Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

We couldn’t wait. We saw the earlier version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, you know, the one with Alec Guiness, and we couldn’t wait to see this new version, with Gary Oldman playing the Smiley role. He was awesome.

The LeCarre’ books featuring George Smiley are grim and grey, and the opening captures that exactly. The entire movie has a bureaucratic, institutional bleakness, with all the power plays, the petty snobberies, the jockeying for position that these bureaucracies seem to nurture. The only times in the movie when there is color and life is the annual bureau party, once done entirely in Russian, once in French.

The movie is faithful to the book, which I think I need to go back and read once again. It all seems so historical now.

One of the things we noticed was that the theatre was utterly quiet as the movie progressed. A lot of the action is in the mind, figuring things out, and trying not to get caught, so the suspense is of the subtle kind, not the car-crashing and jumping off buildings kind. It was as if the entire theatre were holding its breath; noticeable because of its rarity.

We were oddly jangled as we left the theatre, and over dinner we talked about how we never thought we would be obsolescent, but the Cold War has passed; the soldiers of today weren’t even alive when the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain parted and the cars flowed east. Life goes on.

There were several quotes, one that made us laugh was spies talking about recruiting other nationalities “You can hire an Arab but you can’t buy ’em.”

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Political Issues | Leave a comment

Helping Others, Help Yourself

I found this article this morning in an e-mail from Bottom Line, and it rings true to me. When AdventureMan was in the military, there were social events I was obligated to attend. I often felt so much reluctance I just wanted to go to bed; just the thought of the events made me tired. Then I discovered a secret – when I got there, to look for someone shy, and to go over and talk with them. There was always someone, and it made all the difference – to me!


It feels good to be a Good Samaritan, of course. But there’s more to the story—because science reveals that being of service to others brings numerous health benefits. Maria E. Pagano, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, has investigated the helper therapy principle (HTP), which is based on the concept that when people help others, they are also helping themselves—particularly when the helper and the recipient of that help share a common malady. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly published her recent review article on the topic. Among the evidence cited were studies showing that…

  • People with chronic pain who counseled other pain patients reported a significant decrease in their own symptoms of pain and depression.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who were trained to have monthly 15-minute supportive phone conversations with other MS sufferers showed improvement in self-confidence and self-esteem as well as reduced depression.
  • Alcoholics who helped other alcoholics were almost twice as likely to stay sober in the year following treatment…had lowered levels of depression in the three months after they started helping other alcoholics…and had significantly improved self-image. Dr. Pagano explained, “Helping others with a desire to live sober transforms the helper’s dark past and pain to greater good and enables him or her to be uniquely helpful to a fellow sufferer.”

While service to fellow sufferers is a cornerstone of 12-step programs of recovery, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Pagano noted that it is not necessary to share a common health problem in order to benefit from doing good. For instance, helping others in general has been linked with longer life, less depression, higher self-esteem and greater life satisfaction.

Bottom line: For a “helper’s high” and a significant health boost, lend a helping hand to someone in need.


Maria E. Pagano, PhD, is a psychologist and an associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. She also is a recipient of a career development award funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Character, Civility, Community, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Interconnected, Relationships | Leave a comment