Monthly Archives: April 2014

One HUGE Giant Step Back

The programming geniuses at Fox (The same ones who brought us Joe Millionaire and Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire) will soon be premiering another reality show: Who Wants To Marry Harry.

The premise is the same as any other dating show: Approximately a dozen potential mates are chosen to live in the house with one man or woman being the central dater. As the series goes on, the potentials are eliminated until one is chosen.

What makes this particular series disturbing is that the premise of this series is that it promotes the idea of Prince Charming and happily ever after as if the Feminist movement never existed. The producers of this series seem to think that the audience is dumb, that all women only think about men and marriage.  We don’t want to go to school, we don’t want careers, we  don’t want to better ourselves as human beings, we just want a man. We want a Prince Charming type to sweep us off of our feet and live happily ever after. And, to top it off, this guy who is supposed to be Prince Harry doesn’t even look like him.

There is nothing wrong with a romance,  whether it is a novel, movie or reality series. But it has to be in a way that does not make the audience feel like they’ve lost their intelligence by the end.

Shame on you, Fox.

 

 

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Today we remember the millions murdered 70 years ago. They were murdered not because they committed any specific crimes, but because they were who they were.

Jews, Gypsies, Communists, Homosexuals. They were all murdered because they chose to be true to who they were, instead of conforming to the society around them.

We say never again, but history continues to repeat itself.

Bosnia, Darfur, Syria. Millions of people are still murdered simply because of who they are, because of hate and prejudice.

Some might say that we don’t need to talk about the Holocaust anymore, that we have learned from the past.

We have not learned from the past.

We will continue to say never again, until we can finally say never again.

 

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Hannukah In America- This Candle Did Not Last Eight Days

On a whim, I decided to take out from the library, Hannukah In America, Diannes Ashton’s book about the history of the celebration of Hannukah in the United States.

She explores not just the celebration within the United States, but the origins of the holiday in Ancient Israel. The story of Hannukah is the story of the Maccabees, religious Jews who led a rebellion against the Hellenic invaders and reclaimed the temple for their people.

This book could be interesting. The story of the celebration of Hannukah is the story of the Jews in America, how they survived and thrived. I found the book to be boring. There is a way to write a history book that appeals to the reader and brings the history to life. Ms. Ashton does not do this. It reads like a college history book, the type of reading that is done because it has to be done, not because the book is interesting to the reader.

I was hoping that this book would be enlightening and interesting, but sadly, it is not.

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Five Books That Every Woman Should Read

I’m a life long bookworm. I’ve many books, some good and some bad. But there are some that represent certain markers in my life, that I believe that every woman should read at least once in her life.

Little Women By Louisa May Alcott

Alcott’s Civil War era novel is timeless.  It is the story of the four March sisters: sensible Meg, tomboy Jo, shy Beth and wild child Amy.  Their father is away, serving in the Union Army. Jo wants to be a writer, but finds herself constricted by the rules of her era. Her best friend is the boy next door, Laurie.  It is a novel of growing up, of what it is to be a sister and have a sister.  The first time I read this book, I was in junior high school and it was the gateway book to what would become a very happy obsession with books and classic literature.

Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen

I could not write about important books that have impacted my life and not write about Pride and Prejudice.  For the initiated, it is the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy and how they overcome the pride and prejudice that each has to find their life’s partner in each other. Yes, it is a love story, but there are so many human qualities to the novel.  Making mistakes, falling in love,  accepting your flaws and your partner’s flaws.  It’s no wonder that after 200 years, it still holds up.

Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte

Some might describe Charlotte Bronte’s iconic character as being born under an unlucky star.  Jane is an orphan, raised in her deceased uncle’s home by a wicked stepmother like aunt and treated like sh*t by her cousins. At the age of ten, she is taken to Lowood School, where the headmaster is cruel to the students. Eight years later, she takes a position at Thornfield Hall, where she is governess to the ward of the mysterious Edward Rochester.  Despite all of the obstacles that would keep most people down, Jane has courage, strength and follows her heart, even when she is tempted not to. Which is something we all need to remember.

The Feminine Mystique By Betty Friedan

This book is nothing short of earth shattering. Published in 1963, it was controversial in it’s day. Friedan’s exploration of the hypocrisy of what was considered to the be feminine ideal completely changed the world.  This book is instrumental in starting the second wave of the feminist movement and allowing future generations to enjoy the rights and achievements that Friedan’s generation would have never dreamed of.  My generation would not have what we have without this book.

Fear Of Flying By Erica Jong

Jong’s literary doppelganger, Isadora Wing is traveling with her husband to a work conference in Vienna.  She is in her late 20’s and at the point in her life where she is still questioning who she is and what she wants out of life. The character is an open book to the reader, emotionally and sexually. The openness of the character’s sexuality may shock some, but is the overall openness of the character is more shocking. That a female writer in the early 1970’s, would write so openly about what it is to be a woman and to be a woman of a certain age.  I read this book for the first time several years ago and I knew her instantly. This is a must read for any woman between the age of 25 and 30.

 

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Northanger Abbey Review- I Wouldn’t Mind Visiting This Abbey

Classic novels are classic for a reason. In what they hope will be an easy book to write and have published, some writers may try to take a classic novel and bring it into the 21st century.

In the most recent cases of the modern reboots of Sense and Sensibility and The Age Of Innocence, the writers did little more than transfer the language, technology, clothing and transportation from the original time period to our time.

Thankfully, Val McDermid’s new novel,  Northanger Abbey, based upon the Jane Austen novel of the same name, does not belong in this category.

This story is the same as the original novel. Cat Moreland is 17 years old, from Piddle Valley, Dorset, England. A, sheltered, bookwormish minister’s daughter who was home schooled, Cat, is invited by her parent’s childless friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen to Edinburgh (Bath in the original novel).

As in the original novel, she meets the brother/sister duo’s of John and Isabella Thorpe and Henry and Eleanor Tilney. I won’t give the story away (I highly recommend reading this book if you haven’t), but one sibling duo turns out to not be so trustworthy and the other does turn out to be trustworthy.

Northanger Abbey is not one of my favorite Austen novels. This original novel is very much a transition book for Austen, as a writer.  Her writing is starting to contain elements of later, more mature novels, but there are still traces of  her early Juvenalia works.  As to this modern reboot, the middle section was a little slow, but overall, it was a good read.

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Literary Birthdays

Yesterday was Charlotte Bronte’s Birthday. Tomorrow is William Shakespeare’s Birthday.

I have nothing but thanks and admiration for these amazing writers. They continue to inspire generations of writers.  Many a teenager, whether or not they appreciate the work that is in front of them, has read both as part of their high school English curriculum.

Their works are absolute classics, told, retold and reinterpreted. Despite being set in very specific time periods, there is a human aspect to their writing, which continues to bring in new generations of readers.

The best writing shows the good and bad in us. The best writing shows that despite the extreme advances of science and technology, human beings are still the same.

I raise my glass to you, Master Shakespeare and Miss Bronte. Your earthly remains may be long gone, but your work will love for eternity.

Happy Birthday.

 

 

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Dancing In The Streets of Jaffa- Dancing in Jaffa Review

The situation is Middle East and Israel, specifically, is complicated.  Despite the finger pointing, the media and multitude of opinions, it is not as simple as black and white.

Dancing in Jaffa, a documentary by Hilla Medalia, follows Pierre Dulaine, a native of Jaffa, who returns to his birth city to teach it’s children to dance.  Mr. Dulaine, born to a Palestinian mother and an Irish father has been a professional ballroom dancer for decades.

He selects five schools. They are either exclusively Jewish or Palestinian, with only one containing a more diverse student body.   The students initial reaction, to both the dancing and their potential dance partners is expected.   In addition to following  Mr. Dulaine, the filmmakers follow several of the students as they learn to dance and spend time with their new friends and dance partners.

What I enjoyed about the documentary is that we, as the audience, understand what it is like to live in Jaffa.   What I gained from this documentary is hope. Hope that these children will remember their dancing experiences and their dancing partners and use this experience to lead us to peace.

 

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A Open Letter to George Lucas And JJ Abrams On The Making Of Episode VII

Dear JJ Abrams and George Lucas

So I hear you’ve been working you’ve been working on Star Wars Episode VII.

As both a fan and a writer, I would like speak in an open and honest manner.

Episodes IV, V and VI, as individual films and as a series are brilliant and perfect and awe inspiring. The influence of  mythology, history, literature and early science fiction is potent. There is a reason why it has become a worldwide phenomenon and has several generations of fans.

Episodes I, II and III fall very far from the tree.

I am hoping that this new film brings a smile and a giddiness to this fan and to every other fan around the around, not a groan and a shameful feeling.

In other words, DON’T MUCK IT UP.

The problem with the last three movies can be summed up in three words : Jar Jar Binks. Granted, his character did grow from simple, childish comic relief type character to admirable character who is responsible and mature. But some, myself included, questioned why this character was created, other than to take advantage of the special effects.

What Lucas forgot with Episodes I, II and III is that the cornerstone of every movie, regardless of how big or small the special effects are, is that the story is key. It is the skeleton that holds the movie together. Without the bones that is the script, the movie falls apart. The special effects of the movie is like the makeup the actor puts on before they go to set, it should enhance the story, it should not be the driving force behind it. Granted, Lucas had the technology with those movies that he didn’t have with Episodes IV, V, VI, but that is not a reason to over use the technology.

In conclusion, I would add that I am simply a humble fan offering suggestions on a movie franchise that still holds a place in my heart.

Sincerely

A Star Wars Fan

 

 

 

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To The Class of 2014

Dear Class of 2014

Congratulations on earning your diploma. You’ve worked hard, be proud of your achievement.  We both know it was not easy.

I was in your shoes at one point. I understand the trepidation and anxiety of what the future holds, the eagerness to step out of the world you know and into a new one. It’s a frightening prospect, but your life will change, as it often does.

There will be unexpected bumps in the road, mistakes will be made. Who you are now will be very different then you will become in ten or fifteen or even twenty years from now. The life and the career you imagined for yourself may be different than the life and career that you may actually have. But that’s OK, because some things, as much as we wish them to happen, may never happen.  Trust in yourself, trust in fate or your g-d (if you have one) that everything will turn as it is meant to turn out.

Take advantage of the opportunities you will receive. Make new friends, laugh, love and enjoy yourself. Most of all, in this last month or two before you move onto the next stage of life, appreciate where you are right now.

Most importantly, do not let the past hold you back. Whatever you have done, it cannot be undone.  Use it as a lesson for the future so you become a better you.

Change is not easy, but the opportunity for change leads us to paths that we may have not considered previously.

I have faith in you. I know you can do it.

Sincerely

Past Graduate

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Movies Every Movie Lover Should See

Some movies were meant to be forgettable and are a waste of the movie-goers time.  But there are some that are classic movies and should be viewed over and over again.

I would like to share three of my favorite classic Hollywood movies and explain why these are worth watching time and again.

To Have and Have Not

This is one of my favorite movies from the 1940’s. It’s pretty typical World War II movie, where the Allies are the heroes and the Nazis are the villains.  The two leads, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall have this magnetic, sexual chemistry. It’s no wonder they were married for twelve years. This movie is a perfect example of creating sexual chemistry between characters without resorting to removing of clothes.

His Girl Friday

Now this is how a rom-com and a office comedy should be. Cary Grant is the editor of a newspaper. Rosalind Russell is his ex wife and ex-employee. She is getting married again and Cary Grant’s character is looking to find a way to keep her on the paper and in his life. If nothing else, just watch the opening scene.  An interesting aspect of this movie is that it was based upon a play, in which Rosalind Russell’s character was originally a man and changed to a female, which poses an interesting feminist twist, twenty years before the second wave of the feminist movement.

To Be Or Not To Be

This movie is perfection. This movie should be required viewing for every filmmaker. Carole Lombard and Jack Benny are the lead performers in Polish theatrical troupe during World War II. They indirectly join the war when  they work with a soldier to track down a German spy. Like His Girl Friday, I highly recommend to watch the opening scene if you don’t see the entire movie. The comedy timing is perfect, Lombard is one of the greatest actresses and comedienne’s of her era. The irony of this movie is that Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky) was Jewish.  It takes balls to make a movie of this type  during this period with a Jewish leading man.  There is also a re-boot, made in the early 1980’s by Mel Brooks. As much as I love the re-boot, which is most certainly a Mel Brooks movie, the original just stands the test of time.

 

 

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