Monthly Archives: November 2017

Add Another One To The List Part V: Matt Lauer

This morning, the list of prominent men accused of sexual harassment and/or abuse of their female staff grew to added one more name: Matt Lauer.

After hosting NBC’s The Today Show for twenty years and becoming one of the faces of morning news television for a generation, he lost his job and his reputation this morning.

At this point, I have no sympathy for these men. They got caught and in the process, were exposed for the predators that they are.  While I feel for Lauer’s family and I admire his victims for stepping forward, I am still shocked and reeling from the news.

We, as a culture, need to change. We need to change how we treat women. We need to teach our sons to respect the women around them and we need to teach our daughters that they are valuable and important beyond traditional female roles. Most of all, we need to put men who acted as Lauer did in his place and remind them that just because they have female subordinates does mean that these women are there to be his sexual playthings.

I just hope, that when this is done, that real change is enacted. If not, then all of this was for nothing.

P.S. Does anyone else see this as karma, especially considering how Lauer treated Ann Curry when she was fired in 2012?

P.P.S It is ironic and a sad telltale sign that while Lauer and others who have done such heinous acts have lost their jobs and reputation, a certain man in Washington D.C. who has been accused of similar acts is still in office. Why?

 

 

 

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Filed under Feminism, National News, Politics, Television

Lies Jane Austen Told Me Book Review

On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss Jane Austen’s novels as just another series of romance novels. The key with Austen is to look deeper, to find the subtle and subversive message that Austen has left for her readers, if they know where to look.

In Lies Jane Austen Told Me, by Julie Wright, Emma Pierce thinks she has it all. A solid career and a boyfriend named Blake who is about to propose. But the proposal does not go as Emma though it would. Heartbroken and angry, Emma throws herself into work. Then Emma finds out that her boss is hiring Blake’s brother Lucas as a consultant.

Emma is determined to keep the relationship as professional as possible, but Lucas is the polar opposite of his brother. He also has his own secrets.  Emma will learn that romance and relationships are as complicated in real life as they are on the page. Can she create her own happy ending from the chaos that is her life?

There are two types of modern fiction writers who use Austen’s characters and narratives for the backbone of their novels. One type of writer only skims the surface without truly understanding what Austen was writing about. The other type of writer not only understands Austen, but finds a way to integrate her work into their own without making the reader feel like there is a disconnect. The problem with this book is that Ms. Wright is the first type of writer.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen

Thug Notes-Emma

*The videos below contain spoilers. Read and watch at your own risk if you have not read the books or watched any of the dramatizations. 

One of my favorite things about Jane Austen’s novels is that her narratives and characters are universal. Despite being set in a specific time and place, it doesn’t take much to grasp the worlds she created in her books.

One of the more unique examinations of classic literature is the video series Thug Notes. Their latest video is an examination of Emma.

The thing that I take away every time I see one of these videos is that I am reminded why certain books are still read and cherished. These videos are also very funny, illuminating and well worth watching.

P.S. if you liked the video above, you should check out their Jane Eyre and Pride And Prejudice videos.

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Filed under Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emma, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice

Thoughts On The 26th Anniversary Of My Girl

Yesterday was the 26th anniversary of the initial release My Girl.

Set in 1972, Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is a young lady on the verge of her teenage years. She lives with her widowed father Harry (Dan Aykroyd), who runs a funeral home and spends her free time with her best friend, Thomas J. Sennett (Macaulay Culkin). Life seems pretty steadfast, but things about to change. First there is her father’s new girlfriend, Shelly DeVoto (Jamie L. Curtis) and then there is Vada’s crush on her much older teacher, Mr. Bixler (Griffin Dunne). It’s going to be an interesting summer.

This movie, is both unique to two distinct groups of audience members and universal, if such a thing is possible. For those who were Vada’s age in the early 1970’s, it’s a trip down memory lane. For my generation, it is a reminder of our late preteen years and how long ago that feels. But it is also universal because we were all that age once and we all had to deal with a new set of complications and grey areas that we were not aware of previously.

The movie also has a killer soundtrack with some of the greatest songs ever produced.

I can’t believe it’s been 26 years since this movie hit theaters. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend that you do. I would also recommend that you have a box of Kleenex nearby. Trust me, you will need it.

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Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus Book Review

A circus is supposed to be entertaining. The political arena, especially when it comes to Presidential elections is not entertaining.

Earlier this year, writer Matt Taibbi published Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus. Following the 2016 Presidential election from the moment that the candidates announced that they were running up until the moment that the election was called in favor or Donald Trump, Mr. Taibbi is writing on the moment, real-time essays about the mess, the chaos and yes, the circus like atmosphere that was the 2016 election.

While this book is sarcastic and funny, it is also quite scary. It is scary because it shows how far we, as a country, are from the political and social ideals that are cornerstone of our democracy.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Politics

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

A Christmas Carol is the progenitor of every Christmas story has been published since 1843.  The Charles Dickens novel has not only become synonymous with the holiday, but also with the idea of being kind to our fellow mortals.

The new film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens. With the recent success of Oliver Twist,  Dickens is under pressure to write his next novel. But with the creative well running dry and his bank account running equally as dry, he has to do something. Soon the idea for his next novel will start flowing, but so will the tension with his wife, Kate  (Morfydd Clark) and his father, John (Jonathan Price). He must also contend with the characters that are talking to him, including the man who will soon be known to the world as Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and face his own past.

 

As a writer, it is always fascinating to see how other writers go on their creative journey to create their work. As an audience member, for me at least, it is fascinating to watch how a screenwriter can expand not just upon the myth, but on the everyday human struggles of their characters, especially ones that are as well known as Charles Dickens.

I recommend it.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is presently in theaters. 

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

Thought On The 25th Anniversary Of Aladdin

25 years ago today, Aladdin hit theaters.

Loosely based (and I do mean loosely based) on the folktale One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin (Scott Weinger) is an orphaned boy living on the streets in fictional Agrabah.  He falls in love with Princess Jasmine (voiced by Linda Larkin) and asks Genie (voiced by the late and sorely missed Robin Williams) to make him a prince. But the king’s right hand man, Jafar (voiced by Jonathan Freeman) sees through Aladdin’s disguise and has plans to use Aladdin and Genie for his own ends.

As much as my former child self adores this movie, my adult self has a few qualms about this movie.

  • These characters are stereotypes. I get that this Disney’s attempt at cultural sensitivity and multiculturalism, but their attempt is merely an attempt, not a success.
  • Jasmine is 15 and an unnatural size 2. She is also the only major female character and tries to come off as a strong female character, but doesn’t really come off as the creative team intended.
  • All of the actors are Caucasian. Not even the scene stealing performance of Robin Williams can dull that fact.
  • The ending can be seen a mile away.
  • There is a subliminal message about underage teenage sex. Stop the video below at :19.

While more current adaptations of the movie (including the stage production, the upcoming movie with Will Smith as Genie and the reboot via Once Upon A Time) have tried to correct the errors of the 1992 film, there are some things about this film that as a thirty something, doesn’t sit well with me.

Readers, what are your thoughts about this film? I would be curious to know.

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Filed under Fairy Tales, Feminism, Movies, Once Upon A Time, Television

Flashback Friday-Tamara Drewe (2010)

Returning to our childhood homes can either be a heartwarming or traumatic.

In the 2010 movie Tamara Drewe, the title character played by Gemma Arterton returns to her childhood home in the English countryside to sell her family farm after the death of her mother. It should be a simple affair, but it proves to be more complicated, especially when her neighbors get involved in the process. Tamara also has three men vying for her affection: Andy Cobb (Luke Evans) who has nursed a crush on her for years, Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam), who is older, married and unfaithful to his wife and Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper), the drummer of a popular rock band.

Loosely based on the Thomas Hardy novel, Far From The Maddening Crowd, this movie is an interesting reboot of the source material. The thread that ties the narrative in the movie and the narrative in the book together is not only the question of how we would like to live our lives, but who we potentially spend our lives with.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Books, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Mr. Gold/ Rumpelstiltskin

*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 still 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.

In the tradition telling of Rumpelstiltskin, he is a magical imp who spins straw into gold for a young woman in return for something she will give him. One of the catchphrases of Once Upon A Time is “magic comes with a price”. The character of Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is initially introduced to the audience as the show’s male villain. He loved nothing more than trading favors with mortals in return for something precious to them.

Then the characters of Belle (Emilie de Raven), his second wife and Neal/Baelfire (Michael-Raymond James), his first-born son were introduced. Both Belle and Neal/Baelfire forced Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold to face his own demons, his choices and his past.

To sum it up: A few years ago, when asked to describe where his character was at, in terms of the character arc, Robert Carlyle described Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold as having an addiction to magic. Like any addiction, it often superseded his relationships with his loved ones. Addiction can often break relationships, but if the person addicted is willing to do the work, the addiction can be conquered.

When writing about characters wrestling with addiction issues, it is our job to explore how addiction can potentially break families and destroy lives. If the addiction is written either lightly or over-dramatically, the audience will not believe that the character has their addiction. Written about an addicted characters is not easy, but if it is done right, the audience will follow along on the character’s journey.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

Throwback Thursday-Susie Q (1996)

The genre of teen fantasy romance is an interesting one. Depending on the writer(s), the narrative and character arc can be either predictable/boring or compelling/different.

In the 1996 television movie Susie Q, Susie Q (Amy Jo Johnson) is a teenager in the 1950’s. She and her boyfriend are killed in a car crash. Decades later Zach Sands (Justin Whalin) moves into Susie’s former house with his sister and widowed mother, Penny (Shelley Long). Zach will soon discover that not only are they are not alone, but Susie’s ghost still haunts the property and he is the only one who can see her. In her own way, Susie tries to help Zach’s family and of course, it goes without saying that a romance develops between Zach and Susie.

Does this movie require a lot of thinking on the part of the audience? No. But it’s harmless and mildly entertaining.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review