Thoughts On The Aziz Ansari Sexual Allegations

Since news broke last week that comedian and actor Aziz Ansari was accused of forcing himself on a woman, I have to be honest that this accusation is not so clear-cut for me.

By reputation, Mr. Ansari is far from the likes of Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein. He comes off as a genuine nice guy. I was honestly surprise when the woman making the accusation, known as Grace, seemed to putting him in the same category as Lauer and Weinstein.

My interpretation of the story is that it was a date gone horribly wrong. For whatever reason, Mr. Ansari believed that his accuser wanted to sleep with him, despite the verbal and non verbal cues that she allegedly says she was giving him.

The lesson I think we need to learn here is two-fold: first is that we have to stop teaching our daughters to only be caregivers. There is nothing wrong with that lesson, but we also need to teach our daughters that it is ok to speak up. Women were given voices for a reason, we need to use them. The other issue is that we need to teach our sons, especially when they get to age when they start to go on dates, on how to read the cues, both verbal and non verbal from their date. If their date is obviously uncomfortable or saying that they are not interested in having sex, our sons need to learn to read, understand and respect the wishes of their dates.

While the accusation against Mr. Ansari is not as extreme as others, it is still symptomatic of much larger cultural issue of how we treat our daughters compared to our sons and what we teach our daughters compared to our sons. To find a cure, we must diagnose the problem based on the symptoms. If the symptoms in this case are the treatment and education of our daughters compared to what their brothers are receiving, then the cure is equal treatment and respect for both sexes.


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The Librarian of Auschwitz Book Review

Books are more than words on a page bound together. They reflect our shared humanity.

Dita Kraus is one of the lucky Holocaust survivors to not only have survived in general, but also having survived the death camp Auschwitz. During the war, she was secretly known as the camp librarian, trying to keep learning alive when death was all the inmates knew.

Her story is chronicled in the book, The Librarian of Auschwitz,originally written in 2012 by Antonio Iturbe and translated last year into English by Lilit Thwaites.  In 1944, Dita was a fourteen year old girl. She is among the lucky ones. Not only is she still alive, but she and her parents are together.  One of the Jewish leaders of the camp asks Dita to take responsibility for a number of books that have been smuggled in. Despite the fact that if the books are discovered, she could be killed, Dita agrees to the task.


What I loved about this book is that the books represent a sliver of hope and humanity when there was none. Not only is the book well written, but it speaks to the idea that even in the darkest of times, hope never completely dies. We just need to hang onto it as best we can, in whatever shape we can.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts On The Government Shutdown

As of this evening, the government shutdown is over.

A bill has been signed to keep the government open for a few more weeks.

Is it me or did this spectacle feel like it was more akin to feuding siblings pointing fingers at each other, trying to blame the other for the broken toy rather than adult lawmakers trying to run a country?

As anyone who has ever been in an argument will tell you, pointing fingers never works. Unfortunately, that is all the members of the House and Senate seem to have been doing for three days.

Also, did anyone else notice that while government workers (including members of our military) were not paid for the last three days, the members of the House and Senate were?

I could go on, but I will let the ladies of The View take it from here:


Did anyone else see the videos on their social media pages of you know who saying that during the last government shutdown in 2013, that the President should take the blame? Not only he is a snake oil, used car salesman, but he is also a hypocrite. He refused to owe up to his part in the government shutdown, but yet in 2013, he said then President Obama, because he was President, needed to step up.

I think I would define that as the pot calling the kettle black….


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Thoughts On The 10 Year Anniversary Of Heath Ledger’s Passing

There is an old Jewish blessing:

“May you live until 120”

Unfortunately, some of us will not even get close to our golden years. 10 years ago today, Heath Ledger, one of the brightest young stars in Hollywood died of a drug overdose. He was 28 years old.

When I think of Heath Ledger, I think of an actor who could have easily let himself be typecast. But he fought against that type casting. The result of that fight is a brief career full of roles that are contradictory in every shape and form.  Unfortunately, like so many, he lost his life due to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, ending what was the only the beginning of a life long career.

Wherever you are sir, RIP. You will not be forgotten anytime soon.



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Thoughts On The Roe V. Wade Anniversary

Throughout most of history, abortion has been unsafe and illegal, if not also considered to be immoral.

45 years ago today, history changed. Roe V. Wade ratified into law, making abortions not just legal, but allowing them to be done in a way that does not cause long-term harm to the women who were seeking abortions.

Then, as now, Roe V. Wade is a victory. It is a victory over the idea that women do not have complete autonomy over their bodies and their fate. Unfortunately, there are far too many who want to pull us back to the dark ages where abortion was unsafe and illegal.

While I understand freedom of speech and religion, no government has the right to tell its female citizens how to live. Nor can it restrict vital health services, especially to women who do not have the financial luxury of seeing a doctor regularly.

What it essentially boils down to is control over women. For eons upon eons, we have been silent, because we had no voice. Now we have a voice and we will use it.

I will end this post with a question to the male lawmakers who would gleefully overturn Roe V. Wade: If your teenage daughter found out that she was pregnant, why would you deny her the right to an abortion, knowing her age and that her life would forever changed by this pregnancy? If your sister was pregnant and the doctors determined that if the pregnancy went through full term, it would possibly kill your sister, would you still deny her the right to an abortion? Or would you let her possibly die on a principle?

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If This Video Does Not Make You Cry, Then I Don’t Know What To Tell You

Last week, I wrote a post about Jorge Garcia.

Mr. Garcia was brought to this country as a young boy by his well-meaning parents. Unfortunately, they skirted the emigration rules and Mr. Garcia is undocumented. Last Monday, he was sent back to Mexico, a country he has not lived in for thirty years. His wife and children, who are all American citizens, are doing as well as they can under the circumstances.

Appearing on The View last week, Mrs. Garcia and her children spoke to the co-hosts and the audience, as well to Mr. Garcia, who called in via satellite. At several points during the interview, Mrs. Garcia and her children all broke out into tears. If I could have reached across the screen and hugged them, I would have.

Mr. Garcia’s only crime is that he was brought to this country as a young man illegally. Other than that, he is an upstanding, hardworking, respectable citizen. While I understand that the immigration laws are in place for a reason, we need to show some humanity. Of course, if someone has perpetrated a criminal act and is here illegally, they should be sent back to their country of origin. But if they are just going about their business without breaking the law, I see no reason why they should be punished by being forced out of the United States. Especially if they came here as children and only think of themselves as Americans.

One of the flaws that exists in the American culture (and by extension some of our laws), is that we say one thing and do another. It’s time to say what we mean and mean what we say.

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Thoughts On Today’s Women’s March

Americans have become accustomed to our democracy. It is ingrained in every detail of our lives. We have also become complacent, forgetting that democracy must be fought for.

Today I marched in the New York City Women’s March.

Thousands upon thousands of people, marched for the future of our country and our democracy. As with last year’s march, it was a rallying cry not just for women’s rights, but for the rights of immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color etc. We need to remind those in power that we, the voting public are their employers, not the other way around. Through our votes, we tell them when they are hired and when they are fired. Unfortunately, some of those in power have forgotten whom they are beholden to when it comes to their employment.

I hope that today’s march was a reminder of who controls the keys to the kingdom. And if they have forgotten, perhaps the midterm elections later in the year will remind them.


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Cruel Intentions The Musical Review

Two thoughts come to mind when it is announced that a musical based on a story that is not a musical will soon be on stage. One thought is that the producers have chosen a known work with a dedicated fan base, who can spread the word and reduce the work of the publicity department. The other thought is that the producers took the easy way out, choosing a known work instead of taking a chance on a work by a writer whose name is not as well-known.

I saw Cruel Intentions: The Musical earlier today. As with the 1999 film of the same name, the story is set in New York City. Sebastian Valmont (Constantine Rousouli, taking over from Ryan Phillipe) and Kathryn Merteuil (Lauren Zarkin, taking over from Sarah Michelle Gellar) are rich step-siblings. They make a bet that Sebastian can seduce Annette Hargrove (Carrie St. Louis, taking over from Reese Witherspoon), the virgin daughter of their school’s new headmaster. If Sebastian wins, he gets to sleep with Kathryn, the one girl who is out of his reach. If Kathryn wins, she can claim ownership of Sebastian’s car, his pride and joy.  It seems like a simple task, but by the time the game of seduction and lies is over, nothing will be the same.

Based on the book Dangerous Liaisons, the show is a ton of fun and extremely enjoyable. True to the film incarnation, with a singable soundtrack straight out of the 1990s, the show is one of the best I have seen in a very long time.

I absolutely recommend it.

Cruel Intentions is playing at (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleeker Street, New York City) until March 16th, 2018. 



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Thoughts On The 20th Anniversary Of Dawson’s Creek

We all have those television shows from our teenage years. No matter how old we get, we are always reminded of that juncture in our lives when those television shows come on.

20 years ago tomorrow, the pilot of Dawson’s Creek premiered. Set in a fictional coastal New England town, the show is about four friends who are dealing with everything that comes with being a teenager.

Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) is the movie buff/Steven Spielberg wannabe. His best friend, tomboy/girl next door Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) has been climbing up into Dawson’s bedroom and slipping into his bed since they were little. Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson) comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams) is the new girl in town, shipped off from New York City to live with her grandmother.

This show was must see television when I was younger. I remember pilling into a friend’s dorm room in college every Wednesday at 8PM like clockwork. Created by Kevin Williamson, Dawson’s Creek was one of the hallmark shows of what was then known as the WB network. Created for the then teenage audience, the character arcs and narratives spoke to and spoke of what it is to be a teenager.  The show also paved the way for other teenage dramas that would dot the television schedule in later years.

I can’t believe it’s been twenty years. Perhaps it’s time for another viewing.

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Flashback Friday-A Dangerous Method (2011)

Compared to other forms of medical treatment, psychoanalysis is a relatively modern form of treatment.

The 2011 film, A Dangerous Method, is the story of how psychoanalysis was born. Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) is suffering from hysteria and under the care of Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). Dr. Jung is following in the footsteps of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), who pioneered the methodology of talk therapy to deal with mental illness and anxiety. Sabina aspires to sit on the other side of the couch and becomes a psychiatrist. Then things get interesting when the personal and professional relationships between the characters begin to shift and crack.

What I like about this movie is that it not only humanizes the very large figures of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, but it also introduces the audience to Sabina Spielrein, who, for the most part, has been forgotten, despite her contributions to the fields of psychoanalysis and psychiatry.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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