Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist Book Review

When we think of Marilyn Monroe, we do not think of feminism. We think of the blonde bombshell, the Hollywood icon, the sex symbol.

In her 2018 non-fiction book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, writer Michelle Morgan introduces another side of the icon: feminist.

In Marilyn’s time, sexism was accepted. Pigeonholed into the ditzy and attractive blonde by the studio, Monroe wanted to prove that as an actress, she was much more than the dumb blonde. After making The Seven Year Itch (1955), she was eager to spread her professional wings. The success of the film and her campaign for the role gave Monroe the confidence to fight for her career, to earn her place in Hollywood and become the performer that she wanted to be.

I was surprised about this book. I knew that for many, she represents old Hollywood. I had heard of the acting classes she took and I knew of the two tumultuous marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller that ended in divorce. But I didn’t know that she fought for her later roles and fought to be seen as a real actress, not just a 2D caricature. Though the book is a little slow, it is still a good read and reminder of the power of women when we fight for what we want.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Movies

Thoughts On the Preliminary Results of the Mueller Report

After nearly two-years of speculation and news reports, the Mueller Report was finally released earlier today.

I have to admit that the results, even in this preliminary stage are a bit disappointing. While Robert Mueller‘s team was not able to conclude without a reasonable doubt that you know who or his team colluded with Russia, they have not been completely exonerated of the charges either.

In spite of the disappointment, there are three silver linings.

  1. There have been a number of convictions based on the information that Mueller and his team was able to find.
  2. The judicial system works. Free from Presidential control, Robert Mueller and those who reported to him were able to do a thorough investigation.
  3. Because you know who and his aides were not exonerated, there is still a chance that somewhere, someone slipped up.

The next step is for the full report to be submitted to Congress and the American people.

What’s done is done. We cannot go backwards, we can only go forwards. My hope is that this is enough that come time for next year’s Presidential election to sway the voters to someone who is not a corrupt, snake oil, used car salesman with the temperament and maturity of a four-year old.

 

 

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Methinks The Gentleman is Jealous: Thoughts On You Know Who’s Comments About John McCain

I’ve never had the inclination to make a career out of public service. But I admire those who do.

The late Senator John McCain spent his adult life in public service; first in the military and then in government.  When he passed away last summer, his passing left a hole in this country that will never be filled.

Last week, you know who went after the late Senator in the same way that a school yard bully attacks a classmate whom they perceive to be weak.

Methinks the gentleman (if you want to call him that) is jealous. Senator McCain made public service his life’s work for his adult life. He fought for this country and her citizens during the Vietnam War. After being captured and tortured, he refused release. After retiring from military service, he spent thirty plus years in the service of the American voter. In every sense of the word, he is a hero.

I could go on, but I will let the late Senator’s daughter speak, as only she can.

P.S. I have to wonder where Senator McCain’s Republican “friends” are on this matter? Are they man or woman enough to stand up to you know who or are they more concerned about saving their own skins?

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Filed under History, National News, Politics, Television, Thoughts On....

Captain Marvel Movie Review

Disclaimer: I know nothing about the Captain Marvel comic books, this review is strictly based on the movie. 

These days, movie-goers have a certain expectation when it comes to movies that are based on comic book super heroes.

Captain Marvel was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree, super-human alien like race. She is a member of the elite Starforce Military. Her mentor and commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) tries to teach Vers to control her emotions and her powers. Vers is captured by the Skrull, a shape shifting alien race that has been at war with the Kree for years. During her captivity, the memories of another life and another identity as Carol Danvers starts to become more prominent.

After escaping from her captors, Vers crashes to earth. Landing in a Blockbuster Video, she is greeted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Together, they will uncover the truth of Vers’s past and the hard truth about the Skrull lead by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).

It’s not a secret that women in super hero movies, especially in leading roles that are not the love interest or significant other, are few and far between. What this film has going for it is humor, a strong female lead and a villain who is not really a villain. In most super hero narratives, there is a clear delineation between the hero and the villain. But in this movie, that line is not so clear.

I wanted to like this film as much as I liked the other Marvel films. But there is something missing from this film.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Captain Marvel is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies

Flashback Friday-The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013)

Pride and Prejudice remains a favorite book of many a bookworms for multiple reasons. This love opens the door to new and different variations on Jane Austen‘s classic tale of class, money and will they/won’t they.

In 2012, Pride and Prejudice entered the digital world when The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013) premiered on YouTube. Told vlog style in 5 minute long episodes that were released every week, Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements) is a grad student living at home. When her sister Jane (Laura Spencer) starts hanging out with the new boy in town, medical student Bing Lee (Christopher Sean), Lizzie is forced into the presence of businessman William Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh), Bing’s best friend. 

Needless to say, love at first sight is hardly the way to describe the initial relationship between Lizzie and William.

I adored and still adore LBD. It was funny, it was charming, it was entertaining and it was enough cannon Pride and Prejudice to appeal to the most loyal fans.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Books, Flashback Friday, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The Village Review

When you live in an apartment building, your neighbors hopefully become more than your neighbors. They become friends and by extension, family.

This is the premise of the new NBC series, The Village. Set in an apartment building in Brooklyn, the series follows the lives of the residents.

Sarah (Michaela McManus) is a nurse and single mother raising her teenage daughter.  Gabe (Darren Kasagoff) is a young lawyer who has the most unexpected of roommates: his grandfather Enzo (Dominic Chianese). Ava (Moran Atias) is an immigrant who is raising her son alone when ICE comes calling. Nick (Warren Christie), is the newest resident of the building and a veteran. Ron (Frankie Faison) is the super whose passion for his social worker wife, Patricia (Lorraine Toussaint) is as strong as the day they married.

I’m not really a fan of schmaltzy television. When a show goes over the top with drama, I am usually turned off. But I liked The Village. I liked it because it’s my world. As many of you know, I live in New York City. To have a house of one’s own is a luxury. Most people either rent or own their apartment.  I understand these characters and familial bond that goes with living in an apartment building.

I recommend it.

The Village airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 10:00. 

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Margot: A Novel Book Review

No one goes through life without asking the “what if” question at least once during their lifetime. This question becomes multiplied when it come to war and the loss of life that comes with war.

In the 2013 author Jillian Cantor asked this question in the book, Margot: A Novel.

It’s 1959 in Philadelphia. Margot Frank survived the war and has started a new life as Margie Franklin, living as a Gentile and working in a law firm as  a secretary.

Her sister’s diary has become the darling of the publishing world. The movie, based on the book, has just been released into theaters. Margot/Margie’s carefully constructed outer shell begins to crack. While juggling PTSD and survivor’s guilt, Margot/Margie’s past come back to her via a case and an unusually strong emotional bond with her boss.

This book is amazing. When it comes to the story of Anne Frank, her elder sister is often pushed out of the spotlight. In giving Margot the spotlight, Ms. Cantor tells the story of Holocaust survivors who for any number of reasons, choose to keep their pasts to themselves. It is also the story of America in the late 50’s when antisemitism was not as obvious, but still existed beneath the thin veneer of respectability.

I recommend it.

 

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The Feminism Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained Book Review

Like any social or cultural movement, Feminism is has multiple layers and multiple points of view. But where all of these layers and points of view come together is the absolute need for equality.

The Feminism Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained was published earlier this year. Written by DK Publishing and containing a forward by Lucy Mangan, the book covers every aspect of feminism, past and present. The book starts with the origins of Feminism, moves through the various phases of the movement and ends at the present day. Containing pictures, info-graphics, flow charts and profiles of famous women, this book explains Feminism in such a way that anyone can understand it.

I loved this book. It teaches without hitting the reader over the head or sounding like a dry academic textbook. I also appreciated the publisher included chapters about women of color and female members of the LGBTQ movement. When it comes to Feminism, these women are often set aside for cisgender White women who define themselves as upper class or middle class. If we are to succeed and achieve true equality, we cannot only focus on one group of women.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts On Purim 2019

I’m not particularly religious, but as I get older, I realize that the stories in the Bible can still speak to us many generations after they were written.

Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. It is the story of Esther. To make a long story short, Esther hides her Jewish identity while entered in a beauty contest to see who will become the next Queen of Shushan (modern-day Iran). When she is chosen to be the next Queen, she is faced with an impossible task: save her people from Haman’s wrath while risking her own life in the process.

Looking at the story of Purim through the lens of 2019, I feel like it still speaks to us. It speaks to us because of the growing intolerance that has become acceptable once more in our world.

It also speaks to us because Esther and her predecessor, Vashti, are also two of the strongest women in the Bible. When the King calls for Vashti to appear for all of his guests wearing only her crown (aka walking into a room full of strange, drunk men in her birthday suit), she says no and is sent away. This opens the door for Esther to become Queen and using what little power she has to stop Haman. Esther knows that her husband could easily send her away, or worse, send her to the executioner. But she is brave and knows that the only way to save herself and her people is to reveal who she really is.

The message I get from Purim is that it is possible to be ourselves and stand up to intolerance and hatred. We only need the guts to do so.

 

 

 

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Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others Book Review

Co-existence and respect for those who are different from us starts with a conversation. The question is, are we ready to have that conversation?

Barbara Brown Taylor is a writer, teacher and Episcopal priest. Earlier this year, she published her latest book, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others.

After spending a number of years in an ecclesiastical role, the author taught a Religions 101 class at Piedmont College in Georgia. In an effort to educate her mostly Christian students, she introduced them to other religions via text-book and via visits to various houses of worship. In addition to writing about her students, she writes about how the different religions each construct their own world view and how similar many are in certain aspects.

I really loved this book. I loved it because it proves that we can get along. It proves that via dialogue, conversation and being open to something new, we can live in peace friendship with others.

I recommend it.

 

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