It’s no secret that life is full of challenges and complications. The question is, do we rise to challenges and complications and find a way to overcome them, or we let them defeat us.
In 2014, William H. Raven, a decorated and respected Admiral in the United States Navy, retired after being in the Navy for nearly 40 years. He learned a few things along the way during his storied career. Last year, he published Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World. Using examples of his experience in the military, he writes about challenges, defeats, hardships and how to overcome them.
This book is a must read. It is a must read because it speaks to all of us who are facing down challenges and hardships. His stories are inspiring and a reminder that we overcome and accomplish far more than we think we can.
I absolutely recommend it.
When we are young, we are taught to respect other’s opinions and beliefs, even if we disagree with them. The question is if we merely respect other’s opinions or beliefs or we take them on to feel loved and appreciated.
In 2015, Sarah Knight challenged her readers to find and respect their own opinions and beliefs in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do. Writing about everyday stresses of work, family, etc, she urges the reader to de-clutter mentally and figure what/who is important and what/who not to give a f*ck about.
Reading this book was very refreshing. Ms. Knight is funny, direct and most importantly, speaks to the reader about defining their life and their priorities on their terms.
I absolutely recommend it.
Looking back, adolescence is the defining era in our lives. It the stage that starts us on the path, for better or for worse, to adulthood.
The Wonder Years, premiered 30 years ago today. In the late 1960’s, Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) is on the verge of his teenage years. Layered into the narrative is the memories of Kevin as adult (Daniel Stern) told via voice over. As Kevin grows up and the late 1960’s turns into early 1970’s, he experiences the joys and heartaches of young adulthood with his best friends Paul (Josh Saviano) and Winnie (Danica McKellar), who is his first crush/first kiss/first romantic everything.
What makes The Wonder Years stand out and still holds a place in the hearts of the television audience thirty years later is that Kevin’s experience is incredibly universal. Everything he went through, we all have gone through or will through. That is why we are still talking about this show 30 years later.
Imagine this, if you will. You have an infant daughter at home. You leave for work one morning, expecting her to be taken care of while you are at work. Instead you come home to find that your child, who is not even a year old, has been raped by her adult cousin.
I would love to say that this story is fiction, but the story is sadly true.
I don’t have any children, but this story makes my stomach turn. What kind of sick person rapes an eight month old? What kind of society allows not just looks the other way when it comes to rape and sexual assault, but also silently paves the way for a baby to be raped?
If this is not a sign that we need severe change in our culture, I don’t know what is.
Change happens in one of two forms: either we actively choose to change or change is forced upon us.
In the late 1980’s Christian Picciolini was a teenager growing up in the Chicago area. The son of Italian immigrants, he was just another young boy disillusioned with life. He found an emotional home with a local skinhead group, eventually climbing up the ranks to lead the group and becoming ingrained in the culture of the group. Then he was forced to reckon with reality and he had to make a choice: to stay with the skinheads or choose to respect the diverse community that he lived in?
This one of my favorite books that I have read this year. Told in a memoir, first person style, his descent into the hate groups is scary to say the least. But, it is also a reminder that we can change and that we are capable of living up to the ideals that are part and parcel of the foundations of this country.
I absolutely recommend it.
Compromise is on the cornerstones of having to deal with everyone around else. It is especially imperative in politics and even more imperative when one sits in the Oval Office.
Donald Trump does not know the word compromise.
Randy Rainbow release his new video today, All About His Base. What Trump forgets is that he is not just President of his base, he is the President Of The United States. That means he has not only appeal to as many citizens as possible, he also has compromise with his fellow elected officials to keep this country running.
A mashup of the Meghan Trainor hits “All About That Bass” and “Lips Are Movin”, Randy Rainbow keeps us laughing and keeps reminding us why we must continue to fight for our democracy. If we don’t, one day it could be no more.
In 1957, Melba Pattillo Beals did not intend to make history. She simply wanted an education. But like every other African-American in the Jim Crow south, she was considered to be second class and did not deserve the same education as her white peers. A member of the of Little Rock Nine, she was one of the first African-American students to enroll at the historically all white Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Her memoir, Warriors Don’t Cry, was last updated in 2007. Told in a first person, the reader is taken directly into the writer’s head and experiences the Civil Rights Movement through Ms. Beals’s perspective and memories.
The main message I got from reading this book is that it doesn’t take place in another world and another era. It takes place in America, not too long ago. If nothing else, it is a stark reminder of the ugly underbelly of American culture and how we must continue to fight for the equality of all citizens. Ms. Beals got the ball rolling, it is of the utmost importance that we continue what she and the other members of the Little Rock Nine started.
I absolutely recommend it.
As a general narrative, the May-December romance can either be predictable and boring, or the audience walks into the theater thinking they know what they will be watching and is then surprised by out of left field choices made by the writer or writers.
In the new film, Phantom Thread, the never married middle-aged brother and sister duo Reynolds and Cyril Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville) are the faces one of the most respected fashion houses in 1950’s London. Their clientele are the whose who of society. Reynolds is meticulous in everything that he does. He also has a string of young lovers/muses who often come and go in a blink of an eye. Enter Alma (Vicky Krieps). Working as a waitress, Alma and Reynolds’s meet cute is at the restaurant where she works. She soon abandons her life for a life with Reynolds. Reynolds finds himself in love, but also learns that Alma is not afraid to call out his bullsh*t when she deems it necessary. She also turns his once carefully ordered world upside down.
What I especially liked about this movie is that writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson does not allow his characters to remain as 2D caricatures that have been seen far too many times. Instead he has created characters with shades of gray who are far from perfect. I also liked that the ending was not cut and dry. The ending was far from the typical ending of a romantic drama and left open quite a few questions about the character’s future that in another writer’s hands, would have been tied together just a little too neatly. While the film is a little slow, it is definitively worth a trip to the movie theater.
I recommend it.
Phantom Thread is currently in theaters.
*Warning: this post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations.
There are some books that continue to speak to us on a broad cultural level, regardless of the era when they were published.
Pride and Prejudice is one of these books. Written by Jane Austen and published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice continues to be one of the most popular and relevant books in our culture.
While on the surface, Pride and Prejudice is the story of the rocky courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzilliam Darcy, it is much more than that. Austen was an astute observer of her era, using her novels to subversively point out the human foibles of her characters and the social misfires that are as relevant today as they were in 1813. Whether it was the disenfranchising of women (the Bennet girls automatically disqualified from inheriting the family home because they are women), the snobbery of the upper classes (Lady Catherine de Bourgh) or the foolishness of marriage for marriage’s sake (the not so happy marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet), Austen was not afraid to use her writing to reveal some hard truths about her world.
In addition to Pride and Prejudice, Austen published five other novels in her lifetime. She died at the age of 41, not knowing that her popularity would last centuries after her death.
I am going to end this post with Thug Notes edition of Pride and Prejudice because, I can’t think of a better way to honor Pride and Prejudice.
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, we remember the millions of victims were killed simply for who they were.
I count myself among the lucky ones. My family has been in this country for more than a century. My great grandparents left Europe in the early 20th century, looking for a better life for themselves and their families in America. My grandparents were born in this country, I am a third generation Jewish American. But that does not exempt me from The Holocaust. Most of the family that my great grandparents left behind were slaughtered.
In the late 1970’s, one of my mother’s uncles added his grandfather, my great-great grandfather to the list of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem.
While I will go about my business today, my heart will be breaking a little.
May the memory of those killed be a blessing and a reminder of what happens when we forget that the person next to us is first and foremost just another human being.