Tag Archives: Chicago

WTF is Happening to this Country? Adam Toledo and the Indianapolis Shooting

There is a Chinese curse which says, “May he live in interesting times.” Interesting times is one way to explain what is happening in the United States.

Last week, a 13 year old boy was shot and killed by police in Chicago. His name was Adam Toledo. He was murdered because the officers believed that he had a gun. Adding salt to the wound was the reference by Fox News host and all around asshole Sean Hannity that this child was a fully grown man. I see two issues with this story.

  1. The blood of this young man is not just on the hands of the police officers who killed him. It is on everyone who played their part to get this supposed weapon into young Mr. Toledo’s hands.
  2. Our local and national law enforcement department must be able to do their jobs. But they have to get it into their heads and their training materials that they are not avenging angels. The police are just one link in the chain of the justice system.

May the memory of this boy be a blessing and finally get us off our asses to stop police brutality against Americans of color.

On Friday morning, a former employee of a FedEx facility in Indianapolis killed eight people. According to his mother, the man who was responsible for the murders had mental health issues.

In response to the umpteenth mass shooting in the United States since March, President Biden referred to this new wave as a national embarrassment. I can’t think of a better description of this unnecessary slaughter of innocent civilians. We can fix this problem, it doesn’t take a genius to put together a national law to prevent future events of this nature. The problem is that some Republican lawmakers are blind to the idea that any national gun control legislation does not infringe on the rights of gun owners who are of sound mind and followed the laws. It is a measure that desperately needed (and has been needed for more than two decades) to save lives.

I don’t know what it will take to wake this country up, but something has to be done.

Happy Sunday.

1 Comment

Filed under Mental Health, National News, Politics

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review

If nothing else, history is cyclical. The experience of one generation is often repeated time and again.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 premiered last weekend on Netflix. The movie tells the story of seven men who are accused of inciting a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Among the defendants are Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), and Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). One of the lawyers they hired to represent them is William Kunstler (Mark Rylance).

On the other side is Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a lawyer for the government whose job is to ensure that a guilty verdict is obtained. On the judge’s bench is Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella). Judge Hoffman is more than eager to see the men thrown in jail.

Though the movie takes place in the late 1960’s, the comparisons to 2020 are too obvious to ignore. The cultural and political divisions back then were as rigid as they are today. If nothing else, it is reminder that there are some things in this world that are constant. The details may change, but the basic frame is unchanged.

Narratively speaking, the tension goes a bit slack in the middle of the film. But other than that, the movie is well done and worth watching.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is available for streaming on Netflix.

2 Comments

Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, Politics

Thoughts On the Virtual JASNA AGM

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Covid-19 has flipped our world upside down.

Last weekend was supposed to be the 2020 JASNA AGM. Hosted by the Ohio North Coast region, Janeites would have met in Cleveland. But the virus demanded a change of plans.

Instead of being held in person, the AGM was held virtually. 1400 JASNA members attended via their devices. The plus side was the number of participants nearly doubled compared to previous AGMS. The downside was that like everything that had to transfer to the internet, there were glitches.

Overall, I was pleased with the AGM. It had the look and feel of an AGM without being there in person. Hopefully, we will be able reconvene next year in Chicago, even with the restrictions created by Covid-19.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Jane Austen, National News, Thoughts On....

Thoughts On The Latest News from the Jussie Smollett Case

Earlier this week, all of the charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett were dropped.

I am to be honest, not thrilled that the charges were dropped. As an American, I am bothered that Mr. Smollett used the justice system and cried wolf simply to get a raise.

To be specific, there are four reasons why I am bothered by this case:

  1. The Chicago Police department, like every other police department in every other city has limited resources. He wasted what amounts to $130,000 of time, man power and financial resources of the police when there are real cases that were put on hold. From my perspective, he could at least pay the department back for their efforts.
  2. Among the many that work and dream of performing for a living, only a small handful ever see that dream become a reality. His false claims of a hate crime spit in the face of everyone who has tried and failed to make it as an actor.
  3. I don’t know much about the inner workings of Hollywood, but I do know that actors usually sign a contract that states the details of their employment after they are hired for a job. There have been many actors over the years who have renegotiated their contracts or bargained to change the terms of their contracts before re-signing. There are other ways to change the terms of one’s employment without getting the police involved.
  4.  Hate crimes are real. Too many are attacked because of their skin color, their religion, sexuality, etc. If someone is attacked for who they are, they may think twice about going to the police, allowing the perpetrator to remain free. The police, for their part, may question if the attack was real or if it was made up by the “victim”.

Only time will tell how the fans and Hollywood react. But karma has a way of getting us all back, one way or another.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under National News, Television, Thoughts On....

New Randy Rainbow Video-The Donald Trump CELL BLOCK TANGO (Part One) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody

It’s no secret that this current Presidential administration is unprecedented for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that a good number of you know whose associates and advisers have either been accused of a crime or have been found guilty of a crime.

The newest Randy Rainbow video is entitled “The Donald Trump CELL BLOCK TANGO (Part One) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody”. Based on the song “Cell Block Tango” from the musical Chicago, the song is absolute genius.

It’s not exactly a secret that truth and politics doesn’t always go hand in hand. However, that doesn’t mean that one should bend the rules or use less than ethical means to gain power or stay in power. By revealing and prosecuting the underhanded, immoral and illegal methods one may use to gain power or stay in power, it strengthens our democracy and reminds the voters that their voice and their vote counts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Politics, Randy Rainbow

Becoming Book Review

When we admire someone, we forget that they are fellow human beings who go through the same ups and downs that we  all do.

When Michelle Obama became America’s FLOTUS (First Lady Of The United States) in 2009, she was more than the first African-American First Lady. She was intelligent, educated, warm, loving and a devoted wife and mother.

Her autobiography, Becoming, was published recently.

Born in Chicago in 1964, Mrs. Obama came from a normal working class family. She met her future husband (and future POTUS or President Of The United States) Barack Obama when he was hired to be summer associate at the law firm where she worked at the time; she was assigned to him as his mentor. They married in 1992 and have two daughters. As the future POTUS and FLOTUS, Barack and Michelle did their best to balance their marriage, parenting their children and work. Then politics came calling and their status as an average middle class family in America forever changed.

I absolutely loved this book. I felt like I was having a one on one conversation with her. The book is personal, deep and makes the reader feel like they have a connection to her. Unlike other autobiographies where the writer is full of it and bragging, Mrs. Obama is humble and open.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Politics

Widows Movie Review

The heist movie genre can be boiled down to two specific words: guns and cars. I’m not usually a fan of this genre, but sometimes a movie that falls within this genre surprises me.

In the new movie, Widows, Veronica (Viola Davis) lives an idyllic live with her husband, Harry (Liam Neeson) in Chicago. Their marriage is picture perfect. That perfection is about to be revealed as a mirage. Harry earns his living via less than lawful means and is killed in the process. The man who Harry stole from, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), not only wants his money back, but is also trying to go legit at the same time. Jamal’s brother and go to henchman, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) is more than willing to help his brother get his money back.

Veronica soon learns of her late husband’s illicit activities and turns to the women whose husbands were killed with Harry to get Jamal his money back. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) are at first reluctant to join Veronica, but they change their mind. At the same time, there is a local election going on. Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) is career politician whose father, Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall) was also a career politician. With the election coming up and the plans for the heist underway, what truths will be revealed?

This movie is brilliant. It’s much more than the standard heist film, at least from my perspective. The movie talks about complicated issues such as class, money, politics in such a way that it does not feel like a lecture. I also loved that the four female leads were not the typical wife/girlfriend/love interest of the male characters that are usually seen in this genre of film. They were strong, capable and completely willing to do what needed to be done to ensure their success.

I recommend it.

Widows is presently in theaters. 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, Politics

Flashback Friday- From The Bright Lights Of Broadway To The Silver Screen-Chicago (2002) & Hairspray (2007)

Hollywood has a long tradition of making movies from Broadway musicals.  While movie musicals flourished during the golden age of movie making, the fervor for movie musicals has slowly dissipated over the past thirty years.  Hollywood has tried to resurrect the genre, but only a few of these movies have been successful.

In 2002, a movie was made based on the hit Broadway musical Chicago.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) are on death row, accused of murdering their significant others. Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the hot shot lawyer whose job it is to keep his clients famous and away from the  gallows.

I saw the musical on Broadway years ago. The movie is very true to the stage show. It is subversive, entertaining and a commentary on how fame and the justice system makes for strange bedfellows.

In 1988, indie filmmaker John Waters introduced the world to the movie Hairspray and a new leading lady: Tracy Turnblad.  Tracy is zaftig teenager in 1960’s Baltimore who just wants to dance on the local teenage dance show. But there are obstacles to her dream. In the early 2000’s, Hairspray was transferred to the Broadway stage and in 2007, it returned to silver screen, but as the musical.

Taking over from Ricki Lake in the original movie and Marissa Jaret Winokur on Broadway was Nikki Blonsky as Tracy. In the traditional John Waters style, John Travolta and Christopher Walken play Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur.

While I did enjoy this movie, it is a very colorful, sort of family friendly version of the original movie. It looses some of the biting satire and subversive quality with the 2007 movie.  But, over all, it’s not bad.

I recommend Chicago, but maybe not Hairspray.

Leave a comment

Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies