Family is complicated. Life is complicated. Bring those together and you have a complicated reality.
The new musical, Jagged Little Pill (based on the groundbreaking 1995 album by Alanis Morissette) takes place in suburban Connecticut. The Healy family appears to be picture perfect. Steve Healy (Sean Allan Krill) works long hours in the city, creating an emotional rift between himself and his family. His wife, Mary Jane (Elizabeth Stanley) does everything she can to be the perfect wife and mother. But an off stage car accident and a prescription for post surgery pain killers has led Mary Jane down the road to addiction.
Their son, Nick (Derek Klena) is everything a parent would wish for in a teenage son. His collegiate path seems to be headed straight to the Ivy Leagues, but Derek is not sure if this is the best option for him. Adopted daughter Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding) is unsure about her place in her mostly White community. Focused on social justice and getting into a relationship with her best friend Jo (Lauren Patten) is only the beginning of her struggles.
With a book written by Diablo Cody, Jagged Little Pill is more than the standard jukebox musical. The narrative includes thorny issues such as addiction, sexual assault, finding your sexuality, growing up, etc. But instead of being written as if standing on a soapbox, Cody naturally integrated the issues into a story of a family going through a rough patch.
Though the impression is that one needs to be a fan of Morissette and her music to enjoy the show, that is not necessarily true. It helps to know the songs, but not knowing them is not a deterrent for seeing and enjoying the show. I don’t see Broadway musicals very often, but this (for me at least) is one for the books.
I will warn that some long time Morissette fans might be a little put off by change of some lyrics. The changes were only made to match the narrative and are still the same songs that we have known and loved for 25 years.
I absolutely reccomend it.
Jagged Little Pill is playing at the Broadhurst Theater in New York City. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.
To say that I am a bookworm is an understatement. As you might expect, I’ve read quite a few books this year.
Without further adieu, my list of the best books of 2019 is below.
The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power: This book is #1 because it represents how far American women have come and how far we need to go before we are truly equal. In celebrating the success of these female politicians, the authors are paving the way for the next generation of women to represent their country.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, is sadly nothing new.
When the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal hit the press two years ago, it was nothing short of earth-shattering. After a millennia of women not being heard about sexual misconduct by their male bosses, it was revelation.
Yesterday, Weinstein sat down with several newspapers and complained about his ruined reputation.
His childlike defense was the following:
“I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago. I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!” he bragged.
Cry me a river. He knew what he was doing. He knew that he was literally dangling work over their heads in return for sex. He is only crying foul because he got caught and lost everything.
I have a message for Mr. Weinstein. Grow up, grow a pair and admit what you did. An adult admits when they did something wrong. A child not only refuses to admit their error of their ways, they blame others and cast themselves as the victims. Care to guess which one Mr. Weinstein is?
Since the beginning of human history, sexual assault and sexual harassment has been the norm. Especially by powerful men who use sex as a tool against female subordinates or women who lack power. In our era, the balance is starting to tip against the men who use sex as a weapon, but not without the brave women who have come forward.
The new movie, Bombshell, tells the story of Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the perspective of the women who broke the scandal and stopped the harassment in it’s tracks. Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) are the headliners. Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) is the newbie. Rumors of sexual indiscretions against the female staff by the late Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) have been floating around for years, but have not been verified.
The women must make a choice. Do they speak up and lose their jobs? Or do they stay silent and let the toxic atmosphere remain?
This movie is incredibly timely and at times, incredibly uncomfortable. But, I suppose, that is point of this film. Lithgow, as Ailes, is creepy, but not overtly so and not in the first few minutes of the audience meeting him. It is that initial lack of creepiness that makes the audience think that maybe he is not so bad.
If there is anyone to give kudos to, it is the makeup and hair teams. At first glance, one would not know the difference between the really Megyn Kelly and Charlize Theron in character. The resemblance is uncanny.
But, if this film has one flaw, it is that the slow burn is too slow. Anyone who watches the news knows how the movie ends. But it takes a little too much time for the filmmakers to get to that point.
When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in 2017, it did not break out of thin air. Getting the story to the public took time, effort and going against powerful people who would do almost anything to keep the story out of the news.
Ronan Farrow was one of those reporters. In his new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow walks the reader through the process of reporting the story of the Weinstein scandal and the major barriers that were in his way. Back in 2017, Farrow was working for NBC. What started out as a routine investigation blew up into a news story that revealed a dark side of our culture that few were willing and/or able to expose.
Though this book is non-fiction, it reads like a spy thriller. The scary thing about this book goes well beyond what Weinstein did. The scary thing is that he had accomplishes who actively helped to bury the story. To my eyes, it says that men like Weinstein still hold all of the cards. The women he attacked and intimidated are powerless.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. There are good people in this world, like Ronan Farrow, who despite the challenges, are willing to stand up for what is right.
Unless one is a diehard political junkie, the confirmation process of potential Supreme Court judges is an event that can be missed. But the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh last year was must-see TV. The sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford made viewers and those in the halls of power ask if Judge Kavanaugh was truly up to the task at hand.
The new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, by New York Times writers Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin, is more than the story of Judge Kavanaugh. It is a mirror that reveals the truth that America is a divided nation, politically, socially and culturally. While telling the story of Judge Kavanaugh’s life, Kelly and Pogrebin do a deep dive into who their subject is and the accusations that nearly stopped his career in its path.
Like many Americans, I watched this story like a hawk last fall. What I like about the book is that the writers leave the perspective up to the interpretation of the reader. Though they make clear that the allegations are serious (as they should), they do not play judge and jury.
As a feminist, I have two perspectives on this story. The first perspective is that Judge Kavanaugh acted in a way that only one who is young, immature and stupidly drunk will act. It appears that in middle age, he has matured well beyond the young man he was in the 1980’s. The second perspective is that this is a man who has no respect for women, especially when he is not sober. If he truly has no respect for women, how is able to make sound legal judgements that can potentially affect millions of American women?
Since the beginning of human history, a woman’s value has been solely defined by her sexuality (or lack thereof).
While this idea is thankfully starting to fade, it still has a significant hold on our culture.
When Jeffrey Epstein died of an apparent suicide in August, the scandal he created did not die with him. It has mushroomed into a much larger scandal.
According to news reports, Prince Andrew is accused of taking advantage of the young girls who were also raped and sexually assaulted by Epstein.
I wonder how Prince Andrew would react if his daughters were trafficked for sex? Would he play the innocent card, as he did during the interview with the BBC? Or would he act as a father, horrified that his children were treated as sex slaves?
The problem is that women, especially in cases such as these, are not seen as flesh and blood human beings. We are seen as things to be used as sexual pleasure for men. Until we are seen as complete human beings, women will continue to be trafficked for sex and sexually assaulted.
Morally speaking, we know that cheating on one’s spouse or significant other is wrong. We also know that having a sexual or romantic relationship with one who works for you is wrong. But that does not preclude us from doing either.
The latest news from Capitol Hill is that Representative Katie Hill (D-California) resigned because she was accused of sleeping with a congressional staffer and having a relationship with a congressional aide. If that was not enough to get the halls of power talking, nude pictures of her were released to the press.
A little more than twenty years ago, former President Bill Clinton (D-Arkansas) was at the height of his popularity. He was also dogged by accusations of sexual assault and whispers that he was cheating on his wife. Then he got involved with Monica Lewinsky, a young White House intern. Those of us who are above a certain age can easily recall the political hell that broke lose during that time.
The disgusting hypocrisy is that while the former Representative’s political career and reputation are in ruins, President Clinton is still held in high regard. This case also brings revenge porn once more into the spotlight, an issue that desperately needs local and state and national legislation to stop once and for all.
It’s time to make it clear that this conduct, regardless of who is accused of it, is wrong. Those who choose to act in this manner will be duly punished. But until that day comes when women are given their due and men get off scot-free, the hypocrisy will remain.
For decades, there were whispers within Hollywood about producer Harvey Weinstein. But as soon as reports surfaced of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they were put down as mere rumor. That is until Kantor and Twohey started digging. That digging opened a Pandora’s box of truth, lies and the people who would do almost anything to close that box again.
This book reads like a fictional thriller instead of a real story. It is a heart pounding roller coaster ride until the very end of the book. We know how the story ends, but there were so many blockages for Kantor and Twohey that I started to wonder if justice would finally prevail. When I finally finished the book, I was relieved that Weinstein was finally getting what was coming to him.
The thing that strikes me about this book and this story is that it is universal among women. The women who come forward in this book tell the same story, with minor details changed for their specific narrative. They range from Hollywood A-listers to fast food workers to teenage girls assaulted by their drunk male classmates. If nothing else, I think that this book and others of this nature are a starting point for a conversation that is more than overdue.
It takes a bold person to step forward in the face of injustice. Especially when the injustice is accepted as part of the culture.
In January of 2015, Chanel Miller attended a frat party at Stanford University. What started out as an average college fraternity party turned into a life changing event for Ms. Miller. She was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, who received a notoriously light sentence for the crime he was accused of.
In her new book, Know My Name, Ms. Miller tells her life story up to the that night and the aftermath that followed. In the book, she tells her story from the night of the party to the agonizing process of being examined at the hospital for the rape kit, identifying her rapist and finally, going through the trial.
I loved this book. If I was to compile a list of top ten books of 2019, Know My Name would be on it. The pain of whole experience is honest, brutal and at moments, hard to read. But it is well worth it, especially when Ms. Miller comes out on the other side not as a victim, but as a woman whose strength outpaces her pain.