Expanding possibilities for showings of CODEBREAKER

I have earlier talked about the film CODEBREAKER, which is a film about the gifted mathematician and scientist Turing, who was responsible for breaking the Enigma Code.

After crowds enthusiastically raved about the film from coast-to-coast, TODPix is making it available in theaters around the country on December 6th. Using TODpix, a unique theater on-demand system, you can bring CODEBREAKER to your city by creating an event at a theater near you.

Here’s how you do it: Go to http://www.todpix.com/codebreaker.

If there’s a screening already set up for your city, go ahead and buy tickets! If you don’t see a screening yet, here’s what you do:

REQUEST A SCREENING: Click on the button, select your city and theater and we’ll immediately get the request. We’ll then set up the event for you and let you know as soon as it is ready to go.

RESERVE YOUR TICKETS: Once the event is set up, you can reserve your ticket(s).

GET THE WORD OUT: Now the fun part…let all of your friends and colleagues know about the screening and ask them to join you! They’ll in turn let their friends know and before you know it we have a crowd! Once 50 people have reserved tickets “It’s a go” and your event is booked!

They already have two events planned for Dec. 6th @ 7:30 pm at the AMC Empire 25 in NYC  and the AMC Loews Georgetown14 in Washington DC .  So if you live there and haven’t seen CODEBREAKER (or have seen it and want to see it again!) you can buy your tickets now. And please don’t forget to share with your friends

Film: Private Romeo

In looking for a film to watch on Netflix.com, I came across this film Private Romeo, a film that was described as a take on Romeo and Juliet at a military academy. I was expecting a film similar to how She’s the Man was written based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, where the characters and places have the character names and place names from the original and the story of the prior, but there is none of Shakespeare’s wonderful dialog. Private Romeo is different, it uses Shakespeare’s original language and dialog and it’s an all male cast that can really act. The acting is wonderful, the cast speaks the language intelligently with real emotion, along with some dialog that fits the scene to tie it to the setting and place. Yes, it’s a gay movie dealing with problems of homophobia and violence, but also love. I think even if you’re not gay, if you love the language of shakespeare, it’s worth seeing. Rex Reed of the New York Observer was impressed with the film. One of the actors Seth Numrich was onstage in War Horse at lincoln center. The film’s director Alan Brown was interviewed by the blog Film International which is interesting to read.

Trailer on Youtube.com.

If you don’t have Netflix and want to watch or buy the film you can go here.

 

 

 

David Kennedy Polanco: Up and Coming Gifted Author

David Kennedy Polanco, who recently published the new collection of short stories Bellicose Boys was brought up in Boyle Heights (East-LA) California, wanted to become a writer since he was a child. David is Mexican-American with a pride in his Spanish heritage (a devotee of Octavio Paz), as well as his American Roots (his Grandfather was decorated numbers of times in World War II). As he has said, his ancestors were in California before it was a State. Growing up in the LA area, films were an important part of his experience, as were the characters he grew up with.

Early, David was the editor and co-founder of a Hollywood Fan magazine Remembrance which included interviews with many classic stars, including Gregory Peck and Katherine Hepburn. His favorite films include: The Letter and The Whales of August.

He is a gay man living in New York City since 1990, an animal advocate and avid football fan of (USC and Harvard) and enjoys reading classical literature and poetry. David started writing his first in 1985. Eventually this evolved into the Off Broadway play Fireworks! in which he introduced his unique character Harvard. Siouxsie and the Banshees has been an influence in his creativity.  This was later a screen play. He wrote, directed and acted in his second work A Playground Twist, which also appeared on Off Broadway, which is the story about the adolescent relationship between Harvard, the Gifted Gay adolescent/adult Mexican-American and his white love a high school football star who can never be open about his sexuality. Harvard of course is open and accepting courageous about himself. After they breakup, the football star dies in a foreign war.  It is a unique story which deals with, self-acceptance, athletes, and soldiers. His next work The Stranger Inside deals with the darker side of ourselves. His latest work is Bellicose Boys.

Racism and Brilliant People

It’s always painful to realize that people you admire and appreciate have flaws and limitations, but it has come to my awareness that people of real intellect can also be incredibly arrogant and engage in Racism and other stupid practices. While preparing to write the article on Morrissey which I recently published, I was doing research on my subject and discovered some real racist actions on his part. At first, I considered deleting the post and never publishing it, but decided to address the issue more head-on.

Later my partner and I were watching a PBS series that the British constitutional historian, David Starkey did called The Monarchy which is very intelligibly researched in deep historical detail through many and many years. One can appreciate the work that went into his work, and his perspective as well as the presentation. It was also very disappointing to discover, when reading his biography rude, and arrogant behavior and Racism, saying the lower classes in England were becoming like the “Blacks.” How can someone characterize whole groups of people like that?

Of less intelligent and more ignorant people, I would not be surprised, in fact I suspect the extremes of racism, for instance like the KKK, the Klans, The Aryan Nation, etc., are examples of ignorant people who have limited intelligence, are frustrated by their own limited skills and lack of education, and the economic challenges that come from these realities.

My mother also Gifted who wound up with an Ed.D in Special Education, who had worked with the handicapped for years grew up in Philadelphia, PA. Her father was a a cop who rose to be captain of detectives during the bad years. She remembered stories with his Racism. He had a limited education, but was intelligent. He retired, and years later got a second Dachshund, which he named “Tar Baby,” a clear racist reference. My mother was furious and the name was changed.

People can take offense to racism, because it offends our basic values and sensibilities and affects people we know or have known, but it’s important to consider the science around racism and stereotypes, which set racism in motion.

Racism is not the only type of prejudice, and one can add homophobia, sexism, classicism, antisemitism, ablism, agism and other isms, as well as xenophobia or fear of the other.

In social Psychology and Cognitive Psychology thinking suggests that stereotypes arise from our brain’s tendencies to use heuristics or shortcuts which help us manage information overload. The problem is these heuristics help our brains process much information, but causes us faulty thinking at times. Along with this, our brain also from the same mechanisms favor those of groups like us, and fears groups who are different from us. This is called the ingroup/outgroup bias. Given this, we are all susceptible to stereotypes and prejudices, and even racist tendencies. We need to rise to our best selves, and challenge our own tendencies toward stereotypes and prejudices, and challenge those of those around us.

Obituary: Christopher Hitchens

This week we mourn Christopher Hitchens a writer known for his free thinking intelligent criticism and thought.

Hitchens Died thursday 12/15/2011 of Pneumonia. He had been valiantly fighting esophageal cancer for a number of years. He had been discussing and writing about his Cancer for a number of years almost ad-nauseum, including his book Hitch-22. He will be missed for his thought, writing and debate. He was known as an atheist and defended his atheistic beliefs and refused to accept religion into his fight against cancer and his dying. To be an atheist is very hard and their are few friends in this world for which I defend him. He has argued about the harm that has come from religion in many writings, including his book God is Not Great. Esophageal cancer is highly correlated with Drinking and Smoking, which Hitchens has admitted to have doing heavily. He argues that he would not change his life, even though the drinking and smoking killed him prematurely. He argued that it helped him think and write at his best. One can imagine the alcohol loosening the inhibitions and the tobaco calming the nerves.  Hitchens had been an author for Slate.com and Vanity Fair Magazine. Hitchens had appeared on television numbers of times, including on Charlie Rose.

 

Writer/Poet: Edgar Allan Poe

I was walking in our neighborhood, in the Upper West Side in New York City, turned the corner from Broadway onto 84th Street and discovered an apartment building on the site of a house where The Writer and Poet Edgar Allan Poe lived when he wrote his classic gothic poem, The Raven.  For those Simpsons fans, the show had an episode from the episodes from around Halloween playing out the text of the raven, of course Bart is the raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary,while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-

                Only this, and nothing more.”

The words Poe uses in this poem are so intelligent, along with his rhyming, this is a classic poem of mourning. Themes of death and mourning run through Poe’s work. In Poe’s story The Premature Burial, in which the fears of his day, the fear that one might fall ill, and be thought dead and be buried alive and wake up in the coffin and die for lack of oxygen. The band Siouxsie and the Banshees, on the 1979 album Join Hands had a song Premature Burial, which was written based on Poe’s Story. The story The Tell-Tale Heart is about a murderer who plans a murder and is haunted by the beat of the heart though the walls. The Author Lenore Terr, MD in her book Too Scared To Cry, suggests that Poe as a child was left alone in the house with his mother’s corpse after she died from tuberculosis, a horrid death, which she suggests led the groundwork for themes in Poe’s work.

 

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)

 

I was watching the wonderful production of The Grinch who Stole Christmas  complete with Boris Karloff’s voice and the wonderful lyrics thinking about all the wonderful words Dr. Seuss created for us. I grew up in the 196os and read Dr. Seuss’s books with much joy. It’s been said the the word Nerd which gifted people are often accused of being was created by Dr. Seuss. If the word was created by Dr. Seuss, than I am glad to be one.

Theordor Seuss Geissel (1904-1991) grew up in  Springfield MA, and went to Dartmouth in NH. He was the editor of the school’s humor magazine. His father wanted him to become a professor, so he went to Oxford which he found boring and began a career as a cartoonist. Though too young to be a soldier he served in the signal core making training films, where he learned how to do animation.

The bo0k, The Cat in The Hat, came out of a illiteracy campaign, where he was given a list of 400 words, and asked to reduce it to 250 words, he used 220 words in the book. When he wrote Green Eggs and Ham, he was challenged to use 50 words, the book was written, but the bet never paid.

By the time of his death, he wrote and illustrated 44 books, that were read by millions. There is a museum in Springfield, MA.

 

Malcolm Gladwell: Arrogant and Insensitive.

First before I start, I want to say, before everyone jumps to his defense, Malcolm Gladwell is definitely gifted and I found his earlier books “The Tipping Point” and “What the Dog Saw” very interesting and though provoking, and this is not a full out attack on him or his writing. His books are often full of little interesting snippets of information.

His book “Outliers” is another story. I started reading it with interest, after reading the other books, but found myself turned off, not sure why but I knew something was wrong. I like his idea of the 10,000 hours needed to learn a skill and to get to a highly proficient level in any field, and there is something to say about it.

He writes a book, acting as an expert on education, though he has done no real research and has no advanced degree in education. It seems like his knowledge is more about sports, for example the time of year most hockey players were born. He wrote an interesting article in The New Yorker about the problem of professional football, which was excellent, but he is not an educator. I was listening to an interview by the radiolab guys.  Radiolab, a program produced by WNYC in New York, that is syndicated across public radio. I first heard them on The science show. They interviewed Gladwell talk about the interaction between destiny and determination. Robert Krulwich asked him whether he denied giftedness  or did he hate the gifted? I thought this was a good question and the book and his discussion does raise these questions. He argues that gifted education is about picking high achievers, which is most definitely not the case. Of course high achievers are among the gifted, but he totally dismisses the challenges that gifted children deal with, particularly those who are twice exceptional. I was a student before gifted education was established and I hated being in the wrong classes, being in boring classes, which were a torment. Maybe he also missed gifted education like myself and resents those who got it.

This book perpetuated and created idea that giftedness is a myth. For instance this article in New York Magazine, it’s all about testing and preparing your children for the test. But it ignores the reality of testing, and IQ and the New York system, where there are limited opportunities to get into the gifted system. Gifted children need to be engaged in school, and often don’t get those needs met in normal classes. This problem goes far beyond New York or any other location for that matter.

Another problem is that Gladwell references, old out of date material. Terman’s Termites was research done many years ago and is largely out-of-date with respect to current thinking about intelligence and giftedness. During its time, the research was good, but Terman started researching in 1929, many many years ago. He starts critiquing one of many intelligence tests. Many of the tests have issues, but he picks Raven’s Progressive Matrices  and not the more widely used Wescheler or Stanford Binet tests which are the standard, and most researched, used and understood tests. He misses what IQ measurement is about, i.e. mental processing power.

According to Eric Wargo, writer for The Observer, a publication of the association for psychological science, in an article  he wrote, Gladwell had a dream of becoming a gold medal runner, and suggests he was a Prodigy who didn’t wind up later going on to stardom. Clearly for him it’s about becoming a star, or observations, that graduates from gifted programs didn’t become superstars or become the next Einstein. The differences between those who become stars in sports and those who are purely amateurs is very different than about intelligence. Living with Being gifted and growing up gifted is not about stardom, but more trying to find your way in the world, trying to be able to fully use your abilities. Which I think goes to what Gladwell is more about Elitism, Stardom, how the few exceptions become who they are. Gifted people may become high achievers, but that’s not what it’s about. Just because you can’t  become a star don’t dump on us.

Simon Schama

I was watching Charlie Rose interview Simon Schama the other night. He was talking about American and World politics and I was wishing more people could hear and understand what he could tell us. I had listened earlier to him talking about the History of Britain and his talks on art. I am always taken by how thoughtful, intelligent, and articulate Schama is. He had taught at Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and is now a professor at Columbia University. If you are interested in History and Art History, he is someone to listen to. There were a number of videos done by PBS with his comentary and art and locations. I have found history fascinating, am knowledgeable about history, but hearing his History of Britain was a major experience. This is an interview  on PBS.

More Simon Schama Videos