Monthly Archives: August 2017

Barcelona’s Youngest Victim

The attack in Barcelona last week was another reminder that terrorism is alive and frighteningly real. 13 were killed and 120 were injured.

The youngest victim, Julian Cadman was only 7 years old.

My heart is breaking. This child did nothing wrong, except being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can only imagine the heartbreak and grief that this boy’s family is experiencing.

I wish we could say RIP and be done with it. But we can’t. Terrorism and the destruction that goes along with it has caused nothing but grief and misery.

May those killed rest in peace and those responsible for the killing see justice in this life and the next.

RIP Julian Cadman.

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Filed under International News, World News

To Remove Or Not To Remove, That Is The Question

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

The phrase above has in recent decades been used when referring to the Holocaust. But while it refers to a specific event in history, the phrase itself has the potential to be used for other events in history.

In the wake of the rally in Charlottesville last weekend, local governments and citizens alike have either called for the removal and/or destruction of monuments from the Confederate South or have had them removed completely.

It feels to me like a double-edged sword. We cannot white wash history and pretend that the horrors of slavery did not happen in America, but at the same time, if we do decide to remove them from the public arena, what are we teaching our children?

If American society has a cross to bear, it is the enslavement of African-Americans and the scar that still exists from that enslavement in our society generations after The Civil War. Racism still exists in America (as was dreadfully highlighted last weekend) and remains a blight on the ideals laid out by our Founding Fathers.

The only compromise I can think of is to not whitewash history and use the past (and the monuments dedicated those who were part of the Confederate South) as a teaching tool. We can only learn from history (and prevent it from happening again) is to learn from the mistakes of the generations who have come before us.

That being said, I would like to know the opinion of my readers. Should we remove the statues and be done with it or use it as teaching tool for this generation and future generations?

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Filed under History, National News

What President Trump Should Have Said

A President, regardless of his or her party or beliefs is the moral authority and should be leading the nation, especially during a crisis.

President Trump has failed in both areas (no surprise there). His remarks after last weekend’s rally in Charlottesville proved that he is neither the moral authority nor is he far from qualified to lead the nation, especially during this crisis.

What President Trump should have said is in the video above. Thank you Arnold Schwarzenegger for standing up for what is right and speaking truth to power.

It’s not uncommon knowledge that Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner. It is also common knowledge Jared’s grandparents survived the Holocaust. Their children are being raised Jewish. I would think (and hope) that Trump’s reaction, not a President, but as a father and grandfather would be of outrage and anger.

I know this has been said many times since last weekend, but my grandfathers, like millions of their brothers in arms, fought against fascism in World War II. The sons of Jewish immigrants, they put their lives on the line to protect America and her values. The fact that Trump has subtly given the alt-right the go ahead to slither out of the rocks they came from speak to his incompetence and how ill prepared he is to lead this country.

P.S. Did anyone else do a happy dance when Steve Bannon was fired?

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Filed under History, National News, Politics

Flashback Friday-Flubber (1997)

The archetype of the professor who is book smart, but street dumb has existed for many generations and has been used by multiple writers over the years. The question becomes how does a writer use this archetype without creating a 2D, predictable character?

In 1997, the late Robin Williams starred in Flubber (a reboot of the 1961 movie The Absent Minded Professor starring Fred MacMurray). Professor Philip Brainard (Williams) is working on creating a substance that will save on the energy bills for the college in which is he is employed by. While the creation of the substance called Flubber is a success, his personal life is taking a downturn. His wedding to his fiance, Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds (Marcia Gay Harden) has been postponed twice. Will he choose his career and his creation or will he finally walk down the aisle?

This movie is very interesting. On one hand it is a reboot with Robin Williams playing the lead as only he can. But on the other hand, it feels like a generic family comedy without any elements that make the film standout.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies

The Real Jane Austen Book Review

When Jane Austen died in 1817, she ascended to the status of legend. While we talk about her in terms of her as a giant of literature, she was also a human being.

Published in 2013, The Real Jane Austen, by Paula Byrne, extend’s Austen’s legend while at the same time speaking of ordinary things that made her human. Ms. Byrne writes about the ordinary aspects of Austen’s life: a gold chain, a hat, a notebook, etc. Interweaving aspect of her life with her novels and her characters, the book speaks to Austen fans whom have cravings to learn about the minutiae of her life and only come to appreciate her more once they have read the book.

I’ve read a lot about Jane Austen (as anyone who knows me and/or follows this blog). She is one of my writing heroes and never fails to inspire me. What I truly appreciated about this book is that not only is the mostly non-linear narrative, but there is a life to this biography. By writing not just about the large accomplishments, but about the tiny details of Austen’s life, Ms. Byrne has only increased my appreciation for Jane Austen.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Writing

Wuthering Heights Character Review: Catherine Earnshaw

*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.

The best love stories always have an obstacle to the potential happiness of the couple. The best stories sometimes have a character who is standing in the way of their own happiness. This, in a nutshell is Catherine Earnshaw, the heroine of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

Catherine is the daughter of the local gentry. We first meet Catherine when her father brings home Heathcliff, her adopted brother/soulmate. Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together, joined at the hip until they reach early adulthood. Then reality sets in. Mr. Earnshaw dies and Catherine’s older brother, Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights. Hindley was never fond of Heathcliff when they were boys. Without anyone to stand in his way, Hindley openly and maliciously abuses Heathcliff.

While this is happening, the audience and Catherine are introduced to the brother and sister duo of Edgar and Isabella Linton. While it is obvious that there is a strong connection between Catherine and Heathcliff, there is also the pressure of the world of Victorian era England. It would be a disgrace for Catherine to marry Heathcliff, despite their deep love. Heathcliff has no money, no social standing and his origins are unknown. In short, it would cause quite the scandal if the lovers were to marry.

“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

After Catherine marries Edgar and Heathcliff disappears, she appears for a time, to have put aside the wild child sensibility and become a proper lady. But when Heathcliff returns as a wealthy man and starts to not court Isabella, Catherine becomes jealous. Pitting her husband and her soulmate against one another, she becomes ill and dies just moments after her daughter in born.

To sum it up: There are always obstacles, whether on the page or in life. We have two choices, we can find a way to overcome the obstacles or we can take the easy way out.  Catherine unfortunately, takes the easy way out and pays for her choices. As writers, we don’t always have to lead our characters down the right path. Sometimes, we lead our characters go down the wrong path and let them pay for their choices.

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

Throwback Thursday-The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

When a film is adapted from a comic book, it must two serve purposes and two masters. It must please the comic’s core fanbase while appealing to new fans. It must also, as best as the creative team can, full transplant the narrative and characters from the page to the screen.

In 2003, the film adaptation of the comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen hit the big screen. In an AU (alternate universe) Victorian era, a group of heroes from famous novels must come together to save the world. The group includes Tom Sawyer (Shane West), from the classic Mark Twain novel, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, and Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Led by Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, this band of adventurers and heroes must save the world from a villain known as the Fantom.

Bear in mind that I have never read the comic book and when I saw the movie, I was unaware that the source material comes from a comic book. As a standalone movie, it’s ok. It’s just the run of the mill film adaptation of a comic book that is top-heavy on special effects and light on both character and narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

When Does A Review Cross The Line?

The basic definition of a reviewer, regardless of whether they are reviewing a book, a film, etc, is to give the audience or the reader an overview of the narrative and tell them if it is worth their time to watch or read it.

But the question is, when does a reviewer cross the line?

Recently, I’ve started listening to the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC in the morning just to get a handle of what is going on in the world. One of the people interviewed yesterday was Vulture writer Kat Rosenfield about her recent article entitled “The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter“.

The book in question is The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. I’ve not read the book, but hearing the response on twitter to the book and the negative reviews brings up a few questions.

One of the things that pointed out during Ms. Rosenfield’s segment was that the writer was basically pandering to her potential readers. I get it, I’m also a writer. If your writing feels false and your only writing to make a buck, the reader will know it. One of the most common quotes associated with writing is “write what you know”. On one level that makes sense. But on another level, if every writer only wrote what they know, the science fiction and fantasy genres would never exist.

The reviewers job is to review the art without hurting the artist(s). The problem is that the line between a review and a personal attack is subjective. The other issue is that social media so pervasive in our daily lives that one review where the reviewer goes too far can potentially damage of the career of the artist.

I welcome your comments on this topic. Listen to the link (the interview with Ms. Rosenfield is the last 20 minutes of the show) and read the article. Where is the line and how far can a reviewer push it before it morphs into a personal attack and ruins careers?

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Filed under Reviews, Writing

RIP Elvis Presley

There are only a handful of artists who are known by the first name. Michael, Madonna, Bono.

But before Michael, Madonna and Bono there was the one and only Elvis Presley.

He died 40 years ago today of a heart attack. To invoke the name of Elvis Presley is to invoke a certain image. In his prime, Elvis represented a youthful rebellion that had not been seen before in American culture. Teenagers loved him and adults at best tolerated him and at worst tried to censor him.

While there was some controversy in hindsight (he was not actually the pioneer of rock and roll, he just started playing the music that the African-American community had been playing for years), he is still an icon who is still respected, adored and worshiped four decades after his passing.


RIP sir. Your physical presence maybe long gone, but your music will live forever.

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Filed under History, Music

Ample Hills

The last few days have been a downer, to say the least. While the summer is sadly coming to an end, it is quite over yet.

I’d like to change topics and talk about something that makes all of us happy, especially this time of year…..ice cream!!!!!

One of my favorite ice cream shops in all of Brooklyn is Ample Hills.

It is one of the most authentic ice cream shops I’ve ever been in. The multitude of flavors is sure to please any palate.

And of course, they have teamed up with Baked By Melissa to create a new flavor of ice cream. My mouth is already watering.

I absolutely recommend Ample Hills. It is worth the trip.

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Filed under New York City