Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I had a good Christmas. My sister and her two kids came for about a week. After mass at my niece’s high school on Christmas Eve we went downtown for dinner with my dad’s side of the family. Christmas itself started with a special breakfast, opening presents and later finished with a great dinner.

I worked on Wednesday to Friday and am getting a lay of the land. Wednesday I worked at the other branch. It has a completely different vibe. Both are pleasant, but it’s interesting how though they’re so close to each other, there’s a discernible difference. I had more time in the makerspace and I’m finding it quite fun to learn what can be done with the various machines.

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A must-see

I lucked out and got to go to The Woman in Black at the Royal George Theater on Saturday. I got to watch a Humphrey Bogart movie, All Through the Night and Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress I recommend all of these.

Also on Sunday I explored a church from a list of the Must-See Chicago churches. St. Hedwig’s was stunning. It’s wonderful to see that the community supports this treasure.

I’m savoring the hygge and slower pace of the post-Christmas season.

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St Hedwig Church

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My parents’ visit to St. John Cantius in the fall inspired me to seek out the most splendid churches in Chicago. I found a useful article  to help me form a list. My first church was St. John Cantius where I attended my first Latin mass.

Figuring the Christmas decorations would still be up, today I went to St. Hedwig in the Bucktown neighborhood.

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The church stuns with its beauty as you first enter. Lots of gold and gorgeous polished wood. Ceilings were painted with biblical stories just as they are in Europe.

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St. Hedwig’s Nativity scene 

The three Wise Men are due to appear on Epiphany, January 6th.

You can read the St. Hedwig parish history here.

Sunday masses are at:

8:00 am in English
9:30 am in Polish
11:00 am in English
1:00pm in Spanish

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2019 Resolutions

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I realize most people don’t keep New Years Resolutions. So some might say, “Why bother?” An Act One friend Jan takes a different approach. She doesn’t make exercise and health resolutions, e.g. lose 10 lbs., or exercise every day since you should do that anyway. Instead she uses resolutions as a little nudge to do something she wants to do anyway. Jan resolves to go to lunch once a week with a friend. It’s something she wants to do, but life can get so hectic that when the chores pile up, that was the first thing to get eliminated from her schedule.

In that vein, I’ve been resolving to watch one old movie, i.e. a film made before 1990, each week. Sometimes, I don’t make it and I always stipulated that when I was in the midst of grading that was off the list. I’m going to continue with this resolution and add a couple more.

So here’s my list:

  • Continue to watch one classic movie a week.
  • Learn more about economics by reading three books on the subject and taking one free online economics or business course.
  • Get Japanese for Busy People I: Romanized from the library and review Japanese three times a week.
  • Resume my online Great Books Book Club.

Are you making any resolutions? Please share your thoughts on New Years’ Resolutions below.

Hidden Fortress

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The Hidden Fortress (1958) is another Kurosawa masterpiece that blew me away. Like characters from Shakespeare, two pusillanimous peasants bicker over how irritating they are to each other as they head home after escaping from a wartime prison. One stumbles upon some gold hidden in a stick in a river. An emblem on the stick shows that the gold is the fortune from the clan that lost the war. Greed overcomes the men and they start trying to get all the sticks they can. They become obsessed and go back and forth between cooperation and conflict over the gold.

This ancient, Japanese vaudeville act is soon upset when a strange man sees them hunting for the gold. Eventually, they learn he’s a legendary general who’s intent upon saving an exiled princess and returning her to safety and restoring her clan. As foolish as the peasants are, they do occasionally come up with clever ideas. The gruff general realizes their counterintuitive plan to go through enemy territory could work since no one expects them to take that route.

What follows is a story of courage and honor, peppered with outstanding action scenes, wit and just plain foolishness that made me smile. Toshiro Mifune is outstanding as the general, who’d probably love to ditch the peasants but keeps them with him just because they’d probably do more harm to his mission and themselves if left to their own devices.

The princess exudes force and honor as no other character, I can recall. Raised like a boy, she’s strong, brave and willful. Kurosawa shows that she cares for her people because she insists that the general buy one of her subjects who’s been sold to a brothel owner even though taking another person on their journey is risky. Various viewers have noted that the princess is played by an actress whose career never took off and that the performance is rather one dimensional. I see what they mean, but I don’t think that one weak performance hurt the film that much. The princess was quite compelling and not just a stereotypical character who needed saving so the story had momentum.

The one thing about the princess that puzzled me was that for some reason her eyebrows were drawn on at 45° angles. They were very dark and dominated her face.

Like many Kurosawa films, The Hidden Fortress has great power and grab me emotionally. All in all, The Hidden Fortress is a classic that’s not to be missed. It inspired George Lucas when he conceived of Star Wars. 

Which Way Challenge

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Chinese waterway, in a River Town near Shanghai

The Which Way Challenge, that Cee began, has been picked up by the Sonofthebeach69 blogger.  The beauty of it is that it’s free form. You can include images of doors, gates, roads, streets exits, signs, paths, waterways, you name it.

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In Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Woods in Northern California

See more Which Way photos by clicking here.