Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy Book Review

When the first Star Wars movie, Episode 4: A New Hope premiered in 1977, there was just one prominent woman: Princess Leia (the late Carrie Fisher). Over the last 44 years, the Star Wars universe grew in ways that I guess was unexpected in the late 1970’s. That growth includes a group of female characters who are just as badass and important to the narrative as Leia was then and still is today.

In 2018, Amy Ratcliffe published Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy. This book tells the stories of a variety of female characters that are not always obvious to the fanbase. While some of the obvious names on the list other than Leia are Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), it contains what can only be described as a conclusive inventory of women within that world.

Ratcliffe leaves no stone unturned when it came to the women who are profiled in the book. Sith, Jedi, human, non-human, etc, are all given the spotlight. The artwork is beautiful and worth framing by itself.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Movies, Star Wars

Throwback Thursday: Fools Rush In (1997)

When it comes to love and romance, it has been said that opposites attract. However, that does not mean that compromise and putting in the hard work to make the relationship last can be put aside.

In the 1997 romantic comedy Fools Rush In, Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry) and Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek) are as mismatched a couple as you can get. Fate brings them together in Las Vegas. Three weeks after a one night stand, Isabel discovers that she is pregnant. Before they know it, Alex and Isabel are married. The ceremony was the easy part. Now they have to learn to live with each other and get along with their new in-laws. Which as many married couples may tell you, is a battle in and of itself.

This movie is cute. It is the type of rom-com I would watch on a day that I needed to relax and get out my head for a little while. The comedy is also helped by the cultural differences between the main characters. It would be easy to present Alex as a typical uptight suburban white guy and Isabel as a saucy and spicy Latina. While the stereotypes are there, they are merely the backbone of who Alex and Isabel are. They are given ample room to grow well beyond the expectations the audience has for who they are and where their story will go.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Real American Book Review

The term “real American” is both simple and complicated. The simple definition is a person who was born in this country or has forsaken their country of birth and has chosen to become an American. The complicated definition is plagued by historical, political, and/or cultural images of who is a “real American”.

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the daughter of an African-American father and a white English mother. Her 2018 memoir, Real American, is about growing up bi-racial in the United States. In the book, she talks about how racism has affected her life and her self esteem.

This book is very good and very tough to read. The pain and anger of dealing with racism on a daily basis is immediate from the word go. I could feel it radiating from the page. If I could have, I would have directly apologized to her not just for my own innate prejudices, but for what the image of person of color is to the outside world. If nothing else, the author is challenging her readers to take a hard look at themselves and how they have been taught to look at some people deemed as “the other”.

I also appreciated the unique format of the text. Though it may seem a little out of the box, it fits in well with the message.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health

Contributing Writers Sought

COVID-19 Wall of Memories, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which runs a website of the same name, is seeking contributing writers for its news page.  Our website memorializes victims of COVID-19 and shares news and perspective on the disease and its impact on the U.S. We are looking for writers with an interest in exploring the cultural, personal, and social impact of the illness. We are especially interested in diverse voices.

Candidates should email a brief bio and two writing samples, published or unpublished, to rnasrullah@covid19wallofmemories.org. Please email any questions to this address as well. We accept pitches year-round.

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Filed under National News, Writing

Snow White & Fox News: Nothing More Than a Distraction

Have you ever gone to a magic show and closely watched the magician while they were doing card tricks? The real trick is in their left hand, but they are distracting you by making you focus on what is in their right hand.

The latest brouhaha to come out of Fox News revolves around the updates made to the Snow White’s Enchanted Wish ride at Disneyland. Their claim, as ridiculous as it sounds, is that cancel culture is again rearing its ugly head. The target of the moment is Snow White.

These people need to get over themselves. Instead of dealing with the real issues like Covid-19, the economy, the still prevalent race issues, etc., they talk about nonsense. Its as if these people purposefully put their heads in the figurative sand. They hear and see what they want to hear and see. If it doesn’t interest them or directly support their point of view, it is wrong or bad somehow.

No wonder this country is going to Hades in a handbasket.

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Filed under Fairy Tales, National News, Politics

May the 4th be With You

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Filed under Movies, Star Wars

The Story of Late Night Review

For many of us, our day ends with a late night talk show.

The new six part CNN series, The Story of Late Night, takes viewers through the history of late night television. It started as a way to fill the air time after the primetime shows and turned into a completely new genre. Initially headlined by television legends Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson, these programs have kept the country laughing for 70+ years. While being introduced (or re-introduced, depending on your age) to these television personalities, the audience is given back stage tour to the places and people that were not in front of the camera.

I enjoyed the first episode. It was educational, but not in a stuffy or academic way. It was both a learning experience and a good laugh. One of the hosts I was surprised to learn about is Faye Emerson. My impression of the era was that men were the face of the genre, women worked behind the scenes or were part of the act. Knowing that she led her own show was a lovely surprise.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Story of Late Night airs on CNN on Sunday nights at 9PM.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Television, TV Review

The Room on Rue Amelie Book Review

When we make a choice, we never know what the consequences of that decision will be. We can only hope that it will turn out for the best.

In Kristin Harmel‘s 2018 book, The Room on Rue Amelie, Ruby is a young woman in the late 1930’s. Attending college in New York City, she meets and instantly falls in love with Marcel, a Frenchman from Paris. After the wedding, they move to Marcel’s hometown. At first it seems as they are in newlywedded bliss. But then World War II starts and their marriage is forever altered. The man she married and the man who stands in front of her are two different people.

After he is killed, Ruby discovers that her husband was part of the resistance. Picking up where he left off, she hides Allied soldiers who have landed in enemy territory. One of them is a RAF pilot who Ruby immediately connects with. She also takes in Charlotte, the young daughter of her Jewish neighbors who have been arrested. As the war continues on, the level of danger grows tenfold. They know they want to survive, but fate may have other plans.

I really enjoyed this book. Harmel’s story of love, resistance, fate, and hope is emotional and powerful. The relationship that kept me going was the one between Ruby and Charlotte. Their sisterly bond was the strongest among the characters, keeping them both going in a time when their circumstances could have easily broken them.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, New York City

Chef Boot Camp

At some point in our professional lives, it is easy to forget why we chose that job. There are two paths to take. One would be to change careers. The other is to re-discover what inspired us to join that profession in the first place.

On the new Food Network series, Chef Boot Camp, each episode focuses on three chefs who have lost their cooking mojo. The owners of the restaurants where these chefs work have reached a breaking point. Under the tutelage of Chef Cliff Brooks, they will be forced to learn new dishes and hopefully re-ignite their love of being in the kitchen. If they are not able to succeed, they may find themselves out of a job.

I find this program to be interesting. Though it is a reality show, it feels like it extends into real life because the consequences of what happens on the show extend long after the credits roll.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Chef Boot Camp airs on Food Network on Thursday at 10PM.

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Filed under Television, TV Review

Being Mr. Wickham Review

Charm has its uses. It can get us places that being curt or direct cannot.

The new play, Being Mr. Wickham premiered worldwide (via the internet) this past weekend at the Theatre Royal St. Edmunds Bury in the UK. In this one hour, one man play, Adrian Lukis brings his 1995 Pride and Prejudice character, Mr. Wickham back to life. It’s been 35 years since the book ended. Wickham is now 60 and contemplating how his life has turned out. His marriage to Lydia Bennet is still somehow thriving after what looked to be a rocky start. Sitting in his library and enjoying a brandy while his wife sleeps upstairs, Wickham tells his story as only Wickham can.

This play is such a treat for Austen fans. Though it has been 26 years since Lukis played Wickham, it feels like no time has passed at all. He is still the charming, smooth talking rogue that he was in his youth. But age and experience has mellowed him out a bit. Co-written by Catherine Curzon and directed by Guy Unsworth, it is an intimate look at one of the most infamous characters in classic 19th century literature.  I feel like wherever she is, Austen would approve. It is fanfiction of her work in the best sense of the word.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Books, Broadway Play Review, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice