Monthly Archives: November 2019

Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation Book Review

It’s no secret that the internet has changed our world. But it has also revealed dark corners can be quite scary.

The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz’s new book is entitled Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation. The book explores how those who he has deemed the “gate crashers” have purloined both the internet and traditional forms of media to share their perspective with the world. Marantz also gains one on one access with those who would share their views and goes into the psychology that drives them to think that way.

What strikes about this book and the subjects of this book is that it reminds the reader that hate and prejudice are alive and well. These people are not the anonymous loners who are making comments behind a screen name just to get attention. If given access to power, they have serious potential to upend this country and everything that we hold dear.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Politics

Frozen II Movie Review

Six years ago, when Frozen was released into theaters, it was a phenomenon beyond phenomenons.

Last weekend, Frozen II hit theaters.

Elsa (Idina Menzel) is firmly installed as Queen of Arendelle. Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) are still going strong. But as things return to normal, Elsa is called away from Arendelle by a mysterious voice that she cannot ignore. With Anna and Kristoff, Elsa, Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven go on a journey to discover the source of the voice and the unanswered mystery of their family’s past.

While most sequels are decent, they do not hold up to their predecessor. Frozen II not only holds up to its predecessor, it exceeds all expectations. Though this film is firmly aimed at children, there is more than enough material for the adults to be entertained. There are themes of growing up, dealing with change and moving away from relationships that were once considered unquestionably important.

I recommend it.

Frozen II is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Fairy Tales, Movie Review, Movies

Flashback Friday-Tough Enough (2001-2015)

Since it’s debut about twenty years ago, reality shows have become the norm on our television schedules. It is therefore, not surprising that this genre has left no television stone unturned.

Tough Enough (2001-2015) originally aired on MTV before moving to UPN and then the USA Network. The premise is pretty much the same as any competition reality show: thousands of potential contestants send in their tapes. Of those thousands, twenty three are chosen to compete to become professional wrestlers. Over the course of the season, the contestants are eliminated until the winner(s) are chosen as future WWE superstars.

Though I only watched this show while it was on MTV, it was interesting while it was on the air. Granted, it was aimed specifically at the WWE fan base and not the general audience, it was still compelling as a television program. Granted, as time has gone by, it has become just another reality show.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

The Golden Girls Character Review: Sophia Petrillo

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Golden GirlsRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

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 of 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 The Golden Girls.  to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to women of a certain age, the impression is that time have taken their toll. At this point in their lives, they are living quietly, without the excitement of their younger years. Sophia Petrillo (the late Estelle Getty) on The Golden Girls proved that women of a certain age do not lose their lust for life just because their younger years are behind them.

Sophia was born in the first few years of the 20th century in Sicily. One of three children, she immigrated to New York as a teenager. After the death of her husband and being hospitalized for a stroke, Sophia moved in with her daughter, Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur).

The stroke took away Sophia’s ability to censure herself. This often led to conversations that ended with Dorothy threatening to send her mother back to the home. “Shady Pines, Ma” was often heard out of the mouth of an exasperated Dorothy.

Though she openly mocks her housemates, Sophia loves them as if they all were her flesh and blood. It is that love that sustains her, especially after Dorothy re-marries and moves in with her new husband.

To sum it up: It would be easy to create a character of a certain age who has taken a back seat to life. It is harder to create the same character, especially if she is female, with the same vibrancy and joie de vivre as a younger woman. Fans of The Golden Girls love Sophia because she is sassy, she is smart, but most of all, she loves her daughter.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television

What I am Grateful For on This Thanksgiving

As many of us gather around the table this Thanksgiving, we often cite what we are thankful for.

This year, I am grateful for many things. When you live with depression, it is easy to get mired in a negative mindset. Today, I am determined to not let the depression get the best of me.

I am grateful for the breath in my lungs and my physical health.

I am grateful for the food on my plate and the clothes on my back.

I am grateful for the unending love and support of my family and friends.

I am grateful for the professional opportunities that have come and will continue to come my way.

I am grateful for the ability to write and the drive I have to succeed as a writer.

Most of all, I am grateful to be alive.

From me and my family, I hope you have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving. May the upcoming holiday season and the New Year be a blessed one.

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Filed under Mental Health

Thoughts On Lindsey Graham Blocking the Armenian Genocide Bill

When one jumps into the political arena, the hope is that they are getting in for altruistic reasons. But hope often springs eternal, especially when it comes to politics.

It’s not exactly a secret these days that certain American politicians have become more concerned with their careers than serving the voters who hired them. In recent political news, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), blocked a bill that would have formally recognized the slaughter of the Armenians by the Turks in the early part of the 20th century.

In life, as in politics, compromise is the key to success. However, there is a huge difference compromising with someone from the other side of the political aisle and capitulating for the sake of their careers. As far as I am concerned, Senator Graham has done more than capitulate to you know who. He has sold his soul to keep his job.

Only time and history will tell us how or when the Presidency of you know who will end. I have a feeling that if it does end badly, those who forgot who they serve will come out at the end with a soiled reputation.

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Filed under History, Politics, Thoughts On....

Throwback Thursday-Late Night with Seth Meyers (2014-Present)

When it comes to late-night television, viewers have a choice of what to watch.

Late Night with Seth Meyers has been on the air since 2014. Hosted by SNL alum Seth Meyers, the show follows the standard format of the genre: a monologue going over the news of the day, interviews with celebrities and a performance by a music group or a comic.

What I like about this program is that Meyers and his producing team have broken out the mold. The show has a political and cultural edge that is both relevant, topical and extremely funny.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

WTF News Items: Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman & Kylie Jenner Earns $600 Million In a Day

I normally consider myself to be an easy-going person. Most things just roll off my back.

But two headlines from last week didn’t roll off my back. They sat with me and bothered me.

WTF News Item #1

In the early 1990s, when the script for the film Harriet was first being shopped around to different studios, one hair-brained executive suggested that Julia Roberts play the lead role.

This person’s reasoning was as follows:

“It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.”

In a word: no. Don’t get me wrong, Julia Roberts is a fine actress. But that casting, had it become a reality, would have been completely inappropriate.

WTF News Item #2

Companies are bought and sold all of the time. Unless one is in that particular industry, it is just another line of business news. Last week, Kylie Jenner (who is a member of a certain family who shall not be named on this blog) earned $600 million dollars when she sold half of the controlling stake in her cosmetics company to another Coty Inc.

This girl earned more money in a single day than most of us can only dream of earning over our lifetimes. She doesn’t have to get out of bed if she does not want to. Her daughter and any future children will be able to afford any college they want to attend. Student loans will be a foreign concept to them.

I am sure that she did not just snap her fingers and get her company to the point of which half of the controlling stakes are sold for millions of dollars. Like anything that is worth having, it probably took time and effort. But she also has the family name to back her up.

What bothers me is that that amount of money could do a whole lot of good in this world. There are so many people who could benefit from even a 1/10th of the profits of that sale. And yet, those who need the help most may never receive it.

No wonder there is a huge difference between the 1% and the rest of us.

That ends this post of WTF Moments. Have a lovely evening.

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Filed under Movies, National News

The Chaperone Movie Review

The opportunity to travel offers more than what it appears to be. It is more than the place one goes to, it is the emotional experience and the growth that comes with travel.

The 2018 movie, The Chaperone, is based on the book of the same name by Laura Moriarty. At the age of fifteen, future silent screen star Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) is given the opportunity to study dance at a prestigious school in New York City. But a fifteen year old girl cannot travel alone, especially in 1922. Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) is there to make sure that Louise stays out of trouble.

But Norma has her own reasons for leaving Kansas and her family behind. Can she find the answers she is looking for and will Louise become the star that she dreams of becoming?

Penned by Downton Abbey scribe Julian Fellows, this movie is interesting. I appreciated the parallel character arcs of the lead characters. Though their end goals are different, their individual journeys are remarkably similar. I also appreciated the relationships with the men around them are secondary to the relationship between Norma and Louise.

However, compared to Downton Abbey, this movie is kind of meh. Though I have not read the book yet, I did not have the chill up my spine that I had with Downton.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Chaperone is available for streaming on Masterpiece.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Movies, New York City

Hitler and the Habsburgs The Fuhrer’s Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals Book Reviews

As a reader and a history buff, I thought that I had read and/or heard of every story about World War II. But I was wrong.

The first half of the twentieth century is notable for any number of reasons. One of those reasons is the physical deaths and/or dissolutions of most of the major monarchies in Europe. The new book, Hitler and the Habsburgs The Fuhrer’s Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals, by James Longo, tells the story of World War II from a different angle.

As we all learned in high school history class, World War I started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the House of Hapsburg and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. A generation later, a certain German Chancellor (who shall remain nameless on this blog post) controlled all of Europe and was responsible for the massacre of millions. Nursing a decades-long vendetta against the Hapsburgs and their orphaned children, it was the spark that eventually led him to power.

*There would normally be a video here, but there is none to be found.

This book is very interesting. It is obvious that the author thoroughly researched the period and his subjects. The story takes the reader on a journey that I have not experienced in a long time. However, this book is not for the casual reader. It is for one who is well versed and interested in the period and the history of that period.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History