Monthly Archives: September 2021

Throwback Thursday: Confessions of Matchmaker (2007)

It would be nice to say that love finds us without any effort. But for every person whose soulmate just walks into their life, there is another person who needs a little help.

Confessions of a Matchmaker aired on A&E in 2007. Set in Buffalo, NY, the audience follows matchmaker Patti Novak as she helps her clients find their perfect partner. Her no-nonsense attitude allows those who have hired her to work past their issues and if all goes well, there is a possibility of a bright future for the couple.

What I liked about this show is that unlike other reality dating shows, it was not as slick or pretty looking. Patti was willing to help those who came to her, but she did not coddle them. She also dropped them if she felt that they were unwilling to do the work needed to walk into the sunset.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

My Octopus Teacher Review

Nature has a lot to teach us. But we must be willing to listen.

My Octopus Teacher premiered last year on Netflix. This nature documentary follows Craig Foster, a documentary filmmaker from South Africa as he spends a year bonding with an octopus. Recovering from a depressed state, he takes to the water, looking for a reason to feel good about himself. This comes in the form of his eight legged friend. In the year that they spend together, she teaches him about life, the importance of saving the natural world, and appreciating what he has.

This movie would not be my first choice to watch. It is certainly interesting and is educational without the viewer realizing it. I can see its value and why it won the Oscar for Best Documentary. But ultimately, it is meant for a niche audience who can truly appreciate what this film has to offer.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

My Octopus Teacher is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City Book Review

Food is more than the nourishment our body needs to survive. It tells the story of the people who prepared it.

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City by Scott Seligman was published last year. One of the major tenets of traditional Judaism is keeping kosher. That means that certain foods are off limits. Meat and dairy dishes cannot be combined in the same meal. There must be two sets of dishes and two sets of preparation tools. Most of all, the only acceptable meat is kosher. The problem with kosher meat is that it is more expensive than its non-kosher counterpart.

In May of 1902, many Jewish families who resided in New York City were poor immigrants, barely struggling to get by. But in spite of the hardships, they were determined to maintain their traditions. That included the food they purchased and consumed. When the price of the animal based proteins rose beyond what many could afford, women took to the streets, believing that price gouges were responsible for the increase. What started out as a non-violent movement turned into a battle for the hearts and minds of the community. Led by women who lacked the education and opportunities of their uptown peers, it is a story of not just economic survival, but the average person fighting against the powerful.

This book is obviously a niche subject and right up my alley. This is my history and the women I come from. Instead of keeping silent, they stood up for themselves and their community. In doing so, these women blazed a path and helped to created the blueprint for the modern non-violent protest that we see today.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, New York City, Politics

The Rose Code Book Review

War is not always fought in the battlefield. For every soldier with a weapon in their hand, someone is working equally hard behind the scenes to ensure victory.

The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn, was published in March. In England in 1940, as World War II is about to explode, three women join the war effort. Accepting jobs as code breakers at Blectchley Park, they are responsible for cracking the codes that have been intercepted from Germany.

Osla is the debutant who wants to be known for more than her status in society. She is also dating Prince Philip, who was still a few years away from marrying the future Queen Elizabeth. Mab climbed her way out of her poverty driven childhood in the East End of London. While she works furiously to save lives, she is looking for a husband to give her the life she did not have when she was young. Some might say that Beth is shy, but those who know her will say that she is incredibly intelligent and eager to see what the world has to offer. The war brings these women together before tearing them apart.

Seven years later, the country has united under happier events: the royal wedding. Osla, Beth, and Mab have not spoken to each other since the end of the war. When two of them receive an encrypted letter, the unspoken lie comes to the surface and they must work together to catch a traitor.

I loved this book. It is one of the best that I have read this year. The story is a thrilling rollercoaster of friendship, the sacrifices that war demands, and three women whose lives are turned upside down. It was half spy novel and half coming of age narrative with an undercurrent of early 20th century feminism that is sometimes forgotten.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History

The Big Leap Review

Life does not always give us second chances. Sometimes, we make a decision and our path is set.

The Big Leap premiered last week on Fox. The show follows a group of underdogs who audition for a reality dance show. At the end of the season, the chosen cast will be performing a modern remake of Swan Lake. Nick Blackburn (Scott Foley) is the producer trying to repair his reputation after his previous show did not go over well. Among the contestants is Julia Perkins (Teri Polo), a middle aged former dancer who has once last chance of glory. Gabby Lewis’s (Simone Recasner) world in high school was dancing. Then she got pregnant and had to grow up. Paula Clark (Piper Perabo) spent years climbing the corporate ladder before realizing that she wanted to do more than push paper for the rest of her life.

As cliché as this program is, I liked the first couple of episodes. I like that is also exposes how far the creative team will go to get a story, even if it is not 100% accurate. But if there was one thing for me that clinched is that Gabby is not a size two. For all of us who believe that our clothing tags have to list a specific number, it is lovely and far too uncommon to see the average American woman represented on television.

My only question is, how long this show can last. If it lasts the full season and we get to the final performance, where does the narrative go? Is there enough story to proceed to further seasons?

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Big Leap airs on Fox on Monday night at 9PM.

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Filed under Life, Television, TV Review

The Treatment of the Haitian Immigrants is Wrong and Un-American

America is made for and by immigrants. With the exception of being Native American, most of us can say that at least one person in our family came from another part of the world. The problem is that there are many people who forget this, or even worse think that they can amend our immigration policies to fit their racist ideals.

The truth is that no one wants to leave their homes if it is not necessary. If we live in a nation with a stable economy and political system, feel safe, and have access to education, jobs, and other opportunities, there is no need to go. But there are many places around the world in which life is harder than it needs to be, forcing many to flee in hopes of finding what they did not have in the land of their birth.

Last week, as Haitian migrants gathered at the US/Mexico border, they were attacked by law enforcement on horseback. Some were whipped as they tried to get away, creating reminders of the treatment of runaway slaves who were caught before they could reach freedom.

I can’t blame these people for wanting to leave Haiti. Between multiple natural disasters and the presidential assassination of Jovenel Moïse that has resulted in chaos and lawlessness, what reason is there to stay? We have every right to protect our borders and make sure that those who we allow to enter are not going to make trouble. But at the same time, we should be treating them as human beings. We are not obligated to let everyone into the country. But we are obligated to give them a chance.

This is not the America I know. The America I know welcomed my relations more than a century ago, providing safety and the chance to thrive that did not exist in Europe. If we do not at least attempt to live up to our promises and our values by letting at least some of the Haitians at the border into the country, we will be nothing more than a fraud and a lie. That is nothing short of heartbreaking and disgusting.

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Filed under International News, National News, World News

The Wonder Years Review

The Wonder Years is one of the most beloved television series of the modern era. The story of growing up from the perspective of Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) speaks to the 12 year old in all of us.

The reboot of the series premiered on Tuesday on ABC. As in the original program, the story is set in 1968, but in Montgomery, Alabama. Our protagonist is 12 year old Dean Williams (Elisha Williams). Narrating the story from decades in the future as the adult Dean is Don Cheadle. As Dean starts on his journey from childhood to adulthood, the Civil Right movement plays on in the background affecting everything and everyone around him.

The Wonder Years is one of the best new series of the fall. It has the charm and nostalgia of its predecessor, while feeling relevant with the issues that African-Americans and other people of color are still dealing with. It hits both the heart and the head, making the viewer think while reminding us of the joys and perils of being on the precipice of our teenage years.

Do I recommend it? Yes

The Wonder Years airs on ABC on Tuesday at 8:30 PM.

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Filed under History, Politics, Television, TV Review

Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Beatrice

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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. When the one we love walks away, the emotional wound that is created by that loss does not always close quickly or easily. It sometimes festers, creating a wall to prevent future heartbreaks.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice comes off as a confident, smart mouthed, and distrustful of romance. When she meets up with her ex, Benedick, her response is to call him on what she sees as his bullshit. While everyone around them is enjoying their banter, they do not see that she is afraid of being vulnerable, especially in front of the man who she is not quite over. When she hears that he is in love with her, Beatrice loses her armor and becomes hopeful that their relationship will begin again.

Unlike her cousin, Hero, Beatrice is not willing to submit to marry whomever her father approves of. She will only walk down aisle if she can respect herself and be in an equal partnership. In her world, a married woman is legally the property of her husband. She has no right to property, to any income, or even to her own children. The only way to remain in control of her fate and maintain control of financial and/or material assets is to remain single.

The turning point for her narrative is after the aborted wedding of Hero and Claudio. Angered that her beloved cousin’s name and reputation has been blackened, Beatrice rages that the sexist and misogynistic ideas that have ruined her cousin. Though she is unable to challenge Claudio, she and Benedick walk into the sunset. She is no longer afraid of love and more importantly, in love with a man who will not force her to submit the traditional idea of what is it is to be a woman.

To sum it up: Being vulnerable is never easy. It is harder when the person we want to be vulnerable with is the person we love most. The fear of rejection is so prevalent that the immediate reaction is to put up emotional walls and pretend that the we are fine. Beatrice’s initial reaction to Benedick is hide her heart to protect herself. But she eventually learns that putting your heart on your sleeve is not a bad thing. We just need to trust our gut and hope for the best.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, William Shakespeare

Flashback Friday: The Rachel Zoe Project (2008-2013)

The balance between one’s work life and one’s personal life is not always 50/50. Sometimes, there has to be a push and pull between the time we spend at the office and the time we spend at home.

The reality show, The Rachel Zoe Project, aired on Bravo from 2008-2013. The program followed celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe as she expanded her business while she maintained her marriage and her need to be a mother.

While it was on the air, it was reasonably compelling. There was enough narrative meat to keep the viewer engaged. But looking back, it has a “look at me” quality that I find to be presently unappealing. Like all reality television, the line between “reality” and amped up drama is not quite clear.

Do I recommend it recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

The Iron Dome Saves Lives, But AOC & Co Refuse to See That

When it comes to American politics and antisemitism, the impression used to be that only thing with a right wing ideology believed the lies. Those who defined their political views as left wing knew better and stood up against those would spew such disgusting ideas. But the truth is that it exists on both sides of the aisle.

Earlier this week, the budget was held hostage by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a handful of other Congresswomen. They demanded that unless the $1 billion dollars promised to Israel to keep funding the Iron Dome was removed as a line item, they would vote against the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced take it out of the final bill to keep the government funded after October 1st. Her compromise was to propose a standalone bill. It’s close, but no cigar.

What AOC and company either fail to realize or don’t even consider is that the Iron Dome does not differentiate between a rocket heading toward a Jewish home or an Arab home. It’s purpose is to save lives and prevent property destruction, regardless of whose name is on the deed and what religion they practice. But as usual, they are unwilling to even consider that maybe Israel is not all bad. I am going to end this post with a couple of tweets from Daniella Greenbaum Davis and Eve Barlow because unlike other people, they are not afraid to speak the truth.

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Filed under International News, Politics, World News