Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's out of your hands

Dear Ella,

I play mah-jong with the same group of women every week. We’ve been playing together for many years and have become close friends. Janice, one of the members of the group, was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She told us all individually. She said she didn’t want the mood or the conversations at our games to change. We often talk about life situations when we get together – anything from shopping to rotten kids and everything in between. We know we need to respect Janice’s wishes not to discuss her health at our games.

Ruthie, one of the other women, does and says whatever she wants. No matter what’s going on, Ruthie manages to twist it around and only see how it affects her. She dominates the conversation with her problems week after week. She is a good person, but a little hard to take.

We were all shocked when at our last game, she brought up how difficult it was when her aunt had cancer and how it turned the whole family upside down. I wanted to reach across the table and duct tape her mouth shut. Janice excused herself early, claiming she had a headache.

Talking to Ruthie and letting her know will only have an effect for a short time, because she doesn’t really hear any kind of criticism. You can see in her eyes that she isn’t listening. What should we do? It was a very uncomfortable evening for all of us.

Sad Mahj Member

Dear Sad Mahj Member,

No one has control over the personalities of others. They say that “it takes all kinds” to make the world interesting, but it’s unfortunate that Ruthie lacks the sensitivity that’s so needed here.

Janice has a battle ahead of her, and she wanted to use your weekly mah-jong games as an escape. Since you’re all close, Janice knows what kind of person Ruthie is, so her little story about her aunt probably wasn’t a surprise.

There are a few things you can do. Start by bringing it to Ruthie’s attention. She’s so self-absorbed that she didn’t have a clue how her story affected her friend. I’m sure she didn’t tell the story out of malice. She just can’t see past her own life. People like Ruthie suck the energy out of those around them. They cause a lot of eye rolling and thoughts of “here we go again.”

Since no one can really control Ruthie’s mouth, you may experience some uncomfortable moments at your games in the future. You can try to jump in and change the subject or try handling the situation with humour. A funny line hurts less than an embarrassing serious moment.

Maybe Ruthie will pick up on what your are doing and stop, but she may be so far gone that she won’t even realize what’s happening.

At the end of the day, it will all be up to Janice. If having a place to escape to is important to her, she will have to sit down and have a talk with Ruthie and lay down some ground rules. You can only go so far to create that comfortable place for Janice to escape to.

It’s times like this that really test the bonds of friendship.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Next week’s supplement

The CJN’s annual Community Focus supplement is done! But you’ll have to wait until next week to read it.

The special section will be part of our Aug. 25 issue, and will be downloadable online.

In my editorial for the supplement, I wrote that it offers a bit of a mixed bag – just like Toronto’s Jewish community – and that it reflects changes that have come about in recent years.
How are congregations dealing with diminishing appeal of synagogues to some men? What approaches are different denominations taking with intermarried couples? How are university students adjusting to living away from the community they grew up in?

There are also articles about Israeli and Russian Jews, deaf Jews and a program for bar mitzvah students with Asperger Syndrome.

Now that the supplement is done, I’m already thinking about what to include in it next year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Previewing Baruchel's Goon

In a little less than a month, the 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will present some of the best offerings of international and Canadian cinema.

Among those to be screened is Jay Baruchel's hockey film Goon.

Born in Ottawa and raised in Montreal, Baruchel had quite the year last year with three commercially successful films –  She's Out of My League, How to Train Your Dragon and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, along with the critically acclaimed independent film The Trotsky.

Baruchel co-wrote Goon, a comedy, with Superbad writer Evan Goldberg. Based on the real life story of a bouncer who overcomes great odds to rise through the ranks of the semi-professional hockey league, the script was adapted from the book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey by Adam Frattasio and Doug Smith.

In a statement to FirstShowing.net Baruchel said "We like to think of it as a funnier 'Raging Bull.' It's real mean, and it's truthful, and it's everything hockey is without any of the 'bs' sports movie clichés, and it is dead funny. Lot of swears, that's a hard R. It's a very crass movie, there are something like 20 fights in it, but it's the badass movie that hockey fans have been waiting to see their whole lives. It will be by far the best hockey movie since 'Slapshot.' Hockey fans have needed one for a long time, it's a sport that movies never do well. Ours will be a f**ing movement."

The film is directed by Michael Dowse, and the cast includes, Sean William Scott, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy and Alison Pill, in addition to Baruchel . In an interview with The Canadian Press back in January, Baruchel claimed he and the 25 year old Pill, now his girlfriend, were drawn to each other almost as soon as they shot their first scenes of Goon in Winnipeg last October.

If all goes according to plan after the TIFF première in the weeks to come, the film is scheduled to hit theatres on February 3.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

PopChips™ – Parve & Dairy @kosherreviews

Hello Shmooze readers. This was a quick fun read from Kosher Food Review, a blog that reviews kosher food for both taste and convenience.

This week one of their contributors reviewed Pop Chips. The snack food marketed as a super crunchy chip, that explodes with both potato flavor and seasoning, keeping out fake stuff and more than half the fat of fried chips.

The Canadian Jewish Shmooze and The CJN in no way endorse Pop Chips, however if you happen to walk down the snack aisle and your eye catches sight of a bag or two, knowing which flavour is best you can do well by your taste buds.