Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Out of the Corner: A Memoir Book Review

From an audience perspective, it would appear that both starring in a blockbuster movie and coming from a respected performing family guarantees success in Hollywood. Anyone who knows the truth would say otherwise.

Out of the Corner: A Memoir, by Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey, was published last month. Grey is Jewish acting royalty. Her paternal grandfather, Mickey Katz was one of the most famous comedians and musicians of his day. Her parents, Joel Grey (of Cabaret fame)and Jo Wilder followed in her grandfather’s footsteps. Raised in both New York City and Los Angeles, she rose to fame in Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and other 1980s classics.

The reader is taken on an emotional journey through her early years, the ups and downs of her personal and private life, and finally, her finding peace with her identity.

This book is amazing. Grey’s tale is emotional, human, honest, and goes straight to the heart. She leaves no stone unturned, revealing her flaws, her mistakes, and the various heartaches that came her way. Within the narrative, there were two stories that stood out. The first was her father publicly coming out almost a decade ago after spending a lifetime in the closet. The second is her wish to speak to co-star Patrick Swayze one last time. It is a heartfelt wish that I think that anyone who has lost a loved one will understand.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a “best of” list come the end of the year. It is one of my favorite books of 2022.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Judaism, Movies, New York City

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

At its heart, Cinderella is the story of finding the good in life and rising about the shit that fate has sent our way.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series), by Julie Murphy, was published last year. Cindy Woods is a plus-sized recent college graduate. After spending the last four years in New York City, her career path is stuck in first gear. With no other options, she returns to Los Angeles and her childhood home. She is welcomed with open arms by her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, and her stepsisters.

Cindy is a fashion fanatic. Due to her size, finding the latest and greatest clothing that fits her has always been a problem. When Erica’s Cinderella‘s themed reality dating show, Before Midnight (a la The Bachelor), is down a contestant, Cindy agrees to step in. It was supposed to be a way of getting her designs noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy at the center of the program is good-looking.

Instead of quietly staying in the background, Cindy becomes a fan favorite. She also starts to fall for the guy. She will have to take a jump into the unknown, not knowing if it will end in heartbreak or a happy ending.

I loved this book. Murphy pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney film while writing her own story. In another narrative, Cindy would either have to lose weight to achieve her goals or be forced into the fat and funny sister/best friend role. The cherry on top for me is that Cindy is not looking for a man, her priority is her professional future.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Television

Bel-Air Review

Reboots of 1990’s IPs have become the rage these days. The difficulty is, as I see it, taking what made a particular movie or television show special while making it feel current.

The latest in this long line of re-imagining is Bel-Air. Airing on the Peacock network, it is a revival of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the narrative of the pilot follows the story of its predecessor. Will Smith (Jabari Banks) is a young man living in Philadelphia with his mother. His future seems to be all set with a basketball scholarship in his sights. That all changes when a fight breaks out and he is thrown in jail.

Upon release, Will is immediately put on a plane to Los Angeles. He is to live with his Aunt and Uncle in Bel-Air. To say that he is a stranger in a strange land is an understatement. This world of wealth, power, and access is far from the city life he is used to. But underneath the shine are rough edges that when revealed, could have dangerous consequences.

I’ve only seen the first episode. I really enjoyed it. There was enough of a skeleton of its predecessor combined with a boost of modern reality to keep me engaged. What I really liked was delving into the larger cultural problems that led to Will’s abrupt change of fate.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Bel-Air is available for streaming on the Peacock network.

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Throwback Thursday: George Lopez (2002-2007)

The framework of the generic family sitcom has been around for seventy years. After almost a century of watching these programs, there has to be a way to both color within the lines and not create an exact copy of what has been on the air previously.

George Lopez was on the air from 2002-2007. The show stars the eponymous comedian George Lopez as a husband, father, and employee of a Los Angeles manufacturing plant. Married to Angie (Constance Marie) for many years, they are doing the always classic and never easy work/life balance dance. George’s mother Benny (Belita Moreno) is a constant presence in their home, which is problematic due to her self-centered nature.

I’ve watched a couple of episodes and it’s your basic paint-by-numbers family sitcom. The only difference is that the main characters are all Latinx and that their son has autism. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that the America we see on the streets is reflected on both the big and small screens. There was obviously enough of an audience to keep it on the schedule for five seasons. But I found this show to be nothing special.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Maybe in Another Life: A Novel Book Review

We make choices every day. It could be as simple as the coffee we drink in the morning or as complicated as the person we want to spend our lives with.

Maybe in Another Life: A Novel, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published in 2015. Hannah Martin has just returned to her native Los Angeles. Needing a fresh start after her life in New York City has crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, she is temporarily living with her best friend Gabby and Gabby’s husband Mark.

During an informal reunion at a local bar, Hannah runs into Ethan, her high school boyfriend. When the clock strikes midnight, Gabby is ready to call it a day. But Ethan is not ready to go home and offers to give Hannah a ride home if she is willing to stay a while longer. Hannah could leave with Gabby or hang out with Ethan. This one decision may have the power to change the course of her life.

From there, the narrative takes off into two parallel storylines with different consequences and endings. The question that Hannah has to ask herself is not only where does she want to her life to go, but who will be by her side?

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I enjoyed this book. The author does a good job of creating a dual storyline, which is not as easy as it appears to be. I was hooked immediately, eager to dig into Hannah’s story. The only problem is that in some sections, my editor’s brain turned on. I wanted to read this book for pleasure, not use the imaginary red pen to point out what needed fixing.

Do I recommend it? I would say yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, New York City

La Brea Review

The science fiction and fantasy genres are fascinating. There seems to be no limit in the stories that can be told.

La Brea premiered earlier this week on NBC. On an average day in Los Angeles, a sink hole opens, swallowing everything and everyone its path. Among those that have fallen in are Eve Harris (Natalie Zea) and her son Josh (Jack Martin). On the surface, Eve’s daughter Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) and her estranged husband Gavin (Eoin Macken) are trying to figure what happened. Gavin is having visions of the fate those who have disappeared into the sinkhole, but, no one believes him.

Thousands of miles below them, Eve, Josh and the other survivors have found themselves in ancient world, populated by animals that have not been seen alive for a millennia. The first task to figure out where (and when) they are and pull through. The second is to get home. Neither will be easy.

I like this show. It reminds of both Lost and The Lost World. Among the new series of this season, it is certainly a unique concept. I like both the family dynamic and the creative twist to a narrative that we have all seen in one form or another. Though the special effects leave a little to be desired, I’ve seen worse.

As good as I think it is, the reception from both audiences and veers toward the negative. Only time will tell if the full season is released or it is cut short. Either way, it is worth at least, a chance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

La Brea airs on NBC on Tuesday night at 9PM.

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Milk Fed: A Novel Book Review

Food is more than the physical nourishment our body needs to function. It can also be stand in for something else in our life that has not been entirely dealt with.

In the new Melissa Broder novel published earlier this year, Milk Fed: A Novel, Los Angeles transplant Rachel was raised Jewish, but those days are long gone. Outside of her job at a talent agency, the most important thing is her physical appearance. She counts calories like the world is ending and can be found after work at the gym, furiously working off whatever she eat earlier that day. Following up on her therapist’s recommendation, she cuts of all communication with her mother for 90 days. Since she was little, Rachel has been constantly reminded to watch what she eat.

Shortly after, she meets Miriam, the zaftig employee behind the counter of one of Rachel’s favorite frozen yogurt places. Miriam is more orthodox in her practice of their mutual faith and intent on making sure that her soon to be new friend is well fed. Taken by Miriam, Rachel goes on a journey of family, faith, sex, and learning to love yourself.

I loved this book. Instead of being one of those obnoxious skinny women who makes the rest of us feel unattractive, Rachel is human, complicated, and completely relatable. I loved her emotional trek as she opened herself up to eating, Miriam (and everything Miriam represented), and learning to let go of the parental criticism that makes itself too comfortable in our consciousness.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health

Flashback Friday: D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

Success breeds success. But that does not mean that there will be a few bumps and bruises along the way.

The sequel to The Mighty Ducks, D2: The Mighty Ducks was released in 1994. After the success of his underdog team in the first film, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) has returned to rink playing for a minor league team. When a knee injury sidelines his career, he is hired to coach the Team USA for the Goodwill Games held in Los Angeles. Taking most of the original Ducks with him and adding a few new players to the roster, it looks like they are heading to an easy win. But when Hollywood comes calling and Team Iceland stands in the way of their championship, the Bombay and the Ducks realize that they have work to do.

As sequels go, this film is pretty good. Granted, I haven’t seen it in a very long time, but based on what I remember, its not bad. The bar is that might higher, forcing to the characters to deal with new challenges in order to reach their goals. I also appreciated the additional diversity of the newer cast members.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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This Latest Round of The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict is Starting to Scare Me

As a third generation American Jew, I’ve grown up in the safety and security of the United States. I’ve always known that antisemitism exists, but it has hit me in the face this week with the latest round of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

For the first time in a long time, I am scared.

I am scared that there are too many in this world who believe the lies that Hamas (and Iran by extension tells the world). Human rights are universal and always important, but they can also be twisted to fit one’s perspective.

I am scared that some of my Jewish brothers and sisters are falling for the falsehoods that could kill them. Across the United States, Jews have been attacked by pro-Palestinian mobs. In Los Angeles, a mob screamed at customers and threw glass bottles as they eat outside a restaurant. I am all for peace, but how does one make peace with a neighbor who constantly agitates for your death?

I am scared that the Israel I know and love will cease to exist. Not just due to the violence within the region, but due to the silence and the complicity (again) by the outside world. I am scared that both Palestinian and Israeli children will grow up not only psychologically damaged, but also unable to see past the fears and hatred that they were taught by the adults around them.

If you listen to only one thing today, listen to last week’s episode from the podcast Us Among the Israelis. I cannot imagine what it is like to not be able to function normally, not knowing when a rocket may fall on your home or place of business. It’s akin to living during the Blitz. But instead of this happening during a specific time in history, it becomes a common occurance.

I am a Jew and proud of it. I have yet to move away from my faith and will likely never. But that does not mean that it scares the shit out of me.

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Filed under History, International News, Podcast, World News

Flashback Friday: My Girl 2 (1994)

Growing up is complicated and confusing. It was for many (as it was when I was that age) a day to day experience that has the potential to stay with us long after childhood is over.

In the 1994 film My Girl 2, (the sequel to My Girl) Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is now a full fledged teenager. Her father, Harry (Dan Aykroyd) is trying to pretend that his little girl is not growing up, but it is a fruitless endeavor. Summer is on the horizon. Vada’s pregnant stepmother Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis) convinces her husband to send Vada to Los Angeles for a vacation.

In California, Vada is staying with her uncle, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s son Nick (Austin O’Brien). Over break, she has to fulfill a school assignment: write an essay on someone whom she admires, but has never met. The easy answer is Vada’s late mother. Nick is unhappily tasked with being Vada’s tour guide. As they begin to look in her mother’s past, the job that seemed easy reveals itself to be more difficult than expected.

I adore this movie. It is funny, charming, adorable, and instantly takes me back to that time in my life. Though Vada is living in the early 1970’s, the experiences and the questions she has are universal.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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