Monday, May 29, 2017

JFK's 100th: Sinner, Saint, Stormbraver

     Today marks the 100th birthday of President John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States. Born in 1917 in the middle of WWI, John or Jack as he was known by his family and friends would became a naval war hero in WWII and it seemed like Jack would always be made for war. He was the second oldest of nine children and born into a prominently wealthy family from Brookline, Massachusetts. His father, Joseph Kennedy, was the son of Irish immigrants and was intensely ambitious to make the name Kennedy respectful and legendary. Jack's mother, Rose Fitzgerald, was a devout Catholic who loved her children dearly, but silently suffered from her husbands public marital indiscretions. A lifestyle that Jack himself would inhabit for the rest of his life.  
A young...and very handsome Jack Kennedy
     Jack graduated from Harvard in 1940 and a year later he would enlist in the Navy. During his service, In 1943 Jack's ship crashed in the pacific and they were missing in action for almost a week. They were eventually recovered and Jack was honored with the Purple Heart for his service (there was severe damage done to his back). Jack's older brother, Joe Jr., an Air Force pilot, however did not survive the war and was killed in 1944. For years, Joe Jr. had been tapped and trained by his father to become the political prince, but now Jack would take that position...whether he wanted it or not. 

     The young Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953; he primarily worked in education and military veterans affairs as well immigrant registration. On September 12, 1953 (shortly after becoming senator of Massachusetts) he married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, a wealthy socialite from New York. They had two children, Caroline (1957) and John Jr. (1960). They also had a miscarried daughter, Arabella, and son, Patrick Bouvier who did several days after birth in 1963.

Jack and Jackie
Jack and Caroline
Jack and John Jr.
     Jack and Jackie's marriage was far from perfect and idyllic. Jack's affairs with numerous woman caused a great deal of stress. Jackie's reserved nature (that could border on coldness) and inability to connect with the lively Kennedys was also a source of contention. However they adored their children, who were their saving grace when they entered the White House in 1960. Jackie was fiercely private, but grew into her role as First Lady with her elegant style and grace as well as her restoration of the White House, allowing the American people to see the President's home for the first time.

    The new president was busy during his time in office. A few months after being sworn into the presidency JFK was hit with the Bay of Pigs crisis, which turned out to be a disaster and several American soldiers were killed. Yet, Jack persevered and fought hard and long on Civil Rights, relations with Israel, Communism and eventually his crowning glory in the Cuban Missile Crisis where he narrowly averted a possible WWIII.

The president in his famous rocking chair which
helped with his intense Addison's Disease.
     Overtime, the handsome and hardworking president and his young, lovely family endeared themselves to the American people, especially among the youth of America. Suddenly politics wasn't stuffy and boring and with Kennedy's creation of the Peace Corps, young adults were able to employ their own talents and gifts to benefit America and the rest of the world.

     Jack and his younger brother, Robert (Bobby) Kennedy, the Attorney General, work tirelessly in the Oval Office, but they were oftentimes met with hostility by the President's cabinet. Yet, the two of them were an indomitable force of nature and much of Jack's success was due to Bobby Kennedy's integrity and fierceness of character.

A sweet moment between the President and First Lady.
     Jackie Kennedy once said that her time as First Lady was her happiest time. In spite of their difficulties in their marriage, Jack and Jackie did genuinely love each other. Although Jackie almost left him early on in their marriage, she soon came to believe that she was a great asset to Jack's presidency and loved him for all his faults and flaws. After Patrick's death in the summer of 1963, there was a shift in Jack's values and priorities. He became more attentive to his wife and was open to public affection and attention toward her. 

     However those moments would remain only moments. On November 22, 1963, while campaigning for his second term in office, President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, a deranged American Communist. The whole nation was shocked beyond belief and the world mourned the loss of a man who had so much ahead of him. On November 25, (John Jr's. 3rd birthday), John "Jack" Fitzgerald Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington cemetery.  

     What is the allure of JFK? Why does he still evoke so much respect and dignity for generations that didn't even know him as their president? He was by no means a perfect man or for that matter a perfect President. He was born both sinner and saint, but a stormbraver he became. It was the hard decisions that he made that forged him into a legend. Bay of Pigs almost ruined him, but the Cuban Missile Crisis made him a hero. His fight for Civil Rights made him loved all over the racial board and his dealings with the Soviet Union could have ended the Cold War sooner.

      JFK believed in young people; he believed that everyone had potential to better themselves if they were working at bettering their world. In his inaugural speech he urged people to to devote themselves to their country, to do the hard things that others wouldn't. Even if JFK was America's Commander In Chief for only a 1,000 days, there were days filled with hope that conquered fear and words that spoke to humanity's heart.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dirty Dancing (2017)

     Not since Trump's win of the presidential election has there been such an outcry of rage and downright drama in the Twitter world (there was actually someone on Twitter who compared it to Trump's election). Last night ABC premiered the remake of the 1987 classic film Dirty Dancing. The sleeper hit that took the world by storm and launched the career of Patrick Swayze as both a dancer and an actor. However, long before the remake premiered, there were already protests from film devotees and purists railing about what a crime it was to remake such a classic.

    Now, I didn't grow up with the movie. I only saw it for the first time last year. So naturally I was curious. I guess it's the fan-fiction writer in me that's always modifying stories in my head that makes me so comfortable and even excited for remakes. Fan-fic writers are always looking for a way to make the story better, stronger, different. Wanting to delve deeper in lesser known characters and storylines.  And ABC's Dirty Dancing did just that. 

"Now, I've had

the time of

my life"

      While there is no need to review the actual story, I will say that one thing I was very happy about is that they actually had period appropriate style! My older sister loves the original, but the costumes and the hair were all screaming late 80's! It drives her crazy and so upon watching the remake, we were both impressed by the correct and accurate costuming from the early 60's. And the costumes are beautiful! So, A+ for the wardrobe! 

     I was quite content with the casting as well. Abigail Breslin gave Baby Houseman a more saucy and independent personality. She definitely had some great humorous moments, while also providing intense emotional scenes that gave more depth to Baby's character. However, Abigail has been acting since she was five years old and quite frankly it was difficult watching the love scenes (nothing graphic or inappropriate) and thinking, "Oh yeah, she's not the cute kid from Signs anymore. She's grown up."However, she did very well, even though she would not have been my first choice for Baby. 

     While no one can replace Patrick Swayze, Colt Prattes was wonderful! His dancing is extraordinary and his singing...WOW! Oh yeah, there is actual singing in this one too! Anyway, Colt played Johnny as more of a greaser who has no problem picking a fight with people. He also gives a little more background information on his life and why he is desperate to make it as a dancer. Very good performance that can rank right under Patrick.

     Nicole Scherzinger as Penny is just as sweet and lovable as the original. She and Baby have their own dance number which is absolutely fantastic. She is by far the best dancer in the whole movie and for many seemed to be the only saving grace of the remake.  

      The remake fleshed out the Houseman family in a way that made the family as a whole more relatable and real. They weren't a picture perfect family. They were flawed and damaged and even at a breaking point. Through the Houseman family, we see varying degrees of love whether it's first love, lost love or unexpected love. Each member is impacted in some way during their vacation and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the developing characters and their individual stories come together.

     Lisa Houseman (Sarah Hyland) was not as aggravating or annoying and learns very quickly the consequences of stupid mistakes. Dr. Jake Houseman (Bruce Greenwood) and Marjorie Houseman (Debra Messing) are a couple that are secret struggling to hold on to their marriage. Jake is a brilliant doctor who has put work in front of his family and now faces losing his wife. While Marjorie, who is the quintessential 50's housewife, begins to wonder if the feminist idea of single womanhood is a better life for her. Honestly, I was more wrapped up in Jake and Marjorie's romance than I was in Johnny and Baby's!

     One concern I did have was that the movie focused on second wave feminism such as Betty Frieden's "The Feminine Mystique" and was a woman better off without a man? However, the movie was very balanced. It didn't push any feminist agenda at all, but was rather used as a historical factor for the changing times for women in the 60's. The end of the movie was rather shocking and bittersweet (and guess what? Fans hated it!), but I thought it was done very well. Baby ends up defying social norms all over the board and becomes successful in every avenue of her life, but it would have never had happened were it not for that summer in 1963. 

     While it may not have had the cute quirkiness of the '87 original ABC's Dirty Dancing definitely had more depth and emotion. Everyone in Baby and Johnny's sphere are affected by what the two of them set out to do. Being a musical lover, I enjoyed the musical/dance numbers and there is some exceptional talent among the cast. I may be in a incredibly small minority to say this, but I find this remake to be absolutely lovely, heartbreaking and just as charming and as emotional as the original. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Robin Hood Week

     Olivia at Meanwhile in Rivendell is hosting Robin Hood Week at her blog! I really need a blog party right now to breathe some life back into my site! Also, Rachel at Hamlette's Soliloquy is hosting a Robin Hood Week giveaway at her site and she has some great stuff!

Kickoff Tag

What was your first exposure to Robin Hood?
     - Disney's 1973 animated film Robin Hood. This is a family favorite and my brothers and I watched it religiously! (I still love singing The Phony King of England...)

On a scale of 1 to 10, how big a fan are you?
     - Maybe a 7...seeing as I have never actually read the books.

How many versions and spin-offs of the legend have you experienced?
     - Disney's Robin Hood, Robin Hood (1990 film), Robin Hood: Men in Tights, BBC Robin Hood, Wishbone Robin Hood (that one totally counts!).

What is your favorite version of Robin Hood (can be book, movie, TV series, anything)?
     - That's hard! Of course I love the Disney movie, but there was a TV movie of Robin Hood that was made in 1991 and starred Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman and it was wonderful!

Are you one of the lads? (Meaning, have you watched/are you a fan of the BBC show?)
     - Most definitely!!!

Who is your favorite Merry Man?
      - Probably Will Scarlett from the BBC series.

Do you have a favorite portrayal of Lady Marian?
     - Lucy Griffiths was wonderful as Lady Marian!

Do you have any interest in or aptitude at archery?
     - I have always had a general interest in archery.

Fact or fiction -- which do you think?
      - Fact that's been fictionalized over the years.

Do you think Robin Hood has been "done to death," or are there still new twists that can be found?
     - Robin Hood is like King Arthur. You can always find new ways to tell the story. Every generation has their own variation of Robin Hood and so it's really a legend that can never die.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Political Ponderings

     Well, it has happened. I have become one of those bloggers. Meaning I am so busy with real life that I have had zip time for writing. And I have absolutely hated it! My job has been great, however, it's ending the first week in June 😢 Which I am dissapointed because I loved making a paycheck and actually having something of a scheduled life, but there were some stressful parts as well. So in many ways, I'm kind of glad I'm leaving. Now it's just spending the whole summer looking for another job. I feel like my life has gone back to square one. 

     Anyways, enough of the negative. For fun I decided to post a few things that somehow have a political minded center to them. Real life, social media and Hollywood.

1.) Trump's Israel visit

     So today has been an exciting day for many people as the Trump family made their first foreign visit to Israel. I myself think it was a great move. President Trump is also the first president to ever visit Israel and has made great strides in strengthening America/Israeli ties. I was quite proud as an American seeing the First Family paying their respects to the Western Wall and being warmly received by the Netanyahu family. While I'm still somewhat skeptical about Trump from time to time, he has made excellent strides in the short time he's been in office. I pray he continues to get better and make stronger much needed changes in the U.S. 

     May I also add that Jared and Ivanka have totally made a great JFK and Jackie impression on the first day of their trip. I think they look fantastic!!!

2.) Tumblr 

     At one point in time I believe that Tumblr was created to become a social network geared towards, geeks, artists, and bored college students. A place where people could create, use their imagination and actually feel like their skills and talent were worth something. However, now Tumblr has gone from a fandom playground to a platform of liberal policies. I can't tell you how much liberal politics come across my dashboard. People who think that they are so 'deep' and 'insightful' with their 'progressive thinking' and somehow feel that their opinions are validated when they receive comment such as:


So deep and profound!


Yes! Finally someone said it!

OMG! I've waited forever for someone to finally write this!!!!


     The list goes on and on. Now, is there freedom of speech on this social platform? Absolutely. Yet, I've noticed that conservatives are being attacked by theses liberals and anyone who is straight, white, pro-life, pro-gun or whatever constitutes being an American conservative are coming under fire. Like with Facebook, Tumblr is becoming a hotbed of hateful, vitriolic and biased opinions all generated by wannabe social politicians. And that is certainly not OK. 

     Tumblr liberals, grow the hell up and get a clue that your opinions on your computer screen are just empty thoughts with no force or action behind them. You preach diversity and tolerance, but are completely incapable of accepting actual difference of opinions and free thinking.

3.) The West Wing

     A couple of months ago I started watching the Emmy award winning show, The West Wing. Now, I'll be honest, I actually started watching it because of Rob Lowe (in spite of his filthy, misogynistic treatment of Ann Coulter in September, it's impossible not to like him. To hate him just for what he said would make me...well like a liberal). I have to admit, I have really enjoyed the series. Now, of course it's Hollywood so everything is liberal. From gay rights to abortion. There is no love for conservative Christians, but Catholics also come off as arrogant and fake in their beliefs. The characters themselves are great though! The show has a surprising blend of drama and comedy and manages to take politics and make them understandable. Once you get pass the liberalism the show is quite enjoyable.    

     It actually felt good to write again! Hopefully I'll be able to get back into blogging. Continue with my story and writing movie reviews.