“Hidden Figures” A Must-Watch

If you haven’t seen the incredible film Hidden Figures yet, what exactly are you waiting for this? It’s a must-see movie that brings to light essential black female historical figures who have, for all too long, been pushed under the radar. Quite frankly, I’m ashamed to say that before the movie came out, I had no idea of their incredible story – but it’s one I won’t forget anytime soon now. I kept meaning to see the film in theaters, but just never got a chance. I was going to place a hold on a DVD copy at the library, but there were a whopping 77 (!) people ahead of me on the list. Luckily, I discovered I could rent it on iTunes and finally, with a day off last week, sat down and watched it. And wow!

Hidden Figures tells the story of three African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA. Those women: Katherine Johnson, who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and several other missions; Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. The film is incredible, but the story is what matters the most.

Katherine Johnson conducted important technical work at NASA, including her time in the Guidance and Control Division of Langley’s Flight Research Division. All the while, as she was working on these important tasks, she dealt with segregation and discrimination at a number of levels. She became an aerospace technologist, calculating trajectories for missions including Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Apollo 11 and Apollo 13. Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and has received a number of other honors as well. Today, she is 98 years young. Here is her biography at NASA.

Mary Jackson became NASA’s first black female engineer in 1958, after already having worked for the company for years at Langley Research Center. A mathematician and aerospace engineer, she too fought segregation and discrimination. Jackson earned degrees in mathematics and physical science from Hampton Institute in 1942, and later petitioned the city of Hampton to allow to attend night classes at the University of Virginia. Her work at NASA eventually led her back to Langley, where she served as the Federal Women’s Program Manager and the Affirmative Action Program Manager. She retired in 1998 and passed away in 2005 at the age of 83. Here is her NASA biography.

Dorothy Vaughan became the first African-American woman to supervise a staff at the Langley Research Center. She worked tirelessly in her position as a mathematician and human computer, and taught herself & her staff the FORTRAN programming language. This led her to the eventual position of heading the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division at Langley. Their work expanded, and again, over the years Vaughan also dealt with racial segregation and discrimination. She retired from NASA in 1971, after 28 years,, and passed away in 2008 at the age of 98. Her NASA biography is here.

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On Minimalism & the Ideas Behind It

Recently, I watched a phenomenal documentary on Netflix about minimalism. It’s called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, and it focusesd on two guys, Joshua and Ryan, who called themselves The Minimalists.

Realistically – and I have to be realistic here – I don’t think I could ever fully, truly become a minimalist. (But who knows, maybe I could!) But that doesn’t mean I didn’t take a lot of out of the documentary.

Most of us, in today’s age, have a lot of “stuff,” most of which we don’t need and half of which we probably don’t even use. That’s the first point that struck a chord with me. I look around my apartment, and all I see is stuff. I have so many clothes, half of which are t-shirts packed away in sealed bins that I’ve barely opened in the nearly two years I’ve lived here. I have so many books cluttering up the shelves, books I haven’t touched in years but can’t seem to part with. (To be fair, I had a lot MORE books before I moved, and donated probably 1/3 of my collection to charity at that time.) And then, of course, there’s the other stuff, like decorative items, that are probably cute but in the end, sit around and collect dust.

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Movie Review: “Jackie” is Haunting, Memorable Biopic

image1Pablo Larrain’s 2016 biographical drama film, “Jackie,” released earlier this month, is a fascinating, haunting look into the life of Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy around the time of her husband’s death. It is fascinating, intimate and memorable – and a film I would recommend to all, whether you’re invested in this iconic figure or not.

I was fortunate to catch this flick at the historic North Park Theatre in Buffalo. I’d never been before, but I truly see why they call it “Buffalo’s best.” It is a beautiful, one-room theatre, stage and all, with a screen set up on said stage for viewing of movies. The 600-seat theatre was established in 1920 and is absolutely picturesque. It’s certainly a beautiful way to watch a film. (It also happens to be five minutes from my home and the only local-ish theater showing the film, so…. things worked out nicely.)

“Jackie” stars Natalie Portman as the title character, and is an intriguing look at the time in Jackie’s life surrounding her husband’s death. The film flips back and forth between the ‘present’ time, which is an interview between a reporter and Jackie in Hyannis Port, MA, and reflecting back on the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is Portman’s first time portraying Jackie, and I think she wears it well.

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The Hunger Games – Mockingjay, Part I: Review

All the recent weather issues in WNY held me off from going to see “The Hunger Games – Mockingjay, Part I” in theaters until last night. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait any longer, and I was able to re-watch the first two films in the series before heading to the theater to catch the third. I was absolutely pleased with The Hunger Games – Mockingjay, Part 1. I can’t wait to go see it again, watch it on DVD and wait anxiously for part two to be released next year. (Do we really have to wait that long?!?)

The rest of my review under the cut in case there are any spoilers.

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The Maze Runner: A Movie Review

This past Friday,  I went to see “The Maze Runner” in theaters as it first came out.

Having read all the books in James Dashner’s series, I was extremely excited to go see the film, compare it to the book and see how things matched up.

I’m usually pretty hard to please with film adaptations of books, but this time — I wasn’t disappointed. Dylan O’Brien played the perfect Thomas, all the young actors were incredible, and I thought the film generally stayed quite true to the book.

Be forewarned – there may be spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen the film or read the book.

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