Onward to the Oscars!

Absolutely adorable: Sunny Pawar, child star of LION.

Absolutely adorable: Sunny Pawar, child star of LION.

Now on to something more pleasant than that last blog post I had to write.  Pretty soon we’ll be finding out who will be nominated for the Oscars!

I saw so many wonderful movies this year that it’s going to be fun to see who gets the honor of a nomination.  This year I’ve got so many favorites that I don’t even know where to begin.  My personal favorite movie was PATRIOT’S DAY, and if Mark Wahlberg doesn’t get nominated for his performance in it then there’s a flaw somewhere in the universe.  John Goodman should get a nod, too.  So should J.K. Simmons.  So, too, should about five or six other cast members, including the two actors who had the unenviable job of playing the bombers.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA was a powerful dramatic vehicle for its wonderful ensemble.  Casey Affleck will almost certainly be up for Best Actor, and  Michelle Williams for Best Supporting Actress.  The star of JACKIE, Natalie Portman, knocked the part right out of the ballpark.

But my favorite star of them all is a pint-sized newcomer: Sunny Pawar, the irresistible little boy who played Saroo Brierly in LION.  I’m not just hoping for LION to get nominated for Best Picture, as well it should, but I’d love, love, love to see that little Sunny nominated.

Tuesday, January 24, the nominations will be announced.   Stay tuned!





What would you do if, as an adult, you found out that one of the people in a position of responsibility over you, as a child, may have had an unhealthy attachment to you?

What would you do if someone told you that that person still, decades later, asks all kinds of questions about you to mutual acquaintances, desperate, or so it seems, for news of you?

And what if this was the last person on the face of the planet you ever would have wanted anywhere near you, whether you were a child, an adult, or even the sole survivor of earth, save for the jerk in question?

This, apparently, is the position I’ve been told I’m in, and I never even knew about it.  I was jail bait to a pervert?  That’s as insane as it gets.  Two of the people who were approached about me said that’s what it looks like to them.

Fortunately, it’s hearsay, and might not be true…and yet.  It could just as well be accurate, disturbing as that is.  In a way, some of the events I remember regarding that individual now make a lot more sense.  I was a very observant kid.  That, surely, made me a threat to someone who was into that which would not have survived scrutiny.  No wonder that person tried to undermine me, several times.  But prior to realizing I was savvier than Creepy had previously believed, there were other incidents, too…which went nowhere because I didn’t let them.  And yet…it’s shaken me up, wondering how bad things may have become if I’d been less of a strong-willed, no-nonsense child, say, one who could have been pushed, who didn’t know quite clearly what I didn’t want, rather than one who did…I wasn’t, but even so…

Why am I writing this on my blog, though?  Well, it seems to me that anyone who would be asking questions about me, my life, my this and my that, behind my back, yet, and forty years after the last time they saw me – yes, folks, forty years! – is probably reading my blog, too.  As creepy as that is, I’m going to use the blog as a signpost to this lunatic.  Read away, creep!  Go away, too.  You want to track me, fine, well, TRACK THIS!  You’d better hope I don’t start talking, because if I’m pushed to write a blog post about this again, next time, I’ll name names, and all those who, unlike you, really know me, know I’m capable of it.

Two Massachusetts Movies: Manchester by the Sea and Patriot’s Day

Manchester by the Sea: realism at its best.

Manchester by the Sea: realism at its best.

It’s a fun coincidence that two of the best movies that are in the New York theaters at the moment are both set in the state of Massachusetts.  I saw one yesterday and the other today.  It’s a wonder I’m not talking in an accent that leaves out all the R’s by now, after such a  double-dip of Massachusetts dialogue.

Both of the movies – Manchester by the Sea and Patriot’s Day – were awesome, though different.

Manchester is the fictional story of a man, haunted – for good reason – by his actions in the past, who “inherits” a teenage nephew, Patrick, when his brother dies.  Unfortunately his brother never discussed naming him his son’s guardian before appointing him in his will, and it’s not what he’s up for…  Casey Affleck is Uncle Lee, Michele Williams plays his ex-wife, and Lucas Hedges plays Patrick, heading a terrific ensemble cast in one of the most realistic movies I’ve ever seen.  The scenery, in many of the shots, is spectacular.  My one critique: the number of F-bombs dropped in this movie was way over-the-top, and hey, I’m no prude when it comes to foul language.  I do, however, find it works more effectively when used for emphasis, not practically as conjunctions.

Patriot’s Day is not in wide-release yet, but it’s here and I saw it tonight.  Patriot’s Day is a Massachusetts state holiday.  It’s also the day of the Boston Marathon, and this movie covers the participants in the true story of the cowardly bombing of that event that took place in 2013.  If you’re faint at heart, be warned: in order for the movie to remain true to the subject matter, there’s a lot of violence and graphic medical scenes.  I’m usually pretty much of a toughie when it comes to seeing violence onscreen, but there were a few hospital scenes even I found unbearable.  So avert your eyes, if need be,  but then, keep watching.  It’s fascinating to see how the police, FBI and first responders conducted their excellent investigation into the perpetrators.  Mark Wahlberg stars as cop Tommy Saunders, and you’ll come out of this one feeling “Boston Strong!”

Patriot's Day: the story of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Patriot’s Day: the story of the Boston Marathon bombing.


Five Good Movies and A Stinker

One of the best things about living in New York City is that, if you’re into movies, we get them all first!  A whole slew of new ones have come out lately and of the six new ones I’ve seen, five were terrific.  There was also, however, one absolute stinker.

I’ll start with the good ones.

Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy in JACKIE.

Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy in JACKIE.

JACKIE, about Jacqueline Kennedy in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination in Dallas in 1963, was very interesting but extremely sad.  This poor woman not only witnessed the brutal murder of her husband but was sitting right beside him when his head was blown off, so you can just imagine the extent of her trauma.  If you are not someone who has read a lot about the assassination, as I have, fair warning, you might be a bit confused by the format, which skips back and forth over the timeline of events.  However, it’s a good movie.  Natalie Portman does a superb job.  I could not help but wonder what it must have felt like to be Natalie, playing this role, and donning the iconic pink and navy blue suit and pillbox hat that Jackie was wearing on the fatal day…

MOANA, from Disney.

MOANA, from Disney.

I love anything Hawaiian, Tahitian, or anyplace in between, so I had to see MOANA.  A gutsy girl fights to save her island with the help of an egomaniacal god.  It’s good, clean fun, and the songs are pretty cool, too.

DENIAL, starring Rachel Weisz.

DENIAL, starring Rachel Weisz.

DENIAL stars Rachel Weisz as a professor fighting the claims of a Holocaust denier who calls her a liar and says the Holocaust didn’t really happen.  Weisz does a great job, and the movie, which could have turned out too slow since it’s all about lawyers and strategies, moved along and was riveting.  Lost somewhere in the middle of it was one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard with regard to shutting up the Holocaust deniers: that someone should have gone over the ruins of the gas chambers at Auschwitz and done a forensic analysis of them.  Indeed, that’s a great idea since the evidence would speak for itself.  Meanwhile, the only criticism I have of the movie itself is that it didn’t show the childhoods of the two main characters, but merely mentioned them.  It would have been good to see some of their backstories play out.

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in ALLIED.

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in ALLIED.

ALLIED is set during World War II in Casablanca, France and England, and it’s very good movie.  Brad Pitt is married to Marion Cotillard who is a Resistance heroine…or is she?  There’s some problems with the plot of this story, since the resolution wasn’t as clear as it could have been, but Pitt and Cotillard are a beautiful couple, they’re eye candy like the stars of old used to be, and it’s stunning to watch.  Bring a hanky.

ELLE, the most wretched movie.

ELLE, the most wretched movie.

Before I get to the best of the movies I’ve seen these last few weeks, I may as well mention the stinker.  It’s a French movie called ELLE, and frankly, it sucked.  I went on the afternoon before I started a new job, hoping to sit back at a nice movie, relax and enjoy it.  Ha!  Instead, I walked into a creepily terrifying movie about a sexual assault.  Isabelle Huppert is the star.  This bomb of a movie starts out as an apparent whodunnit and slowly (too slowly) devolves into a what-the-hell-is-it?  Add to that, I know enough French to realize the subtitles weren’t always the correct translation of what the insane characters were saying, but not enough to catch all of it.  Perhaps it’s better in French, but it left me with questions, not answers.  As for the violence, well, if you want to give yourself a heart attack, the ferocious scenes in this awful flick might be enough to send you to the Emergency Room, but if you don’t want to have a cardiac arrest, as we say in Brooklyn, FAHGEDDABOUDIT!



Now on to the BEST of all of these movies.  For cuteness, suspense, fun, and sheer entertainment, J.K. Rowling’s FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM was the most enjoyable movie of them all.  Newt Scamander of HARRY POTTER fame, played by Eddie Redmayne, comes to New York City in 1926 with a suitcase full of magical creatures…and they promptly get loose…I’ll say no more, but the ending of this one made me want to stand up and cheer.  Want to be entertained?  Stick with anything by J.K. Rowling!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A rose grows in Brooklyn.

A rose grows in Brooklyn.

This was such a beautiful day that it was almost surreal.  The sun was shining over swift-moving fluffy clouds here in Brooklyn, New York, and I have rarely seen such a beautiful jewel of a day.

I’m between jobs at the moment, due to “downsizing” at the really nice non-profit organization where I have been working for the past year and a half.  I had hoped to stay there permanently, but Fate had other plans.  Many, many years ago, there was another jobs where I’d hoped to stay permanently, until I retired, but two years later, that particular company went bankrupt.  This is America, where this sort of thing happens a lot.

So, once again, I find myself off from work.  I spend many hours applying for jobs online.  Having to find another job, while still wishing the one I had will call me to say they can afford to take me back (which would require a miracle at this point), is a challenge, but one that’s rife with possibilities.  The right position is out there for me.  I’m going to find it.

In between filling out forms on the computer and going on interviews there’s time to, literally, stop and smell the roses.  Take a look at the beauty I photographed today!  It’s above, and it’s gorgeous.


The Bullying Problem That NEVER Gets Addressed


Autumn brings to mind school days...

Autumn brings to mind school days…

Hats off to The Disney Channel!  They’ve launched a “Choose Kindness” campaign to encourage children to stop bullying one another.  October is Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.  On the 1st, Blue Shirt Day, people were encouraged by an organization called Stomp Out Bullying to wear bright blue shirts to bring attention to the issue. Stomp Out Bullying deserves kudos, too.

Any organization that tries to stop bullying, in my opinion, should get as much applause as possible.  I know what I’m talking about.  Once upon a time, I was bullied myself.

Yet there’s a bullying issue that I feel does not ever seem to get addressed, no matter how many websites and organizations do their very best to bring the matter out in the open.  It’s the issue of teachers bullying students.

And it’s bad.

I saw bullying teachers at their absolute worst not in the public schools I attended, but in one Catholic and one private one.  I saw:

– A boy get flipped over background in his desk, crash-landing on his back on the floor, just for smiling;

– Another boy made to kneel on a hard wooden floor for an hour over a minor infraction;

– A girl whose skirt, deemed “too short,” was cut down by a screaming principal wielding a scissors;

– Two children who were daily berated in front of the class because the teachers deemed them somehow “unworthy,” though it was never specified just of what (though I suspect the fact they had a different European background than that of those teachers had a lot to do with it);

– Girls put down and threatened, daily, with expulsion for their grades;

– A teacher referring to an overweight kid as “Gross” in front of other students, thus encouraging them to also use the appellation;

– Children being downgraded so that other kids whose parents donated more money could have a better class rank;

– An entire week of abuse directed at several grades of children just because a few girls laughed during a class trip;

And more.  Quite a lot more.  Those stories were only the ones I saw happening to other children.  I’ve got one of my own as well.

It’s one matter if a child is mistreated by other children, but when your tormentors turn out to be the adults who should be responsible, but aren’t, are supposed to be keeping order, but don’t, and are charged with keeping you safe, when they’re actually making a target out of you, that’s just unnatural, if not also surreal, and it’s the epitome of wrong.  Ridiculous, too.  Picture a 40-year-old calling a child names and you’ll get an idea of exactly how ludicrous it is.

So many people I know have horror stories like these about teachers abusing students with bullying tactics.  While it’s wonderful that there’s so much attention given, now, to children bullying children, why is there such a dearth of information about adults, teachers, coaches, etc., bullying kids?  Where is the outcry?  Why does this never get addressed?

Does no one realize just how sick these adults have to be to behave in such a manner the first place?

Last night, on a re-run of Criminal Minds, one of the FBI agents said, “The smaller the victim, the easier to control.”

Really?  Well, what happened to me was quite a saga.  There were some teachers at one school who made my life beyond miserable, and did so deliberately.  The worst one of them all is still alive, and so is another.  I’ve been saving the full details about it for a book I’m planning to write one day.

Easy to control, are we?  Let them try controlling that!

Where in the World Is Bob Dylan?

One of the many portraits of Bob Dylan by his old girlfriend, Faridi McFree.

One of the many portraits of Bob Dylan by his old girlfriend, Faridi McFree.

My late, great friend, Faridi McFree, who was one of Bob Dylan’s many girlfriends, wanted to make a cartoon show based on him.  Since his real name was Robert Zimmerman, she decided the main character of the show would be a little “Heartoon” she named “Zimmie the Zipper.”  This was because, she related, he was “all zipped up” when it came to communicating with other people.

I’ll say!  You nailed it, Faridi!  Bob Dylan just won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, but the Nobel people can not find him!  Where in the world is Bob Dylan?  And why can’t he simply acknowledge his prize?  Could it be that he really is all zipped up?

You know, it would be great if Faridi’s “Heartoon” about “Zimmie the Zipper” could be considered worth another look by  television producers.  She had a great little idea for a cartoon series there, and it was a shame it was never moved forward.

And by the way, if you’re interested, or were wondering, zipped up or not, Faridi loved Bob Dylan until the day she died.

Now where in the world is he?  Carmen Sandiego would be easier to find…

Faridi McFree, whose cartoon series idea about "Zimmie the Zipper," based on Bob Dylan, deserves another look. Television producers, take note!

Faridi McFree, whose cartoon series idea about “Zimmie the Zipper,” based on Bob Dylan, deserves another look. Hey, Mr. Producer!  I’m talking to you, sir!  Take note!