John C. Barry

My reminiscences, thoughts, and travel experiences

Category: Observations

Movie Experience

A Uniquely Different Movie Experience. How did it come about that I watched an exceptional movie twice on the same day? A first in a life time experience. On Wednesday,…

A Uniquely Different Movie Experience.

How did it come about that I watched an exceptional movie twice on the same day? A first in a life time experience.

On Wednesday, January 30, 2018 was my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday.  I completed my daily tasks by lunchtime.  What was I going to achieve in the afternoon?  Going for a walk outside was out of the question with subzero temperatures.  Watching TV was plain boring with the selection of soap operas available.  Driving around was a waste of fuel, and quite mindless.  Occasionally I might visit the local mall to walk for exercise and to pass the time.  In reality this is an excuse to see people, and take me away from my solitary confinement of working alone at home.

We have an account with Amazon that entitles us to stream movies to our TV or iPad.  Most movies are included with our account.  Additional movies are available for a nominal fee.  Linda and I have very different tastes in movies.  I am a sucker for romantic movies, a genre that is not at the top of Linda’s viewing list.  Linda normally selects the movies we watch.  Using my iPad, which has far better search capabilities than available on the TV, I found a movie at Amazon running for 1 hour 44 minutes that I thought might be ideal.  I watched it with a broad smile of satisfaction in the afternoon, at home, on our television set.  Just what the doctor ordered on a cold afternoon sitting next to the fireplace.

Linda leaves for work at 7:00 am and normally arrives home after 5:00 pm.  On this day Linda was late because Robyn was stuck at a meeting at work and Linda had to collect the twins from school and take them to Robyn’s home awaiting Robyn or Darin’s return.  Linda arrived home prior to 7:00 pm.

Our regular ritual is to eat dinner followed by watching recorded TV shows including the news, and Ellen.  This allows us to skip through the advertisements.  On this occasion I pleaded my case with Linda to please watch this movie assuring her that there are no bare bosoms, no simulated or actual sex, and no vulgar language.  Linda agreed with my persuasion, and we kicked off the movie.

A couple of moments into the movie I heard Linda groan one of those groans saying in not so many words; “what I have got myself into?”  On the other hand I was smiling like a Cheshire cat fully enjoying watching it all over again.  You really get so much more perspective with a second viewing.  The movie was in Afrikaans and Linda was not too sure that she would accurately follow the storyline.  What surprised Linda is that this movie was not listed as a foreign film on Amazon.  One comment from a viewer at Amazon said she thought this was a Scandinavian movie until she got to the end and saw that it was Afrikaans.  She did complain that the subtitles were in yellow and very difficult to read.  We watch without subtitles.

“Forever”, released in South Africa as “Vir Altyd,” “Childhood friends, Nina and Hugo chose different paths in life.  Years later, Hugo returns to his hometown unbeknownst to him, the day before Nina’s wedding.  Events on the wedding day throw them back together and they embark on a new adventure.”

In reality this movie revolves around the lives of 5 couples of differing ages.  It highlights situations and circumstances of marriage.  I do not plan to be a movie spoiler.  Trust me that this is a feel good, happy ending story.  The scenery in Cape Town (Paarl) and Mauritius is a very big plus.

I have not had the extreme pleasure to see the very attractive leading lady Donnalee Roberts, in any other movies yet, and for women, I guess lead actor Ivan Botha is a handsome guy.  They wrote and co-produced the movie, as well as “Pat Na You Hart (Road to Your Heart).” Read details here.  This is a worthwhile read if you are interested in love and marriage.

Researching is exciting.  Here is what I just learned, Road to Your Heart, a 2014 movie with these two actors is also available at Amazon.  Might this be tonight’s viewing?

Being a consummate romantic, I was curious to see if Donnalee Roberts and Ivan Botha were married in real life.  I did learn that Donnalee married Gerber in 2010, and divorced him in 2013 as a result of his infidelity.  Donnalee and Ivan got engaged in May 2017.

Bottom line: what a fun movie day.  What a unique experience of seeing the same movie twice in one day.  I thought that my mom was crazy to see The Quiet Man 7 times.  Mom loves the Irish.

January 31, 2018

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Homeless

I had an interesting encounter yesterday.  The sequel was unpredictable. We live in a condominium complex consisting of three buildings.  Ours is the largest, an L-shaped three story with 52…

I had an interesting encounter yesterday.  The sequel was unpredictable.

We live in a condominium complex consisting of three buildings.  Ours is the largest, an L-shaped three story with 52 units, named Cornerstone at New Berlin’s Residences at City Center.  The heated parking garage is below our building.  We bought our unit ten years ago.  We were of the first owners to move into our building.  I have a home office in the second bedroom adjoining the main bedroom.  I spend time in my office when not working on site at clients.  The workload has been quite quiet during the last few months as I move into my retirement phase.  Consequently I am spending more time than usual in my office.  My daily ritual includes tea at 10:00 am, collecting mail at the mailboxes in our lobby at 11:00 am.  I almost never see other owners walking the corridors.  This place is like a morgue, very quiet.  I am up at 5:30 am and have breakfast after 6:00 am.  I watch the local TV news at noon at which time I eat lunch.  Dinner time is around 6:00 pm with Linda.  I appreciate the routine.

In the spring, summer, and autumn months I go for daily walks.  I have a regular 40 minute route.  Very occasionally for a variation I walk a different path that takes an hour.  Yesterday with the global warming causing extreme weather conditions, we had regular temperatures of 12 below zero, and wind chills 30 below.  I am indifferent if your metric is Fahrenheit or Celsius.  Just understand it was bitterly cold.  Our condo heating unit never seemed to stop running.

Linda leaves for the office at 7:00 am, and returns home at 5:30 pm.  At around 1:30 pm yesterday I started to experience cabin fever.  This occurs when you feel claustrophobia is setting in and you urgently need to get out to see people.  I packed up my reading material and drove the 10 minutes to Brookfield Square Mall.  I park at the back close to the one of the many entrances.  This entry is at the food court, laid out in a large circular arrangement with about 15 food vendors.  Your hunger can be satiated with any of steaks, stir fries, sandwiches, Italian, Chinese, or Mexican cuisine, and salads to name a few.

The food court features about a hundred tables, each with its allocation of chairs.  I sat at a table where I could observe passing foot traffic.  Piped music provides entertainment.  With the bitter cold on this Wednesday afternoon, the mall was not busy.  I ordered a chocolate drink and small tasty cinnamon bun.  Two years ago I had a large kidney stone.  Now removed, I require regular restroom visits.  An hour later I had to take action.

As I approached the men’s room, I noticed a white man ahead of me heading in that direction as well.  I guess he was in his 60s.  He was shuffling his feet.  I slowed my walk so as to not run ahead of him.  I noticed that his shoes where several sizes too big for him.  Had he walked normally he would have fallen out of his shoes.  On closer inspection I saw that his trousers were far too large.  He did not have a belt, and was hanging on to his pants for dear life so that they would not fall down.  His coat was tattered and worn.  After we completed our call of nature, we returned to the food court.  By this time I saw that he had a very full scraggly beard, and an abundance of wild hair, all snow white.  Neither had been cut in several years.  I realized he was a homeless man.

I watched as this man approached the tables where people were eating.  It was apparent that he was begging for money.  The response was the same.  A violent shaking of the head, and I could see each patron mouthing the word “no”.  He circled the court until he approached me.  I asked him what he needed.  He requested money to get a bus ride back to Milwaukee, a 20 minute drive in light traffic, and cash for food.  While we were in the men’s room I noticed another gentleman with a uniform and insignia telling us that he was a bus driver.  In talking to the homeless man, it occurred to me that he may be mentally challenged.  His speech was slow and slurred, but certainly not drunk.  He had not seen a dentist in many years.  I do not normally carry much money.  My wallet contained $53.  I took the two 20’s and one 10, folded it so that the homeless man could not see what I handed him.  He ambled off slowly.  When he thought he was out of my eyesight, he looked at the cash, and headed off to buy food.  I was curious to see if he would return to thank me, but that did not happen.

At 4:15 pm I decided to head home to miss most of the afternoon traffic.  Our bank is a very short walk from our condo, and here I got another surprise.  I went to the drive through ATM.  I discovered that they had new software installed for 2018.  In prior years when I requested cash, it offered to key in any amount, or a quick draw for $20, $40, $50, $70, or $100.  This year it offered $50, $100, $150, $250, and $300.  Last year it issued cash in ten and twenty denominations.  This time in fifty’s.  I took my $100 and went home to face the music.

I waited for Linda to get home, pour some wine, and look relaxed, prior to recounting my experience of the day.  I knew that I would face a barrage of criticism for wasting our hard earned money.  Linda responded: Why did you not take this homeless man to a store, buy him shoes, trousers that fit, and while I was at it, a warm coat?  I never seem to do the right thing.

January 18, 2018

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Road Construction

We all understand that Governor Scott Walker of the State of Wisconsin is running for reelection in 2018.  We also understand that to get re-elected he needs to follow the…

We all understand that Governor Scott Walker of the State of Wisconsin is running for reelection in 2018.  We also understand that to get re-elected he needs to follow the Republican playbook of cutting taxes for the very wealthiest mega donors and large corporations.  We also understand that to pay for those incentives to the very wealthy he needs to slash social programs and cut expenditures for infrastructure programs.

It just boggles my mind that a country like South Africa that is suffering from an economic downturn, with excessive government corruption stealing from the country’s revenue coffers, and experiencing high inflation, can find the funds to attend to necessary improvements to roads, bridges, and rail.  Maybe Scott should visit South Africa to learn what could and should be done to fix our State.  This example for two small towns and national road links from Ashton to Montagu in the Western Cape, South Africa.

 

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Jacques Pauw

Jacques Pauw, South Africa’s most celebrated investigative author.  The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in power and out of prison.  Jacques’ book released Friday, November 3, 2017, and sold out…

Jacques Pauw, South Africa’s most celebrated investigative author.  The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in power and out of prison.  Jacques’ book released Friday, November 3, 2017, and sold out the first print run of 20,000 copies in hours.  The African National Congress (ANC), the ruling government party in South Africa are fighting to have the book banned.  Additional copies are being printed, and bootleg copies are available in PDF format on the internet.  Needless to say, Jacques has had death threats made on his life as he features in numerous TV, radio, and print media interviews.  The ANC is a cANCer to the South African economy.  The book sets out the degree of corruption taking place in the country while destroying the economy to the detriment of the poor masses who blindly and ignorantly supports the corrupt government.

Linda, Wally, and Vicky Emslie and I were fortunate to meet Jacques Pauw briefly at his restaurant the Red Tin Roof in Riebeeck Kasteel in the Western Cape, South Africa on Saturday, November 11, 2017.  Jacques only had a few moments to talk to us as he was on his way to meet his wife Sam Rodgers at the airport.

Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw exposes the darkest secret at the heart of Jacob Zuma’s compromised government: a cancerous cabal that eliminates the president’s enemies and purges the law-enforcement agencies of good men and women. As Zuma fights for his political life following the 2017 Gupta emails leak, this cabal – the president’s keepers – ensures that after years of ruinous rule, he remains in power and out of prison. But is Zuma the puppet master, or their puppet? Journey with Pauw as he explores the shadow mafia state. From KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to the corridors of power in Pretoria and Johannesburg – and even to clandestine meetings in Russia. It’s a trail of lies and spies, cronies, cash and kingmakers as Pauw prises open the web of deceit that surrounds the fourth president of the democratic era.

Jacques Pauw is a South African investigative journalist who was an executive producer of the Special Assignment current affairs programme on SABC. Pauw was a founder member and assistant editor of the anti-apartheid Afrikaans newspaper Vrye Weekblad. He began his television career in 1994, specializing in documentaries around the African continent.

Throughout his journalistic career, Pauw has investigated lethal criminal activities in the underworld of southern Africa and exposed atrocities committed by governments around the African continent. Affairs covered by Pauw’s documentaries include the Rwandan Genocide, the War in Darfur, and the police death squads in South Africa under apartheid.

The book details the creation and functioning of a “shadow mafia state” created by and surrounding President Zuma. It makes a number of serious allegations concerning the South African president such as that he did not pay taxes during his presidency, that he was illegally paid R1 million (US$70,000) a month by a private company whilst president, that he failed to pay back loans and that he has poor financial acumen.

The book also makes a number of accusations concerning associates of the president, such as: that the Gupta family groomed the children of African National Congress (ANC) politicians to gain political influence; that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s 2017 campaign for ANC president is funded by a cigarette company engaged in corruption; and that a significant proportion of people appointed to power by the Zuma administration have been convicted, or have allegations against them, of engaging in criminal activity. It also contains details of the state capture of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the wasteful creation of a one billion rand (around US$ 70,000,000) spy agency within the State Security Agency that engaged in widespread corruption.

Within four days of the book’s publication, it was cited in Parliamentary questions directed at the president by the opposition Democratic Alliance. On the 3 November 2017, the State Security Agency issued a cease and desist order to prevent more books being sold, arguing that the book contravened the Intelligence Service Act. SARS also stated that they would investigate initiating criminal charges against the author for publicizing confidential tax records. The actions by the State Security Agency and SARS were criticized as censorship by the civil society organizations the Right2Know Campaign and Corruption Watch as well as by the South African Communist Party. Book stores and publishers refused to obey the cease and desist order arguing that the book was factual and its information was in the public interest.

The threat of censorship caused a spike in sales of the book causing it to sell out of its first print run of 20,000 books within 24 hours of State Security Agency’s cease and desist order as readers sought to get a copy before it possibly being banned, making the book an international bestseller. The resulting shortage of books combined with the public fear of censorship resulted in a digitally pirated version of the book being widely shared in the few days following the cease and desist order. Launch of the book on the evening of Wednesday 8 November 2017 was canceled after a power outage. During the launch, Pauw told attendees that he expected to spend years fighting legal battles.

Following its publication, the author, Jacques Pauw, stated that he had received death threats from anonymous sources.

It was during a wet and wintery morning in Riebeek Kasteel that two middle-aged journalists decided to forego their steady incomes, a Cape Town flat on the ocean and an 1837 country house in the charming village of Riebeek Kasteel to pursue a life-long dream: running their own guest house, restaurant, and bar.

Jacques Pauw and Sam Rogers were amongst the most prominent journalists in South Africa. They have between them won the CNN African Journalist of the Year award four times. Sam has worked for some of the most prolific television networks in places such as Hong Kong and Japan and was the head of E-TV’s crime and investigations documentary unit when she resigned.

Jacques has been a journalist for 30 years and has, amongst others, exposed police death squad commander Eugene de Kock and crisscrossed the African continent in search of child soldiers and warlords. He has received some of the most coveted journalism awards in the world and is the author of five books.

Have these ventures equipped them in any way for the hospitality industry? Not nearly enough, they admit. That’s why Sam scampered off to UCT to do a diploma in the hospitality industry and Jacques lured chef Sonia Cabano to Riebeek Kasteel to help him to set up the kitchen. They have employed some of the best local talents to help them launch Red Tin Roof. For both, this is the ultimate challenge; the greatest adventure of them all.

Jacques home was raided by the Hawks in February 2018, a move seen to attempt to intimidate Jacques.  The Hawks are South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), which targets organized crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crime referred to it by the President or the South African Police Service (SAPS). 

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