Monthly Archives: June 2014

Please Vote For My Picture

My picture of Belvedere Castle in Central Park was nominated for the Weather Channel Its Amazing Photo Contest.

Please vote for my photo.

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The Perfect Austen Fan Satire

A fan satire is created on a very fine line. If it is done properly, it  is Lost In Austen. If it is not done properly, it is Austenland. I’m not going to talk further about Austenland, because it is simply not worth the effort.

Amanda Price (Jemima Roper) is a Janeite. She finds solace from her job and her less than Darcy like boyfriend (who proposes marriage drunk using the tab from his beer can as an engagement ring) by reading Pride and Prejudice.  She finds Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arterton) in her bathroom and they switch places.  Amanda soon finds that she has irrevocably altered the plot of Pride and Prejudice and must find a way to set things right.

I love this miniseries. The in-jokes are there, the characters we know and love (or hate), are also there. Hugh Bonneville and Alex Kingston are perfectly cast (and age appropriate) as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. We even learn Mr. Bennet’s first name. Elliot Cowan is smoldering and sexy as Fitzwilliam Darcy.

This is the perfect Austen satire.  I highly recommend this mini series to every Janeite.

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Filed under Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Pride and Prejudice

A movie that every American Woman Should See

August 18th, 1920 is watershed date in the lives of American women. It is the day that the 19th Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing every American woman the right to vote.

In 2004, HBO premiered Iron Jawed Angels , the true story of the women who fought for the right to vote.

Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Frances O’Connor) are the leaders of the Suffragette movement, fighting for a national law providing women the right to vote. Standing in their way is not only the male led government, but the older generation,  Carrie Chapman Catt (Angelica Huston) who are advocating a state by state pathway to the right to vote instead of a national law.

This movie should be seen by every American woman. These women are brought to life as fully developed characters, flaws and all. I am reminded of this movie when I vote for my political leaders, from the smallest local government to the presidential vote.  Without these brave women,  we would still be second class citizens, without rights and chattel to the men in our lives.

“Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity” In their own time, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns were thought to be insane. But without their insanity,  we would be living in a very different country.

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies

Defending The City Of God Book Review

I think its safe to say that Jerusalem has been a city that has been fought over  for thousands of years.

Sharan Newman’s new book, Defending The City Of God: A Medieval Queen, The First Crusades And the Quest For Peace In Jerusalem is the story of a forgotten queen of Jerusalem. Melisende was the first born daughter of Baldwin II, who ruled over Jerusalem during the first crusades.  The story of her life and her ruling was forgotten, replaced the stories of her husband and sons. It is said that history is written by the victors, women stories from this era are likely to be forgotten.

I liked this book. I expected it to be a novel, but it is non fiction book written with a fiction like narrative. Ms. Newman went to great lengths to bring back Melisende and the world that she knew back to life.

I recommend this book.

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Maleficent The Magnificent: Maleficent Movie Review

*-This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie.

Maleficent is magnificent.

The 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty movie, the source material from which the screen play is taken from is twisted in a delightful and intricate manner.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a fairy, who develops a friendship and then a teenage romance with a human called Stefan (Sharlto Copley). But Stefan is ambitious. The dying king announces that the man who kills Maleficent will crowned king upon his death.  Using their relationship to his advantage, Stefan cuts off Maleficent’s wings to gain the throne.

Years later, Stefan is now king and parent to a brand new baby girl. At her christening, she is being blessed by the three fairies Flittle (Lesley Manvile), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton) and Thistlewit (Juno Temple). Seeking revenge, Maleficent curses the new princess. After the curse, the princess (played as a teenager by Elle Fanning) is taken away from the castle, Maleficent watches over the child with a strange maternal instinct with the help of her servant Diaval (Sam Riley).

I loved this movie.  While I find the Disney princess movies from that era of Sleeping Beauty to be one note, black and white and not how I want to spend my movie watching time, this movie takes these characters from one dimension to three dimensions.  Maleficent is not just a villain just to be a villain, she is hurting from Stefan’s betrayal and uses that hurt to justify her actions. I’m not normally a fan of Angelina Jolie, but she is magnificent and perfectly cast in this role. The special effects were just enough to enhance the story, not used to cover up a hole in the screenplay.

I highly recommend this movie.


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Got Religion: How Churches, Mosques and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back Book Review

A recent Pew study revealed that young people are increasingly moving away from organized religion.

Naomi Schafer Riley’s non fiction book, Got Religion: How Churches, Mosques and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back, explores this shift in American culture and why many young people are  not as apt to openly declare themselves to be a certain religion as their parents and grandparents were.

Interviewing a variety of sources and researching a vast array of American religious institutions (one Muslim, one Jewish and several Christian denominations), Schaefer Riley comes to the conclusion that the Millennial generation (born between the late 1970-s and the mid 1980’s)  is looking for community to call their own.

I liked this book. As a member of the Millennial generation, I can understand why many of us choose to not identity or practice any specific religion. Religious practice is often associated with marriage and parenthood. Many of my generation are putting off marriage and parenthood or choosing all together to not marry and not become a parent. I think this is an important book, not just for my generation, but for parents and religious leaders. It might be the key to our religious future in America.

I recommend this book.

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Happy Birthday Anne Frank

Today is, or would have been Anne Frank’s 85th Birthday.

She was an ordinary young woman, going through the same ups and downs that we all go through when we are young.

She was extraordinary because her journal, read by multiple generations of readers speaks to all of us. Her writing, even for one so young is eloquent, honest and universal.

Of the millions that were murdered by the Nazis and their helpers, Anne stands out. It is her story that breaks our hearts.  We connect over the conflicts with her family, we watch her experience romance for the first time and and we remember our own brushes with young love.

She was a born writer. Her writing may be the private journals of a young woman,  but the reader has a taste of what she could written, had she survived.

Happy Birthday Anne.


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Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs Book Review

Pride and Prejudice will always be Jane Austen’s most popular novel. But Persuasion, her last novel, is the most powerful.

It is the voice of the mature writer that shines through almost 200 years later. The issues of loss, the questioning of past choices.The ability to move forward with your life and forgive yourself for your past mistakes. These themes are never more potent as they are in Persuasion.

Paula Marantz Cohen’s modern adaptation of Persuasion, Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death and the SAT’s transports Jane Austen’s final completed novel from early 19th century England to the modern day suburbs of New York City. Anne Ehrlich is a guidance counselor, guiding her students and their parents through the tricky path of college applications. 13 years earlier, when Anne was recent graduate of Columbia University, her grandmother Winnie convinced her to walk away from the love of her live. Ben Cutler was a penniless working class boy who her family did not approve of.

Anne is unmarried when the novel begins.  Ben returns to her life when his sister and nephew move into the area, along with his fiance. Anne must meet her former boyfriend as his nephew’s guidance counselor. With her grandmother’s fading health, Anne begins to question if she will ever have a second chance of happiness.

I liked this book. Certain characters has to be removed or merged with this modern adaptation, but that’s fine with me. It’s still Persuasion and I still get that little kick in the end when the former lovers have reunited and are on their way to a happy life.

I recommend this book.


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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Another Shooting

Another day ends in America. Another school shooting makes headlines. Another child walks into school in the morning and leaves in a body bag.

In Troutdale, Oregon, a teenage gunman killed one teenager and injured a teacher.

Another family that must bury their child before their time. Another family will miss out on the precious moments of life. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, career achievements, the birth of future grandchildren. None of these moments will happen for this family.

The Sandy Hook massacre was only a year and a half ago. 74 incidents of school shootings have occurred since then. And nothing has changed in this country.

I have nothing against the 2nd Amendment. But it was designed to allow American colonists to bear arms and protect themselves against the British Army. I don’t think the founding fathers imagined that over two hundred years later that the 2nd amendment would be used as a defense when children are being killed simply for going to school.

It’s another day in America. Another school shooting makes headlines.

It’s time to end the madness and protect our children.

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Dark Aemilia Book Review

For every fact that we know about William Shakespeare, there is a myth, an unconfirmed rumor that we may never know the truth about.

Sally O’ Reilly’s new novel, Dark Aemilia: A Novel Of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady introduces the reader to a woman forgotten by the modern world. Aemilia Lanyer (nee Bassano) is the daughter of a Venetian musician. A favorite of Queen Elizabeth, she is mistress to the much older Lord Hunsdon. Meeting William Shakespeare, they have an ill fated affair resulting in her pregnancy.

Ten years later, the Plague has come to London. Aemilia is now married to her cousin, Alfonso. When the Plague enters her home and strikes her son, Aemilia will do anything protect her son, even if means going back to ex lover or making deals with dark forces.

I liked this book.  This is not the first, nor will this be the last foray into Elizabethan England and the unconfirmed myths of that era’s most famous playwright. This book is rich in historical detail, but not bogged down by the facts. It’s a fun read, taking the reader on a journey and introducing us to a woman we should be celebrating as much as we do the Bard.

I recommend this book.


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Filed under Book Review, Books, William Shakespeare