My New Children’s Novel: KEEP YOUR SONGS IN YOUR HEART

KEEP YOUR SONGS IN YOUR HEART by Yours Truly.

Have you wondered what I have been doing lately?  I am delighted to announce that my children’s novel, KEEP YOUR SONGS IN YOUR HEART, is now available on Amazon in both print and eBook formats!

The book opens in 1941.  Ruby Carol Rafferty is an ebullient 11-year-old who loves performing in school shows and idolizes the movie star Carole Lombard.   She is overjoyed to find out that her parents are planning to take her and her best friend, Emiko Fujiwara, on a special trip to Hollywood over the upcoming Christmas vacation.

But the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, and suddenly Ruby’s happy life is turned completely upside-down.  Emiko’s father is arrested by the FBI as a possible “enemy alien,” even though she knows good and well that he isn’t one (and has no trouble letting the FBI agents who descend on her Emi’s home know how she feels on that matter, either).  America declares to war against Japan a day later.  Germany and Italy, Japan’s allies, respond by declaring war on America.  The Japanese Americans in Seattle are getting the worst of it with one restriction placed on them after another.  Ruby’s father wants to join the Army, and a new classmate, Vera, a refugee from Berlin, doesn’t know what happened to Mitzi, the cousin that may not escaped from Germany before the war started.

Can Ruby, Emi and Mitzi hold on to all the good things they are and keep a song in their hearts until the world comes back to its senses?

Parents and teachers out there, please take note: this old-fashioned story about a funny kid named Ruby and her two little best friends is well-researched – and it’s wholesome, too.  It can provide middle grade students with a lot of background information about the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent events that happened on the Seattle Home Front.  Here’s the link to the Amazon page, and enjoy!

KEEP YOUR SONGS IN YOUR HEART – Purchase Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Recommendation: INSTANT FAMILY

INSTANT FAMILY: A funny but realistic charmer of a movie.

I enjoyed this movie to the hilt!  Ellie (Rose Byrne) and Pete (Mark Wahlberg) play a married couple without children who learn about the number of kids in foster care awaiting permanent homes and decide to adopt one.

Well, they wind up with three.  A wise-cracking teenage girl named Lizzy (beautifully played by Isabela Moner) captures their interest at an “adoption picnic” where prospective parents can meet adoptable children.  Ellie and Pete are airing their collection of worries about teens right near where a bunch of them were sitting, and Lizzy steps in and tells them off for it.

The kid has spirit.  They decide to inquire about Lizzy.

That’s when it turns out Lizzy’s got two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz).  The gutsy couple decide to take in all three.  Social workers Karen and Sharon (played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro), who are by turns serious and hilarious, try to warn them that the foster kids will test them, but they get more than they bargained for with these three.  This isn’t Little Orphan Annie bursting into song with “I Don’t Need Anything but You” when Daddy Warbucks offers to adopt her.  Oh, no.  These kids have been rejected too many times already to believe in happy endings.  Lizzy is in full teenage rebellion, Juan constantly apologizes when he isn’t even guilty of doing anything wrong, and little Lita is prone to astonishing meltdowns…

I’ll stop there because, as always, I don’t want to include any major plot spoilers, but there’s a lot more to this story.  I’ll only suggest that you  be on the lookout for a plot twist that you will see coming, and another one that should take you by surprise.  Now what are you reading this blog for?  Find a theater where INSTANT FAMILY is playing and get thee out to see this movie!

 

 

 

The Carriage House in Ocean Grove: A Victorian Gem

The Carriage House Bed & Breakfast in Ocean Grove, NJ. WOW!

Want to get away from New York City for a nice quiet weekend in a beautiful Victorian setting?  Then I highly recommend The Carriage House Bed and Breakfast in Ocean Grove!

This inn is beautiful, and the hosts, Cory and Viktoria, have done an incredible job of restoring it to the splendor of a bygone era.  It’s a joy to walk in to the lobby and to feel like you’ve stepped back into a gentler, more gracious time:

Lobby

A friend and I got the only room with twin beds.  The room was painted a vivid blue which doesn’t fully come through here.  It reminded me of the old song “My Blue Heaven:”

The pretty blue room where I stayed.

Now that you’ve seen one of the beds, let me tell you about the breakfasts!  The Carriage House had the most incredible breakfasts I’ve ever had in my life.  The big specialty is Maple Coconut French Toast.  There were also crepes, quiches, and other dishes I’d never had before but hope to go back and enjoy again.

Part of the fun of staying there is that you can pick your own antique teacups should you want to get a coffee or tea, any time of the day.

My favorite!

This inn even provides bicycles for guests’ use, should you wish to take a ride in one on the boardwalk:

Bikes of all sizes!

At the moment, The Carriage House has eight charming rooms where people can stay…but are adding 13 more!  They’ve bought an additional house adjoining the property and Viktoria has been busy finding more stunning antiques with which to decorate it.  They should be ready by next season.

The inn can be reached through their website at: https://www.thecarriagehouseoceangrove.com

Here’s a few more scenes of the surrounding area, including the ocean.  Enjoy!  I sure did.

A nearby garden.

The beach, plus some flora.

The charming old-fashioned streets.

What a sign: PLEASE KEEP OFF THE DUNES!

Ben Kingsley Nails the Role of Eichmann in OPERATION FINALE

Adolf Eichmann on the left; Ben Kingsley in OPERATION FINALE on the right. What a movie!

Many years ago I read Mossad agent Peter Malkin’s book about the capture of Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann.  It was called EICHMANN IN MY HANDS, and it was a riveting read about a terrible situation.

The new movie, OPERATION FINALE, was everything I remember of the book come to life.  For anyone who may not already be familiar with this story, Eichmann was responsible for the murder of the Jews during World War II.  He was unrepentant at the end of the war, and beyond it, as only those without a shred of a conscience can be, and made sure he saved his own ass, fleeing (eventually) to Argentina.

It’s there that he’s identified – by a blind survivor!  The back story of that identification is detailed here and it’s fascinating.  Ultimately the state of Israel receives a report about the Nazi’s whereabouts, and sends a team to capture and retrieve him, with the hope of putting him on trial in front of the world.  How they pulled it off is the stuff good movies are made of.

I wasn’t aware, prior to seeing the movie, that Eichmann, long previously described as a bland functionary who was “just following orders,” was anything but.  He apparently gave lectures in Argentina on how, ahem, “well” he thought he’d done his job during the Nazi era.  It makes the portrait of him look even more complicated, and worse.

I’ve enjoyed watching Ben Kingsley playin other, infinitely more decent roles for decades, but how he handles the portrayal of the evil Eichmann is quite a sight to behold.  May he be nominated for an award for this one.

 

The Great American Op-Ed Whodunit

Who wrote the Op-Ed?

America has a new parlor game, folks!  It’s Who Wrote the Op-Ed?  It’s like playing a real-life game of CLUE, only doing so 2018-style.

I find the whole thing to be quite hilarious.  The facts (if you’ve managed to miss them over the past few hours) are these: somebody claiming to be a “top administration official” in the government wrote a piece in the New York Times, claiming to be working against the Trump regime from within.

First of all, since nobody will admit to writing the Op-Ed, nobody knows if the author in question is actually in the government or not.

Second, even if they are in the government, how do we know they really are a “top administration official?”

We don’t.  They didn’t sign their piece.

Third, how do we even know the whole thing isn’t a hoax?

Vice President Pence is a suspect, since he likes to use the word “lodestar,” and that word is in the Op-Ed.  It’s also got a lot of people who don’t know what the heck a lodestar is hitting their dictionaries and looking it up.

My guess is it definitely won’t turn out to be Pence.  It’s more likely somebody who knows he likes that buzz word and threw it into the Op-Ed for the sake of a little good, old-fashioned misdirection.

Another guess: Omarosa.  She just released a book about her time in the White House, and, since she no longer works there, she’s one person who doesn’t have to worry about being fired over it.

All I can say for sure is that I’m enjoying all this to the hilt.  As a country, we haven’t had a chance for this much fun since “Deep Throat” blew the whistle on Watergate.

 

 

The Strangest Facet of the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

Bravo to this whistleblower, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano!

I am as appalled as anyone else on this planet at the moment at the latest barrage of sex abuse accusations against clergy in the Catholic Church. I applaud the fellow pictured above, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, for writing a letter last weekend revealing just how far the cover-up of the abuse had gone.  According to Vigano, the Pope knew all about the allegations against Cardinal McCarrick and stupidly turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.

They say popes are infallible, but in this case?  “Infallible,” my foot!

Before I say anything else, I want to make my stance on the abomination of sexual abuse crystal clear.  If someone rapes a child, they belong in jail.  If someone rapes an adult, they belong in jail.  And if someone is ridiculous enough to try to help perpetrators cover up crimes of rape, they belong in jail, too.  Period, case closed.

Having clarified all that, there’s one aspect of these clergy abuse cases that I just cannot fathom on any level at all, let alone “get.”  It’s this.  Why did so many, many parents of so many raped children go to their archdiocese with their complaints of abuse and not straight to the police? 

It seems to me that if you have a little boy or girl, and that child has been violated in the worst manner possible by a priest, that constitutes a criminal act, folks, and criminal acts are supposed to be handled by the police.  The whole idea of parents running to their bishops or the principals of their child’s Catholic schools, or whoever in the church that they chose to run to instead, strikes me as just plain crazy.  Obviously the superiors of these monsters were not going to move to have them arrested.

It makes about as much sense as if someone were assaulted at work but ran screaming not to the cops but to the CEO.  Of course the CEO’s first thought, however erroneous, would be to try and sweep it all under the rug.

All the bishops seem to have done is transfer these disgraceful priests from one parish full of potential abuse victims to another, where the predator priests think they can behave with impunity and a sickening lack of moral fiber and decency.

Beyond having said that, I don’t know what to add.  It’s just too bizarre.  One article I recall reading ages ago stated that these predators are adept at not only picking out the most vulnerable child victims but the ones whose parents were most fanatically devoted to the Church.

Still, how many thousands of victims are we now talking about?  Am I supposed to believe they all came from parents who were over-the-top with awe at the Church?

If they didn’t report these incidents to the Church in the first place, the Church wouldn’t have had a chance to cover them up…

Why didn’t the parents go to the police?

 

 

 

 

The Folly of Arming Teachers

Talk about a disaster waiting to happen…

I get it: there is a desperate need in schools for measures to be put in place to keep everyone safe from intruders with guns.  It’s not that I don’t get it.

However, the idea of arming teachers with weapons makes my blood run cold.

I went to six different schools growing up.  Three of them were wonderful.  However, the other three had inappropriate people on their faculties that should have been put away for various forms of child abuse.

I recall four jerks who worked in one of the schools.  All four had severe drug or alcohol problems.  This information was shared with me, and with my parents, later, by former faculty members.  I say this so everyone will know it’s not just something I thought as a child.  In fact, as a child, I didn’t recognize that the insanity I was seeing from those four teachers was the result of substance abuse.  I just thought they were “crazy” or “weird” in a way I could not easily define, or at least, felt they were “off,” somehow.

They were “off,” all right.  If the Betty Ford Clinic had been operational in those days, all of them should have been sent there, and the ones who were using illegal drugs in addition to booze should have been indicted, besides.

I witnessed corporal punishment in a Catholic school I attended briefly where children were beaten and slapped around for the slightest minor infraction.  Lots of people talk about how horrible the nuns were in Catholic schools.  If there’s anything worse than a nun wielding a ruler, it can only be a nun with a gun.

Even in one of the best of the schools I attended there are two teachers who come to mind immediately as having been too wacky to belong there.  Legend had it that one of them, before my time at the school, got mad at a sassy student.  So…he picked up a chair and threw it through a window.  Lovely!  Another was a relentlessly nosy woman who kept trying to get into other people’s business, even though there was no provocation for her to do so.  She just seemed to like putting people in pigeon-holes.  I later heard through the grapevine that Miss Butt-Inski was given an honest-to-God diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder by her psychiatrist.  She was about as emotionally stable as a dandelion seed in a gale-force wind.

The idea of any one of these born losers being handed a gun to “defend the school” is nothing less than absurd, and it’s terrifying besides.  Keep in mind, the examples I site here are just of the worst teachers I remember, the rock bottom group.  They’re not the only concern.  Even one of the best sort of teachers might just be tempted to lock and load on a bad day when the kiddies are too unruly.

Yes, something does need to be done to insure the safety of the kids as they return to school.   Like I said, I get it.  I even agree with it.  Safety measures need to be put in place, and pronto.  But I just don’t get why anyone would want any of these worst-case-scenario maniacs who somehow managed to slip through the cracks and become “teachers” to be defending our children with loaded firearms.  If this nonsense is the trend of the future, I hope to see the expansion of efforts for more kids to be home-schooled.

Nuns with guns? God help us!