Monthly Archives: August 2018

RIP Neil Simon

Death often comes in threes. Last week, we lost Aretha Franklin. Yesterday, we lost John McCain. Today, we lost one of the giants of theater, Neil Simon.

Neil Simon was born in July 4th, 1927 to Jewish parents. As an adult, he was known for creating dark comedies, some with a slightly biographical bent. He was one of the few writers to write for multiple mediums, he wrote for the stage, for film and for television.

Two of my favorite Neil Simon plays are The Odd Couple and Brighton Beach Memoirs.

The Odd Couple is about two divorced men who become roommates. Oscar is a slob and Felix is a neat freak. Despite these differences, somehow they get along, with hilarious results.

Brighton Beach Memoirs is set in 1937 in the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton Beach. Eugene Morris Jerome is nearly 15; he is going through all of the trial and tribulations of being a teenager while living with his large and crazy family.

Neil Simon was 91.  May his memory be a blessing.

RIP.

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Filed under Movies, New York City, Television

Another Shooting In America. What Else Is New?

A wise person would say that logic plays a part in politics and how we view our fellow Americans. But a wise person would also say that logic and American politics are like oil and water.

There was another shooting in America today. This latest shooting was in Jacksonville, Florida at a video game tournament. As of 7:45 PM, EST, four people, including the shooter are dead. Nine are injured from gunshot wounds.

We have midterm elections coming up. The question is, do we as citizens, want to elect someone who cares more for their career than the country? Do we want to elect someone who takes donations from the NRA and other pro gun lobby groups while innocent civilians are killed by guns? Or do we elect someone who puts country over party and career, who understands that we, the American people are their employers, not the lobbyists?

May the memory of those killed be a blessing and may we finally elect a politician who ensures that real world, logical gun control laws are enacted.

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Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters Book Review

For many a young and old literary nerd, Little Women is treasured classic.

2018 is the 150th anniversary of the release of Louisa May Alcott‘s classic novel of four young women coming of age in the mid 19th century.

The new book, Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, by Anne Boyd Rioux, tells the story of how Little Women impacted both American and worldwide culture over the past 150 years.

Little Women was a smash when it hit bookshelves on September 30th, 1868. Since then, the book has become ingrained into the public consciousness. In her book, Ms. Rioux explains how each era viewed Little Women. She also writes about how modern feminism and modern female writers have used pieces of Little Women when creating their own works. Specifically, Ms. Rioux explains how Little Woman lives today in new characters and narratives. Belle from Beauty and The Beast, Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series and Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls all have something in them from Little Women.

I will warn that this book is not for the virgin Little Women fan. It requires the knowledge that only comes via multiple reading and multiple viewings of the various adaptions. I really enjoyed this book. It could have turned out to be just another dry academic book detailing the history of Little Women and Louisa May Alcott. Instead it is  lively, entertaining and reminds its readers why Little Women continues to be relevant 150 years after it was initially released in bookstores.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Writing

The Bookshop Movie Review

To walk into a bookshop is to have a magical experience.

In the new movie, The Bookshop (based on the book of the same name by Penelope Fitzgerald), Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) is widow who opens a bookshop in a small seaside town in England in 1959. There are many in this town who oppose the bookshop, including the town’s queen bee, Violet Gamart (Patricia Richardson). But she is not without allies. Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) is an older, reclusive widower who not only Florence’s first customer, but one of her only true friends in this town.

Will Florence be able to keep her bookshop open or will opposing forces get in the way?

This movie is excellent. While Florence faces wave after wave of opposition, she is able to find plow forward and succeed as best she can. I also appreciated the ending, which was unexpected, but felt right for this narrative.

I recommend it.

The Bookshop is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies

Scaled Review

Most of the programs that fall into the reality television genre is either mind numbing or a waste of precious television watching time.

On Friday, Scaled premiered on Animal Planet.

The premise of the show is as follows: Cornel’s World is a company that specializes in making custom-made terrariums. Each episode, they create made to order terrariums for customers who want to show love to their scaled babies.

I enjoyed Scaled. I enjoyed it because of the challenge of creating a terrarium to fit the unique needs of the animal(s) that live in it. It also has an undercurrent of education as the audience member learns something about the animal(s) whose new home is being built.

I recommend it.

Scaled airs on Animal Planet on Fridays at 9pm.

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RIP John McCain

To give one’s life to serve one’s country is the most selfless thing any man or woman can do.

Today, America lost Senator John McCain. As both a politician and a member of the Armed Services, he gave his life to ensure that America lives up to her ideals.

Born 1936, he followed his father and grandfather into the US Navy. Shot down while serving in the Vietnam War, he was a prisoner of war from 1967-1973. After finishing his service in the military, he became a politician. Many Americans of a certain generation remember him for running on the Republican ticket against Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election. Known as a maverick, he was not the type of politician to just go along with the rest of his party.  He was a politician who did what was right for the country, instead of what was right for the party.

While I did not share some of Senator McCain’s political beliefs, I respected him for standing up for what was right instead of meekly following in the footsteps of his fellow Republicans.

My heart goes out to those who knew him and loved him. May his memory be a blessing and may we remember, as Americans, what he did for this country.

Wherever you are Senator, RIP.

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Filed under National News, Politics

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture Book Review

Rape culture is an ugly, pervasive part of the human culture.

The new book, Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay, is an anthology of stories about rape and sexual assault. While there is a diversity of contributors (including actress Gabrielle Union and writer Amy Jo Burns), the message is clear. Instead of being heard and those accused of sexual assault given their days in court, the contributors were shamed, discredited and bullied in response of being raped and sexually assaulted.

This book is nothing short of amazing and a must read for every adult. It brings the truth about rape and sexual assault into the light in a way that is unflinching, hard-hitting and in your face. It forces all of us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we will continue to allow such horrific acts to happen or if we will finally, as a culture, do something about it.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism

Crazy Rich Asians Movie Review

One of the most common tropes of the romantic comedy genre is the objection to one half of the lead couple by their well-meaning family and/or friends. The question is, is this common narrative used wisely or is it an easy way out by the writer or writers?

In the new movie Crazy Rich Asians (based upon the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan), Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is a Chinese American college professor living and working in New York City. She has been dating Nick Young (Henry Golding) for a year when he invites her to join him at a family wedding in Singapore. Nick hasn’t exactly been forthcoming  with Rachel about who his family is in the social hierarchy of Singaporean society. When they get to Singapore, Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) isn’t exactly pleased with her son’s choice of a partner.

But Rachel is not without allies. Her college roommate, Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) is from Singapore and has been begging Rachel to come visit for while. Rachel also becomes close friends with Nick’s cousin, Astrid Young Teo (Gemma Chan), whose life is not as perfect as it seems. Will Rachel and Nick live out their happily ever after or will his family get in the way?

While Crazy Rich Asians falls squarely within the romantic comedy genre (with the standard character tropes and narrative), it is not the same old, dry predictable romantic comedy. Aside from a cast of Asian and Asian-American actors (which is a long time coming), the movie is funny, charming, romantic and heaves much needed life into a genre that for many died a long time ago.

I absolutely recommend it.

Crazy Rich Asians is presently in theaters. 

 

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Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Flashback Friday-Project Runway (2004-Present)

For some, the ultimate professional dream is to have their own successful clothing line.

In 2004, Project Runway premiered on Bravo before moving to Lifetime and then returning to Bravo. Combining the dreams of up and coming fashion designers with the format of a reality show competition, the end goal of the contestants was to win the show and run their own clothing line. Guided by Tim Gunn, the contestants were judged by supermodel and host Heidi Klum, fashion designer Michael Kors and Elle creative director Nina Garcia. Filmed in New York City, the contestants are often given out of the box challenges and every episode, they are judged by a celebrity guest in addition to the regular judges.

While Project Runway has all of the hallmarks of a standard reality competition program, it stands out because the contestants have an opportunity for real world success.

I recommend it.

 

 

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Jeff Sessions Finally Grows A Pair

The job of the Attorney General Of The United States is supposed to be an apolitical decision. While he or she is appointed by the President, their job is to enforce the laws of this country. Their job is not to use the justice system to go after the President’s opponents, regardless of whether these opponents are real or just in the mind of the President.

You know who hasn’t gotten that concept through his thick, orange skull.

After months of abuse on Twitter, Jeff Sessions couldn’t take it anymore. His response to you know who is as follows:

Sessions hit back, saying in a rare statement, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the President’s agenda”.

It’s nice to see that Jeff Sessions finally grew a pair. What you know who has never understood about the role of the President is that he is not just the CEO of America. America is not a private corporation that can be bought and/or sold when changes in business occur.  He is a public servant who is beholden to the country and the voting public. Until he figures that out, he will never be the President that he thinks he is.

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