Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Oprah Still Matters and The Week in Reviews

[I give you a sneak peek at Kevin Costner's upcoming new movie "Draft Day" - it opens April 11 - and review the movies "Kill Your Darlings," "Telstar: The Joe Meek Story" and "Spinning Plates."  I also recommend a great rock & roll memoir].

But first...

Why Oprah Still Matters

Since I have retired, I have started meditating.  I am om'ing and counting my breaths all over the place, and I really am the better for it.  There is something to being "still" with yourself, living in that quiet space between thoughts, communing with your consciousness, your real self, and being aware of your breath.

I have Oprah to thank for that. 

She and Deepak Chopra have teamed up to present free "Meditation Challenges," and that's what got me started (there is another one - "Finding Your Flow" - starting April 14.  Check it out.)

I miss Oprah.

She is not on TV every day anymore. 

I know we still see her on her OWN channel.  She has several shows she hosts such as her "Oprah Prime" series and "Oprah's Life Class." But since she left her daily afternoon show, it hasn't been the same.

I started watching Oprah's show from the very first episode.  In fact, I can remember seeing her ads for her first show, this overweight black woman who exuded something...what was it?  Realness?  All I knew was that I wanted to be her best friend.  And she was a kind of best friend for over 25 years.
For 25 years, Oprah came into our living rooms and kitchens, interviewing guests on the topics of the day, and sharing her views, but most importantly, sharing herself.

When Oprah first went into national syndication, her show wasn’t much different from Donahue’s or Geraldo’s. And Jerry Springer had not yet gone to the dark side. 

She had the usual shows like “Librarians Gone Wild” and “I’m in love with a librarian. Does that mean I have to read books?" or something like that. 

But it was during a program on skinheads that she had an epiphany. She didn’t want her show to be a vehicle for spreading hate, so she made a conscious decision to move away from the sensational and to use her show as a platform for good. And she has never looked back.

But now Oprah has retired from her daily presence on the small screen and in our homes to pursue her dreams.

Why does Oprah still matter?

  • She practically single-handedly revived the publishing industry with her Oprah’s Book Club where people reported not having read a book in years until she told them to and she is still promoting reading. Here is her list of books for 2013.

  • Her seal of approval was given to countless “favorite things,” thus assuring their success: from Spanx to Miraclebody jeans to Barack Obama’s bid for the Presidency to her current interest in meditation.

  • She launched the careers of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Suze Orman, Rachael Ray and Nate Burkus and she is single-handedly trying to save Lindsay Lohan.

  • She made dreams come true with her Wildest Dreams tour, from helping  audience members figure out their true bra size to bestowing Pontiac G6s to all 276 of her audience members (I wish I had been there). 

  • She has teamed up with Deepak Chopra for Meditation Challenges (I have been doing these and just signed up for the next one.  They are free and wonderful. I highly recommend them.  Can't you tell how much more calm I am?) and one of her new shows on the OWN channel is Super Soul Sundays where she sits with top thinkers, writers and spiritual leaders like Eckhart Tolle or Toni Morrison to try to raise our consciousness.

  • Oprah was and still is a champion of reading and libraries, even if she never did fill her audience with librarians for one of her Favorite Things shows, despite my many emails to her producers. ( Didn't she realize that librarians needed new cars and washers and dryers too)? Oprah said that it is not enough to simply tell children to read, but there should be books in the house. She said, “You make a field trip of a day to the library and make a big deal out of getting your own library card."  Hallelujah!

Her shows made a difference.

Oprah tells the story of a woman who came up to her in a store and told her that she used to beat her kids. And then she watched an Oprah show about how you weren’t supposed to beat your kids. At first that didn’t make sense to her, because her mother had beaten her and her mother had been beaten. But she kept watching the show and she said that Oprah had been consistent about this issue. So she said she was going to try to not beat her kids for one week. She tried it for a week and then a second week. And then she said, “Now I can’t remember how long it’s been. I don’t beat my kids anymore---and I got different kids.”

As Oprah says, quoting her friend Maya Angelou, "When you know better, you do better."

For me personally, it was Oprah herself that I tuned in to see every day. 

Oprah was like a close girlfriend for 25 years, sharing her own story which included child abuse, issues with weight and her “aha moments.” Her sincerity urged me to make a difference and to be my best self. Her programs always seemed relevant to what was going on in my life at the time. When I would share some new idea with my family about family time or how we might want to change something, my son would yell, “Mom’s been watching Oprah again.” When the change was something he didn’t like, he would cry, “I hate Oprah!”

She is one of the most powerful women in the world, and she has chosen to use that power to help others. No matter what you think of her, I don't think you can say her heart is not in the right place.  She wanted to use TV to make the world better.  She has her own network and what she shows there is of a higher nature than most television. 

On her website she shares her vision:

"My life's work is about fulfilling my potential and leading other people to fulfill their own. It is my calling to help other people find their calling and summon the courage to live it."

So even though Oprah is not on television every day she is still a presence as she uses her fame and power for good.

And we should support her.  If you complain about television, then you should support people who are trying to elevate it and use it for higher goals.  Check it out.

Oprah deserves all of the accolades, and I am glad she is realizing her own dreams.

But I miss seeing her every day. 

I think she should run for President. 

Or at least become my best friend.

What do you think of Oprah?

Oh, on second thought, I don't really care. 
I don't want you to say anything bad about Oprah.

Check out her new website.

The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres April 11***

Sneak Preview
Kevin Costner plays the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns and his career is on the line if he doesn't put together a winning team on Draft Day.
This movie doesn't open in theatres until April 11, but my active theatre-going resulted in some free tickets to this sneak peek.
Hubby had to explain some of it to me (as in how the draft works) since I am not a big football fan, and I probably wouldn't have gone to this if my beloved Kevin wasn't in it.  But football fans will enjoy the real life football footage, the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing for draft picks and the appearances of famous football heroes.

I could have done without the romance side story, but didn't mind the big kiss at the end ('cuz I LOVE Kevin).
(Humorously, the Seattle Seahawks had the first pick here and were the "bad guys!" This must have been made before we won the Super Bowl).
Rosy the Reviewer fans will enjoy this despite some implausibilities.  And it's a nice lead-in to the actual NFL draft in May.

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)


Recreation of a true life murder that brought Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs together.

It's 1944 and all three meet while at Columbia University. It's early days for what will become the "Beat Generation." Ginsberg is just finding his writing chops. They fall under the thrall of charismatic Lucien Carr, who is supposedly being stalked by an older man.

"Kill your darlings" comes from a quote arguably attributed to William Faulkner.  It's a caution to writers that to reach their writing potential they must get rid of their literary self-indulgences and pretentions.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Brace yourselves, Harry Potter Fans. Daniel Radcliffe like you have never seen him. An interesting addition to the history of the Beat Poets.

This documentary shares the stories of three restaurants: Alinea, a Chicago restaurant with three Michelin starsBreitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa and La Cucina de Gaby in Tucson, Arizona.

There could not be three more different restaurants.  Alinea embraces molecular gastronomy and the concept of food as art; Breitbach's embraces home cooking and provides a place for locals to meet; and La Cucina de Gaby embraces Mexican comfort food. 

What links them together?  They all faced tragedy and heartbreak and triumphed.  And they all really cared about their customers' dining experience.
Rosy the Reviewer says...A foodie's delight.

Telstar: The Joe Meek Story (2008)

A biopic about the rise and tragic fall of British record producer Joe Meek, who had a huge hit in 1962 with "Telstar," the first record by a British group to make it to #1 in the U.S. He recorded many artists who went on to have big careers (Tom Jones, Gene Vincent...) and his influence on the music industry is still felt today.


 Recognize it?
Despite his genius and innovations in music production, Meek had issues.  He was the British equivalent of Phil Spector.

I love biopics, but this one doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy or a tragedy. It starts out with over the top comical characters and then morphs into tragedy. It's all over the place. Despite a good performance by Con O'Neill as Meek, there is a lot of scenery chewing (do you hear me, Kevin Spacey?). What could have been a compelling story fails to engage.
Rosy the Reviewer says...very atmospheric take on the British pop scene of the early 60's and a sad story, but it's a bit of a slog.  Depends on how dedicated you are to films, biopics and the music world of the 1960's.  I had trouble with this one.  But this guy is worth knowing about.
(For a better British biopic on a similar topic and of the same era, try "The Look of Love."  I reviewed it here). 

***Book of the Week***

Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life by Graham Nash (2013)

Musician Graham Nash candidly shares his life, his love affairs and his stints in The Hollies and with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

I judge a memoir on how readable it is and how honest and this one meets both criteria.  It's a fast, fun read that you Baby Boomers will especially love.  All the shenanigans of the 1960's and 1970's are here.  Made me very nostalgic for the good old days of sex, drugs and rock and roll!

Rosy the Reviewer says...for rock & roll memoirs, they don't get any better than this.
That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

 "Why We Need Librarians."


Thanks for reading!

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Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.


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