Monthly Archives: June 2019

At the End of the Day, These Migrants Are Human Beings

When we talk about hot button issues, we often forget that there are human beings who are affected by these issues.

Immigration and illegal immigration is one of these issues.

In the United States, the question of immigration and who can become Americans has always been a hot button issue. These days, it has to the point of dividing citizens based on where they stand on immigration.

The point that I keep seeing (that I believe many are missing) is that these migrants are human beings. They may not have entered the country legally, but they are first and foremost human beings. It is their right to ask for asylum and we must, at the very least, hear them out.

When a father and his young daughter drown in the Rio Grande while trying to reach our borders and ask for asylum, I have a problem with that. When detained migrant children are denied access to basics such as toothbrushes and soap, I have a problem with that. When you have kids taking care of kids because they have been separated from their parents, I have a problem with that.

This is not the America that I know and love. This is not the American that respects diversity and our immigrant past. This is hypocritical and flies in the face of everything that we claim to hold dear.

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Filed under National News, Politics

Can You Still Be a Fan and Be Honest About an Artist’s Moral Failings?

On June 25th, 2009, Michael Jackson departed this earth. Known as the “King of Pop”, Jackson was and still is one of the most influential musicians of the past fifty years. He is one of the few artists whose music transcends genres and breaks barriers. One would have to have lived under a rock to not know about Jackson and his music.

His music and his image as a performer is burned into our cultural memory. We have danced to his music, sung karaoke (some of us better than others) and dressed up as Jackson for Halloween.

While Jackson is revered for his art, his moral failings are another story. Accusations of sexual abusing minors and pedophilia followed him for years, even after his passing. Earlier this year, the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland blew the door wide open about the allegations that up to that point, had not been clearly confirmed or denied.

Is there an easy answer to this question? I wish that there was. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes and have faults. However, there is a difference between having faults and molesting young children. One is natural, the other is just plain illegal.

Readers, what do you think? Can we still appreciate Jackson’s music while condemning his moral failings?

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The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World Book Review

For most of human history, women have been the other. At best we are wives, mothers, cooks, nursemaids and housekeepers. At worst, we are chattel, exist solely for the sexual pleasure of men and a vessel to bring the next generation of children (i.e. boys) into the world.

Melinda Gates wants to change that for this generation of women and the future generations of women who will one day succeed them. In her new book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, Ms. Gates tells stories of the women whom she has met around the world. They are denied opportunities for education, for a career, the ability to make decisions on how to live life on their terms. Forced into poverty, early marriage and having many children without access to decent medical care, these women’s potential is being held back because they are women.

If nothing else, this book is both inspiring and horrifying. For all of the rights and opportunities that I, as woman living in a first world country take for granted, there are millions of women who do not have either. The reality is that uplifting women helps both the individual and the community. But many are afraid of change and we must fight that fear to make real change happen.

I absolutely recommend it.

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The Lost Queen Book Review

A myth is a story in which facts are either lost, forgotten or pushed aside. The issue that sometimes comes up with myths is that as the facts disappear, so do the real people whose lives the myth is based on.

In the new book, The Lost Queen, by Signe Pike, Languoreth is a young lady growing up in 6th century Scotland. Her world is slowly changing. Christianity is starting to take hold in a land in which the ancient pagan religion has had a hand in every aspect of life for centuries.

While her twin brother, Lailoken will become a warrior and druid known to future generations as Merlin, Languoreth’s fate is that of generations of women before her and after her. Though she is in love with the warrior Maelgwn, she cannot marry as she chooses. As a princess, her marriage is an alliance of two kingdoms, not of two people.

Her betrothed is Rhydderch, the younger son of a High King who is taken with Christianity. Languoreth is in between a rock and a hard place. Politically, she must adhere the ways of the family that she has married into. Personally, she must find a way to remain true to herself and stand up for what she believes is right.

This book is amazing. It takes a gifted writer to successfully mingle history, myth and facts into a narrative that is pleasing to a reader. Ms. Pike has not only written what is a very enjoyable book, she has brought back to life a heroine that has been lost to annals of history. Languoreth is not the “someday my prince will come” type of princess. She is bold, she is adventurous, she is intelligent and is more than willing to do what needs to be done to defend her people.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Little Women Play Review

Little Women is one of the true classics of American literature. Louisa May Alcott‘s 1868 novel has been the favorite of many readers (myself included) since it’s debut 150 years ago.

A few weeks ago, Little Women, written by playwright/actress Kate Hamill premiered at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City.

Stepping into the roles of the iconic March sisters are Hamill (Meg), Kristolyn Lloyd (Jo), Paola Sanchez Abreu (Beth) and Carmen Zilles (Amy). The narrative of the play follows the narrative of the book: The March sisters are growing up and coming of age in Civil War era Massachusetts. Meg is responsible, but also yearns to be fit in. Jo is the rebellious tomboy who dreams of becoming a writer. Beth is shy, preferring the company of her family to the company of strangers. Amy is spoiled and impulsive.

This play is brilliant. As a fan and a playwright, Hamill understands how to adapt a beloved classic for this generation. She has also hit on certain underlying subjects within the narrative that have been overlooked in the past.

One of my favorite aspects of the play is the non-traditional casting. In choosing actors that are not all Caucasian, this adaptation speaks to all of us, regardless of skin color.

Though I will warn the some purists may have some issues with the choices that Hamill made as a playwright.

I recommend it.

Little Women is playing at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City until June 29th. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.

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Filed under Books, Broadway Play Review, Feminism, History, New York City

Thoughts On the Supreme Court World War I Memorial Decision

One of the basic tenets of America is the separation between church and state. While on the surface, this statement seems black and white, there are shades of grey beneath the surface.

This week, the Supreme Court decided that a giant cross in Maryland that memorializes young men from that community who died for their country in World War I can stay on public land.

I have to be honest, I am torn about the decision. Without a shadow of a doubt, the young men who gave their lives for our freedoms deserve to our respect, our thanks and a perpetual memorial. However, those who erected the memorial either forgot or ignored the fact that not every American soldier who died for their country was of the Christian faith.

Is there an easy answer to this question? I honestly don’t know. But I do know that all of our soldiers who gave their lives for their country deserve to be remembered, not just those who practiced Christianity.

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Flashback Friday-MTV Diary (2001-2014)

To the average audience member, it appears that those who earn a living by performing and have the title of “celebrity” live a charmed life. But the reality is far different from the image that is presented to the world.

The MTV show, MTV Diary (2001-2014) followed the lives of celebrities as told from their perspective. Shot documentary style, each episode tells the story of the celebrity highlighted in each episode as they go about their day.

What I liked and still like about MTV Diary is that unlike the slick, produced programs that tells is a “day in the life of…”, MTV Diary was raw, sometimes emotional and personal.

I recommend it.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: The Master

*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.

In every science fiction and fantasy program, there has to be a big bad. This character represents all of the evils of this fictional world. The ultimate goal of the hero or heroine is to stop this big bad. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the first big bad is the Master (Mark Metcalf).

The Master is an ancient vampire who leads a centuries old order of vampires. Relying on ritual and prophecy, he knows of the existence of the Slayer. Forced into the Hellmouth, his goals are two fold: kill the Slayer and destroy humanity. Unable to leave his prison, he sends his vampire minions to find victims and create new vampires.

He feeds by proxy. Sending Luke as his “emissary” to the world above, the Master feeds when Luke feeds. But Buffy continues to get in his way, staking Luke and saving lives. When they finally meet, it is a battle that tests both Buffy and the Master. Buffy wins, but not before being killed by the Master and then resuscitated by her friends.

To sum it up: every villain thinks they they are right, that their actions are entirely correct. On BVTS, the Master believed that his perspective and his world was the correct way to live. The humans were incorrect and therefore, they had to go. A good villain is committed to their cause 150% and will do anything to achieve their goal. The Master, if nothing else, is committed to his goal, which makes him the perfect villain and the perfect foil to the Slayer.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Thoughts On the 20th Anniversary of Angel

Sequels and spin-offs have an iffy reputation. If they are done well, they are an homage to their predecessor while blazing their own path. If they are done poorly, the sequel or the spin-ff casts a shade on it’s predecessor and it’s legacy.

On October 5th, 1999, Angel premiered. A spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show follows Angel (David Boreanaz), Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) soulful vampire ex-boyfriend. Angel has moved from Sunnydale to Los Angeles, where he is seeking to redeem his violent and bloody past by being a hero.

While Angel goes on the hero’s journey to make up for his past, he is joined by allies who support his cause and his goal of redemption. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and Doyle (the Glenn Quinn) joined Angel in the first season. Later on in the show’s run Wesley Wyndam-Price (Alexis Denisof), Charles Gunn (J. August Richards), Lorne (the late Andy Hallett), Winifred “Fred” Burkle (Amy Acker) and Spike (James Marsters) fought against the forces of darkness.

Compared to BVTS, Angel was darker. It dealt with the same themes as BVTS, but the show dealt with those same issues with a grittier and more mature perspective. Unlike other heroes who see the world as black and white, Angel saw and understood the shades of grey that exist and force us to make decisions that in hindsight are not always wise.

Twenty years later, Angel still resounds with the fans because of the show’s grittiness, it’s honesty and the universal desire for redemption.

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Filed under Television, Thoughts On....

Flashback Friday- The Waterboy (1998)

A good parents wants what is best for their child. But sometimes, even a good parent forgets that their children must grow up eventually.

In the 1998 movie, The Waterboy, Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) is the waterboy for the local college team. Living under the thumb of Mama Boucher (Kathy Bates), his overbearing mother, Bobby does not have much of a life. Then Coach Klein (Henry Winkler), the football team’s coach notices that Bobby has a natural gift for the game.

But Bobby knows this his mother won’t approve. She will also not approve of his new girlfriend, Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk). Will Bobby be able to live as he wants to live or will his mother continue to control his life?

This movie is an interesting film. It represents a subtle, but important change in Sandler’s career. Bobby has shades of the man-boys that Sandler played in previous films in the 90’s, but he also has a maturity and a perspective that is more man than man-boy.

I recommend it.

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