Monthly Archives: April 2020

Throwback Thursday-Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

Our families are at the core of our societies. It is not a stretch to say that stories about families continue to appeal to us generation after generation.

Cheaper by the Dozen premiered in 1950. Based on the book of the same name, the film starred Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, the film told the story of the Gilbreth family and their brood of 12 children. Living in Montclair, New Jersey in the early 20th century, parents Frank Sr. and Lillian both work as engineers. Their professional training extends to their home life, as everything is done to maximum efficiency. But this is starting not to sit well with their older daughters, who are eager to stretch their wings outside of the family nest.

There are certain movies from this period that modern audiences go back to again and again because they have a timeless quality to them. In a sense, this movie is timeless, but there are scenes that are definitely showing the film’s age.

Do I recommend it? Maybe. As much as I adore some movies from the ’50s, this film is not one of my favorites.

By the way, the movie was remade in 2003 starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. It is as bad as one might expect it to be.

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Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Bill de Blasio, the Anti Semite?

I think it is fair to say that anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence these days would say that Covid-19 has forced all of us to adjust how we live. I think that it is also fair to say that given the current crisis, it would behoove those in the halls of power to work together.

Last night was the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who according to press reports, died from complications from Covid-19. As is the custom in Hasidic and Orthodox Judaism, the funeral was public with thousands of mourners crowding the streets in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. In normal times, this would be a non-news issue for all but the local community. But we are not living in normal times.

According to an article in Gothamist, the Police department knew about this before hand. But yet, Mayor Bill de Blasio accused the entire Jewish community of New York City of breaking the social distancing rules.

The problem that I have with his accusation is that instead of specifically pointing the finger at those in attendance, he blamed every Jew in New York City. I am a Jew and I live in New York City. Was I at this funeral? No. He should be putting the blame on those who were there, not on all practitioners of that particular religious identity. He should have also spoken to his police officials before making this kind of accusations.

Last week was Yom Hashoah. Given our current political climate, the recent climactic (and bloody) events in Jewish history and the extreme rise in antisemitism, I would think twice before making such a comment.

Which is why I did not vote for this man and will be more than happy to see him out of office when his term ends.

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Filed under History, National News, New York City, Politics

Yom Haatzmaut: They Tried to Kill Us, We Survived, Let’s Eat

There is an old joke about Jewish history:

“They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.” 

Today is Israel Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut).

Today is both a day to celebrate and a day to remember. We celebrate because we have returned to the land of our ancestors. We can physically follow and pray in the footsteps of past generations who have long since shuffled off this mortal coil.

But we also remember those who gave their lives and those who continue to give their lives for Israel. I think most, if not all of us are aware that Israel lives in a neighborhood in which relations with their neighbors is tenuous at best.

I have had the pleasure of visiting Israel twice so far in my life. I can only describe both experiences as life altering. I hope to be able, at some point in the future, go for a third time.

May those who gave their lives for Israel’s security and freedom forever a blessing and may we continue to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut for many years to come.

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How Soon is Too Soon to Re-Open?

Human beings are not meant to be anti-social, nor are we meant to be locked in our homes nearly 24/7.

But Covid-19 has forced both upon us.

As this disease continues to ravage our country and our world, the question that many are asking is when can we re-open. I wish the answer was simple, but we all know that it is not.

In California, the beaches were full over the weekend, despite warnings from the CDC and government officials.

I get it, I truly do. If it was still February (where the weather in my neck of the woods is generally wet and cold), staying home would be easy. But with summer and warm weather on the horizon, the call of the beaches, the pools and outside activities maybe too much to ignore.

The problem is that if we go back to a pre-Covid-19 normal, the handle that we finally have on this disease may at best, reduce drastically or at worst, disappear altogether. Cases will skyrocket, our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed and the number of dead will be straight out of our nightmares.

I hate to say it, but we must resist the urge to re-open too soon. If we do, I am afraid that the consequences and the lives lost will be too many to count.

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Filed under National News

RIP Richard Hake

In good times, a trusted journalist is the comfort we look forward to when we turn on the news. In bad times, that same trusted journalist has the potential to be our lone source of sanity in an insane world.

New York City lost one of her most beloved and trusted journalists last week. WNYC anchor and Morning Edition regular Richard Hake died on Friday due to natural causes.

Journalism is not what it used to be. Many traditional newspapers have either folded completely or are only offering their content on a digital platform. The basic questions that any journalist would ask (who, what, when, why, and how) are tinged with political partisanship. We watch and read the news not just to be informed, but to confirm our views on the world.

It takes a seasoned and respected journalist to not just report the news, but share it in a way that appeals to everyone. Richard Hake was one of those journalists.

May his memory be a blessing. Z”l.

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Unorthodox Review

We live in a world which demands that we conform. If we do not conform, the consequences are numerous.

Unorthodox recently premiered on Netflix. Based on the book, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, by Deborah Feldman, the four part series follows Esther “Esty” Shapiro (nee Schwartz, played by Shira Haas). Married at 19 to Yanky Shapiro (Amit Rahav), Esty is unprepared for the pressures that come with being a married woman in the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

When the pressure becomes too much, Esty escapes to Berlin where her estranged mother, Leah (Alex Reid) lives. Taken in and befriended by music students, she begins to see that there is life outside of the world that she was born into. But when her husband and his cousin Moishe (Jeff Wilbusch) arrive in Berlin to find her and bring her home, it becomes a game of cat and mouse.

I found this series to be fascinating and human. Its easy to live within the confines and the rules of the community, especially if you are a woman. It is infinitely more difficult to make your own way in the world. Two things stuck out to me as I was watching. The first was that although we see the world through Esty’s eyes, the judgement is not as harsh as it appears to be. The second is the relationships between the characters. Regardless of the societal, cultural and religious beliefs that the audience member holds, there is a universal quality to the the story being told.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Netflix, New York City

Depression & Perfectionism: Failure is not an Option

Human beings make mistakes. It is a part of life, as much as we may hate it.

One of the harder aspects of depression (at least from my perspective) is perfectionism. In a nutshell, it is the ultimate desire to be perfect and the toll it takes to reach a goal that is forever unreachable. In my case (and I suspect in many others who suffer from mental illness), the unrealistic expectations create a negative emotional spiral, regardless of whether a mistake has actually happened.

It feels like failure is not an option and will never be an option. The only way to be is perfect, knowing full well that perfection is impossible. When a mistake is imagined, it could easily trigger an anxiety attack. When a mistake is real, it feels nothing short of life shattering. It’s as if we are unworthy of all the good things that life offers, unless we are perfect.

Perfect is one of the songs on Alanis Morissette’s ground breaking 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill. I can’t think of a better way to sum up the disease that is perfectionism.

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New Randy Rainbow Video-A SPOONFUL OF CLOROX – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

As Covid-19 continues its path of destruction across the country and across the world, some have become desperate in seeking a magic pill that would stop the disease in it’s tracks.

That includes you know who. He is not a doctor, nor is he a scientist. But yet, he continues to peddle various forms of snake oil as a cure.

His first recommendation was hydroxychloroquine. When that proved to be false, his next (and most recent) recommendation was ingesting (either orally or via injection) Lysol or another household cleaning disinfectant. The facial expression of Dr. Deborah Birx when this comment was made says it all.

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Randy Rainbow released his new video this morning. Entitled “A SPOONFUL OF CLOROX – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody“, the song is based on A Spoonful of Sugar from the 1964 movie Mary Poppins.

In times of crisis, a wise leader relies on more than their knowledge or experience. They rely on the expertise of others, especially those who are knowledgeable in that particular field.

But you know who is not known for being wise.

Add it to the list of reasons for kicking him out of the White House in November.

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Filed under National News, Politics, Randy Rainbow

Thoughts On the Will & Grace Series Finale

A favorite television show is like an old friend. No matter how much time has passed, it feels like nothing has changed.

Last night, the second Will & Grace series finale ended.

It was nothing short of perfect.

The best series are the ones balance the comedy, the drama, and characters feel like our best friends. Will & Grace was much more than that. It has heart, humor and teaches more about the LGBTQ community/movement than any lecture can.

Every good thing must come to an end sometime. That includes our favorite TV series. It was hard to say goodbye last night, but it also felt like it was the right time to go.

Thank you to the cast, the crew, and everyone who had a hand in making this program. My life and the lives of the millions of fans around the world would not be the same without Will & Grace.

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Grantchester Character Review: Amanda Kendall

*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 GrantchesterRead 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 an ideal world, we would not have to choose between our heads and our hearts. But we don’t live in an ideal world. The decision between our heart and our heads is sometimes the only choice, as difficult as it maybe. On Grantchester, Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie) is best friends with Sidney Chambers (James Norton). They seem like the perfect couple. But perfect is not always meant to be.

Amanda is an heiress who works at the National Gallery in London. Marriage to a small town curate is not exactly what her family envisioned for her. Though she married Guy Hopkins (Tom Austen), their marriage is not always sunshine and roses. When her marriage is on the brink of dying, Amanda is pregnant and leaves her husband. Running to the vicarage and to Sidney, they begin a will they or won’t they relationship in spite of the fact that she is still married. After her daughter is born, their relationship becomes even more complicated with Amanda wanted to divorce Guy.

But Amanda has to make a choice, as does Sidney. They can formalize their relationship, knowing the scandal it will create. Or they can go their separate ways, knowing how painful it will be.

To sum it up: the choice between one’s head and one’s heart is both difficult and life changing. The person forced to make the choice knows what lies in front of them. But it must be done, regardless of the cost of that decision.

That is why Amanda Kendall is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, History, Television