Monthly Archives: February 2015

Throwback Thursday-Julie Andrews Double Feature-Mary Poppins (1964) And The Sound Of Music (1965)

While there are some movies and some performers whose work receives mixed or bad reviews, there are others who are universally loved and treasured.

Julie Andrews is one of those performers, those movies are Mary Poppins (1964) and Sound Of Music (1965).

Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) is a nanny who is brought in by Mr. and Mrs. Banks (David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns) to take care of their children. But Mary is not just any nanny. She has magical powers and takes her charges into an animated, fantastical world with the help of Bert (Dick Van Dyke). But in the end, it is not just the kids whose lives she touches, but their reserved father.

This movie is a childhood classic. Successfully combining live action with animation, this movie is an experience for audience members of all ages.

A year after Mary Poppins, she starred in what may be the most iconic movie of her career, The Sound Of Music. Based on the memoir of Maria Augusta Von Trapp,  the movie is the story of Maria. Maria is a young novice who has not quite conformed to the rules of the Abbey in which she lives. She accepts a job where she will be the governess for the children of widowed Navy Captain Georg Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). While the children are rebellious and test her in the beginning, their father is the real test and will force Maria to question what she really wants to do with her life.

This movie, while a little on the schmaltzy side, is incredible.  I have yet to meet someone who has not loved this movie and related to it somehow on a personal level.

And just because it was so incredible, I am including Lady Gaga’s tribute to Sound Of Music from last weekend’s Oscar’s. I got chills watching her perform.

I highly recommend them both.


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The Path To Black Belt

Nearly two years ago, I had reached a crossroads in my life when it came to my fitness.

I had been in and out of local gyms for a few years. While I did regularly go to the gym, I was not putting in the effort and it showed.

A local martial school that teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muy Thai Kick Boxing was offering a deal. Anyone who was interested in their classes, could, for a small fee take a one on one introductory class with one of the instructors. If the potential student did not feel that the school was a good fit, they could walk away. But if the potential student felt that it was a good fit, they could take more classes and determine if this martial arts school was something they wanted to join.

That was me in May of 2013. I came in, just looking for a new way to work out. The transformation is incredible.  I was a size 14 when I started taking classes. I am now a size 6. I have made friends, gained a huge amount of confidence and I have learned a very useful skill. Most importantly, I have a life goal that I would have never imagined having two years ago at this time: becoming a black belt in Muy Thai Kick Boxing.

Stepping onto the mat for the first class was intimidating, not to mention being a huge challenge. Even now, when I can predict within a certain degree of how the class will go, it is still a challenge.

The path to black belt is not easy. It is fraught with challenges and potholes. But so is life.  But I still attend classes regularly and I still strive to be the best person I can be every day.

Earlier tonight, I received my purple/brown belt. It is a huge accomplishment to have gotten this far.  I will keep going until I reach black belt. Life is hard, it sometimes requires us to dig deep and push ourselves when we think we cannot go any farther. The reward may not be a colorful belt, but what we receive in return for the hard work.




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Mary Poppins, Death Metal Version

Mary Poppins, death metal version. Amazing what technology can do.

J. Giambrone

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How To Be A Heroine Book Review

I have a confession to make. I am a lifelong bookworm who extracts great pleasure from opening a favorite book and delving into the comfortable world of a story that I know all too well.

Samantha Ellis is a fellow bookworm. Her newest book is entitled How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading too Much.

Ms. Ellis is the daughter of an Iraqi-Jewish family who for the last couple of generations has lived in England. While writing about her life and the experiences of the older members of her family, she intertwines essays about some of the most well known and loved female literary characters. From Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, to the Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Cathy Earnshaw, to Scarlett O’Hara and many others, Ellis tells her own life story while reminding us why we keep going back to these characters and their stories.

I loved this book. What hooked me immediately and kept me hooked was the integration of Ms. Ellis’s life story and the classic literary female characters. Our favorite literary character often feel like a friend or a family member, we know them as much as we know ourselves.

I highly recommend this book, it is so far, the best new book of 2015 for me.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Feminism, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights

Patricia Arquette And The Fight For Equal Pay

In her acceptance speech for best supporting actress, for Boyhood, Patricia Arquette cited the fact that women, despite our incredible advancements, are still paid less than our male counterparts.

While I would not be surprised to hear that there still, even in 2015, are companies that have stone age beliefs about men’s and women’s paychecks, there are other reasons.  Many women, especially if they have children, will choose a profession with a lower salary that allows them to be the mother they need to be for their children. It is also a fact that women (due to some might say cultural conditioning), are afraid of asking for a raise or step up to a higher position which will bring more authority and a bigger paycheck. A third factor might be that some high paying industries are slowly beginning to open the doors to women.

The fact is that this disparity of paychecks between men and women hurts all of us. While it does not hurt to have a two income household with two working adults, there are many homes in this country and around the world where one income from one working adult has to be stretched as far as it can go. What business owners sometimes forget is that a paycheck is not just a paycheck. When an employee feels respected financially and professionally, it is a win-win for both sides. The employee is likely to stay at the job and put in a greater effort because they feel that the company appreciates them. This in turn, reduces or prevents the company having the pay for the cost of turnover and training of a new employee.

Equal pay for equal work. It is a very simple concept. But for some businesses, for reasons that I do  not understand, it is beyond them.


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February 24, 2015 · 6:53 am

Downton Abbey Series 5 Episode 8 Recap: Rose Is Married, Daisy And Tom Are Ready to Bolt And Anna Is Arrested (Sob!)

As usual, this recap contains spoilers from this weekend’s episode. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.


Rose and Atticus are officially married. But before that, Atticus has his stag party. But just before he is ready to hit the sack, a woman enters his room and then walks out. The next day, Rose is sent the pictures. There are two suspects, both of whom do not want this marriage to happen: Atticus’s disapproving father and Rose’s nasty Debby Downer mother, Lady Susan. In discussing his future daughter in law with his son, Lord Sinderby uses the S word, shiksa. To a Jewish parent whose child is involved with someone who is not Jewish and is not happy about the relationship, that is the ultimate 4 letter word.   But in the end, Rose’s wonderful father, Shrimpy steps in and confronts his ex-wife, who paid for the woman and the pictures.  I’m genuinely happy for Rose, I hope they have a happy life together.

Atticus’s father disapproves of several things, one of which is Rose’s relationship with his son. He also disapproves of scandal and divorce, both which have come into the room when the knowledge that Shrimpy and Susan’s marriage has ended. Atticus’s mother, being the sensible, reasonable and loving mother that she is, tells her husband that if he prevents their son’s marriage, she will leave him and create a real scandal, fast. That shut him up.

Robert, despite his traditional facade, is not as traditional as he thinks he is. When playing chutes and ladders on the floor with Sybbie, he admits that his father would not have not done the same with his daughters. He finally comes out of his haze and realizes that Marigold is his grandchild. And, to his credit, he gives Mrs. Patmore’s nephew a fitting tribute.

The will they/wont they saga of Mary and Tony Gillingham is over. Tony and Mabel have resumed their engagement and have set a date. Mary admits that Tony was good when she needed him, but it was not meant to be. Matthew Goode will having a guest spot during next week’s finale, which means that even with Tony out of the picture, Mary will continue to have men at her beck and call.

Will true love conquer all for both Isobel and Violet? The engagement between Isobel and Lord Merton, now referred to as Dickie continues, but with sons like his, it will be a fight to the finish. Prince Kuragin, despite the fact that his wife is still potentially alive, tells Violet that he wants to spend whatever time he has left with her. Then he plants himself down on the couch and looks like he will not move until he gets an answer.  Violet looks surprised at the suddenness and stubbornness of his proposal.

Edith looks finally happy. She has her publishing company and her daughter, both of who come from her late boyfriend.

Tom seems like he is ready to move to Boston with his daughter. His cousin proposes that they go into business together. Mary admits that she may be a bit lonely without Tom and Rose.

And finally, during wedding party, one of the guests comes up to Cora and Robert and makes a comment about Rose marrying into a Jewish family. Without cracking, Cora tells the woman that her father was Jewish. Score one for the countess.


Julian Fellows seems to have a sadistic streak with the Bates’s more than he does with Edith. While the rule for on screen relationships is that happiness turns away viewers, what he did to them this week blew my mind. Anna is arrested for killing Mr. Green and taken away in handcuffs in front of entire household (No!!!! Sob!!!). Mrs. Hughes tried to interject when the police came to the London house to question Anna, but she was rebuffed.

I am convinced that Baxter and Moleseley cannot linger in this awkward, but comfortable platonic state forever.  If I could ask one thing of Julian Fellows for series six, I would ask him to get these two together.

After seeing the possibilities that London has to offer, Daisy gets a bee in her bonnet to leave Downton (and Mrs. Patmore specifically) and find another job. In a very surprising show of emotion, Mrs. Patmore admits that Daisy has become more than just an assistant cook to her.

Thomas is proving to be one of the most interesting characters in the Downton Abbey arsenal. One moment you think he is an a**hole, then the next moment, he is saving a young, naive and temporary footman from the conniving claws of Miss Denker, who continues in her merry war with Mr. Spratt.


This is the next to last episode of the season. Story lines are being tied up, but just enough to lead into the final episode of the series and into series six. While some story lines are getting old (i.e. Robert and Carson moaning on how times have changed or Poor Edith), I feel satisfied with the the series up to this point.

Dowager Moment Of The Week

While Maggie Smith always gets more than her fair share of smart lines (and for good reason), Violet’s shock and momentary silence of Prince Kuragin’s proposal is my Dowager moment of the week.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Cutthroat Island (1995)

When we think of swashbuckling movie pirates, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power usually come to mind.

Geena Davis is not one of those actors, though she tried.

In 1995’s Cutthroat Island, Davis plays Morgan Adams, a pirate’s daughter who is fighting to recover the treasure that was taken from her by her less than trustworthy uncle, Dawg (Frank Langella). Assisting Morgan in her quest is Shaw (Matthew Modine), a man she purchased from slavers.

While I very much appreciate a strong female protagonist like Morgan in a role that is usually played by a man, this movie does not do anything for me. It is unfortunately, like many movies of this genre, short on plot and character and long on explosions and special effects.

Were the critics wrong? no.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)-Beautician And The Beast (1997)

There are only so many story ideas. It can appear to be easy to combine two different stories and hope that the mingling of  these two distinct stories will work well together. But appearances are sometimes deceiving.

Taking a break from her television role, Fran Drescher starred with Timothy Dalton in 1997’s Beautician And The Beast.

Combining Beauty And The Beast and The King and I, Joy Miller (Drescher) is a New York City Cosmetologist who is thought to be a teacher. She is hired to teach the children of Boris Pochenko (Dalton), the dictator of an Eastern European country.  Her way of educating her students soon reach the ears of not just their father, but the whole country.

The reality of this movie is that Fran Drescher did not step too far from the shadow of Fran Fine when she agreed to play Joy Miller.  Timothy Dalton is an incredible actor who happens to be also incredibly easy on the eyes, but the man who played James Bond, Heathcliff and Edward Rochester is not the man who is on screen for this movie. In short, he is wasted as an actor.

Were the critics wrong? No.


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Wide Sargasso Sea Book and Movie Review

Fanfiction can be defined as fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.

While some might think that this is a new concept with the age of the internet and social media, fanfiction is a much older genre than some might presume.

Wide Sargasso Sea, written in 1966 by Jean Rhys, is a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s literary masterpiece, Jane Eyre.

The novel is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a heiress who is creole by birth and living on a plantation whose glory days are long gone. When she grows up, she is married off an an Englishman, Edward Rochester who removes her from her island home and takes her to his gloomy isolated, Yorkshire estate to live. This is a story about madness, lust, greed and how women cope when they have no power to control their own lives.

The most recent film adaptation of this book was made in 2006 with  Rebecca Hall as Antoinette and Rafe Spall as Edward.

What I enjoy about both the book and movie is that we are introduced to a character whose story we only know one side of. In Jane Eyre, Bertha Rochester is Edward’s secret wife, suffering from madness. Her only companion is a paid servant. In Wide Sargasso Sea, we meet Antoinette and we see the story from her point of view. We see the injustice not just being a woman in that era, but being a woman of mixed race in that era.

I recommend both.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Fanfiction, Feminism, Jane Eyre, Movie Review, Movies

The Museum Of The Moving Image

I think it is pretty safe to say that the visual mediums that are the movies and television have changed our culture forever.

The Museum Of The Moving Images,  located in Astoria, Queens, celebrated the impact that movies and television have had on our culture.

A few blocks from the 36th Ave N/Q  subway station and Steinway Street subway R/M subway station, the museum is housed in the building that once was the  old Kaufman Astoria studios.

This museum has everything that the movie and television loving audience adores. From props to costumes to makeup, memorabilia and sets, this museum is good for the kids and the kids at heart.

It is feast for the eyes and ears.

I highly recommend it.

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