Monthly Archives: October 2018

Early Throwback Thursday-Halloween Edition-Halloweentown (1998)

The allure of having magical powers is an idea that human beings have been considering and writing about for eons. The question is, if these powers did exist, would they be used for evil or for good?

In the 1998 Disney television movie, Halloweentown, Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) is a young witch on the verge of her 13th birthday. But she must be trained by her 13th birthday or lose her powers. Marnie’s grandmother Aggie (the late Debbie Reynolds) is eager to step in as her granddaughter’s teacher. Aggie lives in Halloweentown and visits her family in the mortal world as often as she can. But this visit from Aggie is more than an ordinary visit. A dark force is threatening Halloweentown and it’s up to Marnie to stop it.

Even for a Disney channel television movie, it’s not bad. It has enough Halloween in it to make the kids watching jump out of their seat a little and the narrative has enough meat in it to entertain even the most skeptical of adults.

I recommend it.

Happy Halloween.

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Trump Cannot Rewrite The Constution Because He Feels Like It

The 14th Amendment opens with the following statement:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

Donald Trump thinks that this clause in the amendment can be removed by an executive order.

At this point, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when it comes to this man.

I don’t know who is advising him or if he even listens, but he cannot rewrite the laws of this country, especially the Constitution because he feels like it. When a political leader rewrites laws, especially constitutional law with the flick of his or her pen, they are more likely to be dictator or an autocrat. This is not the action of a democratically elected President.

Even if he wanted to re-write the law, there is a process that takes some time to complete, and even then, there is no guarantee that the amendment will be ratified.

Either he doesn’t get it, or doesn’t care. My feeling is that both are applicable. He doesn’t get or care that there are certain political norms, both written and unwritten that must be followed. He wants it now and expects it now. It’s akin to a toddler demanding something from their parent and then taking a tantrum because Mom and Dad are not going to just say yes automatically.

The irony in all of this is that Trump’s mother was not born in America. She was born in Scotland and emigrated as a young woman. If Trump had his way, he would be nullifying his own citizenship status and his Presidency. The President Of The United States must be a natural-born citizen. The other irony is that Trump’s first wife, Ivana married him in 1977, but did not become a citizen until 1988. By making this statement, Trump was stating that he would be nullifying the citizenship status of his three eldest children.

No matter which way the cookie crumbles, this man is bad for this country. Which is why we must vote next Tuesday and remind him who is in charge.

 

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Fear: Trump in the White House Book Review

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward knows a thing or two about corruption in politics and corrupt politicians.

His new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, is an intimate, first hand account of what it was like to work under you know who during his first year as President. Utilizing interviews, personal sources, notes, documents and other materials, Mr. Woodward draws a picture of a President who is a political neophyte, prone to adult tantrums and unwilling to listen to those around him who have experience.

This book is nothing short of memorizing. It is also, from my perspective, a little terrifying that the man who current bears the label of President Of The United States has an ego the size of Texas, the temperament/emotional maturity of a fifth grade schoolyard bully and the inability to understand when to follow the advise of those who understand the game of politics.

I absolutely recommend it.

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In Spite Of The Hate In This World, There Are Still Good People

The shooting that left 11 people dead in the Tree Of Life Synagogue its Pittsburgh on Saturday morning was a heartbreaking reminder that hate and prejudice still have a place in our society.

But in spite of that hate, there are still people in this world who see past labels and see the person.

Last night, I received a phone call from a former colleague who is Catholic. She expressed her condolences about the shooting. The reaction from my friends (most of whom are not Jewish) on Facebook was nothing but supportive and loving.

Yesterday, there was a story on Mashable that Muslim activists have raised more than $50,000 to help the loved ones of the victims pay for the funerals and to provide financial support to those who are still in the hospital.

Anne Frank lived through and died during the most inhuman period of human history. But even with all of the death, hatred and destruction that was her normal, she never gave up hope about humanity.

I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

This weekend was extremely hard for myself and many others. But we got through it because we were wrapped in love and support. While we cannot bring back the 11 people who were murdered on Saturday, we can heal. We can live in peace and we can love one another, in spite of our differences.

We only need to open up our hearts.

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The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right Book Review

Since 2016, many Americans have either questioned or changed their political allegiances. The presence of you know who has forever changed the way we see our government.

Max Boot was a dyed in the wool Republican for many years. Then the current resident in The White House won the 2016 election.

In his new book, The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right, he explains why he feels like he has left the Republican party. Born in Soviet era Russia, Max and his parents emigrated to the United States in the 1970’s. Though he has not become a Democrat, Mr. Boot explains why he feels disillusioned with the current state of American politics and how important it is to work with our fellow citizens across the political aisle.

If anyone is going to reach those who are blindly following you know who or those who are willing to sacrifice this country for their careers or personal agendas, it is someone like Max Boot. The book is hard to read, but an important read if we want our American Democracy to continue for future generations.

I recommend it.

 

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Enemy of the People: Trump’s War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy Book Review

When the head of government refers to the press as “enemy of the people”, he or she is usually not a democratically elected leader. They have somehow elbowed into their way into a position of power and in doing so, have pushed aside the norms and rules of political leadership.

Marvin Kalb’s new book, Enemy of the People: Trump’s War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy, compares the Presidency and administration of you know who to the Red Scare and McCarthyism led by Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950’s. In the book, Mr. Kalb lays out in detail how Joseph McCarthy politically hijacked American politics in the 1950’s and how eerily similar it is to the current administration. He also lays out how Edward R. Murrow saw through McCarthy and understood how important it was to reveal the truth to the American public. In short, Mr. Kalb lays out the reasons why freedoms of the press and other freedoms should not be curbed to satisfy the political cravings of one man.

This book should be read by every American, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum. We have taken our Democracy for granted. If nothing else, the current resident of The White House is a reminder of how fragile Democracy really is and how important it is for every citizen to get involved.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts On The Clueless Reboot

Reboots of 80’s and 90’s classics are the rage these days. Television and movie executives are banking on the nostalgia factor to bring in audiences.

The latest reboot that will soon be coming to the movie theater is Clueless.

While details of the production and casting have not be released, my initial reaction can be explained in one word: why?

Clueless is perfection in a film. Amy Heckerling’s screenplay is quotable, incredibly funny and does not need a reboot. Though Emma (like all Jane Austen novels) can be easily transported to another era and time period, in the wrong hands any Jane Austen reboot can come off as just plain awful and heretical to some Jane Austen fans.

Until we know more about this upcoming reboot, I remain skeptical. I loved Clueless when it premiered in 1995, that love has not died and will probably never die. I just hope that this reboot, whenever it hits theaters, does not destroy the reputation of it’s predecessor.

 

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Filed under Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Movies

The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Hits Too Close To Home

This morning started off like any morning for the members of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. At approximately 10:30 am EST, a gunman walked into the synagogue and killed 8 people with at least 4 more injured in the shooting. He stated the following as a reason for the shooting: All Jews must die.

This shooting hits too close to home for me. Other than attending services on the high holidays (and perhaps for a special occasion), I haven’t attended Saturday morning services regularly since high school. But I come from a Jewish family where attending regular Saturday morning services is a just part of the weekly calendar. I count my blessings that none of my loved ones were in that synagogue, but it also hurts like h*ll.

I am scared, angry and on the verge of tears.  Antisemitism is alive and well in America. The people who were killed were only killed because they are Jewish and happened to attend services at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

This should not be happening in 2018. We should be able to go about our business without being afraid of being killed for who we are. Religious institutions should not need to hire armed guards or security so their members can attend services and feel safe in doing so.

According to news reports, the accused gunmen was found with an AR-15 and a handgun. An AR-15 was also used in the shooting in Las Vegas and Florida.  What will it take for our government to enact reasonable gun control laws? How many will die before we come to our senses?

Of course, you know who sounded Presidential, be we all know that he is part of the problem. His antisemitic dog whistles has allowed those who believe as shooter did that they are right.

This should be classified as a hate crime and if convicted, the shooter should receive the harshest legal penalty possible.

May the memory of those killed be a blessing and may we all see each other first and foremost as human beings.

I am going end this post with Shylock’s speech from The Merchant of Venice. Though this speech was written hundreds of years ago, it feels relevant today.

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.-Act III, scene I

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Too Little, Too Late Megyn Kelly

There is a shameful history of blackface in American culture.

Earlier this week, Megyn Kelly made some rather controversial comments in regards to blackface when it comes to dressing up for Halloween.

As of earlier today, her show is likely cancelled and her contract with NBC is likely to be nullified.

I am not African-American, but I am a part of a minority group. The pain of being stereotyped and dehumanized for someone else’s entertainment when you do not have the power to respond and/or protest is a feeling that I would wish on no one.

While I would not wish anyone to be fired from their job, in this case, I believe that cancelling the show and firing it’s star is the right way to go.  Racism and discrimination in 2018 should be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, Megyn Kelly’s comments proved that once again, both are alive and well in America.

 

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Filed under History, Politics, Television

Flashback Friday-My Super Sweet 16 (2005-2008)

For many young people, turning 16 is a birthday to remember. Some decide to have a simple celebration. Others decide to go out all out.

This is the premise of the MTV series, My Super Sweet 16 (2005-2008). Each episode focuses on one teenage boy or girl who is about to turn sixteen and have a blowout of a birthday party. Usually, the teen’s parents are well off financially and can pay for more than the average sweet sixteen. Viewers expected at least one tantrum from the birthday boy or girl, the demand for a celebrity to perform or wildly expensive outfits.

I think the perspective of the show depends on the individual who is watching the show. The teenager might watch with envy, wishing to have a birthday party as out there as the subject of the episode. The adult might roll their eyes, knowing that the youngsters on-screen do not know as much as they think they know.

Do I recommend it? Maybe, it depends on your age.

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