Monthly Archives: April 2022

No Country Book Review

Intergenerational family stories are a genre unto themselves. What makes one narrative compelling or another boring depends on the writer ensuring that all of the threads weave together to create a coherent and engaging tale.

No Country, by Kalyan Ray, was published in 2014. The novel starts in a small town in rural Ireland in 1843. Brendan and Padraig have been best friends since they were young. As it usually happens when we are on the cusp of adulthood, the boys are torn apart by blossoming and confusing romantic feelings. Padraig is unaware that his girlfriend, Brigid is carrying their child, when he leaves for the city to fight for his nation’s independence. Instead of returning home, he makes a dangerous mistake that sends him instead to India.

Back in Ireland, Brendan is raising Padraig and Brigid’s daughter, Maeve as his own child. When the potato famine struck, he decided that it would be better to start a new life in America. As the years pass and different branches of the family tree come into being, questions of identity, politics, and history play with the fate of their descendants.

The book started off well enough. I was drawn into the narrative and the character’s struggles. The problem is that about 2/3rds of the way in, I got lost. I can’t put my finger on what went wrong, but for whatever reason, the story lost its momentum. While I did finish it, the ending left me with an empty feeling.

Do I recommend it? No.

No Country is available wherever books are sold.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, History

A League of Their Own Character Review: Evelyn Gardner

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

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched 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..

Being a working mother is never easy. The scales between parenting and raising the next generation can seem like they will never be balanced. In A League of Their Own, Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram) has been forced by her husband to take their son, Stillwell (played by Justin Scheller as a child and Mark Holton as an adult) on the road with her. Evelyn is a bit of an indulgent mother, attempting to keep Stillwell from getting into trouble with multiple chocolate bars while on the bus in between games. To say that this does not go over well with her teammates is an understatement. She also allows Stillwell to taunt the team, which also gets under the skin of the rest of the women.

Evelyn is also an emotional softie who does not respond well to criticism from her coach, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) when she makes a poor decision on the ballfield. But that does not mean that she is weak. Evelyn has a backbone that allows her to be a trailblazer, as both a working mother and a female athlete.

To sum it up: I think we, as an audience, underestimate Evelyn. She may appear to be a softie, but underneath that softness is a will of iron that is not often associated with women from the period. The truth is that we, as women have had it all along, we just needed the opportunity to show it.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, History, Movies

Gaslit Review

The definition of gaslighting is as follows:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim’s mind.

The new Starz series, Gaslit, premiered last Sunday. Set in the 1970s, it follows the events of the Watergate scandal. Martha Mitchell (Julia Roberts) is the outspoken wife of John Mitchell (Sean Penn), who was then the Attorney General under the late President Richard Nixon. Together with John Dean (Dan Stevens), their goal is to ensure that the President is re-elected, even if it means using less than honorable or legal means.

Martha becomes an unlikely hero for democracy as she realizes that her husband is in on the scheme and does everything she can (in her own way of course), to save the nation and her man.

What I am enjoying so far is that the spotlight is not on the usual suspects (i.e men), but on the women whose heroic acts are either ignored or downsized. I also like that Martha is unwilling to stay silent in the face of truth, even if it means opening the door to trouble. The acting is fantastic, the storytelling (so far at least) is easily watchable, and the politics is a reminder that even though it’s been 50-ish years, nothing has changed.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Gaslit airs on Starz on Sunday night at 8PM.

3 Comments

Filed under Feminism, History, Politics, Television, TV Review

Regretting Motherhood: A Study Book Review

From a young age, women are taught that above all else, we should have children. While being a parent is a joy, it is also a 24/7/365 job that does not let up until the younger generation has left the nest.

Regretting Motherhood: A Study, by Israeli sociologist Orna Donath, was published in 2017.

In the book, Dornath interviews a group of mothers of various ages with children who are also of various ages. While they come from different backgrounds, their commonality comes from being referred to as “Mom”. She explores the complicated feelings that these women have toward their status and their offspring, in addition to the question of if they would do it again if they had a choice.

I found the book to be illuminating. It reveals how complex this issue is and how often our feelings are ignored just for the privilege of larger societal acceptance and conformity. I think it behooves us to listen to the women in our lives, as without them, humanity will cease to exist.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Regretting Motherhood: A Study is available wherever books are sold.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism

The Lies Republicans Tell Themselves: Kevin McCarthy on Jan 6 & MTG on the Stand

We all tell ourselves lies. It is part of human nature. What it comes down to at the end of the day, is the effect the lies have. It is just for ourselves or will they create figurative ripples that also affect others?

Recently, two major figures in the Republican party once again proved that they are cowards, fakes, and liars.

In a leaked tape regarding the riot on January 6th, Kevin McCarthy spoke of his frustration with you know who. Now he claims that the statements on the recording are fake.

Meanwhile, Marjorie Taylor Greene has taken the stand to defend her comments in regard to that day. Voters in her home state of Georgia are looking for legal avenues to prevent her from running again. Her answers to the questions by the prosecutor were largely “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall”.

GIF by Harlem Globetrotters - Find & Share on GIPHY

It is suspiciously curious that when forced to admit the truth, these people have either selective memories or profess that publicly verified remarks are untrue in one form or another. I know that no one is perfect, but, the reality they live in is not just their own. It has the power to affect the entire country not just in the present, but for decades to come.

Bryan Cranston Coward GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

6 Comments

Filed under National News, Politics

Flashback Friday: Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back (2000)

No one gets through life without a few bumps in the road. The only question is if it holds up back or makes us stronger.

The TV movie biopic, Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back (2000), tells the story of the late singer and actor. Marvin Lee “Meat Loaf” Aday (W. Earl Brown) was born in Texas to a loving mother dying of cancer and a father who was far from parent of the year. As a young man, tormented by his father and peers due to his size and decided to strike out on his own.

Fate would lead him to an audition for a musical where he met future music partner Jim Steinman (Zachary Throne). Together, they would create Bat Out of Hell, which has become one of the best-selling and most respected albums of all time. But while Meat Loaf had incredible career success and a happy family life, his demons were not too far behind him.

As I recall, I enjoyed watching it. It reveals both the highs and the lows in a way that is entertaining without being too heavy, kitschy, or predictable. In telling Meat Loaf’s story, I would hope that members of the audience find the courage to overcome their own demons.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flashback Friday, Music, Television, TV Review

The Duke Movie Review

We all want to make the world a better place, in one way or another. The question is how we go about it.

The new movie, The Duke, is based on the true story of the theft of the Portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Francisco Goya in London in 1961. The accused thief is Kempton Bunton (Jim Broadbent), a do-gooder/dreamer with Robin Hood ideals. The problem is that his head is in the clouds and unable to hold down a job for any reasonable length of time. This forces his wife, Dorothy (Helen Mirren) to keep the family financially afloat by cleaning Mrs. Gowling’s (Anna Maxwell Martin) house.

While Kempton teases the police by sending clues, he offers to return the painting on the condition that the government will take greater care of its elderly citizens. When he finally returns the portrait and has his day in court, the trial becomes much more than it was expected to be.

I love this movie. Broadbent and Mirren are at the top of their game. What makes this film special is that it is a reminder that one person can change the world, even if they don’t have the logistics quite down. It has humor, it has heart, and it is simply a good reason to go to the theater.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Duke is currently in theaters.

1 Comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies

Throwback Thursday: The Avengers (2012)

There is nothing like a superhero origin story. When done well, it opens the doors to limitless narrative possibilities.

Back in 2012, The Avengers hit theaters.

Following the events of Thor (2011), Earth is invaded by Thor‘s (Chris Hemsworth) adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). His goal is to rule over humanity. Standing in his way is Thor, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/ Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Clinton Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

The Avengers is so good. The actors are perfectly cast, the balance between the narrative and the action is perfect and it is just so much fun to watch.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

2 Comments

Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Anatomy of a Scandal Review

It is a universal truth that men (especially those in politics) often think with the organ below their belt instead of the one in their head.

The new six-part Netflix miniseries, Anatomy of a Scandal, is based on the 2018 book of the same name by Sarah Vaughan. James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend) is a UK-based politician who has been accused of raping Olivia Lytton (Naomi Scott), his subordinate/paramour whose relationship has gone sour. While his college sweetheart/wife of twenty-plus years, Sophie Whitehouse (Sienna Miller) is standing by her husband, her resolve is tested.

Prosecuting the case is Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery). Though she appears to be randomly chosen to represent the government, her connection to the case is much closer than anyone would guess.

Holy shit. The tension in this series is so thick that it could be cut with a knife. What starts out as a straightforward story morphs into twists and turns that made my mouth figuratively drop. Though I have never read the book (or even heard of it until I watched the on-screen adaptation), I am tempted to read it. The narrative is a roller coaster ride that is a thrill to watch and a unique way to explore a topic as tempestuous as sexual assault.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Anatomy of a Scandal is available for streaming on Netflix.

5 Comments

Filed under Books, Feminism, Netflix, Politics, Television, TV Review

Thoughts on Yom HaShoah in 2022

Today is Yom HaShoah. Instead of rehashing points that have already been said, I’m going to let history speak for itself.

May the memories of the six million (my own relations included) be a blessing and a warning for future generations.

Chuck Schumer GIF by GIPHY News - Find & Share on GIPHY

1 Comment

Filed under History, Judaism, Thoughts On....