Tag Archives: carol starkey

A Wrinkle in Time

NOV / DEC 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY

I’ve loved science fiction for as long as I can remember. From Flight of the Navigator to E. T. to Aliens, to the countless novels and short-story collections, to TV shows like Star Trek and Quantum Leap, sci-fi has surrounded me pretty much since birth. Continue reading

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The Turn of the Screw

HALLOWEEN 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY

 Halloween is right around the corner, meaning it’s time for costumes, candy, and scary stories. Some stations play movies like Children of the Corn and Friday the 13th leading up to the holiday. Libraries will display frightening books. And children will be extra jumpy as they anticipate jump scares. Continue reading

The Power of a Pen: Sara Joseph Hale

SEPT / OCT 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY

Quick, picture someone who’s powerful. Do you have the person in your mind? Is he tall? Does he have lots of muscles or great charisma? Your imagined person may be strong indeed, but I know of someone who, though not flashy, tall, or muscled, was very powerful. Her name was Sarah Josepha Hale, and though she was born over 200 years ago, many of her life’s contributions we still feel today. Continue reading

Movie Review: Blazing Saddles

JULY / AUG 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY

Mel Brooks is hilarious, right? Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Spaceballs. Young Frankenstein. Brooks produced all of those movies, and they never fail to crack me up. True, some of the humor is juvenile, but they’re movies I quote and I know if I need a laugh, they’ll do the job. Many reviewers hold Blazing Saddles in high esteem, but I thought a lot of the humor fell flat.

The movie is a spoof on stereotypical westerns and was revolutionary for its time. A black man becomes the sheriff, and must win over the town he resides in before they lynch him. He and this town are all that stand in the way of the railroad expansion, but it feels like Brooks is trying too hard to be funny. He mocks cowboys and their gassy diet; he makes fun of the burlesque lifestyle; he ridicules the rich owner of the railroad, but I didn’t laugh once and only smiled once or twice.

One thing that bothered me was the constant use of the n-word, though the script used it more to point out inherent racism than as an actual insult. Even Cleavon Little, the actor who played the black sheriff, had no problem with using it and reassured one of his fellow white actors it was all right to use that term. Brooks himself has acknowledged he remade the film today, he couldn’t use that word.

Not that the entire movie is terrible, but I think part of the movie’s charm is gone because all the jokes in this movie are ones everyone knows, though some of them were new at the time. Until Blazing Saddles, there had never been a farting cowboy in a movie, so when the ring of cowboys pass gas and belch, audiences must have found it hilarious. 40 years later, it’s not new or hilarious. The cowboy who’s an ace shot even when he’s drunk isn’t original, and Brooks’s breaking of the fourth wall, while amusing, isn’t bust-a-gut hilarious.

The acting pulls this movie down. Gene Wilder lacks his normal charisma, giving a pale performance of the drunk cowboy who never misses his target. Mel Brooks often plays a small part in his movies and Blazing Saddles is no different. Here, he lacks his usual humor. Instead, he’s raunchy and almost a caricature of himself. Even Dom DeLuise has a lackluster performance. If the actors had given a little more life to their roles, this movie may have stood the test of time better, or at least stood on the merits of its actors. Instead, the one shining star is Madeline Kahn. She delivers as the seductress who falls in love with the man she was hired to con and later pulls no punches with her scandalous song in front of a crowd of men.

If you have an hour and a half to kill, I don’t recommend Blazing Saddles. Try one of Mel Brooks’s other movies, or if you’re in the mood for a funny western, give City Slickers a try.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Starkley lives in New England with her husband, three daughters, and numerous pets. She likes to read, write, bake, and dabble with the clarinet. She also infrequently blogs.

Inside the Glass Mountain

MAY / JUNE 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY

In Arabian culture, family carries great importance. As Margaret Nydell writes in Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Modern Times, “family loyalty and obligations take precedence over loyalty to friends or demands of a job.” This familial loyalty leads to overprotection of their women, and reverence of mothers. Arabians value courtesy and politeness as a culture, which leads to the setup of the set of tales in Jean Russell Larson’s The Glass Mountain, and Other Arabian Tales. Continue reading

LOST: A Father’s Love

JAN / FEB 2017: BY CAROL STARKEY

While not a main character, Michael Dawson from ABC’s Lost was a complex man, not easily described or put in a box. When Michael and his girlfriend Susan discover they’re going to have a baby, they’re overjoyed. Michael puts his career on hold, working construction to support Susan and little Walt. Over the following months, Michael and Susan drift apart, and Susan takes a job in Amsterdam, taking Walt with her against Michael’s wishes. While overseas, she marries her boss and coerces Michael into giving up custody of his son. Continue reading

Trixie Belden

SEPT / OCT 2106: BY CAROL STARKEY

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I first read The Secret of the Mansion at eleven or twelve. My mom owned the Trixie Belden books from when she was a teenager, and they looked interesting. She had the first ten books and I flew through them. Later, a teacher had the rest of the series and I devoured them. I never reread the entire series, but I reread the ten at home many times. Continue reading

West Side Story: The Updated Romeo and Juliet

JULY / AUG 2016: BY CAROL STARKEY

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Leonard Berstein took Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and made it applicable to more modern audiences. While no one would say Romeo and Juliet is irrelevant, Bernsteins’s story takes on a life of its own. With numerous musical numbers and strong actors, West Side Story is a musical not soon forgotten. Continue reading