Yellow Wife Book Review

When we are young, we have dreams and ideas of where life will take us. Adulthood and reality has a way of bringing us back to Earth.

Sadeqa Johnson‘s new novel, Yellow Wife, was published last month. Set in the 1850’s in Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown is a slave with privileges that few of her class have. Just shy of her 18th birthday, she dreams of marrying her sweetheart and the freedom that has been promised as a birthday present. The dream is shattered when she is forced out of her home.

Taken to a jail in preparation of being sold, her fate is changed when she is chosen by the jail owner. Pheby’s status is murky. She is still a slave. But she is also the lady of the house and the mother of her owner’s children. Known as The Jailer, he can be both kind and barbaric. Pheby knows that if she is survive, she must rely on her wits.

I loved this book. It is enthralling, engaging, and so dam good. There has been a lot of discussion about giving a voice and a spotlight to people who’s history has been either simplified or ignored completely. It would have been easy to just give lip service to this idea. Pheby is smart, brave, and likable, qualities that are sometimes missing in female characters. Especially in women of color. Though her story is set in a specific time period, she is one of those women who is instantly relatable. It is a quality that creates classics and forces readers to reckon with their own prejudices.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History

Was the Joke About Israel on SNL Satire or Anti-Semitic?

Satire is a beautiful thing. But it can also cross the line.

During the Weekend Update portion of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, anchor Michael Che made a joke about Israel. To say that it did not go over well is an understatement.

The question I have to ask, is it satire or antisemitism?

I get that it was a joke. Weekend Update is not your serious local weeknight news. It is supposed to be funny and perhaps bordering on not exactly being 100% politically correct.

That being said, I can’t help but agree that it did have a slightly anti-Semitic undertone. My people have been persecuted and murdered because of the lies that have been told about us.

Unlike other countries (ahem, United States) on which the the rollout of the vaccine programs have been unnecessarily complicated or messy, the Israeli government got their shit together. As of February 4th, US News & World Report put out a story that all Israelis over the age of sixteen were able to get the vaccine. The important word in this headline is all. There was no mention of any specific group that was either pushed to the head of the line or denied access because of their religious or cultural background.

I’ve been a fan of SNL for more than twenty years, this program is usually the highlight of my weekend. I can usually laugh at anything. But this joke, I cannot and will never be able to laugh at.

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Behind Her Eyes Review

I would love to say that every marriage is a perfect vision of happily ever after. But we all know that some marriages are complicated, to say the least.

The new Netflix mini-series, Behind Her Eyes, based on the book of the same name by Sarah Pinborough, premiered last week. Louise (Simona Brown) is a single, divorced mother who works at a psychiatry office three days a week. She was supposed to have a girls night out with a friend at a local bar. But when her friend does not show up, she starts up a conversation with David (Tom Bateman). What starts with a brief flirtation ends with a kiss. But before it can go any further, he makes his excuses and walks away.

The next day, David and Louise meet up again. The sizzling attraction from the night before has not dissipated. But he is her new boss, making any relationship other than a profession one impossible. He is also married to Adele (Eve Hewson), who has a complicated past. Then Louise and Adele bump into each other and become friends. Though David and Adele project the image of a picture perfect marriage, their relationship is not so perfect.

I’ve only seen the first two episodes. I also have yet to read the book. But so far, I am enjoying this not so simple love triangle with three characters, who each in their own way, are damaged.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Behind Her Eyes is available for streaming on Netflix.

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The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control Book Review

Mind control is like any element found within nature. It is neither good or bad. It is merely a tool to be used as one sees fit.

Back in the 1970’s, Steven Hassan was a college student dealing with a broken heart. Approached by other “students”, he eventually joined the Unification Movement, lead by cult leader Sun Myung Moon. Decades later, he became an expert on cults and mental health.

His latest book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, was published last September. His theory is that you know who’s appeal went beyond that of a political leader. His supporters acted as if they were under mind control, blindly believing what they were told instead of thinking for themselves. Backing up his ideas with research and the experiences of other cults, Hassan makes his case for how truly dangerous this man is.

Among the books that have been written about you know who over the past few years, this is one of the more unique ones. Hassan’s angle is an interesting one, answering the question of how so many can turn a blind eye to the truth that is right in front of them.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Regé-Jean Page Hosted SNL Last Night…That is All

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Radium Girls Review

Change does not happen from nothing. It requires the will to see it happen and the bravery to stand up against those who would prevent such change.

Radium Girls premiered in 2018. Based on a true story, it takes place in the 1920’s. Sisters Bessie (Joey King) and Josephine (Abby Quinn) are employed by American Radium (based on the real company U.S. Radium Corp). Their job is to paint watches and military dials with radium. In order to paint within the miniscule lines, they had to wet the brushes with their lips. When Josephine starts to get sick, Bessie starts to put two and two together. But when the company starts to push back, she realizes that getting justice is easier said than done.

The narrative is the classic underdog/working class vs. the big bad men who keep them down. Though the story is in the same genre as Iron Jawed Angels, Norma Rae, and Suffragette, I didn’t getting the same “yes I can” rush that I usually get with these kind of films.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Radium Girls is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix

Have the Members of the Texas GOP Lost Their Minds?

The game of politics has always been a sticky one. The question I have to ask, is when push comes to shove, do those in the halls of power serve themselves or the voters who hired them?

The big political news of the week is that Ted Cruz decided that it was a good time to take a vacation in Mexico while his fellow Texans are trying their best to survive a snow storm that has knocked out power, heat, and water.

On top of what can only be described as a foolish decision, Governor Greg Abbott went on Fox News and blamed New York Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal for the outages.

The cherry on top is the following statement by the state’s former Governor, Rick Perry

. “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,”

What is the purpose of the federal government, if not to step in when a storm of this magnitude creates such destruction in its wake? People are burning their furniture and bundling up in as many clothes or blankets as humanly possible to stay warm.

I don’t know who these men are trying to impress. It’s as if they care more about themselves or their careers than their constituents. But considering the party’s track record over the last few years, I expect nothing less.

P.S. While the Texas GOP does nothing, both AOC and Beto O’Rourke have stepped up to help. It doesn’t take a genius to see who is putting their money where their mouth is and who isn’t.

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World on Fire Character Review: Uwe & Claudia Rossler

*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. When we meet Uwe & Claudia Rossler (Johannes Zeiler and Claudia Mayer) in World on Fire, their introduction comes by way of their neighbor, Nancy Campbell (Helen Hunt). They have two children, Klaus and Hilda. While Klaus is away fighting for his country, his parents deal with an internal battle at home. Hilda is living with a medical condition, that if known to the authorities, would put her life in danger. They decide to hide their daughter’s illness and ignore what they are hearing about children being killed for having physical and mental special needs.

Uwe is a business owner who is under constant pressure to fall in line with the regime. Acting against his own conscious and the need to protect his daughter, he reluctantly joins the Nazi party. Then life forces Uwe and Claudia to deal with a fork in the road. Somehow, it gets out that their daughter is sick. Claudia makes the devastation decision to kill herself and Hilda, leaving a heartbroken husband behind. When Uwe kills one of his employees who is an avid supporter of the government, he turns to Nancy to hide the body.

To sum it up: Change only comes when we feel uncomfortable. Comfort creates complacency, for better or for worse. Uwe and Claudia are initially comfortable, safe in the knowledge that as heterosexual Christians, they will be left to live in peace. It is only when they are uncomfortable that they make certain decisions that will forever change the course of their lives.

Which is why they are memorable characters.

This will be my last Character review post for World on Fire. The next group of characters I will be writing about are…come back next week and find out.

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Flashback Friday: Building Off the Grid (2014-Present)

The process of building a home from scratch is difficult in itself. Add in Mother Nature and the process becomes twice as hard.

Building Off the Grid has been on the Discovery Channel/DIY Network schedule since 2014. The show follows homeowners who want to build new houses. But instead of building in new or existing neighborhoods, their homes are located in the middle of nature. On top of the challenges that come with creating a new home from the ground up, the owners and builders deal with roadblocks that come with their choice of location.

I find this show to program to be interesting. What keeps me watching is the heightened question of whether or not the final product will come to fruition as promised.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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How Do You Spell Hypocrite in Texas? Ted Cruz

These days, its easy to dream about vacation. Writing this post as New York is hit by another snow storm, I can’t help but let my mind drift to a sandy beach with the ocean lapping at my feet, a book in my lap, and a drink in my hand. But that does not mean I will jump on the next flight to someplace warm.

This week, as Texas is experiencing what can only be described as an historic winter storm, one of the state’s Senators, Ted Cruz was seen on a flight to Cancun. Back in December, he criticized the Mayor of Austin for going on vacation.

Back in 2014, he slammed then President Obama for golfing while spending time with his family at Martha’s Vineyard.

His reason for leaving the country was the following:

“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”

I understand wanting to be a good parent, but it is possible to say no to your kids.

What bothers me is that while he easily criticizes the other side, he can’t take the heat when he is in the same position.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If Democrats can be called out for doing what they shouldn’t be doing, then Republicans (or any politician, regardless of party affiliation) should expect the same.

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