The Coronavirus: Will it Make or Break the Current Administration?

Every President and Presidential administration has a moment that defines their time in office. The question is, will they rise to the occasion or will they forever be defined by their lack of action?

The coronavirus is more than just the daily headline. It is a serious risk that if not treated properly, could take the lives of millions.

It would behoove our political leaders to take this disease seriously and do all they can to ensure that they and their administrations are ready for the outbreak. It should surprise no one that the current Presidential administration is not reacting as they should.

What you know who does not realize (or care to know) is that it’s not about him or the upcoming Presidential election. It is about ensuring that this country is prepared for the outbreak and doing everything possible to save lives.

What is even scarier that is Vice President Mike Pence has been tasked with managing the coronavirus crisis. Given his reaction in 2015 to an HIV crisis in his state while he was Governor, I’m not exactly hopeful that he will be able to do the job.

We as a country, need to take the coronavirus seriously. That includes our political leadership. But they are unwilling or unable to do what needs to be done to save lives, then we have no choice but to vote them out of office.


Flashback Friday-The Sundowners (1960)

Life is an adventure. The question is, do we grab that adventure by the proverbial balls or do we just do nothing?

The 1960 film, The Sundowners takes place in the Australian Outback during the early part of the 20th century. Ida and Paddy Carmody (the late Deborah Kerr and the late Robert Mitchum) are living out of their wagon, doing what they need to do to get by. Ida and their son are ready to settle down, but Paddy is not so sure if he is ready or able to settle down.

I like this film. I like it because, at its heart, it’s the story of a family who is making tough decisions that are not easy and have consequences. Tough decisions is sometimes what life is all about.

I recommend it.

Roseanne and The Conners Character Review: Beverly Harris

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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  Roseanne and The ConnersRead 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 Roseanne and The Conners to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The image of the grandmother in the sitcom world, is usually one of two things. She is either the kindly, loving grandmother who gives advice, loves her family endlessly and cooks like nobody’s business. Or, she is the mother/mother-in-law whose has good intentions. But she comes off as pushy, opinionated, judgmental and thinks that she knows better than her children.

On Roseanne and The Conners, Beverly Harris (Estelle Parsons) is not exactly the ideal mother/mother-in-law. But to be fair, her life has not been easy. Her marriage was far from easy or loving, used as a cover to legitimize the birth of her eldest daughter, Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr). In addition to being a former alcoholic, Beverly left her husband after discovering his twenty year long affair and watching her husband abuse their daughters.

Known for being pessimistic, negative and over-controlling (especially toward her younger daughter Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), Beverly is not the easiest of mothers. Being that Jackie is in and out of relationships (and jobs), her mother tries to act with motherly concern. But it comes out as critical.

Presently, Beverly and Jackie live together. They are doing their best to tolerate each other, in spite of the the decades long sniping between mother and daughter.

To sum it up: Beverly may not be the perfect mother or grandmother, but she is the perfect comedic character. Though her comments come from a good place, the reaction does not always match the intent. But that is why she is a memorable character.

Throwback Thursday-Fear Factor (2001-2006)

If there is one thing that holds us back, it is what we fear.

Fear Factor originally aired on NBC from 2001-2006. Hosted by Joe Rogan, the premise of the show is that contestants attempt to complete physically or emotionally daunting extreme challenges. If they fail to complete the challenge or their fear gets in the way, they are eliminated. At the end of each episode, the winner walked away with $50,000.

We all have to face our fears at some point. However, doing so for the chance to be on TV and win $50,000 cheapens that challenge of facing our fears. I would rather face my fears because I need to, rather than doing so for a potential payday or 15 minutes of fame.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely Not.

Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life–in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There) Book Review

Just because one is raised in a home and a family that practices a specific faith does not mean that one practices that faith as an adult.

Like many American Jews, former speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz was raised in a fairly religious home. But as an adult, she walked away from Judaism. But then a bad breakup forced her to re-evaluate how she saw the world. Ms. Hurwitz tells her story and what she learned about Judaism is her new book, entitled Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life–in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There).

Published last fall, her journey started when she happened upon a flier advertising a Basic Judaism class. That class started her on a journey to rediscover her faith and the beautiful complexity that is Judaism.

This book is absolutely brilliant. I loved it because it spoke to me. My experience with Judaism is similar to the author’s experience. Her book reminded me that my faith, like any faith is not monolithic. It is full of different voices and different perspectives that are just as relevant today as they were in previous generations.

I absolutely recommend it.

RIP Katherine Johnson

History is not always made by the big names that are in the headlines. It is sometimes made by those who are not in the spotlight.

In the 1960’s, the Space Race was heating up. It was also a time of change in America. The Civil Rights movement forced the country to face it’s shameful past of denying human and legal rights to the African-American community.

Katherine Johnson may not have known it at the time, but she had a role to play in changing America for the better. Mrs. Johnson passed away today at the age of 101.

In her day, she was automatically disqualified for certain jobs because she was a woman and a citizen of color. But when push came to shove, her mathematical abilities overcame those barriers and helped America go into space for the first time.

After decades of silence, she was finally given her due in the 2016 film, Hidden Figures. She was played on screen by Taraji P. Henson.

May her memory be a blessing and an inspiration.

Justice NOT Served: Harvey Weinstein and the Houston Astros

When we are children, we are taught right from wrong. We are taught that cheating and stealing is not the way to succeed. We are also (hopefully) taught that when we get to an age in which we start dating, that we respect the romantic and sexual boundaries of our partners.

The verdict in the Harvey Weinstein trial was delivered today. Of the five counts of rape and sexual assault, he was found guilty of the lesser counts. The three higher counts, which would have put him away for the rest of his natural life, he was found not guilty of.

In my opinion, justice was not served. He may get somewhere from five to twenty five years in jail, but that is not enough. It will never be enough. Even if he gets the maximum sentence possible, it does not compare to the emotional jails that the women he forced himself on will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

When the Houston Astros when the World Series in 2017, it was a time to rejoice. After the destruction that Hurricane Harvey left in it’s wake, the city, the team and the fans needed something to put a smile on their faces. Recently, it was revealed that the team cheated by stealing signs.

Winning the World Series is not something that is done easily. I can only imagine the blood, the sweat and the tears that it takes to be within reach of the title of “World Series Champions”. It dishonors the fans, the league and every other team that worked their butts off who could have only wished to have played in World Series. It’s not enough to have fired management. The team should be forced to give back their rings, their trophy, their substantial pay raises and forfeit their win.

It has been said that justice is blind. In the cases of Harvey Weinstein and Houston Astros, she was also deaf, dumb and somewhere else.

A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman’s Harrowing Escape from the Nazis Book Review

Surviving the Holocaust was sometimes due to intelligence, the ability to predict the future and just plain luck.

Françoise Frenkel was one of the lucky ones. In 1945, she published her memoir, which was recently re-published at the end of last year. It is entitled A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman’s Harrowing Escape from the Nazis. In the early 1920s, Frenkel’s dream became a reality when she opened a bookshop specializing in French and France related books in Berlin. Life was normal for her until 1939. As a Jew of Polish descent, she knew that remaining in her then present location was not a wise decision.

Her first stop in a bid to escape the horrors of the Holocaust was Paris. When Paris was no longer safe, Frenkel made her through Southern France with the help of brave strangers. She knows that survival depends on getting out of Nazi occupied Europe, but it won’t be easy, given the increased brutality by the Nazis.

As any regular reader of this blog knows, I’ve read quite a few Holocaust books, both fiction and non-fiction over the years. As the years pass by and the survivors begin to leave this world, it becomes ever more important to hear the stories of the Holocaust first hand. Unfortunately, this book is not the best Holocaust book I’ve ever read.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Emma. Movie Review

When Jane Austen introduced Emma Woodhouse, the eponymous title character in her 1816 novel Emma, she wrote the following:

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”

The new adaptation of Emma. was released into theaters this weekend. Stepping in the shoes of Highbury’s queen bee is Anya Taylor-Joy. Unlike Austen’s other heroines, Emma is not hard up for cash and is not looking for a husband. She spends her days tending to her hypochondriac father, Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) and arguing with her neighbor and long time friend, George Knightley (Johnny Flynn).

She also thinks that she is a matchmaker. When one of her matches lead to a successful marriage, Emma starts to believe that she has the magic touch when it comes to marriage and romance. She will soon find out how wrong she is.

I loved this adaptation. Director Autumn de Wilde adds delicious looking pops of color while screenwriter Eleanor Catton kept as close to Austen cannon as she could have gotten. It is a joyful, hilarious and absolutely wonderful film.

I absolutely recommend it.

Emma. is presently in theaters.

Thank You, Andy Byford

Even if one has never visited New York City, most, if not all people know about the New York City transit system, known as the MTA. But, if you live or work here, you may be inclined to use certain phrases about the MTA that I will not be using on this blog.

Two years ago, Andy Byford accepted the role of President of the New York City Transit Authority. Yesterday was his last day on the job.

When he took over as President in 2018, he took on a Herculean task. The system serves millions of riders and is over 100 years old. In addition to dealing with the public, he had to work with the the local and state governments, and ensure that his staff had what they needed to do their jobs.

Under his tenure, there was real improvement. Unfortunately, due to rumored conflict with the Governor, Mr. Byford chose to step down.

Thank you Andy Byford, for your attention and your effort. The transit system will never be perfect, but the improvements are a step in the right direction.

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