Category Archives: New York City

The Room on Rue Amelie Book Review

When we make a choice, we never know what the consequences of that decision will be. We can only hope that it will turn out for the best.

In Kristin Harmel‘s 2018 book, The Room on Rue Amelie, Ruby is a young woman in the late 1930’s. Attending college in New York City, she meets and instantly falls in love with Marcel, a Frenchman from Paris. After the wedding, they move to Marcel’s hometown. At first it seems as they are in newlywedded bliss. But then World War II starts and their marriage is forever altered. The man she married and the man who stands in front of her are two different people.

After he is killed, Ruby discovers that her husband was part of the resistance. Picking up where he left off, she hides Allied soldiers who have landed in enemy territory. One of them is a RAF pilot who Ruby immediately connects with. She also takes in Charlotte, the young daughter of her Jewish neighbors who have been arrested. As the war continues on, the level of danger grows tenfold. They know they want to survive, but fate may have other plans.

I really enjoyed this book. Harmel’s story of love, resistance, fate, and hope is emotional and powerful. The relationship that kept me going was the one between Ruby and Charlotte. Their sisterly bond was the strongest among the characters, keeping them both going in a time when their circumstances could have easily broken them.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, New York City

The Nanny Character Review: C.C. Babcock

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. 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.

When we fall in love, we hope and expect that the person we love will love us back. But, that is not always the case. On The Nanny, C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane) has been romantically chasing her widower business partner, Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) since the death of his wife. To her chagrin and the delight of Niles (Daniel Davis), Maxwell falls for and marries Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), his children’s nanny.

A socialite and the daughter of divorced parents, C.C. took every opportunity she had as a child to be spoiled. When she enters the Sheffield house, she is greeted by her less than favorite sparring partner, Niles. He takes pleasure in mocking her about her age, her lack of a romantic partner, and most importantly, her numerous failures to turn her business partner into her life partner.

Things change between C.C. and Niles when their game of “top that” insults turn into lust. That lust turns into love, a marriage proposal, and a baby. When we last see C.C., she and Niles follow Max and Fran to California and his new television producing job.

To sum it up: When the one we love rejects us, we have two choices. Choice #1 is to do fight to get them back. Choice #2 is to accept what has happened and move on. Though C.C. eventually accepts that she will never be Maxwell’s other half, it takes her a while to get there.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City

The Parting Glass Book Review

Within an upper-class or aristocratic household, the relationship between a member of the family and their valet or lady’s maid is a unique one. Though they are employer and employee, there is an emotional and physical bond that has the potential to go beyond the traditional bounds of the relationship.

The Parting Glass, by Gina Marie Guadagnino, was published in 2019. In the 1830s, in New York City, Mary Ballard’s job is that of lady’s maid to Charlotte Walden, one of the most sought-after young women in society. But Mary is not who she says she is. Her real name is Maire O’Farren. Maire is an Irish immigrant who was forced to leave her homeland after being caught in a compromising position. On her nights off, she frequents the unseemly parts of the city, where she gets involved with a prostitute and drinks with friends who are part of an underground society.

Maire/Mary is caught in a bind. She is in love with her mistress, who is having an affair with Maire/Mary’s brother. When the shit hits the fan, she has a choice to make, which has the potential to result in heartbreak.

Starts at 13:22

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the concept of the narrative, blending a traditional historical novel with an LGBTQ protagonist and the reality of what it was to be an Irish immigrant during that time period. Though the middle of the story lags at moments, the ending is fantastic, and the details are nothing short of perfection.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, New York City

Thoughts On the West Side Story Trailer

Among the thousands of stories that have been written throughout humanity’s history, there is a reason that some have come down through the generations while others have been forgotten. Romeo and Juliet is one of these tales.

On Sunday, the trailer for the West Side Story reboot was released.

I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but this trailer is just what I need to entice me to see the movie when it comes out in December. The colors are bright and inviting. Director Steven Spielberg was wise enough to honor the original 1961 film via some of the visual aspects and hire Rita Moreno, who played Anita. Moreno singing “Somewhere” in the trailer is the perfect link between both adaptations.

If nothing else, the release of West Side Story is timely. Given what is going on in our country and our world these days, we need a reminder that love is possible, if we are willing to do the work.

West Side Story will be in theaters December 10th, 2021.

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The Vandalization of Those Synagogues in NYC Will Not Change My Faith

Hate is akin to an insidious disease. It takes over you, changing everything about your world and how you see it.

Over the weekend, four different synagogues were vandalized in the Bronx in New York City.

Whomever these people are, if they think that this act will scare me into changing my faith, they have another thing coming. I could go on, but I am going to let two wise men speak instead. Their truths are more powerful than anything I could ever write.

Pin by Cheryl Harris-dowling on Inspirational quotes | Yoda quotes, Fear  leads to anger, Fear quotes

Though I am sure that the justice system will do it’s job, it may not be enough to change the perspective of the perpetrators. I say, drop them in Auschwitz for a night. Let the spirits of those who were murdered teach the ultimate lesson.

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Filed under New York City, Star Wars, William Shakespeare

Stabler Told Benson He Loved Her: The Jaw Drop Ensues

For the last twenty two years, the partnership of Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) on Law & Order: SVU (and it’s off shoot, Law & Order: Organized Crime) has been the favorite of fans across the world. Somewhere between being pseudo-siblings and besties, their relationship was reason we came back week after week.

Last week, a bomb was dropped that no one saw coming.

I have no idea where the story is going for the rest of the season, but that moment was one for the books.

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15 People Were Shot in NYC This Weekend

When we talk about gun control, we generally talk about mass shootings. We don’t talk about individuals were injured or killed in this same manner.

This weekend, there were 15 people shot in 14 separate incidents in New York City. It is only Sunday morning. We still have another 12 hours or so before it is over.

In my mind, there are two equally important questions in this case.
  1. Where is Mayor de Blasio? What is he doing to keep us safe? Apparently nothing. Anyone living in the city knows that this is his last term in office. But that does not mean that he can be a limp noodle and rest on his laurels. He is still in charge and can affect change. Between sharp uptick of violent crimes and the attacks on the AAPI community, it makes me wonder if my sense of safety is nothing more than one incident away from being destroyed completely.
  2. Where are these weapons coming from? Most of them do not originate within NYC borders. Due to the fact that gun control laws vary from state to state, they can be transported from another part of the country. Which is another reason why a nationally recognized standard of vetting who can own a gun is vitally important.

I wish that I lived in a city and a country in which I would not turn on the news and be told that someone else in the hospital or in the morgue because they were killed by a gun. But until we have the balls to finally do something about it, this will continue to be a regular headline.

P.S. I hope this post does not deter any future visitors from spending time here, it is merely written out of frustration.

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The Nanny Character Review: Niles

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. 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.

In the old days, the household staff in the homes of the wealthy were background players. They were expected to do their jobs quietly and efficiently, while remaining away from the spotlight. On The Nanny, Niles (Danny Davis) is the opposite of the traditional servant. Snarky, outspoken, a snoop, and a smartass, he is not above making a comment that others in his position would keep to themselves.

Having worked for Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) as his butler for decades, Niles feels protective of the family he serves. His best friend is Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), who works for Mr. Sheffield as his children’s nanny. He also takes pleasure is mocking C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), Mr. Sheffield’s business partner whose many attempts to romance Maxwell have backfired.

Towards the end of the series, Niles comes to realize that the insults he has been flinging at C.C. are really flirting. When the insults turn into a kiss, it is a realization that is both hilarious and completely out of left field. When it comes to his boss and Fran, he has been rooting for them for years while undermining C.C. in claiming Maxwell for herself. Niles is also known for having a snack handy when Fran’s mother, Sylvia, (Renee Taylor) comes to visit.

To sum it up: We’ve all seen the compliant and complementary butler whose vocabulary ends with “yes sir” or “no ma’am”. While these characters are fine to watch, they’re boring. Niles shakes up the servant character, showing that there can be much more than the stock perception that many of us have of this role.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Throwback Thursday: Runaway Bride (1999)

When we pictures our wedding day, we picture a happily married couple, ready to spend their lives together. The image that does not come to mind is the bride leaving her groom at the altar.

In the 1999 film, Runaway Bride, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) is engaged for the 4th time. Having dumped her previous fiancés on the day they were supposed to say “I do”, she is now engaged to local high school coach Bob Kelly (Chris Meloni). Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a reporter from New York who has heard about this supposed “runaway bride” from a colleague. Smelling a potential story, Ike decides to visit the small town in Maryland that Maggie calls home.

Using charm and writers intuition, Ike is able to get the scoop on his latest subject before she can convince her friends and family to keep their mouths shut. Along the way, Ike falls for Maggie and she begins to develop feelings for him. The impending question is, will she go through with the wedding and if she does not, how does Ike play a role in her 4th avoidance of the big day?

As romantic comedies go, this movie is pretty standard. But what makes it stand out is the re-pairing of Gere and Roberts. Almost a decade after Pretty Woman was released, it is their chemistry and on screen compatibility that slightly elevates it above others in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, New York City, Throwback Thursday

Where is the Justice for Sarah Halimi?

Justice, in theory, should be blind. However, that does not mean that a murderer should be allowed to walk free.

In April of 2017, Sarah Halimi was murdered simply because she was a Jew. The man accused of killing her was acquitted because he was on drugs.

The accused, a Muslim man originally from Mali, is said to have Allahu Akbar as he took Mrs. Halimi’s life. Before I go any further, I must stress that I am not saying that every member of the Muslim faith is anti-Semitic, just as not every Jew holds anti-Islamic views. There are many in both faiths who just wants to live their lives, the faith of the stranger standing next to them is unimportant.

But the thing that bothers me is that this man got off because he was high. That is a flimsy excuse and in my mind, an easy out for the French justice system. Instead of addressing both the drug issue and the fact that this was a hate crime, they chose to ignore the fact that Mrs. Halimi was only targeted because she was Jewish. Had this not been the case, she would be alive today.

My heart goes out to her family. May her memory forever a blessing. Z”L.

P.S. There will be protest vigil today at 1PM at the French Embassy in New York City.

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Filed under International News, New York City, World News