Monthly Archives: January 2019

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Angel

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

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 Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Since the beginning of storytelling, there has always been something about the brooding bad boy or girl with a romantic streak.The audience knows that this person might be trouble, but they also fall for the softer side of this character. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, this character is Angel (David Boreanaz). Angel makes his first appearance in the Buffy pilot. He appears to be the older, romantic bad boy who often appears in movies or television shows that focus on teenage girls.

But Angel is more than that. He is completely aware of who she is while hiding his own secret. He is vampire who is cursed with a soul. After Buffy and Angel sleep together (and he has a moment of pure happiness), his soul is gone and he reverts to his previous identity, Angelus. Angelus gets off on torturing Buffy until his soul is returned and he must come to terms that his relationship with Buffy is not meant to last.

After leaving Sunnydale, Angel opens his own supernatural detective agency in Los Angeles. Initially aided by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn), Angel works to protect the city from the darkest of supernatural forces. He also becomes a father and continues to fight against evil while protecting those he loves.

To sum it up: While the bad boy with the romantic streak may initially sound appealing, the reality is that the relationship may not last. But then again, not all romantic relationships are meant to last forever. As a character, viewers (myself included), fell in love with Angel. We watched him grow from a Heathcliff type character to a character who, in spite of his past, becomes a hero. That is why nearly twenty years later, fans still return to vampire bad boy turned hero of their younger years.

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Filed under Character Review, Emily Bronte, Feminism, Television, Wuthering Heights

Throwback Thursday: Restaurant: Impossible (2011-2016)

The statistics when it comes to the success of small businesses is startling. In the US, most small businesses fail within ten years of opening their doors.

Robert Irvine was trying to change those odds, one restaurant at a time.

Restaurant: Impossible aired on the Food Network from 2011-2016. The premise of the show was to Irvine had two days to help a failing restaurant not only survive, but thrive. The drama comes from the either the owners or the staff, who for any number of reasons, are resisting the changes that Irvine is suggesting.

Restaurant: Impossible is one of those shows that I enjoyed. Robert Irvine reminds me of the tough teacher in school. They were not tough on you because they could be, they were tough on you because they wanted you to succeed.  Irvine was tough on the restaurant owners and staff not because he can be, but because he wants them to succeed.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

The Hidden Life of Otto Frank Book Review

For many, Otto Frank is mainly known as the father of Anne Frank. Her diary has been read the world over by multiple generations of readers and has been adapted for the stage and screen numerous times.

In 2003, writer Carol Ann Lee published a biography of Otto Frank entitled The Hidden Life of Otto Frank. The book tells Otto’s story, from his childhood in Germany to  the horrors of the Holocaust and finally, the post war years, as his youngest daughter’s diary became a worldwide cultural sensation.

I really enjoyed this biography. I enjoyed because Otto is given the spotlight that he deserves. The book is quite a hefty read in terms of content and length, but it also engaging. Ms. Lee was extremely thorough in her research, telling the story of a man who has become a symbol of an era when hate and prejudice ruled. She also asked the question that many of us have asked over the years: who betrayed Anne, Otto and the rest of the residents of the annex to the Nazis?

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Writing

Jussie Smollett Was Attacked For No Reason

Imagine the following if you will: you are walking down the street, minding your own business. Then out of nowhere, you are attached, called horrible names and have an unknown liquid thrown at you.

This was the unfortunate experience of Empire actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago this morning. The persons accused of the attack verbally abused Mr. Smollett with racial and homophobic slurs, poured an unidentified chemical over him and tried to lynch him. Thankfully, he is in the hospital recovering, but his attackers have yet to be identified.

This makes me angry and sad at the same time. It makes me angry because the people who attacked Mr. Smollett did so simply because he is black and gay. If he was a straight white man, I guarantee you that it would have never happened. They assumed that because he is who he is, they have the right to do what they did. It makes me sad because this is the America in 2019. It is still OK to verbally or physically harass another person because they are different. When will we, as a nation and a culture, get over that someone is different and just accept that difference? Is diversity as a concept and an act, so difficult that it is easier to put someone in a box and use that box as an excuse to abuse and attack that person?

I pray that Mr. Smollett recovers quickly from his wounds and that the authorities catch those who are responsible for his heinous act. I also pray that we one day learn that a human being is a human being is a human being, regardless of any labels or who one identifies as.

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Filed under National News, Television

New Randy Rainbow Video-The Donald Trump CELL BLOCK TANGO (Part One) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody

It’s no secret that this current Presidential administration is unprecedented for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that a good number of you know whose associates and advisers have either been accused of a crime or have been found guilty of a crime.

The newest Randy Rainbow video is entitled “The Donald Trump CELL BLOCK TANGO (Part One) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody”. Based on the song “Cell Block Tango” from the musical Chicago, the song is absolute genius.

It’s not exactly a secret that truth and politics doesn’t always go hand in hand. However, that doesn’t mean that one should bend the rules or use less than ethical means to gain power or stay in power. By revealing and prosecuting the underhanded, immoral and illegal methods one may use to gain power or stay in power, it strengthens our democracy and reminds the voters that their voice and their vote counts.

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Filed under Music, Politics, Randy Rainbow

Thoughts On the Anniversary of the Publication of Pride and Prejudice

It has often been said that first impressions are lasting impressions, even if they do not tell the whole story of the person we have just met.

First Impressions was the initial title of Jane Austen‘s immortal classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Today is the 206th anniversary of the book’s initial publishing.

Elizabeth Bennet is far from the simpering, fainting “save me” heroine who is waiting for a version of prince charming to sweep her off her feet. She is lively, intelligent and not afraid to share her opinion. Unlike other women of the time, she is not going to just marry the first man who asks her because it is her only option in life. Marriage in her eyes is about compatibility and affection, not someone’s income or family connections.  But even with her strengths, she is thoroughly human and learns that judging someone based on a brief first impression is not the best way to figure out who someone is.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is equally imperfect. I have to admit that there are moments in the first few chapters when I just want to smack him or call him a very unladylike name. But the genius of the character is that as the book goes on, Elizabeth and the reader learns that Darcy is not a snob. He is responsible for many people’s happiness and security, especially his much younger sister. He also finds large parties and social gathering difficult to maneuver socially. There are some people for whom they would rather stay home than go to a party where they know almost no one.

The thing that strikes me every time that I read Pride and Prejudice is that Elizabeth Bennet is a modern heroine. In a time when women had no rights, no voice and were basically chattel to the men in their lives, Elizabeth Bennet is not afraid to stand up for her rights. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. In Jane Austen’s world, marriage was more often about family, status and income than love, companionship and affection. She could remain single, but given her meager inheritance, she would likely be beholden to the generosity of others. She could marry her cousin, Mr. Collins and stay in her childhood home, but that marriage would be extremely unhappy.

I keep going back to Pride and Prejudice not just because it is one of my favorite books, but because I find reassurance and comfort in the book. When I am feeling down or unsure of my voice, Pride and Prejudice gives me strength to move forward. For that reason, among others, I keep coming back to this treasured masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Politics, Thoughts On...., Writing

Thoughts On Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Today. Today is the day that remember the millions of innocent souls who were murdered because they did not fit in with the Nazi ideal.

This day is particularly personal for me. I am an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jew. Though my family has been in America for more than a century, they lived for many generations in Eastern Europe before immigrating to America in the early 20th century.

My mother’s grandparents came from Dobromil, a shtetl that in their time was in Poland. Today it is in the Ukraine.

 

My mother’s maternal grandmother, Ida Miller (née Lowenthal), came to this country with her then entire immediate family when she was a child. My mother’s maternal grandfather, Saul Miller, came to this country as a young man by himself. His widowed father, his siblings, their spouses and their children are among the martyred six million.

While we mourn the loss of millions of innocent lives, we are reminded every day that the Holocaust is not just another historical event. The sentiments and forces that led to the Holocaust have not disappeared into the ashes of history and under the cries of “Never Again”. Antisemitism is once again on the rise. A poll of 2000 people in the UK has revealed that one out of every five respondents believe that the Holocaust never happened and one in twelve respondents believe that the number of victims in inaccurate.

We need to keep telling the stories of the survivors and the victims. We need to keep saying never again so that one day, never again will truly mean never again.

 

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Filed under History, Music, Thoughts On....

Thoughts On the Government Shutdown Ending…For Now

The longest government shutdown in America is over….for now that is. After 35 days and 800,000 government employees missing out on two paychecks, you know who conceded and agreed to open the government.

The problem is that this is only a temporary resolution. If Congress and you know who cannot come together, the government will shut down again in three weeks.

At least he did not get his border wall.

After weeks of a stalemate on both sides of the aisle, the halting of a number of flights by the FAA at a number of East Coast Airports (including LaGuardia Airport in New York City), due to staffing shortage finally got the attention of those in power.

From my perspective, the administration is completely tone-deaf to the needs of American people. They want to accomplish what they want to accomplish and if there are adverse consequences, so be it.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asked why furloughed workers couldn’t just go to the bank and ask for a loan to cover their expenses.

His net worth, as of 2016, was estimated to be $2.9 billion.

And then, you know who suggested that the grocery stores would be willing to “work” with the Federal employees until they receive their next paycheck.

These comments are tone-deaf, insensitive and is proof in my eyes that this administration no idea what the average American goes through on a day-to-day basis.

Just another reason for you know who to be a one term President.

 

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Filed under National News, New York City, Politics, Thoughts On....

Flashback Friday-Worst Cooks in America (2010-Present)

For some food is more than physical sustenance. It is joy, it is pleasure and the creation of the food only adds to that joy. But for others, cooking is akin to a science experiment that has the potential to go very, very badly.

Worst Cooks in America premiered on Food Network in 2010. It has been a staple of the network’s schedule since then. The contestants on the program cannot cook to save their lives. Guided and judged by several well-known and well-respected celebrity chefs, the contestants learn how to create various dishes. The winner of the competition is the contestant who proves to three food critics that they can create a  restaurant style three course menu and lose the title of the worst cook in America.

Worst Cooks in America is an interesting program, at least from my perspective. While it falls in the “reality competition show” genre, it also teaches viewers about the proper preparation of food. Learning does not end when we leave the classroom. Sometimes, we can learn something from a reality show.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Rupert Giles

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

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 Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every hero needs a mentor, especially when the hero is in the throes of adolescence. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that mentor is Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). Though he looks and acts like a mild-mannered school librarian, Rupert (refered to as Giles) was strategically placed at Sunnydale High School. He is a watcher, responsible for guiding and supporting the slayer as she protects the living from the undead. But Giles is much more than just Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) watcher, he becomes a father figure to his charge and her friends. He also provides the historical background of the baddie of the week and home base (the school library) for the Scoobies to do hang out and do research before Buffy does her work.

Though he may look like and sound a proper Englishman, Giles was quite the rebel in his youth. His vices were dark magic and rock and roll. That is, until a life changing event forced him to change course and follow in the family tradition of being a watcher. After the high school was destroyed at the end of season 3, Giles felt like he had no direction in life. Then he takes over as owner of The Magic Box and Giles had his place in the world back. He also began to feel like Buffy needed to stand on her two feet, his presence in her life was not helping her grow as a human being. By the end of the series, Giles is able to move on with his life, knowing that Buffy no longer needs her watcher.

To sum it up: Being a mentor, especially when your men-tee is a teenager can be both gratifying and heart breaking. It is gratifying because you can shape a young mind, but it can be also heart breaking. At some point, your men-tee will no longer need you. As a character, viewers remember Giles because he is not just the adult mentor, but he also has a heart. He was also a young once and experienced his own rebellion, adding a layer of understanding to the adult that the audience thinks they know.  This combination endeared Giles to the audience and allowed the young audience to see him not just as an adult, but as someone who we can relate to. For that alone, Giles will forever be a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television