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5 Horror Movies You Should Watch If You Dislike the Horror Genre

Sometimes I giggle at the fact that two people who hate horror movies somehow created a daughter who has developed a fondness for the non-gory types of it. I have no idea where my appreciation for getting scared comes from, but it’s one of the few ways in which I’m nothing at all like either one of my parents.

Will my mom and dad be tempted to give any of these films a chance after reading this post? I’m not sure, but here are 5 movies I’d recommend to them and to anyone else who isn’t a fan of the typical horror slash flick. There are horror movies out there that break the stereotypes about this genre, and some of them are truly excellent stories.

The true appeal of these films to me lies in the questions they ask the audience to answer about grief, regret, humour, friendship, and love. A story doesn’t have to be a happy one in order for it to make me see the world in a different light or question some of the assumptions I’ve made about life works in the past.

I’ll include a gore rating on a scale of 10 for each of them so you’ll know which ones to avoid if you truly can’t stand any blood at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Babadook (2014) Gore rating: 0/10.

Years before this tale began, the main character’s husband was killed in a car accident while she was enroute to the hospital to give birth to their son. The storyline picked up years later while she is struggling to raise their son, who has behaviour problems, alone. The Babadook was a monster who soon moved into their home and couldn’t be dislodged no matter how hard they tried to make him go away.

This isn’t your typical horror movie. In fact, it has a lot more to do with grief than it does with anyone harming or being harmed by a supernatural creature.

My first experience with grief happened when my grandmother died. I was seven when she passed away, and it was the first time in my life I realized that I and everyone I loved was going to die someday.

What I love the most about this film was how it explored all of the ways grief interrupts a family’s daily routine. You only need to bury a loved one once, but you’ll be faced with their loss over and over again over the coming days, weeks, months, and years. There is no escaping these moments, and they will often pop up on otherwise good days when you least expect them to.

How, then, do you live with the shadow of grief – or The Babadook – always with you? When you discover the answer to this question, you’ll know why I love this film so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coraline (2009) Gore rating: 0/10.

When a little girl opened a secret door in her home, she discovered a parallel world that was surprisingly similar to our own at first glance. It was only when she met the hidden members of that world that she discovered it’s dark secrets.

Not everyone is as who they appear to be when you first meet them. Sometimes they surprise you in wonderful ways, and at other times they reveal scary sides of themselves. I loved the fact that a kids movie addressed this so openly. It isn’t something I’d recommend to young children, but the storytelling is perfectly creepy for older kids.

The price Coraline would have had to pay to stay in the other world was a nice touch as well. Telling you what it was would give away too many spoilers, but it was exactly the right amount of horror for this age group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Others (2001). Gore rating: 0/10.

This is my favourite ghost movie of all time. The plot followed a woman who was living in an old house with her two young children while awaiting news of the fate of her husband, a soldier. After doors began to unlock themselves and the curtains in certain rooms began to get flung open when no one was near them,  she soon became convinced the house was haunted.

Not only was the storytelling top-notch, but I loved the questions The Others asked the audience to ponder. What happens when you can no longer trust your own memory? How should a parent react to a child who is beginning to develop his or her own ideas about how the world works? How do you communicate with a ghost who refuses to acknowledge your existence? How long would you wait for someone you loved who may or may not even still be alive?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Right One In (2008). Gore rating: 3/10.

Vampires are supposed to be many things: violent; bloodthirsty; unnaturally strong; immortal. This one happens to be a petite 12-year-old girl named Eli. After the main character befriended her, all of her secrets began to be revealed.

The scenes that lead to this rating were limited to a scene where Eli feeds on an adult man and another scene where a character is treated for an injury at a hospital. They were both brief, but you may want to skip this one if you can’t handle seeing any blood at all.

For everyone else, this was a fascinating look at how people treat those they sense are different in some way. I really enjoyed how the writers explored the pain of social exclusion and what happens when someone has a secret that is so big it can’t easily be contained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Gore rating: 7/10.

This is by far the goriest movie I’ll be recommending to you today. Do not watch it if you are squeamish.

One of the things I love the most about Joss Whedon’s storytelling is how talented he is at turning stereotypes on their head. Everything from what happens to characters who have sex or who will die first once the bad guys discovered the cabin full of vacationers was upended in this funny – if occasionally slightly bloody – film.

The plot was much more complex than zombies finding innocent people in the woods. I can’t say much about it without giving aways spoilers, but I can tell you that the zombies were released from an underground facility and that there were  technicians working there who were placing bets on everything from who would be killed first to what would happen next.

This is the kind of film that should be watched by anyone who has ever watched a horror movie and shaken their heads at the senseless and often downright ridiculous decisions the main characters make in those kinds of plots. Nobody ever thinks they’d react the same way in that situation.

I enjoyed the commentary from the technicians almost as much as I did the twist ending. If you don’t already know what a Joss Whedon ending can look like, be prepared for something completely unexpected.

Happy Halloween to all of my readers! I hope you found something worth checking out in today’s post

Who to Follow on Twitter If You’re Into Health and Fitness

Earlier this year I started a new series of posts on this blog about Twitter accounts that share the same theme.

This week I’m going to be recommending accounts that tweet about health, nutrition, and fitness.

To be honest with you, I’m quite picky about which Twitter accounts I follow when it comes to these topics.

They need to be scientifically accurate (as best as this non-scientist can tell), upbeat, friendly, and full of helpful information.

If they happen to offer a product or service, they should never be pushy about it. In fact, you’d have to dig somewhat deeply to find out more information about that at all. They are fellow humans first and foremost, and that’s why I like them so much.

A dash of humour is always appreciated as well. Luckily, all of the tweeps I’m about to talk about passed this test with flying colours. I would heartily recommend all of them to anyone who is looking for some support and encouragement as they try to live a healthier lifestyle.

If you have suggestions for  specific accounts to recommend or topics for a future post in this series, I’d be quite interested in hearing about them.

@CluelessCurl‬.

If you’ve ever thought about eating a (mostly) vegan diet or otherwise improving your health by living more simply, CluelessCurl has many tips, tricks, and articles to encourage you.

On a more personal note, I love reading all of her off-topic tweets and blog posts about the various places she’s visited. She seems like the kind of person that would be a great deal of fun to go on a trip with.

@FoodlandOnt.

I have found so many interesting recipes from this account. All of them are based on using Ontario-grown food as much as is humanly possible, so this is the perfect time of year to check out their tweets and get some new ideas for future meals.

The other interesting thing about this account is how it changes depending on what’s currently in season in Ontario. I make a valiant effort to eat food that’s in season as much as possible, and I’ve gotten a lot of wonderful tips on how to do that from them.

‪@ChristyBarongan‬.

Having good mental health is just as important as having good physical health. Christy is a clinical psychologist who blogs and tweets about mental health. She often uses examples from her own struggles with mental illness to illustrate her points. I really like her honest approach to this topic.

‪@rachel_pilates‬.

Rachel is a pilates instructor who tweets about working out, eating a balanced diet, and enjoying life. Her tweets make me wish I lived near the beach, and I admire her sunny personality.

@Algonquin_PP‬.

This is the official account for Algonquin Park, Ontario’s oldest and most famous provincial park. You might be surprised to hear how many national parks have social media accounts these days! If you don’t live in Ontario, there’s a good chance that a national park closer to your home is also on Twitter.

The pictures this account tweets are absolutely gorgeous. They make me want to run outside and exercise every time I see them, and that kind of motivation is worth its weight in gold some days.

‪@FitnessBlender‬

There are hundreds of free workouts in the archives of this account and on their Youtube page by the same name. One of the best things about this series is that it doesn’t have any background music. All I hear when I’m working out to a FitnessBlender video is the instructor telling us how to move next. I appreciate that.

This is one of my favourite ways to exercise other than taking long walks.

@PopSugarFitness

And this is my other favourite way to exercise as far as free online videos go. This is where I’d recommend starting if you haven’t worked out in a long time, although there are more advanced PopSugar and more novice FitnessBlender options if you dig through their archives.

Previous posts in this series:

Who to Follow on Twitter If You’re Into Science Fiction and Fantasy 

Who to Follow on Twitter If You’re Into Mindfulness and Meditation 

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Books That Should Be Taught in School

I thought this would be a fun post to share now that the 2017-2018 school year has either begun or will begin soon for many schools in North America.

As you might have already guessed, English was my favourite subject from the time my mom began the homeschool version of preschool for me until I graduated from college.

My classmates and I read countless short stories, novellas, and novels during those years, but I barely remember ever being assigned a science fiction or fantasy book until I entered college.

This is a real shame. The sci-fi and fantasy genres are full of stories that can be used to as a jumping off point to explore logic, history, math, geography, ethics, and so much more. I wish my classmates and I had been exposed to these genres as an official part of our curriculums from the beginning.

There are five books in each section of this post for the different age ranges: elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Elementary School

Fantasy sure seems like it has a stronger influence on elementary-aged students. I wonder if it’s because of the lure of traditional fairy tales to young children? At any rate, most of my recommendations for this age groups will sit firmly in the fantasy camp.

 

Gwinna by Barbara Helen Berger

I know I’ve blogged about this book before, but I simply must mention it again. This is the most beautiful modern fairy tale that I’ve ever read. It would be a wonderful place to introduce all kinds of classroom discussions about adoption, the dangers of breaking a promise, and what the students think happened to Gwinna after the end of the final chapter.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

One of the things that first drew me into this story were its descriptions of what life was like for children in England during World War II. There are many things that have changed since then, but basic human nature will always remain the same. It would be very interesting to see how today’s children would react to the idea of being sent away from home for their own safety during a war.

Of course, some students will already have personal experience with that kind of huge life change! Immigration, the separation of families, and the sad consequences of war are still every bit as relevant today as they were in the 1940s.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Rabbit

I have a vague memory of one of my elementary school teachers assigning this book to us when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. The thought of living forever had never crossed my mind until I learned about Winnie’s life, but I loved watching her mull over her choices once she discovered that the family she’d recently met had a surefire method to remain young and healthy until the end of time.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

This series covered so many timeless issues: child abuse; discrimination; grief; what happens when family secrets are finally aired. What surprised me the most about all of the Harry Potter books was how much fun the characters had even when they were dealing with serious topics that many kids face in real life.

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a book about a factory filled with candy and other sweets?

On a more serious note, I liked the way the main character responded to the difficulties he faced in life. He was such a brave kid even when the odds were stacked against him and he couldn’t imagine how he’d get out of his latest predicament.

Middle School

Middle school is a tough age. Tweens and young teenagers are often suspicious of admitting they like stories they think were written for kids, but they’re also not quite ready for more mature material. These books – or portions of them –  would be perfect for this age group.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

It takes courage to face an angry dragon, and that was only one of the many dangers Bilbo was exposed to during his first big adventure. If I were going to teach this book, I’d round off our readings with a discussion of what happens to people after other huge changes like going to war or being diagnosed with a serious disease. Bilbo’s response to what happened to him mirrored both of these real-life experiences in all kinds of interesting ways.

This is also the perfect introduction to the the Lord of the Rings universe for students who like Bilbo and want to find out what happened to him after he returned home.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This book was about a developmentally disabled man who was given an experimental medical treatment that quickly began to raise his IQ. Suddenly becoming much more intelligent than you were before isn’t necessarily an easy experience, but the main character’s diary about what that process was like made me think about everything from how disabilities are defined to what happens when someone is given the chance to change their life in all kinds of unpredictable ways.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Imagine a society without war, hunger, prejudice, or pain. In fact, all but one of the people in that society couldn’t even begin to tell you what any of those experiences were like.

This was by far my favorite book when I was in middle school. I thought the society the main character lived in was a paradise at first. Figuring out its dark side made me ask myself all kinds of questions about the meaning of life and how much freedom I’d be willing to sacrifice to permanently remove suffering in the world for just about everyone.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

One of the biggest reasons why I believe this should be read by middle school students is because it distills complicated arguments about freedom, politics, communism, and propaganda into a simple allegory about a farm full of animals who decide to revolt against their owner.

The twist ending is my second largest reason for recommending it to this age group. It was as funny as it was thought-provoking.

The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The silly sections will make middle schoolers laugh, but they’ll also learn a few things about getting along with others and not assuming that you’re the centre of the universe. The sometimes-convoluted storyline would also be a good place to talk abut everything from unreliable narrators to how two people can remember the same event completely differently based on how their minds store memories and what small pieces of that day they’ve forgotten.

High School

My high school English classes assigned us a lot of John Steinbeck and Shakespeare readings. I think these books would make a perfect addition to that kind of curriculum.

Beowulf

I first read this in college, but I wish I had discovered it years earlier. The dark themes and occasional scenes of violence are best suited for more mature readers who are willing to push forward to the conclusion.

I also believe that everyone who speaks English should be familiar with the first poem we know of that was written in Old English. There is so much about the beginnings of our language that we simply don’t know. Holding onto what we do know is important.

1984 by George Orwell

Should the government be trusted? Is everything that’s shared on the news actually true? How do you know when you’re being lied to?

These have been dangerous questions to ask in many different cultures and eras. Knowing when you’re being deceived is nearly as important as knowing how to react when it happens. I think every high school student should graduate with at least a little practice at weighing what they’re told carefully.

 

 

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Climate change has already begun to affect our world. How people live in a generation or two will probably be quite different from how the average westerner lives today.

Ms. Butler had such a creative take on what our future could be like. I wish she had lived long enough to finish this series, but I relish what she was able to write. High school students could learn a lot from her thoughts on prejudice and what happens when an entire society falls apart.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

This is a classic piece of science fiction about time travel and the ethical dilemmas that result from knowing what will happen in the future but not being sure how to warn everyone about what is coming. Not every conflict in life has or should have a black-and-white solution.

Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer

Most high school students are probably aware that there used to be other human-like species living on Earth, but I doubt most of them have wondered how our planet would be different if early humans had died out and another species had become dominant instead.

This tale asked a lot of hard questions about intelligence, environmentalism, and what it would mean to be human if we discovered that we weren’t the only intelligent hominids wandering around after all.

What science fiction and fantasy books do you wish would be taught in schools?

The Handmaid’s Tale: Jezebels

This post includes spoilers for “Jezebels” (Season 1, Episode 8) of The Handmaid’s Tale. As usual, the link on the left has full summaries of all of the episodes that have aired so far. 

This week’s episode was another unusual one. The plot returned to focusing on Offred, but Moira was definitely competing with her for this viewer’s attention.

For anyone who needs a refresher, Moira (pictured on the left) was June/Offred’s best friend before the Sons of Gilead rose to power. Both women were found to still be fertile, captured, and forced to become Handmaids. While June sort of accepted her fate, Moira fought against it at every turn no matter how badly she was treated as a result of her rebellion.

I didn’t talk about this scene in Faithful, but Moira and June attempted to escape the Red Centre. June was captured early on in their escape, while Moira’s fate was never verified.

These characters did meet up again in the book at a brothel where Moira was sent to work after she was captured again. While I’ve been avoiding spoilers for this show, I had a feeling that we’d see Jezebels at some point and find out for sure what happened to Moira. In order to talk about that, though, I have to first talk about why Offred ended up visiting Jezebels in the first place. It’s not a place that wives or Handmaids are allowed to go.

One of the things I like about this show the most is how it has handled The Commander. There was a time in the beginning of the series when I was a little concerned that they were going to paint him as a good guy who was either misunderstood or had been swept into this new society without having any input into it.

He wasn’t a good guy, and no one pushed him into anything. This week’s episode only gave us more reasons why this was true, starting with the Commander’s creepy urge to pretend like Offred was willingly having sex with him. The scenes where he sexually abused her were hard to watch, but they were completely necessary in order to understand how this character thinks. Women aren’t people to him. They’re possessions. So if the Commander wanted to shave his Handmaid’s legs, obtain illegal makeup and clothes for her, and then smuggle her into a brothel for a night, that’s exactly what he was going to do.

The sexist and disgusting way the Commander treated women has never been more clear to me than it was this week, especially when it showed the death of the previous Offred. Some of the other discussions I’ve read about this episode have wondered if her suicide was at least partially the result of the same abuse the Commander is now dumping on our Offred. I don’t know whether or not I agree with this theory, but there were at least three small hints pointing in this direction: our Offred’s dress was at least a size too big for her; the makeup wasn’t quite the right shade for someone with her skin colour; Nick gave the Commander a hard stare when the previous Offred’s body was being taken out of the house.

The only redeeming part of the strange excursion that took up most of the screen time was that Offred and Moira finally got a chance to have a quiet discussion about what happened the night they tried to run away. Sadly, we didn’t get many details about what happened to Moira after she was captured. All we know for sure is that her spirit has been broken and that her only other choices was to go work in the Colonies until she succumbed to radiation poisoning. She was not the same extroverted, confident person she used to be. She was quiet, sad, and resigned to being hopeless. The only sparks of life I saw in her were when she noticed Offred and when Offred later told her that Luke was still alive.

They were small sparks, though, and I could see how they would be easily extinguished. With only two episodes left in this season, I’m not expecting to see Moira again. I’m hoping we’ll revisit this character next year. Maybe she’ll get to have an entire episode dedicated to her point of view the same way Luke did last week? I don’t know if this is too much to ask from the writers, but I’d sure love to know more about what’s happened to her and if or how she’ll escape. It was wonderful to see Moira again, but I also felt like we didn’t get enough details about what her life’s been like.

Her body language was perfect for this episode. I simply would have liked a little more storytelling to go along with it.Let’s keep our fingers crossed for next week! We still have two more episodes to go in season one, so anything can happen.

Previous posts in this series:

5 Things I Want from The Handmaid’s Tale

Introducing Offred’s World

Gender Treachery

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum

Faithful

A Woman’s Place

The Other Side

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The Handmaid’s Tale: Faithful

This post includes spoilers for “Faithful” (Season 1, Episode 5) of The Handmaid’s Tale. As usual, the link on the left has full summaries of all of the episodes that have aired so far. This post is my reaction to what happened. 

I was happy to see the pacing pick up this week after the slower storytelling we saw in Nolite Te Bastardes Carbundorum. Offred was finally back to her usual routine after her long punishment.

This episode has been my favourite one so far. None of the storylines have ever felt discordant, but they were woven together especially beautifully this week.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Offred run into Ofglen at the grocery store. Ofglen – who is now known as Ofsteven thanks to her reassignment to a new home-  wasn’t a character I was expecting to see again so soon after her clitoridectomy, so it was pleasantly surprising to have her suddenly show up again.

We knew there was some kind of underground resistance to the society that Gilead created, but this week we got to learn its name: Mayday. Now that Ofsteven is considered too risky for them to use to pass around information anymore, I’m guessing that Ofglen will take her place if she can figure out who else is part of Mayday and how to get an invitation to it. No, I haven’t been reading spoilers for future episodes. I avoid them as much as is humanly possible. This is pure conjecture on my part.

Speaking of Ofsteven, her character development was excellent. She was so quiet, stiff, and subdued in her first few scenes that I never would have guessed the violent turn she’d take later on in the storyline. After she stole the car of one of the men guarding the market and ran over another guard, I remarked to my spouse that I thought this was a suicide attempt instead of an escape. There was nowhere for her to go due to the tight quarters of the market, and she didn’t seem calculating enough to get away even if there had been a convenient side street for her to drive down.

I liked the contrast between Ofsteven and the new Ofglen. (I will call her Ofglen2 to make this less confusing). I never would have guessed that any Handmaid would be content in her position, much less be desperate to hold onto it. Ofglen2’s story about being a prostitute who had to scrounge up a few dollars to afford fast food after turning a trick was brutal. Was it true, though? At first I honestly wondered if she was an Eye who had concocted this story as part of a plan to gain intel on Offred. Offred has already been questioned and tortured, though, so at this point I’m going to assume that Ofglen2 is telling the truth until or unless new facts emerge.

The Ceremony was as brutal as ever this week. I genuinely don’t understand how Commander Waterford can perform sexually with a Handmaid who doesn’t consent and a wife who looks traumatized every time it happens. These aren’t scenes I ever want to watch again, but the acting in them is brilliant.

While I already knew that Offred’s husband was married to someone else when they first began dating, seeing them together in flashback scenes gave me mixed feelings. She is a character I’ve grown to love, but watching Luke cheat on his spouse with her made my stomach turn. They were so flippant and unapologetic about it. They also had a lot of chemistry. If that act hadn’t been a violation of Nick’s vows, I would have been cheering for them.

I’m hoping that this will be explored in more depth either in this season or in a future season. Will we get to meet Luke’s first wife, Annie, and maybe even find out what happened to her? I sure hope so.

My thoughts about Serena Joy remain as complicated as ever. She is stuck in what seems to be a pretty joyless marriage,  she hasn’t been able to get pregnant (although I’m pretty sure that the Commander is the infertile one at this point, not her), and she seems incredibly bored and frustrated with her life.

And yet she treats the other women in her household so coldly. Based on how she’s spoken down to and treated Offred in the past, I get the impression that she’d turn on anyone in an instant if it benefited her. There is no real sense of camaraderie among any of the women in the house unless you count Serena Joy arranging for Offred to sleep with Nick, the family driver, in an attempt to make a baby. Even this act was selfish, though, and would never have been allowed if Serena couldn’t gain something priceless from it.

The sex scenes between Offred and Nick were my last surprise of the week. I winced during the first one because Serena Joy decided to stay in the room while it happened. I suppose she did it to protect them from anyone who might have come to talk to Nick while he was inseminating her, but it made the whole thing almost as awkward and creepy as the Ceremony itself.

Then there was their late night tryst. After 5 episodes of Offred being raped, it was bizarre to see her having consensual sex. I also thought this scene was a nice complement to the first time she slept with Luke. Both of those experiences would have gotten her in deep trouble if anyone had discovered them, and yet both of them gave her a lot of pleasure.

We are halfway done with season 1 of this show now. I am so grateful that there is a second season in the works. As much as I like what they’ve done with it so far, I get the impression that there are going to be many loose strings remaining after the season finale.

Previous posts in this series:

5 Things I Want from The Handmaid’s Tale

Introducing Offred’s World

Gender Treachery

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum

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An End and a Beginning

This is the final post of On the Other Hand. The last six years have been wonderful, but it’s time for me to move on to a new website and a different approach to blogging. Effective today, I will be blogging at lydiaschoch.com. There’s a post there explaining why I made the move and what you can expect… Read More

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Guest Post: Why Your Next Move Should Be to Orange County

Why Your Next Move Should Be to Orange County Orange County, CA is best known for its many tourist attractions. It is home to Disneyland, Downtown Disney, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Beach. Some would consider it a surfing mecca while others come to see the cities themselves. Whale watching, sunbathing, hiking, shopping, and events are… Read More

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Why the World Needs More Science Fiction

1. It gives you a hopeful vision of the future. As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, my spouse and I have been slowly watching Star Trek: The Original Series over the past few months. One of the things I appreciate the most about this show is its unbridled optimism. The characters live in a time and place… Read More

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Suggestion Saturday: November 19, 2016

Here is this week’s list of paintings, confessions, advice for setting boundaries, and other tidbits from my favourite corners of the web. It’s extra large this week because I couldn’t bear to cut anything out. Everything was important, so I hope you enjoy all of the bonus links. Confessions of a Dirty Shoe Dancer via maryanne_pope.… Read More

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Canada’s New National Bird: The Grey Jay?

Lately I’ve been scouring the web for distracting and silly news stories. One of the nicest ones I’ve come across so far was the semi-official announcement of Canada’s national bird. The link above shares facts about grey jays as well as discusses why they were selected for this honour. It also talks about the other species of… Read More

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