Monday, December 31, 2012

Forgiving and Forgetting

Greetings Pups,

So the year is coming to an end, and I had to think of a way to commemorate this event. Now I could be fun and do the wrap-ups or "stuff that happened" lists that pretty much every channel and magazine and website is doing, but I choose to go a different route. I want to talk about something a little bit deeper than that. According to me, anyway.

Every new year, people talk about resolutions and changing themselves for the better. Of course, those new years resolutions have almost become a joke, since it seems most people don't ever keep them. Well, hopefully, there will be one thing that we all choose to do as the year begins and throughout its entirety - forgive.

Yes, I admit it. I talk much about the terrible things people have done and continue to do to me. I have to vent. But I learn that, once the release is done, then it is time to let it go and forgive. I know it has been said quite a bit, but it is actually true that forgiveness is for you, not the person who wronged you. They don't care about what they've done. They don't carry the burden. You do. Frankly, I don't want to pay for the sins of someone else. Pretty sure someone else already did that. So, therefore, I choose to forgive my enemies. I choose to not give them power over me and my life. It's not always the easiest thing to do, but the reward for doing so is well worth it.

Now the word "forgive" often goes along with the word "forget" You already know what I think of forgiving, but should we also forget? Well, I don't think so. Not completely anyway. Everything we go through, good and bad, makes us who we are today. Remembering these things can help us not repeat mistakes, and it can also make us very grateful that we made it through those obstacles. As I always say, you can't fully appreciate your here and now unless you understand your there and then.

So, as we head into a new year, do not let the things that happened in the past year hold you back from being truly happy. Forgive and move on, but always remember what made you strong.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top Ten Beach Boys Songs

Greetings Pups,

Last week was one filled with heavy laden memories for any true admirer of The Beach Boys. First, December 21 was what would have been Carl Wilson's 66th birthday, and just yesterday was the 29th anniversary of Dennis Wilson's death. Yes, it has been a bittersweet seven days indeed.

I could go on and on about the awesomeness of The Beach Boys, but that would probably end up being a five part series. And, currently, I just don't have the time for that. So I guess we'll all have to suffice with a list of my top ten songs by this beloved band. Trust, this one took a lot of thought. Narrowing down all the great Beach Boys songs to a mere ten was not an easy task, but I did my best. So here we go.

#10. "The Warmth of the Sun" - Now this one was not always a favorite, I must admit. I think mainly because I never gave it a fair shot. But then, about ten years ago, I heard Vince Gill cover it, and I thought it was amazing. Of course, since Vince Gill's voice can make any song amazing, I wasn't sure if it was his vocal chords or the composition. So I gave the original version a chance and ended up absolutely loving it. It is a gentle and beautiful song that grips every listener with an overwhelming sense of emotion. When you know that they apparently wrote it on the night of the Kennedy assassination, it makes it all the more poignant.

#9. "Surfer Girl" - Well, I had to put at least one song on this list with the word "surf" in the title, or a variation of it, since it was in their first seven or so singles. I, of course, have chosen what I see as the best. But aside from the greatness of the actual song, I also enjoy the story behind its creation. According to what I've heard, Brian's melody for it was inspired by a version of "When You Wish Upon a Star", and if you listen closely, you can really hear it. Hey, does that mean this is the first incident of sampling?

#8. "Sloop John B" - This song is one that wasn't actually written by Brian Wilson or any of the Boys. It is, in fact, a traditional folk song that was brought to the band by Al Jardine. They did, however, tweak it a lot, and they gave it this phenomenal arrangement. I can't even imagine how stunning it must have felt hearing it that way for the first time the way they did. I heard it decades after its birth, and it still got to me. Still does, too.

#7. "Good Vibrations" - Of course, this song is on the list. If for no other reason than it took about a year to be recorded. Yeah, this song was made during Brian's, let's say, misunderstood period. He was obsessed with making this song absolutely perfect. I'd say he came pretty close. I do love a song that you have to really listen to in order to hear everything. And once you do, it is certainly worth it.

#6. "'Til I Die" - This is probably one of the least known songs on this list, sadly. It's from the Surf's Up album and was subsequently released as a B-side. I think the foundation of this song is fairly simple, but once you put in that intricate Beach Boys essence, it's kind of a masterpiece. I suppose making something simple and complicated all at once is a sign of true brilliance.

#5. "I Can Hear Music" - Okay, here's another one not written by any of The Beach Boys themselves. Actually, it was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and . . . Phil Spector. That's right, kids. At one time, Phil Spector was considered a musical genius as opposed to, you know, what you may know him as today. But I don't want to dwell on that. I'd rather discuss the fantastic way that The Beach Boys covered this song. At this point in time, Brian had lost interest in being the band's producer, so the reins were handed over to Carl. And, boy, did he prove himself on this one? The harmonies are beautiful, and the a cappella section is extremely well done. But dis you really expect anything else?

#4. "Don't Worry, Baby" - I really don't have much to say about this song other than I just love it. There's no rhyme or reason as to why I think it's so good. It just . . . is. It's your basic feel good song. Well, it's feel good until you try to sing those super high notes. Then it could get a little painful in the throat area. So my advice is to listen only and enjoy.

#3. "In My Room" - I'm a bit of a loner to be honest. I think this song certainly speaks to people like me. It's for those of us who find comfort and peace, sometimes, just being with ourselves. And there is nothing wrong with that.

#2. "God Only Knows" - You have to get a kick out of a love song that start with the phrase "I may not always love you" Oh, you tricksters, making me think this is an anticipation of a break-up song. Actually, it is a beautiful love song. Interesting side note. They hesitated putting the word "God" in the title for fear of no airplay. Too much concern over the religion aspect and whatnot. I suppose things haven't changed as much as we thought. Eventually, though, good sense won out, and the title stayed. And again, we get a great vocal from Carl, who once said he was honored to be the one to sing it. And we are all honored to have heard it.

#1. "Forever" - I can't believe I have to say this, but most of you may know this song from the episode of Full House where Uncle Jesse married Rebecca and sang it at their wedding. Yeah, somehow I'm not sure that this is the legacy Dennis Wilson wanted for this brilliant work of art. The song did pop up on the show again about a year later featuring a recording by Jesse's band and a few of the Beach Boys themselves. You know, because they're friends with Stamos. To be fair, this version is actually really good. But, of course, not as good as the original, so let's talk about that. Now we all know that people were calling Brian Wilson a genius left and right, which had a major and often negative effect on him. I feel for him. It must have been hard having everyone call you a genius and trying to live up to it. You know what's just as hard? Being a genius and having no one recognize it. That was the case with the writer of this song, Dennis Wilson. He was easily the most underrated of all The Beach Boys, and yet, he eventually managed to release an album like Pacific Ocean Blue. I'll get that gem someday. But, as for now, let me just say that this song is magnificent. It proved once and for all to me and many others that Dennis was an extremely gifted artist. He may not have been appreciated in his own time, but one listen to this song and no way anyone could doubt that.

And so, there you have it, my own personal list of favorites. No doubt everyone has their own, and each one is uniquely different. That's what's so great about a band like The Beach Boys with their vast body of work. Everyone can be a fan and be one in their own way. I think we should be grateful for that, for the great music and their great legacy.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Straight From the Theater Review - Les Miserables

Greetings Pups,

Well, this may be a first. I don't think I've ever done a full on review of a movie still in the theater. But here goes - Les Miserables, the movie musical. Oh, where to begin.

Okay, so there has been a boatload of buzz on this film from the moment someone decided to make it. A lot of people have been waiting decades for this to be brought to the big screen. I speak of the musical version, mind you, since the actual story has been told cinematically more than a few times. According to my research, there have been about a dozen movies made from the book, to say nothing of a miniseries and a Japanese anime version. That's a bit much. But, as I said, this is the first time we are seeing the Broadway musical in such a way. And, if I am being completely honest, I was kind of excited . . . initially.

Yes, I have always enjoyed Les Miserables, some parts more than others. I like some of the music and the epicness of the story. I've seen quite a few stage performances, albeit not live, but they were always done pretty well. And I know expectations were high for this. Mine certainly were. So, were my expectations met? Well, you know what, let's just start discussing this thing.

So when it comes to the inanimate things about the film, the set, the costumes, the general look of it, I'd have to say it was a job well done. It really did look as I thought it would, and whilst there were few surprises in that department, I can't fault anyone for what they did with it. So, should those responsible for these aspects win any prestigious awards, I'd say, "Well deserved!" Having said that, however, let's get to the cast.

I suppose we should start at the top with Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean. I actually liked him in this movie, for a few reasons. First, he is a good singer, and he's done the Broadway thing, so he knows how to do a part like this. And with the way he was presented visually, I didn't really see Hugh Jackman. They had him done up so well to look the way we would picture Valjean that we could easily get drawn into him as the character and not just as Hugh Jackman. As for his nemesis, Javert, played by Russell Crowe, this wasn't exactly the case. I've never been a huge fan of Russell Crowe, but I can't deny his talent as an actor. And when it came to the acting he did in this movie, it was very good. He's good at playing the vindictive, angry jerk of the story. Who would've thought? But throw in the singing part and we move down several rungs on the ladder. Yeah, I know that Russell Crowe had his little band, and that's fine. I actually think he can carry a tune a little. This was just too big for him and his voice. But he needn't feel alone where this problem is concerned.

Next, we have Anne Hathaway as Fantine. Let's just cut the chase and get to the one thing people were waiting for when it came to the performance. Remember how I said I'd seen this musical done a few times on stage? Well, even more than that have I seen performances of the famous song "I Dreamed a Dream" According to Miss Hathaway, she did not want to do a "beautified" performance, as we are used to hearing. I believe she succeeded on that count. She basically sobbed her way through it, supposedly trying to bring out the tragedy of the moment. If that's her excuse, fine, let her have it. I, however, found it very overdone. It was as though she was trying way too hard to be dramatic when a hint of subtlety, not to mention sincerity, would have gone even further. Frankly, I think her doing this pushed performance, as as opposed to signing it straight, was her way of hiding the fact that she could not be as good as the legendary Broadway women who have sung it in the past. I personally have heard this song sung by the likes of Judy Kuhn, Ruthie Henshall, Lea Salonga and, quite possibly the greatest Broadway diva of all time, Patti LuPone. Yeah, I can see why Anne would not want to draw any comparisons. But she uglied herself up, which means she will win awards. Moving on.

Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter played the Thenardiers, who are these innkeepers/scavengers/criminals. In this very tragic story, they are supposed to be a bit of comic relief. To be honest, they weren't too bad at it. Now I have heard people say that they also did their fair share of over acting, but with these characters, that's kind of the point. They are supposed to be larger than life, so I give them credit for it. And considering my history with these two actors, the fact that I can say anything positive is a lot. A whole lot.

Now what about the "kids"? I can't say much about Isabelle Allen as the tiny Cossette, mostly because she was in it for scarcely ten minutes. But, you know, cute little girl, cute little voice. Just cute. The older Cossette was played by Amanda Seyfried and Marius was played by Eddie Redmayne. They play the traditional love at first sight couple, and, frankly, this part of the story was always the least interesting to me. It's a fairly basic teenage love story, especially compared to what else is going on. And as far as the singing goes? They weren't necessarily bad at it, but the qualities of their voices were not what I like to hear. Eddie Redmayne kind of has that Kermit-y thing to his voice. You know, where it all gathers in the back of his throat. And Miss Amanda. I have, of course, heard her sing before, but more in a pop music sense. Here, when she went for those very high notes, this extreme vibrato kicked in which turned her a little into a Chipette. Interesting. Kermit and a Chipette? This should have been marketed as a kids movie. Okay, to be fair, these particular criticisms have less to do with their abilities and more to do with my personal tastes. So I'm sure a lot of people will like what they did.

Interestingly enough, what gives this film some of its best moments, especially in the young cast, are the relative unknowns. Of those, we first have Samantha Barks as the Thenardiers daughter and the "third wheel" of the Marius/Cossette relationship, Eponine. Now this girl was in London productions of Les Miserables, as well as the 2010 25th anniversary show. She was great in that show, and she is great here. Samantha Barks is a very beautiful and extremely talented young woman with a voice that is nothing short of heartbreaking, in a good way. She truly has a handle on how these emotions should be portrayed, especially through song, pulling back into those subtle places when necessary, therefore, making the performance more personal and powerful. Then we have Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, the leader of the young revolutionaries. I don't recall seeing this actor in anything else, but he was fantastic in this. And his singing was just right for this part, sounding young, but, in a way, also mature beyond its years. Hard to do, but succeeded here. And finally, we have a little boy named Daniel Huttlestone playing a little boy named Gavroche, and he was amazing. Seriously, he stole the show quite a bit, and I think he may go far after this. I hope so anyway. I love this kid.

The bottom line is that, whilst I did enjoy certain aspects of this film, I was kind of unimpressed. Maybe my hopes were set too high, and they just couldn't live up to it. I suppose I feel as though this is, more than anything, a vanity project. They got a bunch of famous actors who, for the most part, couldn't pull off the hugeness of the music, but were hired because they could probably get butts in seats. If they really wanted to honor the spirit of this work of art, they would have gotten some people who, while maybe not very well known, could do the songs justice. But I guess it was their decision.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, though. Bringing Broadway musicals to the big screen doesn't seem to be working these days. There are exceptions, of course, but we no longer live in the days of fifty, sixty, even seventy years ago, when these kinds of movies were some of the best ever made. You'd think with all the more resources we have now things could be done even better. But maybe not. Or maybe tastes have changed overall since then.

Anyway, would I recommend this movie? Not really. I doubt I will ever bother to see it again, but had I not seen it, I always would have been curious. Not that any of this matters, because the hardcore fans are going to see it no matter what. Good for them.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Providence of Leverage

Greetings Pups,

"The rich and powerful take what they want. We steal it back for you. Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys. We provide leverage."

That quote comes directly from one of the best shows ever to air on television, Leverage. How can I prove that it is one of the best? Well, after a mere five years on the air, SOMEONE decided to cancel it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since, these days, it seems television is legally obligated to have a 100 to 1 ratio of bad shows to good shows. Now I don't know exactly who decided to make this terrible decision, but my theory is that, yes, the rich and powerful have again taken what they wanted . . . from us, the fans. I can't tell you how many times I wished the Leverage team was based on a real life group of people, but never more than in this moment. We obviously need someone in the real world to swoop in and steal our show back for us. But, alas, I fear this may not be what will happen.

Look, I am going to choose to be quite brief today in this post as I share this news with you all. No doubt, someday, I will go more in depth as to why I loved this show so much. It will probably even get one of my top ten episode lists. But I really can't get into this right now. Frankly, if I start thinking about how wonderful this series has been for me, I will begin to cry, and I don't want to do that while working on an electrical device. Besides, I will be saving my tears for that final episode.

Let me end with this. I decided to become a viewer of this show based on my love of Christian Kane and Timothy Hutton, but I quickly came to also love Gina Bellman, Aldis Hodge and Beth Riesgraf, the rest of the wonderful cast. Now when I watch any TV show, I can usually get a vibe that lets me know whether or not the actors are happy with what they are doing, and if they're happy with whom they are working. Well, I must say, from the beginning, I always felt as though this cast of actors truly enjoyed working with each other. And you could easily tell that everyone involved in making this series really put all they had into it to make it the best it could be for the fans. I certainly appreciated that, and I know a lot of other people did, too.

So, wherever the cast and crew of Leverage go in the future, I pray for the best to be bestowed upon them all. This was and is a very talented group of people, and they all deserve much success. I have no doubt that they will get it. And they will most definitely be missed.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top Ten Mama's Family 2 . 0 Episodes

Greetings Pups,

And now it is time to discuss the second and slightly longer wave of Mama's Family. Believe it or not, though I had about twice as many episodes from which to choose, making this list was much easier. I think because, on an individual basis, I found those first seasons a little stronger. It was probably the Carol Burnett inclusion factor. While we're on the subject, I guess I should address the changes that were made for this revamp.

I could talk about the superficial things like the fact that the set changed a bit. The house looked a little smaller but brighter, and we got a lot more outdoor scenes, which was nice. But the biggest differences had to do with the cast. We gained some, we lost some, we kept some.

Obviously, we still have Mama. We also kept Vint and Naomi, but, boy, were they different. Vint was never the smartest kid in class, but they pretty much turned him into a big man child. And Naomi, who was once really feisty and able to go head to head with her mother-in-law, became a bit whiny. I still liked them, but it was very . . . different. We lost Vint's two kids and Aunt Fran, with the reason why for her being revealed later in this post. Also, we had no more appearances from Carol Burnett or Harvey Korman, and save one episode, we had no more Betty White either. Bummer. But we did get two new characters. One was Iola Boylan played by Beverly Archer, a nosy, sometimes irritating neighbor, who lived with her shut-in parents and had a serious crush on Vint. The running gag with her was that she was very crafty. Not crafty like shady, but crafty like she did crafts. We're talking felt, glue guns, googly eyes and a cozy for everything but . . . no, no "buts". She made a cozy for EVERYTHING. Then, we got Bubba played by Alan Keyser, who was Mama's grandson by way of Ed and Eunice. Okay, here's the thing about Bubba. At first, he was this annoying, bratty kind of teenage guy, which I guess was the point. But sometime during his second year on the show, he started to, let's say, mature. By that, I mean he just got hotter and hotter, and he stayed that way right up to the finale. He was so good looking that I eventually let go the fact that his name was Bubba.

Anyway, now that you know with whom we are dealing, let's get to my top ten episodes from Mama's Family 2.0.

#10. "I Do, I Don't" - I love a good fantasy sequence and, here, we get three. After attending a family wedding, Mama, Iola and Bubba think about how life would be as a married person. Bubba thinks about how things would be with his girlfriend, Amy, who, by the way, I thought was the most adorable little thing I've ever seen. Iola daydreams about being married to Vint, which means she and Naomi have traded places . . . literally. And they both do a fantastic job at that. And Mama, who was currently dating her night school teacher, wonders if she will have to live in the shadow of his deceased wife, who was named, what else, Rebecca. If you read the book Rebecca or saw the movie, you'll probably know exactly where that one is going.

#9. "Dependence Day" - Like I said, Iola lives with her parents and spends most of her time taking care of them, especially her mother. Well, after they have a fight, Iola is thrown out of her house, and, of course, she has to stay with the Harpers. Yeah, because they never, ever made it clear that they really don't like her being around that much at all. Now you'd think having someone around who likes to cook and clean would be a good thing, but it just goes too far. I mean, floral slipcovers, Iola? Really?

#8. "Now Hear This" - The last season of Mama's Family had several episodes that were related to the fact that Naomi was pregnant. In this one, we deal with the Harpers coming into the world of high tech by getting an intercom, or a baby monitor as we call it today. Mama resists at first, but eventually gives in and gets the house wired. Hey, wait a minute. A house full of people who often can't stand each other are now enabled with the ability to eavesdrop? Well, well. I wonder.

#7. "An Ill Wind" - I love Thanksgiving, and this is the one Thanksgiving episode we got from this show. I think. So, naturally, it gets a spot. Our story is that Raytown is hit with a tornado on Thanksgving, which forces the family into the basement a.k.a. Vint and Naomi's bedroom. All they have is a pack of cards, rum balls, a broken gravy boat (plot point) and each other. Oh, the magic, the pure magic of my favorite holiday.

#6. "Pomp and Circumstance" - As I mentioned, Mama was attending night school in order to get the high school diploma she never received. Now she's getting to graduate alongside Bubba, and she is the valedictorian. This makes no sense because she only had to take one class to get her diploma. Whatever. This episode centers around Bubba's wanting his parents to come to his graduation and to go to Florida to live with them again. Things don't exactly go as planned. I could talk about the funny here, but this one is actually kind of emotional and touching. You really get to see how much love their actually is in this often quarreling family. It's rare, for this show, but always appreciated.

#5. "Farewell Fran" - This was the first episode for the revamped show. Here, we are dealing with the death of Aunt Fran, and that would be the reason she did not return. Mama is upset because it seems that a lot of people are not going to come to the funeral, including Vint's children, Buzz and Sonya. Enjoy hearing their names here, because, after this, they are NEVER mentioned again. Of course, we are introduced to Iola and Bubba, who ends up having to stay with the Harpers after being released from juvenile hall. He can't go to be with his parents because they have moved to Florida, and he can't leave the state. Ah, this could possibly be why I like the first version of the show better. Looks like all the fun we once had with Ed and Eunice was wiped out with the fact that they are horrible parents who abandoned their child. Way to ruin it. One of the best things about this one is when we find out how Fran died. Yeah, it is funny. Just trust me. Oh, and for all you Star Trek: TNG fans, you get to see Brent Spiner as a kind of creepy guy named Mr. Conroy with a thick Southern accent and a dog named Jingles. Or Jangles. I can't tell. Accent.

#4. "Educating Mama" - So I made two references to Mama's time in night school, and now, finally, I get to discuss the episode where she began. Okay, the story here is that Bubba has to go to night school to get credit for an English class he flunked in order to graduate. As it happens, Mama also did not graduate because she did not complete the same class. So they decide to go to night school together. Now the reason Mama didn't pass the class was because she had a traumatic experience with a mean teacher and The Scarlet Letter. Hey, one guess as to what the first assignment at night school is. Okay, I like this because of the funny, but I also like the way they showed how much you can miss by not reading the actual book, and opting for only the Cliff's Notes version. Or Ray Notes as they call it here, because it's Raytown, you understand. Didn't expect that, did you?

#3. "Child's Play" - If the title of this episode is making you think of a certain movie, that is with good reason. Somehow, Mama and the Harpers end up having to babysit the grandson of Reverend Meachum and his wife, Alberta, whose name is Eugene.
Now this kid is basically evil and everyone knows it. Everyone but Alberta, that is. She thinks he's perfect. Well, what happens is what you'd expect, but I put this on the list and so high, because of the ending. Not to spoil, but let's just say the reverend, with some encouragement from Mama, stands up to his wife and decides that maybe disciplining a child is a good way to get them to behave. Just maybe.

#2. "Best Medicine" - Okay, I think I made it clear that I love Betty White, so I had to include her one and only episode in the second version of the show. Here, she, as Ellen, shows up at the Harper house, hoping to mend fences with her mama. See, Ellen was one of those people who did not show up for Aunt Fran's funeral. Long story short, the family finds out that Ellen is about to have surgery. They rush to her side, thinking she is in some kind of danger. Turns out, she's having an elective surgery. Again, not to spoil, but . . . yeah, there's no way around this. She's having a fanny tuck, as she calls it. Need I say more.

#1. "Cat's Meow" - I am a dog person. I am not a fan of the cats. Not that I haven't meant a few nice ones, but we all know the majority of them are not. And in this episode, we have to deal with one of those types. Specifically, we have to deal with Iola's cat, Midnight. Apparently, this cat your typical mean cat, and the Harpers hate it. Well, good news, it dies. Not wanting to let go of her beloved cat, Iola finds a way to keep him around. Does she stuff him? No, of course not. That is so seventies. She has him freeze dried, complete with, I kid you not, an activated meow. Now she only tells Mama about this, which means the rest of the family doesn't know, so . . . Okay, you know that urban legend about a dog coming home with the neighbor's rabbit in it's mouth and the owners clean up the rabbit and put it back in the cage, then the people who owned the rabbit are like, "Holy crap! Our rabbit died, and we buried him. but now he's back in his cage!" Yeah, something kind of like that happens here. Look, despite the slight morbidity of this episode, it does have a nice ending and the laughs are continual through the whole thing. So it gets to be number one.

Easily, I would call Mama's Family one of my favorite shows. It's fun and something you can enjoy when you just want to have a good time and get some good laughs. And that's more than fine sometimes. There are so many shows these days that I really like, but they are also kind of dark and heavy. That can be entertaining, too. Still, sometimes we just want a break from all that and get ourselves a few smiles. Mama's Family, whatever version, is a good place to go for that.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top Ten Mama's Family Episodes

Greetings Pups,

I know I make a big deal about watching shows that are cleverly written and make us, as the viewers, have to think a little. But I also believe that some shows are needed that just let us relax and enjoy. One show that I have always been able to do that with is Mama's Family. Not to say the premise or writing was unintelligent; it was just simple. Simple, mind you, not simplistic. There is a difference. It was just an easy going series that showed how much humor can be found in the everyday lives of everyday people.

Now, for those who don't know the back story, here you go. Mama's Family is the spawn of a sketch from the brilliant Carol Burnett Show, wherein Vicki Lawrence played Thelma Harper a.k.a. Mama, and Carol Burnett played her daughter, Eunice. Also, on Mama's Family, Harvey Korman played Eunice's husband, Ed. He may have done that in the sketches, too, but I just can't remember it specifically. Sorry.

One of the amazing things about this sketch/show was the way that we so easily bought a very young Vicki Lawrence as an old lady. Without special make-up, by the way. No, all she had was a bluish-gray wig, glasses and some padding, then - boom! - instant Mama. And I'm sure it didn't hurt to have Bob Mackie designing your clothes, either, which he did for the entire run of Mama's Family. When you think of the clothes they wore on this show and then the stuff he designed for Cher, you can't really deny the genius versatility of the man. Moving on.

So after The Carol Burnett Show ended, the early eighties brought us this idea for a spin off series. And, thus, began one of the strangest runs for a television show in history, in my opinion, anyway. Initially, the show ran for barely a year and half, or two seasons, before getting cancelled by NBC in 1984. But then, in 1986, it was revamped with a slightly new cast for a run in syndication. I've heard of shows getting a reprieve, but not after two years, as I can recall. But this is why I have to do this in two parts, because there are really two Mama's Family shows. I'll get to 2.0 tomorrow, but, for now, let's get to number one.

In the first two seasons, we had a slightly bigger cast and a bit of a different feel. And here is a quick look at said cast. We have Mama, obviously, her son, Vinton, played by Ken Berry, and his children, Buzz and Sonya (Eric Brown and Karen Argoud), Vinton's second wife, Naomi, played by Dorothy Lyman, and Aunt Fran, Mama's younger sister, played by Rue McClanahan. That was the main cast, who all live in one house, by the way, in a place called Raytown. But we often got visits from Ed and Eunice, as well as Mama's other daughter, Ellen, played by, my favorite and yours, Betty White. Yeah, it annoys me that this seems to be the thing people skip over when they make their video montages of her career. How dare they! And so that is our first wave set up. Now, if I may, let me share with you my top ten favorite episodes from this version of Mama's Family.

#10. "A Grave Mistake" - As fans know, Mama is a widow, her husband, Carl, having died in the bathroom several years earlier. No, seriously. So, as old folks tend to do, she visits his grave. Alone, of course, because youngsters don't do that. As she talks to her deceased husband, she realizes that the plot next to him, which she thought was being saved for her, has been occupied by someone else. And that someone else is a woman. Naturally, Mama is quite upset and goes to the manager, I guess, of the cemetery for some answers. But what she gets is an explanation far worse and far funnier than anyone expected.

#9. "Mama's Birthday" - Surprise! It's Mama's birthday, and all she wants is for someone to help her clean the attic. Well, grandson Buzz wins the honor, but their task parlays itself into Mama telling Buzz what happened on her 30th birthday. Basically, this is a flashback episode. We see a young Mama and a young Ellen, Eunice and Vint. The kids who played Ellen and Vint were good, but the little girl who played young Eunice was fantastic. It was like someone shrank Carol Burnett. It was actually Tanya Fenmore, by the way, who we would later see as Becca's best friend on Life Goes On. We also get to HEAR a living Carl. So this 30th birthday was a bit disappointing to Mama, which makes what her family does for her on this birthday all the more touching.

#8. "Fran's Dress" - I've always considered the character of Fran to be a bit uptight. She likes things done her way, because her way is the best. In this episode, she is up for an award or something, so she buys a brand new dress, which she asks her sister to iron. Mama does so, but ends up accidentally ruining it. She goes to get her a replacement dress that is exactly the same. Well, maybe not exactly. And therein lies the humor of this installment.

#7. "Positive Thinking" - Here's the first on the list with a visit from Eunice, as well as Ed. Now Eunice is a woman who wants to be a star, so after listening to a positive thinking tape, she lands a small role in a play at the infamous Pepper Pot Playhouse. Yeah, you know how you buy potpourri or something like it, and it smells nice for a while, then it doesn't do its job anymore. That's what happened with this tape Eunice bought. It worked for a little bit, but then Eunice remembered that she was Eunice and it just stopped. But with hilarious results, so it's okay.

#6. "Mama For Mayor" - I believe that for the entirety of this series, there were only three two-part episodes, and this is one of them. After the mayor of Raytown, Mayor Tutwiller, riles up some senior citizens, Mama inadvertently ends up running for mayor against him. The big conflict is that Ellen is actually involved romantically with Mayor Tutwiller and is supporting him. Spoiler Alert! Mama wins at the end of the first half and the second half takes us through her attempt to do the job. Spoiler Alert . . . again. She pretty much sucks at it. Well, I didn't see that one coming.

#5. "Ask Aunt Fran" - What I didn't mention about Fran before is that she is a journalist. In this episode, she is filling in for the newspaper's advice columnist. She asks the family for some help, but, of course, it is what Mama tells her that makes it to the paper. Which is interesting since most of the "advice" was nothing more than one liner cliches. Fran is considered for getting the job permanently, but she needs help. Once she puts the offer of money on the table, Mama is happy to help her little sister. Not that it matters, because as it turns out, it's not Fran's writing that her boss is interested in. Speaking of cliches . . . Still funny though.

#4. "The Mama Who Comes To Dinner" - After a dinner party at a snooty friend's house, Naomi decides that she also wants to have a dinner party. Unfortunately, she thinks she can't live up to the high brow existence of her friends. But Naomi and Vint go for it, deciding to have a party, buffet style. Or boo-fay, as they pronounce it. They plan to send Mama, Aunt Fran and the kids to the movies for the night, after Mama cooks all the food, of course, but then - DISASTER! Mama's back goes out and they must lay her on the floor, right in the middle of the party. Okay, it is this incident that Naomi thinks makes her gathering low class, but I disagree. I think when she decided to use TV trays for her guests was the moment that kind of doomed her chances of ever being high society.

#3. "Rashomama" - First, let me say that I cannot believe that one of my favorite Mama's Family episodes has the same title of one of my favorite CSI episodes. What a small world. Anyway, this one begins in the hospital, because Mama was injured in a kitchen fight. Sort of. She got hit in the head with a pot by . . . someone. Who? Well, it depends on who you ask. We get versions of what happened from Naomi, Eunice and Ellen, and they are all very different. Hence the title. It's actually extremely funny to see how each of the women perceive themselves and each other. I can't even get into the descriptions, so I say just watch the episode.

#2. "Mama Learns To Drive" - So, apparently, Mama cannot drive. She relies on the rest of the family to serve as her chauffeurs, but after a wild car trip with Naomi at the helm, they all decide that Mama must learn to drive. Each family member tries, in their own way, to teach her, but it just doesn't work. By the way, the session with Ellen, or should I say the aftermath of it, is absolutely priceless. Eventually, Mama does get her license, after stealing Fran's car and driving herself to the DMV. Pretty sure both of those things are illegal. But what we get when she arrives there is totally worth it!

#1. "The Wedding" - Another two parter for you. Now with some shows, I feel like they make an episode two parts just because it's an event and that is what you do, but then it may drag or seem too long with a lot of filler. Not in this case. Every moment is necessary and hilarious. We get every good character of these first seasons at their absolute best. Generally speaking, you won't get anything unexpected. I mean, if you expect any TV wedding to go off without a hitch, you have clearly never watched TV, ever. Still, we do get a ton of laughs, and they keep coming right up to the ending. So this fantastic episode gets my number one spot.

And that covers Mama's Family episodes, part one. Tomorrow I will delve into the revamped later seasons of the show. Let it be just as fun.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Christmas, Drake and Josh - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

So there are two particular things that I have stated about myself in this blog. First, I don't really do the Christmas thing, and, second, I love Drake and Josh. However, when I did my TV movie review of A Very Brady Christmas, it got more views than I had expected, as did my list of top ten Drake and Josh episodes. So I thought today I would combine those two subjects and talk about the 2008 TV movie, Merry Christmas, Drake and Josh.

For those of you who are fans of the show, you'll know that it officially ended in 2006. But someone decided they should get everyone together again for a little holiday fun and make this movie. Of course, when I say "movie", I mean that it is pretty much an extended episode, much like the Drake and Josh Go Hollywood movie. So one should not expect a boat load of surprises here. It's why I don't feel too bad about giving a few spoilers. Okay, the story.

It all starts a few days before Christmas at the Parker-Nichols house, where Drake and Josh's parents are setting off on a tropical vacation. I hate to nitpick so soon, but that little fact has a positive and a negative attached to it. I get why they had the parents go out of town for the duration of this film, because, what with all the shenanigans that will take place, they would most likely be too helpful, thus costing us said film. However, while we try to follow the main plot, there are constant cutaways to what is going on with them on their vacation island, like storms and crappy living conditions. Look, I've said before that I really like the parents on this show, but their plot has literally nothing to do with the main plot. There isn't even a tie-in at the end. It's blatant filler to make the movie long enough to be a movie. There are funny moments, sure, because the actors are funny. I just don't get the point, so I'm not going to say any more about that.

After the initial opening, we go to the mall where the boys discuss a party that Drake is planning on the roof of the Premiere, with Helen the boss's permission. Because she loves Drake. Perhaps, THAT is the real reason for this divorce she says she is celebrating. Helen then hands Drake the suit he will be wearing to play Santa, something that Josh wanted to do. Unfortunately, it is pointed out that Josh is now too skinny to play Santa. Let me step out of the plot for a moment to discuss that.

As we all know, in the beginning, Josh was a little on the chubby side. Slowly but surely over the years, though, he shed a lot of weight, and by the last season of Drake and Josh, he was looking much thinner and healthier. He did, however, still have kind of a dorky haircut, which kept a lot of us at bay. Then, he shows up in this film, looking all Disney prince-like and whatnot, and shocks the heck out of a lot people. I could make the proverbial joke of "Sorry, Drake, you're not the cute one anymore", but I won't. Let me just say I've heard plenty of talk from those who were quite happy to have TWO traditionally hot guys.

Anyway, Drake takes his place as Santa, while Josh is forced to play a giant sack of toys. At some point, Drake starts to make out with some girl (his own age, don't worry) while she sits on his lap. Yeah, I'm sure the parents in line with their kids appreciated that. After the first girl leaves, another one shows up who wants what she got. But this second girl is - gasp!- not skinny! So, of course, Drake runs away like he's being chased by a serial killer. Now my telling you this may seem pointless, but it's important in the plot. See, while he's running and hiding from the "bigger than a size 2" monster, he runs into a little girl named Mary Alice. She thinks he's Santa, of course, but is satisfied to know that he merely works for Santa. So she asks Drake for the best Christmas ever for her and all the foster kids she lives with. He hastily makes the promise so he can get the heck out of there. Bad move, dude! Because you CANNNOT break a Christmas promise. You know how I know that? It's because they say it in this movie about 87 times!

And now it's time for Drake's party where we get a brief appearance by Allison Scagliotti as Mindy Crenshaw. Too brief, if you ask me. Why they chose to get my hopes up only to then dash them with this two minute cameo is beyond me? Oh, well. Bye, fantastic character! You are apparently too funny and awesome for us to want to give you a big part in this production! We do get some Crazy Steve, though, so that makes things a little better. Anyway, due to some party insanity, Josh somehow ends up in jail with the typical scary dude named Bludge, who may or may not be revealed to be a big, harmless teddy bear in the end. What do you think? Well, Drake tries to break his brother out and then they both get tossed before a judge played by - Henry Winkler! YES! You really can't go wrong with Henry Winkler. He's about to throw them both back in jail, but Helen comes to the rescue to say they can't go to jail because they have to give Mary Alice and her family the beast Christmas ever. And the judge lets them out! But he says if the kids don't unanimously vote that it was the best Christmas, Drake and Josh are going to jail. Hey, now there's a movie I'd pay to see.

Okay, let's get to these kids they have to impress. Boy, are they . . . something! Initially, and maybe in the end, you feel bad for them because their foster mom is really sick and their foster dad has to work incessantly. And they're orphans. Gotta feel for orphans at Christmas, right? I get that they're probably troubled, but their personalities start showing through, and it gets, for me, a little awkward. You already know about Mary Alice who walks a fine line between being cute and being irritating. Her brothers and sisters are as follows: Luke, the oldest, who has clearly been in the system so long that he is completely jaded and hates everything; Trey, a snarky little know-it-all; Lily and Violet, two psychotic twins who are constantly beating the crap out of each other; and finally Zigfee, a kid who does speak English but rather some unknown language that even the characters can't identify. I think it's a mishmash of a lot of different foreign languages, most likely in an attempt to not offend any particular ethnicity. Though I fear they may have succeeded in offending all of them. Once Drake and Josh meet the kids, the movie follows their attempts to give them a great Christmas. And these brats are so incredibly ungrateful! Granted, most of the ideas end in total non-goodness, but sometimes it is the thought that counts. Forget "A" for effort! These kids are barely willing to give them a "C-" I mean, they even tried to make snow for Mary Alice by putting ice in Crazy Steve's wood chipper. Gee, do you think something may have gone wrong there? Well, it does when you forget to test this thing out in an open field or something before doing it in a neighborhood replete with an assortment of glass windows.

As if that wasn't enough, Drake and Josh have this parole officer, Gilbert, hanging around, supposedly keeping them in line, all the while blatantly sabotaging them. He even makes sure the kids find out that the boys are doing this in order to stay out of jail. This was a very specific no-no from the judge. I'll have to check up on this, but I'm pretty sure this guy is breaking the law left and right. Of course, we find out that Gilbert hates Christmas because of some childhood trauma involving a monkey. It's not as bad as you think. Hmm? I wonder if this Scrooge will have a change of heart at some point. HMMMMM? And even Megan shows up and does her classic Megan thing, so these boys really didn't stand a chance. Although considering how awful these kids are, I'd probably opt for jail time.

But - Spoiler Alert! - everything works out in the end. Yeah, you can't possibly be shocked at that. What did you expect? We get bookended by everyone showing up at the Parker-Nichols house. Everyone, even Mindy! Yay, thirty more seconds. Don't spoil us. And we get presents and Christmas carols and - snow! Crazy Steve to the rescue! Instead of ice, though, in the chipper, he uses hard cheese. Well, that's innovative and touching . . . at first. But I'm guessing after that cheese spends a couple more hours in the slightly hotter than refrigerator temperatures of San Diego, no one is going to be happy anymore. Hurry up and end this on everyone making snow/cheese angels and having snow/cheese ball fights before the board of health shows up.

And so the final verdict on this TV movie. Is it flawed? Oh, yeah. Is it good? Well, believe it or not, I do enjoy watching this, though that may have more to do with my cougar crush on Josh Peck than anything else. I know I had a lot of complaints, but mostly that's because I think this would have worked better as a two part or hour-long Drake and Josh episode. I do understand that the show was no longer on at this point, which would make that impossible. Still, we fans are happy to take what we can get. After two years of nothing, it was nice to see our beloved Drake and Josh together again, and it seems that now this will be an annual holiday staple on the Nickelodeon channel. It's not the best movie ever, of course, but it's pretty fun. Not unlike the series from which it spawned. So, I can't really have a problem with that.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not Another Member of "The 27 Club"

Greetings Pups,

So it has been a little over a week since Lindsay Lohan got arrested . . . again. I'm not always one to be topical here, but I thought I should speak on, not so much this latest incident, but the ones that led up to it. And those include the ones that could have been avoided had someone decided to take some serious action.

If there's one thing I've noticed about celebrities who break the law, it's that they are not usually punished for it. This could be why they continue to do it, even up to the point of their death, sometimes. Look, I understand that judges don't want to be accused of being hard on famous people because they are, in fact, famous. But it seems as though a lot of them don't mind the criticisms that go the other way. I'm pretty sure if any of us "regular" people stole from a jewelry store (allegedly) or got caught with cocaine (allegedly) or ran into a person with our car (allegedly), we would be in jail for an extended period of time. And by extended, I don't mean two weeks, or, you know, 84 MINUTES! What in all hecks with that sentence?

This is what has been going on with Lindsay Lohan for the last several years. To be fair, she has been punished, but barely, and never enough to actually fit the crimes. In my opinion, anyway. People never learn if their bad actions don't have appropriate consequences. I mean, I enjoy positive reinforcement, but the negative kind can work, too, sometimes more effectively. I just don't know why it's not used as much. Those in power should use it to do some good, and getting those good results is often very hard. In the end, many people who have gone to jail, instead of getting a slap on the wrist, are now overwhelmingly grateful, because they would be much worse off, even dead, perhaps. If you're a fan of Robert Downey, Jr., for example, you should be quite happy that he got put away for awhile, since it would have cost you your precious Iron Man movies. I know he has seen the good in paying for his crimes, because he not only gained said famous role, but also his life.

Here is my point. Lindsay Lohan turns twenty-seven next year, and there is this thing called "The 27 Club" It's members include famous people who died at the age of twenty-seven, such as Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse, and most of them died because of some of the bad choices they made concerning their lifestyles. Drugs and alcohol and whatnot. Look, I can safely say that I am not a huge fan of Lindsay Lohan's, but I certainly do not want her to end up like any of these people. I would personally love to see her get herself together, for real, and show us again how talented she is. And I do think she's got some talent in there. I certainly don't want to see her waste her life or her opportunities anymore.

I believe that Lindsay Lohan is a beautiful, gifted, young woman, and I also think that she is worth so much more than she is letting herself believe. I pray that she will someday turn to the One who created her for help so she be the wonderful person I'm sure she is deep down inside. And I hope she learns to appreciate the life she has been given so much that she wouldn't even think of doing anything that may cut it short. So, may God help her and bless her.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Elizabethtown - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I have no problem with a movie director having a particular way of doing what they do and sticking to it. It's usually how they build a career. But every now and then, I like it when a director takes a bit of a turn from their regular path to make something slightly different. Such was the case with the movie Elizabethtown, directed by Cameron Crowe.

Now, if you know about the work of Mr. Crowe, you know that his films have a lot to do with music, and often pop culture, or the two intertwined. And they usually have a lot of F-words. I do like Cameron Crowe, but as always, I find that unnecessary. Elizabethtown didn't really have that. There were some references to music, especially at the end, but it didn't strike me as being as much of a main character like it usually is. Yeah, you won't find any Eddie Vedder cameos in this one, thank God. Although, that also means no Peter Frampton cameos, and that sucks, but that must be the sweet and sour of life that Cameron referred to in Vanilla Sky. Oh, right, and you won't be getting any bizarre "What the heck is going on in this movie?" moments like you may have in that one. This movie seems to me, more than any of his others, as being something to which many people can relate due to the subject matter. More on that later, of course.

I guess I should mention something about the critical reception of Elizabethtown. I seem to remember it getting mixed reviews, even coming from the same reviewer. Yes, if memory serves correctly, I believe Roger Ebert had seen a first cut of this at a film festival and, based on that, he gave it a thumbs down. Said it was too long or something. BUT after seeing the final theater cut, he ended up giving it a thumbs up! So there. As far as people I know go, I have asked many of them what they thought of this film and there is literally no middle ground. Not at all. They love it or hate it, and that is it. I guess I understand that since it was a bit of a departure from what we were used to seeing from Cameron Crowe, but I found that refreshing. Anyway, on to the story.

We begin with our protagonist Drew Baylor played by Orlando Bloom. And this may surprise you, but Drew is neither an elf nor a pirate. Nope, he is a shoe designer. Unfortunately, his Spasmotica design is an abysmal failure, one that will cost his company nearly a billion dollars. How is that even possible? Anyway, he gets fired (duh!) by his boss Phil, which is a thankfully small role played by Alec Baldwin. Then, his girlfriend, Ellen, dumps him. Double whammy! But it's only Jessica Biel so this shouldn't bother him too much. It does, though, because he is a guy. So he goes home and tries to kill himself by turning his exercise bike into a stabbing machine. What in all hecks, dude? Just take some pills like a normal person. His attempts are futile, though, because he receives a call from his sister, Heather, telling them that their father, Mitch, has passed away while on a family visit to Kentucky, and Drew must go and recover the body. Where in Kentucky, you may ask? Elizabethtown. And we have a title.

I suppose I should take this opportunity to point out that Heather is played by one of my favorite people in all the land, Judy Greer. Easily one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood. There's a nice opposite from the gross overrated status of a certain actress Cameron worked with in Almost Famous. Not that I'm mentioning names or anything. She plays the character perfectly, not that I expected any less. We've also got Susan Sarandon playing their mom, Hollie. I think I'll refrain from saying anything about her, because I usually get on a tirade when her name is brought up. Let's just say she's in the film and move on.

Drew catches a sparsely inhabited late night flight, where he meets Claire, a very spirited flight attendant or stewardess or whatever they like to be called these days. She is played by Kirsten Dunst, just a year after her second stint as Mary Jane in the Spiderman films. This character is quite different. She talks a lot, in an adorable Southern accent, by the way, and she's funny. She even offers Drew a move up from coach to First Class, mostly because she doesn't want to keep walking to the back of the plane to check on him. Yep, she is spunky, a word that can easily translate into annoying. That is how Drew sees her at first, because she will not leave him alone. Like I said, she talks a lot, and she wants to talk to him. Eventually, she leaves him be, but, after landing, she continues to try and "help" him by giving him driving directions to his destination.

After trying to follow those directions, Drew gets to where he needs to be. Here's where we begin to meet the family. There's Jessie, his cousin, played by Paul Schenider, a guy I haven't seen much but who I really like. Jessie is the free-thinking , not into too much disciplining, father of a young holy terror of a son, Samson (really). Hmm? I wonder how the kid got that way. Then, there's Uncle Dale played by Loudon Wainwright III. Oh, snap! Remember when I said that thing about no musical cameos? Well, oops. I forgot about this guy and the fact that he is a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter, but since, sadly, a lot of people don't know about him, I think I can be forgiven. Finally, we have Aunt Dora played by (dramatic pause) Paula Deen! Yes, THAT Paula Deen. Bet you didn't see that one coming. I absolutely loved her in this. Now, admittedly, she was pretty much playing herself, but herself is so FUNtastic that I certainly don't mind it.

There is a bit of conflict that goes on here, which stems from the fact that Mitch's family never approved of his marriage to Hollie. This continues to his death when the family wants him buried and Hollie wants him cremated. Not that the family had any standing on this, but they were kind of trying to guilt Drew into convincing his mom to see things their way. There is also an issue with a guy named Bill Banyon showing up, whom Hollie considers not a friend due to some past discrepancies with Mitch. I only bring him up because I really want to give a shout out to the actor who portrays him, Bruce McGill. I have always thought of him as a character actor and one of the finest of all time. He does not disappoint in this role at all.

Now, interspersed with all the family drama, we follow the blossoming relationship between Drew and Claire. What, you thought Kirsten Dunst was just going to play some random stewardess and never show up again? It starts with a phone call that lasts the entire night, ending with them meeting to watch the sunrise, because she ironically lives a mere 45 minutes away from where he is staying. We get a lot more scenes of them just walking around and talking to each other about each other. Sometimes I'm not a fan of this type of exposition, but it was done quite well here. They get closer and closer, until, ya know, things happen. There is actually a lot of "will they or won't they" right up until the end of the movie. I liked the build up and the payoff.

Eventually, the entire family gathers together to pay tribute to Mitch. There's fire; there's water; there's a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Need I say more. After the "show", Claire appears to say goodbye and give him a little gift. See, when they were on the phone, Drew mentioned that he hadn't traveled much and promised her to drive at least part of the way home. So what she gives him is a very, very, VERY elaborate road trip map, complete with instructions on what to see and where to stop along the way and mix CD's full of road trip music. I have one thing to say about this little map of hers - I WANT IT! Seriously, if I ever meet Cameron Crowe, I am just going to say, "Hi! Please can I have that road trip map thing from Elizabethtown?" No lie.

This leads us to the final scenes in the film and my favorite part, where we follow Drew on this road trip. It was actually very interesting hearing about and seeing all of these wonderful places in our country, and giving us some things to put on our own road trip list. Now I refuse to give away the ending, but this trip is a nice "point A to point B" way of getting us to it.

In case you haven't guessed, I am one of the people who loves this movie. I like the fact that it was so much more heartfelt and true to life than other movies by Cameron Crowe. Don't get me wrong. I do like his other stuff, but this is really one of my favorites. It must have been one of his, too, because, though I have yet to see that movie about the zoo, I hear it is quite family oriented as well. I know that Elizabethtown has received some criticism, but what's wrong with a movie that gives you some warm, fuzzy feelings inside? One that might even make you a little misty at times? I'll tell you what's wrong with that? Nothing. So, hats off, Cameron Crowe, and I'm still hoping to write with you one day.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rocky Balboa, the Ultimate Street Philosopher

Greetings Pups,

If there is one thing I've learned in life, it is that knowledge can be bought, but wisdom cannot. Trust, I know plenty of people who have spent a small fortune on a college education and could easily make it back on Jeopardy, but, at the same time, they do stupid things, make stupid decisions and pretty much make me wonder how they manage to figure out how to open a door. This is because knowledge and wisdom are far from being being the same. Sure, you can have both, but a lot of people only have one. Then there are the chosen few who have neither. Personally, I value wisdom much more than knowledge, because it's not something with which everyone has been blessed. It's almost as though you have to be chosen, and, even if you aren't "book smart", you still can be chosen. And I want to talk about one of those special people today. Albeit, a fictional person, but I will also have to address his creator, so it's okay.

I've seen this in plenty of stories and movies and real lives, where some rich kid who has access to the greatest minds in the world gets their best advice from the old guy who runs the bakery downtown. Or something to that effect. Often times, it is that random person who has seemingly done nothing in their life, except live it, who will teach you your greatest lessons. No one, real or imaginary, can define this type of person better than one, Mr. Rocky Balboa.

If you're anything like me, you've seen the movies in the Rocky series numerous times. But I wonder if anyone has ever watched, or more accurately, listened to these films the way that I have. Yes, these movies are pure entertainment, but there is something deeper that can come from them. Amazingly enough, a lot of the depth has come from this lead character, who, in his world, has clearly always been thought as a dumb, uneducated guy. Uneducated, maybe. I mean, we find out in Rocky 2 that he can't even read. But, dumb? Certainly not. Just because you don't have a thousand diplomas on your wall does not mean you don't have a thousand words of wisdom in your head. If you don't believe me, just examine some of the things he has said over the decades. They may not seem like much on their own, but string them together and you get some good life advice.

It all started in the first movie, where there was much talk about why he wanted to fight Apollo Creed. It wasn't necessarily just to win, but just to see if he could go further than anyone else had. He wanted to "go the distance", and he was okay
with whatever he had to do in order to succeed at that, to succeed at still standing in the end. Because winning can mean different things to different people. And when asked why he wants to fight at all, he says it's because he can't sing or dance. In short, he does it because it's what he was born to do. He may not have chosen it, but it chose him, and he used it as best he could. That's some good advice in a world where people are constantly trying to be someone they're not.

And these wise things would pop up in all the movies. While someone else may just say things to make a point, Rocky could say things that came off sounding eloquent, if only in his special kind of eloquence. Not to mention, fresh. I mean, it's hard to find new ways of convincing his wife that he can do it when she had doubts. Like in Rocky 4. Sure, she was scared that her husband was going to fight a guy who was basically a killer, but Rocky explained to her, yet again, that he is a fighter. And he has no choice but to fight. He says it in a way and with such conviction that anyone could be convinced. Of course, the wisest people know when to listen to and learn from others, and what he told her was a direct reflection of what his best friend, Apollo, said to him about their lives as fighters. If they don't have a fight, they don't have a point. It was extreme, but I understand, and even as a writer, that hit me deeply. If we refuse to use our gifts, why are we here? Clearly, that was why Rocky always had a drive for it. And, while speaking of Rocky 4, we can't forget his speech at the end. While some people have called what he said a bit . . . over the top, I never really thought so. This "uneducated" man from the streets of Philadelphia was bravely speaking from his heart in front of thousands of people who were so against him at first, so can we really criticize anyone for that? Especially since what he said was pretty much true.

Now, I could go through every little quote of every movie, but I'd like to give some time to my favorite words of inspiration from Rocky Balboa. Surprisingly, to some people, they actually come from Rocky Balboa, the final installment in the Rocky series.

I remember sitting in that dark theater, waiting, knowing that at some point something was going to blow me away. I wasn't wrong. There is a scene where Rocky is talking to his son, Robert, on the street right after Robert yells at him for wanting to fight again at his age. Rocky doesn't get mad or really even argue back. He just gently begins to talk to Robert. Eventually, he tells him that no one can define who you are. If you know you're meant for something great, then go out and get it. And don't blame anyone else if you don't fulfill your potential, because it's always your choice to do so. Life is hard at times for every person, but every person has to decide what to do with that difficulty. You can let it take you down, or you can turn it into something that can build you up. If you're willing to be strong, you can came back at life even harder and win.

As someone who, in the past, has often let other people's opinions of me break my spirit, this speech affected me in a big way. Sometimes you need someone to tell you what you already know. I don't let those people hurt me anymore. In fact, I welcome the attacks, because I want to be as strong as possible, and fighting them off helps to do that. They think they're damaging me, but all they are doing is helping me reach my dreams faster. Interesting thing, if you listen to the commentary on the DVD for this film, during the credits, where random people are running up those infamous stairs and triumphantly throwing their hands in the air, Sylvester Stallone, himself, continues to give us some more great words about following our dreams. But my favorite is when he says, "So I say to all of them, and everyone here, just keep punching. Just keep punching. You never know. You never know. You might just hit your dream right on the jaw"

Yes, that meant so much to me, I can barely express it. Granted, I did not know my dreams had a jaw, but if any of them do, I will certainly keep aiming for it. Things like that, which may seem sappy or cliche to the more cynical people in the world, can really make you think and maybe even change you for the better. Now I suppose this would be a good segue into my speaking a little about the man behind the man, Sylvester Stallone.

Much like the character he created, I think Sylvester Stallone has been quite underrated in some areas. Sure, he's appreciated as an action star, and that's fine because he is good at that. It's probably the first thing people think of when they think of him. Not me, though. When I think of Sylvester Stallone, the first thing that comes to mind is "great writer" Maybe that's because I am also a writer, and I like the fact that we have something in common. The thing is that Sylvester Stallone and Rocky Balboa have almost become interchangeable in the eyes of some people, so, since Rocky is often thought of as unintelligent, they may think the same thing about Mr. Stallone. But, news flash! The man is brilliant. You'd have to be to do what he's done in his life. Of course, he's had some moments of "oops!", but who hasn't? Besides, his moments of genius, if not outnumbering those others, certainly outweigh them.

Look, basically, when I speak of the wisdom of Rocky Balboa, I am, in turn, speaking of the wisdom of Sylvester Stallone. If you take the time to really listen to the things he has written and said, these priceless little gems, you will definitely learn from them. And while entertaining people is fine and even important, teaching them to be the best person they can be is invaluable. So, much thanks to you, Mr. Stallone, and the vessel you have used to give us these rich life lessons.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top Ten A Different World Episodes

Greetings Pups,

You know, I had so much of a good time doing my top ten for The Cosby Show yesterday that I thought I'd just keep this going by moving on to its spin-off, A Different World. And, I must admit, I love this show as much I love the show from whence it came. Differently, but equally. Now, for those of you who may not the history, here is a quick (hopefully) synopsis.

In 1987, this spin-off was created to center around the Hillman College life of Denise Huxtable after Lisa Bonet left The Cosby Show. From what I've heard, there was a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on, mostly concerning Bill Cosby having some issues with the acting choices of Lisa Bonet. More adult acting choices, apparently. I understand her not wanting to stay a kid forever mentality, but it's hard for me to go against Mr. Cosby. So point goes to him. Not that any of this mattered, because, in 1988, Bonet announced that she and her then husband, Lenny Kravitz, were expecting a baby. Instead of having Denise be an unwed college mother, they just let her go. That might have been kind of a good thing.

Look, I'm not blaming Lisa Bonet for this, because I think she is a very good actress, but the first season was a bit . . . not as good as it would become. Don't get me wrong. It did have its moments. We even got to see a fresh faced Marisa Tomei, and yes, to this day, I still hear people say, "What! She was on the show. But she's . . . white!" Really, people? Get over it. Besides her though, we were also introduced to the characters that we would eventually come to love, like Dwayne and Whitley played wonderfully for years by Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison. But after that first season, it improved greatly, and many people give that credit to the involvement of Debbie Allen. Agreed. With her as a producer, the show was saved and became the wonderful thing that it was. While being very funny, the show began to delve into some issues that were probably deemed too edgy for the family tone of The Cosby Show. Issues like AIDS, racism, domestic violence, even date rape. I would say that A Different World could be called a coming of age type show. Or a family show not centered around a family. Whatever you want to call it, make sure you call it great. Because it was.

And now, my Top Ten favorite episodes of A Different World.

#10. "Three Girls Three" (Season 2) - Much like The Cosby Show, A Different World managed to snag a boatload of special guest stars. In this case, it was Gladys Knight. Ms. Knight is planning a trip to Hillman and several students are auditioning to be some makeshift Pips. I know I would certainly try out for that. This brings together Whitley and Jaleesa, who don't really like each other but sing very well together. But their decision to bring in a third party is not the best. If this episode was intending to prove women are not catty, it did not do so very well. But it's funny, so it's okay.

#9. "Good Help is Hard to Fire" (Season 4) - At the start of season 4, a love triangle was formed. It consisted of Whitley, Dwayne and, Dwayne's new girlfriend, Kinu. Oh, it gave us so many laughs, especially with the constant mispronunciations of Kinu's name by Whitley, but the whole thing came to a head in this episode. I could talk about a lot of things here, but let's just admit that the best part was the little visit we got from one, Ms. Patti LaBelle. She popped in, prune cobbler in hand, to visit her son, Dwayne, her little Chipmunk. Or just Chippy, depending on her mood. And we thank you for your time, Patti.

#8. "Love Taps" (Season 5) - This is one of the more serious episodes. Gina is dating a guy named Dion, who fancies himself a rap star. They seem like a good couple, but their secret is that Dion has been beating her. One by one, Gina's friends find out and try to help her. She is resistant, at first, but soon comes to her senses. One of the best parts is definitely the talk that Whitley gives her. Sure, we rely on Whitley for the funny, but she's got a lot of wisdom and a good heart, too.

#7. "Faith, Hope and Charity" (Season 6) - I love Thanksgiving, so naturally, I love a good Thanksgiving episode. Newlyweds Dwayne and Whitley are having their mothers over for dinner, and that should be simple. Nope. Now if you've watched this show you know that those mothers don't necessarily get along, class issues and whatnot. But those fights were good for some laughs over the years. Again, I'm giving another major shout out to Patti LaBelle, but she is only one half of the awesomeness in this episode. The other goes to Ms. Diahann Carroll. What a legend. Watch these two together and you will wonder, much like I often did, why they did not get their own show.

#6. "Monet is the Root of All Evil" (Season 4) - I am an art enthusiast, of course, and this episode is centered around the art world. Whitley, who is organizing a gallery show, finds a brilliant painter. She desperately wants him to give her one of his pieces, but he is hesitant. Eventually, he gives in. It's a great painting, but the sponsor of the exhibit thinks it is offensive and obscene. I didn't really get that, but some people see what they want to see and others see what is there. It does make some excellent arguments against censorship, and, as an artist, I appreciate that.

#5. "A Rock, A River, A Lena (Season 6) - And the special guest stars keep coming. This time we get the late, great Lena Horne, and she is, as always, fabulous. Beautiful, of course, but also very, very funny. She comes to Hillman whilst Whitley is teaching her students about Miss Horne's illustrious career. We also get a touching story line with our beloved Mr. Gaines, as well as a great performance by Jenifer Lewis as the dean of students. Love that woman.

#4. "Ms. Understanding" (Season 4) - In this episode, we get out first appearance of Shazza Zulu, played by, Warrick Brown of CSI himself, Gary Dourdan. This character is a sixth year undergraduate student (that's a long time, right?) and he has written a book about how the Hillman man should treat the Hillman woman. Of course, all he does is manage to divide the sexes and cause chaos. That is something that he does throughout his time on the show, and a lot of the other characters had a problem with him being so preachy and kind of pretentious at times. But we still love Gary Dourdan!

#3. "Cats in the Cradle" (Season 5) - Okay, I'm giving you another serious episode. In this one, Dwayne and Ron go to a college football game and end up in a brawl with three white students from the opposing school. I say specifically that they are white because it plays a major part in the story line. All five of them are thrown in jail, where a lot of arguments concerning race go back and forth. It is actually very compelling and feels very realistic to how people would talk about these things. Everyone does a fantastic job, including the guests stars. One of them is Dean Cain in one of his first performances. We also have Ernie Sabella playing a campus security guard. I will never forget what his response was when Dwayne said he didn't expect a fair shake from him. He said, "That's right, I'm a white man. I could be a card carrying member of the Klan. Or I could have marched with Dr. King. You DON'T know. Maybe you should look at me as an individual and not as a color." I mean, come on. Genius words there.

#2. "The Power of the Pen" (Season 3) - I'm a writer, which I'm guessing you already knew, so I love things about writing and writing being very appreciated. Here, we have Dwayne, the math guy, sitting in a class where he is going to be forced to write a poem - GASP! Needless to say, poetry really isn't his thing, and he just can't figure out what the big deal is. After spending endless and fruitless hours in the library, he falls asleep and dreams about Shakespeare. Yes, a guy shows up playing Shakespeare. He tells Dwayne that all he has to do is find something about which he is passionate and write. Dwayne does it and succeeds. So, if you stop and think, there is much power in those pens.

#1. "Save the Best For Last" (Season 5) - So much was crammed into season 5, so many ups and downs, I actually thought it might be the last. It wasn't obviously, but, had it been, this would have been a great way to go out. It is time for the wedding of Whitley and . . . Byron? That's right. When the season started, Whitley and Dwayne were engaged to be married, but through a series of unfortunate events, they break up and Whitley gets involved with a politician named Byron Douglas. They eventually get engaged, despite the obvious feelings that still linger between Dwayne and Whitley. Spoiler alert! Dwayne interrupts the wedding, resulting in his marrying Whitley himself. Of course, that was the major event of this two part episode, but again, I must bring up the majesty of Diahann Carroll. Like I mentioned, she has not exactly been a fan of Dwayne's, so when she sees what he is trying to do, she waves her hands at him and utters three words which could be the greatest ever said on this show - "Die, just die!" Oh, the way she does it is gold. Pure gold. This episode was really the culmination of what we had been waiting for for years, and it was done brilliantly. We really didn't know what was going to happen until the very end, and, frankly, it was kind of a nail biter. It had everything, and that is why it is number one.

So there they are. I must say, I still watch these episodes to this day. The laughs have never gotten old and neither have the lessons. This show went from being simply a spin-off to having its own identity. It's been twenty years since it ended, but, really, it hasn't aged a day. It is just as good as it originally was and I doubt that will ever change.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Top Ten Episodes of The Cosby Show

Greetings Pups,

For those of you who didn't grow up in the eighties, as I did, but in a later time, I'd like to tell you about something about which you may have never heard. That thing would be called a "family show" Now these were shows on NETWORK television, if you can believe it, that kids and parents alike could watch together and enjoy, and none of the content made anyone uncomfortable. Well, aside from the occasional "very special episodes" about drugs or abuse, but they were usually done somewhat tastefully. Anyway, one of the greatest of these family shows was one that, no matter your age, you certainly know - The Cosby Show.

In the eighties, legendary comic Bill Cosby led a fantastic show about the adventures of the Huxtables, an affluent family living in Brooklyn. It consisted of the patriarch, Cliff and his wife, Clair, a doctor and a lawyer, respectively, and their five children, Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy. I think a lot of things for the show were taken from Cosby's own life, since he also had four girls and one boy. But that is what comedians do, isn't it? And don't even get me started on how excited I used to get on the night of every season premiere in anticipation of the the new opening theme song. Oh, yeah, that's another thing you kids might not know about. Every show used to have something called a theme song at the beginning. Good times. Anyway, the Huxtables were one of the best, most loving families I have ever seen on TV. I don't know how anyone can not like this show. In fact, I like it so much that I am going to tell you my Top Ten episodes. Some may surprise you; some may not. But everyone is entitled to have their favorite. These just happen to be mine. So here we go.

#10. "Claire's Liberation" (Season 7) - You know what can be really scary? A woman going through menopause. You know what's really funny? Claire Huxtable going through menopause and using it to torture her children. Yes, one day, Claire comes home from the doctor and tells the kids that she is starting menopause. After overhearing their crazy fears about what they think is coming, hot and cold flashes, massive mood swings and whatnot, she milks it for all it's worth. And it is hilarious. Oh, if only it was that funny in real life!

#9. "Happy Anniversary" (Season 2) - So this one was pretty good and funny, naturally, but there is one thing in particular that everyone remembers about this episode. So what happens? Well, we are celebrating the anniversary of Cliff's parents, Russell and Anna, who I absolutely love, by the way. Seriously, they were some of the best TV grandparents ever. Anyway, the family is going to send them on a cruise as a gift, but the BEST gift is their rendition of "Night Time is the Right Time", which is, in a word, epic.

#8. "The Last Barbecue" (Season 7) - As much as I love The Cosby Show as a whole, I have to admit that I did like some of the actors better than others. But in this episode, everyone, and I mean everyone, was on their A-game. Here, we have Theo planning the bachelor party that never was . . . gotten for Denise's husband, Martin. Theo wants to get a stripper, but Martin's response to that is "No! Heh, heh, heh!" Please remember that, because it is a running gag for the duration. Now this one turns into your basic men versus women episode, and the conflict spreads through the generations. That's fine with me, since it's that fact that gave us a great scene between the aforementioned Russell and Anna. And don't forget the secret barbecue sauce subplot. How could you, though.

#7. "A Shirt Story" (Season 1) - Even though the Huxtables were a very well to do family, they emphasized the fact that, while they did provide for their children , they did not spoil them. So when Theo comes home with a $95 designer shirt, his parents were like "No" This leads him to go to Denise for her seamstress skills, which would not exactly get her on Project Runway. . . maybe. What really makes this episode is the reaction of Theo when he tries on the "shirt", proving that kids can be great comic actors, too. When they learn from the best, anyway.

#6. "Slumber Party" (Season 1)/"The Birthday Party" (Season 6) - I had to have a tie here, since the plot of both of these episodes are very similar. It's basically a case of "Rudy used to be our cute little kid and now it's Olivia" But both of them were very funny in their own way. First, "Slumber Party" was about a slumber party (what!) for Rudy, and there were boys there for some reason, as well as a tiny Alicia Keys. No lie. Oh, and these two little girls, trying to sing a song but constantly being interrupted by Cliff. Adorable. Now "The Birthday Party" was about a birthday party (what - again!) for Olivia. We have more funny little kids, who are kind of all overshadowed by an absolutely hilarious little boy singing "Eye of the Tiger" That was the one of the best moments of my life. But I love these episodes because I love seeing Bill Cosby interact with children. He has such gift for it.

#5. "Where's Rudy?" (Season 4) - You know how I said Cliff and Clair did not spoil their kids? Well, that is true, and they are good disciplinarians. By that, I mean, sometimes, just sometimes, they like to bat their kids around like cat toys before doing the actual disciplining. Sweet! In this episode, Cliff and Clair are at the mall for her squash contest . . . seriously. Vanessa and Theo are charged with watching Rudy as they cruise said mall, but they act as older siblings do and she wanders off. Though she does find shelter in a sushi restaurant (trust me), they think they've lost her. And, oh, the fun mom and dad Huxtable have with them. Even though Rudy was the one who wandered off and should have been punished, too. But, you know, whatever!

#4. "I'm In with the In Crowd" (Season 6) - And here's another one where we refuse to skip straight to the punishment so that we can freak out the guilty party a little. This time it is only Vanessa who is the recipient of this creative parenting. While at a gathering with her friends, they become bored and decide to play The Alphabet Game, which involves drinking. Guess what happens? Good guess. And clearly Vanessa was still drunk during her, let's say, pre-punishment, because that is the only way she could take seriously what her parents were doing. Funny, though!

#3. "Shakespeare" (Season 4) - Two words: Christopher Plummer. Okay, I'll say more words, but, rest assured, those are the two that make me love this episode so much. Anyway, Theo and his friend, Cockroach, are having some trouble with Julius Caesar. But help comes when Grandpa Russell arrives (yay!) with his two friends, Jonathan Laurence, played by Plummer, and Dr. Fostor, played by Roscoe Lee Browne, another actor and character I came to love through this show. They begin to masterfully quote the work of Shakespeare, reminding us all of the beauty of those words, and impressing the people around them. They also do a great reading of a story that was written by Rudy. Somehow those guys with their mesmerizing voices made that story sound almost as good as the Shakespeare.

#2. "Off to See the Wretched" (Season 6) - We deal here with some disciplining again, but there no time for games on this one. Vanessa and her friends run off to Baltimore for a concert in a semi-stolen car, mind you, and, through a series of unfortunate events, they are caught. Okay, let me say this. Judging by one of my past picks on this list, I think I can safely say that Vanessa's friends are HORRIBLE people! Drinking, stealing cars, running away to other states! I know kids will be kids, but crap, man! Anyway, the best part of this episode, bar none, is Clair's reaction to the deception. It is absolutely priceless and Phylicia Rashad is at her very best. By the way, because of this, it is one of my life's goals to never make her mad. For real, I couldn't handle it.

#1. "Theo's Holiday" (Season 2) - Some parents will go to great lengths to teach their children a good life lesson, but none have gone so far as the Huxtables in this, my number one favorite episode. Theo seems to believe that he will be quite ready to move out of the house and support himself as soon as he turns eighteen, don't we all. Well, the next time he comes home, the family has reverted their house into an apartment building, The Real World Apartments, to be exact. Boy, did the idea of THAT change thanks to the nineties and MTV! Anyway, everyone plays their parts incredibly, especially Rudy/ Mrs. Griswald, and there is literally not an unfunny moment in this entire episode. I never get tired of watching this one, so it is my favorite.

And there you have it. My little tribute to one of the best shows of all time. It managed to be perfect for family viewing, but also unbelievably entertaining. Wow, look at that! It IS possible to do such a thing. I suppose it's easier when you've got a comic genius at the helm. Oh, and speaking of which, let me say a thing about Bill Cosby.

I love that man. There are very few people, especially in the entertainment industry, for whom I have a lot of respect. He is one of them. This is someone who has been through the highest highs and lowest lows, both professionally and very much so personally, and yet he never became someone who I had reason to not love. I love the way he has used his voice to spread laughter, but also the way he is unafraid to use it so he can tell the truth about what is going on in the world and his own community. As we all know, telling the truth can be controversial and cause some people to turn on you (believe me, I know), but that makes me respect him all the more. So I am quite grateful, along with many others, that he has chosen to bestow his gifts upon us all. God bless him!

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Artist Anniversary

Greetings Pups,

Today is a very special day for me. And so I will use today to tell you all about something. I am going to speak of a particular book called Designing a Harvest Moon. Now this is not a review, because, due to certain circumstances, my reviewing this specific piece of work would be a bit awkward.

Anyway, this is a book of poetry that was published last year. It has ten chapters, each one containing poems centered around different themes. Those themes vary from love to anger to inspiration to forgiveness and whatever may come in between. It's got a lot of the complexities that fill the lives of any one of us.

Now, like I said, this is not a review, but I suppose I could call it a preview, since I will now share with you excerpts, one from each chapter, just to give you all a taste of what falls between the covers. So here it is, a sampling of the book Designing a Harvest Moon.

"Brownwood" (from the chapter "My Whole Wide World")

There was a plain without a soul in sight
Only sun and dust and dry
Until the journey made its start
In the place where they locked eyes
A new friend from another friend
Doing more than they thought he would
An end for her, an end for him
And now tied together for good
Right here in this place
A great occurrence came to be
Two souls locked in their own worlds
Suddenly became so free
To see that from so quiet a place
So much life can spring
They found a way spend the years
Filling them with days that would sing

"Pendant" (from the chapter "The Caged and Released Chronicles")

I wear truth like a pendant
Suspended on a chain, strong as steel
It lies above my heartbeat
And, all the vibrations, it can feel
I hold it as a reminder
Of the most valuable of treasures
It is given only to a precious few
While the rest choose empty pleasures
But I feel the hands reaching
Trying to grab it from my chest
Trying to strip me of my greatest gift
All that forces me to be the best
They put me before the masses
Trying to stain me with their own shame
But I lift myself above it all
When my hands are seen, I am free of blame

"Struck" (from the chapter "Supernova)

Winter had settled itself over that land
For the years since it was born
There, they hinder fires like ours from being lit
So I imagine how much you are torn
I had never been able to see your light
Until I stopped and looked closely at you
And found, so rare, this joyous gift
That of a man who can remain true
You shine with this light, so strange to them
As full moons brighten the midnight skies
The name that dares to cross your lips
Without fear, you refuse to live with their lies
And though the battles may be to the mountaintops
I know you will never fail to fight
You struck a match and lit the candle
So that I may find you in all of that night

"Flashes" (from the chapter "Blackout")

I saw you in the box one night
Though I never try to find you
I always turn away from your face
Believing you may corrupt what I do
But this time my eyes fell still
As a picture flashed through my head
Reminding me that some are followed by the living
And others are followed by the dead
I saw a gravestone in my mind
With storm clouds all around
And when the lightning gave me sight
A finely etched name is what I found
But not to worry your "pretty, little" self
No need to latch the doors
Because what I saw scraped in that stone
Was his doomed name, not yours

"Mourning Guitar" (from the chapter "Playback")

She used to walk the crowded streets
Even though she had a home
But wherever she went the air was cold
And someone was always in some way stoned
The wine in the crystal stole the taste from her mouth
The diamonds in the gold took the sparkle from her eyes
The smoke covered what she used to love to see
Yet all the music couldn't hide the lies
The parties were grand and the guests would shine
With the little girls sitting on the stairs, behind bars
They talked of deals, of parties in the past
They complimented her dress but didn't notice the scars
Then a man came by with his mourning guitar
He new more than they saw in all her lifetime
He missed the clothes and the label names
He saw her soul and said it would be fine

"Bury" (from the chapter "Still Caged")

I walk a straight line on the ground
The ground you picked up with your hands
It's your way to make me as low as you are
As you desecrate the sacred land
You began to throw the dirt at me
Every single time you could
You hate yourself for being evil
So you attack me for being good
Once my pure skin was soiled enough
You called me what you saw
You acted like I was part of the ground
Wanting to make sure the wounds stay raw
How good it was that you treated me like dirt
Perhaps, that is what I have become
Now I can use my body to cover yours
When I bury you, when you are done

"Guilty Blood" (from the chapter "EWC)

I love the taste of guilty blood
As it flows from the wounds to my lips
I watched as all the skin was torn
I relish at the sound of each rip
The children that he tormented
Dance with such gratitude at my feet
They spit upon his broken, worthless body
And wait for the punishment with which he will meet
Those who excused them watch in their own horror
Waiting for the time to pay their debt
For they kept their lips closed from all his crimes
And now what they deserve is what they will get
They look upon the road they have chosen
And, no doubt, wish the path to change course
But as they watch the blood fall like rain
They will know it is too late for remorse

"Someone Else's" (from the chapter "Dropping the Ball")

Because it was someone else's daughter
Dragged into the private room
Pushed down to the floor
Forced to face her worst doom
Because it was someone else's sister
With clothes all ripped and torn
Making that classic wish
That she had never been born
Because it was someone else's mother
Upon whom such pain was forced
And so few people pity her
While her attacker has no remorse
Because it was someone else's friend
Who had to feel the shame
The crimes can just be overlooked
So all can enjoy the game

"Never Another" (from the chapter "Memory Boxes")

I could remember you because I tried to warn you
Trying to tell you what things to avoid
How my words failed to meet your fractured heart
Trying to shout over all the noise
I could have memories of your body fading
Because I couldn't pump my blood into your veins
Watching your skin turn to melting snow
Hiding, like an iron gate, all of your pain
So I try so hard to remember what was good
Those things so few and between the cracks
You could have lived to be our legend
But you joined up with the other pack
Your legacy is turned into my remembrance
To overwhelm with power each moment I pray
You make me never want to lose another
And that price, never again, will I pay

"Under the Sun" (from the chapter "All Day, Every Day")

Put the water to my lips
Until it burns my mouth like wine
Lay your gifts beneath the moon
And let the night become mine
Fall far from the broken stones
Far enough to safely land
Mend the wounds that cut your heart
And the ones that tore your hands
Bring another dream to me
So this sleep won't turn mundane
Find the melodies in the night
No matter what the cost or pain
Do all of this and we will be
Two stars combined as one
For whatever we have thirsted
Will be given to us under the sun

So there are some examples of what you will find in the book. And all of this was written by me. Yes, I am finally sharing some poems with you. Of course, what I give here is just a taste. If any of these poems spark your interest and you want to read more, go to Amazon, which is the only place the book is currently available, and purchase Designing a Harvest Moon. It can be heart-warming and inspirational, but also a little harsh and difficult in some places. But, like I said, that is life, and believe me, I know about it all too well.

And so, on this day that is very, very special to me as a writer, I hope you enjoy and are even inspired by what I have chosen to share with you in honor of it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer