Monthly Archives: July 2017

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy Book Review

Loss is a part of life. No matter where we live or what we believe, we will experience loss.

In 2015, Facebook executive and Lean In writer Sheryl Sandberg unexpectedly lost her husband, Survey Monkey CEO Dave Goldberg. She chronicles the loss of her husband and the aftermath of her husband’s sudden death in Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Co written with Adam Grant, the book not only examines how Ms. Sandberg dealt with the loss of her husband, but how others have not only dealt with loss, but also survived.

This book is a must read, especially for those who are grieving. Whether the loss of a spouse, a parent, a child, a relationship, a job etc, it is a guidebook for finding happiness in the face of loss. It is possible to move on and be happy again, but only if we let ourselves.

I recomend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Life

The Mooch-Out

Anthony Scaramucci (known as The Mooch) has the shortest political career in recent memory. He was hired a week and a half ago to replace Sean Spicer as the White House Communications Director. As of today, he no longer retains the position.

The question on everyone’s mind for the last 10 days has been who would play him when Saturday Night Live returns in the fall.

We may never have the pleasure of seeing Saturday Night Live’s sendoff of Scaramucci, but we still have Mario Cantone playing the Mooch opposite Anthony Atamanuik as Donald Trump on The President Show. It’s absolutely perfect.

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Peter Dinklage On Dreams And Life

Game Of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage has a powerful message on life and dreams.

In his 20’s he had a regular office job and dreamed of being an actor. But like many of us, logic stepped in and said that acting is not a reliable job. So he worked at his 9-5 job and dreamed of the day that he would be an actor.

Then at age 29, he made a decision. He decided to go after what he wanted instead just dreaming about it.

The message I get from his story is that it is ok to go after what we want. Is it scary? Of course. Does it bring a large amount of uncertainty to our lives? Yes.

But at the same time, living our authentic lives and doing what we want to do instead of doing what we need to do is sometimes the only way to live.

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July 29, 2017 · 8:17 am

Flashback Friday-Houseboat (1958)

Parenthood, especially single parenthood is never easy.

In the 1958 movie, Houseboat, Tom (Cary Grant) is a single father doing his best to raise his children after the death of his wife. Cinzia (Sophia Loren) has left the comfortable life and her overprotective father for a life of freedom and independence. She agrees to work for Tom, but as expected, things go, well not as expected.

The narrative is almost like The Sound Of Music, but downgraded. Despite the notable names of Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, the film is merely ok. The only thing that stands out in regards to Houseboat is the off-screen drama. Cary Grant was married at the time to Betsy Drake (who wrote the original screenplay and hoped to star opposite her husband). Infatuated with his co-star and having an affair with her, Grant had the screenplay altered, taking the screenwriting credit away from his wife and cast Loren instead of Drake in hopes of continuing the affair. While there was a happy ending on-screen, the ending off-screen was different. Loren returned to Italy and to the man who would become her husband, Carlo Ponti.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Character Review: Veronica Layton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

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 Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The perspective of youth is often one of hope, light and opportunity. Sometimes that perspective fades as we get older.

Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell) was the youngest member of the Challenger Expedition for most of the three years that the show was on the air.  Veronica is Arthur Conan Doyle’s answer to Tarzan. Her parents, who disappeared when Veronica was a young girl, were part of an earlier expedition. Growing up in the jungle, she learned independence and survival skills early on. But that does not mean that she has lost the innocence and light of youth.

Veronica grows from a young girl to a woman over the course of the three seasons. She has a sort of will they or won’t they relationship with Ned Malone (David Orth), falls briefly in love with a mad musician from the 19th century and begins to understand that life is sometimes hard. But her main goal is to find her parents.  In one of the last episodes of the third series, Veronica and the audience learn of her parent’s fate. Her father is dead and her mother descends from a long line of women who have ruled over the plateau for centuries. Veronica has been kept unaware of her lineage for her own safety.

To sum it up: Growing up is hard. Realizing that the life is not all sunshine and roses can be a difficult pill to swallow. Veronica is example of a great character because on one hand, she is independent and has no problem taking care of herself. But on other hand, she is still young and will be learning (sometimes the hard way) that life is complicated.  When a writer is creating a young character who over the course of the narrative grows up, the key is to make the journey of growing up universal. We all have to grow up at some point. Illustrating that journey properly through the narrative means speaking to the reader, regardless of the time and place that they are living. If the reader feels like the character is not speaking to them, then it is highly unlikely they will want to see the character through to the end of their journey.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Feminism, Television, The Lost World, Writing

Throwback Thursday-Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

The Vietnam War was one of the most brutal and controversial wars in recent memory.

In 1987’s Good Morning Vietnam, it is 1965. Adrian Cronauer (the late and sorely missed Robin Williams) is a Airman and a radio DJ sent to Vietnam to entertain the troops and bring some reminder of home. His unorthodox personality and on air persona does not go over well with some of the military higher-ups on the base. Though he is not on the front lines, he will experience the war in a very real and raw manner.

What strikes me about this movie is that while it is very funny at points, it is very dark and hard to watch at other points. The brutality and destruction that war brings is not lost on either the audience or Adrian.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

The Military Transgender Ban-It’s So Beyond Wrong

In the nearly 8 months that Donald Trump has been President, his presidency has been one scandal after another.

The latest is the ban on transgender troops in the military.

I don’t know how low this man can sink (though turning on Jeff Sessions is pretty low), but he may be reaching the bottom.

The military is not for everyone. But those who choose to serve, regardless of whether they are gay, straight, sexually fluid, transgender, etc, we should be thanking them for their service, not banning them from serving. They are potentially giving up their lives to safeguard not only our country, but democracy.

President Trump has no respect for anyone or anything, unless they serve his needs. He flies off the handle, acts more like a ten-year old boy than a 70ish year old man who happens to the President and thinks that Congress will automatically do his bidding. That is not the way a democracy works.

It’s time to get this man out of the oval office before he runs this country, like many of his businesses into the ground.

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Filed under National News, Politics

Audra McDonald, Chester Bennington And The Face Of Depression

Depression, like any illness, knows no bounds. Whatever labels we or others use to distinguish ourselves are meaningless in the face of mental illness.

The suicide of Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington last week hit many people hard. Linkin Park’s music is powerful, raw and real. It was not just the loss of one the great rock singers of this era, but of a man who lost the battle to the demons in his head.

One of the podcasts that I sometimes listen to is WNYC’s “Here’s The Thing”, hosted by Alec Baldwin. His guest on the most recent episode was actor/singer/Broadway superstar Audra McDonald. One of the things that she spoke of was her suicide attempt during her college years and how surviving it helped to create the person she is today.

The old saying “you can never understand a person until you walk in their shoes” is an especially potent statement when it comes to mental illness. Unless someone knows what it is like to live with mental illness, as well-meaning as they are, they cannot the difficulty of living with mental illness.

I will leave you with the video above. We have lost one too many to mental illness. How many more will we lose before we do something about it?

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The World Within: A Novel of Emily Brontë Book Review

Among the three Bronte sisters, Emily, the second to youngest was the most introspective and private. Her social circle was limited to her family, her close friends and her animals. She rarely traveled outside of her hometown of Haworth, England. She was not concerned with being fashionable or climbing the social ladder. Her sole completed novel, Wuthering Heights is one of the most respected and admired novels in the English language.

Jane Eagland’s 2015 novel, The World Within: A Novel of Emily Brontë, takes place when Emily is a teenager. Her widowed father, Patrick is doing his best to raise his children with the help of his sister-in-law. The Bronte children have created stories over the years about vast and imaginative lands with colorful characters. But life is beginning to change, as it must.

Patrick gets sick and there is a concern about what will happen if he does not survive. The sisters realize that they must learn to fend for themselves. But the question is, how will they learn to fend themselves with no dowry, no connections, no income and limited professional opportunities that does not include marriage?

Among the Bronte sisters, Emily is the most fascinating. She was passionate, opinionated and fiery. And yet under the mask of the quiet Parson’s daughter, few knew who she really was. As a reader, a writer and a fan of the Brontes, it’s always interesting to learn what events and experiences shaped them into the women we know them to be today. The question is then, can a modern writer truly find their way into Emily’s life and psyche to write a novel about Emily Bronte before she became the giant of literature that we know her to be today?

On a scale of 1-10, 10 meaning the book was superb and 1 being that the book is horrible, I would give the book a rating of 5. It was ok, but it was a bit slow in the beginning and I struggled to stay focused on the story during parts of the narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Feminism, History, Writing, Wuthering Heights

Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant Book Review

Perception is one-sided. When we think of Hollywood and movie stars, as audience members, we have one perception. Those who knew them best have another perception.

In 2011, Jennifer Grant, the only child of the late movie star Cary Grant wrote a memoir of what is was like to grow up with a movie star father. Entitled Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, she writes of a loving and giving father. Despite the fact that he and Jennifer mother’s, Grant’s 4th wife, Dyan Cannon, divorced when Jennifer was a baby, Ms. Grant writes about being raised in supportive, nurturing environment.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. It’s always fascinating to see how the other half lives, especially when the other half is Hollywood royalty. The problem is that I could not get into the book and I felt disconnected from the story, even though I knew it was a memoir.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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