Category Archives: Thoughts On….

Thoughts On the Persuasion Trailer

If I were to rank Jane Austen‘s novels, Persuasion would be on the top of my list. This story of second chances is one that over 200 years later still hits readers in the heart and sends a few tears down our cheeks.

The trailer for the newest adaptation of the book was released earlier this week.

The film stars Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth, and Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot. For those unaware, the plot is as follows: eight years before the book starts Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth were young, in love, and newly engaged. She was persuaded to end their relationship due to his lack of status and income. Cut to the present and Anne is still single, still hurting from her decision. Wentworth is back in her life. He is a war hero, wealthy, and considered to be a catch. He is also still bitter from their breakup.

I would love to say that I am jumping for joy, but I have a few reservations. I am going to try to keep my concerns at bay because this is only the trailer. Trailers don’t always match up with the full movie.

  1. The dialogue in the scenes that we see so far seems to be loosely taken from the original text. Maybe it’s the Janeite in me, but I would prefer the wording to be as it is in the novel. To paraphrase her brilliant writing (especially in a reboot set in the Regency era) could be seen as a shanda (disgrace).
  2. The casting of Dakota Johnson as Anne. I have nothing against Johnson. I have a bias against American actors playing lead characters in Austen adaptations. It goes back to the casting of Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1996 Emma. Her portrayal of the character rubbed me the wrong way. But who knows, maybe Johnson will prove me wrong.
  3. Her hair should not be down unless it is either the beginning or the end of the day. Only young girls wore their hair loose. By the time they got to their mid to late teens, their hair was up. On a side note, that was my only beef with Sanditon. Charlotte Heywood’s (Rose Williams) hair should have been up.
  4. It comes off a little too rom-com-like. I like a romantic comedy as much as the next person, but Persuasion is not and has never been one. To turn this story into a rom-com is a double shanda and sure to turn off the fanbase.

On the upside, we see the early romance between Anne and Frederick. In previous film versions, the audience is only told about this experience.

That being said, I am willing to have an open mind and not condemn the film before it is released.

Persuasion will drop on Netflix on July 15th.

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Thoughts On the Andor Trailer

The hero’s journey is a fascinating tale. From where they start to where they end requires courage, a belief in the path they are taking, and the innate trust that everything will work out in the end.

The trailer for the new DisneyPlus Star Wars series, Andor dropped last week. The program follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he goes on a path that will lead him to the rebellion in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

As usual, DisneyPlus and Lucasfilm are keeping the details close to the vest. What I see so far, I like. Cassian is such a fascinating character that I am curious to see where the story goes.

Andor premiers on August 31st, 2022 on DisneyPlus.

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Thoughts On the Discontinuation of the iPod

The technology of a certain era can tell us a lot about the world in which it existed.

In the early 2000s, Apple released the iPod. This little device changed the music industry, allowing fans to pick and choose which songs they wanted to buy and/or listen to. Last week, the company announced that the product is being discontinued.

I bought my iPod more than ten years ago. It lasted until earlier this year when the battery died and I had to replace it. I’m not one of those people who, technology-wise, is brand loyal only to Apple. I’m more of a mix and match kind of person. What I love about this device is its simplicity, its ingenuity, and how much it can do than simply play music.

I came into this world in the early 1980s, when records were still king. By the time I was in junior high in the early 1990s, everyone was listening to music via tapes. Flash forward another ten years and CDs were giving way to mp3s and other early forms of digital music. When I was in college, Napster and LimeWire were the rage, even if their legal footing was on shaky ground.

Saying goodbye to the iPod is not going to be easy. It represents not just a generational change in technology, but also how our world has changed overall in the last twenty years or so.

RIP iPod, thanks for the years and the memories.

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Thoughts on Yom HaShoah in 2022

Today is Yom HaShoah. Instead of rehashing points that have already been said, I’m going to let history speak for itself.

May the memories of the six million (my own relations included) be a blessing and a warning for future generations.

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Thoughts On the Latest Health/Political News: The Fourth Covid Shot, Insulin Prices, and NYC Celebrities Vaccine Mandate Exception

At the end of the day, our health is our most important asset. Without it, nothing else matters.

Last week, one of the bills that Congress was scheduled to vote on was the possible reduction of the price of insulin. Americans living with diabetes can potentially spend up to $1,000 a month on the drug. If the bill had passed, the cost would have been capped at $35 a month. As expected, some members of the Republican party voted against it.

I hate to use the word “hypocrite” because it is overused when it comes to the GOP. But there is no other way to describe them. We are not talking about a bottle of aspirin that is opened occasionally due to a headache. The choice between taking lifesaving medication and keeping a roof over your head/food on the table should not be necessary. Anyone with even a modicum of human decency would recognize that.

In Covid-19 news, the CDC has announced a new recommendation for a fourth shot. At this point, the priority is people over the age of fifty or anyone of any age who is immunocompromised. But we should all get it eventually. I get it, this virus is still new. But a fourth shot? Does this mean that we will have to get one every six months for the rest of our lives?

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced two weeks ago that performers and athletes are exempt from the vaccine mandate. While I understand the economic benefits, it feels like it is half-finished. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The basketball player making the winning jump shot at Madison Square Garden and/or the actor taking the final bow at the end of the Broadway show should have the same status as a member of the cleaning crew. It just creates a bad taste in the proverbial mouth and reinforces the class status.

We forget that our health is paramount, until, for many of us, it is too late. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to remind us of this fact. It is a reminder that we can never forget.

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Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

You never forget the first female TV character that inspires you to become a badass.

March 10th was the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was more than your standard coming-of-age high school drama. The supernatural elements were an allegory for the messy and very complicated experience of being a teenager. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has more to deal with than grades, boys, and friends. She is the Chosen One, the Slayer who has to save the world from all manners of evil that only exists in the very darkest of imaginations.

Writer and showrunner Joss Whedon (whose reputation has recently tanked due to his inability to act like a mature adult), took the allegory of growing up, added a few literal monsters, and in doing so, made the audience feel seen and understood. We related to Buffy and her friends because they were just like us. The fact that she could kick butt and had to save the world was just the cherry on top.

What made the show appealing was more than its title character. The other people who populated this world added additional flavors and colors. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) was initially introduced as an unsure young woman trying to find her place in the world. By the time series ended, Willow had come out, both as a gay woman and a witch, lost the woman she loved, and grieved in a way that was representative of how powerful that loss was. Angel (David Boreanaz), was both Buffy’s antagonist as a vampire and her first love. After they slept together for the first time, he turned into Angelus, a villain of the first order. The analogy of sleeping with someone who then becomes someone unrecognizable was all too clear. Buffy’s mother, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) tries to understand what her daughter is going through. Like any good parent, she is doing the best she can. But that does not mean that she is fully comprehending who Buffy has become.

The reason why BVTS has lasted a quarter of a century and continues to appeal to young people is its ordinariness. Underneath the supernatural nature of the series was the everyday experience of becoming an adult and the pitfalls of that experience.

Happy Birthday, Buffy. Here’s to another 25 years.

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Thoughts On President Biden’s First Year in Office

The first year of any Presidential administration is always rocky, regardless of how much political experience the President and their team have. It is a transition that requires patience, understanding, and the knowledge that the road ahead is anything but smooth.

Last week, President Biden held a press conference marking his first full year in office. To say that it was a challenge is an understatement. Given the mess his predecessor left behind, I think we need to be a little more understanding.

Looking back, I think many of us expected Biden to twitch his nose and instantly undo the damage done by you know who. It is a task that by definition is impossible.

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The one thing that I think he has going for him is his ability to change course, genuinely listen, and apologize when necessary. I can’t say the same for he who shall not be named.

The one obstacle I see ahead of Biden and the Democrats overall is the 2022 midterms. Recent history tells us that the party in power loses its advantage in Congress every two years. The major problem this time around is that the Republicans have no problem crossing the moral lines to win elections. Michelle Obama‘s recommendation two years ago to go high when they go low will not work this time around.

We can’t completely stoop to their level, but getting a little dirty maybe the one thing that saves the nation and our Democratic model of government. If Biden wants to see his poll numbers climb and ensure that his party retains control, there are two things he must do.

  1. Get the Voting Rights legislation passed: I firmly believe that he won because he spoke to Americans who have been disenfranchised and promised to make it happen. We all know that not all promises made on the campaign trail come to fruition. But this one is the key to the future success of this administration.
  2. Kitchen table issues: Not only does he have to address the most basic of kitchen table issues, he has shout his accomplishments from the rooftops. The only way to win over Americans who believe he is doing a poor job is to reach them where they are. If they are gainfully employed with a good salary, prices are reasonable, etc, then they may finally see through the bullshit of the Republicans. Otherwise, we are facing political tumult like we have never seen before.

I wish I had a crystal ball. But I don’t. I can only hope that at some point in the near future, we can put this madness aside and return to some version of normal.

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Thoughts on Jane Austen’s Birthday

It takes a bold person to go against the grain.

In her own time, Jane Austen may not have appeared to go her own way. In her time, a woman’s job was to marry, bear children, and maintain the home. The only way to maintain her legal rights was to remain single. Upon saying “I do”, she and her husband were in the eyes of the law, one person. If she was lucky, she had a basic education, some sort of inheritance coming her way, and a male head out household who at least respected her wishes.

But she did, and in doing so, paved the way for future generations to do the same.

Her books may end in “happily ever after”, but they are so much more than that. She talks about how women are disenfranchised in her world. Marriage was not just about finding the right person. It was a business arrangement. But Austen does not just get on a soapbox. She uses her narratives to speak directly to her readers. Whether it was about family relationships, one’s potential or current spouse, or even silly gossip, her stories are timeless. It is those qualities that keep us coming back to her novels, even when we have read them more times than we can count.

Happy Birthday, Jane!

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Charging the Parents of the Oxford High School Shooters is Absolutely Necessary

Another week, another school shooting in America.

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old boy (who shall not be named in this post) walked into Oxford High School in Michigan and started shooting. He killed four classmates and wounded seven others.

This firearm was given to him by his parents as an early Christmas present less than a week before the massacre. His parents have been charged with four counts of homicide involuntary manslaughter. As of yesterday afternoon, they were absent from their court appearance.

Ryan Busse, a former executive from a major gun company, published his memoir recently. Introduced to weapons as a young man by his parents, he received a message very early on how dangerous they could be.

Though forcing the shooter’s parents into court will not bring back the teenagers who were killed, I am hoping that it sets a moral and legal precedent. They could have made it absolutely clear that there were caveats and responsibilities attached to this gift. Just as a sixteen-year-old is limited to where they can drive once they get their license, the rules about where and when he could use it should have been crystal clear.

Instead, his parents gave him carte blanche to do as he wanted and as a result, the lives of four families will never be the same.

Maybe the memories of these innocent souls forever be a blessing.

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Thoughts on the 3rd Anniversary of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

There is a joke about Jewish history: “they tried to kill us, we survived. Let’s eat”. But like any joke, there is a truth behind the laughter. Though we are still here, the collective emotional scar of the losses is still with us, even if it is generations after a specific event.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. To even type those words hurts. It could have happened in any synagogue in America. But this person chose to walk into Tree of Life and started shooting. What I remember about that day is the fear as I watched the news. I have not attended services reguarlarly in decades, but I have family who does. My initial fear was that this heinous act had reached my relatives. Thankfully, it didn’t.

The message that was sent did not need to be spoken. According to the gunman and those who think like him, we do not belong in this country. Our “differences” (which are merely on the surface) mark us for at best being questionable outsiders and at worst, put a target on our backs. I would love to say that in the three years since 11 innocent people were murdered, that this was the turning point away from hate and prejudice. Unfortunately, as we all know, it wasn’t.

May the memories of those killed that day be a blessing. Z”L.

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