Category Archives: History

Throwback Thursday-The Ernest Green Story (1993)

To be the first in anything is to become a hero. It is also a difficult journey that tests the strongest among us. Ernest Green is a part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were chosen to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also the first African-American student to graduate from  the school in 1958.

In 1993, his story was told in The Ernest Green Story.  Morris Chestnut played the title role in the television movie.

I feel like this is one of those movies we should all see, regardless of race or ethnicity. America in 2018 is not the same America of the late 1950’s. But we are also, not so far away from the period. If nothing else, this film is not only a reminder of how far we have come, it is also a reminder that the battle for civil rights and true equality still needs to be fought.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under History, Politics, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America Book Review

In the 1930’s, Leon Lewis appeared to be just another unassuming lawyer from Los Angeles. But in reality, he was the head of a spy ring whose goal was to stop the secret Nazi invasion of America and protect the lives of the city’s Jewish population.

His story unfolds in the non fiction book, Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, written by Steven J. Ross. Los Angeles was a target not only because it was home base of the entertainment industry, but also for the military sites that were close by. While the law enforcement chose to focus their attention elsewhere, Mr. Lewis and his ring of spies understood how important it was to uncover the truth before it was too late.

 

While the book is a little slow, it is worth reading until the end. Though the book is non fiction, Mr. Ross found a way to imbue the narrative with tension and danger. It reads like a fictional spy thriller, even with the documented historical facts.

I recommend it.

 

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Throwback Thursday-One Day At A Time (1975-1984)

In the 1970’s, the world was changing. Women were starting to throw off the chains that kept their foremothers in literal slavery and were blazing new paths of their own making. Just as he did with his previous series, show runner Norman Lear looked to the changing culture to add to his list of hit shows.

In 1975, One Day At A Time premiered. On the air for nine years, the premise of the show centered around Anne Romano (Bonnie Franklin), a single divorced mother raising her teenage daughters by herself. Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) is the drama queen. Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) is the tomboy. The man in their lives is Dwayne F. Schneider (Pat Harrington Jr.), their building’s super who becomes one of the family.

For it’s time, One Day At A Time was quite progressive. It was and still is very funny. It was also a show where the lead characters were mostly female and not dependent on the male characters to define who they were. Beloved by television audiences, it was one of the staples of the television schedule while it was on the air.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Feminism, History, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Thoughts On Poland’s New Holocaust Law

Of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, 3 million of them were Polish.

Recently, Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda announced that he would sign the new law that makes it illegal to blame the country from the loss of life and destruction caused by Nazi Germany during World War II. It goes without saying that the law acquits the Polish nation of any guilt that they are part of the reasons that 3 million Polish Jews and 1.9 Poles who were not Jewish were murdered.

I am a Jewish woman of Eastern European descent. Poland is in my blood and my bones. My mother’s maternal grandparent’s emigrated from Poland during the early part of the 20th century. They left family behind who were murdered simply because they were Jewish.

It’s an irrefutable fact that Poland suffered under the Nazi invasion. It is also an irrefutable fact that many non-Jewish Poles tried to help their Jewish neighbors, knowing full well that they were putting their lives and the lives of their families on the line. However, there were also many Poles who either silently supported the Nazis by saying nothing or stepped up and did the Nazis dirty work for them.

As an American, I cannot dictate how another country’s leadership chooses to govern. However, this particular law does not feel right and feels like it spits on the graves of millions of innocents who were killed merely for being who they are.

 

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Flashback Friday-The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Dan Brown’s 2006 novel, The Da Vinci Code was nothing short of a bombshell when it hit book stories 12 years ago. Depending on the perspective of the reader, it was either a thriller that kept you reading, or it was blasphemous/utter nonsense.

Either way, it’s no great mystery as to why a film adaptation of the book quickly reached theaters that same year. Starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon and Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu, the characters are trying to unravel a murder mystery, while discovering clues about the murderer in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. In doing so, they are outing a secret society that has lasted for centuries and could change how Christianity is viewed should the secrets be brought into the light.

I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it not only because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, but also the religious element adds to the tension that is part of discovering who the killer is.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-Alexander (2004)

Alexander The Great is one of the most revered politicians/military leaders in the history of the human species. Even today, thousands of years after his lifetime,  many in leadership positions look to him for inspiration and strength.

In 2004, the film Alexander told the story of his brief, but history making life. Starring Colin Farrell in the title role and Angelina Jolie as Olympias, his snake loving mother, the film attempts to blend fact and fiction, while replicating the imagery and narrative of the biblical/historical epics of old Hollywood.

I have a problem with this movie. It’s long (about three hours), boring and while tries to entertain the audience/tell the story of the title character, it fails miserably on all accounts.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely not.

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Thoughts On The 30th Anniversary Of The Wonder Years

Looking back, adolescence is the defining era in our lives. It the stage that starts us on the path, for better or for worse, to adulthood.

The Wonder Years, premiered 30 years ago today.  In the late 1960’s, Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) is on the verge of his teenage years. Layered into the narrative is the memories of Kevin as adult (Daniel Stern) told via voice over. As Kevin grows up and the late 1960’s turns into early 1970’s, he experiences the joys and heartaches of young adulthood with his best friends Paul (Josh Saviano) and Winnie (Danica McKellar), who is his first crush/first kiss/first romantic everything.

What makes The Wonder Years stand out and still holds a place in the hearts of the television audience thirty years later is that Kevin’s experience is incredibly universal. Everything he went through, we all have gone through or will through. That is why we are still talking about this show 30 years later.

 

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Warriors Don’t Cry Book Review

In 1957, Melba Pattillo Beals did not intend to make history. She simply wanted an education. But like every other African-American in the  Jim Crow south, she was considered to be second class and did not deserve the same education as her white peers.  A member of the of Little Rock Nine, she was one of the first African-American students to enroll at the historically all white Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Her memoir, Warriors Don’t Cry, was last updated in 2007. Told in a first person, the reader is taken directly into the writer’s head and experiences the Civil Rights Movement through Ms. Beals’s perspective and memories.

The main message I got from reading this book is that it doesn’t take place in another world and another era. It takes place in America, not too long ago. If nothing else, it is a stark reminder of the ugly underbelly of American culture and how we must continue to fight for the equality of all citizens. Ms. Beals got the ball rolling, it is of the utmost importance that we continue what she and the other members of the Little Rock Nine started.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

 

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Thoughts On Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, we remember the millions of victims were killed simply for who they were.

I count myself among the lucky ones. My family has been in this country for more than a century. My great grandparents left Europe in the early 20th century, looking for a better life for themselves and their families in America. My grandparents were born in this country, I am a third generation Jewish American. But that does not exempt me from The Holocaust. Most of the family that my great grandparents left behind were slaughtered.

In the late 1970’s, one of my mother’s uncles added his grandfather, my great-great grandfather to the list of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem.

While I will go about my business today, my heart will be breaking a little.

May the memory of those killed be a blessing and a reminder of what happens when we forget that the person next to us is first and foremost just another human being.

Never again.

 

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Flashback Friday-United 93 (2006)

Among the heartache and tragedy that is September 11th, stories of heroism shine through the darkness. One of those stories is the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93.

The 2006 film, United 93, is the story of their heroism as they fought against their hijackers. While they lost their lives in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, they saved countless others in Washington D.C. by preventing the terrorists from reaching their intended destination. With a cast that includes David Alan Basche playing real life hero Todd Beamer,  the film is told in real-time from the moment the passengers get on the plane, until it crashes, killing everyone aboard.

If there was ever a 9/11 movie that keeps the tension tight until the credits roll while breaking the hearts of the audience, this film is it.

I recommend it.

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