Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now Book Review

They say that hindsight is 2020. However, our past does not always define our future.

Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos, was published last month.

This brief biography takes readers on a journey from President elect Joe Biden‘s early years to the his current life as the future 46th President of the United States. Osnos describes the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, both personally and professionally. His story is that of a man who has not only thrived in spite of everything that makes him human.

I really loved this book. I loved it because it tells Biden’s story in a way that is down to earth, readable, and sweetly brief. If nothing else, it is a reminder why America made the right choice.

I recommend it.

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RIP David Prowse

If one were to compile a list of movie villains, the character of Darth Vader from the Star Wars film series would likely be in the top five.

David Prowse, the actor who physically played Vader (James Earl Jones provided the voice) passed away yesterday. He was 85.

May his memory be a blessing. Z”l.

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Flashback Friday: Of Mice and Men (1992)

When a book is adapted into a movie, the results can be mixed. The best of these films brings the novel to life while remaining true to the original content.

In 1992, an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novella Of Mice and Men hit theaters. Starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, the movie follows two nomadic ranch workers in California looking for work during The Great Depression. George Milton (Sinise) is the brains of the outfit. Lennie Small (Malkovich) has a good heart, but he is not the brightest bulb in the box.

Directed by Sinise, this is one of the best book to film adaptations I have ever seen. It holds up to the source material while entertaining the movie-going audience.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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World on Fire Character Review: Nancy Campbell

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

The job of a journalist is to report the facts and let the public decide how to react. The problem is that in some countries and under some governments, the facts are dangerous.

On World on Fire, Nancy Campbell is an American journalist whose job is her life. In 1939, Nancy is in Warsaw when the Germans invade Poland. Returning to Berlin, she does her job as she has always done. But she also knows enough to know that war is coming. She tries to convince her closeted nephew, Webster O’ Connor (Brian J. Smith) to leave Europe while the borders are still open. But Webster decides to stay.

In Berlin, she is friendly with her neighbors and the army officers who she must interact with as part of her job. The journalist in her wants to report what she is seeing. But she is held back by her German supervisors who are towing the party line and need to make sure that only their version of the truth is released.

Nancy knows the risks she takes when she is determined reveal everything that she is seeing and experiencing. But in her eyes, it must be done, in spite of the personal costs she may have to pay.

To sum it up: Sometime doing the right thing requires going against everyone and everything around you. It is easy to be silent and pretend that everything is fine. It is harder to follow your own instincts. When Nancy makes the difficult and dangerous decision to speak the truth, she is standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Saved by the Bell Review

Reboots, revivals and reimaginings are all the rage these days. However, there is a catch. Not every television program or movie is worthy of its predecessor.

The reboot of Saved by the Bell premiered last night on the Peacock network.

When Governor of California Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) wastes a bunch of money, the ax falls on a low performing high school. Daisy Jimenez (Haskiri Velazquez), Devante Youg (Dexter Darden), and Aisha Garcia (Alycia Pascual-Pena) are forced to transfer to Bayside High School.

Used to a lower income neighborhood and a school lacking in resources, they are shocked to see what the kids at Bayside view as normal. Paired up with Mac Morris (Mitchell Hoog), Jamie Spano (Belmont Camell), and Lexi (Josie Totah) as “Bayside Buddies”, they don’t always see eye to eye or understand each other.

Trying to help the new students adapt are alumnus turned staff Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkely Lauren) and A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez). Above them is Principal Ronald Toddman (John Michael Higgins). Though we only see First Lady Kelly Morris (nee Kapowski) briefly, she is ever present in the background.

I only watched the pilot, but I can say with certainty that is as close to a perfect remaining as one can get. Old school fans of the original series (myself included) will instantly be taken back thirty years. Younger viewers will be able to connect to the story, as it is very relevant for 2020.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Saved by the Bell is available for streaming on the Peacock network.

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In Spite of Everything, I am Grateful This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time of year in which we forget what we don’t have and remember what we are grateful. With everything going on this year, it is doubly easy to become negative and angry. But I choose positivity and I choose to look at what I do have.

To everyone celebrating, have a happy, safe, and delicious Thanksgiving.

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Throwback Thursday: Wild & Crazy Kids (1990-1992)

One of the joys of childhood is the freedom from inhibitions.

Wild & Crazy Kids aired on Nickelodeon from 1990-1992. Hosted by Omar Gooding, Donnie Jeffcoat, Annette Chavez (season 1), and Jessica Gaynes (seasons 2 and 3), the premise of the show was that two teams of kids would face each other in a series of physical challenges.

When I was growing up, this show was pure fun to watch. The creativity of the games and the enthusiasm of the participants radiated from the screen, almost daring the kids at home to take part themselves.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Is Traveling for Thanksgiving Wise This Year?

The week of Thanksgiving in the United States is normally one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. But what we know as normal does not exist anymore.

With the rate of Covid-19 infections dramatically rising, officials have been warning Americans about the dangers of traveling to see loved ones. In spite of the warnings, three million Americans have already opted to travel by plane last weekend.

The question is, is it wise to travel this year?

The straight answer is no. We all know how easily transferrable the virus is one from person to another person. That being said, I understand the reasons that some have decided that seeing family and/or friends is important.

With many colleges going completely remote until the Spring semester, students have no choice but to travel. After months of obeying stay at home orders, seeing another four walls and a fresh face is emotionally necessary. Phone calls, Zoom, and other ways of electronically connecting are fine. But, they will never be able to replace the experience of physically being in the same room with someone else.

The truth is that there is no law that will force Americans to stay home. There can only be recommendations and advice from both the scientific/medical community and government officials. What we do with that information is up to the individual.

I can only hope that the prediction of an additional surge in cases stemming from this week stays in the realm of “what if” and does not become reality.

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Running on Empty Book Review

At a certain point in our lives, we come to the realization that our parents are not perfect. If we are lucky, they are loving, supportive, and provide the foundation that allows us to become happy, healthy, and productive adults. But that does not mean that our emotional needs as children were met.

Running on Empty, written by Drs. Jonice Webb and Christine Musello was published back in 2012. This self book explores how the specter of childhood emotions that have not been dealt with can grow into a shadow that can hold us back as adults. Using a number of examples, worksheets and practical advice, the authors are guiding readers to move beyond the unseen scars of their past.

I really loved this book. The authors are able to explain how CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) does not end when we are no longer children. They also empower their readers to examine and understand their childhood emotions and ultimately, overcome what is holding them back.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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What Took the GSA and Emily Murphy so Long?

Until recently, most Americans had not heard of the GSA (General Services Administration). Their job, in a nutshell, is to assist and provide for the basic functions of federal agencies. This includes opening the doors to an incoming Presidential administration and supplying access to the materials and funds they need to do their jobs.

The administrator of the GSA is Emily Murphy. For weeks, she has been avoiding the obvious result of the election. Yesterday, she finally informed President-elect Joe Biden that the current administration is ready to start the transition process.

What took the GSA and Emily Murphy so long? Are they so afraid of you know who (like so many in our government these days), that they put their careers ahead of the needs of the country? Or, have they finally seen the light and understood that to be on the right side of history, they can no longer hide from the truth?

Either way, there will be a shadow cast upon the GSA for years to come. I don’t envy those who will one day have Murphy’s job.

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