Saturday, May 27, 2006

Movie review - Sound and Fury

I watched this movie which was released in 2000 on the Independent Film Channel and I can't get it off my mind. It is a documentary about the hot issue (among the deaf community) of cochlear implants. If you are not familiar with this procedure, it is a device which is implanted in near the auditory nerve and connected to a receiver under the skin. An appliance is used like a hearing aid, but instead of simply amplifying the sound and sending it through the ear canal, the sounds are processed by a small computer and sent into the cochlear implant to be "heard" by the auditory nerve directly. This can restore a great measure of hearing to certain deaf people.

So the hot topic is that now, many children who are born deaf to hearing parents are being given these implants while they are infants so that they have the greatest opportunity to learn spoken language. These kids can hear when the device is on, and often do not learn sign language or perceive of themselves as deaf. And this is shaking the deaf community and causing fear that deaf culture itself is threatened and will become obsolete.

The documentary follows the incredibly complex and interesting family dynamics of two related families who are considering cochlear implants for their children. The fathers of each family are brothers themselves. One of them is deaf, his wife is deaf and so are his three children. And now his 5 year old daughter is saying that she wants to have a cochlear implant so that she can hear the world around her and better communicate with her hearing friends. The other father is hearing but signs (due to his brother being deaf). His wife is also hearing, but her parents are deaf. Her first language was sign language and she spent years in speech therapy so that she could overcome the speech patterns that she learned from her parents. They now have twin sons, one of whom is deaf and they are considering getting him a cochlear implant as soon as possible.

What ensues as the documentary follows this extended family is chaos as everyone has an opinion about the "right" thing to do for the kids. One set of grandparents, (hearing) are in favor. The other set is against (deaf). At the heart of everyone's opinion are deep-seated emotions about what it means to be deaf. The children's identity and culture is at stake. It is a fascinating look at an emotional issue and at the end, I want to know what happened to each one down the road. It has been six years since this movie was made and decisions were reached about whether to subject their kids to surgery or not. Fortunately, I found out by looking at the movie's website that they have just produced an update film. It is only 29 minutes, but I am dying to see it. At this point, you can only order it from the filmmakers.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My apologies

I have been so neglegent in writing on my blog lately. But here is the latest.

Denis has been hard at work in our garden. He completed the little rock wall that now surrounds our front planting bed (that was more work than he was anticipating) and now we have little creeping plants put in along the edge of the wall. See how it looked before the wall in a previous post.

We also mail ordered three roses and planted them. The last rose to go in our front yard is called Velvet Fragrance, and we put one shrub rose and one climber in the back yard. One is Rosalina Rugosa and the other is Darlow's Enigma . We planted some lavendar and california poppies together for a nice low maintenance area. But so far, the california poppies (which were planted as seeds) have not made a showing.

I've been watching a Spanish language soap opera to keep my spanish up. It is surprisingly effective. I am understanding more of the dialogue now than I did at the beginning. I have a coworker who is also watching it, so we get to talk about it together. The soaps in spanish are not perpetual like they are here. They last for a certain number of episodes and then they end.

We finally bought our plane tickets for a summer vacation that we have been planning for a while. We are flying into St. Louis, MO to visit friends that we each have there for a week. Then we will meet up with my brother and his family to drive back to Ohio with them and stay for a week. It's exciting that we get to combine the two trips with an open-jaw flight. Denis' best friend from high school lives in Columbia, MO. Within the last year a friend of mine and his wife bought a bed and breakfast in the same town! So we will get to visit two good friends during the same trip. Then, it just so happens that my brother and his family will be in St. Louis for a Partylite candle convention. (my sister-in-law sells it). That is why we will be able to drive with them to Ohio. It is all very providential and we're very happy. That will be in July.

I think that is all the news for today.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Movie Review - Trekkies 1 and 2

This is a two for one special review. Denis and I recently watched these two documentaries that go behind the scenes at several Star Trek conventions and interview the die-hard fans. I had seen the first one a few years ago and wanted Denis to see it too when I discovered that they had made a sequel. If you like funny, quirky movies about interesting people, then you will enjoy these. I have a fondness in my heart for Star Trek that dates back to college when a friend got me hooked on The Next Generation (TNG to those in the know). I never was able to get into Deep Space 9, but I did like Voyager. The latest Enterprise did not live up to the dynasty in my opinion. But suffice it to say that I am enough of a fan that I can relate a bit to the people portrayed in these movies.

Here are some of the people you will meet in Trekkies 1: the woman who wore her Star Fleet uniform to the Whitewater trial each day for jury duty, the very bright but geeky teenager who designed his own uniform for use in his own movie, the dentist who has decorated his office completely with Star Trek paraphernalia and makes his employees dress in uniforms, the young woman whose cat is named Bones and attends the conventions with her, and many, many more.

In Trekkies 2, we go to conventions around the world. Yes, there are fans all over, even in France where, apparently, you have to hide your fandom or face ridicule. The fans in the former Yugoslavia were touching when they described the hope that they have found in the ideals portrayed in Star Trek. We also get to revisit some of the extreme fans from Trekkies 1. Yes, the jury member is still wearing her uniform to work each day. The teenager who gained a measure of fame from his scenes in the first movie is now 21 and married.

All in all, both films are enjoyable to watch and I highly recommend them.