Monthly Archives: October 2017

A Halloween Treat For Donald Trump-Robert Mueller Is Coming For You….

 

The news these past two days have filled with the revelation (though not unsurprising) that former Trump aides Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos have been indicted by Robert Mueller in response to the revelation of the connection to the Russian interference of the 2016 Presidential Election.

I could revel in the delicious idea that the threads are unraveling, but I will let The President Show and Randy Rainbow do it for me….

 

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Filed under National News, Politics, Randy Rainbow, Television

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf Book Review

It’s not uncommon that women and men are still judged differently. Men have friends, have pals. They have an easy comradery. There is no backstabbing, no “frenemies”, no one clamoring to steal their friend’s spotlight or significant other. Women on the other hand, have been accusing of backstabbing, of gossiping and basically tearing their so-called “friends” apart.

The new book, A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney is about four legendary female writers whose friendships with other female writers helped them to succeed in the world of literature. Jane Austen palled around with Anne Sharp,  who was the governess in her wealthy brother’s house. One of Charlotte Bronte’s lifelong best friends was her schoolmate, Mary Taylor. George Eliot spoke of writing and life with fellow controversial Victorian novelist, Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of the then infamous anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin).  And finally, Virginia Woolf had a co-writer and friend in Katherine Mansfield.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because not only did it remind me of the power of female friendship, it also reminded me of the power of female friendship when it comes to writing. I will warn, however, that to truly appreciate this novel, the reader needs to be aware of the life and work of the book’s subjects.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Feminism, George Eliot, History, Jane Austen

I’m Ok-The New York Terrorist Attack

There was a terrorist attack today in New York City.  A man (who shall be rendered nameless in the blog post and therefore powerless) drove into a crowd near the World Trade Center Memorial. It was mid afternoon. Students were getting out of school, many of them excited for their Halloween festivities.  Adults were minding their own business when a man drove a rented Home Depot van down a busy bicycle path.

As of this evening, 8 innocent people are dead and others are injured.

The fact that this terrorist chose to kill civilians near the 9/11 memorial just adds to the grief of the families whose loved ones were needlessly taken from them. It also reminds me what a dangerous world we live in.

It also reminds me that New Yorkers have an inner strength that is always in the background. We survived 9/11. We survived Hurricane Sandy. We can survive this.

G-d bless the souls of the innocent lives lost, may their memories be a blessing to those who knew them best.

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Filed under National News, New York City

Thoughts On The 5th Anniversary Of Hurricane Sandy And The Prevalence Of Climate Change

Anyone who lived through Hurricane Sandy five years ago can easily tell you where they were and how they somehow survived.  Today is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

We believed, back then, that Hurricane Sandy was a once in a lifetime storm for the New York City area. It would go into the history books and we would move on with our lives. It was just another Hurricane.

Cut to this year. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma,  Jose and Maria left a wake of destruction in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico respectively. Puerto Rico is still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Despite what the deniers will say, climate change is real. We, as a species, are shooting ourselves in our collective feet and pretending that we are not. When Donald Trump announced earlier this year that the US would be removing itself from the Paris Climate Agreement, he once again opened his mouth just to shove his foot in it.

Climate change may not be happening as quickly as it appears in the movies, but it is very real. If we live to see our grandchildren born, we may be asked some questions, that we as a generation may not be able to answer.

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Filed under History, New York City

An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice Book Review

Khizr and Ghazala Khan entered the national consciousness in 2016 at the Democratic National Convention. Their second son, Humayun Khan, joined the army and died in service to his country in 2004. Speaking to a national audience and to Donald Trump, they represent the ideals that America stands for.

Earlier this year, Mr. Khan published his memoir, entitled, An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice. He starts with his childhood in Pakistan, takes the reader through his life, from his childhood in Pakistan, through his adult life (including his marriage, becoming a father, and immigrating to America) and ends the book with speaking at the Democratic National Convention last year. Asked by Hillary Clinton’s camp to speak at the convention, Mr. Khan left a mark on the national culture that few private citizens can say they have made.

While the early part of the book relating to Mr. Khan early life were a little slow, by the end, the book left a mark on my conscious. He writes so earnestly, that I feel like I know this man and I feel feel for him and his family. They lost in their son, but instead just becoming another gold star family, they have become a symbol for the best of America.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Politics

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

*Warning: this review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the film. 

Winnie The Pooh is one of those childhood books that we all cherish. Written by A.A. Milne in the 1920’s, the world of Winnie The Pooh and the characters who inhabit that world have lasted generations.

The new movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin,  is not only the story of how Mr. Milne came to the idea of Winnie The Pooh, but also the eventual toll it took on his son, Christopher Robin Milne.  Domhnall Gleason plays A.A. Milne and Margot Robbie plays his wife, Daphne. Their son is played by Will Tiltson at age 8 and Alex Lawther at age 18. Kelly Macdonald plays Olive, the nanny who is like a second mother to Christopher Robin.

While the narrative went a little overboard on the drama at certain points, I really enjoyed the film. I enjoyed it because the characters were alive, flawed and thoroughly human.  The marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Milne was not all sunshine and roses and Christopher Robin, known to his family as Billy Moon, did not escape the fame came with his father’s success unscathed. I also appreciated that the filmmakers focused on the PTSD that affected Mr. Milne after he returned from World War I. It added another layer of humanity to the character and the narrative.

I recommend it.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under Books, History, Life, Movie Review, Movies

The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness Book Review

There is no doubt that feminism has changed the world. Women are achieving more and walking through doors that only a few short years ago were closed to them.

The question is, what do we want and are we truly happy? Writer Jill Filipovic explores this concept in her book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness Book.  While interviewing women from across the political, cultural and racial landscape, Ms. Filipovic asked if we can have it all. We are told, in this generation, that we can have it all. We can work in whatever job we wish to, the doors to higher education are no longer closed to us and we no longer have to choose between having a family and a career. While that concept is correct to a certain degree, there are many obstacles ahead of us.  Whether it is equal pay, having access to medical care, not paying an arm and a leg for childcare, etc, it is indisputable that while we have achieved a lot, there is still a long road ahead of us.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed because Ms. Filipovic laid out, in black and white, what is needed for true equality. While she did celebrate our past victories, she also reminds the reader in practical terms what battles are ahead of us.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism

Flashback Friday-In Love And War (1996)

It has been said that for a writer to create memorable narratives and characters, he or she has to truly live.

Ernest Hemingway was an ambulance driver during World War I. Injured in the line of duty, he fell in love with nurse Agnes Von Kurowsky, and she with him. While their relationship did not last, their story was chronicled in the 1996 film, In Love And War.

The film starred Chris O’Donnell as Ernest Hemingway and Sandra Bullock as Agnes Von Kurowsky.

 

I haven’t seen this movie in a long time, but I remember that while the narrative did not rise to the level of an unforgettable romance, it was not entirely bad either. What I do remember is that it was the story of young love and how it stays with us, even when that love is not meant to last forever.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Books, History, Movie Review, Movies, Writing

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Regina Mills/The Evil Queen

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the previous seasons.

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 Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

No one goes through life without heartache.  The question is, do we let the heartache consume us or do we let it fade into memory? In the world of fairy tales and Snow White in particular, The Evil Queen is the female villain we love to hate. Her main goal is to kill Snow White, she will stop at nothing to see Snow White dead. On Once Upon A Time, The Evil Queen or Regina Mills as she is known in Storybrooke, is played by Lana Parilla.

As with the original fairy tale, The Evil Queen hates her stepdaughter, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and will like nothing more than see Snow White in the ground permanently.  But in this version, The Evil Queen/Regina Mills goes beyond the 2D character we think we know.

Regina does not hate Snow for her youth or her beauty, but blames Snow for the death of her first love and her forced marriage to Snow’s widowed father. We are introduced to Regina as she interrupts Snow’s wedding to Charming (Josh Dallas) and curses all of the inhabitants of the realm. Their memories are wiped clean, they remember nothing of their lives before the curse.

But as everyone who watches Once Upon A Time knows, “magic comes with a price”. The price, for Regina is her inability to move forward with her life and not let the past hold her back. She will eventually find love again, with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), but not before facing her demons and confronting her past. She will also become the mother to Henry (Jared Gilmore) that she was unable to be when she was consumed by anger and grief.

 

 

To sum it up:  The reason that fans have latched onto Regina’s character arc over the first six seasons is because despite the world she lives in, we can relate to her. No one is all good or all bad. A good writer is able to flesh out a character in such a way that both the good parts and the bad parts of the character’s makeup are given the chance to be in the spotlight. While Regina has done some bad things in her life and made some mistakes (and truth be told, haven’t we all?), she has proved to be loyal and loving to those who knew her best. That is why we love her and that is why we remember her.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Life, Once Upon A Time, Television

Throwback Thursday-The Avengers (1998)

In the wake of The Cold War and the success of the James Bond films, The Avengers hit our televisions in the 1960’s.

In 1998, the big screen adaptation of The Avengers was introduced to movie audiences. Taking the places of Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg as John Steed and Emma Peel were Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman. They have to stop Sir August De Wynter (Sean Connery) a villain who plans to use the power of nature to destroy the world.

Before I continue with the review, I have to warn that I have not seen the original television series, so my knowledge of the narrative and the characters is strictly based on the movie and the general pop culture references from the series. Based on what little information I have, the problem I see with this film is that it is a superficial reboot without the substance or style of its predecessor. I have a feeling that fans of the original series would like to forget that this reboot was ever made.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Television, TV Recap