Monthly Archives: August 2017

Wuthering Heights Character Review: Nelly Dean

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

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

In every madhouse, there is usually one sane person. This person is usually the eyes and ears of audience member or the reader and is the only person who can tell the story without prejudice. In Wuthering Heights, that sane person is Nelly Dean. Nelly is the housekeeper/mother figure who tries to keep the peace in the family. Tries is the key word here.

She introduced early in the story when Mr. Lockwood, the tenant at Thrushcross Grange visits Wuthering Heights to introduce himself to Heathcliff, his landlord. Unable to return to Thrushcross Grange because of the weather, Nelly takes pity on Mr. Lockwood and tells him the story of the house and its former occupants.

As much as Nelly tries to keep the peace and the sanity in Wuthering Heights, she can’t. Not for lack of trying, but because the ones who she gives advice to decide to do what they think is best, regardless of her advice. It is Nelly who Cathy goes to after agreeing to marry Edgar, but not sure that marrying him is a good idea. A generation later, Nelly tries to stop Heathcliff from imprisoning Catherine Linton (Cathy’s daughter) and forcing Catherine to marry Linton.

To sum it up: Emily Bronte was one of the greatest writers of the past 200 years for a reason. In creating Nelly Dean, she understood that Nelly not only needed to be the eyes and ears of the audience, but she also needed to be the eye of the storm that is Wuthering Heights. When a writer creates a world and narrative that is out there, he or she needs to have at least one character who is clear and level headed. It is that character who the audience relies on as the steady, reliable voice of sanity. Without that character, the reader of the audience may not be able to latch onto the story and may walk away.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emily Bronte, Writing, Wuthering Heights

Thoughts On The Memories Of Princess Diana

20 years ago today, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash. She was 36.

When she married Prince Charles in 1981 at the young age of 19, she looked every inch of the fairy tale princess who had found her prince.

But life, as we know it to be, is not a fairy tale. It is complicated, it contains unforeseen twists and turns and can be heartbreaking.

The thing that I see in the memories of her is a pliable, caring, innocent young woman, who persevered through the sh*t that was thrown at her and learned to not only stand on her own two feet, but also make a life of her own choosing.

In finding her backbone and learning to stand on her own two feet, Princess Diana not only increased her icon status, but also became a heroine to those who find themselves fighting to develop their own backbone.

As many other have said before, if we remember her for nothing else, we remember that she was amazing mother. Her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry have grown into men that I am sure their mother would be nothing but glowing about. As a mother-in-law to Catherine and a grandmother to George and Charlotte, she would have been a light of modernity and love in the darkness of blind tradition.

RIP Princess Diana. Your legacy of love, strength, compassion, and humanity will last forever.

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Filed under Fairy Tales, Feminism, Life, Music

Throwback Thursday-Teacher’s Pet (1958)

In education, there are two ways of learning: there is the education of life and there is the education we receive in the classroom.

In the 1958 movie, Teacher’s Pet, James Gannon (Clark Gable) is a newspaper editor who believes that the only way to learn to become a good journalist is to get your hands dirty and get out on the streets. There is no value in taking any classes in journalism. Then he is ordered by his bosses to help Erica Stone (Doris Day), a journalism college professor to provide professional assistance.

Instead of following his bosses’ order, he pretends to be a student. The problem is that Erica openly dislikes him with a passion, but James is attracted to her and over time, Erica is attracted to him. They also begin to understand each other’s perspective on journalism. The question is, when will James reveal his secret and how will Erica respond?

This movie is interesting to me. One on hand, it is the traditional romantic comedy. But on the other hand the movie asks an interesting question about writing. Does one learn to write by just doing and learning from your mistakes or do we go the traditional route and learn in a classroom?

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Movies, Writing

Thank You, Ed Skrein

Hollywood whitewashing is nothing new. Audiences have become accustomed to seeing a character of color played by a Caucasian actor. Thankfully, both audiences and members of the Hollywood community have started to speak up and ensure that characters of color are played by actors of color.

Recently, actor Ed Skrein stepped away from the upcoming Hellboy reboot. Mr. Skrein, a white actor from England was to play a character who is Asian.

I say good for him. The reality of our world is that there are people of every color and creed whose stories deserve to be told. The problem is that these people and their stories are not being told or if they are being told, they are not being told as they should. For Mr. Skrein to step away from a role instead of blindly taking it, knowing that the character is Asian, represents a very public first step that will not only change the way Hollywood operates, but the way the world operates.

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Filed under Movies

The Nashville Statement

Several weeks ago, the rally in Charlottesville divided us. This week, with Hurricane Harvey causing destruction in Texas, many of us have been brought together by the horrific images of the lake that is Houston.

Today, we are divided once more. The Nashville Statement asserts the idea that marriage is only between a man and a woman and anyone who veers from that is wrong.

While we all are entitled to our beliefs, it is wrong to deny someone else their inalienable rights simply because they are different. Marriage is marriage, love is love and at the end of the day, we are all human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

The Nashville Statement has again divided us. Haven’t we been divided enough lately?

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Filed under National News

Todrick Hall- “4 The 2000’s”

We can often chart our lives by the music we listen to.

Todrick Hall’s latest video, “4 The 2000’s” is music from my early adulthood. It’s strange that no matter how old I get or how my music taste changes, I still know some songs by heart.

I enjoyed the video, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Filed under Music

P!nk’s Awesome VMA Acceptance Award Speech

Last night at the MTV VMA’s, P!nk was awarded the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Instead of doing the usual acceptance speech, she told a story about a conversation she had with her six-year-old daughter.

I’ve been a fan since her first album. As a performer, she has always been a badass. Last night, she upped her badass to a new level. She encouraged her daughter to be herself, even if she is not part of the crowd. I’ve had nothing but respect for her since day one, my respect for her has grown ten fold since last night.

The problem is in our culture that we are taught that what others think of us matters to the point where our own voices are drowned out. If they don’t like us, then we don’t like us. That attitude leads to a whole host of issues, including mental health issues and addiction.

Last night, P!nk spoke not only to her daughter, but to the millions of fans watching who are afraid to be themselves. It was genuine, it was from the heart and it was exactly what many of us need to hear. For that, she will forever have my everlasting respect.

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Filed under Feminism, Music

Hurricane Harvey-We Are All Americans

The rally in Charlottesville two weeks ago was a shock to America. It revealed not only our differences, but the schisms that are keeping us apart. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a disaster to bring us together. This weekend, that disaster is Hurricane Harvey.

Many of my regular readers know that I am a born and bred New Yorker. I lived through both 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. The thing I remember about both is that we temporarily forgot our differences and remembered that we are all Americans. If we needed a kick in the behind to remind us of this, Hurricane Harvey is that kick.

Whatever our differences are, we need to put those aside and help our fellow citizens. Whether it is a donation to a reputable charity or volunteering to help the victims, please give. Our fellow citizens need us.

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Filed under National News, New York City

Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism Book Review

Contrary to popular belief, sexism is not dead. It’s alive and well.

Writer Laura Bates’s 2016 book, Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism, is about confronting sexism in the here and now. She writes about everything from unwanted flirtations, to the double standards that women have to deal with every day and how to deal with the sh*t that women hear and read about in the press everyday.

I really liked this book. I really liked it because it dealt with sexism on a practical, everyday level, not on a hypothetical academic level. Using her own experience and of others, she calls out the bullsh*t sexism is still unfortunately part and parcel of our culture. She also provides practical advice when dealing with sexism head on.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism

Thoughts On The 30th Anniversary Of Married With Children

Before Married With Children hit the airwaves in 1987, the family sitcoms that littered the television landscape were a 1980’s reproduction of the family sitcoms of the 1950’s. Following in the groundbreaking steps of Roseanne, Married With Children push the envelope in ways that had not been seen before.

Al Bundy and Peg Bundy (Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal) appear to be the hetero-norm, middle class white suburban couple that has been seen on television since it’s inception. But they aren’t. Al works in a shoe store for a living and hates every minute of it with a passion. Peg is a housewife who does not do housework. Their teenage daughter, Kelly (Christina Applegate), has only one thing going for her: her looks. Ne’er do well son Bud (David Faustino) is not exactly the brightest bulb in the box. Their new neighbors Marcy and Steve Rhoades (Amanda Bearse and David Garrison) are newlyweds and the picture perfect image of suburban normal-ness.

Married With Children was crude, rude and so far from politically correct that it didn’t even have a moral compass. But it was and is so funny. It was the perfect antidote to the perfect TV families of the late 1980’s and 1990’s. But that was the brilliance of this show. It mocked the perfection of the genre in a way that was refreshing. Sometimes when you turn on the television, you don’t want to think. You just need a dumb show to make you laugh and Married With Children was that show.

The legacy of Married With Children is not just the pushing of the envelope, but the idea that families on television reflect the audience who is watching. Families are messy and no one is perfect. While this show was a little far from reality, it revealed a truth about life and what audiences really want to see on television.

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Filed under Television