Friday, June 29, 2012

Do You Believe Me Now? / Jimmy Wayne - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

When I was growing up, I was never a huge fan of country music. I suppose I wasn't exposed to it all that much, and what I did hear just did not impress me much. Hey, Shania! Anyway, as I matured, so did the world of country music. Oh, don't get me wrong. There is still plenty of talk of drinkin' and cheatin' and truckin', whatever that is. But it seems that many artists have given themselves permission to go a little deeper into things when it comes to the subject matter of their songs. One of the best examples of this is one of my favorite artists, not only in country, but of all genres, Jimmy Wayne.

In 2003, he released his self-titled debut, and it performed fairly well, making it into the top ten along with a few of the singles. Unfortunately, his label closed shortly thereafter, leaving him professionally homeless. Five years later, with a new deal, he finally released his second album, Do You Believe Me Now?. And this is the one I will be discussing today.

Naturally, the first song I heard from it was the title track, the lead off single, and I was amazed. I had never even heard of this guy, but I was instantly enthralled. Jimmy Wayne has one of the best voices in the business. And I say this having heard him sing out of the studio. I think the only help this man has had with his voice was when God stuck it in his throat.

So I immediately went out and bought the whole album, discovering that the first song was a good preview for what was to come, which explains why it became his first number one. As many people know, I am a lyric snob. Now though I loved the first song melodically and lyrically, I braced myself that the rest of them may not have lived up to it. It is after all country and, right or wrong, many of us have been programmed to expect little in the way of lyrics from this genre. Well, I'm happy to say that I was very wrong.

While Jimmy did not write all the songs, he did take part in the writing of a good number of them. One thing he was not afraid to do was expose a lot about his past. In the song "Kerosene Kid", he talks about the hardships of his childhood, and in "Where You're Going", he tells a story of a trip to a home for a delinquent teenagers, like the one of which he was a resident at one time. Maybe even the same one. I can't remember.

That's another thing about Jimmy Wayne. He has the most amazing back story. It's heartbreaking and triumphant. You hear it, and you will be overwhelmed that he got to where he is from where he had once been. And he has certainly used what he has been through to help those who are going through the same things now. Most notably, he has been a champion for the foster care system, bringing attention to its problems and doing everything in his power to fix them.

Okay, I could go on and on and on about this man's awesomeness, but back to the album.

Of course, I have my favorite songs. One of them is "I Will". It's one of those songs full of things that every woman wants a man to say to her. Begging her to stay with him, saying he'll love her forever. All the things that are, in theory, cliche, but will never be that to a woman. Another great one is "No Good For Me", which is a duet with Patty Loveless. That pretty much makes it good on its own, but it would be beautiful regardless.

Now this album does contain two songs from his previous album. One is "Stay Gone, which was inspired by his sister's marital troubles. The other is "I Love You This Much." About that second song, it is a tearjerker beyond belief, and it has a bit of an M. Night Shyamalan twist ending, if M. Night Shyamalan was a Christian and not at all pretentious. So I am telling you all of this as a warning, because it is a must to listen to. It also shows that Jimmy Wayne has never been a man afraid to express his faith in Christ. I guess they don't mind that too much in country music.

So considering all of this man's overwhelming talent, I really don't think he is as big as he should be. He might not be as "successful" as your Kenny Chesneys or your Keith Urbans, and you probably won't see him starring in any movies with Gwyneth Paltrow. But Jimmy Wayne never seems to be a man who measures his success by album sales or sold out concert venues. Of course, he is grateful for his career, and I think as long as he can make a living doing what he loves and, in turn, using his fame to help others, he will be more than happy with his life.

And a little P.S., he's really cute! That never hurts.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Project or the Prize

Greetings Pups,

Last night, the fourth episode of the second season of the Glee Project aired. I watched. I actually kind of like this show. I did watch last year, mostly because of the winner, one of, Damian McGinty. I've known him since he was about 13 or 14 during his time with a group called Celtic Thunder. It's a SINGING group from the UK, not another kind of group, which, with a name like that, your mind can go to interesting places. Anyway, I did watch because of him, and I ended up being very entertained by the show. Despite it's obvious connection to Glee.

Okay, about the show Glee. It is a total enigma in my life. Overall, I really don't like this show for a few choice reasons. You'll forgive me for saying so, but I do not enjoy being told on an almost weekly basis that, because I am a Christian, I am a mean and hateful person by default. I say no. I may be a mean person, but my Christianity has nothing to do with it. If anything, my Christianity has kept the "mean" in me in check, therefore, probably saving me from a lifetime of violent crime. But they seem to want to force me to accept behavior and believe in things that I cannot and do not in order to be their version of a good person. Sorry, but I'd rather be God's version of a good person.

And yet, I watch the show. Why? Well, unfortunately, in this case, I love music. So I guess it's better to say I listen to the show. And most of the people are very talented singers. However, most of the people are also excruciatingly annoying. So this is where the music helps, because if they are singing, they are not talking. Hosanna! Because the last thing I want to be told is that I must abandon my beliefs to be considered open minded. And by the way, if you're too open minded, anything can get in. Best to have a bit of a fence around it.

Now on to the Glee Project. The thing about this show is that these kids are who they are. Though it is the prize, they are not yet being paid to be someone who they are not. So when it's good, it's good and when it's bad, it's bad. You can feel okay getting a little attached to someone here, because you're liking the real person. As real as someone can be on one of these shows anyway. And you don't feel so bad about disliking anyone either, because it's pretty much their own fault. Oh, and trust, there were and are people to dislike on the Glee Project.

I also enjoy seeing what goes into making things like this. I'm a bit of a behind the scenes voyeur. I always like to know what's going on beyond what everyone is seeing. I like to see what goes on in the recording studios and the dance studios, and there is plenty of that. Unfortunately, I sometimes learn more than I would like to learn.

The creator of Glee, Ryan Murphy, is always on the show and he often discusses the kinds of characters he can create from the contestants. During the first season, there were two Christians. Well, in my opinion, there was one legit and one alleged. But I don't know their hearts, so moving on. Anyway, Murphy said multiple times that he would love to have a Christian character on the show. Yeah, my response to that was, "For what? Target practice?" I wondered if his intention was to have an actual, believes in the entire Bible Christian or someone who calls themselves a Christian, only to be very easliy swayed by the opinions of "the others". I got my answer in the episode entitled Heart. It's the latter one he wanted, and it's the latter one he got.

But what do I expect from a show that did an entire episode that was supposed to be centered around God and Jesus and they did not use a single song by a single Christian artist (Whitney Houston does not count!). I guess I can give them the benefit of the doubt by assuming that no real Christian artist would ever allow their music on this show, but somehow, I doubt that was the case. Seriously, if these people want to do something nice for Christians, let us do a show with Glee's concept, but in an actual Christian setting with the proper music to go along with it. And there's an idea for a post that I may expand upon in the future.

Okay, I may have gotten off track from my initial subject, but here we go. The question is which show do I like better . . . or hate less, depending on how I'm feeling? Well, I can actually get through an episode of the Project without wanting to punch anyone. That has never really happened on Glee. And the Project kids, I think there is still hope for some of them to move beyond this crazy world they are desperate in which to be sucked. The cast of Glee has had a taste and they want to keep gulping it all down.

So for now, I think I have to go with the Glee Project. I just hope that some of these kids will get bigger and much better things than for what they are currently aiming.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Apple of Our Eye

Greetings Pups,

Well, it has happened. It took about seven years, but, finally, we have a new album from Fiona Apple. I'm not going to review it today, because I've only had it for a few days and it hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe some other time. But this new release has made me reflect on her career and its effect on me.

Like most people, I discovered her around 1996 or '97. I actually remember the first time I heard her music, and, believe it or not, it was on MTV. Yeah, back when the M actually meant something. Anyway, I was up late one night and I saw her video for "Sleep To Dream". I did like the video, but I was more taken aback by the song. Her voice, the lyrics, the music, it all just made sense to me. At that point, I was a mere couple of years into being a serious writer, so I was constantly on the lookout for things to inspire me. She definitely did that.

So I went right out and got her first album, Tidal, and it was (is) amazing. I think a lot of us gravitated toward her music, because, at the time, we were being bombarded with another wave of "pop" music. You know, boy bands, teen girl singers, and whatnot. She really was a breath of fresh air. Of course, with the good comes the bad. First, I heard a lot of people criticizing her for how skinny she was. To that I say, who cares? Let her be skinny. Although, I was shocked when I found out she was only 5'2 since she always looked about 5'9 to me. Okay, maybe she was a little on the waify side. Then, after her speech at the MTV awards, people started to turn against her. I think they thought she was being pretentious by telling kids to just be themselves and not try to do everything that famous people do just because they're famous. Yeah, that actually sounds like a good idea to me. Maybe since she was about 20 at the time, they felt she was in no position to say anything meaningful or intelligent. Because the youngsters aren't supposed to be smart. Whatever.

Now with her second album, even I have to admit that she might have been a little pretentious with the title. She gave the album a 91 word title. I guess it was a poem or something of which the first three words were "When the Pawn", so therefore everyone just calls that album When the Pawn . . . Part of me thinks she did this just to mess with people, and frankly, I'm fine with that, since I tend to do that a lot. Anyway, about the songs here, they were not as good as the first album, therefore, it did not do as well. The whole thing almost felt rushed, the way a lot of second albums that are following a big success often do. It seems as though she wrote a lot of it just to get it done. I could be wrong, and it does have its moments, but that's just my feeling.

Then she disappeared for a while. Hey, why not? In 2005, she returned with Extraordinary Machine. This one caused a lot of commotion. Fiona had recorded a version of the album, but both she and the label were dissatisfied with the results, so it was not released as is. This led a lot of fans to be angered at the label, thinking it was all their fault. Truth is, Fiona made the decision to redo the album. That one was released and, while not a huge commercial success, it was praised by many critics. I actually really like this album. It shows very well her influences, and it's a good listen. I think anyone who is a true fan of hers will be intrigued and entertained by this one.

Now we come to the new one, The Idler Wheel . . . Yes, three words and three dots again. I think her philosophy on album titles is "short, long, short, long". Just let her do what she wants. As I said, I just got this album and I have only listened to it all the way through once. I'm actually quite pleased with it. It's classic Fiona, exactly what you'd expect, but with a few surprises. Best thing, as usual for me, are the lyrics. I plan on really digging into this thing, but, for now, I can safely give it a very positive reaction.

So, in the span of 16 years, we have had four albums from Fiona Apple. I wish there were more, but I'd rather have quality than quantity. Actually, I'd rather have both, but whatever. I have heard that Fiona is not like a lot of writers, myself included, who constantly write. A lot of us do it like breathing. But she admits that she doesn't write just for the sake of writing. She doesn't say, "Well, I'm a songwriter. I better write a song". No, she writes when she has something worth writing. I love that about her. Better to write nothing than to write crap. She kind of reminds me of Daniel Day Lewis in this case. The way there are these massive spans of time between his movies, because he tends not to choose bad movies. He doesn't want to waste his time or ours, and neither does Miss Fiona.

Well, in closing, I am very happy that she is back. She has always been a great inspiration to me, and she's still on my list (my list being a list of people with whom I want to write. Nothing threatening there).

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, June 21, 2012

They Want What?

Greetings Pups,

I was watching one of those entertainment news programs the other day, and the top story was about people who are not really in the entertainment industry at all. Interesting. No, this story was about John Edwards spending time with his "mistress", Rielle Hunter and their "love" child. Now I used quotes twice there for a reason. First, I don't know if, technically, this woman is still a mistress since his wife is dead. Second, I hate the term "love child", since "lust child" would be more accurate. But you can't really put those two words together without it being creepy, so there you go.

Anyway, they were showing film of them doing whatever, as well as promoting this interview with Rielle Hunter that will be airing soon. Being reminded of this one affair made me think of others. Mainly, the ones where an previously unknown woman has an affair with a married celebrity. I notice that most, if not all, of these women have a very annoying thing in common. They all seem to want our sympathy. Yeah . . . no.

What in the world are they thinking trying to play the victim in these situations? That is like saying someone who cuts their hand and then dives into a shark tank should be called a victim. No, you're just an idiot. If you have an affair with a married celebrity, there is no way you don't know he is married. You are not being used or played. You know exactly what you are getting into, so you must deal with the consequences without expecting anyone to feel sorry for you.

And let's not just talk about the anonymous women. Plenty of celebrities cheat with each other. Brad and Angelina, still denying it, I presume, because we non-famous people are not smart enough to see something that is right in front of our face. LeeAnn Rimes, you used to be a singer, right? Well, that's not what we think of when we think of you now? And go back a bit to remember the illicit behavior of Mr. Tori Spelling (that one was for you, Chelsea!). I can only wish to be a fly on the wall when she tells her children the disgusting story of how she and their father got together.

I suppose talking about the celebs have gotten me off track. They don't seem to want sympathy so much as they want us all to be understanding and accepting of their debaucherous acts. But since so much of the world foolishly follows their example, it all ties in.

Let me say this, though. I understand that some "other women" do not know that they are such a thing. And while, yes, sometimes it may be because of stupidity, sometimes it is because they are far too trusting. Best example: Amber Frey. This is the woman who was the "mistress" of convicted of killing his wife and son Scott Peterson. She really did not know he was married. She was a single mother, who had been abandoned by men before and wanted very much to be loved by someone. And when she found out the truth of who he was, did she go to the very lucrative tabloids with her story? No, she went to the police and helped them. This is why most people give her sympathy, because she was, in fact, a victim. Maybe not THE victim, in this case, but certainly A victim. And sometimes these women are.

But whether you're "married to someone else" significant other is famous or not, if you know he's married, you are an accomplice, not a victim. You get no sympathy. However, there is hope. If you admit your wrongdoings and are remorseful, there is always forgiveness. The trouble is that so many think they are doing nothing wrong. They all think they're in love. Well, what's all that stuff in the Bible about love? Look it up, then decide if that is the thing in which you have fallen. A big pile of love or a big pile of something else.

And P.S. I'm sure some regular dudes have cheated with celebrity women, but, for some reason, we just don't hear much about them. Not that I can recall anyway.

You know what, never mind. Just do not commit adultery. It's a bad idea.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bleeding Heart Graffiti / Nina Gordon - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

As promised, I am attempting to have my "review" posts catch up with my "top ten" posts, as well as finally doing some albums. I try never to go back on my word.

Today, I want to discuss an album about which I think not many people know. It's called Bleeding Heart Graffiti, and it's by a great artist named Nina Gordon. Before I get into this, I have to give a little back story, and I pray that all this info is correct.

In the nineties, Nina Gordon, alongside co-founder Louise Post, was in a band called Veruca Salt, one of the many bands seemingly part of the whole grunge movement. They had some hits, namely "Seether" and "Volcano Girls", the latter of which was popularized due to its being the opening theme music for the movie Jawbreaker. Anyway, Nina Gordon left the band in 1998, apparently surrounded by much drama, to pursue a solo career.

In 2000, she released her first album on her own, Tonight and the Rest of My Life, an album that, both lyrically and stylistically differs quite a bit from her previous work with Veruca Salt. Now the title track on that was a bit of a hit, and I recall it being featured in commercials for The Notebook. That's right, aspiring musicians. You want a hit? Play your song over Ryan Gosling's face. Unfortunately, beside that minor hit, the album did not do all that well as far as chart success goes. But I, in my infinite need to go against the flow, absolutely loved this album. I didn't think she could do any better, and she didn't. At least, not for another six years.

Enter Bleeding Heart Graffiti. This album was released in 2006 and was comprised mostly of re-recorded songs meant for an album called Even the Sunbeams. Nina scrapped that first effort because she was unhappy with its direction. Thankfully, though, she gave the songs a makeover, added a few new ones, thus giving us this gem.

It starts off with the title track which lasts about 42 seconds long. Yeah, there are three of these, not songs exactly, but interludes if you will, the other two being "This Was the Year" and "The Crickets Sound Like Sleigh Bells". I don't really know why she did this, but, even as short as they are, the melodies and the lyrics are still beautiful, and I'm pleased that she put them into the mix.

The first full song is called "Christmas Lights", a lyrically creative, very "love song" love song, but with a just a bit of Nina's edge. This sweet thing leads right into "Kiss Me 'Til It Bleeds". Now I'm pretty sure this song is simply an ode to loving a bad boy and not about vampires at all, but I can't help but think about the twisted relationship of Buffy and Spike when I hear it. That's right. Buffy and Spike, not Buffy and Angel, because everything that Spike said about Angel was true.

Moving on.

Now even though Nina adds some splashes of her rock past here, this album mainly consists of really well-crafted ballads. There is "Turn On Your Radio", which, since it is clearly about writing a song about a past relationship, hoping that the boy/man hears it, certainly prepared me for the likes of Taylor Swift. It's almost the biography of that little girl's career. We also have "Superstar", a classic song about getting to the one from whom you are apart. One of my favorites, though, is a song called "Watercolors". I really don't know what she is talking about here, but the lyrics are so beautiful, I don't mind. I suspect that it might be about being true to who you are no matter what. No wonder I love it.

As with even the best albums, this one has dips, but it is not any of the full songs, or interludes. No, there are no bad songs here. However, lyrically (and you know how I get about lyrics!) there are a few moments I could do without. I will not get specific because, in this case, it's not that big of a deal to me. To be fair, though, I had to point this out. Nobody's perfect.

Here is the biggest problem with Miss Nina Gordon and her albums. She simply does not make enough of them. I mean, as far as her solo work goes, she had one in 2000 and the next in 2006. Too much absence there. The good news is, I hope, according to this timeline, she should have something new by the end of this year. Although, she seems to be hiding away somewhere because she hasn't really been heard from at all in quite a while. But whatever makes her happy.

Anyway, to finish, Bleeding Heart Graffiti is definitely an album that should have been incredibly successful, but, these days, Nina Gordon's pesky habit of writing great songs probably worked against her. I can sum it up easily by simply stating that it has wonderful melodies and lyrics, and it is what a songwriter should strive to create. I only hope that one of the popular artists of today (Miss Swift perhaps) will discover this album, then order their minions to buy it. The good thing about them doing that, this time, is that none of them will regret it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, June 15, 2012

Round and A Roundabout

Greetings Pups,

I have often complained in the past about how I loathe to drive. Perhaps, I would like it if not for everyone else. That includes about 90% of other drivers and those in charge of road maintenance who seem to drop their minds at the door when they begin their workday. Maybe I just don't get it sometimes. I can't even imagine what goes on in the heads of some people. And every now and then it hits so close to home.

About a year ago, the people who are in charge of what happens to the roads made a decision. It was concerning this intersection where the red light was lasting too long and, therefore, causing a lot of traffic. Now I had been living right in the vicinity of said intersection for a year, and I never noticed any problems, despite the fact that it has about five or six roads leading in and out of it. I never counted. Sorry, I'm one of those wackos who pays attention to my driving while I'm driving.

Anyway, I appreciate that they were trying to fix the problem. However, in my mind, there was a simple solution. I don't pretend that I know exactly how the traffic lights work when it comes to the tinkering and whatnot of the situation, but I'd think that there would be a timer of some sort that someone could go in and change so the light wouldn't last as long. I may be crazy to assume that. I think I could be right, though. But, if that is the case, they still decided on another solution: dig up the road and put in a roundabout.

If you don't know what a roundabout is, let me explain. See, in lieu of a traffic light that tells people when to go forward or stop or turn to the left or the right, they make everything into a big circle. You hit a yield sign, look to see if someone's coming, then go to the right or left. In our case, it's a right. Might be different elsewhere. Then you go around and around until you come to the other road you want to get onto. Yeah, even if you want to get onto a road that is closer to you on the left you still have to go all the way around. Seems simple enough . . . in theory.

Now here is the problem. As with a lot of ideas, they always seem good or simple or better than what we had until you figure in one little factor - people. Maybe this roundabout would have been a time saver if there weren't so many bad drivers in the world. I have not spent as much time waiting for a red light to turn green as I have waiting for someone to merge into traffic who apparently is incapable of doing so if there are any other cars within a fifty mile radius. Now I am not the most aggressive of drivers all the time, but if there are ten cars behind me and I have a chance to go, I go. No big deal. For me. But this thing is like a blind intersection with two way stop sign. If there is any car anywhere near them, people do not want to go. Maybe they have time to sit in their car and freeze up. I do not. There is a fine line between being safe and being annoying. This is the very situation where people have crossed it.

To be honest, there is one amazing thing about this roundabout. I, personally, have never seen anyone go the wrong way on it. That astounds me. Why? you may ask. Well, when it comes to being wise as well as having just plain common sense, I have always considered myself a "diamond in the rough" where I live. Oh, I know there are other people like me here, but we seem to be in the minority. And I sincerely cannot believe that no one has ever gone the wrong way on this thing. I do feel, though, that it is just a matter of time.

You know, I remember that Mellencamp song that says "Hold onto sixteen as long as you can". I remember being sixteen and being excited about driving. Yeah, I wish I could hold onto that part of being sixteen, but it has been made nearly impossible.

Drive safely!

Love and full Moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This is the Remake

Greetings Pups,

This week brings us the premiere of the new remake of Dallas. Yes, we have another remake coming our way. Now I will probably give it a chance for two reasons. First of all, I love Patrick Duffy. Granted, I knew him more from Step by Step than the original Dallas, but I'm thrilled to see him back. And second, you never know. It might be good. Come to think of it, "you never know" seems to be what most people think when these remakes arise. While anytime a pilot is shown it does tend to be "hit or miss", the remake seems to be the most "hit or miss" venture on which one can embark.

Today, I will be discussing TV shows from the days of yore that have been revamped for a more current generation, not TV shows that have become movies, or vice versa. I just don't have the energy to go into all of that right now.

Now there have been a few remakes that have done quite well for themselves. While I don't think the new 90210 has been too critically acclaimed, (did you really expect it to be?) it has been on for about four years now, so it seems to be commercially successful. Teenagers (to say nothing of people in their twenties who like to pretend they are teenagers) will watch anything.

Of course, we have the new Hawaii Five-O which is doing very well. That is like a miracle to me considering it stars Alex O'Loughlin, who starred in two previously failed shows, Moonlight and Three Rivers. I actually liked both of those shows, but he was on the verge of becoming to the new millenium what Jennifer Love Hewitt was to most of the 90's. In short, a person you should never put in a pilot. But it seems the third time was the charm for him.

And I have heard that the first go round of Battlestar Galactica in 1978 was a major flop. It came back in 2004 to be quite a successful show, albeit with more of a cult following since it wasn't on a major network. Still, it's hard to give any criticism to a show that has gone above and beyond most of these remakes.

Now what to say about the sucky ones? Yeah, I said sucky. There are almost too many to mention, but I'll do my best.

While the new 90210 is hanging in there, the new version of its cousin show, Melrose Place, did not fare as well. When you think back though, the only reason the original Melrose Place was successful was because they abandoned their initial premise. I mean, who wants to observe the goings on of a group of twenty-somethings in LA? Yeah, nobody. But if you make 90% of the characters completely insane, people will watch. And, boy, did they! What was the new version of the show going to do in this non-shockable time in which we live? And I think if I mention that one of the stars was Ashlee Simpson, I can leave it at that.

A failed remake is nothing new to the Aaron Spelling camp. Back in the late 90's, they tried to do Fantasy Island again with Malcolm McDowell (really?) as its star. No such luck. And do I even have to bring up the new Charlie's Angels? Yeah, one of the best things about that cancellation is that it proves that sometimes, even in America, we cannot be fooled by a "T and A" show trying to disguise itself as a "girl power" show.

I think I have figured out what should be avoided if you want to do a successful remake. With the exception of the Battlestar Galactica thing I mentioned, one should probably steer clear of science fiction shows or shows centered around some kind of "advanced" technology. Since we are in such a technologically advanced world now, it seems like it is hard to impress us with things that were considered cutting edge decades ago. That could be one of the reasons - ONE! - why remakes like Knight Rider and Bionic Woman did not survive. And I think it is hard to come up with new ideas for science fiction, so delving into the past might seem like the thing to do. However, that makes me think of the V remake.

I spent many hours in my childhood watching the original V miniseries. I thought it was done brilliantly. If you watch the whole, long thing, you'll see that it is structured quite well. And here is the structure. "Aliens come. They seem nice. They look like us. Uh-oh! Not so much on both counts. Let's fight them. How do we fight them? Oh, here's how. We win. The end" That was perfect, and there was closure. And since a weekly series spin-off of the miniseries didn't even last, why would we redo it now? We know the story already. If you want to make an alien show, make one. But don't slap a used name on it.

And how can talk about crappy remakes without mentioning the most infamous in recent years. One that was so bad it never even made it to air. I am talking, of course, about Wonder Woman. Yeah, because in someone's crazy, crazy thoughts, Lynda Carter was not perfect enough. How, I ask you, how? Now on one of my favorite review websites,, my boys Linkara, Nash and Film Brain got a hold of the roughly cut and unfinished pilot episode. I do not know how they did it. But even by that brief look, I can see why it was not aired. I can't even begin to try and explain the premise they were attempting because, frankly, I could barely understand it. I will say, though, that I'm pretty sure Wonder Woman was not some psychotic vigilante that would frighten the likes of Batman and The Punisher. (Yeah, I know. One of those guys is DC, the other is Marvel. They cannot touch or there will be an explosion. Sorry!) I know she was supposed to be a threat to criminals, but not to the everyday person. It just didn't work.

I could go on and on, even more so, but I will not. So in closing, let me say this. Since originality seems to be an abandoned art, these remakes will probably continue. Some may be good; most will be bad. I just hope that people will think long and hard about how they want to pay something of a tribute to shows of the past. In this case, I believe a little thought can go a long, LONG way.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, June 8, 2012

Seen and Not Heard? They Wish

Greetings Pups,

So as I have said in the past, I have what I call a commoners job. Even the greatest of artists, at one time or another, have to do it. I'm not saying I am among the greatest; I'm just making a point. Unfortunately, that means that we are forced to be among - well, let's just say it - the commoners.

Now by "commoners" I do not mean every person who is not gifted in the arts, In fact, there are many people who, while not technically one of us, are our supporters, and we absolutely need them to survive and thrive. No, the "commoners" are the ones who just don't get it. They do their best to keep us down and in our place, in their opinion, but what they are truly doing is trying to keep us in THEIR place. That place is nowhere anyone would want to be.

I was reminded of this a few days ago when I was suffering through another day at the job. Even there, I am quite compelled to speak what is on my mind or heart, only at appropriate times, of course. Well, I did so, and one of the lower beings took it upon herself to weakly fire back. She does this so often. Although, to use the word "back" seems wrong, since I was not even speaking to her. She is, though, the type to always find a way into things that do not concern here. I almost feel as though she may have been enrolled in some centuries old boarding school that taught women that, besides cooking, cleaning and reproducing, their main purpose in life was to remain silent. And yet, she seems to only hold fast to this rule when it comes to other women and not herself. Anytime, I have an opinion on anything, particularly, the Titanic-esque state of my current place of employment, she tries to attack. She TRIES!

It's sad, really. I suppose I would be the same way if I had no opinion to give nor any redeeming qualities to bestow upon the world. I mean, why can't a person just listen and learn? I do it all the time, because I know that, in many cases, there are people who know better than I do. That kind of humility is what leads to greatness. I know when to speak, and I know when to not speak. It seems to have become a true talent, since so many are incapable of it.

I know I may seem a bit harsh, but it is a harsh world for my kind. We always have to be prepared to fight or defend ourselves. We have to be prepared to stand strong even in a storm. And we can, in no way, let THEM silence us . . . ever.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Night of Hunters / Tori Amos - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

Since I have finally decided to take seriously my promise to write this blog more often, I recently went through my past posts to see what I had done and make sure I have no repeats. One thing I notice is that, though I had hoped to keep things even, I have done more top ten lists than I have done reviews. Also, I have yet to do a review of an album. So I decided to finally do one.

Now I knew that if I was going to review an album, I thought I would most likely have to go back in time to find one, since the concept of an album in the truest definition of the word is practically non-existent these days. I know I have complained about the single driven music industry in the past, but, believe it or not, there are a few artists who still make albums that need to be bought in their entirety. One such artist is Tori Amos.

I have to say my love for Tori Amos is very . . . I suppose 'interesting' is a good word. As far as she is as an artist and a writer, I think she's brilliant. She creates such amazing imagery with her lyrics, and she is a piano prodigy with an edge. To be honest, she has done so many somewhat concept albums over the last decade and some change that I have found myself nearly incapable of writing a normal album of songs myself. I have to have some kind of story behind my collections, not just ten or twelve songs put together to fill a CD. If I did, I almost feel like I'm not doing enough. That's how much she has inspired me.

Of course, since I am also a Christian and she is not so much (anymore. Preacher's daughter), you can see the conflict. She has some spiritual beliefs that I just don't get or agree with, to say nothing of her political beliefs, and they often find their way into her songs. Of course, they do. But I can't deny her God given (Yes, He did give them to you, Tori!) talents.

Therefore, I have decided to review her latest album Night of Hunters.

It was released last year, and it is the most conceptual album she has ever done, in my opinion. You really do have to listen to the whole thing, not only because it's that good, but because it tells a story, which I will get to soon. This album came about when Tori was approached to do a "21st century song cycle" based on classical works of music. She uses the tradition of variations on a theme to turn that music into her own songs. And frankly, I cannot think of any other artist today who is more qualified to do such a thing.

As I said, there is a story to this thing. It centers around a woman left alone in Ireland as her relationship with her man is on the brink of disintegration. As night falls, she meets a shapeshifter (no, seriously) named Annabelle, a girl who takes on the forms of both a fox and a goose, presenting the idea of the hunter and the hunted. The woman follows her into the night and they are transported back in time to see the woman's relationship in the past. The past, I mean, as in like three thousand years earlier, where she and her lover fought as bards. Upon their return, she comes to see her part in the failure of her relationship through her mistakes of abandoning herself and using the energies of the hunter and the hunted to fight against her former lover. She is then left on her own to meet with the Fire Muse, who teaches her, albeit through unusual means, to protect the world from the forces of darkness. As the morning returns, the woman finds that she is grateful for her place in the world and everyone who has come in and out of her life.

I know that may have seemed a bit tricky, and I didn't even go into as much detail as I could have, but that is the general idea of it.

Now on to the actual music. The album opens with a very strong track, "Shattering Sea", and ends gently with "Carry". Both were perfect for where they were placed. Many of the songs on the album, beginning with "Snow Blind" feature Tori's daughter, Natashya Hawley, as Annabelle, who was probably around ten years old at the time. I know that may seem a bit strange of an idea for this, but she actually did an amazing job. Normally, I am not a fan of child singers. However, she has the perfect child's singing voice. You can tell she's a little girl, but there is also a touch of maturity without her having one of those operatic, prodigy sounding voices, which we all know, on a kid, can be a little annoying. Admit it. I have no doubt that as she grows she will become even better. Also, Tori use her niece, Kelsey Dobyns, to portray the Fire Muse on the song "Night of Hunters" which is definitely one of the best songs. Kelsey, who I would guess is probably a teenager or in her early twenties, has an absolutely beautiful singing voice. She and Tori compliment each other so well as they sing together. Using both of these girls makes me believe that perhaps, every now and then, nepotism isn't a bad thing.

There are few weak spots on this album, but some of my favorite tracks are the quiet moments of longing and contemplation, the best being the song "Your Ghost". Here the woman slows down to really think about what she has lost, and it's actually sad. And the song that immediately follows, "Edge of the Moon", is incredible. I was quite taken by the last couple of minutes of it where she changes the whole sound, tempo, even mood of the song.

One of the best things about this album, to me, is the choices that she made when it came to the classical pieces she used. I know next to nothing about classical music, but, like with most people, many works are recognizable to me. She seemed to use pieces that would probably be considered more obscure, at least to those of us who are not as well educated on the subject. So we can feel that the music here goes deeper than Tori normally goes, but it is still her own.

So aside from some of the oddities of the story, I really like this album. Creatively, it is phenomenal, and I think it is the best one to really showcase Tori Amos as a musician concerning her past of being both a raw talent and classically trained. Well, at least, I think she was classically trained. I don't know how much she learned at that school before getting kicked out, as she says. It's a great story; look it up. Anyway, if you are a Tori fan, this is definitely a must have. If you're not, I suggest you go online or something and try to get a little listen. Good or bad, though, it is so refreshing to have an artist who still chooses to create something that is true piece of art.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer