Monthly Archives: October 2020

Flashback Friday-Halloween Wars (2011-Present)

When most of us think of sweet treats on Halloween, we think of pre-packaged candies and chocolate sitting in bowl, waiting to be distributed.

Halloween Wars (2011-Present), airing on Food Network, takes that concept and blows it up. Five teams compete to create the scariest and most delicious Halloween related deserts.

I’ll be honest. Among the seasonal cooking competition shows on the Food Network schedule, this is one that I pass on. It’s a fine program, it’s just not one I want to spend my time watching.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

WFH Office on the East River is Brilliant

Before Covid-19, working from home for some of us happened only occasionally. Since March, those of us who are still employed and can work from home have adjusted to a much shorter commute.

But, there is a catch. Parents have had to balance their jobs while making sure that their children continue to receive a decent education. Which as any number of parents have attested to over the last few months, is far from easy.

The comedy group Improv Everywhere decided to do their own spin on the topic on New York City’s East River.

This is a brilliant idea. Whomever came up with it is a genius. It’s nice to know that even in these difficult times, we can still laugh and find a reason to smile.

Thanks, Improv Everywhere.

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Filed under National News, New York City

Throwback Thursday: Brother Vs. Brother (2013-Present)

Sibling rivalry is for many, part and parcel, part of the growing up experience.

Since 2013, Brother Vs. Brother has aired on HGTV. In the series, Drew and Jonathan Scott each buy and flip a rundown home. At the end of the season, the winner is the one whose newly renovated property sells for the highest purchase price.

Among the catalog of shows starring the Scott brothers, this is five out of ten for me. It’s fine and entertaining, but I can’t say that it is appointment television.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Two Years Cannot Dull the Pain of the Pittsburgh Shooting

One of my favorite quotes from Star Wars the following:

“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Those were murdered that day (Z”l) because they were Jews.

Unlike the America that my parents and grandparents were born into, my early years were free of antisemitism. I lived in multi-cultural world that respected everyone, regardless of labels or ancestry.

October 27th, 2018 changed all that. It was a slap in the face, a cold reminder that antisemitism is still alive and well in the United States. It has been said that time heals all wounds. But time can never take away the pain of that day.

But even with the heartbreak, there is still hope.

Our people and our faith has been threatened countless time over the millennia. But we are still here and we will always be here.

While we carry on as we always have, the memory of those killed that day will live on forever, in spite of the heartache that comes with that loss.

May their memories be a blessing.

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Filed under Movies, National News, Star Wars

We Need to Talk About Jared Kushner’s “Black Americans” Comment

Looking back on my childhood, I can appreciate the things that my parents did for me. Without their love and support, I would not have the achievements I have today. But, there was one caveat: they were not going to do everything for me. At a certain point, I had to put on my big girl boots and become self- sufficient.

Yesterday, Jared Kushner made the following statement about Black Americans:

“President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about but he can’t help them be successful more than they want to be successful,”

Within Jewish culture, we have a joke: Is something or someone good or bad for the Jews? Kushner is definitely bad for the Jews.

Anti-Semites have never needed a reason to hate us. They will find any excuse to blame us for whatever is going wrong in the world. The problem is that his statement legitimizes their lies and gives an air of truth.

He is also bad for his father-in-law’s Presidential election. The administration claims that they understand the needs of the working man and woman. If they did, this kind of statement would never have left his lips.

This is a privileged family who has never had to worry about where the next paycheck is going to come from or if they will be able to keep a roof over their heads. Their children have been and will be gifted jobs within the family business. They will never know the agony and stress that comes with looking for a job while making due on unemployment checks.

The truth is that we all want success. But success only comes hard work, which comes from opportunities. Kushner’s remark is disparaging, hurtful, elitist and racist. If you know who truly wants another term, they had better start living up to the claims they are making.

#BidenHarris2020

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Is Anyone Truly Surprised that Amy Coney Barrett is the Newest Member of SCOTUS?

When it came to making major decisions, the process would obviously be easier if it was made via strictly impartial facts. But impartiality is impossible. Most, if not all of the time, our beliefs and experiences color the final outcome of our decisions.

Last night, in a surprise to no one, Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as the newest member of SCOTUS.

Her rushed confirmation hearings, combined with taking the oath of office a week before the election is the living, breathing embodiment of court packing. Those in the Republican and conservative movements wanted to grab as much power as they could while it was theirs to take. If the blue wave comes as expected (and hoped for), the Democrats will have control of the White House and Congress.

There are two problems with her confirmation. The first problem is that there are no term limits on the members of the Supreme Court. While there is talk of creating term limits, it is just talk at this moment. Justice Barrett is forty eight. This means that she could be on the court for the next thirty to forty years. She could be ruling on cases that will forever change the trajectory of this nation.

The second problem is that with the election so close, some are predicting a reboot of the 2000 Presidential election. Those of us who are above a certain age can easily remember the chaos and uncertainty during that period. In a worst case scenario, the argument could make its way up to SCOTUS. I wouldn’t put it past you know who to ensure that the judges he appointed give him another four years in office.

At this point in time, we can only guess how the election will end and how Judge Barrett will rule. I hope with everything I have that when all is said and done, we become a better nation. But hope, as it often does, springs eternal.

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Filed under Feminism, National News, Politics

Did the White House Just Hand Joe Biden the Election?

When facing a challenge, knowing when to push forward and knowing when you cannot go any further is a decision that sometimes has to be made.

With Covid-19 ravaging the nation, it has become the most important issue within this Presidential election cycle. The assumption would be that both candidates and parties would take the virus and the damages it has caused seriously.

The Democrats and Joe Biden have taken it seriously. The Republicans and you know who seem to think that it is a mere cold. We all remember earlier this year he stepped back from taking responsibility.

When the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appeared on CNN, he told Jake Tapper the following:

“We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigation areas,”

Since March, 225,000 Americans have succumbed to the disease. As of late, Vice President Pence, his wife, and several aids have been exposed to Covid-19. Anyone with a mere shred of intelligence would be listening to the doctors and quarantine themselves. But instead, he goes out on the campaign trail, potentially spreading the virus further.

The question is, has the White House handed Joe Biden the election? Only time will tell, but it is clear to me that this may be the tipping point that brings us back to a state of semi-normalcy.

#BidenHarris2020

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Anne with an E Review

For multiple generations of readers, Anne Shirley will always be one of their favorite literary leading ladies. The heroine of L.M. Montgomery‘s beloved novel Anne of Green Gables, Anne is a spirited young woman with a wild imagination and an open heart.

The Netflix reboot of the series, Anne with an E, ran for three reasons. Stepping into the hallowed shoes of the young Miss Shirley is Amybeth McNulty. Playing her adopted parents, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson.

I only watched the first episode and I couldn’t help but smile. McNulty is the perfect young actress to play Anne. Her take on the character is everything we expect from Anne Shirley. James and Thomson as the unmarried, middle aged Cuthbert siblings are equally well cast. James is severe while Thomson is willing to give the newest member of their family a chance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Anne with an E is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Rebecca Movie Review

Rebecca is one of those books that readers come back to time and again. There is a reason that Daphne du Maurier‘s novel of love, jealousy, and secrets is considered to be a classic.

The Netflix reboot starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas premiered earlier in the week. The unnamed narrator and future Mrs. de Winter (James) is introduced as a paid companion to a wealthy woman who is eager is climb the social ladder. In Monte Carlo, she meets Maxim de Winter (Hammer). Maxim is a widower and the owner of Manderley, a sprawling estate on the English coast. Swept off her feet, she says yes to his marriage proposal.

But upon arrival at her new home, she discovers that all is not what it seems. Her husband’s deceased wife, Rebecca still haunts her former home. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Scott Thomas), takes pleasure in tormenting the new Mrs. de Winter via the memory of the previous Mrs. de Winter.

I wish I could say that I loved this adaptation. The truth is that it was not what it could have been. There is a certain something in the novel that raises the hair on the back of the neck. That feeling is missing from the movie. The other issue that I had is that as good an actor that Lily James is, she is not quite right for the part.

Her performance was stronger when her character began to realize the truth. As a viewer, I couldn’t wrap my head around her youth and naivete in the beginning of the story. Among the main actors, Kristin Scott Thomas was the best part of the film. She was both creepy and charming, if that combination is ever possible.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Rebecca is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things Book Review

If one were to poll Jane Austen fans to determine which of the six completed novels is their favorite, Mansfield Park is likely to be found at the bottom of the list. Similarly, the book’s heroine, Fanny Price is also likely to be found in the same position in a comparable list of Austen’s leading ladies.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, written by Jacqueline Firkins, was published last year. Edith “Edie” Price has been in the foster care system since her mother’s recent passing. Her father left when she was a baby. Just a few months shy of her eighteenth birthday, Edie is temporarily taken in by her wealthy aunt and uncle.

Though she has two cousins, Maria and Julia who are close to her in age, Edie has nothing in common with them. They are determined to give her a makeover and find her a boyfriend. But Edie is more concerned with making sure that she can stand on her own two feet after high school.

As she tries to stay afloat until graduation, two boys enter the picture. The first is Sebastian, Edie’s first and love and childhood bestie. He is everything she could want in a boyfriend. But Sebastian is taken. The second is Henry, the bad boy who Edie swears to stay away from. That is easier said than done.

Edie knows that she has to choose one of them. The question is, will her heart be broken in the process?

I loved this book. Edie has the soul of her 19th century predecessor, while being a normal teenage girl in the 21st century. Among the JAFF (Jane Austen fanfiction) books that I have read, this is one of the better ones.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park