Add One More To The List: Al Franken

When the news broke last month that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault by a number of women, it was only the tip of the iceberg. The newest member of this not so honorable club is Al Franken, Saturday Night Live alumni and current senator from Minnesota.

In 2006, while on a USO tour, Leeann Tweeden accuses Mr. Franken of forcibly kissing her and having a picture taken of them while she slept. The picture is of Mr. Franken pretending to fondle her breasts.

Should Mr. Franken resign from? Honestly, I don’t know. In an ideal world, I would say yes, but considering that an empty seat in the Senate would create an imbalance that would tip in favor of the Republican, I say no.

At least unlike other politicians accused of similar acts (Donald Trump, Roy Moore), Mr. Franken has apologized and promised to make amends. But unlike his predecessors, there is pictorial evidence that is irrefutable.

The problem continues to be that women are still seen as sexual objects without thoughts, feelings and ambitions. Until the day when the concept is eradicated for good, then we will continue to be seen as and treated as sexual objects.

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Filed under Feminism, Politics, Television

Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together Book Review

The corner-stone of any democracy can be described in one word: compromise. These days in America, compromise is a dirty word, especially when one has to reach across the political aisle.

Earlier this year, writer and television news commentator Van Jones published Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together. In this non-fiction book, Mr. Jones calls out the political bullsh*t on both sides of the aisle and forces the reader to examine how we all are guilty of putting our own interests and beliefs ahead of the good of our country and our fellow citizens.

This book is  wake up call for all Americans. It reminds us that at the end of the day, we must find a way to compromise and get along, even if we will never see eye to eye. In the book, he uses an analogy of a family reunion. A young child has wandered away from their parents and has fallen into a well. While the Democrats and The Republicans bicker and disagree, no one is doing what should be doing: finding a way to get the child out of the well. I can’t think of a better analogy for the current political climate in America.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-2012 (2009)

End of the world movies are nothing new. While these movies are known for their special effects, it is the narrative and character development that makes or breaks films that fall within this genre.

In the 2009 movie, 2012, Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) must not only deal with the turmoil in his family, he must also deal with the fact that earth will no longer be inhabitable. While there are arks to save humanity, the arks cannot hold everyone. If nothing else, Jackson wants to rebuild his marriage with Kate (Amanda Peet) and make sure that their family survives. The question is will both happen or will they join the millions whose lives will be potentially lost?

As end of the world movies go, this one is not bad. What makes it stand out for me, is that as much as it is about the world ending, it is about a man trying to hold onto his family and his marriage. For that reason, this film rises above the standard end of the world film.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Once Upon A Time Character Review: Belle

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

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 us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For many female movie fans (especially those of a certain age), Belle from Beauty And The Beast is and will always be a revelation. Unlike her predecessors, her end goal was not finding a man and living happily ever after. She was more concerned with her books and taking care of her widowed father.

Halfway through the first season of Once Upon A Time, Belle (Emilie de Raven) was introduced to the world of OUAT via the episode Skin Deep.  This Belle is similar to the animated Belle in that she is smart, kind, loves books and agreed to go with the Beast aka, Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) in return for sparing her father’s life.  But while the animated Belle has almost a simple, almost predictable character arc, the OUAT Belle has a much more complex character arc.

For most of the series, Belle and Rumple have an up and down relationship. Their mutual love is obvious, but so is her will to completely change him that she ignores the fact that he and will forever be The Dark One.  This roller coaster, is of course, not helped by Rumple’s addiction to magic, but that will be discussed in detail next week.

Their relationship is only truly healed when Belle realizes that as much as she loves him, Rumple will never change completely. After their son, Gideon is kidnapped and raised by the Black Fairy (who also happens to be Rumple’s mother), Belle realizes that the Beast and the man are one and the same. She cannot love one or the other. She has to love both.

To sum it up: Romantic love is not as simple as the fairy tales make them out to be. Even the best of couples have their moments and their disagreements. The key to writing a romance is balancing the reality of being in a relationship with someone while including the expected plot points of the narrative. The OUAT version of Belle is both the traditional romantic heroine, but her relationship with Rumple, as it often is in real life is complicated and sometimes difficult. This version of Belle stands out because the writers successfully walked the very thin line of writing a romance, but with the real life pitfalls of romance. It’s not easy, but when it is done well, the audience or the reader truly appreciates the romance and the romantic heroine.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Books, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television

Tracee Ellis Ross On Being A Single Woman

It’s hard to be a single woman, even in 2017. Though our accomplishments are astounding, two questions always come up: when are you getting married and when are you having children?

Actor Tracee Ellis Ross, star of the sitcom Black-ish and daughter of music legend Diana Ross is a single woman. At the age of 45, she has neither a husband or a child. Recently, she spoke at the Glamour’s 2017 Women of the Year Summit about being a single woman.

Her speech is nothing short of amazing and inspiring.  The truth is that for most of human history, from the time a girl was born, she was told in every way possible that how she is viewed depends on whether or not she has a man. Being single is a fate worse than death.

In Emma, Jane Austen made the following comment about single women:

“Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor. Which is one very strong argument in favor of matrimony.”

The fact is that doors that were unquestionably open to men in regards to education, career and opportunities to go beyond the boundaries of hearth and home have only recently been kicked open by women.  But there is still one more door to kick down: the idea that a woman’s worth, despite who she is and what she has accomplished, is strictly based upon if she has a ring on her finger and a child at her feet.  A man’s worth is not judged by these factors, why must be women be judged by these factors?

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Music, Television

Throwback Thursday-Minority Report (2002)

When it comes to police work, the ability to prevent crime by being one step ahead of the criminal may not only dictate the speed in which the criminal is caught, but will also help in preventing future crimes.

In the 2002 movie, Minority Report, John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the chief of an elite police squad in Washington DC in the year 2054. Their squad is able to prevent crime by seeing into the future and stopping crime before it happens. But when Anderton is accused of a future murder, he is determined to prove that he is innocent.

I am not a huge fan of Tom Cruise, but this movie is not bad. There is enough tension in the narrative to keep the audience engaged. This movie also reminds me, at least, that a) human beings cannot control fate (as much as we would like to) and that technology will always have one or two flaws.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy Book Review

Prejudice against immigrants is nothing new. One does not need to go back too far into history to find see that the same prejudices and fears that existed about immigrants in the past still exist today.

Recently, writer Sasha Polakow-Suransky published Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy.  A journalist by trade, the writer exposes how the raw nerves of hate, prejudice and anti-immigration are infecting first world democracies and how liberal democracy is being threatened by the rising tide of hate and fear.

What strikes me about this book is that many of us who call ourselves liberals are closing our eyes. We believe it is 2017 and labels such as race, class, religion, family origin, etc are meaningless. The truth is that these labels carry as much weight and power as they did in previous generations and threaten to destroy the progress that we all have made to create a free and equal society.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Thoughts On The 14th Anniversary Of The Release Of Love Actually

14 years ago today, Love Actually hit theaters.

Set in London a month before Christmas, the movie is about eight couples whose narratives and lives are loosely entwined. Daniel (Liam Neeson) has recently lost his wife and is trying to figure out how to raise his stepson. Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with Juliet (Keira Knightley). Juliet is married to Mark’s best friend Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Karen (Emma Thompson) and Harry (the late Alan Rickman) are a long time married couple. Harry’s eyes are starting to wander towards his secretary. Karen’s brother, The Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) has a crush on his assistant. I could go on, but I will let the trailer speak for itself.

What I love about the movie (besides the fact that part of the cast have been in Austen adaptations) is that this movie is neither overly romantic, overly corny, nor does it bash the audience over the head that it’s Christmas. It’s about love, relationships and the need for a human connection, none of which are confined to the Christmas season or to those who celebrate Christmas.

If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. It is one of the few Christmas movies, that in my opinion, are worth watching.

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Roy Moore

What is wrong with this country can be described in two words: Roy Moore.

Moore is the Republican candidate running for the Senate in Alabama. He has recently been accused by five women of sexual assault back in the 1970’s when he was a district attorney and they were underage.

While Moore adamantly refutes the accusations, the evidence is mounting. I applaud these women who have four decades have finally come forward. I only hope that they get the justice they deserve and Moore gets the figurative kick in the balls that he deserves.

P.S. All signs are pointing to the fact that the accusations are being taken very seriously when Mitch McConnell would prefer not to see Moore in the Senate next year.

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New Randy Rainbow Video-“THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS”

Since last January, the world we knew has descended into a chaotic mess that is nearly unrecognizable.

For many of us who are counting the days until the 2020 election (or until impeachment, whichever comes first), Randy Rainbow provides a safe port of call that is warm, comfortable, sarcastic and extremely funny.

His new video is entitled “THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS”.

We need more Randy Rainbows in this world.

P.S. Does anyone long for the days when George W. Bush was President? If anyone would have asked me that question 15 years ago, I would have said they were crazy. If only we had a crystal ball back then….

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