Monthly Archives: June 2019

Treasures from Chatsworth: The Exhibition Review

The title of the Duke of Devonshire and his family holding, Chatsworth House, is one of the most revered and awe inspiring aristocratic country houses in all of England.

The new exhibit, Treasures from Chatsworth: The Exhibition, is a showcase of 500 years of contemporary art that the members of the Cavendish family have collected and owned for generations.

Containing multi-media, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, clothing, furniture and drawings, the exhibit shows the respect and appreciation that this family had and still has for art.

The exhibit is different among exhibits in New York City, but it is worth a visit. It appeals (at least from my perspective) to art lovers, to history lovers and someone who is looking for something new and different to see.

There is a nod to the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, which was partially filmed at Chatsworth.

I recommend it.

Treasures from Chatsworth: The Exhibition will be at Sothebys until September 18th. It is free and open to the public. Check the website for schedule and location.

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Filed under History, Jane Austen, New York City, Pride and Prejudice

Booksmart Movie Review

Coming of age movies have been around for decades. Most of these movies are centered around young men. Female characters in these films are usually limited in both the number of characters and their ability to grow beyond a basic character type.

In the new movie, Booksmart, Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are best friends who are about to graduate high school. The last four years have been all work and no play for the girls. Operating with the belief that their classmates are more interested in the social aspects of high school than the academic aspects of high school, Molly and Amy are shocked to hear that they are not the only ones who prioritize school work.

Wanting to make up for the last four years in one night, the girls decide to make the night a memorable one.

Directed by actor Olivia Wilde (making her directing debut) and written by four female writers, this film takes the basic buddy comedy/coming of age film and elevates it to a new level. Taking the place of traditional male leads, Molly and Amy are intelligent, determined and political without hitting the audience over the head. They are also honest and have a bit of a potty mouth, which works perfectly for these characters and their narrative.

The film also speaks to the oh sh*t moment that most, if not all us realize the night before we are to graduate high school. Our lives are about to change, the four years that we thought would last forever went by in a flash. It is a reminder (though we may not be cognizant at the time), that life goes by fast. Stopping to smell the roses wouldn’t hurt every once in a while.

I recommend it.

Booksmart is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies

RIP Detective Luis Alvarez

When the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, 2001, those who were lucky enough the survive the falling of the towers ran from the towers with everything they had. While they ran from the smoldering ashes, the first responders ran toward the smoldering ashes. One of those first responders died today.

Detective Luis Alvarez passed away today at the young age of 53. He spent three months after 9/11 searching for survivors in the rubble. A few weeks ago, Detective Alvarez was among the first responders who testified with Jon Stewart to remind Congress of their responsibility to extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Detective Alvarez is a hero in every sense of the word. A hero is defined (at least in my book), as someone who acts in the interests of others. Putting everything else on hold (his health included), he was one of many who acted in the interest of the city and the survivors.

Z”l, may his memory forever be a blessing.

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Filed under History, New York City

Thoughts On the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

Major change for good comes when we stand up against hatred and prejudice.

This weekend, we remember the Stonewall riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City and celebrate the remarkable achievements and opportunities that the LGBTQ community has had since then.

Coming out of the closet is often a painful years long process of learning to love yourself and finding the courage to tell the ones you love who you truly are. If you are lucky, your relationship with your loved ones will not change. But not everyone is so lucky.

This week, The Brian Lehrer Show discussed various aspects of the modern LGBTQ movement and how it was created by the Stonewall riots. Yesterday, one of the callers was a woman named Lisa. Lisa called in to tell the story of her son’s coming out and the reaction to the revelation of who he revealed himself to be. The call starts at 21:02.

I would hope that when one comes out, they are seen by their loved ones and their community as no different than before coming out. But the reality is that many members of the LGBTQ community are often ostracized and forced out of their families and communities because they do not fit into the traditional hetero-normative/binary labels.

Change, especially on the cultural and legislative levels, does not not happen in an instant. It takes years of work, fighting for acceptance and facing the demons of the past. But it does happen if you believe and continue to push for it. The members of the LGBTQ community have proved that and will continue to use that model to inspire all of us to push for a just and equal society.

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Filed under History, Mental Health, New York City, Thoughts On....

Thoughts On the new Madonna Music Video

I’ve often spoken about the Columbine shooting and the unnecessary loss of young life twenty years ago. Back then, it was front page news for weeks on end.

These days, mass shootings in the United States are just another blip on list of daily news headlines. The headline may last a week at best on the front page before it slowly fades from the nation’s consciousness.

Earlier this week, Madonna released her new music video. Entitled God Control, the video tells the story of a fictional shooting in an New York City nightclub similar to the massacre at the nightclub in Orlando three years ago.

I will warn you that the video does contain graphic imagery.

There is enormous power in celebrity. In using her voice and her music, Madonna speaks of the heartache and grief that gun violence creates. We need sensible gun control laws. There has to be a way to respect the 2nd Amendment and responsible gun owners while protecting innocent people.

My hope (though it often springs eternal) is that one of these days, sensible gun laws will be the law of the land. Until then, we will continue to grieve for those who are killed simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Thoughts On the Second Night of the Democratic Debate

Last night, the second night of the 2019 Democratic debate aired. Unlike Wednesday night’s debate, which can be described as moderately quiet, last night can only be described as somewhat akin to a game of top that.

Among the ten candidates, I think that Kamala Harris (D-California) stood out. She was articulate, mature, personable and spoke about the hard truths that our nation must face if we are to heal the racial wounds of the past. Speaking of her experience of being one of the first African-American children to integrate her school district in the 1970’s, I think that she reached out to many of us who don’t think twice about seeing children of color in schools that are predominantly white.

I don’t believe that Joe Biden (D-Delaware) is a racist, but he chose a poor example of working across the aisle. I understand why he made the statement, but it was not the statement I would have chosen if I was in his shoes.

Speaking of Joe Biden, last night showed (at least from my perspective) that his time in politics may be ending. His decades of experience are undeniable, however, his age is showing. We need a candidate who will be able to beat you know who next fall. If last night is an indication of things to come, Biden may not be the candidate to win the 2020 election.

The other statement that I agreed with was John Hickenlooper‘s (D-Colorado) warning about socialism. Personally, I have no opinion, either good or bad about socialism. However, whoever the nominee is will need to be politically locked and loaded to face up against you know who. The charge of socialism, especially in this divided political climate, may be the topic that gets you know who re-elected for another term.

Readers, I’m curious as to what you thought about last night. Did your opinion of any of the candidates change in anyway?

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

Flashback Friday-Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids (2011-2013)

Any woman who has ever gotten married will tell you that shopping for a wedding dress is fraught with enough tension. Adding the process of finding bridesmaid dresses to the to do has to potential to make things worse.

Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids aired on TLC from 2011-2013. An off shoot of Say Yes to the Dress and set in the Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta store, the show follows brides and their bridesmaids as they choose bridesmaid dresses. As usual, there is drama and questions of who has the power to make the final decision.

Cut from the same cloth as it’s predecessor, this program is the kind of show that one watches on a weekend when you just want to relax after a long week of work or school.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Connor

*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.

One of the marks of adulthood is making the conscious or unconscious decision to break away from your parents and how you were raised. The grey area of this decision is that as much as you may want to break away from your parents, they are always with you.

On Angel, that break is represented by Connor (Vincent Kartheiser). Born to two vampires, Angel (David Boreanaz) and Darla (Julie Benz), he was not raised in the typical happy family life.

Initially taken care of by his father and the rest of the gang at Angel Investigations, Connor is kidnapped and raised by Daniel Holtz (Keith Szarabajka) and raised in another dimension. Taught to hate his father, Connor has superhuman abilities and is not afraid to use those abilities.

Returning to Earth, Connor is now a teenager and is intent on killing Angel. But Angel, like many good parents, forgives his son, even after Connor tries to drown him and watches him from a distance. He also, like many young men, falls in love. The woman he falls in love is Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter). She becomes pregnant and both are manipulated by a cosmic entity bent on destruction.

To save his son’s life, Angel agrees to take over the running of Wolfram & Hart. Connor’s memories are wiped and replaced with that of a normal childhood. Though his memories are briefly returned to him, Angel tells him to go back to his foster parents and live as any young man would.

To sum it up: Though Connor tries to run from his past and his parentage, he can separate himself from the fact that he is Angel’s son. By the time the series ended, Connor found peace with himself, his past and his father. As fans, we remember Connor because we understand his inclinations and though we may have grown past that stage of life, we can easily remember going on that same path.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Thoughts On the First Half of the Democratic Debate

The 2020 Presidential Election will be here before we know it.

Last night, the first half of the twenty Democratic Presidential candidates debated as to whom would best represent the party and go up against you know who next fall.

While there were many moments to go over, I want to talk about two moments that stood out to me.

Julian Castro made his mark. I knew of him by name, but I knew nothing of his positions and his potential policies. After last night, I hope that he will be given the opportunity to prove his mettle, especially after he announced his public support of the Equal Rights Amendment. This amendment has been bouncing around the halls of Congress for for nearly fifty years. It’s time to make it the law of the land and ensure that American women are once and for all viewed by the law as equal to American men.

The other moment that stood out for me was the question about socialized medicine. When the candidates were asked who among them supports socialized medicine, only Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio raised their hand. I agree with the idea of socialized medicine (known in the US as universal health care), but I disagree that private insurance should be gotten rid of completely. I think that every citizen should have access to some form of socialized medicine, but I also think there should be the option of obtaining private health insurance via an employer.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any favorite moments or candidates from last night’s debate.

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

Throwback Thursday-Jeopardy (1964-Present)

Most television shows, if they are lucky, will have at least one or two seasons on the air. A small minority of shows are on the air for multiple years. An even smaller minority of shows are on the air for decades.

Jeopardy is one of these shows that has been on the air for decades. Currently hosted by Alex Trebek, this quiz show tests the knowledge of three contestants. The show game is broken down into three rounds: Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy!, and Final Jeopardy!. The questions vary from topics such as entertainment, history, politics, current events etc. By the end of the game, the contestant who has answered the most questions correctly wins the game and walks away with a nice financial reward.

For those of us under a certain age, Jeopardy is just part of the television schedule. It is almost fun to watch, try to guess the right answers with the contestants and predict who will in.

I recommend it.

P.S. Does anyone else love Saturday Night Live‘s Celebrity Jeopardy as much as I do?

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review