Daily Archives: May 15, 2022

Growing Up Biden: A Memoir Book Review

You can learn a lot about someone by listening to those who know them best.

Valerie Biden Owens, is among other things, the younger sister of President Joe Biden. Three years younger than her big brother, she tells her story in the new memoir, Growing Up Biden: A Memoir. Born into a close-knit and loving Irish-Catholic family, she is the second child and only daughter. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, she was not subject to the same rules that separated boys and girls in the era.

After graduating college, she became a surrogate mother to her nephews after her sister-in-law and baby niece was killed in a car accident. Marrying for the second time in the mid-1970s, she has become a force to be reckoned with and a groundbreaker in the modern feminist era.

For fifty years, she has been her brother’s political advisor, sounding board, and someone he can rely on through thick and thin.

Reading this book reminded me of why I voted for Biden in the first place. Despite his political imperfections, he is a man who believes in this country, and its possibilities, and is willing to do the work that is needed to move the nation forward.

The one thing that has stayed with me is her stance on abortion. I won’t give it away if you have not read the book, but I will say that her experience matches the stories that other women have had in regard to the subject.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Growing Up Biden: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Politics

Words I Thought I Would Never Say: I Agree With Bill de Blasio

It takes an adult to admit when they are wrong. It also takes an adult to be able to criticize your peers in a way that is meant is meant to be helpful and thoughtful without veering into cruelty or making the other person feel small.

On Friday, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was a guest on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show. The reason for his appearance was an article he wrote in The Atlantic magazine. Both in the article and during the interview, he discussed what he did wrong during his time in office and how the Democrats can learn from his mistakes.

De Blasio is 100% correct. If we are to ensure that the Democratic party wins in 2022, 2024, and beyond, they have to speak plainly. From the President on down, they have to state clearly what they have done for the people of this country and what they would like to do. The time for pussyfooting around and playing nice is over.

While he was in office, I wrote quite a few posts about the man. Like many who live here, I had an intense dislike for his politics and the decisions he made as Mayor. I even went so far as to vote Republican when he ran for the second time. That being said, I can respect someone who publicly recognizes their imperfections and wants to prevent another person from making the errors they made.

I can only hope that his advice will be heeded.

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Filed under National News, New York City, Podcast, Politics, WNYC

Operation Mincemeat Movie Review

When it seems that every story about World War II has been told, the door opens to reveal additional narratives that have remained hidden.

The new Netflix film, Operation Mincemeat premiered last week. Based on a book by Ben Macintyre, it tells the story of a secret mission to end the war via a corpse and false papers.

Among those who are in on the secret are Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew MacFadyen), future James Bond creator Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald), and Hester Leggett (Penelope Wilton). They know that if they succeed, it could mean victory for the Allies. But getting to that point requires strategy, timing, skill, and a little bit of luck.

For obvious reasons, the movie was a must-see. A cast chock full of Austen actors (including the two most popular Fitzwilliam Darcys), a spy thriller set in World War II-era England, and the fight for freedom against tyranny.

I have mixed feelings about it. What was good was that the main female characters were initially more than secretaries, love interests/spouses/female family members, and background characters. They were as important to the mission as their male colleagues. I also very much appreciated the subtle reference to the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry. It reveals that the Allies once again knew what was going on, but did nothing to stop it (which is another topic for another time).

What was bad is that about halfway through the film, I started to lose interest. It was as if the screenwriter(s) just gave up. The other thing that bugged me was the love triangle between Charles, Jean, and Ewen. It felt unnecessary. It also trivializes Jean, making her little more than the wannabe romantic significant other instead of an integral part of the group.

Do I recommend it? Disappointingly, no.

Operation Mincemeat is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Judaism, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, Pride and Prejudice