In “Road to Avonlea”
10. Another favorite picture
11. With, Ian Holm in “The Sweet Hereafter”
12. “Go”
13. In “No Such Thing”
14. in “My Life Without Me”
15. Carrying home one of those Genie Awards
16. In “Dawn of the Dead”
17. “The Secret Life of Words”
18. In “Beowulf & Grendel”
19. “Mr Nobody”
20. With Delphine ChanĂ©ac in “Splice”
21. On the set of “ Stories We Tell”
22. Ms Polley

   It is my great pleasure and honor to give a great big Joyce’s Take happy birthday shout out to one of my favorite actresses and film directors, Ms Sarah Polley!
   Sarah is a Snowback, being born as a small tiny female infant, at a very early age, in the city of Toronto (43° 42′ 0″ N, 79° 24′ 0″ W 43.7, -79.4), which is the capital of the province of Ontario, which is in the country of Canada, which lies just north of us. Some of you may have heard of it.
   Toronto is the most populous city in the entire country of Canada! A lot of people live there as well.
   Toronto is well known for its many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, Wikipedia tells us that one of those structures is the CN Tower, which is now the 3rd tallest tower in the world and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. Imagine that!
   Sarah’s ancestry is rather complicated. Her mom,  Diane Elizabeth MacMillan, was an actress (Anne of Green Gables, Street Legal, Anne of Avonlea), and Michael Polley, also an actor and stunt man, who became an insurance agent after he and Diane began a family.
   Sarah was the youngest of four children, Mark, Joanna, Susy, and John. These little bra... kids,  kept teasing Sarah because she didn’t look like Michael. What their little points and implications  were I have no idea.
   Unfortunately, Sarah lost her mother to cancer two days after her 11th birthday. She was 55 years old.
   "And I had, until I was 11 years old, a mother who made me feel like life was really exciting, that the world was really exciting. That she loved us. That she could find joy even when life had been tragic — and that's so much more than most people get. I feel incredibly grateful for that.”
   I lost my own father at about the age of 11. He was 46.
     It wasn’t until Sarah was 27 that she discovered her biological father was not the man who had raised her as his own, but actually Harry Gulkin, a film and theater producer (“Lies My Father Told Me") from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with whom her mother had had an affair
   "To be honest, I don't see what the point would have been [of] telling me when I was a child about this," Polley tells NPR’s Terry Gross. "I mean, I was growing up as a member of the Polley family and I was very much a part of that family, and I'm not sure what the point would have been in adding all this confusion."
   Knowing her true parentage landed her in bed for two weeks, ill with a long fever. "My body went into shock and sickness, and every time I've gone to Montreal since then, I get really sick," she said. "I think it's a lot to absorb and kinda difficult."
   "I was sort of, at that stage, filled with regret that I had ever investigated this at all, and felt enormously guilty in a way that almost sank me. And it took a friend of mine to point out to me that by discovering this information, I hadn't actually created the situation — or, you know, done anything particularly wrong. But it was hard to come to terms with that because I felt that I was in possession of information that would be really traumatic and hurtful for him and would destroy him.
   "And so I just told him as honestly and clearly as I could, and then was completely staggered and stunned by his response to it, which was so full of compassion for my mother and gentleness and graciousness. In a way, his response to this information was for me what made it a really interesting story. I didn't think the story itself was particularly original, but I think it's very, very unusual for somebody to respond to something a lot of people would call 'betrayal' with a real, true understanding and empathy, and not place blame.
   "His first concern was that we not blame or judge my mother for this — and to candidly look at and communicate issues within the marriage that he was responsible for."
   Sarah followed on in the family business, taking to the Canadian stage as a child, and then appearing in Disney’s “ One Magic Christmas” when she was four.
   When I was four I probably didn’t know what up and down meant.
   She continued on appearing in TV movies or shows, appearing with her dad in Terry Gilliam’s 1988, “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” along with John Neville, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, and Uma Thurman. According to some, the film concerned  "craziness of our awkwardly ordered society and the desire to escape it through whatever means possible."
   I’ll buy that.
   That year the eight year old was cast as Ramona Quimby in the television series “Ramona,” based on the American writer Beverly Cleary's books.   
   That lasted two years, and the very next year she gained national prominence in “Road to Avonlea,” a television series first broadcast in Canada January 7th, 1990 lasting until March 31st, 1996, and in the United States beginning on March 5, 1990 through January of 1997, via Walt Disney’s company.
   Their were a lot of familiar actors that appeared on the show during it’s run, including, but not limited to Christopher Lloyd, Christopher Reeve, Diana Rigg, Dianne Wiest, Eugene Levy, Faye Dunaway, Maureen Stapleton, Meg Tilly, Michael York, Ned Beatty, Peter Coyote, Ryan Gosling, Treat Williams, Stockard Channing, and Diane Elizabeth MacMillan Polley, Sarah’s mom.
   The series made her famous and financially independent, so she never had to go to school, learning of the world at night and on weekends in back alleys, smoke filled pool halls, and barrooms .
   She was hailed as "Canada's Sweetheart" by the media, which is always doing stuff like that.
    At the tender age of 12 (around 1991), Sarah attended an awards ceremony while wearing a peace sign to protest the first Gulf War, George H.W. Bush’s war about oil. Disney executives saw it and asked her to remove it, and she told them basically to go _ _ _ _ themselves with an extra large and unnaturally wide broomstick. Naturally this soured her relationship with Disney, though she continued on “Road to Avonlea” until 1994, when she had to go back to work.
   Disney has blacklisted her ever since making them huge _ _ _ holes.
   In 1994 Sarah had surgery to correct scoliosis, a condition that bends the spine in sort of an “S” shape, which really sucks. I’m glad she got that taken care of.
   Sarah next appeared as Lilly for 13 episodes of the Canadian television show “Straight Up," the show was critically acclaimed as it tackled the unusual scenario of the gritty problems of teenagers living in an urban environment. She won the Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Children's or Youth Program or Series for her work.
   Sarah was always a precocious child, and in 1996 she gave a nomination speech for Kormos at the Ontario New Democratic Party leadership convention. After his death in 2013, she called that the "proudest moment in my life."
   Not being familiar with Canadian politics I looked up Kormos on the Internet machine and discovered that Kormos or Kormoz is the spiritual devil of the Altaic people.
   I’m sorry he passed. I didn’t even know he was sick.
   I don’t mean to make light of Sarah’s proudest moment. My point here is that she was always politically active, to the point few of us would go.
   The year before, she lost two back teeth after being struck by a riot police officer during a protest against the Provincial Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris in Queen's Park in Toronto. She must have been really motivated, and that must have really hurt.
   It was around this time, 1996, Sarah met the Canadian film editor David Wharnsby, and the two hit it off, and began hanging out together. Sex may have been involved, as seven years later the two married.
   She and David both won 2004 Genie Awards, she for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for 2003‘s “My Life Without Me,” and David for Outstanding Achievement in Editing for “The Saddest Music in the World.”
   The pair divorced in 2008, and had no children.
   Back in 1997 Sarah got a big break professionally when she appeared with Ian Holm in “The Sweet Hereafter,” the story of a tragic accident and a law suit. Sarah played an aspiring songwriter who after a bus mishap became paralyzed from the waist down.
   "I was pretty uninterested in acting until I was about seventeen. I wanted to go to university and never think about acting again. I'd been very politically involved for a couple of years and I wanted a break, so I did “The Sweet Hereafter” in 1997. But I ended up completely falling in love with acting".
   She finally got a lot of attention here in the U.S. for that role, and was a favorite at Redford’s  Sundance Film Festival.
  Here's a clip of stills from the film, with Sarah singing the film’s title track.
   Her next films were 1998‘s apocalyptic Canadian black comedy, “Last Night,” and “Go,” the next year, the film were Sarah first came to my attention.
   A sort of drugged out crime/comedy, the film boasts a cast of Katie Holmes, William Fichtner, Jay Mohr, Taye Diggs, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Brando, and Timothy Olyphant. Wikipedia whispers to me that the film was well received. Well I don’t know about that, but I do know it made some money grossing $28.4 million worldwide against a $6.5 million budget, which is a very good profit margin for a small film (that’s why they won’t stop making all of those “Paranormal Activity” films no matter how awful they become, because they make literally tons of money considering how much they cost to make).
   It also has the songs “Magic Carpet Ride,” and "Steal My Sunshine" in it, which makes my heart sing.
   That year she directed her first short film, “The Best Day of my Life,” for the On the Fly 4 Film Festival. She also made a second short film that year, “Don't Think Twice.”
   A guy named  Robert Allen Zimmerman would steal that title and jump back in time to 1962 and write a song using it... the sneaky bastard.
   You may not have know this but Sarah was Cameron Crowe’s first choice for the roll of Penny Lane (I know what you’re thinking. That would be a good name for a song as well) in his 2000 “Almost Famous,” a roll that went instead to Kate Hudson (and more than likely launching her career). Yet Cameron was sad, and considered canceling the whole thing because Sarah wanted to make “The Law of Enclosures,” back in Canada instead.
   “It is important to me to stay in Canada. I used to think it was because I thought it was important to build up an indigenous film industry - but now I realize I'm incapable of living anywhere else. I'm a real homebody.”
  Sarah’s a very smart lady. People tell her that all of the time. She uses words like “indigenous” in casual conversation when many others would use “national,” “home grown,” or “autochthonous.”
   She worked with “Zero Dark Thirty,” director Kathryn Bigelow, in 2000‘s “The Weight of Water,” with Elizabeth Hurley, Catherine McCormack, and Jeff Spicoli. 
   Now for those of you who concern yourselves with technical accuracy, “The Weight of Water,”  premiered at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival, but it was not released in the United States until November 1st, 2002.
   And the molecular weight of water is 18.01528 g/mol.
   If you’re talking about anything else, well, it depends on how much water you have, now doesn’t it?
   She made her monster movie in 2001, “No Such Thing,” with two more of my favorite actresses, Helen Mirren and Julie Christie. 
   I watched “My Life Without Me,” last night, one of the next films she was involved with, and I’m a little sorry I did as it forced me to think, and I hate doing that, especially about mortality, mine or others. It concerns a young wife and mother who learns she is going to die soon. She makes a list, a bucket list as it were, of all the things she must accomplish before the end, and the bulk of the film deals with her achieving that end. It’s beautifully written and directed by Isabel Coixet, and just the words themselves can get one all misty. Sarah’s performance was not less than remarkable, and she certainly deserved the award shes holding onto in the picture above.
   Her style in this film, and all the others I’ve seen her in, is natural, and flowing. I often wonder how I would react when or if my doctor ever told me I was going to die in a relatively short time, and I believe Sarah showed me.
   “I think it takes a lot of focus and determination to stay in a relationship with film and acting that's productive and stimulating. Acting can be the most shallow, vapid things you can do with your life, but it can also be one of the most profound experiences in the world. Even my experience acting as a child is something I'm very ambiguous about. I'm not sure it was the best way for me to spend my time. But at the same time, I probably wouldn't be where I am now without it. And I'm very happy with where I am now.”
   I saw Cate Blanchett’s performance in “Carol,” the night before I saw “My Life Without Me.” I love Cate, and she’s been nominated for many awards for her work in that movie. But I must say her acting, her style, is more calculated, more precise, which certainly works of course. Cate reminds me of my favorite... non-indigenous actor, Laurence Olivier. But Sarah reminds me more of my very favorite home grown actor, who was also very natural, very flowing and effective, Spencer Tracy. And  I always likes Spence best.
   “My Life Without Me” came out in 2003, and also starred Mark Ruffalo, the young actor who is currently making such a name for himself in films like “Foxcatcher,” and “Spotlight.”
   Zombies in 2004. Millions of them.
   Sarah likes zombies it seems. She lists her favorite zombie movies as 1932‘s “White Zombie,”  and George A. Romero's Living Dead films. All of them.
   Do I have a favorite zombie film. No. I have to admit I don’t understand zombies. The reason for the popularity of “The Walking Dead,” is beyond me, although I did like Brad Pitt’s “World War Z.” Now those were some bad ass zombies.
   And we’ve discussed zombies before, here, and here, going so far as to credit Monsanto, the multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Greater St. Louis, Missouri, for their creation (well, they have to come from somewhere, right?!).
   I also enjoyed 2004‘s “Dawn of the Dead,” a remake of Romero’s 1978 “Dawn of the Dead.” As far as zombie movies go, it was pretty good. I liked that Ving Rhames was in it, because I always feel safer and more secure when he’s around. And I liked that Sarah was in it as well, as it was extremely unusual to see her in an actual zombie movie.
   Why did she make it? I can think of several reasons. There’s no reason not to. She likes zombies. Ving Rhames is in it (Ving makes everyone feel safer and more secure). Money, and it was filmed Canada, and thus did not violate her raging agoraphobia. Oh yeah, and they used real zombies (which increased insurance expenditures, but for the sake of authenticity it was certainly worth it. See for your self here).
   Some critics liked it, some not so much, but again, it made a boat load of money in relation to what it cost to make and market. We’re talking $102.4 million against $26 million to produce. And that’s American dollars, none of the Hong Kong stuff. For the pure sweet hell of it let’s add another $26 million to distribute and advertise, making the total production cost almost exactly $52 Million dollars. That means that who ever made this film made a cool $50.4 million to pay taxes on, which is pretty cool.
   However the film received no Academy Award nominations. I know what you’re thinking. The Academy should have a zombie category. Perhaps in the future.
   Sarah teamed up again with Isabel Coixet, along with Tim Robbins and Julie Christie in 2005‘s “The Secret Life of Words.” I haven’t seen this movie yet, but look forward to soon. She was nominated as Best European Actress by the European Film Academy for her role as Hanna.
   2005 saw her as the witch Selma in “Beowulf & Grendel,” which may or may not have something to do with the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. Pre “300,” Gerard Butler had the part of Beowulf, Ingvar Eggert SigurĂ°sson as Grendel.   
   William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes, "The film's near-fatal flaw is its dialogue, which had to be invented wholesale from the Old English text. It alternates between sounding stagy and anachronistically hip – with more overuse of the F-word than any two Samuel L. Jackson movies.”
   Wow, I’ve got to see this film!
[on movie critics] "There are a few who are not nice and they say things that are harsh...but they always help me to become a better actor."
   The next year Sarah made her feature film directorial debut in “Away from Her,” which starred Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent.
   Sarah said she was on the flight back from working on “No Such Thing,” in Iceland when she read the Alice Munro short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" in The New Yorker.
   If she said that I certainly have no reason to doubt her.
   "I was so unbelievably moved by the story. I had just finished working with Julie Christie, and as I read, I kept seeing Julie's face in the character of Fiona."
   "I am certainly not one of those people who reflectively thinks about adapting stories; I just want to leave the things I love alone. But this fascinated me. I read the story and I saw the film and I knew what the film was."
   I have to own up to being one of those people who reflectively thinks about adapting stories, but I strive one day to achieve the purity of consciousness and heart that envelopes Sarah so effortlessly, and I”m completely sincere when I say this.
   Maybe one day.
   The film received universal acclaim from critics, which is never a bad thing. The movie review  aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, which collects different reviews from many sources and aggregates them, listed “Away from Her,” as the best film of 2007, with 95% of critics giving the movie positive notices, based on 128 reviews. I agree. 
   For any director, that’s pretty good, but on your first try, that’s simply amazing. And not easy.
   “I think that what a lot of first-time filmmakers don't realize is that they are the least experienced person on that set. Everybody else has been doing their job for years, so the whole act of playing the filmmaker, playing the person in command, is a charade.”
   The film was nominated for eight Genie Awards, and won seven out of eight categories for which it was nominated, including Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Pinsent), Best Actress (Christie), Best Supporting Actress (Kristen Thomson), Best Adapted Screenplay and the Claude Jutra Award for best feature film by a first-time director.
   Sarah certainly has a lot of those Genie’s, doesn’t she.
   And here in the States she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
   About that she said,  “I'm in total disbelief. I'm thrilled but kind of in shock too. It's been such a strange year and I'm bowled over by the life of the film. It's more than I could have ever hoped. This now adds a very surreal element to it.”
   On August 23rd, 2011 Sarah married Canadian law clerk David Sandomierski. They have two daughters, which will cause them immense trouble and joy throughout the years.
   In 2012 Sarah explored her family’s own secrets, including the situation with her father and herself in the documentary “Stories We Tell.”
   “I think that, for me, it was really important to not leave the construction of the film out. Because it's a film about storytelling, and how we tell stories and why we tell stories. I thought it was really important to include the process of making this film itself in the film. And some of that involves some rather unflattering and ruthless moments for me — like directing my dad when he's ... pouring his heart out, basically.
   You do get into this mode, I think, when you're telling a story — or certainly when you're making a film — where you can kind of lose your sense, or your barometer, for what's human or humane. And certainly I think there are a few moments in the film where I'm directing my dad, where I don't come off that well. But I certainly come off as somebody who's trying to tell a story above all else."
   Come, listen to her talk about this...
   Many thanks Ms Polley for letting me spend this little amount of time with you. All of us here at Joyce’s Take wish you and yours continued good health and fortune, and of course, a very Happy Birthday.

   "I think you have to keep your distance from mainstream Hollywood in order to be a normal human being. I mean, I work there, and I like being there, but I love having an anonymous life. I think there's definitely such a thing as being too famous.”