Earlier this week, Barbara Bush, the wife of former President George H.W. Bush and the mother of former President George W. Bush passed away. She was 92.
Known for her pearls, her premature white hair and her down to earth demeanor, Mrs. Bush was both a product of her era and a woman standing on her own two feet.
Though she was the wife and mother of two Republican Presidents, she not only saw the humanity in others, but was also bipartisan enough to cut through the Washington b*llsh*t. She advocating for both literacy and for AIDS patients in an era when AIDS carried a stigma of economic and social isolation.
Multiple tributes have poured out over the last two days, but my favorite is from one of her granddaughters, Jenna Bush Hager.
To have your grandparents around as your growing up creates an experience that has no rivals. But have your grandparents around when your an adult is an experience that is be cherished.
RIP Barbara Bush. May her memory be a blessing to everyone who knew her and loved her.
The strongest love in the world is from a mother to her child.
In the 2008 movie Changeling, Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) is a phone operator living in Los Angeles in 1928. Christine is a single mother who is raising her son alone. She returns from work one day to find that her son has disappeared. As any mother would do, Christine calls the police. Five months later, the police bring a boy home to Christine. She says that he is not her son, but the police ignore her. Did the police bring back her son or has Christine lost control of her mental facilities?
The quote that comes to mind in this movie is as follows:
“Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”
While I am not a huge Angelina Jolie fan, I appreciate this film mainly because female characters like Christine are still too rare in Hollywood. It’s also a well acted film with a compelling narrative.
I recommend it.
This will be my last character review post for Fiddler On The Roof. The next story/group of characters I will be writing about is……I’m not telling you. You will just have to come back to this blog and find out.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.
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 Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
Prejudice is unfortunately part and parcel of our daily lives. But even with the hatred and prejudice, there are still some that see the person, not the label based on culture or religion. In Fiddler On The Roof, most of the major characters are Jewish. There are a handful of non-Jewish characters, but for the most part, they are background players.
Except for Fyedka.
Fyedka is a young man of the Christian faith who falls in love with Chava, Tevye and Golde’s middle daughter. She is equally in love with him. But a marriage between a Jew and Christian, especially in pre-revolutionary Russia was a big no-no. Unlike his compatriots, Fyedka does not harass his Jewish neighbors. He is open-minded and treats them with courtesy and respect.
To sum it up: Sometimes a writer has to break the mold when creating a character. Fyedka could have been a stereotype, a Russian Christian peasant who hates his Jewish neighbors because they are Jews. But because he is compassionate, respectful and open-minded, he is proof that tolerance, understanding and dialogue between people of different cultures and religions is possible. The reader and the writer just has to be willing to take the first step.
For any country, their Independence Day is a day celebration and joy. In Israel, that feeling on Yom Ha’atzmaut is no different.
Earlier this week, the citizens of Israel celebrated their Independence Day. One of the many things Israel is known for the nickname of “startup nation“.
The list of innovations include:
- ReWalk, an external skeleton to help paraplegics gain or regain the mobility that many of us take for granted.
- The Pillcam: a capsule that contains a tiny camera and allows doctors to see inside of a patients digestive tract.
- The flash drive.
I could go on, but I think the video below provides a greater list that I can compile.
While Israel and her leaders are far from perfect, the world should also be focusing on the good that the Israeli people have created instead just focusing on sensationalism headlines that may or may not be true.
Happy belated Yom Ha’atzmaut.
Of all of the basic elements that make up a successful narrative, the most important one to my mind is the story question.
Today I started reading a book and by the beginning of the second chapter, I felt like I couldn’t go on. The writer had yet to ask the story question.
In a nutshell, the story question grinds down the narrative down to a sentence or two.
- Star Wars: Can a small band of rebels destroy an evil empire?
- Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet must marry because she has a small inheritance and no brother to inherit directly from her father. But she will give into the pressure to marry or will she marry for love?
- Jane Eyre: Can an orphaned young woman remain true to herself and not change to please others?
But, even with a great story question, the key is to ask the story very question early in the story.
- Star Wars: The opening scene is that of the Empire’s warship closing on a ship they believe belongs to the rebellion.
- Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet is the second oldest of five daughters in a family that is without a direct male heir. Her mother is crowing about their new neighbor, a young man who is single and reputed to be wealthy.
- Jane Eyre: Jane Eyre is an orphan, living with relations who abuse her. She is reading a book and trying to hide from her cousins who frequently mock and bully her.
In creating my own fiction and critiquing fiction by other writers, I have learned that the story question is the most important question that is not only asked by the writer, but by the reader. In my experience, if the question is not asked properly and early on, it is likely to be lost in the narrative. If it is lost in the narrative, the reader or audience may never find it and walk away.
That is the last thing any writer wants.
First love is one of those experiences that we never forget.
In Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman, Elio is an American teenage boy whose parents own a villa in Italy in the 1980’s. They spend every summer and every holiday there. Elio’s father is a college professor who brings in a graduate student every summer to help him with his work. That particular summer, the graduate student is Oliver. What starts out as an ordinary summer will forever change both of their lives and spark a relationship that is never to be forgotten.
I saw the movie over the summer and was blown away. I was equally blown away by the book. The reader is in Elio’s head throughout the course of the narrative. What blew me away was that Elio’s story was not just about first love, but it was about first love that feels so different from other stories about first love. It felt natural, normal, intense and life changing. There might be some who object that the two lead characters are both male, but the way I see it, this story proves that love is love, regardless of the gender of the lovers.
I absolutely recommend it.
Last Thursday, two men entered a Starbucks location in Philadelphia. They were waiting for a third man to discuss a business deal. They sit down at a couple of benches and kill time by looking a their phones. They are bothering no one.
The next thing they know, they are arrested for trespassing.
This happened to two black men last weekend.
This story makes me sick to my stomach. These men were not making trouble. They were merely waiting for the person who they were going to discuss the business deal with. While one could argue that they did not buy anything, I find that argument ridiculous. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve stopped in Starbucks without buying anything. I’ve also used the bathroom without buying anything. I was not harassed nor was I arrested.
I don’t blame the police, they were merely doing their job. Even though, one could argue that the arresting officers could have been not so quick to put the handcuffs on the men and do a little more digging. I blame the manager who called the police.
I’d like to hope that in 2018, we live in a post racial world. We judge others, especially minorities, as Martin Luther King Jr. said “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. But hope often springs eternal, so unfortunately does racism.
Last night, after months of speculation, James Comey sat down to tell his side of the story in regards to the 2016 Presidential election and the current commander-in-chief.
Bear in mind, that I have not yet read the book, so this post is strictly based on the interview
Mr. Comey appears to me as a straight arrow. Unlike others in government, he does not yield to partisan politics. He does what he thinks is right for the country, even if it means influencing voters close to a Presidential election and possibly changing the outcome of history.
I have to admit at this point, that I am of the belief that had the email scandal not derailed Hillary Clinton’s campaign, she would be in the White House instead of Donald Trump. But I also have to admire Mr. Comey for his candor and his ability to focus on the American people instead of swaying to those in power.
Some naysayers could easily say that he is a disgruntled former employee who is still bitter about being fired and is using a public forum to air dirty laundry.
But as I see, Mr. Comey is still doing his job, looking out for the voting public. If only more politicians and high level government employees were willing to put politics aside and do what is right for the voters, this country would be in a much better place.
Hate is a powerful word. Beyond the four letters that make up the word is a powerful emotional that can lead to oppression, destruction and murder.
Sally Kohn’s new book The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity, is an examination of how and why we hate. Using examples from history, from our current culture and using research from psychology, sociology and the neurosciences, Ms. Kohn walks the reader through the hate that still flows through our society.
This book is hard to read. It is hard to read not because of the way it is written, but because of the subject. For me, as a reader, it hit home that even though I consider myself to be an open-minded person, I am still vulnerable to hating someone else. It forced me to examine not how I see the world, but how I see others. The hardest thing to do as a person is to look in the mirror and face your shortcomings head on. This book made me do that.
I absolutely recommend it.