Monthly Archives: May 2022

How is it That Mass Shootings Have Become so Normal That They Rarely Make the Headlines?

I once heard somewhere that liking something and being used to it are two different things entirely. It can also be said that being used that same thing and learning from your mistakes are also two different things entirely.

In the last few weeks, the headlines about mass shootings in the US have been coming at us like never before. Though the events in Buffalo and Uvalde have dominated the news cycle, other shootings have happened. Over the Memorial Day weekend, there were 14 other shootings across the nation. According to news reports, 60 people were injured and 9 were killed. It boggles the mind that the cycle keeps repeating itself and we have done nothing to stop it.

It is possible to respect the rights of gun owners while keeping our citizens safe. Other nations have done it. They saw past the bullshit and enacted legislation that has saved lives. In Canada, a law is being introduced that would make it illegal to sell or import handguns. Whether or not it becomes the law of the land is to be seen. But at least the Canadian government is being proactive.

One of the facts that have come to light since last week is that the young man who is responsible for the murders in Texas was able to buy his firearms legally. I don’t know about anyone else, but an 18-year-old should not be able to buy any weapon, much less a weapon of war. The argument on the other side is that he cleared the background check. Of course, he did, he is 18!

There is a reason that when a young person gets their driver’s license, they cannot drive wherever and whenever they want to. Though the regulations vary from state to state, one does not get automatically get their drives license when they turn 16. Similarly, you cannot consume alcohol lawfully until your 21st birthday.

I hate repeating myself, but I have to. It doesn’t take a genius to understand what needs to happen. We just need to get it done and tell the NRA where it can go.

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P.S. Though the video below is from 2020, it is as timely as it has ever been. If anyone is not affected by it, their heart is made of rocks.

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The Book of Lost Names Review

During wartime, there are multiple ways of fighting an invading enemy. One way is doing combat on the battlefield. The other is joining the resistance and fighting in ways that are not obvious to the naked eye.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel, was published last year It starts in 2005. Eva Traube Abrams is a semi-retired librarian living in Florida. While putting her books away, she is drawn to an article in the New York Times. Within the article is the image of a book that Eva has not seen in decades-The Book of Lost Names. It describes the libraries that were looted by the Nazis and the attempt by modern-day authorities to return the books to their rightful owners. The book in the photograph contains a code that researchers are unable to crack. But Eva knows its secret.

The narrative flashes back to 1942. Eva was then a young woman living in Paris with her whole life ahead of her. But because she and her family are Jewish, there is a target on all of their backs. When her father is taken away, Eva and her mother escape to a small town in rural France that is not yet under Nazi control.

Joining the resistance, she starts forging documents for Jewish children who are trying to get to Switzerland. But this kind of work is dangerous in both the physical and emotional sense. Eva starts to fall for Remy, a young man with a handsome face and a charming demeanor. To save the real identities of the young ones she is trying to save, their real names are recorded in The Book of Lost Names. This work becomes even more important when Remy disappears and their network is betrayed.

As usual, Harmel writes in a way that is entertaining, readable and teaches the audience without hitting them over the head. As the main character, Eva is a compelling heroine. The story is absorbing and exciting. My problem is that the romance overwhelms the narrative. It almost felt like the love story took prominence over the war. I get that Eva is young and falling in love is part of being young, but I wish the emphasis was a bit more on the danger of their work.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

The Book of Lost Names is available wherever books are sold.

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Thoughts On the Andor Trailer

The hero’s journey is a fascinating tale. From where they start to where they end requires courage, a belief in the path they are taking, and the innate trust that everything will work out in the end.

The trailer for the new DisneyPlus Star Wars series, Andor dropped last week. The program follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he goes on a path that will lead him to the rebellion in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

As usual, DisneyPlus and Lucasfilm are keeping the details close to the vest. What I see so far, I like. Cassian is such a fascinating character that I am curious to see where the story goes.

Andor premiers on August 31st, 2022 on DisneyPlus.

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X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II Book Review

Behind every fictional war story is a real narrative that is sometimes more interesting than its invented counterpart.

X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II, by Dr. Leah Garrett, was published in 2021.

The book starts in the middle of World War II. It looks like the Allies are fighting a losing battle. In England, a plan is concocted to create a commando of unlikely recruits: young Jewish men who are refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe. None of them have had any previous military training. Most have been classified as “enemy aliens” due to being born in either Germany or Austria. In addition to being suspected of possibly spying for the other side, these young men have lost everything: their families, their homes, and everything/everyone they held near and dear.

Known as the X Troop, they take on new identities, are trained in secret, and have one goal: to defeat the Nazis. For these soldiers: the fight is personal. They are fighting for their homeland, fighting for the ones they love, and for justice.

The best way to describe the narrative is sort of real-life Inglorious Basterds. It was an amazing book. Dr. Garrett writes in a way that is accessible, readable, and, most importantly, a history lesson we should all learn. It reinforces the idea that European Jews were not just lambs to the slaughter. They fought in whatever capacity they could. From a personal stance, it gives me hope that there are good people out there, even in the midst of antisemitism, hate, and prejudice.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II is available wherever books are sold.

P.S. Today is Memorial Day in the States. May the men and women who gave their lives for this nation (even with its imperfections) forever be a blessing. Z”L

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Obi-Wan Kenobi Review

When the original Star Wars film, A New Hope, premiered in 1977, no one could have foreseen the narrative junctions that have come out of this one movie.

The new DisneyPlus miniseries, Obi-Wan Kenobi, premiered on Friday. Ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005) the Jedi appear to have been wiped out. But a few have survived in hiding. The Empire sends The Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) to find those that are still alive. One of the Inquisitor’s lieutenants, Inquisitor Reva, Third Sister (Moses Ingram) is intent on locating one Jedi in particular: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). His former Padawan, Anakin Skywalker (now known as Darth Vader) is eager to see his former master again

While living under another name, Obi-Wan is keeping an eye on Anakin’s son, Luke Skywalker (Grant Feely). But Luke’s Uncle and guardian, Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) would prefer that his nephew remains in the dark. Meanwhile, on Alderaan, Princess Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) is kidnapped. Her parents turn to Obi-Wan to rescue their daughter.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is amazing. After watching both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, I thought nothing would top them. I was wrong. My eyes were glued to the screen the entire time. There were multiple easter eggs (if you know where to look), many mouth drops, and quite a few expletives. I am already hooked and ready for the rest of the series.

It would be easy to make another soulless sequel. But it is not. It is full of so much love and respect for the material that it radiates from the screen. McGregor is back in perfect form, with the obligatory changes since the last time we saw the character. He is starting to become the grizzled old man who has come to terms with what was and will never be again. But there is still a little bit of hope, just enough to inspire him to pick up the lightsaber one last time.

Do I recommend it? 100% yes. Don’t be surprised if the program makes the cut for “best of” lists in December.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is available for streaming on DisneyPlus. New episodes premiere on Friday.

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A 13-Year-Old Boy Walks Into a Gun Show…..

Did you hear the story of a 13-year-old who walks into a gun show?

In the wake of both the Buffalo and Texas Elementary School shootings, a very telling video from HBO‘s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. has been released.

It goes as follows: A 13-year-old boy attempts to buy the following items: alcohol, cigarettes, adult magazines, and a lottery ticket. Each attempt fails miserably.

He then walks into a gun show. With no ID and just a wad of cash in his hand, he walks out with what looks to be a hunting rifle. The salesman, without hesitation, jumps into his schpiel. Within minutes, cash has been exchanged and a child who has no business with a fireman walks out with one.

Is it any wonder why mass shootings have become the norm in the US?

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The Trailer For Mr. Malcolm’s List is Out

There is something about a BPD (British Period Drama) that is sometimes what we need at a specific moment. It is not just the narrative itself, it is the ability for us to be taken out of our daily lives for a short time.

The trailer for the new film, Mr. Malcolm’s List, was released last week. Based on the book by Suzanne Allain, the epymonous Mr. Jeremy Malcolm, (Sope Dirisu) is the most wanted bachelor of the season. Every eligible young lady and her matchmaking mama have set their cap at him.

In response, he has created a list of qualities that his future wife must-have. They seem so impossible that no woman would ever fit the bill. Enter Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto). She checks off all of the boxes and then some. But she has a secret that could derail this marriage before he can pop the question.

I am very excited about this film. I loved the book, which owes a great deal to Jane Austen, and I loved the short film that was released a few years ago.

I can only hope that the full-length feature lives up to its promise and the book it is based on.

Mr. Malcolm’s List will be in theaters starting on July 1st, 2022.

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Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge Book Review

The making of a movie or television show is sometimes just as exciting as the movie or television itself.

Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge, by Becky Aikman, was published in 2018. In 1991, the film Thelma & Louise took Hollywood and the world by storm. Written by Callie Khouri, it was revolutionary then and unfortunately, is still revolutionary now. The story of two women (played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, respectively), who start out on a road trip and turn into outlaws is a classic.

The book not only tells the story of how the movie was made, but it also speaks of the boundaries that were broken in the process. Interviewing the actors, Khouri, the producers, and others, it is a fascinating tale both in front of and behind the camera that created a crack in the glass ceiling and opened the doors for women to be more than a pretty face on the screen.

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I loved this book. I also love the movie, in case you didn’t notice. What was not surprising was not just the usual strung-out process from page to screen, but also the idea of a female screen writer creating a tale that is more than the expected narrative. It’s a reminder of how far we have come and how far we still need to figuratively travel.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge is available wherever books are sold.

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That Golden Girls Show- A Puppet Parody Review

There are some television shows that are like a fine wine-they only get better with age. One of the programs on this list is The Golden Girls. Thirty years after the series ended, it has remained fresh, funny, and still appealing to audiences.

That Golden Girls Show-A Puppet Parody opened last month in New York City. Using puppets and a quartet of exceptionally skilled performers, three episodes are recreated line for line.

I laughed so hard that my cheeks hurt. It was hilarious and nothing short of perfect. Given everything that is going on in the world now, it was the perfect antidote. It was as if I was watching a live taping of an episode for the first time.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It makes me want to binge as many episodes as possible.

That Golden Girls Show: A Puppet Parody is playing until May 29th, 2022 in New York City. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.

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New Randy Rainbow Videos: PINK GLASSES (A YouTube Exclusive) & Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You? (A YouTube Exclusive)

One of the beauties of the internet is that it opened the door for new artists/performers whose work might have gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Randy Rainbow is one of these artists/performers.

Rainbow released two videos this week. Both songs come from his new album, A Little Brains, A Little Talent.

Co-written with Alan Menken (Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, etc), I love how this song is about being yourself and not caring what someone else thinks.

When you love something, it shows. Rainbow’s affection for Broadway musicals is obvious as he pays tribute to The Music Man. There are some who would pretend to like something for their career or their bank account, but not him. Underneath the hilarious parodies, there is a sincere love for the genre. He knows these shows in a way that allows him to spoof whatever is going on in the world while remaining true to both the characters and the narrative.

As regular readers know, I am a huge fan of Randy Rainbow. I love these videos and I look forward to whatever he is going to do next.

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