Monthly Archives: April 2015

Throwback Thursday-Classic 70’s Sitcoms- Welcome Back Kotter, Three’s Company & Maude

There is something about reruns of 1970’s sitcoms. The g-d awful clothing, the way too catchy music and the way that many shows broke new ground for different faces and voices to be heard and seen by audiences.

Airing from 1975-1979, Welcome Back Kotter revolved around a teacher, Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) who decides to teach the school’s most unruly, unteachable class in a Brooklyn high school. The students, led by Vinnie Barbarino (a young John Travolta) are not the easiest students to teach. But Mr. Kotter is up to the challenge.

This show was and still is very funny. It was also ahead of time with it’s racially and ethnically diverse cast.

In the late 1970’s Three’s Company was either loved or hated, depending on the viewer. Jack Tripper ( the late John Ritter), Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers) are roommates. A straight man who has two female roommates in the late 1970’s was bound to raise a few eyebrows. So Jack pretends to be gay. Meanwhile, the owners of the building, Stanley Roper (Normal Fell) and his wife Helen (Audra Lindley) have their own problems. Stanley is not sure that Jack is actually gay and Helen wants some from her husband, but he is not interested.

This show is so full of sexual innuendo that it would have and still today raises some eyebrows. But that doesn’t stop the audience from laughing.

And then there is Maude. A spinoff from All In The Family, Maude (Bea Arthur) is Edith’s liberal, independent and sometimes loudmouthed cousin. Married to husband number four, Walter (Bill Macy), Maude’s adult daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau) and young grandson live with them.

For the 1970’s, this show really (and I mean really) pushed the envelope. Maude was unlike any female character that viewers had seen on television. But if we are to look back, Maude paved the way for the strong female characters that dominate today’s television programs.

I recommend all three.

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Filed under Feminism, New York City, Television, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday-Superhero Edition-Daredevil (2003) and Fantastic Four (2005)

I’ve come to the conclusion that everything in Hollywood is cyclical. It all comes back around eventually.

With the newest adaptations of Daredevil and Fantastic Four, I was reminded, that 10 years ago, these superheroes dominated our screens.

The 2003 Daredevil film starred Ben Affleck in the lead role as lawyer by day Matt Murdock and superhero by night Daredevil.  His co stars include his now wife Jennifer Garner as Elektra and Colin Farrell as Bullseye, the film’s villain.

It was not a bad film. Daredevil is one of those superheroes where if your a comic book fan, you know the story and if your not, you need the back story. But it is an interesting film never the less.

Two years later, The Fantastic Four returned to big screen. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) are four astronauts who are shot into space. But the mission does not go as planned and they find themselves with unusual powers. Now they must use these powers to prevent Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), from taking over the world.

The movie is a tad on the hokey side. But it’s not real life and that is why we go to the movies, to escape from real life for a short time and enter a world that is not ours.

I recommend them both.

 

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Throwback Thursday- Anne Of A Thousand Days (1969) & The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Among the kings that ruled England, Henry VIII was unique. His appetites for everything were legendary. In his quest for a male heir, he would marry six times.

There is no shortage of dramatizations of Henry’s life.

In 1969, Richard Burton stepped into the shoes of the legendary king in Anne Of A Thousand Days. Playing opposite Richard was Genevieve Bujold as his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry has been married to Catherine Of Aragon for many years, but no son had come out of the marriage.  Extremely eager to have a son and taken by Anne, Henry divorces Catherine to marry Anne.  But the marriage is tumultuous and as history records, will be short lived.

I like this movie. Richard Burton, as a middle aged, slightly bloated and a little egotistical Henry was perfect. Genevieve Bujold as Anne, was young, passionate and more than a little eager to do whatever was necessary to secure her place as Queen Of England.

Nearly forty years later, another movie based on the lives of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was released. But this movie was from an entirely different point of view. The Other Boleyn Girl, based on the 2002 book of the same name by Phillipa Gregory was released into theaters in 2008. The story is of two sisters, Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary who are competing for the affection of Henry VIII. Mary  (Scarlett Johansson) was one of Henry’s (Eric Bana) mistresses before she was discarded in favor of her sister, Anne (Natalie Portman).

I like this movie. Mary Boleyn, historically speaking, is not as well known as her sister. It’s nice to see her story told.

I recommend both.

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Throwback Thursday- Baby Mama (2008)

It’s not easy to be a woman these days. Despite our advances (and thank g-d for them), there is still some pressure to live a traditional life.

In the 2008 movie, Baby Mama, Kate (Tina Fey) has a very successful career.  But her love life is non-existent. With no man in her life and wanting to be a mother, Kate hires working class Angie (Amy Poehler) to be her surrogate. When Angie announces that she is pregnant, Kate goes into overdrive to prepare for the birth of her upcoming child.  Then Angie moves in with Kate and Kate’s well ordered, always in control life is no longer in order or control.

This movie is incredibly funny, especially considering who the two lead actors are. Fey and Poehler have a natural chemistry, Fey playing a version of Felix to Poehler’s Oscar. This movie proves that not only are women funny, but a well written movie with fully rounded female lead characters will bring audiences into the theaters. Another factor that makes this movie an enjoyable one is how completely realistic Kate’s situation is. There are many women like Kate, who have worked very hard to prove themselves as capable professionals. But then they reach a certain age and realize that while they were so furiously building their careers, they may have missed out on the possibility of a spouse and a child.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Mother Of The Year

The news about the riots in Baltimore are hard to ignore.

But there is hope for us.

While her name is not known, her face is everywhere.

This mother, knowing that her son was taking part in the riots, stopped him before he could get in trouble. She was unaware  that the cameras were rolling. Her only concern was her son’s safety.

I nominate this woman for mother of the year. Maybe our country would be in a better place if every child had a mother like her.

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The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- The Scarlet Letter (1995)

Adapting a film based on a novel is like walking a tight rope. The screenwriter or screenwriters and the production staff must be true to the novel and it’s fan base, but the movie must also be appealing to audiences, regardless of whether they have read the book.

In some cases, the movie succeeds. In other cases, the movie is a failure and readers, especially traditionally minded readers are reminded why the book was and still is the better medium.

In 1995, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter was adapted for the big screen.

In 17th century Massachusetts, the Puritan lifestyle is law, spoken and unspoken.

A newcomer, Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) arrives in the colony. She believes her husband Roger (Robert Duvall) has died at the hands of the local Indian tribe. Relishing her independence, she starts a secret love affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale  (Gary Oldman). The result of the affair is a child. Refusing to the publicly name her child’s father, Hester is forced to wear an a scarlet A (for adulteress) on her outer clothing. Then her husband reappears and starts to stir up trouble.

Were the critics wrong? In this case, no. The screenwriting and production team tried very hard to walk the fine line of being faithful to the book while attempting to fill in the seats at the cinema. But try as they might, the film is not very good.  The other issue with this film is casting. At the end of the day, Demi Moore was not only wrong for Hester, but her accent was questionable. Robert Duvall did not give me the chills that a villain of his sort would normally give. The film’s only saving grace, cast wise is Gary Oldman.

Do I recommend this movie? No.

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Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies, The Critics Were Wrong

An Eye For An Eye Leaves The Whole World Blind

An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind.-Gandhi

It’s no secret that a devastating earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday. The death toll is rising, the latest figures are around 4000 and counting.

While the people and the government of Nepal must clear away the rubble, bury their dead and rebuild their lives, a riot is happening in Baltimore.  White police officers were accused of killing Freddie Gray, an  African-American man.  Just after Mr. Gray was buried, riots erupted all over the city. Looting, burning and destruction have put Baltimore in the spotlight, just as Ferguson, Missouri and New York City were put in the spotlight for similar cases last year.

While I am not walking in the shoes of Mr. Gray’s loved ones and I hope that I never have to, I truly believe that a violent reaction is like pouring salt on a wound. It only compounds the issues instead of helping those affected to heal.  The reality of living in the United States today is that we do not have the post racial equality that some believe we do. We are certainly better off than we were, but we are not completely free from the chains of bias and prejudice.

While I feel for young Mr. Gray’s family and I pray for them, the reality is that the people of Nepal need our attention. It will take billions of dollars and years to rebuild their country and their lives.  That should be our focus, but unfortunately, our attention has been pulled away to some who will use any excuse to destroy and steal.

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. A blind world cannot see, cannot heal and cannot move forward.

Peace.

 

 

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Filed under History, International News, National News, New York City

Bruce Jenner Interview

I know that I’ve stated in past posts that there is one family whom will never be mentioned again this blog, but they seem to pop up more than I care to admit.

This time, their overexposure might actually do some good.

This past Friday, Diane Sawyer interviewed Bruce Jenner, the patriarch of this non talented, famous for being famous family came out as transgender.

While I could care less what the rest of his family says or does, I applaud him. It takes guts to be yourself, it takes even more guts when you are in the public eye.

I was in high school when the Ellen Degeneres came out, on and off screen.

It was an earth shattering moment. Not just for the entertainment industry, but for the entire world.

Sometimes it only takes one person to make a huge difference.

Ellen’s public coming out, as personal as I imagine that it was for her, opened the door to a better world.

Bruce’s public coming out, as personal as I imagine his struggles to be, have opened the door even further to a better world.

 

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Filed under Life, National News, Television

If It Were Only That Easy

Many of my regular readers know that I have been taking Muy Thai Kickboxing classes at a local dojo.

At the end of the class, the teacher usually gives a little pep talk.

One of the subjects that comes up every once in a while is that reaching our goals is not easy. If it were, anyone could do it.

I want to be a writer. I want to be earning my keep by my pen.

For about two months now, I have been a part of a local novel writing group.  One of the comments from another group member reminded me of something.

It’s not easy to be a writer. If it were, anyone with ambitions to write would have an Emmy, a Tony, a Pulitzer, be on the New York Times best seller list, etc.

The truth is that it is not easy. Sitting in front of the computer or opening that notebook to write is only the first step. The hard part is actually writing.

But there is the joy in writing and the growth that comes with every new story and every new draft. That is what I love about writing.

I know that one day, I will earn my keep by my pen. But until then, I must earn my keep other ways.

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Todrick Hall-90’s Disney

This video is incredibly clever. It is also singable, get’s in your head quickly and makes me feel old. Happy Saturday!

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April 25, 2015 · 9:53 am