Monthly Archives: December 2020

Happy New Years (A.K.A Goodbye 2020)

I think that we all agree that 2020 has been a shit show of a year. Between Covid-19, the election, and everything else, I am ready to see this year in the rear view mirror.

I don’t know about anyone else, but after everything that has happened, I can’t help but feel grateful.

I have breath in my body, food in my belly, a roof over my head, and employment that comes with a decent paycheck and benefits. Though the turning of the clock does not mean that our troubles will go away, we will have the opportunity to move on.

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Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this year, I wish nothing but the best for you in 2021. Happy New Year!

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Best New TV Shows of 2020

  1. Bridgerton (Netflix): This Jane Austen inspired series is based on books by Julia Quinn. Sexy and romantic with a feminist twist, it is the perfect BPD (British Period Drama) to lose one’s self in.
  2. Saved by the Bell (Peacock): The re-imagining of this much loved 1990’s teen comedy program will thrill both new fans and old.
  3. Cursed (Netflix): Based on the comic book by Frank Miller, it revisits the Arthurian myth via Nimue (Katherine Langford).
  4. World on Fire (PBS): This PBS/Masterpiece follows a group of individuals as World War II is on the horizon.
  5. Mrs. America (F/X/Hulu): In the 1970’s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was close to becoming the law of the land. A tug of war begins between one group of women that is for it and another that is against it.
  6. Sanditon (PBS): Based off the unfinished book of the same name by Jane Austen, we follow Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), a young woman who leaves her family for the seaside resort town of Sanditon.
  7. The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix): This Netflix series is based on the books by Ann M. Martin.
  8. Flesh and Blood (PBS): Natalie (Lydia Leonard), Jake (Russell Tovey), and Helen (Claudie Blakely) are unsure about their widow mother’s new boyfriend.
  9. The Weakest Link (NBC): A delightful reboot of the early 2000’s game show of the same name. Hosted by Jane Lynch.
  10. The Windemere Children (PBS): World War II has just ended. 300 child survivors of The Holocaust are taken to England to heal. The adults have their work cut out for them.

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Best Books of 2020

  1. Hearts, Strings, and other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins: This modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park is one of the best professionally published fanfictions I’ve read in a long time.
  2. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump: You Know Who’s only niece, Mary Trump tells her uncle’s story as only a close family member can.
  3. Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos: This biography tells the President-elect’s story from a human perspective, giving the reader an insight that the news headlines cannot.
  4. Bronte’s Mistress, by Finola Austin: Austin delves into the myth of the affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his older and married employer. Giving voice to Branwell, his youngest sister Anne and Mrs. Robinson specifically, she introduces the reader to the woman behind the rumor.
  5. Rage, by Bob Woodward: Legendary journalist Bob Woodward takes the reader into the current Presidential administration and the chaos created by you know who.
  6. The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron: Cameron’s book follows the story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish-Catholic teenage girl who saved thirteen Jews during World War II.
  7. Jagged Little Pill: The reader is taken into the world of the hit musical, Jagged Little Pill: The Musical.
  8. Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne: April believes that she is damaged goods, romantically speaking. When she creates an alter ego named Gretel, the results are surprising.
  9. A Star is Bored: A Novel, by Byron Lane: Lane, a former assistant to the late actress and writer Carrie Fisher, spins his time working for her into a hilarious and entertaining novel.
  10. Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, by Jean Guerrero: This insightful and frankly scary book tells the story of Presidential aide Stephen Miller.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Broadway Musical Review, Fanfiction, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Mental Health, Movies, Music, National News, Politics, Star Wars, Writing

Best Movies of 2020

  1. Soul: Though it is marketed as a kids movie, the subtext of appreciating life feels appropriate and potent this year.
  2. Mulan: The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film Mulan rises above its predecessor, making it fresh and relevant.
  3. Emma.: Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Jane Austen‘s eponymous heroine, Emma Woodhouse, introduced as clever, rich, and handsome. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaption is entertaining, funny, and a lovely addition to the list of Austen adaptations.
  4. The Trial of the Chicago 7: The film tells. the story of the 7 men accused of being responsible for the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. Though it is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it feels very 2020.
  5. Portrait of a Lady on Fire: This LBGTQ historical romance between a young woman and the female artist hired to paint her portrait is sweet, romantic, and powerful. It proves once more that love is love is love.
  6. Ordinary Love: Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are your average middle-aged couple. When she is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, they both must deal with the rough road ahead.
  7. The Assistant: Jane (Julia Garner) is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-esque powerful movie producer. She starts to notice things that don’t sit right with her.
  8. I am Greta: This documentary follows teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as she advocates for the world to pay serious attention to climate change.
  9. Mank: Gary Oldman plays Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in a performance that is nothing but Oscar bait.
  10. #AnneFrank-Parallel Lives: Narrated by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells not just Anne’s story. It follows other young women who survived the Holocaust. Parallel to the stories of the past, the viewer is traveling with another young woman as she visits different countries in present-day Europe.

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Filed under Books, DisneyPlus, Emma, Fairy Tales, Feminism, History, Hulu, Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, Politics

Throwback Thursday: San Andreas (2015)

Every film genre has its own basic narrative structure. The question is, does the screenplay blindly follow that narrative structure or is it used as merely the bones of the story?

The disaster film, San Andreas, was released in 2015. Raymond Gaines (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a helicopter rescue pilot living in Los Angeles. When the biggest earthquake in history hits California, his daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario) is in San Francisco. Ray’s ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino) reluctantly asked her former husband to find their daughter. Putting their history aside, Ray and Emma have to work together to locate Blake.

As disaster films go, the plot is paint by numbers. But there is something about this particular film that rises above what is expected. It is not the best movie I’ve ever seen. But if I was looking for a popcorn film that gives me the chance to step away from my reality for a few hours, this movie is it.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth Book Review

The news, whether reported on television or via the newspaper of one’s choice, used to be a simple thing. The facts were given and the viewer and/or reader was given the leverage to make up their own minds. These days, the news is not so simple.

Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, by Brian Stelter, was released back in August. In the book, Mr. Stelter examines how you know who and Fox News have distorted the truth to fit their view of the world. Every previous President has spent their working hours speaking to their peers across the globe and coordinating with various divisions of the government to keep the country going. This President watches hours of television (Fox News to be specific), marks out his favorites and lets them have a hand in dictating his policies. They are also hypocrites, telling the audience one thing while believing another thing entirely.

I couldn’t help but get angry as I read this book. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the basic tenets of journalism remain the same. In twisting the facts to fit their perspective, the message is clear. It is not about letting the audience think for themselves. It is a political and business strategy that benefits only you know who and Fox News.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Pat Robertson, Geraldo Rivera, and The NY Post Tell You Know Who to Give it up

We all know that you know who is a sore loser. It’s one thing if one is playing a board game or joining friends for a casual game of football or basketball. It is another thing entirely to hold a country hostage.

Back in November, no one was surprised that you know who took an adult temper tantrum. Claiming that he, not Joe Biden was the winner, the lie that there was massive voter fraud spread like wildfire across the country.

Now it appears that even some of his most staunch supporters are telling him to cool it. Pat Robertson, Geraldo Rivera, and the NY Post have advised you know who to concede.

It’s nice to see that at least some people are opening their eyes.

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We all know that Biden won. The accusations of voter fraud are at best baseless and at worst, goes against what it means to be an American. We don’t have to like or even agree with the results of any political election. But at the end of the day, we have to move on. We cannot let this fraudulent idea destroy the United States. If we do, everything we have worked for, voted for, and died for means nothing.

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Carrie Fisher: 4 Years Gone, and it Still Hurts

Today is the 4th anniversary of the passing of Carrie Fisher. Though somethings have changed, the ache remains. Though I never had the chance to meet her, her example of living in spite of the challenges she faced continues to be an inspiration.

In honor of everything she represented and still represents, I will let her Star Wars co-star and on-screen twin, Mark Hamill take it from here.

Wherever you are Carrie, we miss you. RIP.

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Just Sign the Dam Stimulus Bill Already

These days, it would be obvious to anyone who is not living under a rock that the United States is the middle of a economic and health crisis that has implications to change this nation for generations to come.

After months of partisan disagreements, Congress has finally agreed on a stimulus package. Though the $600 check that Americans will soon be receiving will not go very far, it is still better than nothing. The final step is the President’s signature.

Instead of just signing the bill and sending Americans the help we desperately need, you know who threw a bomb into the process (as he is wont to do). Demanding that the amount be raised to $2000, he refused to sign the bill and sent it back to Congress.

In theory, I agree with the increase (a once in a lifetime event that will likely never happen again). However, given the extreme time crunch (and the threat of once again shutting down the government), it is imperative that the bill be signed.

But I doubt that you know understands or genuinely cares about the American people.

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Bridgerton Series Review

A good romance has the power to metaphorically sweep the audience off their feet.

The new Netflix series, Bridgeton premiered on Friday. Set in Regency era England, the program follows the romantic trials and tribulations of the eight children of the widowed Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell). Her children are named in alphabetical order, from A-H. It is based on the book series by Julia Quinn and the first book in series (The Duke and I). The female protaganist is Lady Bridgerton’s eldest daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), who is entering her first Season.

The initial response to Daphne, according to the unseen narrator and gossip Queen, Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), is that she is the one to watch. But before Daphne can enjoy the spotlight, she is downgraded by Lady Whistledown to persona non grata. On the flip side, the husband that every match-making mama wants for her daughter is Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). Having recently come into the title after the death of his father, Simon has made it clear that he is content to remain a bachelor for the rest of his days.

Simon and Daphne have a plan. They will pretend to court. He will appear to be spoken for and she will have more suitors than she knows what do with. But like many plans, there is a hitch. Somewhere along the way, their relationship begins to change.

Bridgerton is easily the best new television program of the year. In a nutshell, it is Jane Austen meets Shondaland. I love the diversity, I love the characters, and I love the smart and capable women who populate this world.

This Regency nerd is ready for season 2. Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Bridgerton is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Netflix, Television, TV Review