Category Archives: Life

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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Thoughts on Yom Kippur 2021

If there is one thing we all take for granted, it is life itself. Then we are reminded how quickly we can go.

Tomorrow night is the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Jews around the world will fast for 25 hours and pray that our creator writes us in the book of life for another year.

Between the more than 600,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19 and the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this past weekend, the reminder that life is precious has been more than obvious.

One of the most important prayers is called U’Netaneh Tokef. One of the passages in the prayer is as follows:

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

Yesterday, death came close to home. To say that I am grieving and shocked is an understatement. A friend passed away. I haven’t seen her since before the pandemic and have only spoken to her once since last Spring. Now I wish I had stayed in touch. We need to tell the ones we love how we feel when they are here, not when they are gone.

Z”L my friend. RIP.

To everyone fasting, have an easy fast and may you be written into the book of life for another year.

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I Don’t Want to Die Poor: Essays Book Review

When we are young, many of us are told getting a college degree after high school is a must. There is truth in that statement. Without that degree, our career potential and possible income is stuck in the mud. But there is another truth that is often ignored. College is expensive and getting more expensive with every passing year. Our young people are graduating with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans that seems impossible to get rid of.

Writer Michael Arceneaux is one of these people. In his 2020 book, I Don’t Want to Die Poor: Essays, he talks about his own student loan debt and how it has affected his life so far. He discusses being both black and gay, trying to earn a living while making ridiculous payments, and going after your dreams.

I really loved this book. He is funny, charming, and authentic. I found myself laughing, crying, and knowing exactly what he was going through. I remember being in my twenties and having the college debt hanging over my head. Thankfully, it was relatively low and I had help in paying it off. Not everyone can say that.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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I Appreciate Sha’Carri Richardson’s Maturity

The mark of an adult, in my opinion, is the ability to admit when one has made a mistake and accept the consequences.

On Friday, Olympic hopeful Sha’Carri Richardson spoke to The Today Show, She apologized for drug use that led to her one month suspension from competing in the trials for this month’s Olympics.

I admire Ms. Richardson for accepting her punishment with grace and maturity. While I understand that she was grieving for her mother, what she did was wrong. Instead of taking a tantrum (unlike a certain former President) in public, she put on her big girl pants, and let the chips fall where they may.

It is a lesson we can all learn, regardless of how old or young we are.

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Let’s Talk About Hard Things Book Review

Hard conversations are hard for a reason. But until we have them, we cannot overcome the reason for the conversation.

The new book, Lets Talk About Hard Things, by Anna Sale (host of the WNYC podcast Death, Sex, and Money) was published earlier this month. Based on the podcast, Ms. Sale goes deeper into the difficult topics that we need to go over, but for a variety of reasons, keep inside of us. Talking about death, sex, money, family, and identity (all of which are complicated), she allows both her readers and the people she interviews to release what is holding them back and living a fulfilling life.

I loved this book. The author is as amiable and authentic on the page as she is on the show. Her approach is a gentle one, opening the door and allowing a confessional style interview that feels like two friends meeting for drinks, not a journalist speaking to an interviewee.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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The Art of Inventing Hope: Intimate Conversations with Elie Wiesel Book Review

There is something about a shared life experience. Instead of small talking and playing the “getting to know you” game, there is an immediate understanding and shorthand between those who share said experiences.

In 2019, journalist Howard Reich published his memoir about his friendship with the late Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel. It is entitled The Art of Inventing Hope: Intimate Conversations with Elie Wiesel. Reich, whose parents both survived the Holocaust, sat down with Wiesel for what was supposed to be a standard interview. Instead of it being a one-and-done experience, Reich and Wiesel became friends and were in frequent contact with each other during the latter’s last four years of life.

This book is excellent. Though Reich and Wiesel have an innate grasp of each other, it is not so exclusive the reader cannot feel like they are part of the conversation. What I liked about the memoir is that one does not have to be a 2G or 3G (the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors) to understand that trauma can be transferred to younger generations. What is important is that the story is told and spoken of in such a manner that shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Elizabeth and Margaret: Love and Loyalty Review

If we are lucky, the people we are closest to we are our siblings. But even a relationship born and solidified in childhood can be altered by events that occur in adulthood.

The 2020 Netflix documentary, Elizabeth and Margaret: Love and Loyalty, is about the complicated dynamics between Queen Elizabeth II and her late younger sister, Princess Margaret. Before ascending to the Throne of England, their father, the future King George VI, was the spare. His older brother David, known during his brief time on the throne as Edward III, was the heir to the throne. When David chose love over duty, Elizabeth and Margaret’s life forever changed.

Their father and mother were now King and Queen. Elizabeth, as the heir presumptive and Margaret, the new spare, would have a completely different life. Elizabeth lived and breathed duty. Her life was on the straight and narrow. Margaret was the rebellious wild child, sometimes submitting to the responsibilities of being a working royal and other times living on her own terms.

I really enjoyed this documentary. What struck me was that underneath the titles, the jewels, and the castles was an ordinary relationship between two sisters who were trying to navigate extraordinary circumstances. Though that bond was tested many times over the years, it was never broken.

Do I recommend? Absolutely.

Elizabeth and Margaret: Love and Loyalty is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Don’t Give Up: An uplifting video interview with Erin Walter, lead singer of band, Parker Woodland

Hear; Let's Listen

Album cover art from Parker Woodland’s 2019 EP The World’s On Fire (and We Still Fall in Love).

Earlier this month, I chatted with Erin Walter, lead singer of Austin, Texas punk-rock band Parker Woodland. From our conversation, I learned that virtual performances have made the touring process for musicians more comfortable. However, due to the increased accessibility of putting on remote performances, virtual tours can also quickly increase fatigue. Musicians can tire from balancing work and performance – even when it is all being completed from their home. Thus, Erin encourages self-care and taking breaks when necessary. Erin says, “To all the creative folks out there, take it one step at a time, rest when you need to rest, and don’t give up. Get your art out there when you are able. Whatever your timeline is, that is the right time.”

My conversation with Erin indeed raised my…

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Young Rock and Kenan Reviews

A pilot of a new series is akin to the first chapter of a book. Whether or not a viewer keeps watching is often dependent on how they feel about this new world they have been introduced to.

Last night, two new shows premiered on NBC, Young Rock and Kenan.

The premise of Young Rock is that The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) is running for President in 2032. He sits down with an interviewer to tell his story.

On Kenan (Kenan Thompson) the title character is a television host and a recent widower living in Atlanta. Supported by his brother, Gary (Chris Redd) and his father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson), he is attempting to put his life together after his wife’s passing.

I told myself that I wanted to give both shows on a shot. Now that I have, I can move on. Young Rock is boring and Kenan is just a modern reboot of Full House.

Do I recommend them? No.

Kenan and Young Rock air consecutively at 8:00 and 8:30 on NBC on Tuesday.

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SNL’s Zillow Sketch Speaks the Truth

The American dream has always been a version of the following: owning one’s home, happily married, raising healthy and content children, and perhaps owning a pet.

But for some of us who are part of the millennial generation, the dream is just that.

The Zillow sketch that aired on Saturday Night Live over the weekend speaks of the painful truth.

The professional and social security net that our parents and grandparents knew does not exist anymore. Decades ago, it was not uncommon to get a job straight of school, stay in that job for decades, and retire comfortably in one’s fifties or sixties. With that steady income, homeownership was almost guaranteed.

For most adults under a certain age, this is a pipe dream. Due to any number of factors (which Covid has only made worse), the job market has ebbs and flows, creating highs and lows when it comes to employment numbers. The housing market is worse. According to experts, one’s rent or mortgage should be no more than 30% of their monthly bills.

I would love for that to be the case. I don’t know about other housing markets, but in New York City, some homes cost millions of dollars. The 30% rule is already out the window when the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment is the same as a mortgage on a four-bedroom house with a large plot of land and a driveway outside of the city.

The skit was not meant (in my mind at least) to shame Zillow (or any real estate company). It simply pointed out that for many people, home ownership is being their reach and will never come to fruition.

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