Category Archives: New York City

Ask Dr. Ruth Movie Review

Though sex and sexuality is part and parcel of human nature, it is often viewed as something dangerous and wrong.

For decades, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth), has been America’s sex therapist. The 2019 Hulu documentary movie, Ask Dr. Ruth, tells her story. Born in 1928 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Germany, everything was normal for the first ten years of her life. When it became clear that being a Jew in Germany was dangerous, Ruth (then known by her first name, Karola) was sent to Switzerland on the Kindertransport.

At the age of 17, she emigrated to what was then British controlled Palestine (pre-Independence Israel) and joined the Haganah. Years later, she again emigrated to the United States. Living in New York City, she married, raised her two children and became the woman we know her to be today.

The thing I love about her is that at nearly 100 years old, she has the energy of a woman half her age. She represents hope, life, change, and that a woman can never be limited to what she can do because she is “female”. Her presence first on the radio and then on television, helped to open the door to long overdue conversations about sex and sexuality.

I absolutely recommend it.

Ask Dr. Ruth is available for streaming on Hulu.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminism, History, Hulu, Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Closing NYC Public Schools Due to Covid-19: Damned if You do, Damned if You Don’t

There are some situations which come down to one phrase: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. One of these is Covid-19.

In New York City, the threshold for closing schools due to a rise in Covid-19 cases is 3%. That threshold was met this week. As of today, all public school students and teachers will switch to remote learning until the Monday after Thanksgiving. The response from students, parents, and educators was swift and furious.

I can’t disagree with their anger. Though the city has been watching the numbers with concern this week, the Covid figures coming from inside the schools system have been lower than the city overall. The announcement seemed to come out of nowhere, creating chaos and confusion. The anger also comes from the fact that some businesses are still open (at least for the time being).

This is a problem in which there are no easy answers and many opinions. There will always be someone who is unhappy with whatever path officials choose to take. What we all have to realize is that for now, this is our normal. It sucks to say the least, but until we are all vaccinated, we must the cards we are dealt.

1 Comment

Filed under National News, New York City

I Am Woman Movie Review

It’s easy to get on a soapbox and rail against whatever one feels is wrong with the world. But sometimes, it takes art and music to give that needed change life.

I Am Woman premiered last year. Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, and Danielle Macdonald, the movie tells the story of the late singer Helen Reddy. The narrative begins in 1963. Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a single mother with a dream of signing a recording contract. Originally from Australia, she is currently living in New York City. Making a living as a lounge singer, it looks like her dream is just that.

Her fate changes when she meets music journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) and wannabe talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters). Lillian inspires Helen to write her iconic song “I Am Woman“. Jeff straddles to the dual role of husband and manager.

It looks like Helen has everything she has ever wanted. But fame and the constant grind of work begins to take a toll on her private life. Jeff becomes an addict, forcing Helen to take a hard look at her life.

The thing about a movie or television biopic is that it can feel dry and predictable. The womb to tomb story arc has been done to death. But this movie is neither dry or predictable. It is entertaining, charming, and most of all inspiring. I love that the filmmakers wove in their protagonist’s story with the burgeoning second wave of feminism in the 1970’s.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

I Am Woman is streaming on Netflix.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminism, History, Movie Review, Movies, Music, Netflix, New York City

Manifest Character Review: Zeke Landon

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

*I apologize about missing a week. Life, as it sometimes does, got in the way.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series ManifestRead 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 times of hardship, it is sometimes hard to see that good things are coming to us. But, as cliché as it sounds, a curse can turn into a blessing.

On Manifest, Zeke Landon (Matt Long) has had a hard life. When he is fifteen, his younger sister dies when the family is on a camping trip in Upstate New York. Unable to properly grieve for his sister, Zeke numbs his pain via drugs and alcohol. Then his father leaves the family and he gets involved into a relationship that is mutually destructive.

Eleven years later, Zeke has returned to the town where his sister lost her life. While chatting with a local shop owner about flight 828, his eye is drawn to the picture of Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh), one of the missing passengers on the flight. After leaving the shop, his plan for an easy hike is derailed by a blizzard. To stay warm, he burns everything he can. But he saves her picture just an earthquake strikes. Instead of trying to escape, he travels to the future.

When he is finally able to leave the cave, the callings tell him to find Michaela. What Zeke does not know that the callings are driving Michaela and her nephew Cal (Jack Messina) to find him as well. When they finally meet, they discover that the callings are bringing them together. But before their relationship can begin in earnest, he must contend with his past, the mysterious force that has brought them together, and Michaela’s jealous ex Jared Vazquez (J.R. Ramirez).

But in the end, all of that was worth it when Zeke and Michaela walk down the aisle as husband and wife.

To sum it up: The truth is that it is sometimes darkest before the dawn. But no matter how hopeless it seems, the light is still there no matter how faint. In following Zeke’s character arc, the audience can see that he is struggling with multiple issues that would easily kill someone else with a weaker emotional constitution. But there is just enough hope to keep Zeke alive and to lead him to a hopefully bright future.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

This will be the last character review post for Manifest. Come back next week for the next set of characters I will be reviewing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television

Throwback Thursday: Ghost Town (2008)

Since the beginning of humanity, we have wondered what happens when we die. This curiosity has opened the door for to creative answers to this very interesting and deep question.

Back in 2008, Ricky Gervais starred as Bertram Pincus in the movie Ghost Town. Living in New York City, Bertram’s social skills are lacking, to say the least. Then he dies suddenly, only to be revived seven minutes later. His return to the living is coupled with the new ability to see and speak to those who have passed.

The problem is that the ghosts he is now seeing all need something from him. Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) is one of the dead who Bertram is in communication with. Frank wants him to stop his widow, Gwen (Tea Leoni) from re-marrying.

The score on Rotten Tomatoes for this movie is 85. Personally, I don’t get it. The narrative is standard for a rom-com, but Gervais is far from my favorite actor.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Leave a comment

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

WFH Office on the East River is Brilliant

Before Covid-19, working from home for some of us happened only occasionally. Since March, those of us who are still employed and can work from home have adjusted to a much shorter commute.

But, there is a catch. Parents have had to balance their jobs while making sure that their children continue to receive a decent education. Which as any number of parents have attested to over the last few months, is far from easy.

The comedy group Improv Everywhere decided to do their own spin on the topic on New York City’s East River.

This is a brilliant idea. Whomever came up with it is a genius. It’s nice to know that even in these difficult times, we can still laugh and find a reason to smile.

Thanks, Improv Everywhere.

1 Comment

Filed under National News, New York City

The Debate on Thursday Did Not Change My Mind

As we get ever close the November 3rd, the question of who wins the election looms ever larger. As early voting has begun, the debate on Thursday was aimed at the voter who has not yet entered the ballot box and/or remains undecided.

I can say that as one who voted today, my mind has not changed. Though you know who made some semi-decent arguments, their power was diminished. Biden owning up to his imperfect past took some of the air out of the accusations. Unlike you know who, he is both willing and able to be a man and admit that in hindsight, some decisions were not wise.

If there was anything that stood out to me, it was the way both candidates spoke. Biden spoke to the camera and to the American people. It was not about him and what he has or has not done. It was about us and what he would do for us as President.

You know who made more than enough “I” statements. If he was not whining about the supposed mistreatment he has received, he boasted about his “accomplishments”.

The one thing that made me laugh was his comment about his “beloved” NYC. Though he left in a huff last year, he now claims that he loves the city.

My hope (and my fervent prayer) is that in January, this country starts on the path to a state of semi-normalcy. That path can only be created when Joe Biden is President.

#BidenHarris2020

Leave a comment

Filed under National News, New York City, Politics, Television

Manifest Character Review: Saanvi Bahl

*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 ManifestRead 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.

Strictly speaking, science is neither bad nor good. It is merely a tool that can be molded to the needs whomever is using it. On Manifest, Saanvi Bahl (Parveen Kaur) is one of the passengers on Flight 828. She is a medical researcher focusing on finding a cure for leukemia. Her laptop is destroyed when the plane is hit by turbulence.

When the plane finally lands five and a half years later, Saanvi discovers that the research she completed prior to getting on the flight has saved lives. She also learns that Cal Stone (Jack Messina) is also cancer free. Curious as to how and why the flight contributed to his sudden remission, Saanvi dives deep into further research with the help of Cal’s father, Ben (Josh Dallas). She also experiences “the callings”, similar to those of other passengers on the flight.

Her work does not go unnoticed. The Major (Elizabeth Marvel) has plans to use the information that Saanvi uncovered. She has the will and the means to obtain the data using less then honorable methods. Saanvi is also targeted by those who believe in conspiracy theories about the people on 828.

If that was not enough, her personal life is a mess. Saanvi was supposed to be traveling with her girlfriend, Alex Bates (Sydney Morton). But Alex never made it to the airport.

To sum it up: There are never one set of challenges in life. Most if not all of us are juggling issues from both our personal and professional lives. It is how we handle what is our plate that matters. What I like about Saanvi is that she forges ahead, regardless of who or what stands in her way. It would be easy to give up, but she doesn’t. Her determination is a lesson that I think we all could learn from.

That is why she is a memorable character.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television

Manifest Character Review: Jared Vasquez

*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 ManifestRead 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 a perfect world, romantic love would be a simple thing. But love, like life, is never simple. On Manifest, Jared Vasquez (J.R. Ramirez) thought he had it all. His career as an NYC detective was thriving and he was in love with Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh). Though he had proposed, she had yet to give him an answer. Promising a response when she returned from a family vacation, he waited for her. Then the plane she was on disappeared and Michaela, like other passengers, were presumed to be dead.

For the first two years, his romantic life was static. Then Jared dated and married Lourdes (Victoria Cartagena), Michaela’s best friend. When the plane landed and he discovered that Michaela was still alive, he reveals that his feelings are unchanged.

But there are complications. The first is that Jared is still a married man. The second is Zeke Landon (Matt Long), a mysterious man with connections to the passengers and a checkered past. Letting his jealousy take over, their fight results in a gun going off. Michaela is hit.

Over the next few months, Jared simultaneously acts via his jealousy while protecting Michaela from those who questionable motives towards her and the other passengers. But in the end, he backs off, realizing that he needs to let her go.

To sum it up: Sometimes love means letting go. Watching Michaela walk into the sunset with another man is the hardest thing that Jared has done. But he knows that it is the only thing he can do.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Life, New York City, Television

Flashback Friday: L’Chayim (1979-Present)

Issues of religion and politics require a cool head and the ability to direct the conversation in a way that does not cause strife.

In 1979, L’Chayim made it’s debut as a radio talk show on WMCA, a local New York City radio station. Hosted by Rabbi Mark S. Golub, the topics discussed on the program are those of importance to the Jewish community. Back in 1990, the program switched from radio to television and presently airs on The Jewish Channel.

It goes without saying that it a very niche program with a specific audience. I’ve seen a few episodes of this show. It is one of the programs that I will watch while flipping through the channels on a weekend afternoon. While it is fine to watch while killing time, L’Chayim is not one of the programs that I would label as “must see TV”.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flashback Friday, New York City, Television, TV Review