Flashback Friday-Chopped Grill Masters (2012-Present)

For many people, nothing say summer like cooking via the grill. That of course, leads to another off shoot of the Food Network show Chopped.

Chopped Grill Masters premiered in 2012. The premise and format of this program is similar to that of it’s predecessor. The only difference is that the contestants are all professional grillers and it is held outside as a posed to be filmed in a kitchen with professional chefs.

I like this show, as I do all of the various incarnations of Chopped. While it is a reality show in the strictest sense of the word, it’s fascinating to watch. The competition by itself is enough to keep the viewer hooked, but the process of watching these pros create a meal is the icing on the cake for me.

I recommend it.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

Law & Order: SVU Character Review: Dr. George Huang

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. 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 us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Not every character can be the main character. Sometimes, a supporting character, who comes and goes as needed, is just as important as the main character. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Dr. George Huang (B.D. Wong) is not always on screen. But his input and advice in helping to solve the crime is as important as the detectives in the field.

Originally on loan from the FBI, Dr. Huang joined the SVU as the resident psychiatrist. Though he initially did not get on well with the detectives, the edges smoothed out as he became a respected member of the team. His job is to understand and explain the psychological motives of the victims and the accused to his detective colleagues.

However, there are cases in which Dr. Huang does not agree with the choices of the detectives or the D.A. This occurs when he agrees with the mental health diagnosis stated by the accused and their legal representation.

To sum it up: As a character, Dr. Huang stands out because even though the audience does not see him as often as the other characters, he is important. As writers, we have to remember that every character is important, regardless of whether they are the main character or a supporting character. It’s important to give them the spotlight, even if the spotlight is temporary.

Leave a comment

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

Sophia, Princess Among Beasts Book Review

In a traditional fairy tale, the princess/young female heroine is not an active character, in spite of being the lead character. She is a passive character, reacting to what is happening to her and waiting for someone else (i.e. the prince) to rescue her.

Sophia, Princess Among Beasts, co-written by James Patterson and Emily Raymond was released in July. Sophia is a teenage princess who loves books, her widower father and her people. Then her kingdom is invaded. Sophia is taken into a world in which beasts that only exist in storybooks live. Somehow, she must return to her world and save her kingdom from the coming invasion.

Initially, I didn’t know what to think of this book when I picked it up at the library last week. As a writer, I have heard of James Patterson, but I had yet to read any of his books until I started this one.

To say that I was impressed with the novel is an understatement. It is well written and has some predictable elements of the traditional fairy tale/fantasy genres. However, there are elements in the narrative that make the story stand out from the traditional fairy tale/fantasy story.

As a feminist and a writer, I appreciated Sophia’s story arc. She may start out as the typical fairy tale princess, but does not end the story as one would expect.

I recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism

Throwback Thursday- Smart House (1999)

In our technological driven age, a fully automated house seems like a dream come true. But dreams and reality don’t always mix.

In the 1999 Disney TV movie Smart House, Ben (Ryan Merriman) and his family have just won a fully automated house. The computer, known as Pat (Katey Sagal) seems easy enough to control. But when Ben starts tinkering with Pat, whatever plans Ben had go out the window.

Smart House is one of those TV movies that is meant for a specific audience. The problem is that unless your part of the desired demographic, this TV movie is neither memorable or entertaining.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Leave a comment

Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

The Wedding Date Book Review

A wedding is a joyous event. But for someone who is single, there can be one of two reactions. The first reaction is the excitement of meeting new people and perhaps meeting one’s own future romantic partner. The second reaction can be utter dread, a reminder of one singleness.

In Jasmine Guillory’s 2018 novel, The Wedding Date, Alexa and Drew meet in the the most ordinary of places: an elevator. When the power briefly goes out in the hotel they are staying in, Drew asks Alexa the oddest of questions: would she pretend to be his girlfriend at his ex’s wedding?

What starts as a pretend relationship builds first into a physical relationship and then something more. But Drew lives in Los Angeles and Alexa lives in Berkeley. Can they make this relationship work or will it end up as a relationship that was simply not meant to be?

I’ve read quite a few romance novels in my time. There problem with some romance novels is that the love story feels fake and the conflict feels forced. Thankfully, that is not the case with this book. I loved the story. I loved how funny, saucy, sexy and romantic the story is. I also loved how real Drew and Alexa felt.

I absolutely recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books

Walmart is Stepping Up and Will No Longer Sell Ammo For Assault Style Weapons

It seems these days that mass shootings have become just another headline.

While some politicians (I’m still looking at you, Mitch McConnell) refuse to do anything, the decision makers at Walmart have made an important step in the right direction.

As of yesterday, Walmart will be drastically reducing the ammunition for assault style rifles that in the past, customers have been able to purchase freely.

If I am to be honest here, I would prefer if they stopped selling guns and ammunition all together. However, the fact that they will be reducing their ammunition sales is not to be overlooked.

I have nothing against guns or the Second Amendment. If someone wants to buy guns because they hunt as a hobby or let off steam by going to a gun range, that is their business. But what is my business (and the business of every American) is the fact that too many of our citizens have been killed by mass shootings.

Back in 1989, the late President Ronald Reagan (R-California) made a statement about guns which I believe still rings true today.

If only the current Republican party would heed his words.

1 Comment

Filed under National News

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II Book Review

When it comes to Hollywood personalities, there are sometimes two people: the real person and the image crafted to sell tickets.

Audrey Hepburn is one of the most recognized and revered celebrities of Hollywood’s golden age. Movies such as Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady have endeared her to generations of film fans.

The new biography, Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, by Robert Matzen, tells the story of a portion of the late Ms. Hepburn’s life that is sometimes overlooked: her childhood during World War II. She was born in 1929 to a British father and an aristocratic Dutch mother. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her father left the family soon after and Audrey was raised by her mother.

When she was a pre-teen, World War II started. The Dutch believed that because their country was neutral during World War I, nothing would change. Little did they know how history would forever change their country and affect the future film icon that is Audrey Hepburn.

I loved this book. I was aware previously that Ms. Hepburn was a child during World War II, but I had no idea of how much the war would have a life long affect on her.

I absolutely recommend it.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Movies

Put the Blame Where it is Due and Not on Israel

When one gets to a certain age, the blame game become immature and a waste of time. It takes an adult to see that. Unfortunately, not all of us who are grown act like adults.

In the latest twist in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) blamed Israel for the honor killing of Israa Gharib. Her crime is that she was fraternizing with a man outside the bonds of marriage. In her world, this was a crime for which the only punishment is death. The men accused of killing her are her father and brothers.

I agree with Rep. Tlaib that toxic masculinity was responsible for Ms. Gharib’s death. She was not seen by the men closest to her as a flesh and blood creature with thoughts, feelings, ambitions, dreams and flaws. She was seen as an object to be used and sold in the name of marriage.

However, the blame for her death lands solely in the lap of her father and brothers. It has nothing to do with Israel.

The sooner Rep. Tlaib and the rest of the Israel haters recognize that, the sooner we will get to a legit and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminism, International News, World News

If You Must Read One Book This Labor Day, Read Common Sense and a Little Fire, Second Edition: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965

In the working world, there are certain things that we are used to: a reasonable wage, a set number of working hours, a safe working environment, etc. But it was not so long ago that it took mass protests and generations of union workers demanding their rights for these to happen.

If you must read one book this Labor Day, I highly recommend Common Sense and a Little Fire, Second Edition: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965 by Annelise Orleck. Telling the story of Rose Schneiderman, Fannia Cohn, Clara Lemlich Shavelson and Pauline Newman, Ms. Orleck tells the story of how four immigrant women created and defined the labor movement for their time and for our time.

I think this book is important to read, especially today, because many of us have off today. We take for granted the rights that we have as employees, especially those of us who are protected and supported by a union. In the time of the women whose stories are told in the book, joining a union and protesting at best meant being professionally blacklisted and at worst, meant a trip to the hospital after being beaten during a protest.

These four women and many others paved the way for the working world that many of us know of today. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing today, if you have a chance to read this book today, I highly recommend that you do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History

The Straight Pride Parade? Wow

It’s no secret that for most of American history (and human history), a minority has ruled the majority. This minority is the straight, White, Christian and (mostly) wealthy male minority. The rest of us have had to fight for our basic rights.

This weekend, a group of citizens decided to hold a parade in Boston. The name of the parade was the Straight Pride parade.

I suppose that the organizers see it as their version of the LGBTQ Pride parade. But this parade is nothing more than a statement of hate and reminding us who is still in charge.

We are thankfully living in an era in which those of us who have been disenfranchised have rights and opportunities that previous generations had only dreamed of. But those rights and opportunities only came about because of those previous generations who fought, marched and protested for their their rights.

I respect their right to march, but I highly disagree with the reason for the march. If we want to better this country, it’s time that we came together instead of dividing us based on superficial reasons.

Leave a comment

Filed under National News