Wishful Drinking Book Review

The late Carrie Fisher was more than an actress known for the iconic role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies. She was a writer, a feminist, the face of mental illness and a badass who took no prisoners, especially when it came to her own life.

Her 2008 book, Wishful Drinking, is an autobiography as only Carrie Fisher can write it. Pulling no punches, she writes about everything from her conventional as only Hollywood can create family, to her iconic role in Star Wars, to her public bouts with addiction and mental illness and finally to the fact she was no longer the 19-year-old she was when she Star Wars:A New Hope in 1977.

This book is hysterical and is everything that we, as fans, loved about her. Brassy, bold and not afraid to lay all of her cards on the table, she lets it all hang out in a way that is joyous and wonderful. I absolutely recommend it.

I also recommend the one woman stage show based on the book. It is nothing short of perfection.

RIP Carrie. Your gone two months, we miss you everyday. Z”l.


Fingersmith Book Review

The best stories, regardless of the genre and era that they are set in, always have a twist or two. If the writer has done their job, then the audience or reader may need a moment or two to take in the out of left field plot twist.

In 2002 book, Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters, Sue Trinder is a product of London’s slums during the Victorian era. Raised by a woman named Mrs. Sucksby, Sue is used to the sight of less than genteel folk roaming about. Enter a man whom she only knows as “Gentleman”. He has a proposal for her. Maud Lilly is the wealthy niece of a country landowner who has been raised far from the dirty and crowded streets of London that Sue calls home. Sue is to present herself as Maud’s new lady’s maid. A short time after Sue starts working, Gentlemen will visit Maud and her uncle and convince Maud to run away with him. Once Sue and Gentleman have Maud’s fortune, they will throw Maud into the madhouse.

Sue starts out with the best of intentions, to use the money to repay back the only family she has ever known. Then things get complicated when Sue begins to feel for Maud as more than just the victim…..

This is not the ordinary Victorian novel. At first read, it sounds more like a Charles Dickens novel than a novel by a modern writer set in Victorian England. But in that, lies the beauty of the story. On the surface, Maud and Sue seems like clear-cut and predictable characters. But as the reader goes deeper, they will discover that Maud and Sue are far from what they initially seem to be. While it was a little long in certain sections, I can safely say that the ending is worth the wait.

I recommend it.

RIP Bill Paxton

I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.- Alvy Singer, Annie Hall

We never know when life is going to end. We go about our business and then were gone.

Bill Paxton died yesterday.

A diverse actor of immense talent, he is best remembered for his roles in Titanic (1997) and Twister (1996).

He died from surgical complications. My heart and prayers go out his family and loved ones.


Genius Movie Review

Sometimes, all an aspiring novelist needs to succeed is an editor who believes in them and is willing to work with them to see that dream of becoming a published novelist become reality.

Maxwell Perkins was one of those dream editors that every writer dreams of. The 2016 film, Genius, stars Colin Firth as Perkins and Jude Law as Thomas Wolfe.

In New York in the late 1920’s, Maxwell Perkins is a book editor who discovered both F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. His newest writer is Thomas Wolfe. Wolfe is a promising writer, but his writing is in desperate need of pairing down. Their friendship develops as Wolfe’s work is published and he becomes a successful writer.

Then the problems begin. Both Perkins and Wolfe begin to spend more time with each other than their respective spouses, Louise Perkins (Laura Linney) and Aline Bernstein (Nicole Kidman). As great a writer as Wolfe is, his explosive energy begins to overwhelm and erode his personal and professional relationship with Maxwell.

As a writer, I very much appreciate this movie. Killing your darlings (i.e. editing) is often a painful, but necessary part of the writing process. But in the end, if the writer is lucky enough to be successful, the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to write a novel is worth it.

I recommend it.

Genius is presently on DVD.

Flashback Friday-In And Out (1997)

Coming out of the closet is never easy. It’s even harder when someone else outs you publicly.

In the 1997 film, In And Out, Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) has just had his world turned upside down. His former student, Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) has just won an Oscar and publicly outs Howard during his acceptance speech. Howard is engaged to Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack) who has finally gotten past her self-esteem issues. That is until Cameron’s speech. When the press descends on Howard’s small town in Indiana, Howard must ask himself some rather tough questions.

I think what makes this movie stand out is that it deals with a difficult subject in a broad comedic sense. The chaos that ensues after Cameron’s acceptance speech is funny, but it also forces the characters and the audience to ask some very tough and delicate questions. Looking back on the 20 years since the movie’s release, it’s small, but significant breakthrough to the mainstream audience about the LGBTQ community is never the less important.

I recommend it.

Star Wars Character Review: Darth Vader

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy. For this post, I will also be briefly delving into some of the narratives in the prequels.

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 the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In previous posts, I have examined Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (the late Alec Guinness).In this post, I will be writing about the series’s most iconic character, Darth Vader.

Every hero needs a villain. In whatever world that hero inhabits, the villain is the one who keeps the hero on their toes and challenges them as they go on their journey.   There is no more iconic film villain than Darth Vader. Physically acted by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones, Vader is the ultimate villain. Physically imposing and a master of the dark side of the force, he is the overlord of the empire.

Darth Vader started his life as Anakin Skywalker, a young man who was blessed with force sensitivity and discovered by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). He would grow up and marry Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) and father Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. An enthusiastic, slightly hotheaded young man with an eye for adventure in his early years (much like his son a generation later), Anakin turns to the dark side, looses his humanity and becomes Darth Vader.

For most of Episode 4 (A New Hope) and part of Episode 5 (The Empire Strikes Back), Vader is the standard villain. Then something begins to change. He begins to sense that Luke is also force sensitive and pursues him with the end goal of turning him to the dark side.  The infamous “Luke, I am your father” scene is one of the greatest plot twists in all filmdom, in my opinion.

In episode 6 (Return of the Jedi), Vader finally redeems himself and turns back into Anakin after killing the Emperor while saving his son. Revealing another one of filmdom’s great plot twists that Luke and Leia are twins (and turning their kiss in the Empire Strikes Back into a moment of incest), Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader dies and is finally at peace.

A villain should more than Snidely Whiplash. A more interesting and well-rounded the villain creates a greater threat to the hero, compelling them to act to defeat the villain. A mustache twirling villain who uses the hero’s loved ones/love interest to draw them out into a fight is boring and predictable. A villain that is complicated, that is motivated by more than the standard villain motives, now that is going to grab an audience and keep them wanting more.

To sum it up: A good story deserves a good villain. But if the villain is 2D, predictable and boring, then there is no point to the story or the journey that the hero will go on to defeat the villain. In creating the iconic Darth Vader, George Lucas challenged future writers, regardless of genre to create villains that excite the audience and encourage them to cheer on the hero as they defeat the villain.

Throwback Thursday: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984)

The story of David vs. Goliath is one that resonates in every corner and culture around the world. The struggle of the common person vs the person who holds the cards and throws around their weight because they hold the cards is one that we call relate to.

In Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984), a wealthy developer wants to bulldoze a local community center and use the land for something else entirely. It’s up to Kelly (Lucinda Dickey), Ozone (Adolfo Quinones) and Turbo (Michael Chambers) to convince the developer to keep the community center open.

Intellectual, this movie is not. Totally cheese-tastic 80’s, of course it is. But there is something redeeming in the message of community and finding the common ground with someone who you might normally walk away from.

I recommend it.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Imagine if you will, a slice of literary paradise amid the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Imagine a bookstore filled to the brim with books, from floor to ceiling. Imagine the inviting aroma of fresh coffee, the smell that only a book has and the feeling that the money being spent goes to help the less fortunate.

This is Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.

Located at 126 Crosby Street in Soho, Housing Works Bookstore is a bookworm’s dream come true. Not only does it contain books on every subject, but there are tables to sit at, to relax, have a drink, to work, to chill, to meet your friends or just take a breather from the world for a few minutes.

I’ve been to Housing Works countless times over the last few years. My favorite part of visiting Housing Works is that they are a non profit. The money they make goes to helping New Yorkers dealing with the double affliction of AIDS and homelessness. Even if I go in to just donate, I know that in the end, the money that someone else spends on the book or books that I donate will go to help someone in need.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe is located at 126 Crosby Street in New York City.

A United Kingdom Movie Review

There is something powerful and fairy tale like about love. With the right person, we can be swept off our feet and take our lives into a new direction that we night have not previously considered. But reality has a way to crashing in on the fairy tale. Real love and real marriage, takes work.

Ruth Williams and Seretse Khama knew that better than anyone.

Released last weekend, A United Kingdom is the story of their love and the struggle to be recognized as a couple. In post World War II England, it is nearly love at first sight for Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) and Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo). But not everyone is thrilled about their relationship and eventual marriage. Ruth is a Caucasian office worker and the daughter of a middle class family. Seretse is the heir to the throne in what is today the country of Botswana. Needless to say, there are many on both sides of the color aisle who are not pleased with the marriage. Ruth and Seretse’s relationship is tested, but the question is, will their love and marriage survive what seems to be insurmountable odds?

I really liked this movie. Not just because it is a true story, but because it still resonates today. Many of us don’t think twice nowadays about interracial marriages, but back then, it was not just a marriage. It had major political and economic implications. Ruth and Seretse broke barriers in ways that we can only see in hindsight. Their story is also a reminder of how powerful love can be.

I recommend it.

A United Kingdom is presently in theaters.

Newsies Review

In 1992, a little movie hit theaters. Newsies was the story of the 1899 Newsboys strike. While the movie was not quite the hit with critics, it became a cult favorite. In 2012, Newsies premiered on Broadway and became a smashing success.

Yesterday, Newsies hit the big screen for a three night only event. Leading the cast is four of the original Broadway performers Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), Kara Lindsay (Katherine), Ben Fankhauser (Davey) and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Crutchie). Backing them up are Newsies veterans, from both the Broadway production and the touring production.

As a fansie, I couldn’t be more thrilled that the show was filmed for the big screen. I have been a fan for many years. It just reminded me why I love this show. While there were minor changes to the dialogue, 98% of what was on stage is on-screen.

I absolutely recommend it.

Newsies, The Musical will be in theaters tomorrow, February 18th and Wednesday, February 22nd. Check your local listings for theaters near you.

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