Good Bones (HGTV)

After binging on Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper and other demo and remodel shows, I stumbled upon this beauty. Set in the historic neighborhoods of Indianapolis, Mina, Karen and Tad renovate homes that are dilapidated and in rough shape to return them to their original glory. These Two Chicks and a Hammer, with their stupid demolition partner (Tad) pour their heart, soul, grit and creativity into each project. The family dynamics are fun to watch because their love for the work makes it a true joy to watch.

If I had known about this show earlier, I would have incorporated a few of their ideas into the new house. Their staging techniques bring industrial and Victorian styles into the modern times within a modest budget. All their projects seem to ooze a solemn yet vibrant energy that captivate the audience and the buyers alike. Mina’s expertise in home construction and design are awe inspiring and worthy of admiration. She, and her mom, prove women can change the world, one tool belt at a time. Hehe

This hands on, crafty crew will win over your heart and respect. They truly to their jobs for the challenge and not the money. If you build a high quality product and make a difference in the communities you touch, the cash will flow in eventually. Lovely attitude to have in these dark times. This family is proof that the welcoming vibe of the heartland is still alive and well. Their smiles and satisfied looks at the end of each remodel inspire me to do more at home and not sell myself short. True girl power.

Watch on demand now on HGTV.

Enjoy!

Genius (NatGeo)

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds in physics. His unruly hair and grand ideas about the cosmos have changed the way we think about gravity, time and space. The eccentric character he possessed made him an icon in Switzerland, Germany and beyond, as he dared to challenge the Reich twice! Even after his discoveries were used to create the bombs that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki he remained relevant and revered for his humanitarianism. A truly amazing man.

His life wasn’t all roses and accolades though, and NatGeo does a superb job at piecing together the life of this true genius. From his love live, marriages and children to his journey as a student and patent clerk, they bring his softer side to light despite the shortcomings if his arrogance and callousness. The parade of scientific contemporaries, the likes of Marie Curie and Planck, make the show a remarkable geek and nerdgasm. Imagine living in those times and knowing the people we now credit for Nobel worthy discoveries. Time machine anyone?

If you have a moment, consider binging on this extravagant yet realistic view inside the science that shaped the 20th century. We wouldn’t be here without the application of the work these fine scientists. Their lives are very much worth celebrating and honoring on the small screen. Truly an inspiration for all of us who endeavor to reach, literally, for the stars. The men and women behind the curtain are truly admirable and interesting. The patriotism and overwhelming uncertainty of the first half of the 1900s palpable as it was an honor to advance science and engineering to win and end wars. A different take on history, if there ever could be one.

Watch on demand on NatGeo.

Prost!

Popular 1980s Kids Shows And Movies Worth Rewatching (With or Without Children)

The 80s was a decade of change. Working women were taking and climbing the career ladders so fast and furious that studios flocked to market their take on the new powerful female executive persona. From Baby Boom to Working Girl, the subject of feminism and sexism became household conversation topics. Since many women went back to work because of their recent status as single, divorced or widowed moms, movies created for children during the decade tackled hard-hitting subjects like death, depression, child abuse and neglect, and infertility/adoption. Listed below is a list of shows with the reason for being rewatched.

1. Fraggle Rock

(Real life situations, depression, death)

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On the first episode, right off the bat, one of the characters states that he is depressed and shares thoughts of suicide. His friends rally around him to show how grand life can be. To add insult to injury, one of their other friends goes missing, (I vaguely recall he may have run away) and in their journey to find him they discover a bunch of cool yet perilous places outside their safe home environment. The series was so good at helping people empathize with difficult situations and narratives that Joseph Gordon Levitt is trying to reboot it. It is raw, very well scripted and, believe it or not, fun!

2. The Rescuers

(Child abuse, neglect and child labor)

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Disney used to make these dark socially critical films (101 Dalmatians anyone?) that raised awareness of animal and child abuse. The narratives featured neglected kids that were empowered by their circumstances to stop their abusers, teaching kids to spot signs of mistreatment and inappropriate behaviour towards minors. In The Rescuers, the story focuses on a girl named Penny who is kidnapped by a woman who has no consideration or love for her, an abuses her power to control and enslave. In come Bernardo and Bianca, two mice, that receive Penny’s pleas for help and set out to rescue her. By the end the brave little girl is adopted after she saves the day, all because of the unsanctioned UN help of her new friends. I am a more compassionate person because of this movie and I learned about the United Nations efforts to end social injustice, albeit briefly. Wouldn’t have wished this in my worst playground enemy.

Parents, uncles, aunts, and/or grandparents that reading this: Are you thinking that these subjects are too mature for children? As a child that lived through the tech boom, and saw LGBTQIA and female right movements gain ground, I cannot stress how important knowing all this was to me when dealing with other children and adults – be it in person or through social media. The world can be a scary place when one doesn’t have the tools to navigate it.

3. An American Tail

(Immigration,tyranny,oppressive governments, trust, loyalty, hope)

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Fievel Mousekewitz travels from Russia with his family to seek new opportunities in the new world. His parents want to give this young mouse and his sister a new beginning free of cats. They escape famine and poverty together but due to a series of misfortunes they to get separated at sea. Fievel must save his sister and search for his parents in this foreign environment. As a visitor in a new country, who can he trust? Will he ever find his family? This is a must watch for anyone trying to understand immigration policies or life on “the other side of freedom”. The theme song for this movie was “Somewhere out there” and to this day I will always remember Fievel’s promise to find his papa and mama for the sake of his sis. 😢😢😢

4. Russkies

(Cold War, ethical treatment of prisoners)

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A group of kids rescue a Russian forces operative in need of medical attention and protection. His mission goes awry and he is trapped in enemy soil. Will the kids save him or rat him out to the authorities? What would happen if the government captured the man? This movie helped me see the Russians as people and not just as enemies. 1980s Cold War kids were very aware of nuclear bombs, submarine attacks and espionage because it permeated the discourse. Because the intent was to end the war, films made later in the decade were meant to humanize our comrades and educate an entire generation to look beyond past tensions and see the Russkies as friends.

5. Explorers

(Space Exploration, Innovation, Team work, Loyalty)

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When you think about it, a group of misfits building a spaceship to explore the galaxy seems a bit cliché and overdone but back in the 80s this was groundbreaking sci-fi/fantasy cinema. If you can get past the mechanical contraption they get off the ground you will be able to appreciate the nuances of their adventure. Will they be able to remain friends after such a journey? What will they find? If this movie is too slow or dark for you try Flight of The Navigator. Time travel and time shifts anyone?

These are just a few of the worthy shows. There are so many that I could list, and so many more that I probably couldn’t recall because they were out of our TV listings. Do you recall movies and TV shows from the 80s that inspired you and/or taught you to be considerate and empathic to social change? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Enjoy!

Five Must Watch Documentaries on Netflix

Netflix has revived the interest in real life investigative journalism. Be it in serial or traditional movie format, producers and directors are benefiting from the public’s appetite to learn about the problems that affect society and the crimes that are being committed in their own backyards. The following five documentaries are a few of the most popular and most impacting subjects available for immediate streaming. They will surely blow your mind and alter your perception about the subject matter.

1. The Keepers

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Sister Cathy Cesnik was found brutally murdered. The investigation grows cold but uncovers allegations that the Catholic Church knew sexual abuse of minors was reported to the victim shortly prior to her death, cases they had buried to protect the accused clergy men. Another woman was also murdered in a similar fashion casting doubt that the killing may have been due to the coverup, and after 47 years, both cases are still unsolved. Listening to the investigators and victims’ stories will break your heart and enrage you. Watch with caution.

2. The Champions

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Ever wonder what happened to the canines rescued from Michael Vick’s illegal dog fighting ring compound? Then this documentary is for you. The story starts by introducing the events surrounding the raid and subsequent investigation and proceeds to show what happened to the dogs who were adopted out, and the ones who are still in sanctuary. Each adoptive family will give you a peak into the life of their Vicktory Dog while the rescue staff shares their individual rehabilitation journey. This case changed the odds for the fighting dogs recovered in raids thereafter, giving these pups a second chance at life. Have tissues at the ready.

3. I Am Jane Doe

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Sex trafficking is reaching new heights in the USA, to a degree that online companies are profiteering from the illegal activity of selling women and children through personal ads. Even when victims speak up and seek justice from the most prominent sex ad page Backpage.com, the courts find in favor of the internet company claiming they are protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. You have to watch the full story to understand why this ruling was so appalling that even Congress stepped in to seek justice for past, present and future victims.

4. Making a Murderer 

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Steve Avery is accused and convicted of a crime he allegedly didn’t commit. Why was he convicted? The evidence and narrative lead to a corrupt police department with a grudge against the accused. By now, many viewers have become familiar with this documentary series but to those who haven’t watched it, we implore you to check it out. This investigation will have you shouting at your TV and wondering if it could happen to you. As Dave Chappelle quips: “A 200k in Wisconsin should have worked for a white guy”.

5. Food Inc

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Ever since modern society outsourced farming to a multinational corporations and a few farmers, the way the food in our plate is grown and/or raised has been optimized for profit. Genetically modified organic (GMO) seeds and products have flooded the market making consumers wonder what goes into their bodies via the supermarket. Is it too late to ask for pesticide free fruits and veggies, more humane methods of raising and processing beef, chicken and pork? Stay tuned…

Enjoy!

10 Things You May Have Missed While Watching Wonder Woman

Spoilers to follow…

By now, movie goers have been slammed with reviews and opinions of DC’s cinematic adaptation of Wonder Woman. Truth be told, I cried, cheered and cherished every moment of her debut and thanked the Gods for Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot but knew many were not aware of the inside jokes or tips of the hat to the original super hero. Feminist or not, I implore you: Read up on Diana’s legacy during her last 75 years of history before throwing shade at plot points you didn’t understand. This film was fan service to the extreme and had a few reshoots with a very pregnant leading lady to make the film more relatable to the uninitiated viewers. Those just introduced to this leading superhero may not be aware of the following:

1. By defeating Ares, Diana becomes the God of War.

She is a demigod and daughter of Zeus. A weapon designed to eradicate Ares from existence. In Greek mythology, besting the God of War means you become “IT”. Similar to the Elder’s Wand in Harry Potter, the power is passed on to the conqueror. Ladies and gents, we have a new sheriff in town and she is all out of bubble gum. The new God of War is full of compassion and confidence. Does this mean that future wars are to be blamed on her? How will she influence the will of men? To be continued…

2. Amazons are not immortal, and more so outside of Thermyscira, Diana can be killed.

By a lead bullet no less. What makes Wonder Woman so badass is that she goes into battle knowing she can die. She is vulnerable and can get beat down by enemies and that fact doesn’t phase her. You see her bleed and hurt just like any other human. She just doesn’t dwell on the pain and works through it, gracefully. Broken ribs? No problem. She’s got this. 💪💪💪💪

3. No one calls Diana Wonder Woman during the entire movie.

She is always Diana, Princess of Thermyscira and the Amazons, Daughter of Hippolyta, God Killer. Steve gives her the last name Prince to make her appear normal. Not a single soul calls her Wonder Woman. She is always herself and her moral fiber earns her peers’ respect. Ain’t that grand?

4. Diana’s Amazonian armor is the color of Steve’s country of service.  

For this movie, Steve is both US Air Force and a spy for the British Army. The colors of the Union Jack and the USA flag are similar shades, but for modernization’s and shock value’s sake, DC made the colors more metallic and armorish. The original outfit for Wonder Woman was made in these colors to make her more relatable to the world of men. She wears the flag, in a way, of the imperialists and superpowers of the world at the time of her inception. (1940s)

5. The Amazonian Queen and General are played by actresses who have played popular movie royalty. 

Connie Nielsen played a Greek princess in Gladiator, and Robin Wright played Buttercup in The Princess Bride. Even though it doesn’t relate to the lore, these ladies are icons in their own right and could have not been cast more appropriately. The rest of the amazons were Olympic athletes and fitness stars, among others. All these women trained and were not faking it. They all made me proud to fight wearing a skirt.

6. In the comic books, Diana’s original cover story is that she is Steve’s secretary.

She gets clearance this way and is close by every time Steve needs saving. The trope of the damsel in distress was reversed in their love affair. Originally, her love for Steve is what has her leaving the protection of her Queendom, and Etta Candy was a college student that befriended the Amazon when she was introduced to the world of men. It is Etta who tells her how to dress and what to say or do. This is why this secondary character’s role is so meaningful: a woman helping another sister without passing judgement. Wow!

7. Another trope reversed: Man’s savior and protector is a woman

There is a reason why the word human is not used. All the points made are about men and their nature. Men or man is plural for humankind BUT, in this movie, the emphasis on the world is meant to anchor us around the concept of the patriarchy and its hegemony. In other words, the darkness and cruelty of humanity is embodied by men, and it is up to a man to prove they are creatures worth saving. The woman in the room doesn’t understand why men can’t be more like the Amazons and why women in general aren’t more like her. Hmmm.

8. Hippolyta plays the role of Queen and King, misogyny and all.

The Queen goes out of her way to protect her daughter and keep her in the dark about her true power. She refuses to train her because a Princess should not be a warrior and tells her she was made if clay, a very frail and temperamental material. When she leaves to fight Ares, the Queen calls her “Her greatest sorrow”. Considering she had an affair with a married man and raised the kid on her own you’d expect her to be more progressive and would want more for her daughter. A little more support, mom?

9. The Amazons’ knowledge is thousands of years old but they never show how advanced it truly is.

Diana has never left “Paradise Island” and has to rely on information collected and analyzed almost a millenia ago. This is why everything is new to her but her people are incredibly advanced. In the comics, the medicine in Thermyscira borders on magical and can heal almost anything. Yet Antiope dies and we move on. Hmmm.

10. The invisible jet is never explained (or shown).

We know Wonder Woman has an invisible jet. It appears it could be made of transparent aluminum (wink wink) and has some kind of stealth propulsion that makes it undetectable. Why did they not explain this part and/or skipped it? Does it matter? Aliens? Wayne Tech perhaps? It will probably not make it into the movies. One can dream…

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There are many other intricacies left unexplained or unmentioned but I’d need to see the movie again to fully exploit and explain those. Are there any you remember that aren’t on this list? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Enjoy!

Shots Fired (Fox)

A cop pulls over a white college student who was looking for fried chicken in the wrong side of town. In the exchange, shots are fired, but we are not shown who the shooter is. Deputy Beck is the most likely culprit and he happens to be the only black cop in the Gate Station Sheriff’s Department in NC. To avoid racial bias the DOJ sends newly minted Special Prosecutor Preston Terry (Stephan James) to investigate alongside investigator Ashe Akino (Sanaa Lathan) both Black agents. The case hits Ashe close to home because she is an ex cop who has been in Beck’s shoes: She was acquitted of gunning down an unarmed young suspect earlier in her career.

Akino’s personal life and grit intertwine with the cases in a way that makes her central to the on-screen developments. A strong and hard woman, she won’t rest until the answers are revealed and the truth is served. “Justice is a racist bitch”, she claims, and boy is she right!

With a stellar cast of characters, the plot thickens to the point you start believing that there is no way to close this case without additional shots being fired. The tension in the town is so high you can sense it in each move the police and citizens make to help shape the investigation. Recurring appearances by Helen Hunt as the State’s Governor Eamons, who orders the investigation, and Richard Dreyfus as Cox, the owner of a series of private correction facilities, add gravitas to an already serious and engaging drama.

The series takes a hard look at the dynamics between the police and how they treat black citizens. It uses Ferguson and other examples to explain how people in these impoverished and forgotten communities come together to fight injustice. The screenplay emphasizes the role of faith and unity that spearhead the civil unrest events that occur after justice is not served. We are shown first hand the hopelessness that the people feet when one of their own is gunned down with excessive force or no reason, regardless of race or gender; the grief the parents face when they learn their child was caught up in the middle of a greater conspiracy.

This 10 part series is not to be missed especially for those looking to understand the subject of Black Lives Matter. Fox outdid themselves with this well-rounded and poignant drama. Watch On Demand or through the Fox app.

Gal Gadot is not Wonder Woman: She Is Just the Actor That Portrays Her

I am getting tired of the mainstream media making everything about politics. I’m tired if men saying Wonder Woman as a film is a waste of time because women can’t be heroes or that the movies they star in are not worth the film used to capture the story. Now, I have to put up with people turning Wonder Woman into a white zionist because Gal Gadot happens to be Israeli? WTF!

Wonder Woman is a symbol of justice, truth and love. She was born on a fictional island called Thermyscira because her author, Dr William Moulton Marston, a psychologist, realized that no woman of this earth could be sold as a superhero to the men of the 1930s. Why? These men of power viewed women as weak, inferior and not worth the right to vote; things to be controlled and cared for. In a way, his duplicity worked out and after 75 years she is still an icon and one of the most popular and successful characters in DC/comic book history.  Diana Prince stands for more than whatever Gal Gadot, Lynda Carter and Patty Jenkins stand for or have achieved. The Queen of the Amazons was designed to save the world and serve as an example of what women can accomplish if they are given the power and space to perform.

When they announced Gal Gadot was cast, I didn’t like the decision because she was of Fast and the Furious Fame. Her acting wasn’t atrocious but it didn’t draw me in. She was too skinny, etc. Ironically, the fact that she was an ex-soldier for the Israeli army was the only plus to me as this meant she had combat skills and first hand experience of courage under fire. Soldiers are loyal, and execute orders BUT they are also trained to use judgement and to avoid conflict. Just like Wonder Woman.

Yes, Gal participated in the war against Palestine in which men, women and children died. My parents and cousins fought battles against enemies foreign and domestic too. I bet she has no qualms about having represented their country, regardless of the blood spilt. So did my family.  Yes, they all regret the loss but they did the wrong thing, according to those who oppose war, for the right reasons. The victors will write history and in 200 years we will see how well we will be judged, when the dust has settled. For now, all these people live daily with the consequences of their actions and have moved on from the events in question to a more promising future.

The movie itself is not about the Holocaust or has zionist undertones. It attempts to paint the first world war as the horrifying event in history it was, and to pay homage to the lives lost by asking the viewers to reconsider bigotry, racism and blind patriotism. Regardless of who plays Wonder Woman the message would have been the same and just as powerful, until some critic with a dissenting opinion decided to make it about Ms Jenkins, the studio or any of the cast members.

It always happens. An agenda comes in politics and startegists decide it is best to smash and bad mouth the intention of the plot or backers to devalue the content. Where were these detractors when white actors were cast as black heroes? When asians were poorly portrayed as illiterate buffoons or martial artists? When where they when Italians played Latinos and Latinos played the bad guys? Don’t get me started on the portrayal of Arabs and Muslims as agents of evil. Doesn’t surprise me we are making this about Gal Gadot and not about the character. She is Israeli so she must be evil, and therefore Wonder Woman’s portrayal is tarnished by this happenstance. Give me a break people!

I’m a Wonder Woman fan well versed in her character, deeds and lore. Her origin story and her achievements are out of this world, and live in the annals of comic book history. If liking this movie and Gal make me a Semitic supporter and person to be hated so be it. I refuse to make this superhero about the people behind her cinematic portrayal. I love Steve Trevor and I dislike Chris Pine. In my world, that would be more of a valid reason to boycott. To each their own, except in this case. Step away from my feminist idiol. You definitely don’t deserve her.

The Keepers (Netflix)

True Crime is a very compelling genre for documentaries and Netflix gas found another crowd pleaser with their inside look at the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a 26 year old nun at Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore, MD. In the same crusader-style of Making a Murderer, The Keepers is poised to study possible suspects and ties between the murder and the disappearance of Joyce Malecki, 20. What they stumble upon turned out to be a conspiracy of epic proportions spanning decades of police misconduct, obstruction of justice and unfathomable pain and suffering.

Facing the possible wrath of the Catholic Church and the legal staff of the Baltimore Archdiocese, a group of women set to find out who has information about who killed Sister Cathy. In their quest they uncovered accusations of child sexual abuse and misconduct perpetrated by the priests, and possibly local police and figures of authority. Father A. Joseph Maskell emerges as the ring leader and most likely conspirator of her death but this theory fails to explain how Joyce fits into the picture. With leads growing cold and documents and evidence gone missing, solving this 47 year old cold case doesn’t look promising.

Between the loss of life, the repercussions of the abuse, and the survivor stories, this series is emotionally charged making it highly reactive. The “trigger points” all over the place showcasing a riveting and enthralling story about people coming together to denounce pure evil. The accounts are raw, echoing and validating the findings of the Spotlight exposé: the Catholic Church covered up the allegations by sending priests to rehab or reassigning them to new parishes in the hopes admonishment was enough to curb the urge to seduce and manipulate children and teenagers. By the end of the seven episode run you are left with so many unanswered questions that it will be hard to not feel rage and disgust. Not recommended for the faint of heart or those who have experienced trauma of this nature.

Currently streaming on Netflix, The Keepers is receiving high acclaim and higher ratings. Have tissues on the ready and take breaks. This is real life drama, with real live people.

Enjoy!

Why I am Skipping Season 7 of Game of Thrones (GoT)

I’m not watching this upcoming season of GoT. HBO can take my money subscription wise but that will not sway me. (There are many shows in their lineup that deserve more of my time anyway, like Westworld.) For the first couple of seasons, clutching the books and waiting to see my unsuspecting friends’ reactions kept me coming back for more. Now that it is all officially off book and off the rails, the joy and excitement of drinking and knowing things has expired. Being an ignorant viewer in the crowd seems dirty and unholy somehow.

The series has had a good run and seriously doesn’t need to be tainted by attempts to garner ratings and break records. My sincere hope is that my friend George doesn’t give it all away to please the viewing masses. Long gone are the days of being the only one that knew Jon was of royal and true Stark descent. I miss having that edge to tie in what I was seeing with what I had felt or read. Being immersed in the subject with all of my senses working together, exercising my mind, added meaning to watching this epic unfold. Now, it is all merchandising plots and revenue strategies to me. *Sigh*

Watch out for fan fiction and posters like the one below. I don’t think anything they can come up with will beat anything I have surmised. Gotta admit this poster rocks one of my theories. Glad to know other nerds are out there expecting great things from this season and the books. My enthusiasm ran out so it is up to them to carry the banners to war.

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Season 7, the final chapter, will be a reduced episode run with longer run times. We’ll see how the pushback release date of July 16, from the regular April debut, helps or hinders viewership. You’ll find me outside enjoying the sunlight most likely. Winter was here but summer is coming…

Stay tuned.

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