Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America Book Review

For many in the first world, slavery appears to be a thing of the past. We read about it in history books and watch documentaries about it, but we think that it is no more in our modern world.

Sadly, slavery still exists. In Sudan, civilians were captured and enslaved the during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

Francis Bok was one of those enslaved. Captured as a young boy in the 1980’s, he escaped as a teenager and eventually found his way to America.

He recalls his experience in his 2003 memoir, Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America. Until the age of seven, Mr. Bok lived a happy life with his family in Southern Sudan. Then Arab raiders attacked his village and took him and hundreds of others as slaves. Successfully escaping at the age of seventeen after two previous attempts, Mr. Bok landed in Egypt before arriving in America.

I loved this book. It was both scary and thrilling at the same time. It was scary because I honestly believed the slavery no longer existed. It was thrilling as he finally made his way to freedom after years of treated as less than human.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On The Basis of Sex Trailer

When it comes to social reforms, there are two avenues: protest and amending the law.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young lawyer, the second wave of the feminist movement was at its height. While many saw the path to equality via protest, the future Justice Ginsburg understood that amending the law was just as important as public protest.

Her experience in this period of her life is documented in the upcoming film On The Basis Of Sex. Starring Felicity Jones as RBG and Armie Hammer as her late husband Martin Ginsburg, the film tells the story of the court case that would put RBG on the legal map and on the road to joining the Supreme Court decades later.

The problem with some biopics is that regardless of whether the subject is alive or dead, the facts don’t always make it to the final cut of the film. My hope (especially because RBG is still alive and kicking), is that the film (and Felicity Jones by extension) portrays RBG as she ought to be portrayed on the big screen.

On The Basis Of Sex hits theaters on December 25th. 

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Filed under Feminism, History, Movies, Politics, Thoughts On....

Flashback Friday-Odd Girl Out (2005)

Bullying in school has unfortunately been a part of many people’s educational experience for quite a few generations. The question is, can the young person being bullied rise above it or will the bullies win?

In the 2005 television movie, Odd Girl Out, (based on the book of the same name by Rachel Simmons) Vanessa (Alexa PenaVega) is part of the popular crowd. She is best friends with Stacey (Leah Pipes), the queen bee of the school. When Stacey finds out that they both have a crush on the same guy, Vanessa is not only kicked out of the popular crowd, but is also mercilessly bullied by her former friends. Can Vanessa regain her sense of self or will her bullies win?

The thing that strikes me about this television movie is that unlike other television movies about the high school experience, this movie felt real, raw and frankly quite painful. It is a reminder that bullying, especially in the school setting hurts and can potentially have life long negative consequences.

I recommend it.

 

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Star Wars Character Review: Poe Dameron

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the new characters that were introduced to audiences for the episodes seven and eight in the Star Wars franchise. Read at your own risk if you have not seen The Force Awakens Or The Last Jedi.

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 Star Wars to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Becoming a hero is a wish that many have. Saving the day and receiving everything that comes with saving the day is a fantasy that has been the backbone of storytelling since the beginning of storytelling. But there is an unspoken reality of becoming a hero. Besides the danger that is involved, there may also be an ego trip and the inevitable fall that comes after the ego trip.

In the newest Star Wars films, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a hero of the rebellion. The spiritual son of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher), he is not only one of the best pilots within the rebellion, but he is also being groomed as General Organa’s future second in command. In The Force Awakens, Poe is one of the core characters that is front and center in the war against The First Order.

Brash, passionate, emotional and a little reckless, Poe is everything the rebellion needs to prevent The First Order from taking over the entire galaxy.

In The Last Jedi, Poe is still the hero, but his recklessness becomes a negative attribute instead of a positive one. Disobeying orders, he leads a strike against the First Order that costs the lives of many and is promptly demoted. But even his demotion is not enough  when he disagrees with the choices of his replacement, Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern). When he is working with Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega) to help the rebellion survive, his actions bring out the opposite result.

In the end, Poe redeems himself as a hero in the battle on the planet Crait, but not before having a few bumps and bruises along the way.

To sum it up: Being a hero and saving the day is not all fun and games. There is a reality to being a hero that is often not explored. When creating a character who wants to be a hero, making that character earn that hero title is in my opinion, necessary. It not only creates a realistic character arc, but it also keeps the audience or reader in their place, questioning when the character will become the hero they want to be.

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Putin Comes To America

No one goes through life without making at least one mistake. The hope is that most people learn from their mistake and try to prevent it from happening in the future.

But you know who is not most people. After the reaction of the American public to the speech in Helsinki earlier this week, a smart person would have thought twice about how to deal with Putin and the Russian government.

But you know who isn’t exactly the stable genius he publicly proclaims himself to be. After trying to save his skin by walking back on his speech, he decided that the smart thing would be to invite Putin to visit America in the fall.

If there was anyone else sitting in the Oval Office, this would be just another meeting between two world leaders.

But with you know who, this is not just a meeting between two world leaders.

Why don’t we just give Putin the American Presidency? Tear up the Bill Of Rights and throw the Constitution in a bonfire?

What Putin wants is to destroy the American democracy as we know it to be and you know who is stupidly playing into his hands.

Good job America, we really did vote for the best person for the job.

 

 

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Jane Lives On

201 years ago yesterday, Jane Austen left this Earth.

In her lifetime, she published four completed novels: Sense And Sensibility, Pride And Prejudice, Mansfield Park And Emma. Persuasion, her last completed novel and Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel were published posthumously.

I sometimes wonder if she had any inkling of her pending immortality. Though her mortal bones have long since returned to the Earth, her name lives on. She is as famous as any contemporary author. Her books are read for pleasure and for academic purposes. There have been more than a few film, television and stage adaptations of her works (some which are better than others) and while many modern authors have tried to replicate Jane’s style as a writer, only a handful have succeeded in doing so.

Her work lives on because they still speak to us 200 years later. Above all else, she wrote about the human condition and the ordinary experiences that we all live through.

Wherever you are Jane, thank you.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Throwback Thursday-No One Would Tell (1996)

The statistics about spousal/partner abuse can only be defined as scary. 1 out of every three women and one out of every four men have been physically abused by their spouse or romantic partner.

In the 1996 television movie, No One Would Tell, Stacy Collins (Candace Cameron Bure) is a shy teenage girl who somehow attracts the attention of Bobby Tennison (Fred Savage), one of the most popular boys in her high school. What starts out as a fairy tale high school fantasy come true turns into a nightmare. Bobby becomes possessive of Stacy and starts physically abusing her. Can Stacy walk away from Bobby before it’s too late?

While there are some “message” movies that get on their soapbox instead of using the narrative to get their message to the audience, this television movie does not fall into that category. Spousal and partner abuse is an epidemic that has existed for most of human history. The message in the movie reaches the audience in a way that hits home without said soapbox.

I recommend it.

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Two Podcasts You Should Be Listening To If You Aren’t Already: Can I Just Say & Unorthodox

These days, everyone and their mother has their own podcast.

But for me, there are two podcasts that I count myself as a fan of: Unorthodox and Can I Just Say.

Unorthodox

There is an old inside joke about Jews: For every two Jews, there are three opinions. From my perspective. is the backbone of Unorthodox. Created by Tablet Magazine,  the podcast is hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz. Every week they talk about news relating to the Jewish world and have two guests: one Jewish and one not Jewish. What I appreciate about this podcast is that Mark, Liel and Stephanie not only mesh well together, but their unique world views allow all three to stand out in their own way. I’ve been listening for a couple of years; it’s a pleasure to wake up on Thursday morning knowing that the week’s episode is waiting for me.

Can I Just Say

Pop culture podcasts can sometimes get a little dull. Either they can veer too much into the fan boy or fan girl lane or they are just a tad too intellectual.

Thankfully, Can I Just Say is the perfect pop culture podcast. Hosted by Daphne Olive and Elizabeth Stevens, the ladies have unique and stimulating conversations about everything from Star Wars (their newest podcast about The Last Jedi was very interesting) to novels and their various adaptations (their comments about Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility got me thinking) to a hand-picked selection of Baz Lurhmann films opened my eyes to his abilities as a filmmaker. They also host a podcast entitled Fathoms Deep: A Black Sails Podcast, an equally interesting podcast about the television series Black Sails.

I recommend both.

 

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Movies, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Star Wars, Television

Dear Mark Zuckerberg: A Response To Allowing Holocaust Deniers To Stay On Facebook

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

You’re a Jew. I’m a Jew. You believe in free speech. I believe in free speech.

But I also know that the internet and your creation, Facebook, allows hate speech and lies about The Holocaust to spread at a rate that is quite scary from my perspective.

I don’t know about your family history, but I lost family in The Holocaust.

One of the reasons I am alive today is because members of my family took a chance when they left their homes and families for a new life in America in the early 20th century. I suspect your family at about this time in history did the same thing.

While I respect that Facebook is supposed to be a social media platform for all of us, a line has to be drawn when it comes to hate speech of any kind.

There should be no place for hate speech in this world in 2018. Unfortunately, Facebook allows hate speech to flourish.

Sincerely

A Concerned Facebook User

 

 

 

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The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life Book Review

Unless one is living under a rock these days, it’s hard to ignore the fact that immigration is a hot button issue these days. The problem with the debate is that there are nuances and real human beings behind the debate that are more often than not, overlooked.

Last year, journalist Lauren Markham published her new non fiction book, The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life.

Born in El Salvador, Ernesto and Raul Flores were growing up in the midst of their homeland’s civil war. At the age of seventeen, as gang violence mounted, the boys knew that they had no choice. They had to leave their home and family for the United States. Surviving the treacherous journey to America, Ernesto and Raul face new challenges. In addition to the growing pains that every teenager deals with, the boys must deal with immigration courts, adapting to a new life in America and living with an older brother whom they had not seen for a number of years.

I was blown away by this book. It read more like a fiction novel than a true story. Above all, what I loved about this book was that it put a human face and a human story on a subject that many in this country do not see eye to eye to.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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